G1 Climax 32 Day 18 Report: Kazuchika Okada vs. Lance Archer, Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tetsuya Naito
This is the eighteenth installment of POST’s coverage of the 32nd G1 Climax Tournament. The tour has reached its final venue, Nippon Budokan in Tokyo. This is the first of three shows at Budokan and the last day of block matches. These matches will determine who fights in the semi-finals on day nineteen. The attendance was 3,227 fans, and it often felt like that many in a building that can house five times that number of fans.
Prior to the show, New Japan announced Royal Quest II. The event will be two shows on October 1st and October 2nd, held at the Crystal Palace Indoor Arena in London. The venue’s location is a step down from Royal Quest I’s Copper Box in terms of transport links means that most fans will need to pay for a hotel to attend both shows. It also clashes with wXw’s World Tag Team Festival, which may mean that some of the European fan base who would be tempted by this will already be at another event. When you also factor in Clash at the Castle happening less than one month before this, I worry that all of these factors might result in low attendances. I for one will be waiting for the lineups before considering attending either of these shows.
- G1 Climax 2022 Block D Match: Will Ospreay vs. Juice Robinson – A good, solid match as Ospreay fought from underneath against a dominant Robinson.
- G1 Climax 2022 Block D Match: Shingo Takagi vs. El Phantasmo – A very good match designed to elevate Phantasmo against the always great Takagi. – RECOMMENDED
- G1 Climax 2022 Block C Match: Hirooki Goto vs. EVIL – They kept this short and tried a couple of new things. A decent, compact match that was high on the House of Torture EVIL scale.
- G1 Climax 2022 Block C Match: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tetsuya Naito – Great stuff. Both wrestlers want to win as quickly as possible. Definitely do not skip the post-match. One of my favorite New Japan matches this year. – RECOMMENDED
- G1 Climax 2022 Block B Match: Tomohiro Ishii vs. SANADA – An excessively counter-heavy match that gave good ammunition to detractors of New Japan’s counter-heavy style.
- G1 Climax 2022 Block B Match: Jay White vs. Tama Tonga – A good heel vs face match, counter-heavy but less egregious than the previous match.
- G1 Climax 2022 Block A Match: Jonah vs. Bad Luck Fale – A big man brawl told at a glacial pace.
- G1 Climax 2022 Block A Match: Kazuchika Okada vs. Lance Archer – Okada fights from underneath against a dominant Archer. – RECOMMENDED
G1 Climax 2022 Block D Match: Will Ospreay vs. Juice Robinson
Ospreay jumped Robinson as Robinson made his way to the ring. When the action finally got into the ring, Ospreay quickly left it again using a Sasuke Special. When Ospreay went for a springboard on the guardrail, Robinson knocked him off balance and hit Ospreay with a neckbreaker on the guardrail. Robinson focused on attacking his opponent’s neck. Ospreay fought back with the Pip Pip Cheerio, a handspring Enziguri and a Plancha. Robinson tried to regain his momentum by clotheslining Ospreay on the apron, but Ospreay avoided a Pulp Friction on the apron and he powerbombed Robinson on the apron instead.
A diving forearm to the back of the head earned Ospreay a two count, only for Robinson to get his knees up for a 450 splash. Robinson then used the Prince’s Throne to earn a two count, only for Ospreay to escape the Pulp Friction which unfortunately led to a ref bump. That let Robinson low blow Ospreay, and Robinson then grabbed the IWGP US Heavyweight title and walloped Ospreay with the title, only for Ospreay to kick out. Robinson then hit Ospreay with a piledriver on the exposed floor before a Pulp Friction earned Robinson an awfully close nearfall. Ospreay nearly won with a roll-up before Robinson caught Ospreay on his shoulders, only for Ospreay to flip out and hit the (not so) Hidden Blade to win the match and reach the semi-finals.
Will Ospreay defeated Juice Robinson via pinfall in 11:07.
This was a good match with good action, although it leaned heavily into ref bump shenanigans. Ospreay was on the back foot for most of the match, and he gave Robinson a lot before emerging victorious. A good start to the show but nothing special that will stand out looking back. Then again, you could say that about most of the good matches in this year’s G1.
