New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 33 Night 8
July 26, 2023
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPWWorld

Welcome to night 8 of the G1 Climax 33! After a dismal atmosphere on Night 6, the C and D block finally have their chance to have a good show in front of a lively crowd. On this night we have three rematches from feuds this year: Hirooki Goto vs Alex Coughlin, Tama Tonga vs David Finlay, and Jeff Cobb vs Zack Sabre Jr.

Goto and Coughlin are 1/1 after two matches for the tag team titles on Korakuen Hall on July 4 and 5 on NJPW Strong Independence Day. Tama and Finlay will have another chapter of their post BULLET CLUB wars and Cobb vs. Sabre already had two great matches for the TV title, so we’ll see what happens when they have more than 15 minutes. The other noteworthy match is Tomohiro Ishii vs Eddie Kingston. Let’s get on with the show.

G1 Climax 2023 Block C Match
EVIL (6) def. HENARE (2)

EVIL and Togo have been watching Kidd’s matches, but in their case they outsmarted HENARE by having EVIL in the ring while Togo attacked him during his entrance. EVIL kept the match outside, knocking out the timekeeper and then crowd brawling. But this blew up in EVIL’s face when HENARE hit him with a Korakuen Hall signage and took the match back to the ring. EVIL took control again by taking the match to the crowd again, where this time he was joined by Togo and his garrot but HENARE fought back.

Back in the ring, HENARE was almost able to foil EVIL, with not even the exposed turnbuckle knocking him out. When HENARE almost had the match and had EVIL for the Streets of Rage, Togo entered with a chair, a chair that HENARE broke with his fist. While the referee cleaned the debris, a low blow by EVIL and an Everything is Evil gave HENARE another loss.

A fun *** match to start up the show. HENARE was great here, having the crowd after him throughout the whole match. One of the better EVIL matches in this tournament. Loving HENARE in this G1 even more than last year.

G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match
Alex Coughlin (2) def. Hirooki Goto (6)

After their tag title matches, where they are one and one, we have a singles match between members of the War Dogs and Bishamon. This time Coughling’ strategy was simple: go after Goto’s rib. The strategy started paying off when Coughlin attacked him one second before the bell sounded, took him outside, and hit him with a fan’s chair in the ribs. Coughlin dominated most of the match, but Goto’s attempts to get control were cut off by a simple knee or kick to his stomach. All of this was too much for Goto and Coughlin got his first G1 win.

A simple, straight to the point match that was perfectly fine for the spot and both men made it engaging throughout. ***

G1 Climax 2023 Block C Match
Shingo Takagi (4) def. Mikey Nicholls (2)

Nicholls has been the surprise of the tournament for me. I really did not care about him being on the G1, but he’s working really hard and he already has two memorable matches: the one against Henare, and this one against Shingo.

This was balls-to-the-walls fun. After a quick feel out session, Nicholls tried to end it with a count-out win, which I don’t blame him since it is what I would do if I had to wrestle Shingo.

After the initial moments, then it was just bombs. Nicholls with seconds long suplex, superplex from the top rope, Shing answering with lariats. Shingo made Nicholls bleed, who had this trickle of blood in the middle of his forehead which added to the match. They went back and forth in exciting final minutes, until in the end Shingo tackled Nicholls, landed on top of him, and got the win.

Nicholls is working really hard and it’s making good matches. I liked the speed and intensity. Worth watching. ***½

G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match
Hiroshi Tanahashi (4) def. Toru Yano (0)

You already know what you get here. Imagine Tanahashi vs. Yano in a short G1 match; that is what you got here.

Yano did a surprise roll up, Tanahashi kicked out immediately, and told Yano to be serious. Yano took out his rolls of tapes, and had a normal match with Tanahashi…by Yano standards. He eventually exposed the turnbuckle which worked for him for a short while. Still, it was not enough since a High Fly Flow gave two more points to Tanahashi and eliminated Yano from the tournament. Match was not good, Tanahashi looked slow, so far the only skip from this night. Not bad, just a match that existed. **½

G1 Climax 2023 Block C Match
Tomohiro Ishii (2) def. Eddie Kingston (4)

The Super J Cast on their Twitter (or X, don’t know the name now, for some reason, it is still Twitter on my phone but X on my laptop) described this match best:

What a fucking awesome match. That should be enough, but I’ll write a bit more.

