New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 33 Night 13
August 5, 2023
Edion Arena Osaka
Osaka, Japan

Watch: NJPWWorld

We’re finally here. After twelve nights of block competition, we’ve finally reached the four cards that will determine who will advance to the knockout stage of this year’s G1 Climax! First up, as always, is the A Block. IWGP World Heavyweight Champion SANADA already came into this night locked into the knockout stage after winning the A Block in a complete runaway. However, the battle for second was still very close, with Hikuleo, Kaito Kiyomiya, and Shota Umino all still eligible for that spot. Who will end up taking 2nd Place? It’s time to find out!

Before going into the block matches, here are the results from the undercard. It’s the first time on the tour that we’ve gotten undercard bouts, since all of the previous shows had featured eight tournament matches.

– United Empire (Great O-Khan & Jeff Cobb) def. Just 5 Guys (DOUKI & Taichi)
– CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, YOH, & YOSHI-HASHI) def. Bullet Club (David Finlay, Gedo, & KENTA)
– House Of Torture (EVIL, SHO, & Yujiro Takahashi with Dick Togo) def. LIJ (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, & BUSHI)
– United Empire (Will Ospreay & HENARE) def. El Phantasmo & Togi Makabe
– CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii) & Hiroshi Tanahashi def. G.O.D. (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

G1 Climax 33 A Block Match
Yota Tsuji (7) def. Gabe Kidd (5)

As “Yota Tsuji” was making his entrance, we got the Gabe Kidd sneak attack routine that we’ve been getting on this entire tour. However, this one came with a twist. As Kidd was beating up who we thought was Yota Tsuji on the floor, the real Yota Tsuji walked down the entrance ramp, and delivered a big jumping knee after Kidd realized the person he attacked wasn’t actually Yota Tsuji. We wouldn’t find this out until later, but it turns out Yota Tsuji actually has an identical twin brother…named Shota Tsuji. Kind of wild that nobody knew about this until they did this angle. This was a fun way to kick off the match. Not only does it open the possibility of using Shota Tsuji for twin magic angles in the future (I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ve seen of him), but much like Ren Narita earlier in the tour, Yota Tsuji comes off as a smart babyface who was completely prepared for Kidd’s shenanigans.

In terms of the match itself, this was a great contest from start to finish. Tsuji was on fire early with a dive through the ropes onto Kidd, though Kidd responded a short time later with a back drop driver on the floor. Once they got back in the ring, there were plenty of chops and strikes before they reached the closing stretch. An offensive flurry from Tsuji was stopped dead in its tracks after Kidd blocked the spear. A wild slap exchange eventually culminated in a headbutt from Tsuji, followed by the spear, which got him the win. While the crowd seemed a little on the quieter side at points (especially when compared to the next match), the hard-hitting action more than made up for it. Tsuji’s win takes him up to 7 Points, which (by the time the night was over) ended up being good enough for 3rd Place. Not a terrible outing for his first G1 Climax, in terms of where he finished, but there’s no question that Tsuji will be a force to be reckoned with in many more G1 Climax tournaments in the future. ****1/4

G1 Climax 33 A Block Match
Ren Narita (6) def. Kaito Kiyomiya (6)

Even though Kaito Kiyomiya was still alive coming into this show, he wasn’t exactly in the most ideal situation. A win would take him to 8 Points, but that alone wouldn’t be good enough for him to finish 2nd. He would’ve needed either a Shota Umino win over Hikuleo (thus forcing a play-in match to determine 2nd Place, since Kiyomiya had a draw with Umino earlier in the tour), or a Hikuleo/Shota Umino draw, which would’ve led to Kiyomiya to advance out of the block outright.

Unfortunately for poor Kiyomiya, none of those scenarios would come to pass, as he lost this match to Ren Nartia in just over fifteen minutes after Narita countered an attempted Shining Wizard into his Front Suplex with a bridge to score the pin. For my money, this was the best of the four tournament matches on this card (very slightly above the previous bout). While I thought Gabe Kidd and Yota Tsuji had the more exciting in-ring match, these two wrestled a really good match that had the benefit of a hot crowd that was really into it (likely due to the NOAH vs. New Japan dynamic, in addition to the fact that Kiyomiya was in a must-win situation). Kiyomiya spent the bulk of the match working over Narita’s legs, but every single time, Narita managed to survive. There was an awesome exchange between the two that Kiyomiya wound up getting the better of and, from there, he went through a series of big moves that led to the finish I mentioned earlier. Obviously a lot can be said about the result, and the fact that Kaito Kiyomiya, as the big NOAH representative, wound up finishing in 5th or 6th (depending on how you work out the tie-breakers) in a block of eight. My response to Kiyomiya’s finishing result in the A Block is similar to what others have said. If you’re upset about it, don’t blame New Japan, blame NOAH for allowing him to get booked this way. As for Ren Narita, he hadn’t left much of an impression on me up to this point in the tour, but he managed to close things out with a signature singles win. ****1/4

