New Japan Pro Wrestling
G1 Climax 33 Night 17
August 10, 2023
Funabashi Arena
Funabashi, Chiba, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Here we are in the quarter finals. Tonight, the Reiwa Three Musketeers killer, Hikuleo, will go against Tetsuya Naito. David Finlay and Will Ospreay will mix it up with a result that could go either way, both with very loyal factions behind them to counteract any funny business. SANADA and EVIL will have their first one on one encounter outside of Tokyo and if EVIL wins, who knows, he might challenge for the title next in the October show, to the fear of many. And finally, in the main event, Kazuchika Okada goes against Zack Sabre Jr., a combination that always works and an intriguing matchup to see who passes to the semifinals.

We are just two shows away from the finals, so keep on reading to see who passes to the semis.

First, the undercard results:

  • Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi, Shingo Takagi & Yota Tsuji) def. TMDK (Kosei Fujita, Mikey Nicholls & Shane Haste)
  • Guerrillas Of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa), El Phantasmo & Shota Umino def. Strong Style (El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki & Ren Narita) & Hiroyoshi Tenza (9:12)
  • BULLET CLUB (Alex Coughlin, Chase Owens, Gabe Kidd & KENTA) def. Just 5 Guys (DOUKI, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
  • Eddie Kingston, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomohiro Ishii def. United Empire (Great-O-Khan, HENARE & Jeff Cobb)

G1 Climax 2023 Quarter Final Match
Tetsuya Naito def. Hikuleo 

At the start of the match, Chris Charlton was mentioning that Hikuleo worked an office cubicle job at the behest of his father, who wanted him to have a normal life before going into the wrestling business. The image of Hikuleo working on a cubicle looking like he does now is funny to me, don’t know why. On to the match. 

It started with the usual Naito taunting, and before Hikuleo could do anything, he started working on his knees, the perfect way to bring a big opponent down. Between the work on the knee and countering his slams into signature moves on the neck, Naito had total control. A couple of well placed chops gave Hikuleo some control back. It was not long lived, since Naito blocked a Powerslam, which made him go for the Esperanza which was blocked by the opponent. Hikuleo gave a nasty powerbomb for a close two count. 

When it seemed that the big man had the match finally in his favor, Naito countered not one, or two, but three Chokeslam attempts. Even a running Destino was countered nastily. But in the end, Naito was able to find the opportunity for Destino to win and go to the semis.

I really enjoyed this. Hikuelo’s last half of the tournament has been his best performances in NJPW and this was no different. Naito was awesome and I loved the structure of how he took down the big man. It was exciting and the crowd agrees with me. ***½ 

G1 Climax 2023 Quarter Final Match
Will Ospreay def. David Finlay 

Finlay entered with the War Dogs, and on Ospreay’s entrance said Dogs went to attack the opponent, but Ospreay was backed up by O-Khan and Jeff Cobb. With these tense moments in the air, we go into the match.

Immediately the match starts with hair pulling, and with Finlay hitting Ospreay in the eyes. It then got hot into hard-hitting action. It went quickly outside, with Finlay throwing Ospreay into the guardrail and then found a table to break. When he was going to powerbomb Ospreay into it, Cobb threw the table away, pushed Finlay, and the referee had no other choice but to throw away both Cobb and O-Khan. With this distraction, Ospreay was attacked by the War Dogs. 

After the shenanigans outside, the match got back into the ring for a fairer affair. Finlay dominated until Ospreay fired back with kicks and an elbow. Ospreay felt confident, went for a Leap of Faith early but was knocked down and literally bitten. A cool moment was when Ospreay went for the Oscutter, and Finlay jumped after him and countered it with a leg sweep. When a powerbomb did not give Finlay a win, he went to look for the table again. He was going to then do the powerbomb from the side of the ring into the table, but Ospreay countered with an Oscutter. Ospreay sees the table, puts Finlay on top, and after failing to break it with a high flying move since Kidd moves Finlay from it, Ospreay goes down, kicks Kidd away, and powerbomb Finlay to hell through the table and goes to the ring. Finlay went back at the 19 count.

When Ospreay was about to win after an Oscutter and Leap of Faith, Finlay put the referee on top of him and was knocked down with the latter move. This prompted the War Dogs to attack Ospreay, but they were taken out by the returning O-Khan and Cobb. The ring is cleared, Ospreay went for a Hidden Blade and was hit with the shillelagh. A referee ran down and it was a two count. In an exciting final sequence, Ospreay was able to escape the Trash Panda and hit the Stormbreaker for the win. 

