The G1 Climax Tournament continues with eight matches from blocks C and D, featuring Zack Sabre Jr., Hiroshi Tanahashi, David Finlay, and more!
The Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Centre played host to the second day of action in New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax tournament. After yesterday’s action featuring the stars of blocks A and B, today’s matchups showcased the rest of the competitors from the other two blocks, C and D.
Shocks and Spills on Day 2
G1 Climax 2023 Block C Match – Tomohiro Ishii vs. David Finlay
Making his 11th consecutive appearance in the G1 tournament, Tomohiro Ishii opened C Block action against Bullet Club leader, David Finlay. The match began with a traditional collar and elbow tie up and a test of strength before the competitors opened up on each other with fists, elbow strikes and shoulder blocks. Finlay was able to gain the upper hand of the early contest and began to target the knee of Ishii. The Stone Pitbull was able to shake off some of the pain in his leg to go on the offensive but Finlay was once again able to stop his momentum with an Irish Curse Backbreaker and grounded Ishii with a Figure Four Leg Lock.
At the halfway point of the twenty minute time limit, Ishii was still fighting on, in defiance of his injured knee. Finlay delivered a Dominator but Ishii kicked out at two. A Spear by Finlay also netted the same result. Refusing to stay down, a huge headbutt and a Powerbomb afforded Tomohiro Ishii a nearfall of his own but Finlay went right back on the offensive with a Powerbomb of his own. Finlay looked for Into Oblivion but Ishii escaped, delivered another massive headbutt and followed up with the Basement Lariat for another two count.
The pair exchanged strikes and counter moves back and forth as the clock wound down but one of David Finlay’s counters led to him delivering Into Oblivion and get the pinfall, defeating Tomohiro Ishii for the second time this year.
G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match – Toru Yano vs. Hirooki Goto
Accompanied to the ring by mascot, Tomokun, Toru Yano opened his 18th G1 Climax against 2008 G1 Winner, Hirooki Goto. As the bell rang, Yano comedically charged at Goto and the pair exchanged rollups, seemingly looking to finish things quickly.
Outside the ring, the pair pirouetted as they each tried to whip the other into the barricade. Yano eventually succeeded in launching Goto into the fence and he forced Hirooki under the ring. Yano pushed the giant headed Tomokun under there with him, tasked with keeping one half of the IWGP Tag Team Champions trapped for a count out. Goto emerged, though, albeit with the mascot’s head on, and the match finally returned to the ring.
With some small semblance of normalcy restored, Toru Yano got the better of several exchanges but made the mistake of trying to strike Goto below the belt. This fired up Hirooki and he made quick work of Yano, defeating him with a Lariat Neckbreaker.
G1 Climax 2023 Block C Match – HENARE vs. Mikey Nicholls
Sporting a new look and new entrance presentation, Aaron Henare – now known as just HENARE – arrived for his second G1 Climax to take on Mikey Nicholls, two is in his first tournament.
The match started physically, with a deep collar and elbow and hard hitting strikes, before the fight spilled to ringside. HENARE took control here and returned his opponent to the ring to continue the onslaught, grounding Nicholls with a Senton and powering his face into the mat after a Surfboard-like submission.
As the match progressed, Mikey Nicholls was able to use a bit of his quickness to get back into the match and punctuated his comeback by Superplexing HENARE from the top turnbuckle. Busted open by a headbutt from HENARE, Nicholls fought out of a Full Nelson by reaching the ropes. The resilience from Nicholls continued as he absorbed stiff body strikes from HENARE. Nicholls surprised HENARE, going for the Master Blaster and dropped him on his head to pick up his first G1 victory.
There was some concern about HENARE after the finishing move but it seemed he was okay. We’ll provide updates if and when we get them.
G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match – Shane Haste vs. Alex Coughlin
Hoping to pick up where his TMDK stablemate left off, ‘Hysterical’ Shane Haste made his G1 debut against the unhinged, Alex Coughlin, next. Coughlin struck first, charging at Haste in the corner, and kept up the brutality with deep chops and hard fists. Haste tried to get back in the match with a Suicide Dive to ringside but his feet were caught in the ropes and this allowed Coughlin to continue his assault.
With the crowd stunned to silence, Coughlin looked to embarrass Haste worse than being forced to wear a hockey mask and be called Slapjack. Despite this, ‘Hysterical’ Haste took control of the match, for a time, with heavy kicks but was regularly overpowered by the strength and tenacity of Alex Coughlin. This wasn’t enough for Coughlin, though, as he went under the ring to collect a pair of steel chairs and to ringside for his Strong Tag Team title belt. This would be Coughlin’s undoing as, with the referee distracted, Haste delivered a back Suplex onto the chairs and was able to pick up a crucial victory over the Bullet Club War Dog.