G1 Climax 33 A Block Match
SANADA (14) def. Chase Owens (4)

SANADA came down to the ring with his left arm all wrapped up, and Chris Charlton explained that he had suffered some sort of injury in his match with Gabe Kidd on Night 11 (apparently it was serious enough that SANADA went back to Tokyo to get it looked at before coming back to Osaka for this show). What’s wild about that is the fact that SANADA didn’t need to wrestle this match at all. He had already claimed the top seed in the A Block, so this result did not matter at all. Alas, SANADA still made the event, and had a relatively decent match with Chase Owens to close out the block portion of the tournament. The big moment of the bout saw Chase pay off a several year long story, as he finally managed to trap SANADA in the Paradise Lock! Chase celebrated the whole thing like he had just scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl, but he was quickly brought back down to earth by SANADA after he had kicked the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion out of the hold. The rest of the match from that point on was perfectly fine, but it definitely seemed like they lost the crowd in the final minute or so (mainly after Chase tried to use his knee protector as a weapon). SANADA got the win with the Deadfall, as expected, and finished off the block stage with a perfect 7-0 record and 14 Points. **3/4

G1 Climax 33 A Block Match
Hikuleo (w/ Jado) (8) def. Shota Umino (6)

It all comes down to this. With Kaito Kiyomiya’s loss earlier in the night, that meant that the winner of this match between Hikuleo and Shota Umino would advance in the knockout stage as the 2nd seed from the A Block. Hikuleo had gotten off to a horrible start in this tournament, as he dropped his first three matches. However, since then, he’d been on a three-match winning streak, and he managed to successfully carry that momentum into this bout, as he ultimately put away Umino with his Godsend chokeslam to secure 2nd Place. The result was definitely a major surprise, as nobody really expected Hikuleo to make it this far.

As for the match itself, it was a really strong bout from start to finish, and featured plenty of drama throughout (as one would expect, given the situation). One moment that sticks out in my mind was Shota avoiding Hikuleo’s snap powerslam with a double stomp, in what looked like a super cool counter. The final few minutes of the match saw some very good back-and-forth exchanges between the two. Shota was able to connect with a lot of big moves in his attempt to put the giant away (including a HUGE superplex off the top rope), but it wasn’t enough to keep the big man down. I really like how they’ve treated Hikuleo’s snap powerslam. It’s a move that’s basically the prelude to the Godsend chokeslam, where if he hits it, you know the end of the match is near. At the risk of missing an obvious example I’m forgetting, this was the best singles match of Hikuleo’s career. The combination of the drama, plus having a solid dance partner in Shota Umino, played roles in that, I’m sure. A strong main event to close out the A Block, as Hikuleo now has his sights set on the knockout stage. ****

Final Thoughts

Night 13 of the 33rd G1 Climax featured (for the most part) a lot of awesome wrestling to close out the A Block. Gabe Kidd vs. Yota Tsuji, Kaito Kiyomiya vs. Ren Narita, and Hikuleo vs. Shota Umino were all great matches, and are well worth checking out if you haven’t seen this show yet. The match between Chase Owens and SANADA wasn’t anything special, but you did get a funny moment with Owens that will probably be the only thing that particular match is remembered for. As for the final standings, SANADA going through wasn’t a huge shocker, but Hikuleo being the one to advance (over all three of the Reiwa Three Musketeers and NOAH star Kaito Kiyomiya) in 2nd Place was definitely a fascinating choice. Obviously he’s not going to be winning the whole thing, but maybe just managing to get out of the A Block and making it to the Elite Eight is a big enough moment for him. Time will tell on that one, but again, I thought three of the four matches on this card totally delivered, and you should definitely check them out if you haven’t done so already.

Final A Block Standings

SANADA (7-0) – 14 Points – Advances to face the C Block runner-up on Night 17
Hikuleo (4-3) – 8 Points – Advances to face the D Block winner on Night 17
Yota Tsuji (3-3-1) – 7 Points
Ren Narita (2-3-2) – 6 Points
Kaito Kiyomiya (2-3-2) – 6 Points
Shota Umino (2-3-2) – 6 Points
Gabe Kidd (2-4-1) – 5 Points
Chase Owens (2-5) – 4 Points