By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “G1 Climax Tournament Night 4”
July 23, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan at Ota City General Gymnasium
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.
I noted this the other day — because of the odd number of people in each block, it means several wrestlers on this show (Jay White, Tomohiro Ishii, etc.) will have their second tournament match while three others (Great-O-Khan, EVIL, Tom Lawlor) haven’t had their first tournament match.
Kevin Kelly and Chris Chartlon provided live commentary from ringside. It’s so good to have Charlton back in the booth to provide that Japanese translation.
1. Kenta, Juice Robinson, and El Phantasmo defeated Ryohei Oiwa, Hirooki Goto, and David Finlay at 8:12. I think this is the first meeting between Finlay and Juice since Juice defected and joined the Bullet Club. Juice held the U.S. Title above his head, got on the mic, and declared he is still champion (he isn’t, he was stripped due to missing a month with appendicitis, but still has the belt). All six brawled at the bell, with Juice and Finlay immediately brawling, and the announcers talked about Juice’s heel turn. “Finlay was mentally and spiritually betrayed,” Charlton observed.
Kenta and Goto got in and traded offense. The heels worked over Goto. Oiwa entered and hit a gutwrench suplex on ELP at 7:00. Oiwa hit a dropkick on Juice. However, as Oiwa got to his feet and turned around, Phantasmo caught Oiwa with a superkick to the jaw to score the pin. Good opener.
2. Jonah and Bad Dude Tito vs. Tom Lawlor and Royce Isaacs at 9:20. Again, Lawlor has to wait a few more days before he gets his first tournament match. Jonah and Lawlor opened, as they will have an A Block tournament match. Lawlor tried a sleeper. Royce and Tito tagged in and traded reversals, with Royce hitting a delayed vertical suplex for a nearfall at 3:30. Jonah and Tito worked over Royce. Royce hit an impressive German suplex on Jonah at 7:00. Lawlor made the hot tag and he worked over Tito. Lawlor applied a submission hold on the mat, and Tito tapped out. Solid match.
3. Yujiro Takahashi, Bad Luck Fale, and Chase Owens defeated Lance Archer, Taka Michinoku, and Taichi at 6:14. Archer and Fale jawed at each other before the bell, and they brawled in and out of the ring to start. Taichi and Chase squared off. All six brawled in the ring. Fale hit a Stinger Splash on Taka, squishing him in the corner. That allowed Yujiro to hit his Pimp Juice jumping DDT on Taka for the pin. Solid heel-heel matchup; I appreciate that no one was beat down extensively to create a “hot tag” spot, as the crowd wouldn’t have cheered any of these six.
4. Great-O-Khan, Will Ospreay, and Jeff Cobb defeated Dick Togo, Sho, and EVIL at 7:37. Again, O-Khan still hasn’t had his first tournament match. Togo asked Cobb for a test of strength to start the match, which led to some humor. EVIL and Ospreay traded offense. GOK hit a snap suplex on Sho for a nearfall at 5:00. Togo got his wire and he choked O-Khan. Ospreay hit a plancha on Sho. Cobb tossed Togo into O-Khan’s arms, and O-Khan applied a Claw, forcing Togo to tap out.
5. Tetsuya Naito, Bushi, and Sanada defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jado, and Tama Tonga at 8:56. Pretty basic match with more stalling than I’d prefer. Sanada applied the Skull End to get Jado to tap out.
6. Zack Sabre Jr. (4) defeated Aaron Henare (2) in a C Block tournament match at 14:14. Sabre tied him up in the ropes. Henare also tied up Sabre and hit a Curb Stomp for a nearfall at 5:00. Henare unloaded some kicks. Sabre went for an ankle lock, but Henare dove for the ropes at 8:00. They fought on the floor, where Henare hit a suplex onto the thin mat. In the ring, Henare nailed a Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall at 10:30.
Henare hit a second-rope senton splash at 13:00 and remained in control. He went for the full nelson lock, but Sabre avoided it. Henare got it on, but Sabre escaped. Sabre applied an ankle lock, and Henare tapped out. Good mat-based match. Sabre is quickly 2-0, and he always seems to do well in tournaments.
7. Shingo Takagi (2) defeated Yoshi-Hoshi (0) in a D Block tournament match at 17:58. Charlton said this is a first-time-ever singles match. They traded shoulder tackles without budging to open. They brawled to the floor, and Shingo whipped Yoshi-Hoshi into the guardrail at 3;00. Shingo hit a suplex in the ring and went to work on Yoshi-Hoshi’s right arm. Yoshi-Hoshi fired back with a Rude Awakening standing neckbreaker for a nearfall at 7:00.
Shingo set up for Made in Japan but Yoshi-Hoshi avoided it. Yoshi hit a full nelson suplex, but Shingo hopped up and immediately hit a basement clothesline, and they were both down. Shingo nailed a second-rope superplex, and they were both down at 11:00. Shingo nailed the Made In Japan sit-out powerbomb for a believable nearfall, and the crowd was hot. Shingo nailed a Pumping Bomber clothesline for a believable nearfall at 13:30. Yoshi-Hoshi fired back with a DDT. They traded hard mid-ring blows. Yoshi-Hoshi hit Karma (identical move as a Made In Japan) for a nearfall at 16:00.
