By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
NJPW “G1 Climax 33 Night Seven”
July 25, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall
Streamed on New Japan World
The tournament is comprised of 32 wrestlers, spread out in four Blocks, each comprised of eight competitors. This is a round-robin tournament, so each competitor has seven tournament matches. New this year, the top TWO finishers in each Block advance to a single-elimination, eight-man tournament. The winner gets a title shot at Wrestle Kingdom on January 4. Time limits are 20 minutes this year, NOT 30 minutes, so we’ll see how that impacts the tournament. Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton provided live commentary. The tournament is spread out over 19 shows in a 29-day span. At the conclusion of this show, we will be at the half-way point!
We are back at Korakuen Hall and it certainly looks packed. Both this show and Wednesday’s shows are here.
1. Will Ospreay (6) defeated Great-O-Khan (2) in a B Block tournament match at 11:18. This is a battle between United Empire faction partners; New Japan generally tries to avoid these so I’m surprised they are in the same Block. They opened with an intense lockup and Kelly said it is ludicrous to think these two will go easy on each other. O-Khan put his hands behind his back and he let Ospreay hit some chops and forearms. Ospreay the put his hands behind his back, and O-Khan hit some Mongolian Chops and a back body drop at 1:30, and he grounded Will. Ospreay hit a handspring-back-spin kick, then a crossbody block to the floor. In the ring, Ospreay hit a springboard flying forearm for a nearfall at 4:30.
Ospreay applied the Sheepkiller submission hold; he walked to the ropes and tossed Ospreay over the rope and to the floor at 6:30. On the floor, O-Khan whipped him into a guardrail, and they went into the crowd. O-Khan cracked him over the back with a chair, and Kelly warned that he’s risking a disqualification. In the ring, the ref refused to make a count. Ospreay hit his spin kick to the face, but he couldn’t hit the Hidden Blade. O-Khan knocked down the ref and he sprayed Ospreay with mist and got a nearfall at 8:30! O-Khan clotheslined Ospreay over the ropes to the floor, then he hit a plancha onto Ospreay.
Ospreay nailed a couple more kicks to the face. O-Khan hit a clothesline for a nearfall at 10:00. (The clock is spot-on.) O-Khan hit a moonsault for a nearfall. He went for his claw sla but Ospreay avoided it, and Will hit a mid-ring Spanish Fly for a nearfall. Ospreay nailed the Oscutter springboard stunner for a believable nearfall, then the top-rope Phoenix Splash for the pin. That was really, really good. Ospreay helped a reluctant O-Khan to his feet, and they hugged. At 1-3, O-Khan is eliminated.
2. Shota Umino (4) defeated Gabe Kidd (4) in an A Block tournament match at 14:49. Shota entered through the crowd; Kidd ran through a side door and attacked Umino, and they fought far from the ring; we can see with this view there isn’t an empty seat in the building. (I always start my stopwatch at first contact or the bell, whichever is first.) They made it to ringside, where Kidd whipped Shota into the ring post, and they got in the ring at 2:00 to officially begin the match. Kidd hit a clothesline for a nearfall. Kidd hit a brainbuster on the ring apron, with Shota rolling to the floor. Kidd ordered the referee to begin counting out Umino. Shota got back in at the 17-count at 4:00, but Kidd remained in control of the offense and was loudly booed.
Kidd grabbed a towel from a fan and he choked Shota with it. Kidd hit a fisherman’s suplex for a nearfall at 6:30. Shota hit a diving European Uppercut and they were both down. Shota hit a fisherman’s suplex for a nearfall, but he was clutching at his sore neck, and Kelly compared Shota to Curt Hennig. Shota hit his Moxley-style elbow strikes to the side of the head and a dropkick, then a missile dropkick and a sideslam for a nearfall at 9:00. Kidd applied a Dragon Sleeper in the ropes and held it until the four-count, with the crowd loudly booing him. Kidd playfully kicked him, then spit on him, drawing the ire of the fans. Shota hit a head-capture Exploder Suplex at 11:30. (We heard the 10-minute call seconds later.)
