New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 33 Night 3
July 18, 2023
Yamagata Sports Center
Sakata, Yamagata, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Welcome to night 3 of NJPW’s G1 Climax 33, a night where we will see how the Reiwa Three Musketeers will do, where one of the aforementioned will face the IWGP World Heavyweight champion while the other two face each other, and in the main event Okada faces El Phantasmo. Other questions are: will Gabe Kidd continue losing his temper and therefore losing because of this? Will Kaito Kiyomiya add another win? Can Taichi have a good match against Tanga Loa? Keep reading to see what you must watch from this night.

G1 Climax 2023 A Block Match
Kaito Kiyomiya (4) def. Chase Owens (2)

The night’s action started with Owens vs Kiyomiya in what was a decent opener with nothing that stood out. It is one of those matches that there is nothing exciting to write home about yet it is pretty good pro wrestling. During the final minutes, Owens hit a Death Valley Driver for a close two count, and when he went for the Package Piledriver, Kiyomiya countered it, and got the win by giving Owens a Shining Wizard. Just a nice short match to start the proceedings and to completely wake me up from my 5:30 am stupor. *** 

G1 Climax 2023 B Block Match
KENTA (2) def. Great-O-Khan (0)

You already know if you liked this match or not since it is probably what you imagine. The match started with some ground wrestling, until KENTA gave O-Khan an eye poke, went outside, and hit him with the DEFY Wrestling belt. He even took O-Khan to the crowd to throw him into the chairs and then hit him with one of those. O-Khan decided that he wanted part of the “throwing people into chairs” fun, so he took KENTA to the other side of the crowd to do the same before both men returned to the ring.

After a few more minutes of back-and-forth wrestling and with O-Khan trying to prevent KENTA from knocking out the referee, the wily KENTA still found a way to do it. Since the ref was out, O-Khan threw two straight fist into KENTA’s face, but still KENTA found his way into a small package and held on to the ropes for the win. Poor O-Khan is 0-2 in the tournament. 

Not a bad match, I enjoyed the shenanigans, but nothing must watch here. ***

G1 Climax 2023 A Block Match
Gabe Kidd (2) def. Hikuleo (2)

The match started immediately since Kidd attacked Hikuleo during his entrance, which led the first few unofficial minutes of the bout into a walk and brawl. Kidd gave Hikuleo a chairshot to the head, put chairs on top of chairs, and both tried to throw each other into it, yet Hikuleo won the reversal struggle by back body dropping Kidd right into it. Match went quickly to the ring, and both men started throwing bombs at each other (with Hikuleo throwing Kidd neck first into the mat). Jado interfered, and while the referee was distracted, Kidd gave Hikuleo a low blow and a piledriver to get two points. Once again, nothing special. **½

G1 Climax 2023 B Block Match
Taichi (4) def. Tanga Loa (2)

This match gave me nostalgia for the old G1s, the ones I started watching. Hell, even the 2020 one. Just two blocks, 20 wrestlers, great combinations, at least guaranteed bangers almost every night. The undercard tag matches were nice and more entertaining than some of the undercards we have gotten in the first three nights this year. I even remember in 2020 the unofficial C block, where Yota Tsuji, Gabriel Kidd, and Yuya Uemura were trading wins in the openers. In those G1s, at least we did not have filler matches officially in the tournament, this one being one of those.

I don’t blame Taichi, he did his job well. But Tanga Loa looks rough, and it does not help that the match had a slow start and did not get going until the final minutes. Completely forgettable and boring. You can skip. **

G1 Climax 2023 A Block Match
Yota Tsuji (1) vs. Ren Narita (2) in a draw

This was one of the matches I was looking forward to since I wanted to know if they were going to do the draw again or if Tsuji would finally conquer Narita, since he has never beaten him. They went with the draw, which I don’t mind since this was a really fun match. 

