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.]
After four nights of block action, leaders are beginning to emerge even as some competitors have not yet wrestled once. In the main event, two all time legends of NJPW go head to head as Tetsuya Naito and Hiroshi Tanahashi both look to avenge losses in their opening contests. The competitor who doesn’t win this match will be sitting on a 0-2 record, and with a maximum of only 12 points available, it is unlikely they will be able to come back. In the A Block, Jeff Cobb and Bad Luck Fale will battle in a big boi match, with Fale looking to earn two wins to start his campaign, and Jeff Cobb seeks to make amends for a disappointing loss to Kazuchika Okada in his first bout. Meanwhile, two devotees of the King’s Road style of wrestling go head to head when Taichi and SANADA face off for points in the B Block. There is often no ill-will between these two in the ring, as each proves to prove they are the stronger disciple of the alternative to the Strong Style of wrestling. Finally, in an intra-Bullet Club bout, El Phantasmo says he will beat up Yujiro Takahashi and take the dancer Pieter with him as he leaves. “The Tokyo Pimp” Yujiro Takahashi is sure to make sure that doesn’t happen, and is sure to use whatever it takes to ensure victory against the Headbanga ELP.
+ Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Tetsuya Naito (G1 Climax 32 C Block Match): as anybody could tell upon seeing this on paper, this was good. I don’t know what the final match time was, but it felt short in a good way, as I wanted to see these two just keep going back and forth, trading moves as they could. The ending and winner was interesting in a way, because of the story of each man coming in, and I am left very interested in the rest of the tournament for each man, particularly the loser
+ SANADA vs Taichi (G1 Climax 32 B Block Match): as much as I love meaty men bumping their meat, Taichi and SANADA really do get that stiff strike trading thing I love down. This had lots of really good back and forth action, and all of those ‘one big move that could end the match’ teases. This was the best match on this night, for sure
+ El Phantasmo vs Yujiro Takahashi (G1 Climax 32 D Block Match): this was lots of fun, mostly the parts where Yujiro was not wrestling, and ELP was doing his comedy stuff. Phantasmo really can go like a madman in that ring when he wants to, and I get the feeling he is out to show his absolute best in this tournament. Yujiro is more of a character than a great wrestler, but sometimes that is what a match needs. I enjoyed this
– Jeff Cobb vs Bad Luck Fale (G1 Climax 32 A Block Match): this was not good, and I don’t think either man in particular was to blame. Nobody wants to see see Cobb play the underdog, and frankly Fale is not at the level of someone who can beat down Cobb, despite the size difference, so I just struggled to get into this one
Should you watch this event: Overall this was a good show, with wrestlers like ELP, Jeff Cobb, both SANADA and Taichi, and both men in the main event proving why NJPW has the best in-ring action of any company going right now. I am interested that wrestlers such as Fale and Cobb in the A Block have now had two, when Tom Lawlor hasn’t had one yet, but I am sure it will all make sense down the line