Quarter final lineup set
From 32, we are down to our elite eight in G1 Climax 33. Starting tonight in Funabashi Arena, the knockout phase will see single elimination matches with no time limit, where there must be a winner.
Main event: G1 Climax 33 quarterfinal: Kazuchika Okada vs Zack Sabre Jr.
Singles record: 3-1 Okada
The main event of the evening will see B Block winner Kazuchika Okada take on C Block runner up Zack Sabre Jr. Advancing from the block stage, this is the furthest that ZSJ has ever gotten in the tournament, the TMDK frontman joining Will Ospreay to put two Britons in the elite eight. Yet just as fans felt that last year the trophy may have been coming home, only for Ospreay to lose an all time classic with the Rainmaker, Sabre knows exactly what its like to have a hot streak stopped by Kazuchika Okada. Twice Sabre has won the New Japan Cup only to be stopped in his subsequent title challenge by Okada. Three times Okada has beaten Sabre, and the one anomaly was in a match in the UK with RevPro- ZSJ has never beaten Okada in an NJPW ring or on Japanese soil.
Yet this has been a tournament of tides changing, a tournament that started with Jeff Cobb getting his first victory against Tetsuya Naito, and continued with ospreay finally beating Okada himself clean in the middle for the first time. There’s a first time for everything, and a first time for Sabre will put him in the final four, stopping Okada’s run at an unprecedented G1 threepeat in the process.
7th Match: G1 Climax 33 quarterfinal: SANADA vs EVIL
Singles record: 3-3
Undefeated through his A Block campaign, IWGP World Heavyweight Champion SANADA takes on C Block runner up EVIL in the quarterfinals. SANADA’s one time successful tag team partner EVIL has gotten through his own block with far from a spotless record, but with chair shots, steel wire, HOUSE OF TORTURE interference and a low blow assist, got past Shingo Takagi to qualify for the elimination round starting tonight.
With EVIL being the clear public enemy number one among the NJPW faithful, the world will be willing SANADA on to ensure the King of Darkness advances no further, in the same way he eliminated EVIL from the G1 back in 2020. With an even 3-3 record between the two men over their multiple singles encounters both as allies and enemies, can the champion match Jeff Cobb’s G1 record of an eight match win streak, or will a rain of boos join approaching inclement weather across Tokyo this weekend?
6th Match: G1 Climax 33 quarterfinal: David Finlay vs Will Ospreay
Singles record: 2-1 Ospreay
‘Expect me’ was the rallying cry for David Finlay in G1 Climax 32 last year. A gripping confrontation in the prior year’s New Japan Cup semifinal notwithstanding, few expected Finlay to defeat then, and current, IWGP United States Champion Will Ospreay during block competition, and few expected to see just how hard Finlay was willing to fight in an ultimately unsuccessful challenge for the red leather and gold the following month in Kobe.
Perhaps the violent killer instinct that was instilled in Finlay at this time was what caught the eye of Bloody Hands Gedo, and what set the wheels in motion for Finlay to eventually lead BULLET CLUB. We may not know the full extent of the truth, but we will learn who the better man for now is in Funabashi. In previous meetings for the IWGP United States and NEVER Openweight Champions in G1 competition, the US title holder is 3-0 against their NEVER counterpart- will the streak remain unbeaten, or will Finlay get another feather in his cap tonight?
5th Match: G1 Climax 33 Quarterfinal: Hikuleo vs Tetsuya Naito
Everyone on the G1 Climax 33 tour is hurting badly by this point in the series, and that goes double for the Elite Eight. Of those eight that have advanced, the man with the shortest turnaround, and some of the gravest damage is Tetsuya Naito, who survived Hiroshi Tanahashi Wednesday to wrestle less than 24 hours later for a place in the final four. His opponent is arguably the freshest of the group in Hikuleo- and if not the freshest, inarguably the biggest. Can Naito survive to slay the giant and move on?
4th Match: Eddie Kingston, Tomohiro Ishii & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs United Empire (HENARE, Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb)
Eddie Kingston has quite a treat in store for him when it comes to highly respected tag team partners as his post G1 campaign tour closers kick off. Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tomohiro Ishii are right up his street as a competitor and personality, and with two thirds of the NEVER 6 Man Championship team joining the STRONG Openweight Champion, that’s a lot of gold. Yet that’s also a lot of targets for the United Empire, and after HENARE especially talked long and loud backstage about wanting to tangle with Kingston again in short order, what might come out of this six man?
3rd Match: Just Five Guys (Taichi, TAKA Michinoku, DOUKI & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs BULLET CLUB (Gabe Kidd, Alex Coughlin, KENTA & Chase Owens)
Gabe Kidd headed into his debut G1 Climax determined to make a statement against the old guard of BULLET CLUB in Chase Owens. On reflection, his hubris cost him a berth in the quarterfinals tonight, as Owens schooled the War Ready youngster and showed why he’s still an asset to the organization. Tonight, the two team together, as well as with Alex Coughlin and KENTA as they bring the fight to Just Five Guys.
2nd Match: Shota Umino, El Phantasmo, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan, El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki & Ren Narita
An interesting post match development of El Phantasmo’s incredible performance, but ultimate G1 exit on Sunday in Osaka came from Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa extending the olive branch to ELP. It seems as if Phantasmo has a door open for him from the Guerrillas of Destiny if not Hontai at large, and a budding friendship with Shota Umino behind the scenes would certainly help the Headbanga’s case as he looks for much needed allies.
Yet not all of Hontai is on the same page. Ren Narita and Shota Umino have made it very clear their opening night 20 minute draw is only the beginning of their budding post excursion rivalry, and they’re sure to tangle with violent intent in our second bout.
1st Match: Los Ingobernables De Japon (Hiromu Takahashi, Yota Tsuji & Shingo Takagi) vs TMDK (Kosei Fujita, Shane Haste & Mikey Nicholls)
Action kicks off tonight with TMDK tangling with Los Ingobernables De Japon. ‘Ichiban Sweet Boy’ or not, Kosei Fujita has been fairly salty with all of his opponents ever since he’s joined the tour as an active competitor this past week. What might he start tonight opposite his LIJ competition?
The night will start at 6PM for fans in the building with the continuation of the Young Lion Hat Trick Challenge. Yuto Nakashima will try and run the gauntlet of his Noge Dojo classmates inb five minute matches, with the prize of an NJPW World TV Championship shot as well as 200,000 Yen worth of Yakkiniku barbecue on the line! (NB: this match will not be broadcast on NJPW World)