By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
NJPW “G1 Climax 33 Night 14”
August 6, 2023 in Osaka, Japan at Edion Arena
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. The tournament is spread out over 19 shows in a 29-day span. Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton provided live commentary.
This is the final night of action for the B Block. Kazuchika Okada (5-1, 10 points) has locked down one playoff spot already. We also have the return of undercard, non-tournament matches, with 15 of the 24 wrestlers from the A, C and D Blocks in action. We once again are in a small arena and the crowd must be in the low thousands.
1) “Just 5 Guys” Sanada and Douki defeated Kaito Kiyomiya and Ryohei Oiwa at 10:42. Kelly and Charlton talked about the disappointment for Kaito to come to NJPW for the tournament and not make the playoffs, as he was eliminated Saturday. Sanada and Kaito started, then Douki worked over Oiwa. Sanada and Kaito got back in at 6:00, and Kaito hit a Dragonscrew Legwhip. Oiwa hit a gutwrench suplex on Sanada for a nearfall at 8:30. Sanada placed Oiwa’s feet on the top rope and hit a swinging neckbreaker, then he applied Skull End, but Kaito made the save. Douki dove to the floor on Kaito. Sanada re-applied Skull End, and Oiwa tapped out. While the winner was never in doubt, this was better than several of Saturday’s undercard matches, as I always like watching the Young Lions battle the top tier. For being so young, Oiwa really looks like he belongs in the ring with Sanada.
2. Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tomohiro Ishii defeated “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” Mikey Nicholls and Kosei Fujita at 10:22. Ishii and Nicholls started,, as Kelly said they will face each other on Tuesday, with Ishii hitting a delayed vertical suplex early on. Kelly said Fujita is headed to Australia on excursion with Robbie Eagles. Nicholls tied up Tanahashi on the mat. Ishii made the hot tag back in at 5:00 and he traded forearm shots with Nicholls. Ishii hit a German Suplex. Fujita hit a dropkick on Tanahashi and some forearm shots. Tanahashi applied a Texas Cloverleaf at 9:00 but Nicholls made the save. Tanahashi again applied the Texas Cloverleaf, and Fujita tapped out. Same as the prior match; I just like seeing the Young Lions in action against the top-tier stars, as you can just see them learning so much. Ishii and Nicholls traded more forearm shots after the bell.
3) “United Empire” Jeff Cobb and Henare defeated Tama Tonga and Hiroyoshi Tenzan at 9:53. Tama and Henare started. Tenzan entered and hit some Mongolian Chops. Cobb entered and traded blows with Tenzan, with Tenzan hitting a suplex at 5:00. Tama tagged back in; he hit a hard clothesline and ripped off his vest. Henare hit a Blue Thunder Bomb on Tama. Cobb taged back in, but Tama hit the Tongan Twist. Cobb hit a headbutt on Tenzan but it hurt Cobb. Tenzan hit a suplex for a nearfall at 8:00 and he applied the Anaconda Vice, but Henare made the save. Cobb hit a standing moonsault for a nearfall. Cobb hit some Mongolian Chops and was loudly booed; Tenzan hit his own Mongolian Chops. Cobb hit the Tour of the Islands swinging powerslam out of nowhere for the pin.
4) “The Bullet Club” David Finlay and Chase Owens defeated Eddie Kingston and Togi Makabe at 10:22. Finlay and Kingston started, and Charlton talked about how Eddie is “living his best life” this tour and achieving goals he has fought for over a long career. Owens got in, shouted at Eddie, and said “the Yankees suck.” The crowd utterly did not care. Funny. The BC worked over Togi in their corner. Kingston made the hot tag at 5:30 and he hit the rapid-fire chops in the corner on Chase, then an Exploder Suplex. Chase hit a backbreaker over his knee on Kingston. Kingston hit the rapid-fire chops on Finlay. Togi tagged back in and hit a series of punches in the corner on Finlay and he clotheslines on both opponents. Finlay hit a diving clothesline to the back of Togi’s head for a nearfall, then the Oblivion neckbreaker over his knee on Makabe for the pin. Finlay and Kingston glared at each other after the bell, as they will meet Tuesday with the winner getting a playoff spot.
5) “Los Ingobernobles De Japon” Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, Yota Tsuji, and Bushi defeated “House of Torture” EVIL, Sho, Yujiro Takahashi, and Dick Togo at 9:43. HoT attacked before the bell and all eight men brawled. The heels began working over Bushi. Tsuji tagged in at 3:00 and hit a huracanrana on Yujiro, then a Bulldog Powerslam. EVIL and Shingo tagged in at 5:00 to preview their match on Wednesday, and Shingo hit a Dragonscrew Legwhip and a suplex for a nearfall. EVIL applied a Sharpshooter. Shingo hit a DDT on Togo at 7:00, and Naito tagged in and he beat up Togo. Togo choked Naito with his steel wire while the ref was distracted. BUshi hit a Lungblower on Sho. Naito hit Destino on Togo for the pin.
* Shingo and EVIL brawled after the bell, with EVIL charging at him with an electric razor. Apparently, EVIL had made a comment that if he doesn’t reach the playoffs, he will shave himself bald, so that is putting added pressure on his match Wednesday with Shingo.
