By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
NJPW “G1 Climax 33 Night 18”
August 12, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan at Sumo Hall
Streamed on New Japan World
This is a 32-man tournament. We are down to the final four! Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton provided commentary. We also see Hiromu Takahashi is on Japanese commentary. This is a huge crowd and Kelly said they had a great walk-up draw.
1. Kaito Kiyomiya and Hayata defeated Master Wato and Hiroyoshi Tenzan at 10:54. I’ve seen Hayata at least once before. Hayata and Wato opened. Hayata is the GHC junior heavyweight champion and he immediately hit a running knee to the side of the head. Kaito entered and battled Tenzan. Wato hit a leg lariat on Hayata at 5:30 and a springboard flying forearm for a nearfall. Kaito entered and hit a missile dropkick on Wato at 7:00. Tenzan hit a suplex on Kaito for a nearfall. Kaito hit a Dragonscrew Legwhip and they were both down at 9:00. Tenzan applied a Koji Clutch on the mat and he hit his Mongolian Chops on Kaito. However, Kaito hit a Shining Wizard on Tenzan for the pin. They all shook hands.
2. “Strong Style” Minoru Suzuki and Ren Narita defeated Shota Umino and Tomoaki Honma at 10:18. Narita and Shota started, as Kelly talked about how downright depressed Ren has been in recent days, down on himself for not doing well in the tournament. They traded stiff forearm shots and Shota hit a basement dropkick at 1:30. Honma entered and traded blows with Narita. Shota entered and hit a fisherman’s suplex on Narita at 4:00. Minoru finally entered and he hit a series of stiff forearms on Shota, laughing as he beat Shota to the mat in the corner. “Murder Grandpa” indeed! Shota suplexed Minoru at 6:30, then hit a dropkick.
Honma tagged back in and chopped Ren, but he missed a Kokeshi falling headbutt. Shota hit an Exploder Suplex on Ren, and Honma was able to hit the Kokeshi on Ren for a nearfall at 9:00. Ren hit a Northern LIghts Suplex on Honma, then he applied the Cobra Twist, but Honma escaped. Ren slapped him in the fan, re-applied tthe Cobra Twist, and Honma tapped out. Solid match.
3. “The Bullet Club” David Finlay, Alex Coughlin, Gabe Kidd, Kenta, and Chase Owens (w/Gedo) defeated Toru Yano, Yoh, Togi Makabe and “Bishamon” Yoshi-Hashi and Hirooki Goto at 10:55. The BC attacked at the bell; Yano and Owens fought in the ring while the other eight were brawling on the floor. Yano playfully slapped Owens on the back of the head and immediately tapped out to Yoh at 1:00. Funny antics. Yoh is once again wearing his ‘teen slacker’ T-shirt and torn jean shorts and I hate this gimmick for him. Finlay tagged in and the BC worked over Yoh. Owens joined Kelly and Charlton on commentary, saying his team doesn’t need him. Yoh hit some chops on Coughlin at 5:30 that Alex no-sold. “Is Kenta okay with you over here, lollygagging?” Kelly asked Owens.
Bishamon entered the ring and they beat up on Owens, who had just returned to the ring from the commentary table. Kidd and Coughlin worked together to beat up Togi Makabe. Finlay hit a clothesline to the back of Togi’s head for a nearfall at 10:30. Finlay then hit Oblivion on Makabe for the pin. Everyone kept brawling after the bell.
4. “United Empire” Henare, Great-O-Khan, and Jeff Cobb defeated “Los Ingobernobles De Japon” Shingo Takagi, Yota Tsuji, and Bushi at 10:57. Yota and O-Khan started, and LIJ worked over GOK. O-Khan beat up Tsuji on the floor and sat down on a chair that was on top of Yota. Cobb entered and beat up Yota, surfing on his back at 6:00. (I don’t think he did that once during the tournament!) Shingo entered and he hit a senton on Cobb for a nearfall at 7:30. Cobb hit a belly-to-belly suplex. Henare got back in and hit a series of gut punches on Shingo. Bushi hit a missile dropkick on Henare. Cobb hit the Spin Cycle on Bushi. Henare hit a gut punch and a kick to Bushi’s head and he applied the Full Nelson, and Bushi tapped out. Good match.
5. Eddie Kingston, Tomohiro Ishii, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Rysuke Taguchi defeated “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” Zack Sabre Jr., Mikey Nicholls, Shane Haste, and Kosei Fujita at 11:39. I have not missed seeing Taguchi the past month; he opened against Fujita, and they traded hard chops. Fujita’s team took turns clotheslining Kosei in the corner at 2:30. TMDK beat down Tanahashi. Sabre applied a cross-armbreaker at 5:30. Tanahashi hit the Twist and Shout neckbreaker on Nicholls. Ishii made the hot tag and he brawled with Nicholls. Taguchi hit a double DDT on Haste and Nicholls at 8:00. Sabre and Taguchi traded mat reversals that popped the crowd as Taguchi kept up with Zack. Ishii hit a brainbuster on Sabre!