G1 Climax 2022 Block D Match: Shingo Takagi vs. El Phantasmo
Phantasmo quickly learned that his aerial skills were his best chance at beating Takagi, hitting a double springboard Superman Plancha, a top rope Quebrada to the outside, a Swan dive senton, and a Lionsault in very quick succession. Phantasmo got overconfident and landed on Takagi’s upraised boots, letting Takagi get back in the match with a Yukon Lariat. Takagi unloaded on Phantasmo in the corner, paying for overconfidence when Phantasmo kicked him in the head while Takagi played to the camera. This let Phantasmo hit his cutthroat spinning neckbreaker for a two count.
Takagi blocked the CR2, escaped another Lionsault, and then countered a Tope by punching Phantasmo in mid-flight. A DVD on the floor earned Takagi a nearfall. Phantasmo showed his spirit and determination before Takagi downed him with a DDT. Takagi went for the Stay Dream but Phantasmo countered it with a top rope Frankensteiner and the Thunderkiss 86, only for Takagi to kick out. Phantasmo again went for the CR2, with Takagi reversing it into a Frankensteiner and then flattening Phantasmo with a Pumping Bomber. Another Pumping Bomber was not enough to keep Phantasmo down and Phantasmo nearly won by reversing the Last of the Dragon into a Crucifix Pin. Phantasmo ran into a pop-up DVD, but he rolled through another Last of the Dragon Attempt and hit the CR2. Yet again, Takagi kicked out of one of Phantasmo’s biggest moves. Phantasmo took Takagi down with two superkicks and then defeated Takagi with a sickening CR2 style Piledriver, the CR3.
El Phantasmo defeated Shingo Takagi via pinfall in 12:12.
This was a very good match. A compact, action-packed match which filled the time well, entertained, and also had a clear purpose. The aim was to put over Phantasmo with a big win, and it achieved that in spades. It got over Phantasmo’s aerial prowess but also established his toughness, although he needed a new move to put away Takagi. Speaking of Takagi, he was his usual confident and assured self, a smart choice to give Phantasmo the rub while being protected thanks to his big kick-outs. I will say that Phantasmo needs to look at the CR3 a little more as it looked like it absolutely sucked to be on the receiving end of that.
G1 Climax 2022 Block C Match: Hirooki Goto vs. EVIL
EVIL ambushed Goto during his entrance. This was a bad idea as Goto still had his Shakujo, and he used it to fend off EVIL and Dick Togo. Speaking of Togo, he cut off Goto’s momentum to let EVIL get back into the match. EVIL used his usual tricks like choking Goto and an Irish whip into an exposed turnbuckle. Goto quickly came back with a rolling Lariat and a Russian leg sweep. EVIL sent Goto over the top rope, suplexing Goto on the floor. EVIL nearly won by count-out as Togo grabbed Goto’s legs out of sight of the referee.
Darkness Falls earned EVIL a nearfall. Goto used the rope-assisted Shoto before nailing EVIL with a middle kick and the Ushi-Goroshi. EVIL raked Goto’s eyes to avoid the GTR and then the referee got hurt. Togo and EVIL tried to use the Magic Killer on Goto, but Goto used it on EVIL instead. EVIL kicked out of the GTW, and he defeated Goto with the EVIL, although that was because Togo ran in and punted Goto between the legs when the referee was distracted.
EVIL defeated Dick Togo via pinfall in 8:40.
This was a decent match. While it had the usual House of Torture shenanigans, they also tried some new things and avoided some of the more tedious spots. The short length helped as well, as did Goto’s ability as being an incredibly solid good hand. It was not enough to make you change your mind about EVIL, but it was one of the more tolerable uses of EVIL this year.
G1 Climax 2022 Block C Match: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tetsuya Naito
Sabre Jr. and Naito traded banter while Naito undressed, with a very agitated Sabre Jr. eventually exploding on Naito. Sabre Jr. was so aggressive that Naito had to flee to the outside to gain some breathing room. Naito went for a Jack-knife cradle, leading to a frantic flurry of pinning combinations that ended with Sabre Jr. nearly pinning Naito with the European clutch. This had a desperate pace as they looked for victory. Sabre Jr. went for the Sabre driver, but Naito used a modified small package to pin Sabre Jr. for a three count. Naito outsmarted Sabre Jr. and sealed his spot in the semi-finals.
Sabre Jr. threw a temper tantrum at ringside and tried to attack Naito with a chair after the match. When he could not get his hands on Naito, he started attacking tables, Young Lions, and even the ring bell. It was even better when Naito started trolling Sabre Jr., which just made the Brit even angrier.
Tetsuya Naito defeated Zack Sabre Jr. via pinfall in 1:58.
