G1 enters final stretch in Hiroshima
The long journey of G1 Climax 32 is nearing home, with four events in Hiroshima, Machida and Nagano before the three inal nights in the legendary Nippon Budokan. The tournament is at a critical phase tonight, with five more big league matches.
Main event: C Block- Tetsuya Naito (2-2) vs KENTA (1-2)
Singles record 1-1
The main event sees Tetsuya Naito take on KENTA in El Ingobernable’s adopted second home of Hiroshima. Before both made it to the main event stage in NJPW, Naito had some deep seated jealousy toward the then NOAH star circling around Hiroshima; KENTA was at one point due to be the first pro-wrestler to throw an opening pitch at a Carp game many years ago. It would rain on the game back then, making it perhaps Destino that KENTA would rain on Naito’s parade in 2020.
Then the LIJ founder had just become the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion, and was preparing to live out his dream of a rousing cheer of ‘De Ja Pon!’ to 30,000 in unison when he was jumped in perhaps the most shocking post match NJPW attack in history. The ensuing title match between the two in Osaka was a memorable bloody battle, but also symbolised the start of Naito’s woes afflicting what should rightfully have been is most triumphant drawing period. With the COVID pandemic, EVIL’s betrayal and injuries blighting the next two years, Naito now is wholly driven to be on the main event stage at Wrestle Kingdom 17.
Two losses out of the gate in G1 Climax 32 put Naito in a corner, as they did to KENTA, but both men have kept fighting in their own unique ways. With this match being effectively make or break, do Naito’s Dome dreams live on, or will they be extinguished tonight?
8th Match: A Block- JONAH (3-1) vs Lance Archer (2-2)
Archer must win
A Block sees yet another colossal clash in Hiroshima when JONAH and Lance Archer go one on one for the first time. Archer and JONAH did lock horns before in Pro-Wrestling NOAH as well as NJPW’s first tour of Australia in 2018. But much has changed in the past four years, as well as the past four weeks. We are only barely over 48 hours removed from a seizmic shift in NJPW as JONAH defeated kazuchika Okada to mark himself out truly as the Top Dog in New Japan. With Archer able to resist the wily Yano to move to four points in Osaka, and both giants are still alive, but the Murderhawk Monster is on the bubble. There will be no quarter asked for or given in this violent meeting of super heavyweights.
7th Match: B Block- Tama Tonga (2-1) vs Taichi (2-1)
Singles record: 1-1
Both must win or draw
Tama Tonga takes on Taichi in B Block tonight in Hiroshima. Tama and Taichi are no strangers to one another; last may saw the Guerrillas of Destiny and Dangerous Tekkers embroiled in a feud over the IWGP Tag Team Championships as well as the sinister Iron Fingers From Hell that the Holy Emperor used to carry as a sinister unholy talisman. The result was only the second ever ladder match in NJPW history at Dontaku 2021, and certainly the most bizarre even if that distinction was not made by default. Tonight though, things are rather more simple, and stakes easier to understand. With two more key points both men would be closer to ultimate G1 glory next week in the Budokan. There are no iron fingers in sight, but a chance at a trophy of gold is all the motivation both men need.
6th Match: B Block- SANADA (2-2) vs Chase Owens (-)
Singles record: 1-0 SANADA
Owens is mathematically eliminated
SANADA must win
SANADA and Chase Owens may not have a lot to link them from a character standpoint, but their fondness for a classical style of wrestling saw an exciting encounter in G1 Climax 31 that saw SANADA just eke out the upper hand. In Hiroshima Tuesday, Owens will be the first to finish his G1 campaign, and already being mathematically out of the running, wants to end his tournament with a win. Having shown guts, determination and a perfectly executed gameplan against Ishii at the weekend, he now aims to ruin Cold Skull’s chances of making the final four once and for all.
5th Match: D Block- YOSHI-HASHI (2-1) vs Yujiro Takahashi (2-2)
Singles record: 2-1 Takahashi
With YOSHI-HASHI still with three matches left to go, and Yujiro Takahashi 2-2 and even, there is still much to play for between the two in an ultra competitive D Block. After a six year gap between singles bouts, YOSHI-HASHI defeated Yujiro in the New Japan Cup in 2021; after victories against both El Phantasmo and Juice Robinson, will his 2022 G1 record against BULLET CLUB end up a perfect 3-0?
4th Match: CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto & Toru Yano) vs BULLET CLUB (Jay White, Juice Robinson, Bad Luck Fale & Gedo)
The entire face of A Block, the G1 and perhaps all of NJPW was changed Sunday as JONAH defeated Kazuchika Okada to take his place at the top of A Block. Tonight in Hiroshima, Okada will regroup and refocus on his next league match Wednesday night opposite Tom Lawlor, but there is no doubt that Switchblade Jay White will be ready to rub some salt into the wounds of the Rainmaker this evening. Meanwhile, with Hirooki Goto and Hiroshi Tanahashi, partners tonight, set to meet 24 hours later, this might be a difficult night to stay on track as they will get pushed by their BULLET CLUB opposition.
3rd Match: United Empire (Aaron Henare, Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay) vs BULLET CLUB (EVIL, El Phantasmo, SHO & Dick Togo)
While the start of the G1 threatened an all United Empire final four, hopes for Great-O-Khan and Aaron Henare have now been dashed; latterly by EVIL who faces the United Empire tonight along with SHO, Dick Togo and El Phantasmo. ELP has the barest glimmer of hope in D Block, but with Will Ospreay firmly in the mix, may have a difficult time ahead, needing two wins and a lot of help. Early tour tags saw UE decimate HOUSE OF TORTURE, and Dick Togo in particular; will there be much needed catharsis for the group once more tonight?
2nd Match: Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor & Royce Isaacs) vs Suzuki-Gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & TAKA Michinoku)
Of all the tag matches that have seen block participants mixed up through the G1 series, this has been an undercard matchup that plenty of fans have had cicrcled since the lineups were first announced. Team Filthy and Suzuki-Gun have crossed paths before on NJPW STRONG as Lance Archer and Minoru Suzuki got into the mix, leading to Lawlor’s first league match against the Murderhawk Monster in Korakuen two weeks ago. But the prospect of the proficient MMA grappler Lawlor in the face of the British Submission Master is definitely an irresistible one. With both in high spirits after weekend victories in their G1 campaigns, what will this tag bout bring?
1st Match: Tomohiro Ishii & Kosei Fujita vs Los Ingobernables De Japon (Shingo Takagi & BUSHI)
In a deep 1-4 hole with one match to go, Tomohiro Ishii’s hopes of being anywhere near the G1 final four have been vapourised. Now left to consider his future in the tournament and beyond, Ishii will have help getting refocused, as he reunited opposite a classic straight ahead rival in Shingo Takagi to get the action started tonight.