Eddie finally tagged in and he hit his rapid-fire chops in the corner on Fujita, then an Exploder Suplex. Fujita hit a German Suplex with a bridge for a believable nearfall. Tanahashi began hitting Dragonscrew Legwhips on all his opponents, but Fujita hit one on Hirosh! Fujita and Kingston began trading mid-ring chops, with Eddie getting the better of the exchange. Eddie nailed a twisting uranage for a believable nearfall at 11:30. He nailed the spinning back fist to pin Fujita. The last half of this match was a blast.
* Out of nowhere, Henare ran into the ring and beat up Eddie Kingston! I think he just declared himself the first contender for Kingston’s newly-won New Japan Strong title.
6. El Phantasmo, Tama Tonga, Tonga Loa, Hikuleo, and Jado defeated “Just 5 Guys” Sanada, Taichi, Douki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and Taka Michinoku at 11:55. ELP and Kanemaru started and they ‘banged fists,’ showing everyone is a babyface. Taichi and Loa entered at 1:00. Douki tagged in, so Hikuleo entered at 3:00; Douki turned to tag right back out but all his teammates had hopped off the ring apron! Funny. Hikuleo hit a spinning side slam for a nearfall. Tama entered and his team began working over Douki in their corner. Kanemaru hit a crossbody block on Hikuleo, allowing Sanada to make the hot tag and enter for the first time at 6:30. Sanada hit a dropkick on Hikuleo, then a plancha.
In the ring, Hikuleo hit a suplex on Sanada and tagged in Tama. Tama nailed the Tongan Twist faceplant on Sanada at 8:00. Sanada applied Skull End dragon sleeper; he missed a moonsault. Tama hit an Exploder Suplex, and they were both down. Jado tagged in for the first time and faced Taka. Douki hit a top-rope doublestomp on Jado’s chest. Taka nailed the Michinkoku Driver for a believable nearfall (to a huge pop!) but someone broke up the pin. Funny. Tama hit a stunner on Douki and he ripped off his vest. Sanada hit a Shining Wizard on Tama. Hikuleo hit a powerslam on Sanada. ELP hit a superkick on Taka. Hikuleo immediately hit a chokeslam on Taka! ELP dragged Jado onto Taka for the pin. That was fun and some good comedy mixed in; the crowd REALLY wanted to see Taka get that win after the Michinoku Driver.
* David Finlay, Gabe Kidd and Alex Coughlin appeared at ringside. They jawed at Tama, Hikuleo and El Phantasmo, seemingly setting up a six-man tag. (Interesting to note that Tanga Loa wasn’t in that mix.)
7. Kazuchika Okada defeated EVIL (w/Dick Togo) in a G1 Climax 33 semi-final match at 18:39. EVIL has made it as far as he can in this tournament, right? EVIL attacked Okada from behind before Okada had even removed his robe and EVIL was loudly booed. They rolled to the floor, where EVIL whipped him into the guardrail, and he choked him on the floor with a microphone cord. In the ring, EVIL hit a bodyslam for a nearfall at 3:00. They went right back to the floor, where EVIL jabbed a chair into Okada’s throat; he got another nearfall in the ring. Okada had not landed a single blow until he unloaded some forearm shots at 6:00. Okada hit a DDT for a nearfall.
They went back to the floor, with Okada whipping EVIL into the guardrail, then hitting a DDT onto the thin mat at 8:30. In the ring, Okada hit a dropkick on EVIL as he sat on the top turnbuckle, with EVIL falling to the floor. Togo tried to interfere, but Okada kicked him. Back in the ring, the ref got bumped. Okada applied the Money Clip submission hold, but Sho and Yujiro Takahashi hit the ring and stomped on Okada. They held Okada upside down and Gedo hit a razor-edge chop between Okada’s legs! Ouch! EVIL immediately hit Darkness Falls powerbomb; the ref woke up and counted the nearfall at 12:30.
Okada applied the Money Clip again. Togo grabbed at Okada’s ankles. Okada was able to hit the neckbreaker across his back, and he again applied a Money Clip, this time on the mat. Togo again tried to interfere, which allowed Sho to run into the ring and hit Okada. Togo got in and he choked Okada with his wire. Okada hit his dropkicks on each of the three interfering HoT guys. EVIL shoved the ref into Okada, knocking the ref down. EVIL, like on Thursday, hit a low blow uppercut and a hard clothesline, but he only got a nearfall at 16:00. (Nice callback to the conclusion of his recent wins over Shingo and Sanada.)
