G1 hits Nagoya
After four nights in Tokyo, G1 Climax 32 heads west to Nagoya for two days in Dolphin’s Arena in Aichi prefecture. With some campaigns having only just begun, some entrants are in a critical phase, and there is drama up and down the card this Saturday evening.
Main event: C Block- Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-1) vs Zack Sabre Jr. (2-0)
Singles record: 5-4 Tanahashi
Familiar foes will collide in the main event in Aichi, as Hiroshi Tanahashi and Zack Sabre Jr. meet for the first time since the last night of block action in 2020. Then it was Tanahashi ending a turbulent campaign with one last triumph over ZSJ, a win that put the Briton definitively out of contention for the finals. It continued a long stretch of Tanahashi adn Sabre exchanging wins, in both tournaments and over the British heavyweight Championship; Tanahashi could boast a one win numbers edge over ZSJ; Sabre could boast that he defeated the Ace in the world famous Madison Square Garden and put him on the injured list as a result.
Suzuki-Gun’s submission wrestling master will always look to one up Tanahashi, while Tanahashi will look at Sabre as a yardstick of sorts; in a real way both have played similar roles in keeping the torch burning for a classical style in their respective countries during periods when wrestling looked to be on the verge of extinction in both japan and the UK. While neither will admit as much, these two athletes are more similar than they may appear, and tonight have a similar urge for two points- Sabre to move clear at the top of C Block, and Tanahashi to join the front of the pack at its midway point.
8th Match: B Block- SANADA (1-1) vs Great-O-Khan (0-1)
Singles record: 1-0 SANADA
B Block will see a rematch from Wrestle Kingdom tonight as SANADA faces Great-O-Khan. At the Tokyo Dome on January 5, O-Khan was determined to show he could beat Cold Skull in SANADA’s own way of ‘pretty boy wrestling’, resulting in some impressive high flying from the usually grounded Dominator, but ultimately an unforced error that the LIJ member took advantage of. The win for SANADA would propel him into IWGP United States title contention and ultimately his first NJPW career singles championship weeks later, something that O-Khan deeply resents, and perhaps tonight payback could open the door to future opportunities.
At the same time, O-Khan’s first G1 match was arguably his most winnable in a difficult block, but a handful of powder to the eyes, followed by first class situational awareness from Chase Owens saw his campaign start with a loss. With Jay White one win clear at the top of the table after two matches wrestled, O-Khan’t afford to fall farther off the pace, and nor can SANADA afford to have a negative record going into the second half of the tournament. Who prevails?
7th Match: A Block- JONAH (0-1) vs Tom Lawlor (0-1)
After JONAH was the victim of countout chicanery on day one of the G1, and Tom Lawlor fell to Lance Archer’s Blackout on day 6, it’s safe to say that neither man has gotten off to the start they wanted to. For one of the two, things are about to get worse, as someone will be walking out of Aichi at 0-2 and with a very difficult hill to climb in A Block. After Lawlor’s ego won out over his experience at several points in his first match with Archer, the Filthy One will be looking to bring added focus to JONAH here this evening, and has promised to wear the top Dog down ‘like Genki Sudo did to Butterbean’. How will the beat of TMDK respond?
6th Match: D Block- David Finlay (1-1) vs Shingo Takagi (1-1)
David Finlay and Shingo Takagi hit the mid way points of their respective campaigns tied at one win apiece this evening in Aichi. With a short span in between matches, Finlay will be feeling the full benefits and disadvantages that brings; his shoulder will still be screaming after the damage dealt by Juice Robinson Tuesday in Korakuen, but nothing can beat the mental high he will be on having vanquished his former friend in the main event.
Takagi has yet to taste the main event success that Finlay has, in this tournament so far, and it will be frustrating for the Dragon that the Rebel defeated Juice when he could not. Shingo will also be keenly aware that in the two times these men have met in tag team action, Takagi’s team was on the losing end; will he be in a difficult 1-2 position tonight, or will the Dragon fire back?
5th Match: CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano) vs BULLET CLUB (Jay White, Juice Robinson, Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens & Gedo)
A rare set of circumstances sees the stars align in the schedules for CHAOS to form a full team of five against BULLET CLUB tonight. As Kazuchika Okada and Jay White share a ring once more, their dominant form in A and B Block means this could well be seen as a semifinal preview. YOSHI-HASHI and Juice Robinson will meet in a more direct preview of Sunday’s group D clash; who will get the upper hand in Aichi?
4th Match: Los Ingobernables De Japon (BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito) vs HOUSE OF TORTURE (EVIL & Dick Togo)
LIJ and H.O.T meet in the fourth match of the evening. Naito is completely backed into a corner in C Block, and must win his third league match against EVIL Sunday for any chance of reaching the final four. Yet the King of Darkness is riding high off an ill gotten win in his first league match with KENTA this week, and wants nothing more than to be the one that ends Naito’s summer, and his dreams of the Tokyo Dome main event in 2023. Tonight will be a key preview of a critical bout.
3rd Match: Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, TAKA Michinoku & Lance Archer) vs United Empire (Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb & Aaron Henare)
As Jeff Cobb gets set to face Lance Archer Sunday, a six man preview will have United Empire and Suzuki-Gun collide in Aichi. Cobb has promised a long and emphatic Tour of the Islands to Archer, a promise that is certainly not far fetched after the Imperial Unit took Bad Luck Fale for the ride in Ota last weekend. Might the Murderhawk Monster get a taste tonight, or will Suzuki-Gun come out on top?
2nd Match: Guerrillas of Destiny (Jado & Tama Tonga) vs BULLET CLUB (KENTA & El Phantasmo)
Tag team action will see KENTA and El Phantasmo of BULLET CLUB take on Tama Tonga and Jado. While ELP struck Sudden Death as Tama Tonga was expelled from BULLET CLUB during the New Japan Cup, KENTA was on the injured list, and made quite the scene of labouring over what side to fall on before staying with Jay White’s side in the club on his return. On a long list of wrongs to right for Tama, KENTA sits near the top; it was Tonga and Jado that recruited KENTA to BULLET CLUB during the 2019 G1 Climax after all. Might there be some closure tonight?
1st Match: Kosei Fujita & Ryohei Oiwa vs HOUSE OF TORTURE (SHO & Yujiro Takahashi)
The first match of the evening will see Young Lions Ryohei Oiwa and Kosei Fujita take on HOUSE OF TORTURE’s Yujiro Takahashi and SHO. After being fairly dominated by the United Empire in the early phase of the tour in undercard tags, SHO and Yujiro sought a confidence building win over Young Lion competition earlier this week in Koprakuen, only for Yuto Nakashima and Oiwa to push them harder than they had anticipated. Might Fujita and Oiwa give H.O.T more to worry about this evening?