By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “G1 Climax Tournament Night 3”
July 20, 2022 in Miyagi, Japan at Xebio Arena Sendai
Streamed live on New Japan World
This is a 28-man round-robin tournament, which is spread out over 20 shows held in a 33-day span. There are four blocks, each comprised of seven wrestlers. Thus, each competitor has six tournament matches. Most of the 20 events have between four and six tournament matches. This is the first year there have been four blocks since 2000.
Kevin Kelly provided live commentary from ringside.
1. Jonah and Bad Dude Tito defeated Tom Lawlor and Royce Isaacs at 8:39. Jonah applied a Boston Crab on Lawlor. Lawlor and Isaacs worked over Tito. Jonah got in and hit a Stinger Splash on Lawlor, then he put both opponents on his back and hit a double Samoan Drop. Impressive. Jonah hit a senton on Isaacs for a nearfall. Jonah hit a standing powerbomb on Isaacs for the pin. Really good non-tournament match.
2.) Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb, Great-O-Khan, and Aaron Henare defeated El Phantasmo, EVIL, Sho, and Dick Togo at 7:58. The Bullet Club attacked at the bell, and we have separate brawls, with Cobb no-selling Togo’s offense in the ring. ELP and Ospreay traded mid-ring reversals. Henare hit a spin kick on EVIL at 5:30. O-Khan applied claws on both Togo and Sho. Henare applied the Full Nelson on Togo, who passed out.
3. Kazuchika Okada and Yoshi-Hoshi defeated Toru Yano and Ryohei Oiwa at 7:29. Yano and Okada will meet soon in the A Block, so that is why guys who are usually allies are squaring off. Very basic offense on both sides. Yoshi-Hoshi accidentally chopped Okada, allowing Oiwa to get a rollup on Yoshi-Hoshi for a nearfall. However, Yoshi-Hoshi applied a submission hold around the neck and arms, and Oiwa tapped out. In a bit of a surprise, Yano attacked Okada after the bell, so Okada whipped him into the guardrail.
4. Jay White, Kenta, and Juice Robinson (w/Gedo) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tomohiro Ishii, and Kosei Fujita at 10:35. Juice got on the mic while holding up the U.S. title and proclaimed he is still the champion (he isn’t). Tanahashi and White had a bit of a posing contest. The heels worked over Tanahashi early. White and Ishii traded offense at 6:00; they also have a singles match coming up, and Ishii has gotten the better of White in recent matches. Kenta hit a clothesline on Fujita for a nearfall, then he applied a crossface hold on the mat, and Fujita tapped out.
5. Sanada, Shingo Takagi, and Bushi defeated Taka Michinoku, Taichi, and Zack Sabre Jr. at 8:31. Lots of stalling early. Sanada tied up Taka in the Paradise Lock at 5:00. Sanada and Taichi traded stiff kicks to the thighs, previewing another upcoming tournament match. Taka tied up Sanada on the mat. However, Sanada applied the Skull End/modified dragon sleeperhold, and Taka tapped out.
6. Yujiro Takashi (w/Sho) (2) defeated David Finlay (0) in a D Block match at 12:57. If any wrestler could go 1-5 in this tournament, it may be Yujiro (there’s no way does New Japan let anyone go 0-6). Standing switches to start. They brawled to the floor, where Yujiro whipped Finlay into the guardrail at 2:30, and he was in control of the action in the ring. Finlay hit a Blue Thunder Bomb, then a running forearm into the corner at 6:30, followed by a plancha to the floor.
Finlay hit a backbreaker over his knee for a nearfall, then a running forearm shot to the back of the head for a nearfall. Yujiro nailed a fisherman’s buster for a nearfall at 9:00. Finlay hit a running powerbomb for a nearfall. Sho hopped on the ring apron to distract Finlay, allowing Yujiro to hit a Saito Suplex for a nearfall. Yujiro hit a low blow and a Pimp Juice jumping DDT for a believable nearfall. Finlay shoved Yujiro into Sho (standing on the ring apron), hit a stunner on Yujiro, and got a nearfall. Sho hit Finlay with his wrench. This allowed Yujiro to hit another Pimp Juice to score the tainted pin. Yujiro has already reached the number of wins I expected him to get.