Tsuji was being a total asshole to Narita which is something I loved, with his smile and cocky pinfalls in the first minutes. Narita was so pissed off that he threw Tsuji outside and just started beating him. Tsuji did a fast and glorious Tope Suicida to the outside that if you could gif NJPW it would be all over Twitter today. They tried submitting each other, they tried all kinds of suplexes, and even headbutts, but they always got up from whatever they threw at each other. They know each other too well. The ending came when at the last minute, they decided to go to the top rope and time ran out while they were up there. 

My only complaint about this match is that there was no urgency in the last five minutes. It was like the wrestlers forgot about the 20 minute time limit and could not hear the ring announcer. I wish they would have gone for something else besides going to the top rope for that last minute. This might be a pet peeve of mine, but all I could think of while watching the match is “Why don’t you try pining or something with a minute left?” ***3/4

G1 Climax 2023 B Block Match
Will Ospreay (2) def. YOSHI-HASHI (2)

This was the match of the night, easily. YOSHI-HASHI is one of my favorite G1 performers of the 2020s, and Ospreay is fucking Ospreay, so of course this match was my shit. But this was not only good because of the personal taste of the reviewer, it was a solid 13 minutes of nonstop action. 

YOSHI-HASHI was aggressive, chopping Ospreay so hard that he bled and never letting up. YOSHI-HASHI took as hard as he gave, since he was surviving Ospreay’s hits too. He was hit with elbows, kicks, and a Oscutter for the two count. He even managed to evade the always deadly Hidden Blade. He went for Karma, but Ospreay countered, and went to the top rope for a beautiful corkscrew senton which gave him the win. The second-best match of the tournament so far. I just love these two men going at it. ****

G1 Climax 2023 A Block Match
SANADA (4) def Shota Umino (1)

Each of the young guys get a shot at the champ, and Umino looked great here. This match proved that he could hang with SANADA in kayfabe and in the ring, which is a good sign of progress for Umino. He dominated a lot of the match, with the crowd firmly behind him all the way (when they wanted to cheer, which they barely did all night long). Meanwhile, when SANADA was in control, crickets. Not even the Skull End was enough to even boo the poor guy.

When SANADA held the Skull End and Umino reversed it with a DDT, the three-minute call was called. Umino lost his composure when he countered SANADA’s O’Connor Roll and it did not work. SANADA took control once again with a Shining Wizard and Deadfall for the win with two minutes to spare. 

Unlike the draw, there was a sense of urgency to finish this when there were five minutes left. While the match was very good and there was the urgency I like, it was not exciting all the way like the draw was. ***½   

G1 Climax 2023 B Block Match
Kazuchika Okada (4) def. El Phantasmo (0)

I have to give it to Okada. Sometimes on matches where I don’t think he is losing, he does something like the late two count kick out he did on this match that just makes me go “(Insert opponent name) might do it! And it’s the G1! He might be the upset!”. The crowd even changed allegiance, chanting for ELP when they were going for Okada at first, which was great to see signs of the crowd waking up when they were asleep most of the show.

There were shenanigans by ELP, like the nipple twisters at the beginning of the match, but after that, it was just a man giving it all to beat the former champion. He even countered the Rainmaker and got out of the Money Clip attempts. There was another close call moment when ELP hit Okada with a Tombstone Piledriver, which had the crowd buzzing again. The match was fun in a main event for TV way, and the close calls by ELP made me believe that he was going to upset Okada here. That believability always gives points to these matches. But alas, it did not happen, but it was still a really good match and a good way to end the show. ***½ 

Final Thoughts

The first four matches are completely skippable, so I would only recommend watching the last half of the show. The first four matches range from bad to decent, which is not something I look for in the G1. 

If you are short on time,only watch Ospreay vs. YOSHI-HASHI which was great and the match of the night. The other three matches were still fun since the draw had cool elements, Umino and SANADA had a good match, and Ospreay vs. ELP was a ton of fun. 

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