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.]
We are officially into double digits, as the G1 Climax 32 once against features five block matches on night ten, where all competitors sitting on 0-2 records, or worse, begin to enter a state of panic. In the main event, the rapidly rising David Finlay meets his biggest roadblock yet in the form of The Commonwealth Kingpin, Will Ospreay. The pre-tournament block favourite, if not favourite to take the whole thing, is currently 2-0 in this G1 Climax, but a Finlay win would put him on even ground and would place the ever important tie breaker in Finlay’s back pocket. Hirooki Goto is looking to continue his incredibly successful run, albeit with as little fanfare as possible against the dangerous KENTA. The two strikers are sure to hold nothing back against each other, as the presence of Katsuyori Shibata looms over them both; Shibata was a high school friend to Goto, and was responsible for bringing KENTA into NJPW a few years ago. Two phenomenal athletes will battle in the B Block, when SANADA and Tama Tonga face off for the fifth time ever, with the record currently tied 2-2 in all time singles contests, all of which have taken place in the G1 Climax. Kicking things off, two matches I personally have been awaiting: in the first, Tom Lawlor battles Toru Yano, and then Tomohiro Ishii and Great-O-Khan go to war. Both Lawlor and Yano have incredibly decorated amateur wrestling backgrounds, but both can switch on the violence when need be, which is something Lawlor will have to do to get out of his current 0-2 record. Then, “The Stone Pitbull” Tomohiro Ishii battles “The Dominator” of the United Empire, Great-O-Khan. Though neither are eliminated yet, with Ishii sitting at 1-2, and O-Khan sitting at 0-2, this is a must win for both.
+ David Finlay vs Will Ospreay (G1 Climax 32 D Block Match): I think David Finlay’s shock win over Jay White in the New Japan Cup a few years ago was a shock to everyone except me. Finlay’s two wins so far – over Juice, slightly unexpected; over Shingo, definitely unexpected – have really got me into this underdog Finlay character. That said, I don’t think many gave him much of a chance here against Ospreay, and that made every close moment that much more exciting. Ospreay is of course athletic and so quick, but the thing that stood out to me was his accuracy in this match, whether he was throwing a strike or throwing himself to land in a particular spot, he just hit it spot on every single time
+ Hirooki Goto vs KENTA (G1 Climax 32 C Block Match): a strong striking match is always fun, but this felt slow. I think one of these guys got knocked a bit silly near the end, which did make the immediate ending look a bit wonky, but overall I’ve enjoyed this ‘Goto quietly winning’ thing they have going. KENTA had a nice beard, too, which I enjoyed
+ Toru Yano vs Tom Lawlor (G1 Climax 32 A Block Match): this was one I and many others have been looking forward to since the blocks were announced, and this was well worth the wait. Filthy Tom is great at comedy, as any fans of his podcast entries will know, and I dare say he’s as good as Yano comedy matches as Hiromu Takahashi is. But better than Hiromu, when Yano and Tom start wrestling things are just as good due to their pasts and it just made for a really fun match
+ Tomohiro Ishii vs Great-O-Khan (G1 Climax 32 B Block Match): I always find myself enjoying matches between these two. I’ve made my unbridled love of Ishii well known, but O-Khan’s ability to match his opponent’s style is something that I truly think will help him become a huge star in NJPW. I’m not sold on the name just yet, but there is always time to make it work or modify it when he inevitably gets that big singles run
– Tama Tonga vs SANADA (G1 Climax B Block Match): this was really fast and smooth, as you would expect, but overall I struggled to get into it. Both guys are absolutely competent, but with no past history, no deeper rivalry and neither guy doing particularly well or poorly in this tournament, it just felt unimportant
> I really, really enjoyed Lance Archer on commentary. Truthfully I wasn’t expecting much, but he was both insightful and into the matches, which is all you could ask for in a commentator
Should you watch this event: This was a good show. Thanks in large part to how much insight Lance Archer added on commentary, every match was fine or better, and the winners and losers of each made all made sense, which is something I don’t often get to say.