By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “G1 Climax Tournament Night 18”
August 16, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan at Budokan hall
Streamed live on New Japan World
This is the final night of the round-robin action in the tournament, and all eight matches are tournament matches. Each of winners of the four brackets, or Blocks, will be determined tonight. While the announcers will explain all sorts of tiebreakers, if past is prologue, we will have losses early in the night that will eliminate wrestlers, so those tiebreaker scenarios don’t come to fruition.
Kevin Kelly, Chris Charlton and Chase Owens provided commentary from ringside. “What a ride it has been,” Kelly said. Again, as expected, Kelly and Charlton talked about what would happen if everyone in the D Block finishes at 3-3, and what will occur on Wednesday’s show.
This venue is huge and it certainly sounds like we have a large crowd on hand. I can see fans in the second and third tier of seating, so it seems pretty packed.
1. Will Ospreay (8) defeated Juice Robinson (4) in a D Block tournament match at 12:28. They brawled on the ramp before the match began, and entered the ring at 1:30 to officially start the match. They brawled right back to the floor. In the ring, Ospreay hit a top-rope flying forearm at 5:00, then a plancha to the floor. The announcers talked about how Ospreay now has the title that was stripped of Juice because Juice had appendicitis. Ospreay hit another top-rope forearm shot at 7:30. He went for a 450 Splash, but Juice got his knees up.
Ospreay hit the Shotgun Dropkick, sending Juice flying into the ref, with them both crashing into the corner. Juice went under the ring and grabbed the missing U.S. title. However, Ospreay ducked being hit with it. Ospreay set up for the Hidden Blade, but Juice hit him with the belt to the face, and he got a nearfall at 10:30. Juice rolled Ospreay to the floor and hit a piledriver on the bare floor. In the ring, Juice nailed Pulp Friction/Unprettier for a believable nearfall. Juice put Ospreay on his shoulders, setting up for a Death Valley Driver. However, Ospreay escaped, hit the Hidden Blade/running forearm to the jaw and scored the pin. Kelly said with the win, five men in D Block are now eliminated, so either Ospreay or Shingo Takagi will win the Block and advance.
2. El Phantasmo (6) defeated Shingo Takagi (6) in a D Block tournament match at 12:12. ELP hit an impressive double-jump springboard dive onto Shingo on the floor early on. In the ring, Shingo hit some punches and a clothesline that dropped Phantasmo at 3:00. Shingo hit a senton, then a vertical suplex for a nearfall. Phantasmo hit his airplane spin-into-a-neckbreaker. Shingo nailed a Death Valley Driver on the floor, rolled ELP in the ring, and got a nearfall at 6:00. Phantasmo fired back with an enzuigiri. Shingo hit a DDT and they were both down.
Phantasmo hit a step-up enziguri in the corner, then an impressive top-rope Frankensteiner, then a frogsplashgoing across the ring for a nearfall, and they were both down at 9:00. Great sequence. Shingo fired back with a clothesline, then a Gory Bomb and a Pumping Bomber clothesline for a nearfall. Shingo hit a Death Valley Driver. Phantasmo hit his CR2/modified Styles Clash for a nearfall, and they were both down at 11:30. Phantasmo set up for another CR2, but instead, he nailed a piledriver for the clean pin. With Shingo’s loss, Ospreay wins the D Block!
3. EVIL (w/Dick Togo) (6) defeated Hirooki Goto (6) in a C Block tournament match at 9:15. EVIL also attacked Goto on the ramp, but they were in the ring in under a minute, with basic brawling. Kelly talked about how if Goto wins, there will be a play-in match tomorrow, but as I stated above, I doubt a play-in happens. Goto hit a clothesline at 3:00, and they were both down. They brawled to the floor, with EVIL whipping Goto into the ring apron at 4:30. Togo hid under the ring, and he held Goto’s foot; Goto had to stomp on Togo to escape and barely get in the ring before being counted out. EVIL immediately hit Darkness Falls for a nearfall.
Goto hit his inverted DDT in the corner, and they were both down at 7:00. Goto nailed his neckbreaker over the knee. The ref got bumped. Goto hit a Goldberg-style Jackhammer move for a nearfall. EVIL distracted the ref, allowing Togo to hit a low blow kick. EVIL immediately hit the Everything Is Evil/rock bottom for the tainted pin. So, the loss eliminates Goto, and means the winner of the next match wins the C Block.
4. Tetsuya Naito (8) defeated Zack Sabre Jr. (8) in a C Block tournmament match at 2:02. Again, Naito started in a 0-2 hole but has won three straight to climb back into a tie for first. They traded quick rollups and the announcers remarked that they clearly aren’t going 30 minutes. Naito got a rollup for the pin, and Zack was shocked. (Appropriate because Sabre won a match against EVIL in a similarly quick fasion.) Sabre threw a fit at ringside, tearing apart ringside. Naito completes the comeback to win the Block.
5. Tomohiro Ishii (4) defeated Sanada (6) in a B Block tournament match at 12:51. They traded rollups early. They traded chops. They speculated it could be Ishii’s final year in the G1. Sanada hit a DDT on the floor, then a missile dropkick at 4:30. Ishii hit a German suplex. Sanada put Ishii’s feet on the ropes and he hit a twisting faceplant at 7:00, then a TKO stunner for a nearfall. Sanada applied the Skull End submission hold, but Ishii wouldn’t tap out. Sanada let go of the hold, but he missed a moonsault.