7. Tama Tonga (w/Jado) (2) defeated Chase Owens (0) in a B Block match at 13:21. Tonga jumped Owens to start the match. Owens rolled to the floor and superkicked Jado. Chase controlled the action early and he hit a swinging neckbreaker for a nearfall at 4:00. Tama fired back with a hard clothesline, and they were both down, and the crowd was starting to come alive. Tama hit a Stinger Splash and a belly-to-back suplex for a nearfall at 7:30.
They fought mid-ring with Tama hitting a rolling Death Valley Driver, but he missed a top-rope frogsplash. They fought on the floor, and Jado grabbed a chair away from Owens. Tama wound up hitting a back drop on Chase onto the hard floor. Tama then hit a top-rope frogsplash for a believable nearfall in the ring at 11:30. Chase avoided the Gun Stun/stunner and he hit a knees trike to the back. Tama avoided the package piledriver. Tama catapulted Chase into the exposed corner turnbuckle area, hit the Gun Stun, and scored the pin. Really good closing three minutes.
8. Bad Luck Fale (2) defeated Lance Archer (0) via count-out in an A Block match at 10:57. Kevin Kelly predicted much of this match would be fought on the floor. Fale attacked Archer before the bell, and they did indeed go to the floor and begin brawling, with each man taking a turn hitting the barricade. Someone would roll into the ring, break up the count, so they could continue brawling at ringside. Fale bodyslammed Archer onto two open chairs at 6:00; Archer barely dove back in the ring before being counted out. (Keep in mind, Jonah already lost once by count-out, so I wouldn’t rule that out as a finish.)
Archer tried to walk the tight rope, but Fale just yanked him to the mat. Fale hit a Samoan Drop for a nearfall. Archer tried to get his Blackout/modified Razor’s Edge, but Fale escaped. They fought in the corner, but both fell over the top rope and to the floor at 9:30. Archer hit a running flip dive off the ring apron, barreling into Fale on the floor. They fought on the floor again, and Fale managed to get back in the ring at 19, with Archer counted out, being a second too late getting back in the ring.
9. Hirooki Goto (2) defeated Tetsuya Naito (0) in a C Block match at 22:42. Kelly said that if Goto wins the tournament, it would be the longest span between G1 wins in history, as Goto’s only win was 2008. (Worth noting that this is the only tournament matchup between former G1 Climax winners.) Intense reversals to start with neither man taking an advantage, and Naito rolling to the floor at 3:30 to regroup. They fought on the floor, with Naito tying up Goto’s arm in the guardrail. In the ring, Naito went to work on the injured right arm, and he tied up Goto on the mat, and it is evident they are going really long here.
Naito nailed a second-rope Frankensteiner at 13:00, then a spinebuster. Goto tied up Naito in a headlock submission hold. Goto hit his neckbreaker over his knee for a nearfall at 17:30. Naito nailed the Destino/flipping faceplant for a believable nearfall. Naito hit an enzuigiri. Goto hit an inverted DDT out of the corner, and they were both down at 20:00. Goto hit a bodyslam for a nearfall. Naito hit a brainbuster suplex, but couldn’t hit a second Destino; Goto hit a swinging sideslam instead. Goto nailed another backbreaker over his knee and scored the clean pin. That was a shocker.
* Goto spoke (in Japanese) on the mic to close out the show, but we don’t have Chris Charlton here today to handle the translation.
Final Thoughts: Not my favorite night of this tournament. If I was to rank my favorite 20 wrestlers among the 28 to watch in this tournament, Goto, Fale, Owens and Yujiro don’t make the list. The main event was solid and intense, but won’t go down on anyone’s “top 10 matches” of this tournament.
Much like Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shingo Takagi, the loss put Naito in the “chase position,” having to keep winning to keep pace with the bracket leaders.
So, we’ve had 12 tournament matches so far, which means that four wrestlers have yet to start their G1 matches. If you are familiar with the NBA schedule, it is not uncommon for mid-season, one team to have played four more games than their opponent. That is going to be happening this week. Tom Lawlor is among the four wrestlers who haven’t had tournament matches yet. However, several wrestlers will have their second tournament match before Lawlor has his first. This is to be expected when you have just four to six tournament matches per show, and an uneven number of wrestlers (seven) in a block. Unfortunately for Lawlor, it means his matches will be compressed in a shorter timeframe.
The show lasted about three hours.
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