Wrestling Review: NJPW G1 Climax 32 (2022) (Night 9)

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.]

For the first time this year, five tournament matches will take place on one night as the G1 Climax 32 kicks into a higher gear. In the main event, set to the backdrop of a brutal betrayal and championship battles, Tetsuya Naito and his former stablemate turned brutal Bullet Club snake, EVIL, seek tournament points in the C Block. Though not quite yet mathematically eliminated, were Naito to lose this fight he would certainly not be making the finals, and his dream of main eventing a Tokyo Dome would be all but gone, which is something EVIL would surely want to happen at his own hands. In the A Block, Kazuchika Okada and Bad Luke Fale meet in what is historically a tough night out for Okada, who is on the losing end of a 2-1 advantage to Bad Luck Fale in G1 Climax matches. In the B Block, two Bullet Club competitors face off, in what is expected to be a very, very quick match as Chase Owens has seemingly been convinced to lay down for his Bullet Club commander, Jay White. In the D Block, Juice Robinson and YOSHI-HASHI will be seeking to keep their tournaments on the up, as each attempts to earn their second win, and starting things off are two monsters in the A Block, as Lance Archer and Jeff Cobb go to war, each looking for their second tournament wins for the year. Following on from night eight’s guest commentary with El Phantasmo, Kevin Kelly will be joined for all the tournament action on night nine by Filthy Tom Lawlor.

+ Tetsuya Naito vs EVIL (G1 Climax 32 C Block Match): the main thing I notice here is that Kevin Kelly really struggled with saying the correct name for EVIL and Naito, as he constantly confused the two of them. This was one of the bigger ‘grudge match’ main events in the tournament so far, and it certainly lived up to that aspect. I like EVIL when he actually wrestles, and he did so here against Naito who always brings it (but especially this year, as I’ve noted, following last year’s injury). This was good, and certainly makes the rest of the block more interesting
+ YOSHI-HASHI vs Juice Robinson (G1 Climax D Block Match): if you’re a fan of stiff chops, this was all you could ask for. Juice was surprisingly the underdog for most of this match, coming off his shock defeat to David Finlay, and YOSHI-HASHI was riding high his wave of momentum from a close defeat to Shingo. I liked this more than I thought I would, which is something I find myself saying about YOSHI-HASHI more and more these days
+ Lance Archer vs Jeff Cobb (G1 Climax 32 A Block Match): the athleticism of these two big bois really made this like a monster movie – this was Lance “Godzilla” Archer versus Jeff “Kong” Cobb in all the best ways. Archer’s speed and Cobb’s power meshed well, and while this was certainly not the prettiest match, I enjoyed the meaty men bumping their meat

Kazuchika Okada vs Bad Luck Fale (G1 Climax 32 A Block Match): the historic details of this match were more interesting than the match itself, thanks in large part to the fact that the crowd dies every time Okada locks in that Money Clip. I truly do think Okada is one of the best wrestlers of all time, but he doesn’t necessarily do well in these tournaments, even though Fale is generally pretty good at making Okada’s offence seem really important. This didn’t do it for me
Jay White vs Chase Owens (G1 Climax B Block Match): Jay White can do no wrong, but there was already a story exactly like this one when El Phantasmo fought Yujiro Takahashi in the D Block, and I think it was done better there. I dunno, this felt like they had written themselves into a corner

> With Tetsuya Naito now in his third main event, I am running out of pictures that don’t just look like previous pictures. I imagine there are more to come.

Should you watch this event: Trust me, I am just as surprised as you are that the matches involving White and Okada were the two I liked the least. I won’t say any of these matches were must-sees, but Archer/Cobb was fun for what it was and YOSHI-HASHI continues to impress (and Juice is Juice). This was an average day.

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