Kidd went for a low blow but Shota blocked it. Shota hit a pop-up European Uppercut and a swinging neckbreaker for a nearfall, but he couldn’t get the Death Rider DDT. Gabe hit a back suplex for a nearfall at 13:30. Shota hit a DDT and he was fired up. He nailed the Death Rider double-arm DDt for the pin, and Kelly noted it is his first-ever G1 victory (his first two points came in time-limit draws.) Again, official time is about 13:00 even.
3. Kenta (4) defeated Taichi (w/Yujiro Takahashi) (4) in a B Block tournament match at 2:19. Kelly said this is actually a first-ever singles meeting, as they’ve been in opposite Blocks since Kenta returned to NJPW. Kenta hit Yujiro before the bell, then he hit Taichi with his Defy Title belt and got a nearfall just seconds in. The ref got bumped; Taichi got a Gedo Clutch rollup for a visual pin at 2:00 but the ref was down. Kenta hit a low blow, got the rollup, and the cheap pin. That’s a big blow for Taichi’s chances of reaching the playoffs.
4. Yota Tsuji (3) defeated Chase Owens (4) in an A Block tournament match at 11:46. Owens attacked before the bell, and they brawled on the floor. In the ring, Owens was in charge, and he applied a crossface at 5:30. Yota dove through the ropes and barreled onto Chase and he was fired up. Owens hit a running penalty kick to the chest for a nearfall at 9:00. He hit a Death Valley Driver for a nearfall, then the Jewel Heist short-arm clothesline for a nearfall. He set up for the package piledriver but Yota powered free. Yota hit a Falcon Arrow and a kneestrike and he was fired up. He hit a spear for the pin. This also is Yota’s first ever G1 victory.
5. El Phantasmo (2) defeated Tanga Loa (2) in a B Block tournament match at 12:14. They brawled to the floor early on and traded chops in front of the crowd. Loa whipped ELP at the guardrail, but Phantasmo leapt over it and landed on the other side, drawing a pop from the crowd for the athleticism. ELP dove off a riser onto Loa at 4:00. In the ring, ELP hit a Lionsault for a nearfall. Loa hit a German Suplex. ELP did a backslide for a nearfall. Loa nailed a swinging uranage for a nearfall at 7:30, then a Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall, then a Jackhammer for a nearfall.
Phantasmo hit a step-up enzuigiri in the corner; he set up for a Frankensteiner, but Loa nailed a second-rope powerbomb at 11:00, and they were both down. Loa went for a running Bulldog Powerslam, but ELP escaped, got a Crucifix Driver, and scored the pin. At 1-3, both men are essentially eliminated. They shook hands; ELP seemed more beat up than Loa was.
6. Hikuleo (2) defeated Ren Narita (2) in an A Block tournament match at 11:59. A stark height difference here and they opened with some intense lockups. Hikuleo hit a hard Mafia Kick at 1:30 that leveled Narita. They went to the floor, where Hikuleo whipped him into the guardrail, then he slammed Ren onto the ring apron. In the ring, Hikuleo hip-tossed Ren all the way across the ring at 4:30, then he hit a running Bulldog Powerslam for a nearfall. “This is the Hikuleo we needed to see in this tournament,” Charlton said.
Hikuleo set up for a brainbuster, but Ren escaped and tried choking him. Hikuleo hit a sideslam and they were both down at 6:30. Hikuleo hit a brainbuster for a nearfall. Ren hit some Mafia Kicks that only staggered Hikuleo, then a running neckbreaker, and they were both down. Ren applied a Texas Cloverleaf, but Hikuleo immediately reached the ropes at 10:00. Ren applied a rear-naked choke. Hikuleo nailed a powerslam and they were both down. Ren applied a cross-armbreaker out of nowhere, then a running knee for a nearfall. They traded open-hand slaps to the face, and Hikuleo hit a chokeslam for the pin, becoming the third person on this show to score his first-ever G1 win.
