New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 33 Night 4
July 19th, 2023
Xebio Arena Sendai
Sendai, Miyagi, Japan

Watch: NJPWWorld

We’re now fully into the swing of things in the 33rd edition of the G1 Climax! The first night for the C Block and the D Block saw a lot of strong action with a number of big names coming up short in their opening tournament. Who will be the first to reach four points, and can the likes of Hiroshi Tanahashi, Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito, and Tomohiro Ishii get their first points of the tournament? Let’s find out as we take a look at all the happenings from Night 4 in Sendai.

G1 Climax D Block Match
Zack Sabre Jr. (w/Kosei Fujita) (4) def. Toru Yano (0)

There were no wacky mascots with Toru Yano this time around, as he came into Sendai looking to score his first points of the tournament against Zack Sabre Jr., who got his first two points on Night 2 after defeating Hiroshi Tanahashi. We got shenanigans before the bell even rang, as Kosei Fujita came down to the ring wearing Zack’s jacket as well as the NJPWWorld Television Title. In response, Yano put his jacket on Yuto Nakashima (one of the young lions at ringside) and starts backing up the ramp….only to be caught in a choke by Zack! With the match officially underway and Yano momentarily incapacitated, Zack had Fujita tape down all of the turnbuckle pads so that Yano couldn’t untie them. Yano would tape Zack’s legs together on the ramp a few moments later, and Zack would just barely beat what was a very elongated twenty count. As Yano soon realized that all of the turnbuckle pads were taped down, Zack cut himself free with a pair of scissors from Fujita. After a quick exchange of pins, Zack caught Yano for the three count to move to four points.

There wasn’t a lot of actual wrestling in this match, but for what it was, I really enjoyed it. I loved the idea that Zack was fully prepared to combat Yano’s typical strategy. Zack having Fujita tape down the turnbuckle pads was a very clever idea that really helped make this particular Yano match unique. Yano going 0-2 to start likely means that he’s probably going to rattle off some wins in the near future, so that’s something to keep an eye on. Again, more of an extended angle over a proper match, but it worked out pretty well. ***1/4

G1 Climax 33 C Block Match
David Finlay (w/Gedo) (4) def. Mikey Nicholls (w/Kosei Fujita) (2)

Both of these men won their first tournament match on Night 2 (David Finlay defeated Tomohiro Ishii while Mikey Nicholls scored a brutal victory over HENARE), which meant that whoever came out on top here would be the first wrestler in the C Block to move to four points. In the end, Finlay would score the victory over Nicholls after hitting The Oblivion. A perfectly solid contest while it lasted. Nicholls has looked good in his first two matches in this G1, which is cool to see after his singles run in New Japan a few years ago didn’t exactly land. They had a fine exchange in the closing stretch before the finish featuring the aforementioned Oblivion. Finlay moves to four points and, as expected, he will absolutely be a contender to advance out of the C Block, if not win the block outright. ***

G1 Climax 33 D Block Match
Jeff Cobb (4) def. Alex Coughlin (0)

After getting a big win over Tetsuya Naito in his first block match, Jeff Cobb came into this bout looking to join Zack Sabre Jr. at 4 Points. Meanwhile, Alex Coughlin was looking to get his first points after a very silly loss to Shane Haste. When the dust settled, Cobb ultimately picked up the win after connecting with Tour Of The Islands in just under ten minutes. An enjoyable match on the whole that did a solid job showcasing the power that both guys possess. Of course, we all know how strong Cobb is, but it was great to see Coughlin showcase that he was just as strong as Cobb. Seeing Coughlin press Cobb over his head before tossing him down was a sight to behold for sure (and that wasn’t the only time Coughlin tossed Cobb around). Despite coming up short, this was a better outing for Coughlin compared to his first tournament bout. Should be interesting to see how he fares against the rest of the D Block. ***1/4

G1 Climax 33 C Block Match
EVIL (4) (w/Dick Togo) def. Eddie Kingston (2)

Eddie Kingston came fully prepared to battle the House Of Torture nonsense, as he brought a singapore cane with him to the ring. Unfortunately, that didn’t help him early on, as EVIL jumped him to get the match going. The match eventually spilled to the floor (like many of these undercard G1 matches have thus far), and Kingston was able to beat the count after getting thrown into a row of chairs. EVIL would actually target the eyes of Kingston (which he sold very well). Kingston would manage to fight back, but nothing could stop the (expected) House Of Torture wackiness. The referee goes down, and Togo jumps in to choke Kingston with the garrote wire. Kingston ducked EVIL’s attempt to use the singapore cane, which not only led to friendly fire between EVIL and Togo, but also Kingstong going to town on both with the singapore cane. A brief back-and-forth stretch led to Kingston locking in the Stretch Plum, but Togo got involved while EVIL grabbed the referee. This led to Kingston letting out a loud “You Motherfucker” before EVIL low-blowed him and hit Everything Is EVIL for the win.

