By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
NJPW “G1 Climax 33 Night 15”
August 8, 2023 in Kangawa, Japan at Yokohama Budokan
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. The lights are low; Kelly said it appears that almost every seat is full in this venue, and we must have thousands in attendance.
This is the final night of action for the C Block. What is different here from the A and B Blocks is that nobody has locked down a playoff spot, and we have five in the running for two slots. As I write this before the show begins, I presume that David Finlay and Shingo Takagi are reaching the playoffs, but I was wrong about the A Block, never expecting to see Hikuleo reach the field of eight.
1. “United Empire” Jeff Cobb and Great-O-Khan defeated Kaito Kioymiya and Ryohei Oiwa at 10:49. Kaito and O-Khan started. O-Khan beat up Oiwa on the floor. In the ring, Oiwa hit a bodyslam on Cobb at 6:00, as Kelly and Charlton talked tiebreaking scenarios for Block D on Wednesday. Cobb and Kaito traded some offense. Oiwa got back in and hit a gutwrench suplex on O-Khan at 8:30. O-Khan put Oiwa in a Torture Rack before slamming him to the mat. However O-Khan applied the claw to the head and hit a chokeslam fon Oiwa for the pin. Good opener.
2. “Bullet Club Wardogs” Alex Coughlin and Gabe Kidd defeated Tomoaki Honma and Toru Yano at 10:25. The BCW attacked before they came out of the curtain, as they basically threw Yano and Honma on the stage, coming out of the back. They taped Yano to a guardrail and got in the ring, with the bell sounding at 2:00, as they beat up Honoma. Yano finally got free and he got a rollup on Coughlin for a nearfall at 5:30. Alex hit a gutwrench suplex for a nearfall on Yano. Honma entered and missed his Kokeshi falling headbutt. Moments later, he hit a clothesline and a Kokeshi on Kidd at 8:30. Kokeshi hit leaping headbutts on each opponent. Kidd hit a straight punch to Honma’s jaw and scored the pin on Honma. The BCW kept beating up Yano after the bell, too.
3. “Strong Style” Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado, and Ren Narita defeated Shota Umino, Hikuleo, and Jado at 6:42. Good to see Suzuki and Desperado back in NJPW action. Ren and Shota started and they immediately traded several stiff forearm shots. Desperado entered and he put Shota in a half-crab, as Strong Style worked Umino over. Hikuleo made the hot tag at 3:30 and hit Mafia Kicks on all his opponents. Suzuki went for a Gotch-style piledriver, but Hikuleo was too big for him to lock it on. Hikuleo hit a spinning sideslam on Narita at 5:00. Ren hit an Exploder Suplex on Shota. Ren applied the Cobra Twist/octopus on Jado, who immediately tapped out. That was a lot of action for under seven minutes, and I liked that a lot. Narita and Umino traded slaps to the face after the bell.
4. “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” Shane Haste, Zack Sabre Jr., and Kosei Fujita vs. Hirooki Goto, Yoh, and Oskar Leube at 10:17. An odd squad for Goto, as it seems unusual to have Yoshi-Hashi not teaming with him and off this show, but I guess they are trying to rotate wrestlers on days off. Before the bell, Sabre patted Goto on his sore ribs, showing he’s aware of Goto’s tournament-long injury. Yoh and Fujita started, and Goto’s team immediately began working over Fujita in their corner. Sabre entered and hit some European Uppercuts on Yoh, ‘teaching’ Fujita the technique, so Kosei entered and hit some European Uppercuts, too.
Haste entered and hit a series of chops on Yoh in a corner at 4:00. Yoh hit a swinging neckbreaker on Sabre and made the hot tag to Goto at 5:30. Goto hit a back suplex on Sabre for a nearfall. Sabre applied a mid-ring Octopus, tying Goto in a knot. They traded mid-ring forearm shots, and Goto hit a clothesline, and they were both down at 7:30. Haste and Leube entered and traded forearm shots, with the larger Oskar winning the exchange. All six fought in the ring. Goto flipped Yoh onto Haste. Leube hit a bulldog powerslam on Haste for a nearfall. Haste hit a hard clothesline for a nearfall on Oskar, then a sit-out powerbomb for the pin. Good match.
* Sabre stopped at the commentary table and boasted. Kelly reminded him that Goto is dangerous as someone already eliminated and he has nothing left to lose. Sabre got back in the ring and jawed some more, nose-to-nose, with Goto.