The crowd was really hot. Yoshi-Hoshi nailed a superkick, then a Canadian Destroyer. Yoshi-Hoshi nailed a modified brainbuster for a believable nearfall, then a hard clothesline. Yoshi-Hoshi set up for another Karma, but Shingo escaped, got a rollup, and the clean pin. Wow, that was really, really good. I figured Shingo was going to win because he was 0-1 and couldn’t start 0-2, but Yoshi-Hoshi put up a great fight.
8. Kazuchika Okada (4) defeated Toru Yano (2) in an A Block tournament match at 10:18. Yano attacked him before the bell, and they fought on the floor, and Okada barely made it back in the ring before being counted out. (Yano beat Jonah via countout in his first tournament match, so it can happen!) In the ring, Okada hit a running back elbow at 4:30, then a DDT for a nearfall. Kelly noted that Okada is 3-0 against Yano. Okada hit a neckbreaker over his thigh. Okada nailed a top-rope elbow drop at 7:00. Yano hit a standing powerbomb for a believable nearfall out of nowhere.
Yano went to the floor and got a chair and dropped it in the ring. However, Okada hit a DDT onto the folded chair. Okada applied the Money Clip submission hold. Yano sprayed mist in Okada’s eyes, rolled him up, and got another believable nearfall. Yano went for a low blow but Okada caught his arm to block it. Okada hit a dropkick and a neckbreaker over his back. Okada applied the Money Clip on the mat, and Yano tapped out. (Kelly was off on the announced match times — he thought the five-minute call was 10 minutes, and the 10-minute call was 15 minutes. I’m not sure why Charlton didn’t correct him.)
9. Jay White (w/Gedo) (4) defeated Tomohiro Ishii (0) in a B Block tournament match at 22:01. Kelly said White’s only singles loss in the past year was against Ishii, and Ishii is 2-0 vs. White in G1 matches. White had Gedo sit down at ringside, showing he’s not there to cheat. An intense lockup to start. They went to the floor. With the referee distracted, Gedo nailed Ishii with a chairshot. White whipped Ishii into the guardrail at 2:30. White rolled Ishii into the ring, but the referee refused to make a three-count. White applied a single-leg crab, but Ishii reached the ropes at 4:30 and he stayed in full control.
Ishii caught him with a powerslam at 6:30, and that fired up the crowd. Ishii unloaded his hard chops and forearm shots in the corner. Ishii hit a side suplex for a nearfall. White hit a DDT, standing Ishii straight on his head, at 8:30. White began hitting shoulder blocks into Ishii’s gut. White dropped Ishii stomach-first on the ring apron. In the ring, White hit his swinging brainbuster for a nearfall at 10:30. Ishii is really selling the rib injury.
White hit a Flatliner and a German Suplex, then a Rock Bottom-style uranage for a believable nearfall at 12:30. White hit a hard punch to Ishii’s gut, and Ishii sold it like he had been shot. White hit a second-rope superplex at 14:00, but Ishii hopped up, only to have White immediately knock him down again. Ishii nailed a second-rope superplex to get a nearfall at 15:30. Ishii hit an enzuigiri, then a sliding clothesline for a believable nearfall.
Ishii hit a German Suplex, and he nailed Gedo, who had hopped on the ring apron. White hit a brainbuster but Ishii popped up. White nailed a clothesline and Ishii tried to get to his feet again, but collapsed. This is so good, and the crowd was going nuts. They were on all fours, and Ishii clocked him with a headbutt. They got to their feet and traded forearm shots, and Ishii dropped him with a headbutt, and he got a standing powerbomb for a believable nearfall at 19:30.
They traded quick reversals and White hit a sleeper-hold suplex. White went for his Blade Runner swinging faceplant, but Ishii hit his own sleeper-hold suplex. Ishii nailed a decapitating clothesline for a believable nearfall. White caught him with the Blade Runner for the pin. WOW.
* White got on the mic and tried to start an “Ishii!” chant. He said he would speak to fans in Japanese, and he brought a masked Young Lion into the ring. He started clapping his hands, as if speaking Morse Code to them. Awkward and not entertaining.
Final Thoughts: We’ve now had 16 tournament matches over the first four shows, and White-Ishii is easily the best of the bunch so far, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is my favorite of the whole tournament. I loved everything about this. Ishii has had White’s number in the past, so even though White is seen at a higher level, I truly thought Ishii was going to pull off the upset.
Shingo-Yoshi was really, really good and topped my expectations. And I actually expected Yano to win, to put Okada behind the leaders in the block.
I don’t want to be a broken record on this, but with a new COVID variant spreading quickly (even if it’s not as lethal), it just doesn’t make sense to have all these non-tournament matches on each show. Let the wrestlers in the G1 tournament have days off between tournament matches to rest up.
The show clocked in at just over three hours.