I’m kind of torn on EVIL at this stage. The House Of Torture are still very annoying with all of their nonsense, and I’d rather not see that in a G1. However, EVIL and the rest of House Of Torture have been so downcycled compared to where they were in 2020-2021 that it’s easier to forgive the shenanigans since they’re not really a pushed act anymore. This match is a good example of those conflicting feelings. The nonsense was clearly there, and I didn’t need that for a bout that was fifteen minutes long, but it was also the fourth match on the card, so I kind of just shrug my shoulders at that point. Eddie Kingston played his role well, and him bring out the singapore cane to fight the House Of Torture with was a nice touch. EVIL is now 2-0 with 4 Points, and if I had to guess, EVIL will be one of these guys who gets a big early lead before taking a bunch of losses late to fall out of contention. ***

G1 Climax 33 D Block Match
Hiroshi Tanahashi (2) def. Shane Haste (w/Kosei Fujita) (2)

Hiroshi Tanahashi came into this show in Sendai looking to bounce back after losing his opening tournament bout to Zack Sabre Jr., and he was able to do that here as he got the win over TMDK member Shane Haste. Another match on this card that was perfectly solid for what it was. After Tanahashi had control early, Haste gained the advantage when he stopped Tanahashi’s flipping senton and delivered a backbreaker on the floor. Once Tanahashi was able to make a comeback, they had a nice closing stretch before the finish, which saw Tanahashi going with to his mainstay finishing sequence with the Aces High followed by the High Fly Flow. A good match for its spot on the card. Not much else to say beyond that. ***1/4

G1 Climax 33 C Block Match
HENARE (2) def. Shingo Takagi (0)

Both of these men were looking for a nice rebound after suffering losses in their first tournament bouts on Night 2. Shingo came up short against Eddie Kingston, while HENARE was fortunate to have escaped major injuries after being dropped right on the top of his head by Mikey Nicholls at the end of their match in Sapporo.

This marks the third time in 2023 that HENARE and Shingo have squared off in singles action, with HENARE beating Shingo during the New Japan Cup, while Shingo won the rematch a few weeks later for the KOPW Title (held under Ultimate Triad Rules). While I don’t think this topped that aforementioned second meeting from April, it was still an incredible match that featured a ton of hard hitting action from start to finish. In particular, the second half featured some amazing back-and-forth sequences with both coming close to victory on a couple of occasions. They nearly reached the time limit, but Henare was able to hit Streets Of Rage for a second time, and got the pin with around thirty seconds to spare. Words really can’t do this match justice. Shingo was great, as per usual, and HENARE is proving to be one of the standout performers in the early stages of this year’s G1. This second loss for Shingo means that he needs to start picking up wins ASAP if he wants to stay in contention. With the top two in each block going through, a runner-up with three losses making the cut isn’t inconceivable, but it would require a lot of help from other matches. Again, go out of your way to check this match out, as it’s one of the best of the tournament thus far. ****1/2

G1 Climax 33 D Block Match
Tetsuya Naito (2) def. Hirooki Goto (2)

These two actually wrestled each in last year’s G1 Climax….in the exact same venue that this show is in! Hirooki Goto got the victory over Tetsuya Naito last year, but this time around, Naito was able to avenge that loss after hitting Goto with the Destino. This wasn’t as stellar as the match that came before it, but it was still really solid from start to finish. Early on, Naito was able to connect with a neckbreaker on the floor, and Goto’s neck became a target for the rest of the match. The pace picked up in the second half, and we were treated to some good exchanges between the two before Naito eventually put Goto away. Pretty much what you would expect from a couple of longtime veterans in the semi-main event of a G1 card. After losing to Jeff Cobb on Night 2, Naito is able to get himself on the board with this win. ****

G1 Climax 33 C Block Match
Tama Tonga (2) def. Tomohiro Ishii (0)

Much like Goto and Naito in the previous bout, this main event is a rematch from last year’s G1 Climax. Tomohiro Ishii defeated Tama Tonga in their clash last year in Korakuen Hall, but this time around, Tama was able to score the victory over Ishii after hitting him with a Gun Stun and a Jay Driller. A great main event that I would say was the second best match of the night (below HENARE/Shingo, but a little better than Goto/Naito). You can almost never go wrong with a Tomohiro Ishii match in the G1, and this was certainly no exception. Just over fifteen minutes of fast-paced, hard-hitting action, with a closing stretch that saw both men connecting with some big offense. Ishii managing to hit a Stun Gun of his own for a nearfall was easily the highlight of the bout for me. Much like HENARE vs. Shingo, this was a battle between two guys who were looking to get their first points. Tama got himself on the board for this win, while Ishii’s loss puts him on a collision with Shingo on July 23rd in Nagano, where the loser will be in a huge hole at 0-3. This wound up being a super fun match to close out Night 4. ****1/4

Final Thoughts

Out of the four G1 Climax shows that have taken place thus far, this was easily the most consistent of the bunch. Every single match on this card was good, at bare minimum. The first five bouts all landed in the *** to ***1/4, so while those bouts are certainly skippable if you’re in a bit of a time crunch, you won’t have to sit through anything subpar if you’re someone who’s a completist that watches every single G1 match. As for the top three matches, they were all great to varying degrees, with HENARE vs. Shingo being the standout bout of the night, and one of the best of the tournament thus far. Hirooki Goto vs. Tetsuya Naito and Tama Tonga vs. Tomohiro Ishii were also standout matches from this particular night.

Here are the standings for the C and D Blocks after Night 4:

C Block

David Finlay (2-0) – 4 Points
EVIL (2-0) – 4 Points
Eddie Kingston (1-1) – 2 Points
Mikey Nicholls (1-1) – 2 Points
Tama Tonga (1-1) – 2 Points
Henare (1-1) – 2 Points
Shingo Takagi (0-2) – 0 Points
Tomohiro Ishii (0-2) – 0 Points

D Block

Zack Sabre Jr. (2-0) – 4 Points
Jeff Cobb (2-0) – 4 Points
Tetsuya Naito (1-1) – 2 Points
Hirooki Goto (1-1) – 2 Points
Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-1) – 2 Points
Shane Haste (1-1) – 2 Points
Toru Yano (0-2) – 0 Points
Alex Coughlin (0-2) – 0 Points