With all competitors now two matches into this year’s G1 Climax, wins and losses matter more than ever. The tournament continues with matches from Blocks A and B.
From Aore Nagaoka in Nagaoka, Niigata, Japan, the fifth day of action gets underway in the 2023 G1 Climax. Main evented by a rematch from Dominion, IWGP World Heavyweight Champion SANADA will once again look to pick up the win over Yota Tsuji.
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G1 Climax 2023 Block B Match – YOSHI-HASHI (1-1) vs. Tanga Loa (1-1)
B Block kicks us off as YOSHI-HASHI takes on Tanga Loa. YOSHI-HASHI started the match quickly, attempting two pinfalls that got him two counts. Tanga Loa immediately looked tired from having to kick out so early but the toll of the tournament so far was evident on both men, with YOSHI-HASHI sporting kinesiotape on various parts of his body. YOSHI-HASHI’s tactic in this match seemed to be to wear out the pectoral region of Loa, taking off the Guerrilla of Destiny’s shirt in order to better open up chops across his chest.
HASHI maintained control of this match for the majority as Loa continued to lament the wear and tear on his body so far. YOSHI-HASHI hit the Headhunter but Loa rolled out of the ring to avoid the pin. Tanga Loa began to fire up and find something deep inside of him that allowed him to fight back. Loa gained a nearfall after a Diving Headbutt from the top rope and went for the Reverse Piledriver but YOSHI-HASHI countered the attempt into a Crucifix Bomb and was able to pick up the win.
G1 Climax 2023 Block A Match – Gabe Kidd (1-1) vs. Ren Narita (0-0-2)
With only two ties to his name so far in this tournament, Ren Narita sought to pick up a win over Gabe Kidd in the next match. Kidd tried to jump Ren Narita on the ramp, just as he had done to his other opponents in the tournament, but Narita was wise to it and thwarted the attack before getting in the ring and forcing Gabe to start the match the right way.
The match did spill to ringside fairly quickly, though, after a chain of Suplexes sent both men crashing to the floor outside. Narita got the best of this exchange but Kidd turned the tables when he returned to the ring, removing one of the turnbuckle pads and repeatedly bouncing Narita’s head on the exposed metal ring. Recognising the underhanded tactics of Kidd, however, the official refused to count the pinfall.
After Narita recovered, the pair of athletes brutally went back and forth with cutting Knife Edge Chops across each other’s chests. Despite a deeply blemished chest, Narita kept on his opponent to try and prevent any further shenanigans but this was a tough ask as Kidd once again was able to blindside Narita after pushing him towards the official. Kidd invoked the name of Katsuyori Shibata to get under Narita’s skin but this worked a little too well and fired Ren up. Narita looked poised for the win but once again Kidd thrust his opponent towards the referee, which allowed him to low blow Narita and follow up with his Piledriver to pick up a key win.
G1 Climax 2023 Block B Match – El Phantasmo (0-2) vs. Great-O-Khan (0-2)
With neither man having the best tournament so far and both sitting winless, El Phantasmo and Great-O-Khan fought for their first points in the next contest. Mirroring the strategy of YOSHI-HASHI in the opening bout, El P looked to put the match away quickly and avoid further ailment with quick pinfall attempts. Clearly favouring his neck and shoulder, Phantasmo took the fight to Khan at ringside but, back in the ring, Khan avoided a Swanton Bomb attempt and started to wear away at the damaged region of El P’s upper body.
Phantasmo tried to fight back against the Mongolian Chops of Khan and applied the Nipple Twister on him. This did not have the desired effect, though, and it seemed to excite Great-O-Khan, who extricated himself from the move and trumped it by biting the nipple of El P. Despite the deviance of Khan, Phantasmo fought back into the match and took control after diving on his opponent in the crowd. A Lionsault got El P a nearfall but Khan refused to be put away.
Khan continued to strike viciously at El P and, after further weakening the neck and shoulders of El P with a Tenzan Tombstone Driver at ringside, Khan submitted El Phantasmo in the right to pick up his first win of the tournament.
G1 Climax 2023 Block A Match – Chase Owens (1-1) vs. Hikuleo (0-2)
In another A Block match with Bullet Club history involved, Chase Owens took on Hikuleo, next. Owens tried to tag out to Oskar Luebe, the Young Lion at ringside, but this obviously wasn’t going to work and Owens had to start the match himself. The Crown Jewel tried to dig for diamonds within the chest of Hikuleo with some Knife Edge Chops but Hikuleo no-sold these hits and retaliated with some brutal hits of his own. Owens ran away and even tried to escape under the ring, but Hikuleo gave chase and followed him under the ring. Hikuleo would regret this decision, though, as Owens hit his opponent across the skull with a crowbar before proceeding to break down the arm and hand of Hikuleo using the ringpost and barricades.
Despite the pain, Hikuleo was able to persevere and looked to put things away with a Chokeslam. Owens escaped but came down awkwardly on his knee and immediately dropped to the mat. Hikuleo showed some compassion and allowed Owens to tend to his knee. Unfortunately, though, the compassion would be Hikuleo’s undoing as Owens used the heavy knee brace he took off his leg to strike Hikuleo in the head, which led to a deep rollup from Chase Owens netting him the win.