Ishii hit an enzuigiri, and he fired up. He hit a hard clothesline for a nearfall at 10:00. Sanada fired back with a DDT, then a crucifix rollup for a believable nearfall. Sanada got the O’Connor Roll for a believable nearfall. Ishii nailed a Dragon Suplex, but Sanada popped up and hit a Tiger Suplex. Ishii then hit the Brainbuster for the clean pin. Really good match.
6. Tama Tonga (w/Jado) (10) defeated Jay White (w/Gedo) (10) in a B Block tournament match at 14:03. Tonga charged him and hit several punches, and Jay bailed to the floor. They fought on the floor, and White slammed him stomach-first on the ring apron at 2:30. White brought him in the ring and was in control. Charlton noted that not since 2000 has the New Japan World champion has also won G1 Climax tournament. White hit a series of chops in the corner at 5:00. Tama fired up and hit several bodyslams, and the crowd was hot. Tama nailed a Stinger Splash and a high belly-to-back suplex for a nearfall.
White hit a DDT, and they were both down at 7:30. White hit a Flatliner faceplant and again took control. Kelly said White is 16-1 in singles matches in the past year, with his sole loss to Ishii. Tama nailed a top-rope frogsplash for a nearfall at 10:30. Tama set up for Gun Stun, but White caught him and hit a uranage. White nailed a sleeper suplex. Tama again couldn’t hit Gun Stun, but he nailed a Moxley-style double-arm DDT for a nearfall at 13:00. Tama again tried Gun Stun, but White avoided it and White hit another sleeper suplex. Tonga’s fourth Gun Stun was blocked, but he immediately hit the Gun Stun on attempt #5 for the clean pin. “Tama Tonga has done it!” Kelly exclaimed.
7. Jonah (w/Bad Dude Tito) (8) defeated Bad Luck Fale (4) in an A Block tournament match at 9:12. Again, Jonah is 3-2, but his two losses have been via countout. He is technically still alive, so I’m thinking Fale wins or they have a draw. Charlton did the quick math to determine that Fale is 353 pounds. They stood toe to toe and took turns, slowly, trading forearm shots. Jonah hit a running splash off the ring apron to the floor, and they brawled on the floor. In the ring, Fale hit several running Stinger Splashes at 5:00. Jonah escaped and hit his own running splashes in the corner. Fale hit a spear, and they were both down at 7:00. Jonah avoided the Grenade, and he hit a headbutt and a clothesline. Jonah hit a massive bodyslam, then the Torpedo frogsplash for the clean pin. Very good match for the time given.
8. Kazuchika Okada (10) defeated Lance Archer (6) in an A Block tournament match at 12:43. Archer stood in the middle of the ring, eyes shut, jacket pulled up over his head. Okada walked up to him, and Archer immediately grabbed him and hit a chokeslam, just seconds into the match. Okada hit some forearms, but he is already selling the pain. Archer hit a Monty Brown Pounce, and Okada rolled to the floor at 2:00. Archer slammed his head into the ring barricade. Archer nailed a rolling cannonball into Okada as he was lying against the guardrail,
Archer picked up a Young Lion and bodyslammed him onto Okada. Funny. Archer turned and kicked a Young Lion into a guardrail; not sure if it was the same one. Archer walked the tight rope and hit a moonsault onto Okada in the ring at 5:30. Okada fired right back with a Rainmaker clothesline, and they were both down. Archer went for another dropkick, but Okada escaped and hit two dropkicks. Okada tried for a bodyslam but couldn’t get him up; moments later, he hit the bodyslam. Okada hit a top-rope elbowdrop. Archer fired back with his own dropkick at 8:30, then his own Rainmaker for a believable nearfall! “Listen to this building!” Kelly shouted as the crowd went nuts for the kickout.
Archer hit Blackout/modified Razor’s Edge, but he made a lazy cover, and Okada rolled him up for a nearfalll at 10:00. Archer nailed a running knee in the corner. Archer set up for another Blackout, but Okada escaped, chopblocked the knee, and he applied the Money Clip sleeperhold in the middle of the ring. Archer escaped and hit a clothesline at 12:00. Okada hit another dropkick and a Landslide sit-out powerbomb, then the Rainmaker clothesline for the pin. Very good match. Okada survives the “Monster Block” and finishes at 5-1. with his sole loss via clean pinfall to Jonah.
* Okada got on the mic and thanked the fans for their support. He said there is just two days left in the tournament. He said they can bring even more fire, and he encouraged the fans to bring even more energy the next two days.
Final Thoughts: No rest for this tournament, as New Japan is back in action on Wednesday with Tama Tonga vs. Okada in one semifinal match, while Naito faces Ospreay for the first time ever in the other semifinal. The rest of the card will be announced prior to the show, but to be blunt, it will be like the NFL Pro Bowl — people will be going through the motions. It’s been a long grueling tournament, and I really don’t expect any standout matches outside of the double main event.
There were times I forgot Chase Owens was on commentary. He added a few thoughts here and there, but he largely let Kelly and Charlton do their thing. My favorite Owens comment came as Archer was dominating early and Kelly said that if he wins, Archer will be in Japan more frequently, and Owens quickly said, “I don’t want to fight this guy!”
New Japan truly values parity, so I wasn’t surprised to see so many people wind up at 3-3. With Ishii’s win to improve to 2-4, it left just Aaron Henare and Toru Yano at 1-5.