By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “G1 Climax Tournament Night 15”
August 10, 2022 in Hiroshima, Japan at Hiroshima Sun Plaza Hall
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. On this show we have five Block matches.
Kevin Kelly provided commentary from ringside.
NOTE: Jay White is suffering from heat stroke, so he was pulled from the shows Tuesday and Wednesday. Luckily, he was slated for multi-man tag matches those days, and he isn’t slated to miss any tournament action.
1. Jeff Cobb, Will Ospreay, and Aaron Henare defeated Yoshi-Hoshi, Kosei Fujita, and Yuto Nakashima at 5:34. Cobb overpowered Yuto at the start. Yoshi-Hoshi tagged in at 3:30 and traded offense with Ospreay. Henare entered, applied the Full Nelson Lock, and Yuto tapped out. Basic opener.
2. Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano defeated Jonah and Bad Dude Tito at 7:02. Kelly noted that Ishii and Yano are both eliminated. Ishii and Jonah had a very good match in Impact Wrestling this spring. Yano thought he was starting against Tito, but when he turned around, Jonah was standing there, and Yano acted terrified. Funny. Jonah hit a running shoulder tackle that leveled both opponents. Jonah worked over Yano. Ishii made the hot tag at 4:00 and traded forearm shots with Jonah.
Jonah hit his running body splash that dropped Ishii. Ishii fired back with a suplex, and they were both down. Yano tagged back in to fight Tito. Jonah hit a Stinger Splash on Yano, and Tito hit a Blue Thunder Bomb on Yano. Ishii and Jonah brawled to the floor. Yano grabbed Tito’s hair, yanked him to the mat, and got the rollup and pin out of nowhere. Solid stuff.
3. Lance Archer, Taichi, and Taka Michinoku defeated Juice Robinson, Kenta, and Gedo at 7:04. Again, Jay White was supposed to be in this match but was replaced by Gedo. The heels stalled on the floor before the bell, as no one wanted to start against Archer. Juice lost rock-paper-scissors and had to start. A shoulder tackled didn’t budge Archer, and Archer responded with a big bodyslam. Gedo entered and also got a bodyslam from Archer. Meanwhile, Kenta worked over Taka on the floor, and the Bullet Club was taking turns beating up Taka. Taichi entered and hit a spin kick on Gedo, then a running forearm to pin Gedo. Taka wins a match! Archer and Taichi encouraged Taka to climb the ropes and celebrate. Funny.
4. Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, and Sho defeated Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito, Bushi, and Sanada at 8:59. All eight brawled at the bell. Sho and Sanada traded good offense early on. Fale entered and stood on Naito’s chest. Naito hit a basement dropkick on Yujiro and he made the hot tag to Shingo at 5:00. Shingo hit a series of clotheslines. Chase missed a C-Trigger kneestrike attempt on Shingo. Bushi tagged in at 7:00 and hit a missile dropkick on Chase, then a huracanrana on Sho, then a dive through the ropes. Fale hit a running shoulder tackle on Naito. Sho hit a German Suplex on Sanada. Chase nailed a C-Trigger on Shingo, then he hit a C-Trigger on Bushi to pin him for the win. That was a sprint and among the better undercard matches of this tournament.
* Intermission, with Lance Archer joining Kevin Kelly on commentary. (Lawlor, El Phantasmo and Archer have now each done two stints as guest commentator when Chris Charlton has been unavailable.)
5. El Phantasmo (4) defeated David Finlay (6) in a D Block tournament match at 14:23. At 3-1, Finlay is the unlikely leader of his Block. Standing switches to start, as Kelly explained to Archer that it is possible that everyone in the Block could finish at 3-3. They traded rollups. They began trading forearm shots at 5:00. ELP dove through the ropes, with them both crashing to the floor. Phantasmo hit an Asai moonsault at 7:00, then a springboard Swanton Bomb into the ring for a nearfall, and he was controlling the action.
Finlay hit a huracanrana, then he clotheslined ELP to the floor, and he hit a plancha onto Phantasmo at 9:00. In the ring, Finlay hit an Exploder Suplex for a nearfall. ELP nailed a Lionsault for a nearfall. Finlay nailed a uranage over his knee, then a Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall at 11:00. He hit a Sliced Bread #2 for a nearfall. Phantasmo fired back with a step-up enzuigiri in the corner, then a Frankensteiner, then a top-rope frogsplash for a believable nearfall at 13:30. They avoided each other’s big moves, and they traded rollups, when Phantasmo suddenly got the three-count for the clean win. (This inexplicably means that at this moment, Yujiro is the Block leader. That won’t last!) Finlay offered a handshake, but Phantasmo smacked him in the forehead and left.
6. Tama Tonga (w/Jado) (8) defeated Great-O-Khan (2) in a B Block tournament match at 14:32. This is a first-ever singles meeting. An intense lockup and reversals, and they brawled to the floor at 2:30, with O-Khan whipping Tonga into the guardrail. GOK was in control in the ring. Tama fired up and hit a clothesline that leveled O-Khan at 5:30. Tama hit a dropkick and ripped off his jacket, then he hit a Stinger Splash for a nearfall. O-Khan fired back with a snap suplex, and they were both down. O-Khan repeatedly slammed Tama’s head on the top turnbuckle, and Kelly wondered if competing in back-to-back nights was getting to Tama.