5) “Los Ingobernobles De Japon” Tetsuya Naito, Yota Tsuji, and Bushi defeated Master Wato, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Togi Makabe at 10:45. Tanahashi hit Dragonscrew Legwhips on Tsuji and Bushi just seconds in, then Hiroshi traded offense with Naito, with Tetsuya keeping him grounded. Wato and Bushi finally tagged in at 6:00, with Wato hitting a spin kick, then a plancha to the floor. Wato hit a top-rope diving forearm on Bushi for a nearfall. Togi tagged in at 8:00 and battled Bushi, then Togi hit a powerslam on Yota for a nearfall. Togi hit a double clothesline, but he missed a top-rope kneedrop. Tsuji went for a Rollins-style stomp on Togi, but the move looked really awkward. So, Yota instead hit a spear to pin Makabe. Basic match. Naito attacked Hiroshi on the floor, and Tanahashi was down, clutching at his knee.
6. Tomohiro Ishii (4) defeated Mikey Nicholls (4) in a C Block tournament match at 13:01. Ishii better win here because I can’t stomach the thought of him finishing 1-6. They immediately traded forearms shots and brawled to the floor. In the ring, Ishii hit a suplex at 2:30 and some stiff kicks to the spine. They traded more forearms and Nicholls hit an open-hand slap that dropped Ishii at 4:30. Nicholls hit a delayed vertical suplex for a nearfall. Ishii hit a back suplex and they were both down. Nicholls hit a Death Valley Driver at 7:00, then a top-rope superplex for a nearfall. He hit a tornado DDT but Ishii popped up. Nicholls hit another Death Valley Driver and a sliding clothesline for a nearfall at 9:00.
Ishii hit a German Suplex and they were both down. Ishii hit a hard clothesline for a nearfall. Nicholls hit an enzuigiri at 11:00; Ishii hit an enzuigiri, and they were both down. Nicholls hit a top-rope moonsault for a believable nearfall. Ishii hit a headbutt and a brainbuster for the clean pin. That was really good, and too bad that both of these men finished at only 2-5; it doesn’t reflect how good their matches were over the course of the tournament.
7. Tama Tonga (9) defeated Henare (4) in a C Block tournament match at 14:28. Tama has long odds to reach the playoffs, so I think he loses here to avoid a tie-breaker scenario. Tama hit a back body drop and peeled off his vest in the first minute. Henare hit a springboard spin kick and a senton, and he took control, grounding Tama on the mat in a submission hold around the neck, but Tama reached the ropes at 4:00. Tama hit a dropkick and they were both down. Tama hit a Stinger Splash and an Exploder Suplex for a nearfall at 6:30. They traded forearm shots. Tama hit his rolling Death Valley Driver.
Tama climbed the ropes but Henare caught him with a HARD kneestrike, sending Tama to the floor at 8:00. Back in the ring, Henare was in charge, hitting some stiff Yes Kicks to the chest, then a Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall at 10:00. Tama hit a DDT for a nearfall, then the Tongan Twist faceplant, then the top-rope frogsplash for a believable nearfall. He set up for Stun Gun, but Henare hit a Samoan Drop, then another hard kneestrike to the jaw. He tried to apply a Full Nelson, but Tama fought free.
Henare re-applied the Full Nelson, but Tama escaped and hit the Gun Stun, and they were both down at 13:00; Tama went for a delayed cover but only got a nearfall. Tama went for another Gun Stun but Henare blocked it. Henare then hit the Rampage football tackle. Tama hit a punch to the jaw, then the Jay Driller for the clean pin. I really liked this. I’m a big fan of Tama, but I’m surprised he won here, as Henare also deserved to finish better than 2-5. Tama mathematically is still alive in a tie-breaker scenario; Charlton said we could have a play-in match.
8. David Finlay (w/Gedo) (10) defeated Eddie Kingston (8) in a C Block tournament match at 16:32. Win and you’re in, and Finlay has been pushed too hard in 2023 to not be in the playoffs. They immediately brawled at the bell, and they went to the floor, where Eddie whipped Finlay into the guardrail at 1:30. Finlay slammed Eddie back-first into the ring post at 4:00, and Eddie screamed in pain. He got back into the ring before being counted out and they traded chops. Finlay hit a backbreaker over his knee for a nearfall and stayed focused on the lower back. Eddie hit his rapid-fire chops in the corner at 7:30, then a back suplex for a nearfall.
