Wrestling Review: NJPW G1 Climax 32 (2022) (Night 13)

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 G1 Climax 32 enters night 13 with more potential eliminations, and the chance for one top contender to continue an undefeated run. In the main event is a massive match up in the A Block, as Kazuchika Okada looks to join Jay White as the only undefeated competitors left in in the competition, but standing in his way is the massive JONAH. Okada has no lack of experience overthrowing huge threats to his winning ways, but the “Top Dog” JONAH claims he is mighty, and The Mighty Don’t Kneel. In the semi main event, a battle of pride between two already eliminated wrestlers as Tomohiro Ishii and Chase Owens do battle in a match that Chase Owens has never been able to win. The Bullet Club shenanigans continue as El Phantasmo and Juice Robinson in yet another Bullet Club derby, but each has promised a perfectly clean and regular wrestling match. Filthy Tom Lawlor looks to continue his comeback story against the largest man in the tournament, Bad Luck Fale, and in the C Block EVIL and Aaron Henare will do battle with a simple question of results; if EVIL is victorious, Aaron Henare will be eliminated from the tournament.

+ Kazuchika Okada vs JONAH (G1 Climax A Block Match): I always say Okada is best when he is on defence, and this is the perfect example. Kevin Kelly made the comparison of JONAH to someone like Vader or Bam Bam Bigelow, and that is absolutely the correct call. Okada’s offence late in the match is still incredible to see, including the height on that dropkick he loves so much, and JONAH never stopped looking like an absolute beast. This was also probably the equal loudest that the crowd has been all year, along with JONAH’s recent battle with Cobb. This was great
+ Juice Robinson vs El Phantasmo (G1 Climax 32 D Block Match): this was one of the better all-Bullet Club fights, because I believe that ELP is better at this comedy stuff than White, Owens and even Yujiro. I wasn’t a fan of the direct ‘spot calling’ humour, but the way this progressed actually did feel real. ELP might be the most athletic guy on the roster, even including the likes of SANADA and Tama Tonga. I liked this, but I can easily see why someone might not like this
+ Tom Lawlor vs Bad Luck Fale (G1 Climax 32 A Block Match): this was fine, but not incredible, in a similar sort of way that Tom/Lance Archer was. Filthy Tom did use some strikes, but he mostly played ‘monkey on the back’ of the much larger and more powerful Fale. I won’t say I expected more, but this did seem to lack some of the spark that Filthy Tom’s matches with Archer, Jeff Cobb and JONAH had before it

Tomohiro Ishii vs Chase Owens (G1 Climax 32 B Block Match): I am flabbergasted that this was the second to last match, considering both guys are already eliminated. I love Ishii, but against someone like Chase with nothing on the line – that is, no titles, nor tournament win – I just never got into it at all
Aaron Henare vs EVIL (G1 Climax 32 C Block Match): nobody would call this horrible, but it was so basic and not particularly important that I can’t really say it is must see in any regard. One mid-match moment with the referee fell absolutely flat for me, and I can’t imagine it made the match better for anyone else

> it’s such an easy thing, but I really love how Kevin Kelly will just outright mention other companies; his entire run through of JONAH from PWG to NXT to New Japan Strong to this G1 was something that really added some life to the wrestling business, and both humanised JONAH and made him more dangerous

Should you watch this event: This was good overall, but as with all NJPW tournaments, beginning to feel a bit reductive. I don’t know the logic behind putting Ishii/Owens on so late on the show, but ELP/Juice and especially Okada/JONAH were good enough to mitigate my frustrations.

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