This was brilliant. Honestly, my favorite thing from this year’s G1 Climax. The fast pace and structure were refreshing and put over the stakes of the match. I love when two wrestlers with good chemistry have a sub-five-minute match. The post-match shenanigans put this over the top and had me in stitches with the mix of Sabre Jr.’s petulance and Naito’s trolling. Probably the most fun that I have had watching New Japan this year.
G1 Climax 2022 Block B Match: Tomohiro Ishii vs. SANADA
The match started off with Ishii and SANADA charging about and achieving nothing until SANADA got a close nearfall with an O’Connor Roll. Ishii then used a backdrop suplex to take down SANADA. Ishii dominated SANADA with chops, refusing to back down against SANADA’s flurry of forearms. SANADA used his double leapfrog dropkick and sent Ishii to the outside. Ishii avoided a Plancha, but SANADA caught him with an apron-assisted neck screw.
Ishii avoided the Skull End and hit a vertical suplex. SANADA absorbed a shoulder tackle and hit a backdrop suplex before Ishii took him down with a German suplex. Ishii and SANADA traded more counters before SANADA hit another neck screw. A TKO earned SANADA a two count. SANADA locked in the Skull End and of course, SANADA let go to go for the Moonsault. Yes, you guessed it, Ishii rolled out of the way. SANADA used a solebutt and rolling elbows, only to run into an Enziguri. Ishii got a two count with a Lariat before Ishii and SANADA traded counters. Ishii nearly got caught with a crucifix pin, barely kicking out. SANADA and Ishii traded more counters before SANADA got an O’Connor roll for another big nearfall. Ishii hit a release Dragon Suplex, but SANADA no sold it. Ishii no sold a Tiger Suplex and nearly won the match with a Lariat. Ishii then hit the Brainbuster to win the match.
Tomohiro Ishii defeated SANADA via pinfall in 12:35.
I am a big Tomohiro Ishii match. Despite that, I recognize his bad habits. One of them is getting swept up in his opponent’s counter style. My go-to example is usually Jay White. Now it is SANADA.
There were some clever ideas and some good spots, but this was also one of the most egregious examples of New Japan’s counter style looking like a dance sequence. The opening exchange was a fantastic example of expending a lot of effort doing absolutely nothing. While the crowd got into it and it was exciting at times, this for me was an example of the worst excesses of what a lot of people call the New Japan house style.
Some fans will enjoy this a lot more than I did. For me, I thought that this was an example of how to do counter-heavy wrestling very badly.
G1 Climax 2022 Block B Match: Jay White vs. Tama Tonga
Tonga anticipated White’s ambush, battering White in the corner. White raked Tonga’s eyes and threw him into the ring post to gain control of the match. A suplex into the corner earned White a two-count. White was confident as he picked Tonga apart with chops before Tonga fought back with a Lariat. Tonga ran through White, hitting a Stinger Splash and a backdrop suplex for a nearfall.
White choked Tonga on the top rope and hit a DDT, getting a nearfall with the Blade Buster. After his trademark complete shot & German suplex combination, White looked for the Blade Runner, only for Tonga to hit the Veleno DDT. Tonga fought back with an Enziguri, a DVD, and a top rope splash for a nearfall. Gedo tried to distract Tonga, but Jado dragged him off the apron before White countered a Gun Stun into a Uranage suplex. White attacked Tonga’s back and hit the Sleeper suplex. Tonga countered the Blade Runner into the Tongan Twist. They both went for their finishers before Tonga hit the DFD for a nearfall. White avoided Tonga’s double arm piledriver and then Tonga reversed the Blade Runner into a small package for a nearfall. White shrugged off a Gun Stun and hit another Sleeper Suplex. Another Gun Stun from Tonga was blocked but Tonga then immediately went for it again. This time Tonga succeeded, and he pinned White with the Gun Stun. Victory saw Tonga go through to the semi-finals on Wednesday.
Tama Tonga defeated Jay White via pinfall in 13:56.
This was another good match. Tonga is a much better wrestler as a face, as it plays into his energetic style. White benefitted from the shorter match time, as he did not need to pad things out. As such, this was an action-packed affair, a good showing for Tonga and although they heavily leaned into the counters at the end it was fairly well done.