7. Kazuchika Okada (8) defeated Yoshi-Hashi (4) in a B Block tournament match at 16:30. Intense lockup with Okada leaning him against the ropes and playfully patting him on the chest. They brawled to the floor, and Okada slammed him head-first into the ringpost at 3:00. In the ring, Yoshi-Hashi hit the Headhunter flipping faceplant and a clothesline in the corner, then a standing neckbreaker for a nearfall at 6:30. He hit a basement dropkick on Okada’s knee, as they went back to the floor. Yoshi-Hashi hit a running dropkick as Okada was draped across the guardrail. In the ring, Y-H hit a sit-out powerbomb for a nearfall.
Okada nailed a neckbreaker over his knee at 10:00 and they were both down. Okada hit some kicks; Yoshi-Hashi hit some forearm shots. Okada set up for a dropkick but Yoshi-Hashi held onto the ropes to avoid it, and Y-H hit a hard kick to the face. They traded open-hand slaps at 12:30. Yoshi-Hashi hit a short-arm clothesline and the crowd came alive. Yoshi-Hashi hit a suplex for a nearfall; he set up for a pump-handle slam but Okada blocked it.
Okada applied the Money Clip submission hold at 14:30, and the crowd rallied for Yoshi-Hashi. He hit the dropkick, then a Landslide (Michinoku Driver), but Yoshi-Hashi avoided the Rainmaker and got a rollup for a believable nearfall. Y-H hit a superkick. Okada hit a sideslam, then the Rainmaker short-arm clothesline for the pin. Good match, particularly the final five minutes. Okada is the first wrestler to reach eight points, at 4-0, which officially eliminates many combatants who are 1-3.
8. Sanada (8) defeated Kaito Kiyomiya (5) in an A Block tournament match at 19:58. They traded mat holds early on and this has the big fight feel to it. Kaito hit a dropkick for a nearfall at 4:30. They worked each other’s arms; there isn’t a lot to describe here. Kaito hit a flip dive over the ropes to the floor at 7:00. In the ring, Kaito hit a German Suplex for a nearfall. Sanada hit a dropkick that sent Kaito to the floor, then he hit the plancha to the floor. Sanada placed Kaito’s feet on the ring apron and he hit a swinging neckbreaker onto the floor at 10:00.
In the ring, Sanada hit a back suplex for a nearfall. He went for Skull End but Kaito escaped and hit a basement dropkick on Sanada’s right thigh, and they were both down at 12:00. He hit some basement dropkicks on Sanada’s knee, then a top-rope missile dropkick on the knee, a Dragonscrew Legwhip, and he applied the Figure Four, but Sanada finally reached the ropes at 15:00. Sanada went for a suplex but his knee buckled and he collapsed. Kaito hit some European Uppercuts. Sanada fired back with a Tiger Driver, and they were both down.
Sanada applied the Skull End, but he missed a moonsault, landing on his feet. Kaito immediately hit a Shining Wizard and they were both down. Kelly noted that he “hit his finisher on the world champ and can’t follow it up!” Sanada hit a dropkick; Kaito nailed a Tiger Suplex for a nearfall at 18:00. Sanada nailed a pop-up stunner but struggled to get to his feet. He hit the Shining Wizard, but eh couldn’t hit Deadfall. Kaito got a rollup for a believable nearfall. Sanada nailed a Shining Wizard for the pin. Charlton and Kelly marveled that he scored the pin with two seconds left in the time limit; they thought the time limit was going to expire during the pinfall. Sanada joins Okada at being 4-0 (eight points.)
* Sanada got on the mic and praised Kaito for coming from another company and deciding to “swim with the sharks” in the tournament. He said he had a gift for us; the lights were turned off and everyone held up their cell phones to light the room. He told us he’d see us next time!
Final Thoughts: That main event was great. Like I said, the mat reversals didn’t leave a lot to describe early, but they really picked up. I definitely thought we were going to a time-limit draw. Okada vs. Yoshi-Hashi also picked up nicely after a slow start and earned second best. The Opsreay vs. Great-O-Khan opener was really strong for third place.
The tournament returns to Korakuen Hall on Wednesday with the C and D Blocks in action.