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 NJPW G1 Climax is eight nights in, and competitors continue to tire and falter, or pull away from the pack. In the main event, long time rivals Hiroshi Tanahashi and Zack Sabre Jr. face off in action in the C Block, each looking to earn not only two points over their opponent but an all important tie breaker over the other: Sabre defeated Henare, who defeated Tanahashi, which is just one combination that could come back in important ways down the road. In the B Block, SANADA and Great-O-Khan will battle in what will either be a stylistically similar contest, or a styles clash, depending on how O-Khan seeks to contend with the man who has beaten him once before at Wrestle Kingdom (Night 2) earlier this year. Meanwhile, JONAH and Tom Lawlor are each seeking their first wins in the ultra tough A Block in a first time meeting between the two, and kicking off tournament action on night eight will be David Finlay battling Shingo Takagi, as both seek to earn their second wins of the tournament in the D Block. On English commentary, El Phantasmo will join Kevin Kelly to provide some… unique insight.
+ Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Zack Sabre Jr. (G1 Climax 32 C Block Match): just from the names of those involved, this was of course going to be good. Sabre is so good against these beloved fan favourites, as he can torture them at a methodical pace while they get all the sympathy, leading to the inevitable big comeback. The ending to this one was particularly interesting, and I don’t know if it was intentional, so I am eager to see what comes of this in the months after the G1 concludes
+ David Finlay vs Shingo Takagi (G1 Climax 32 D Block Match): it was not until the final few minutes that I really felt anything for this one, despite my massive love of Shingo. Finlay was impressive against Juice, but as the commentary even said, he just didn’t feel like a big deal when up against someone like Shingo, a former World Champion. As said, the final few minutes were spectacular, and do save this from being a total negative, but this was not a barn burner by any means
– SANADA vs Great-O-Khan (G1 Climax 32 B Block Match): I liked this when it was slow early, but only because I was expecting it to pick up. It never really did so, which has left a bad taste in my mouth. SANADA really didn’t look too good in this one, and O-Khan is best when he gets to mimic his opponent’s style, which is this case meant he never looked great either
– JONAH vs Tom Lawlor (G1 Climax 32 A Block Match): this was fine, but never kicked into a second gear. It’s a blessing an a curse having Filthy Tom in this G1, because it means he is in NJPW proper (yay) but he’s in the A Block, and not facing the likes of KENTA, Ishii, Henare or Tanahashi (boo). JONAH is visually impressive, but he didn’t really do much here to make himself stand out in a block full of big guys
> I’m going to add JONAH’s theme song “Ready for the War” to the list of awesome NJPW themes. With my fancy pants headphones on, this bangs hard
Should you watch this event: This was a mixed bag overall, but I think anybody could tell this was primarily going to be built around that main event. Phantasmo added some much needed variety to the English commentary, which certainly did help with all of the matches in one way or another.