New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 33 Night 14
August 6, 2023
Edion Arena Osaka
Osaka, Japan

Watch: NJPWWorld

With A Block’s final round robin matches all squared away on the previous night, G1 Climax 33 returns for its second show of the Edion Arena Osaka weekend with the last of the B Block matches. Kazuchika Okada is already in the playoffs, though whether he finishes at first or second in his block will depend on how things shake out tonight. As for the other playoff berth, that will be determined in the main event between Will Ospreay and El Phantasmo. Ospreay needs a win or a draw to advance, while Phantasmo must win or else he’s done.

But first! Let’s take a look at some…

Undercard Follies (Names in Bold involved in the fall)

  • Just 5 Guys (DOUKI & SANADA) def. Kaito Kiyomiya & Ryohei Oiwa – As if Kiyomiya wasn’t already drowning in dirt after failing to make the playoffs the night before, Kevin Kelly shoveled a few more lumps into the grave on commentary. “Kaito Kiyomiya from Pro Wrestling NOAH wins the N-1 last year, is gonna come in to win the G1. He doesn’t even make the playoffs. What the hell is he gonna do when he goes back to NOAH?” “It wasn’t like he was in murderer’s row, either.” “How is Kiyomiya gonna get better in his current situation if he’s not good enough to win in a competitive atmosphere like the G1 against the youngest experienced block that there is?” Stop, stop, he’s already dead. Chris Charlton tried his best to dull the blade, but Sweeney Kelly kept his knives sharp. SANADA made Oiwa submit with the Skull End.
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomohiro Ishii def. TMDK (Kosei Fujita & Mikey Nicholls) – This was the first preview tag for C Block matches on Tuesday. I’m sure Ishii and Nicholls will do something amazingly dumb with their thick heads. There was an awkward moment where it looked like the ref forgot who the legal man was when Nicholls had a pin on Tanahashi and didn’t start counting for five seconds. Fujita is getting ready to embark on a “world tour” following the G1’s conclusion. Tanahashi gave him a going away present by submitting him with the Texas Clover Leaf.
  • United Empire (HENARE & Jeff Cobb) def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tama Tonga – I continue to marvel and shudder at Tenzan still wrestling with that bent ankle of his. So far he’s only had 21 matches this year and I hope for his sake that he hangs up the boots sooner rather than later. Cobb ate a few Mongolian chops before putting Tenzan away with the Tour of the Islands.
  • BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens & David Finlay) (w/ Gedo) def. Eddie Kingston & Togi Makabe – Two spots from this match stood out to me and they both involved chops. The first was Owens telling Kingston that the Yankees sucked and getting chopped for his efforts (as both a Red Sox fan and an Eddie Kingston fan, I will abstain from comment). The second was Finlay trying to do the machine gun chops to Kingston later in the match and Eddie completely no selling them, looking at Finlay with disdain before doing a mocking “Ow” sell and giving Finlay some machine gun chops of his own. Finlay pinned Makabe with Into Oblivion.
  • Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito, & Yota Tsuji) def. House of Torture (Dick Togo, EVIL, SHO, & Yujiro Takahashi) – This was a typical House of Torture match with its various shenanigans and tomfoolery. I hoped Tsuji’s twin brother would return to give LIJ the 5-on-4 advantage, but alas it was not to be. Naito pinned Togo with the Destino. Afterwards, EVIL–who promised to shave his own head bald if he didn’t make the playoffs–tried attacking Shingo with hair clippers. Shingo is on record saying he would rather be dead than bald, so he must have seen his life flash before his eyes.

G1 Climax 33 B Block Match
KENTA (6) def. YOSHI-HASHI (4)

Like a lot of other people, I’ve thrown in the towel on KENTA. Will Ospreay dragged him to his best match in eons on night 5, but besides that, KENTA had one of the weakest runs in the tournament. It’s a symptom of his broken down body, general malaise, and reliance on cheating spots that grind his matches to a halt, and unfortunately I don’t see a cure coming anytime soon. All you can do is just wait for the ref bump, because that’s what I do every time I watch KENTA wrestle.