G1 Climax 2023 Block C Match – Shingo Takagi vs. Eddie Kingston
‘The Mad King’ Eddie Kingston stormed to the ring in his signature way to kick off his debut G1 Climax and go one on one with Shingo Takagi, taking part in his 5th consecutive tournament. The two fan favourites began the match with a metaphorical pissing contest, trying to take each other down with shoulder blocks before following this up with a chop fest, back and forth. After Takagi got the better of the chop contest, the pair turned to slapping each other in the face – an exchange that Kingston got the better of.
This back and forth oneupmanship continued throughout the match with neither man holding momentum for too long. Shingo Takagi looked poised for victory after the Pumping Bomber but Kingston escaped the pin at two. Takagi laid in the shots to the head of Kingston again but seemed to deliver one too many and awoke the Mad King. Kingston shocked Takagi with the Northern Lights Bomb and was able to pick up the win in his G1 debut.
G1 Climax 2023 Block C Match – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
In the opening round contest that most were looking most forward to, three time G1 Climax winner, Hiroshi Tanahashi took on the NJPW World Television Champion, Zack Sabre Jr. As the match began, the pair exchanged mat based submissions in a ‘feeling out’ process. This style carried through the opening five minutes as each man fought to wear down the other in the early going. Targeting the legs of Tanahashi, Sabre controlled the match and almost forced an early tapout until the Ace reached the ropes.
Sabre Jr. continued the assault on the lower extremities of Tanahashi, perhaps looking to end the whole tournament for Hiroshi, as he had done to Tetsuya Naito a number of years prior. The Ace fought back, making his own overtures on the upper limbs of the TV Champion. Tanahashi locked in a Cross Arm Breaker and looked about to capitalise on the limb work he’d done but Zack locked his hands and rolled through onto Hiroshi’s shoulders to gain a three count.
G1 Climax 2023 Block C Match – Tama Tonga vs. EVIL
Making his first appearance in NJPW since being anihilated by David Finlay, Tama Tonga took on another member of the Bullet Club, EVIL. Not wishing to be patient, EVIL jumped Tonga as he took in the adulation of the crowd on the top turnbuckle and the match began. Tonga fought back for a time but the contest soon spilled into the crowd where EVIL left Tama laying to try and win by countout.
Despite barely making the twenty count in time, Tama Tonga rallied in the next portion of the match and secured several nearfalls over EVIL. The King of Darkness turned his attention to referee, Red Shoes Unno, and took him out at the knees, which allowed Dick Togo to enter the match and join EVIL in delivering a Magic Killer to Tonga. Togo was able to attack Tonga later in the match, also, but the Guerrilla of Destiny persevered, barely kicking out of Darkness Falls to stay in the match.
EVIL went for the kill but Tama Tonga absorbed repeated Lariats and a collision with an exposed turnbuckle to take down Dick Togo with a Cutter but with the official once again distracted, EVIL struck Tonga below the belt and followed up with Everything is Evil to pick up the win in his 8th consecutive G1.
G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match – Jeff Cobb vs. Tetsuya Naito
In the Day 2 main event, 2013 and 2017 G1 winner, Tatsuya Naito went up against Jeff Cobb, in his 5th consecutive tournament. The match quickly headed ringside where Naito and Cobb bounced each other off the barricades before heading back into the ring for Naito to lock a submission into Cobb. Feeling for comfortable outside, though, Cobb forced Naito back to ringside to wear down his opponent. However, Cobb got a little overconfident and while adopting the Los Ingobernables pose in a United Empire style and trying cocky pinfall attempts, Naito fought back into the match.
Despite being Powerbombed from the top turnbuckle and getting tossed around in Spin Cycle, Tetsuya Naito kept himself alive in the match, surviving with quickness and swift strikes. Naito delivered Destino but couldn’t capitalise; Cobb hit Tour of the Islands but, likewise, couldn’t capitalise. Naito fired up again but this was brought to an abrupt half when Cobb launched a charging headbutt to the heart of the ungovernable one, and Jeff followed up with a second Tour of the Islands to pick up a huge win to open his G1 Climax.
The Tournament Continues Tuesday
The G1 Climax tournament continues on Tuesday July 18th with exciting A and B block matchups such as Ren Narita vs. Yota Tsuji, SANADA vs. Shota Umino, and El Phantasmo vs. Kazuchika Okada. While the first two days of the tournament have been free, the rest of the tournament is available only with a NJPW World subscription.
Every competitor has now had one match in the tournament. Who is your early favourite? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!