New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) presents the G1 Climax 32, this year featuring 28 competitors across four blocks of seven. Each competitor in the four blocks will face all the others in their block once, with points being determined in the following ways: any win is worth 2 points; any loss is worth 0 points; a tie with no clear winner (such as a 30 minute time limit draw) is worth 1 point each. The overall point leaders at the end of the the tournament enter a 4-way elimination play off, with the final winner earning the main event championship match at Wrestle Kingdom.
[Please note: to save myself some time, I will only review the tournament matches themselves. If there is a particularly interesting preliminary match up, I’ll tell you about it.]
The toughest tournament of the wrestling calendar, the G1 Climax 32 commences with one huge match from each of the four tournament blocks kicking things off. In the main event, Kazuchika Okada and Jeff Cobb go one on one for the first victory in A Block, in a rematch from their fantastic trilogy across the past year. It was one year ago that both Okada and Cobb both tore through the G1 Climax until their final meeting determined the block winner, and the two are set to kick things off this year instead. For the B Block, Will Ospreay and El Phantasmo will meet for tournament glory between a battle of former junior heavyweight turned heavyweight studs. Ospreay is surely a B Block favourite, if not pre-tournament favourite in full, but with Phantasmo entering his first ever G1 Climax tournament match, he is sure to pull out all the stops. In the C Block, the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Jay White will kick things off against the cold blooded SANADA of Los Ingobernables de Japon. SANADA is relatively fresh off an injury to his left orbital bone, but if there was ever someone to beat some truth in ‘The Catalyst of Professional Wrestling’, it is SANADA. Finally, in the first tournament match for the show, Hiroshi Tanahashi faces Aaron Henare in arguably the biggest match of Henare’s career to date. Tanahashi i looking to add to his already historic G1 Climax record, though he will face a tough test against the Ultimate Weapon of the United Empire.
+ Kazuchika Okada vs Jeff Cobb (G1 Climax 32 A Block Match): Jeff Cobb truly is a one of a kind athlete, and it’s just not fair that he can yeet someone the size of Okada across the ring, and then walk on over and hit a standing backflip. Okada is basically the perfect wrestler, though (except for that Money Clip, that makes even the silent crowds go quiet) and the timing on every single big thing he hits is just perfect. These two have good chemistry, as evident from their previous three matches all being bangers, and this was no exception
+ El Phantasmo vs Will Ospreay (G1 Climax 32 D Block Match): this was fantastic, and my personal favourite match of the night. Ospreay looked like an absolute beast despite there not being a huge size difference between the two. Phantasmo more than held his own in his first ever G1 match up, showing why he was already pushing the limit in the BOSJ weight cut off. Both guys had fantastic strikes and such blistering speeds, all the way up to a really satisfying ending
+ Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Aaron Henare (G1 Climax 32 C Block Match): Tanahashi looked slow at times, especially early on, and truthfully Henare looked better than he has. Henare’s striking was on point, and despite Tanahashi clearly being the fan favourite, I think even the live audience acknowledged how good Henare looked here. This was good but not great, but I expect both men to put on even better matches going forward
– SANADA vs Jay White (G1 Climax B Block Match): I make no secret that I think Jay White is the best wrestler in NJPW right now, and similarly I just can’t find myself caring too much about SANADA. I wanted to like this, and a few clever back and forth bits did get the seal of approval form me, but overall I can’t say I felt anything for it the way I did for the other matches
Should you watch this event: Four tournament matches per show is a great way to do things, and I hope that continues all the way through (though I can’t imagine it will make much sense if in storyline, only those matching up on the final night are in with a chance to win?). ELP/Ospreay was an all time great, and I hope a sign for things to come.