Kingston started dominating Ishii, but eventually, his lower back was bothering him enough that he was on the same level of hurt as Ishii. Ishii did not let up with kicks and backdrops to the back. This was a fierce back and forth battle where I bit a lot of the nearfalls. The chops sequence and Ishii headbutting Kingston to the ground are images you won’t forget. Both men were exhausted, bodies red, and the ending is brilliant. In his last match against HENARE, Kingston did a backfist and fell on his opponent for the win. This time, the same thing happened with Ishii, with Kingston giving him a last-effort backfist and landing on top of him for a really close two-count that everyone ate. Ishii found enough strength to give him a brainbuster to end the match.

This was a war. This was awesome. This is the action I think about when I watch the G1. A can’t miss match from this night that even if you know the result, you will still be on the edge of your seat due to the nonstop action. ****¼

G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match
Shane Haste (4) def. Tetsuya Naito (4)

Haste tried having a hat exchange with Naito, but lost his hat when Naito threw it into the crowd. Haste was having none of it, so after taking Naito down, he stole his hat and gave it away. Total disrespect, so I get it.

Naito worked around Haste’s neck, with the big hit being a neckbreaker on the guardrail. While on a chin lock for a few minutes, Haste got out of it and hit a dropkick. Naito got control back, did an Esperanza, but Haste still found ways to get a little bit of a leg up. On a strike exchange, Naito spat on Haste, which gave him the fire he needed to go 100%. Naito was able to do a surprise Destino for the two count. He got Haste up, rolled him for the proper Destino, but Haste countered with a Bomb Valley Death and beat him to get a surprise win. He was also able to recover his hat.

I was surprised by the result, with Haste winning without any shenanigans. He was the better wrestler in this match. I liked the story of Naito being an asshole that did not respect his opponent and Haste getting the better of him in the end. ***½

G1 Climax 2023 Block C Match
Tama Tonga (6) def. David Finlay (6)

Tama took a page out of the War Dogs strategy and attacked Finlay when he was entering the ring, taking him for a bit of crowd brawling. Red Shoes Umino sounded the bell, and when Tama was about to suplex Finlay to the floor from the second level of Korakuen, Finlay threw him instead to the floor, landing on his knees. Finlay attacked him a bit more and took the match to the ring.

This became a leg match, with Tama powering through all of the submissions and kicks, until he was able to hold on his own with punches, kicks, and slams. The Supreme Flow failed him first and a second attempt gave him a two count. He tried going for the Gun Stun, but was constantly countered by Finlay. After Finlay hit the Destroyer, instead of pinning him, he got Tama up again and Tama rolled him up in a package to get the win. After the match, Finlay attacked him and laid him out, getting the heat back.

I liked this match more than their previous bouts. Maybe I’m in a good mood, maybe it was the urgency of it, but it flowed perfectly, and it was exciting. I honestly didn’t know who was going to get it, and that added to it. I even liked the pre-match attack, and the final moments were awesome. ****

G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match
Jeff Cobb (8) def. Zack Sabre Jr. (6)

One funny and interesting comment by Kevin Kelly: the funny one was that while Sabre was walking through the crowd during his entrance, he talked about how Sabre will be a capitalist in his 40s. The interesting one was him mentioning that Red Shoes Umino is happy to referee this match since it would be a bullshit-free match without weapons and interference. This was seconded when after the initial feeling-out process, he applauded alongside the crowd. Umino must have been satisfied with what was an excellent match.

Cobb dominated the first few minutes with hard hits on the outside and guardrails. Not even a flying guillotine by Sabre helped him since Cobb suplexed him while holding it. Back in the ring, Cobb mercilessly threw him to the corners, making him fly, hitting headbutts, even standing on him. A surprise swinging DDT by Sabre gave him a breather. A neck crank gave him an advantage.

Both men had a slugfest that Cobb eventually won. A Tour of the Island was countered into a pin, Cobb kicked out, and then Sabre held a submission until Cobb reached the rope break. After more counters and hard hits, after the 15-minute call, Cobb hit the Tour of the Island to beat Sabre for the first time in a singles match and won his second main event of this year’s G1.

You can never go wrong with Cobb and Sabre. This was amazing from beginning to end, even though they were definitely going for more than 15 minutes based on their previous matches. Hard-hitting, smart, a really good match, and a great way to end this good G1 night. ****

Final Thoughts

I loved this show from beginning to end. Aside from Yano vs. Tanahashi, which was not bad, it was just there, all of the matches delivered. It also flowed perfectly, a quick watch in two and a half hours.

I have three four-star matches that I think are worth going to see, with Ishii vs Kingston being a must-watch. There was an upset with Haste vs. Naito, Nicholls had a great showing against Shingo, and even the EVIL match was decent and not offensive. Good show from top to bottom, with the main recommendations being Ishii vs. Kingston, Finlay vs. Tama, and Cobb vs. Sabre Jr.

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