G1 Climax 2023 Block B Match – KENTA (1-1) vs. Will Ospreay (1-1)
In a match that could steal the show, KENTA and Will Ospreay clashed in the next contest. As Ospreay began to climb the turnbuckles to pose for the crowd, KENTA jumped Ospreay and put on his coat, mocking him as he laid in boots to the fallen Briton.
Ospreay fired up at this disrespected and took KENTA to ringside but the IWGP U.S. Champion found himself launched over the barricade, into chairs and DDT’d on the floor. Back in the ring, KENTA continued to beat down his opponent, opening up on various parts of the body with stiff kicks.
Ospreay fought back into the match at various points but KENTA continued to maintain control, trying to get a countout victory after a Green Killer. KENTA gained another nearfall with a Coup de Grace but in the ensuing melee, the referee with knocked down. The Bullet Club killer used this opportunity to collect a Kendo Stick from ringside and open up on Ospreay. Ospreay took the weapon from him briefly but a low blow returned it to KENTA, who followed it up with a strike using his DEFY Championship.
Despite all of the offense received against him, Will Ospreay refused to die in this match and fought his way back to hit the Oscutter and Stormbreaker to grab a win from the depths of oblivion.
G1 Climax 2023 Block A Match – Kaito Kiyomiya (2-0) vs. Shota Umino (0-1-1)
Shota Umino could be having a better tournament, if we’re being honest about it, but he would be fighting to collect a win over NOAH standout, Kaito Kiyomiya in the next bout. The young wrestlers demonstrated their traditional wrestling experience in the early going, starting with a classic collar and elbow test of strength before leading into back and forth strikes to the neck and chin.
Shota Umino was the first to really go for the kill in this one, securing two very close nearfalls, the latter coming after a Running Neckbreaker. Kiyomiya tried to retaliate with the Shining Wizard but Umino turned it around into an S.T.F. Kaito was able to reach the ropes to break the hold but the damage seemed to be done. Umino looked for the Death Rider but Kiyomiya avoided doom and took Shota down with a Dragon Screw.
The NOAH star would soon look to capitalise on the work he had done on the knee of Umino and locked in the Figure Four Leg Lock. Shota Umino spent a good few minutes locked in this submission but he refused to submit. Eventually, Kiyomiya let him go and instead tried to put him away with the Tiger Suplex. This only got him a two count. Kiyomiya followed up with a Sitout Half Nelson Bomb but, again, only a two count was achieved.
As the clock wound into the final minute, Shota Umino surprised Kiyomiya with a DDT but the best Umino could get was a two count as the 20 minute time limit ran out. Still no win for Shota Umino in his debut G1; still no loss for Kaito Kiyomiya, either.
G1 Climax 2023 Block B Match – Taichi (2-0) vs. Kazuchika Okada (2-0)
In the next contest, both men entered undefeated but something had to give as New Japan veterans Taichi and Kazuchika Okada fought to go 3-0. Okada looked to end things quickly, hitting a Spinning Tombstone and a Lariat before setting up for his ultimate Lariat, the Rainmaker. Taichi fought away, though, and the action moved to ringside where Okada delivered a DDT to the floor. Okada then took Taichi back into the ring to lock on the Money Clip but the Just 5 Guys member reached the ropes to break the hold.
Kazuchika Okada continued to wear down Taichi as the match progressed and showed no mercy as he once again delivered a DDT on the floor outside the ring. Taichi refused to completely bow out of the match, though, and stopped Okada’s momentum by turning a top top move into a Powerbomb. A deep Back Suplex got Taichi a nearfall and we went for Black Mephisto, but Okada escaped. Taichi turned Okada into the Taichi Clutch and got a very, very close fall. Bolstered by his near victory, Taichi fired up but Okada, seemingly desperate at this point, rolled up his opponent and Taichi was unable to escape, making Kazuchika Okada the first man in this year’s G1 to go 3-0.
G1 Climax 2023 Block A Match – SANADA (2-0) vs. Yota Tsuji (0-1-1)
Could the young Reiwa musketeer be able to achieve what he couldn’t back at Dominion in June and defeat the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, SANADA? We’d get our answer in the main event. The match started slowly with SANADA and Yota Tsuji locking up and exchanging shoulder tackles before turning on the speed and trying to surprise on another with one sudden move.
The pair fought up the ramp and on to the stage, where Yota Tsuji was able to surprise SANADA with a Tilt-a-Whirl Backbreaker. Tsuji carried the champ back to the ring where SANADA soon took back control of the match. Yota stayed alive in the match, though, and as SANADA looked to bridge over into a pinfall attempt, Yota trapped him in his own move – Skull End. Tsuji continued the gimmick infringement, delivering a Moonsault and getting a close two count over the champion.
As the clock struck three minutes remaining, SANADA hit a Poison Rana and went for Dead Fall, but Tsuji escaped and got another close nearfall from the Stomp. Back and forth the signature moves went until SANADA was able to successfully hit Dead Fall on his second attempt and bring home an Okada-matching 3-0 record.
Third Match Action Resumes Sunday
Blocks C and D will get their third matches of the tournament underway on Sunday and we should prepare for some hard hitting, knock-down-drag-out brawls, including Eddie Kingston vs. HENARE, Tomohiro Ishii vs. Shingo Takagi and EVIL vs. David Finlay – as long as the latter actually fight.
Is this tournament once again Kazuchika Okada’s to win? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!