Finlay tossed Kingston to the floor, then he launched Eddie head-first into the ringpost at 11:00. “Oh my god that was his skull,” Kelly said. “Just call for the bell.” Eddie barely got back into the ring before being counted out. However, he nailed a spinning back fist for a believable nearfall, and he peeled down the straps of his singlet. He hit another spinning back fist and a fisherman’s bomb but he was too exhausted to make the cover; he eventually got there but Finlay put a foot on the ropes at 14:00. However, Finlay nailed the Oblivion neckbreaker over his knee, but he too was too exhausted to make the cover, and we hear the 15-minute mark, right-on with my stopwatch.
They traded forearm shots while on their knees. They stood up and traded slaps to the face. Finlay ducked a spinning back fist and he nailed a spear for a believable nearfall; I thought that was it. Finlay hit the Oblivion neckbreaker over his knee and scored the pin. That was really, really good and my favorite match from both men of this tournament. (For some reason, Kelly was unsure if Kingston was eliminated. He clearly was when Tama Tonga won the prior match, making this match an elimination match.) Regardless of the winner of the next match, Finlay is the No. 1 seed for the C Block, as he previously beat EVIL.
* A statement was read in Japanese and the crowd went NUTS. Charlton said that if Shingo Takagi WINS the next match, he will be TIED with Tama Tonga at 9 points. Because they had a time-limit draw in their prior match, we will have a “bonus main event of Shingo vs. Tama Tonga for the final playoff spot.”
9. EVIL (10) defeated Shingo Takagi (7) in a C Block tournament match at 18:00 even. Shingo started 0-2. After he won, I wrote that he could sweep the rest of the way, and he hasn’t lost since. (He did have the time-limit draw.) No one wants to see EVIL in the playoffs, right? EVIL attacked before the bell. They went to the floor, where EVIL tossed Shingo into the guardrail at 2:00. In the ring, EVIL hit some chops but it fired up Shingo. Shingo hit a DDT. Shingo hit a senton at 6:00, then a suplex for a nearfall. Shingo hit a Gory Bomb and a sliding clothesline. However, Yujiro Takahashi, Sho and Dick Togo sauntered their way to ringside. EVIL hit a suplex for a nearfall at 9:00. He tossed Shingo to the floor, where the other HoT members stomped on him. (Where is LIJ to help even the odds?)
Back in the ring, EVIL applied a Sharpshooter, but Shingo reached the ropes. EVIL nailed Darkness Falls sit-out powerbomb for a nearfall at 11:00. Yujiro distracted the referee, but Shingo hit a Magic Killer on EVIL! Shingo hit a clothesline, then the Made In Japan pumphandle powerbomb for a believable nearfall; I thought that was it. EVIL went for Everything is Evil, but Shingo blocked it. Shingo hit Made In Japan but the ref got pulled from the ring; Togo ‘made the count’ and Shingo thought he won. The HoT attacked Shingo with the ref down. Tsuji and Bushi hit the ring! (Better late than never, right?) Yujiro hit Shingo with his cane, and Sho hit a chairshot across Shingo’s head. Sho hit a Shocked Arrow cross-arm piledriver for a nearfall.
Hiromu Takahashi ran to ringside and the crowd went nuts to see him. He hit a superkick on Sho. Bushi sprayed mist in Yujiro’s face at 16:00. Shingo hit a double clothesline. Tsuji hit a second-rope moonsault to the floor to take out HoT. Shingo NAILED the Pumping Bomber clothesline on EVIL! They hit double clotheslines. EVIL hit a low blow uppercut and Everything is EVIL uranage for the cheap pin. Wow, this room got deflated in a hurry. EVIL advances, while Shingo and Tama Tonga are eliminated. No one wanted this outcome. Official time is maybe 17:40 but I started the stopwatch when EVIL attacked before the bell.
* EVIL got on the mic and said he was going to shave Shingo bald. LIJ helped Shingo to the back. EVIL called himself “Mr. G1.” Kelly called it “one of the biggest crimes” in G1 history that EVIL advanced.
Final Thoughts: What a deflating main event, and they teased us with a great bonus Shingo-Tama match. I loved their time limit draw, and it would have been incredible to see them fight another match with the playoff spot on the line.
The round-robin portion of G1 concludes on Wednesday with the D Block in action, with Tetsuya Naito, Jeff Cobb, and Zack Sabre Jr. fighting for those final two playoff slots. Kelly said Eddie Kingston will also sit in on commentary for the show.