6) Kenta (6) defeated Yoshi-Hashi (4) in a B Block tournament match at 12:16. Kelly said Kenta has had 25 singles matches (14-11) in the past year in NJPW, more than anyone else. Both men are already eliminated. They brawled to the floor, with Kenta whipping Yoshi-Hashi into the guardrail at 2:00. In the ring, Kenta grounded Yoshi-Hashi, and he playfully kicked at him. Yoshi-Hashi hit a basement dropkick on the knee at 5:30, and he hit the Headhunter overhead flipping faceplant. The ref got bumped, and Kenta hit a DDT. Kenta went under the ring and got a kendo stick, and he hit Yoshi-Hashi across the back and chest.
Kenta grabbed Y-H’s bo staff at 8:30; he swung at Yoshi-Hashi and it bounced off the top rope and hit Kenta in his face, and they were both down. Y-H hit a sit-out powerbomb for a nearfall. They traded forearm shots. Kenta hit a series of open-hand slaps to the face and a running knee for a nearfall at 11:00. Yoshi-Hashi hit a superkick and a brainbuster for a nearfall. Kenta went for a low blow but Yoshi-Hashi blocked it. Y-H went for Karma, but Kenta got an inside cradle for a clean pin.
7) Great-O-Khan (6) defeated Taichi (6) in a B Block tournament match at 17:42. An extended feeling-out process to start. O-Khan picked up Taichi and tossed him over the top rope to the floor at 3:00, then he threw Taichi into the guardrail. O-Khan wrapped Taichi’s arm in the guardrail and worked it over. In the ring, Taichi hit a spin kick to the head at 6:30, and he twisted O-Khan’s left arm. Taichi applied a cross-armbreaker at 9:30, but O-Khan reached the ropes. O-Khan applied a submission hold around the head and neck. Taichi applied a Figure Four Leglock at 14:00. Taichi hit some spin kicks. O-Khan hit a uranage at 16:30 and he kept a modified Anaconda Vice locked in until Taichi tapped out. Very methodical mat-based match that certainly won’t be for everyone.
8) Kazuchika Okada (12) defeated Tanga Loa (6) in a B Block tournament match at 12:29. Again, Okada is already in the playoffs. They brawled to the floor early on. In the ring, Loa hit a series of clotheslines in the corner and a German Suplex at 6:00. On the floor, Loa hit a backbody drop and a clothesline. Back in the ring, Loa hit a slingshot senton and a slam for a nearfall. Loa hit a uranage for a nearfall at 10:30. Okada hit some forearms; Loa hit a hard headbutt; Okada hit a dropkick. Loa hit his own dropkick and was fired up. Okada hit the Landslide slam and a Rainmaker short-arm clothesline for the clean pin. I felt that ended abruptly, as the match never got to the next level. The win guarantees Okada is the No. 1 seed.
9) Will Ospreay (10) defeated El Phantasmo (6) in a B Block tournament match at 18:51. The winner will join Kazuchika Okada, Sanada and Hikuleo in the playoffs. They pounded fists before the bell in a nice show of respect. ELP hit a huracanrana that sent Ospreay to the floor to regroup. Ospreay hit a Mafia Kick in the ring, then a plancha to the floor at 2:30. In the ring, Ospreay hit a backbreaker over his knee for a nearfall. Phantasmo hit a tornado DDT at 5:30 and a second-rope elbowdrop on the head. Ospreay hit an enzuigiri and a handspring-back-spin kick, then a top-rope flying forearm to the back at 7:30. Phantasmo walked the top rope and hit an incredible moonsault to the floor. In the ring, ELP hit a summersault senton and a Lionsault for a nearfall.
Ospreay hit Kawada Kicks to the face and a superkick. Ospreay hit the Oscutter on the ring apron at 11:00, and both men rolled to the floor. In the ring, Ospreay went for a springboard move but ELP caught him with a superkick. Phantasmo hit a springboard splash, then a Burning Hammer for a nearfall at 13:00. Ospreay hit the mid-ring Spanish Fly and they were both down. Ospreay went for Stormbreaker, but ELP broke free and Phantasmo hit a Poison Rana and a Superkick for a believable nearfall at 14:30. He hit a springboard tornado DDT for a nearfall. Ospreaey hit a pop-up forearm. ELP got a Gedo Clutch rollup for a believable nearfall.
Ospreay set up for the Hidden Blade but ELP got a huracanrana. ELP nailed the CR2 modified Styles Clash for a believable nearfall and both were down at 17:00, and the crowd was going nuts. (The clock is right-on with my stopwatch.) Phantasmo leapt off the ropes but Ospreay caught him with a stunner. Ospreay hit an Oscutter for a nearfall, then the Hidden Blade for a believable nearfall at 18:30. Ospreay hit a modified Tiger Driver powerbomb for the pin. Charlton called it a “Stormdriver.” A superb match but I never believed Ospreay was losing here.
* Ospreay took the mic and said a few words in Japanese. “Many times we have done this dance,” he said to ELP. Ospreay said ELP was “swimming in a pool with a great white shark.” He said he looks forward to meeting him again. Phantasmo headed to the back. Ospreay said he is tired and battered but he will continue to fight for the new era of New Japan Pro Wrestling. He again vowed to win the G1.
Final Thoughts: When the Blocks were announced, everyone rightfully assumed that Will Ospreay and Kazuchika Okada would advance. Nothing wrong with going with the obvious choices, either. The tremendous match you’d expect from those two, and Ospreay’s kickout on the CR2 at the 17-minute mark was close; their timing was spot-on.
However, outside of the main event, this was a rough night of Block action. None of the other three matches will make anyone’s “top 10 list” of the tournament. The tournament takes a break on Monday, with the final night of the C Block on Tuesday, then the D Block closes out round-robin action on Wednesday.