This was great. Amazing, fun, fast action and the crowd was so hot for the interferences and shenanigans that all of it worked. Even the always present table spot sequence was awesome. Watch this match, it will be worth it (even if I described all of the hot spots, it’s worth it). ****¼

G1 Climax 2023 Quarter Final Match
EVIL def. SANADA 

We go from amazing action, to EVIL vs SANADA.

They started the match with Togo going to the back, which made me put a stopwatch to see how long it takes for him to come back. Two minutes in, he comes back. Match started as it usually does for EVIL, with the opponent in control for like one minute until he throws the opponent into the timekeeper and proceeds to take him into the crowd and the chairs. It changed this time in that the timekeeper was knocked down twice. Back in the ring, SANADA does the Paradise Lock to Togo which he breaks with EVIL’s head. Match kept going with EVIL getting the advantage  anytime Togo interfered. EVIL threw SANADA into the ref, stopped midway, but EVIL then hit the champion with a low blow. SANADA answered with the same exact thing for a two count since Togo pulled the ref out. While Red Shoes recovered, Togo and EVIL went for a double attack that SANADA countered, throwing Togo out and hitting a Shining Wizard on EVIL. Referee is back in the ring, and EVIL countered a Deadfall with an eye rake. Another Deadfall was countered with an Everything is EVIL and darkness still reigns in the G1.

This was pretty boring to me. It was harder for EVIL to beat Shingo Takagi than the champion, but I get that they don’t want to repeat the interferences galore. I liked the last EVIL match, it was a great encapsulation of the best version of his matches, but this was not that. It had the usual bullshit but kinda boring in parts. On a personal preference, I would have preferred for EVIL to not go to the semifinals, but I get him passing. They are counting on his heat for the next match. Well, I hope people enjoy EVIL vs SANADA for the World Heavyweight title in a future defense. If it’s anything like this, I sure won’t. Maybe I’m burned out on EVIL, who knows. **½ 

G1 Climax 2023 Quarter Final Match
Kazuchika Okada def. Zack Sabre Jr.

The match started how Okada’s main events usually starts, with a feeling out process, until the match went outside and Okada DDT’ed Sabre into the floor. They went to the ring and there were non-stop attacks on Sabre’s neck. Sabre was able to fight back and did his own neck twists to Okada. He was so dominating in his submission game that even when Okada was going for a neckbreaker, Sabre held onto his neck midair in a submission, but Okada was able to still hit the move. Sabre knows Okada so well that he is blocking everything thrown at him from dropkicks to Rainmakers. He even countered a Rainmaker into a nasty german suplex for a close two count.

At the 15 minute call, Okada went to the rope break after brutal submissions by Sabre. Both men got up and started a strike battle that Sabre won. He hit a Zack Driver but could not capitalize because of how hurt he was. Down and almost out, both men start elbowing each other while on their knees, and Sabre got the advantage when he hit a clothesline. Both men were doing pinning packages at the 20 minute call. Dropkicks, slaps, they are throwing everything they have left. Okada hits a Rolling Rainmaker, Sabre tries to fight back with a submission, but Okada answers quickly back with a Landslide and a Rainmaker to pass on to the semifinals. 

This was another awesome match on this show. I liked how Sabre was just countering everything, giving it all, yet Okada was the better man. Okada always found a way to get out of any predicament. With both men dead tired, the match got even more exciting, and the crowd agreed with me. Hard-hitting, a great story, two of the best at this. You have to watch this match. ****¼ 

Final Thoughts

The tournament part of this show was great, with the exception of a big fat thumb sticking out in the middle of it. Hikuleo had another good match against Naito, possibly his best one. Later in the show Finlay vs Ospreay and Okada vs Sabre are two of the best matches of the tournament. Okada and Sabre was classic clean pro wrestling while Finlay and Ospreay was wrestling with shenanigans done right. Meanwhile, the only bad match was SANADA vs EVIL, which was just more of the same and a boring match. Being boring is an even bigger sin than being a bad match. Check out three of the four matches tonight.

Here are the semifinals for Saturday:

  • Will Ospreay [B2] vs. Tetsuya Naito [D1] 
  • Kazuchika Okada [B1] vs. EVIL [C2] 

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