We got that ref bump about eight minutes in. KENTA walloped YOSHI-HASHI with a kendo stick before grabbing the Bo staff (an object of much lore in the KENTA-YH rivalry) and attempting to hit him with it. YOSHI-HASHI ducked and the staff bounced off the top rope and hit KENTA in the head instead. The match picked up a smidge in the closing minutes with some actual back-and-forth action, another staple of modern day KENTA matches. After KENTA kicked out of a Kumagoroshi, YOSHI-HASHI went for Karma, but KENTA countered it into a small package for the win. This was banal in the first half and barely less banal in the second. KENTA ends his G1 at 3-4 and YOSHI-HASHI ends his at 2-6. **1/2

G1 Climax 33 B Block Match
Great-O-Khan (6) def. Taichi (6)

Kevin and Chris have made mention throughout the tournament that Great-O-Khan is stuck in a rut. He lost the RevPro British Heavyweight Title to Michael Oku at Epic Encounter right before the G1 started, also ending his RevPro undefeated streak in the process. Going into this show, he only had two wins, the same amount he had at the end of last year’s G1. For my own scorekeeping, only one O-Khan match this G1 made it past the **** threshold, that being against Ospreay (shocker) on night 7. It’s not like O-Khan was bad in his matches, but many others lapped him in terms of both points and performance. Taichi, on the other hand, had two of the best G1 matches this year against Ospreay and Okada, as well as some very good matches against YOSHI-HASHI and ELP. He impressed me a whole lot more than O-Khan did.

We’ve seen Taichi adapt his style to different wrestlers he’s facing. He’ll engage in a knockdown, drag out slugfest with Ishii or Shingo, he’ll pick up the pace when he’s wrestling Ospreay, he’ll crank up the emotion when he’s in an epic with Okada. A few years ago in the 2020 G1, he had an infamous match with Kota Ibushi where 99% of the match was kicks to the leg. In this match with O-Khan, Taichi decided to go the grappling route. O-Khan went after Taichi’s neck, arm, and ribs early on, but when Taichi got control, he put O-Khan in a kimura-guillotine choke submission. A little later, he feinted a thrust kick and instead applied a leg lock. There wasn’t even an attempt at Black Mephisto. The finish came when Taichi went for an Axe Bomber and O-Khan caught him with a STO and locked in a head-and-arm choke. Taichi tried to fight out of it, but O-Khan held on and Taichi had to submit.

I understand they were going for something different here, but as someone who loves Taichi’s hard-hitting, head drop-filled bangers, this really did not grab me at all. The lack of crowd reaction also hurt it, as did its near 18-minute length. O-Khan and Taichi both finish their G1 runs at 3-4. **3/4

G1 Climax B Block Match
Kazuchika Okada (12) def. Tanga Loa (w/ Jado) (6)

Tanga Loa had a rough go of it this G1. This was his first tour back after over a year on the shelf with a serious leg injury, and he admitted during the opening press conference that he was coming in at less than 100%. That became obvious when the tournament commenced. While he was never Kenta Kobashi in the ring before the injury, Loa’s now hampered athleticism got him, at best, decent little matches with YOSHI-HASHI and El Phantasmo. At worst, he had the biggest stinker of the tournament against KENTA on night 1. It really made me question New Japan’s decision to put Loa in the G1 when someone like “Filthy” Tom Lawlor, who competed in last year’s G1, was left sitting on the sidelines (and in his own words was not happy about it).

So in both men’s final block match, could Kazuchika Okada, one of the greatest of all time, pull a rabbit out of a hat and make magic with Tanga Loa? To quote Detective Crashmore, “Not really.” Early on, Okada acted the aggressor, slamming Loa into the English commentary table and causing it to collapse. Loa came back with a spear and then proceeded to deliver some of the weakest looking strikes I have ever seen in pro wrestling. He’s done this sequence in other matches, but this was just another level of awful that had people on Twitter and Reddit raking Loa over the coals. I did get a chuckle seeing comments suggesting Okada should have shot on him instead of selling the strikes, but Okada already shot on him the day before in his backstage comments when he said Loa was boring, had no heart, no fire, and was the “least qualified of anyone to appear in this G1 Climax.” Ouch.

