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. You can catch up with all previous days of action here.]
The main event of the fourth night of G1 Climax action features one of my most anticipated fights, as the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Jay White faces off with the Stone Pitbull, Tomohiro Ishii in the B Block. In the last 365 days, the only man to have defeated White in singles competition is Tomohiro Ishii, and Ishii holds the 3-1 advantage in all time singles matches between the two. With Gedo at his side, and the ‘Jay-1 Climax’ up for grabs, there is no doubt Jay White will have to earn a win over an always tough opponent. Also on the show, an intra-CHAOS fight will see Kazuchika Okada and Toru Yano battle in the A Block. It’s never entirely certain which version of Yano will make an appearance in these big tournament matches, but it is a necessity that Yano give it his all against one of the pre-tournament favourites and last year’s winner in Okada. For the D Block, YOSHI-HASHI and Shingo Takagi will battle in a match where both men have surprisingly similar wrestling stories, and even share a very similar finishing move: both YOSHI-HASHI’s ‘Karma’ and Takagi’s ‘Made in Japan’ are performed in a similar way, the both men are eager (if eager is the right word) to see what it might feel like being used on themselves. Kicking off the tournament action for the evening, Aaron Henare and Zack Sabre Jr. meet for the first time ever in singles competition. Sabre historically does quite well against heavy strikers, but with Henare still riding high after defeating Tanahashi, this match could truly go either way.
+ Tomohiro Ishii vs Jay White (G1 Climax B Block Match): what else do I have to say, except that this was fantastic stuff between my two favourites in the company. Nobody gets the intensity out of their simple stuff like Tomohiro Ishii, and against the best wrestler in the world Jay White that was a LOT of intensity. White’s ability to flip between ‘cheating asshole’ and ‘clean-cut better wrestler’ at the drop of a hat (or elbow) always makes his matches great, and the way Ishii will show his pain all the way up until that moment he doesn’t is something that gets a kick out of me every single time. This was definitely the match of the tournament so far
+ Kazuchika Okada vs Toru Yano (G1 Climax A Block Match): this was a very different style of Yano match, and therefore a very enjoyable style of Yano match. I have always said that Okada works best as the underdog, and while nobody really thought he was the underdog against Yano, the idea that Yano could play spoiler to anybody at any time — see his win over JONAH just three nights ago — is always sitting in the back of the mind
+ YOSHI-HASHI vs Shingo Takagi (G1 Climax 32 D Block Match): this was absolutely the loudest that a non-vocal NJPW crowd has been in a very long time, and I was not expecting that. I love Shingo, but the underdog story of YOSHI-HASHI has been something really fun over the last few years. HASHI’s stiff strikes outdid even Shingo in many regards, but it was that blistering speed from Shingo off the ropes that always gets me going. This was an unexpected banger
+ Zack Sabre Jr. vs Aaron Henare (G1 Climax 32 C Block Match): Henare is well on his way to being a new Ishii, in the same way Tanga Loa broke out last year. The way commentary put over Sabre’s counter-wrestling against the striking nature of many wrestlers was some good stuff, and it made every strike and then counter that much more meaningful. Sabre is just the best at trash talk, too, helped in part by his absolute dickhead accent (I say as an Aussie, so take that with a grain of salt)
Should you watch this event: Four great matches easily sealed this as the best night of tournament matches so far. I don’t want to belabour the point, but Jay White is the best wrestler on the planet right now, and with someone like Ishii who could get a good match out of a broom, I was pumped for that match and it didn’t disappoint. In fact, it capped off an already great run of tournament matches.