EVIL set up for Everything is Evil, but Okada turned it into a German Suplex. Nice. EVIL again shoved the ref and went for a low blow, but Okada blocked it. Okada hit a Michinoku Driver. EVIL nailed the Everything is Evil uranage for a BELIEVABLE nearfall at 17:30 and this crowd was hot. He went for another, but Okada blocked it. Okada hit a Flatliner and a swinging sideslam, then the Rainmaker clothesline for the pin. The winner was never really in doubt but this was fun and topped expectations; no one wanted to see EVIL advance but he had some moments. Official time is closer to 18:10 but I start my stopwatch when EVIL attacked Okada before the bell.
8. Tetsuya Naito defeated Will Ospreay in a G1 Climax 33 semi-final match at 29:57. As usual, Naito took forever to disrobe. This crowd is HOT at th bell, as they stared at each other from across the ring, sizing each other up, and they locked up at 1:30 with standing switches. Naito pushed Ospreay against the ropes, patted his chest and took a step back, but Ospreay launched several forearms on Naito. They both went for their finishers but were blocked and they had a standoff at 4:00. Ospreay hit a chop that sent Naito to the floor, then Will hit a plancha. Ospreay leapt off the guardrail and hit a flying forearm to the jaw, and he rolled Naito back in the ring and got a nearfall at 6:30.
Ospeay hit a backbreaker over his knee and remained in charge, applying a mid-ring Octopus. Naito hit a hip-toss with his knee striking Ospreay’s shoulder as he flipped over, and Will immediately clutched at his shoulder. Naito began targeting the right shoulder, and he applied a submission hold around the head and shoulders. Ospreay hit a handspring-back-spin kick then a top-rope flying forearm for a nearfall at 12:30. They traded forearm shots while battling on the ring apron. Naito hit a Rude Awakening standing neckbreaker on the apron, then another neckbreaker from the apron to the floor at 14:30. Ouch! Ospreay barely got back into the ring before being counted out. Naito immediately hit a sideslam for a nearfall, and he went back to the submission hold around the neck, but Ospreay reached the ropes at 17:00.
Naito nailed a top-rope Poison Rana but Ospreay rotated and landed on his feet! Ospreay dropped Naito stomach-first on the top rope, then Ospreay hit a top-rope Shooting Star Press on his back! Ospreay hit a powerbomb for a nearfall at 19:00. This crowd is insanely hot as Ospreay set up for Hidden Blade, but Naito blocked it. Ospreay missed the OsCutter, but he hit a running forearm for a nearfall as the 20-minute mark is right on. Naito hit the stiff DDT that he used to beat Tanahashi a few nights ago, and they were both down. Naito hit an enzuigiri and a tornado DDT, then a second DDT for a believable nearfall at 22:00.
Naito missed a top-rope corkscrew moonsault, and Ospreay immediately nailed the Hidden Blade forearm to the jaw, and they were both down. I will write it again … this crowd is insanely hot. They got up and traded forearm shots with this crowd reacting to every blow. Ospreay nailed the hook kick to the jaw at 26:00, and another, dropping Naito. The ref backed Ospreay away and started counting down Naito, but he got up. Ospreay hit a Hidden Blade for a believable nearfall. Ospreay nailed the OsCutter for another believable nearfall. Ospreay hit the Leap of Faith corkscrew press for a believable nearfall at 27:30. “Are you freakin’ kidding me?” Kelly shouted. Ospreay set up for Stormbreaker but Naito blocked it and got a rollup for a nearfall. Naito ducked another Hidden Blade but he collapsed. Ospreay set up for Stormbreaker but Naito turned it into a Destino! He hit another Destino for a believable nearfall at 29:30! He hit a third Destino for the pin! I am shocked as I thought Ospreay was winning here. Tremendous match.
* Naito got on the mic and said it was a helluva ride and hoped the crowd enjoyed it. He asked the crowd if the winner will be Okada or Naito, and the answer will be tranquilo.
Final Thoughts: I fully, 100 percent believed that Ospreay was winning this match. He had his win over Okada earlier in the tournament and I assumed Okada would get the win back in the finals. Instead, we have Naito vs. Okada in the finals on Sunday. Both semifinals were fantastic. Go ahead and hate on EVIL, but the crowd was fully invested on seeing him lose, and he pulled out every trick he had used to win his matches all tournament long, making it seem possible he could win again.
The undercard was really strong, too, and we actually advanced some storylines, from Henare beating down Kingston to Bullet Club setting their eyes on Tama’s team. The comedy in the Just 5 Guys match worked for me, from Douki’s teammates abandoning him when Hikuleo entered, to Taka’s tease of actually winning a match. The 19-show, 29-day tournament comes to its conclusion on Sunday!