A few times throughout the match, commentary brought up Okada’s loss to JONAH in the exact same building a year ago. There were some tinges of that same “The monster surprises Okada” formula in the closing stretch, with Loa not budging on a spinning Rainmaker and then hitting Okada with a dropkick. But this time, Okada did not lose. He escaped an Apeshit attempt, hit the Landslide, and put Loa away with the Rainmaker. While it wasn’t Loa’s worst match of the tournament, it wasn’t one of Okada’s best either. It’s just one of those matches that we’ll quickly forget about when the tour ends. Okada clinches first place in B Block with a 6-1 record and Loa finishes his tournament at 3-4. ***

G1 Climax B Block Match
Will Ospreay (10) def. El Phantasmo (6)

Suffice to say, this show needed a home run. And when it’s the bottom of the ninth with two outs, you can count on Will Ospreay to step up to the plate and knock one out of the park. No surprise he’s been my MVP of the entire G1, putting on great match after great match in yet another year where he’s had quite a few of them already. El Phantasmo in this tournament was good, quite good at times, but he rarely showed the greatness that I’ve seen him have before. He had another chance here in his final block match, and as luck would have it, he also had the perfect dance partner. If there’s anyone committed to getting another guy over the hump and having the crowd believing they can win, it’s Will Ospreay. He excels at it. And as the match went on, this Osaka crowd–which Kevin and Chris talked up at the start as the kind of crowd that would get behind ELP–started to believe.

Ospreay targeted ELP’s neck that was bothering him all tournament long, bullying the man who was a major thorn in his side in the junior heavyweight division in 2019. Phantasmo had little moments of hope, including a satellite DDT and a huge ropewalk moonsault to the outside. But Ospreay was tougher, stronger, nastier, hitting ELP with an OsCutter on the apron. It looked like ELP would get counted out, but he slid in at 19. Ospreay went for a springboard dropkick, only to eat a Sudden Death (that turned Will’s legs to jelly) and Thunder Kiss ’86 that got 2. A second Sudden Death also got 2 as the Osaka crowd began to buzz. CR-II was countered with a nasty pop-up elbow, and in a brilliant callback to their match in the G1 last year, ELP countered another OsCutter attempt with a backslide for 2. Last year they did the same spot where ELP took his eye off the ball for a split second and Ospreay immediately creamed him with a front Hidden Blade for the win. This time, Ospreay went for the front Hidden Blade and ELP ducked it for a close nearfall with the Gedo Clutch. If Ospreay was quick, Phantasmo knew he had to be that much quicker to stay alive.

Ospreay tried another Hidden Blade, only for ELP to hit a hurricanarana nearfall that popped Kevin out of his seat. A dogged Phantasmo immediately hit his own OsCutter and then CR-II to a big gasp from the crowd, but he made a Jeff Jarrett-level mistake in pumping his fists in celebration before going for the pin. This gave Ospreay enough time to kick out at 2.9. With time dwindling and the fans chanting “E-L-P, E-L-P,” Phantasmo went for another big move off the top and got a cutter for his troubles. Ospreay hit the OsCutter and Hidden Blade for 2.9, in what would be Phantasmo’s last gasp. A Storm Driver ’93 on ELP’s injured neck sealed the deal with just a little over a minute left on the clock.

Wow wow wow. Go out of your way to watch this one. This was not only the match of the night, but my new match of the tournament. Hell, it might be the best match of El Phantasmo’s career. There were times I seriously thought ELP was gonna win it, especially since he had used flash pins and roll-ups in previous G1 matches to score victories. Ospreay has also checked off some New Japan bucket list items lately with the win over Kenny Omega at Forbidden Door and the long awaited clean singles win over Okada on night 10. Putting over ELP clean seems to be on that list too, and for a moment I believed this would be the night it happened, but that’s Will Ospreay’s gift: He’ll make you believe until the final bell rings. Ospreay secures second place in B Block at 5-2 to advance to the playoffs, while ELP concludes his run at 3-4. ****3/4

Final B Block Standings

Kazuchika Okada – 10 points – Advances to face the D Block runner-up on Night 17
Will Ospreay – 8 points – Advances to face the C Block winner on Night 17
El Phantasmo – 6 points
Taichi – 6 points
Tanga Loa – 6 points
KENTA – 6 points
Great-O-Khan – 6 points
YOSHI-HASHI – 4 points