They traded mid-ring blows while on their knees, then while on their feet at 10:30. Great-O-Khan hit a series of Mongolian Chops. Tama hit his roll-through Death Valley Driver, then a top-rope frogsplash for a nearfall at 12:00. O-Khan blocked the Gun Stun, and he turned it into a Claw over the face, then he did an airplane spin before dropping Tama to the mat. O-Khan applied the Sheep Killer, a Claw over the face while bending Tama over the knee. O-Khan set up for his Claw-to-the-face chokeslam, but Tama nailed the Gun Stun for the pin; I didn’t think that was it. Tama is now 4-1 but trails Jay White (4-0), with them meeting on the final night.
7. Zack Sabre Jr. (8) defeated EVIL (4) in a C Block tournament match at 2:19. EVIL ran up the ring to attack Sabre, who had a baseball cap pulled down low. It turned out it was Kosei Fujita. Sabre came out of the curtain a second later and he started brawling with EVIL on the ramp. (The bell officially sounds at the 1:30 mark on my clock as they climbed in the ring.) They brawled in the ring when Sabre suddenly got a rollup, leaned backward for leverage, and got the pin. I think the “official” length of the match should be about 43 seconds. I always start my stopwatch at the bell or first contact, whichever comes first. I don’t mind the quick finish, as it was heel-heel and no one really wants to see EVIL’s heel shenanigans.
8. Kazuchika Okada (8) defeated Tom Lawlor (4) in an A Block tournament match at 16:14. Kelly points out that it doesn’t matter if Okada wins or loses here, if he loses to Archer in his final match. Standing switches and mat reversals early. Okada hit a DDT for a nearfall at 4:00. Okada hit a dropkick in the corner, sending Lawlor crashing to the floor. Okada whipped him into a guardrail, then he nailed a Mafia Kick as Lawlor was against the barricade. In the ring, Lawlor applied a modified Triangle Choke at 6:30.
Okada nailed his Shotgun Dropkick into the corner, and they were both down at 9:00. Okada nailed a neckbreaker over his knee. He went for a top-rope elbow drop, but Lawlor caught him and he applied a cross-armbreaker; Okada reached the ropes to escape. They traded forearm shots, and Lawlor wondered how Lawlor is holding up after that legit concussion from Ospreay’s kick a few days ago. Lawlor switched to a Rings of Saturn double-arm submission hold, but Okada reached the ropes again at 12:30.
Okada hit a Landslide bodyslam but he fell to the mat and clutched his left arm. Lawlor hit a modified uranage and he was fired up. This has easily been Lawlor’s best match of the tournament. Lawlor hit an Ibushi-style V-Trigger. Lawlor mockingly did the “Rainmaker pose.” Lawlor nailed a punt kick on Okada’s damaged left arm. Lawlor went for a sunset flip move, but Okada blocked it, sat down, and scored the pin out of nowhere. Really good match. Okada walked over to ringside and had a staredown with Archer.
9. Hirooki Goto (6) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi (6) in a C Block tournament match at 19:01. An intense lockup to start, and Kelly tells us that Tanahashi has a huge all-time wins advantage over Goto. They brawled to the floor at 4:00. In the ring, Goto had taken charge with some basic punches and kicks. Tanahashi dropped Goto with a basement dropkick to the knee, and he began twisting the left leg. Goto hit a short-arm clothesline, and they were both down at 7:00. Goto hit a bulldog for a nearfall. Tanahashi hit a bulldog for a nearfall. Tanahashi applied a Sharpshooter, with Goto finally reaching the ropes at 9:30.
Tanahashi hit a second-rope superplex. Goto tied Tanahashi up on the mat with another double-arm submission hold, and Hiroshi reached the ropes at 12:30, but he was clutching at his left arm. Goto nailed his neckbreaker over his knee. They traded mid-ring forearm shots. They both collapsed, but Tanahashi’s head crashed onto Goto’s groin, and they were both down at 15:00. Tanahashi hit a Sling Blade for a nearfall, then a top-rope crossbody block, but he missed the High Fly Flow frogsplash, and they were both down.
Goto was bleeding heavily from the mouth; I missed what caused that. Goto nailed a Yes Kick to the chest at 18:00. Tanahashi hit a pair of swinging neckbreakers. Goto nailed a neckbreaker over his knee to score the clean pin. The referee immediately handed Goto a hankerchief to stop the bleeding. A really good match. This finish also keeps Naito in play for a chance to win the block.
Final Thoughts: An excellent main event that could have gone either way. Even though Goto isn’t likely to win the block, he will be able to boast he beat both Naito and Tanahashi.
This was a challenging Block for Lawlor with four big men, plus the comedy of Toru Yano. So, he was finally able to really show what he could do here against Okada. Like I said Tuesday, he got a chance to show off a bit of those mat skills against Sabre, too.
I really don’t mind that quick loss for EVIL. He’s a former champion and it doesn’t hurt him at all, and it does create the sense that a match can “end at any time.” It also could very well lead to a program between EVIL and Sabre where they can have regular full-length matches.
I was highly critical of how Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa were booked when they made their big New Japan return after the Bullet Club turned on them in Impact Wrestling. They should have immediately been facing EVIL or Jay White, but instead, they were stuck in undercard matches with Fale and Owens. So, it’s great to see Tama Tonga at 4-1 and headed toward a winner-takes-all match against Jay White.
The tournament takes two days off before resuming Saturday.