G1 Climax 2022 Block A Match: Jonah vs. Bad Luck Fale
After a long stare-down (on the normal stare-down scale, not the Fujita-Shiozaki scale), they traded forearms. Jonah used his avalanche body attack and a shoulder tackle off the apron onto Fale. Color commentator Chase Owens distracted Jonah, who got blindsided by Fale. They brawled on the outside before Fale got whipped into the post. Fale moved and Jonah went flying into the post as well.
Fale used corner splashes to control Jonah until Jonah moved and hit a superkick. Jonah used corner splashes of his own, but he got caught by Fale’s spear. Fale got a two-count with an elbow drop, but Jonah avoided the Grenade and hit a DDT. Jonah tried to use the Black Forest Bomb, but Fale was too big. Two Lariats could not take down Fale, but a third Lariat did the trick. Jonah then scoop slammed Fale and pinned Fale with the Torpedo
Jonah defeated Bad Luck Fale via pinfall in 9:13.
This was probably the slowest 9-minute match that I have seen for some time. Due to their size and limitations, the brawling was often happening at a glacial pace. Jonah has had some good matches in this tournament, but this was a case of two wrestlers with the same limitations being unable to overcome the negatives. This was okay but honestly, it was probably my second least favorite match on the card and a bit of a drag.
G1 Climax 2022 Block A Match: Kazuchika Okada vs. Lance Archer
Archer stood still as a statue as the bell rang. Okada stood face to face with Archer, who surprised Okada by hitting him with a Chokeslam. Archer then hit the Black Hole Slam on Okada. Okada tried to fight back with forearms, but Archer shrugged them off and hit the Pounce on Okada. This was very one-sided as Archer hit Okada with a cannonball when Okada was leaning against the guard rail. Archer then slammed a Young Lion onto Okada. Okada escaped a Chokeslam but still got caught by Archer.
Back in the ring, Archer used a ropewalk Moonsault press, which earned him a two count. Okada fired back with a desperate Rainmaker in order to buy himself some time. Archer went for another Chokeslam, but Okada fired back with a pair of dropkicks. Okada managed to slam Archer, although he hurt his back in the process. Okada hit a ropey-looking diving elbow drop and used the Rainmaker pose. Okada ran into a dropkick from Archer, who then floored Okada with a Rainmaker for a nearfall.
Archer used the Blackout, but Okada rolled Archer over into a Crucifix pin for a nearfall. Okada was slow to get to his feet after the Blackout. Archer went for another Blackout, but Okada hit a chop block to send Archer to his knees and locked in the Money Clip. Archer escaped and nailed Okada with a Lariat. Okada fired back with a dropkick, the sit-out Tombstone, and the Rainmaker to win the match.
Kazuchika Okada defeated Lance Archer via pinfall in 12:43.
Have you ever wanted to see Okada wrestle in the “Super Cena” structure? Well, this was that match. Seriously though, it is rare that someone dominates Okada as much as Archer did here. Archer looked particularly good at times, and it was refreshing to see Okada fighting from underneath. The problem was that at times the match felt like it lacked atmosphere. I liked the structure, and I liked that they made Archer look strong, but my big problem was the finish. Yes, it was Okada’s big match combination, but it felt like the victory was out of nowhere and a little unearned. Archer deserved a little more to be honest. So, this was a very good match that was a pleasant change of pace for Okada, but it had a big flaw with that finish.
The takeaway: Final Thoughts
When the line ups were announced, two shows stood out. This one and the first Osaka show. The first Osaka show was seen as the best show up to this point. Honestly, I think it is still the best show of G1 Climax 32.
I appreciated that all of the matches were short, but that did not mean that they all fell short. Matches like Ishii vs. SANADA and Jonah vs. Fale felt much longer than they were and dragged the show down. On the plus side, Sabre Jr. vs. Naito was one of my favorite things in wrestling in 2022. Archer vs. Okada and Ospreay vs. Robinson were good and Takagi vs. Phantasmo was great for what it achieved. The problem was that Takagi vs. Robinson should not be the best match on a show like this one. This was one of the better shows in this year’s G1 Climax, but it still felt sub-par and lackluster, with a distinct lack of atmosphere except for the nearfalls.
The group stages of this G1 Climax are now over. The four-block experiment has ended, and I think that most people will agree that it was a failure. I believe that the majority of fans would prefer a return to the two-block format. The shows lacked familiarity and structure, and the previous structure made it easier to get invested in who won and who lost. I will save my overall thoughts about G1 Climax 32 for my report on Thursday’s show. Suffice to say, do not expect me to lavish the tournament with praise.