Closing out the first full week of action in the G1 Climax tournament, Day 6’s action emanated from Nagano Big Hat in Nagano, Japan.
Hard hitting and eccentric hijinks where the theme of the sixth day of competition in the 2023 G1 Climax tournament. Main evented by an intriguing matchup between David Finlay and EVIL, tonight’s card would also feature brutal contests starring Eddie Kingston, HENARE, Tomohiro Ishii and Shingo Takagi.
Hard Hits and Comedy Bits on Day 6
G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match – Zack Sabre Jr. (2-0) vs. Alex Coughlin (0-2)
Night 6 opened with a contest that saw Zack Sabre Jr. try to remain undefeated while Alex Coughlin would try to pick up his first win in D block. Unlike the other matches to date, this match gave Alex Coughlin the opportunity to show off the strides he had made in the ring as Zack Sabre Jr. kept Coughlin in the squared circle, rather than allowing him to pull his usual shenanigans.As you’d expect, though, Sabre Jr. outwrestled the young Bullet Club War Dog and forced the tapout with the Triangle Choke.
G1 Climax 2023 Block C Match – Mikey Nicholls (0-2) vs. Tama Tonga (1-1)
Next up, it was TMDK vs GoD as Mikey Nicholls took on Tama Tonga. The contest began with a traditional collar and elbow tie up as each tried to assert their strength. The match spilled to ringside, where Nicholls marched Tonga through around the media zone between the two barricades, before getting his opponent back into the ring and locking in a submission. Nicholls continued to wear down Tonga and built in confidence as the match progressed.
Tama Tonga turned the match around suddenly, despite the momentum Nicholls held. Mikey went for a Moonsault but Tonga countered it into a Gun Stun. He didn’t get all of the move, though, and so followed it up with another Gun Stun which allowed him to get a three count and pick up the win.
G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match – Hirooki Goto (1-1) vs. Shane Haste (1-1)
Another member of TMDK was in action in the next match when Shane Haste took on one half of the IWGP Tag Team Champions, Hirooki Goto. Haste started the match quickly with a pair of dropkicks and a cannonball in the corner. Goto immediately began to favour his ribs, and the official asked for time to check on him, but Haste kept up the offense, not allowing Goto to recover in any way.
However, this frenetic style would come back to bite Shane Haste as Hirooki Goto was able to shock him with a quick rollup pin and collect a three count to end the match quickly.
G1 Climax 2023 Block C Match – Eddie Kingston (1-1) vs. HENARE (1-1)
Next up, a battle of heavy hitters with Eddie Kingston facing HENARE. This was another match that started suddenly with HENARE shocking Kingston with a stiff kick before the bell. Eddie Kingston spent the first minutes of the match trying to find his legs while HENARE continued to attack the Mad King with pointed strikes. HENARE targeted the elbow of Kingston, continuing the work that the Blackpool Combat Club started in AEW, and EVIL continued in his last G1 match.
Kingston fought back into the match with two big Suplexes and a Lariat but continued to feel the pain in his elbow profusely. Despite several attempts to put away the Face of Fury, Kingston’s elbow seemed to prevent him capitalising. HENARE delivered Rampage but only got a two count. Relying on his good arm alone, Kingston opened up with shots to the head and neck of HENARE but, as he retaliated, the pair seemed to knock each other out with strikes. Kingston, luckily for him, fell on top of HENARE and the official counted three to take Eddie Kingston to 2-1.
G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match – Toru Yano (0-2) vs. Tetsuya Naito (1-1)
Toru Yano made his way to the ring, next, with the unenviable task of trying to extract a win against Tetsuya Naito. Yano was quickly frustrated by the long, intimidating entrance of Naito, that commentator Kevin Kelly suggested could last longer than the match itself. Given that Naito’s entrance music reached a second playthrough, he was likely to be proven right.
After some more delay for Naito to remove his suit, the match began. King of the mind games, Naito, continued to frustrate Toru Yano by refusing to engage with the collar and elbow tie up, allowing Yano to force Naito into the ropes for a break. After ranting his way up and down the ramp, Toru Yano channelled his inner Popeye, deciding he could stands so much but couldn’t stands no more. Yano managed to get an upper hand on Naito and bounce him off the barricades at ringside but this too would backfire on Toru after Naito taped his hands together around the barricade.
Toru Yano managed to get back into the ring at the count of 19 but continued to be frustrated by the nonchalant, tranquillo offense of Naito. There reached a point where Naito decided that enough was enough, though, and the Ungovernable One rolled up Yano to pick up the win and go 2-1 in the tournament.
G1 Climax 2023 Block C Match – Tomohiro Ishii (0-2) vs. Shingo Takagi (0-2)
The next match was a battle of the winless as Tomohiro Ishii and Shingo Takagi vied to pick up their first points of this year’s tournament. The match began physically, as fans of these men would have expected, with the pair opening up the action with back and forth chops to the chest. This style didn’t really change as the match progressed with very few non-strikes being delivered in the first five minutes.
Takagi brought DDTs and Suplexes into the second five minutes of the match but Ishii used his low centre of gravity to escape a Piledriver or Powerbomb attempt and Powerslam his opponent. The pair delivered Superplexes to each other in an attempt to put the match away but each only netted a two count. Shingo returned to the forearms and elbows to the head of Ishii before eventually hitting Made in Japan. Despite hitting the move cleanly, though, Ishii kicked out.
With five minutes left on the clock, the match came full circle and returned to being a strikes only affair. Each pinfall attempt only garnered a one count and so the pair fought on. Shingo Takagi delivered a Powerbomb but, exhausted, he didn’t get all of it and so only a nearfall was achieved. Saving himself for one last burst of energy, Takagi hit Pumping Bomber to outlast Tomohiro Ishii at the eighteen minute mark and pick him his first two points.
G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match – Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-1) vs. Jeff Cobb (2-0)
The last two matches featured three undefeated competitors and the first of them, Jeff Cobb, sought to keep things that way with a win over Hiroshi Tanahashi. Cobb started the match wearing down his veteran opponent both in and out of the ring but soon let his bravado get the better of him, playing air guitar on the abs of Tanahashi and playing the air ukulele before missing a Standing Moonsault. He once again took the time to mock Tanahashi while stood on the middle turnbuckle which meant that Cobb missed his aerial manoeuvre.
Tanahashi looked to take advantage of his opponent’s cockiness and went for High Fly Flow from the top rope, but Cobb kicked out. Cobb attempted Tour of the Islands but Tanahashi rolled him into a pinfall attempt for two. Not having learned his lesson so far, Cobb once again mocked The Ace and stole his Slingblade before going for Tour of the Islands again and hitting it to maintain his perfect record thus far.
G1 Climax 2023 Block C Match – EVIL (2-0) vs. David Finlay (2-0)
The two men in our main event could not remain perfect as the 2-0 pairing of EVIL and David Finlay went one on one. This match began with intrigue as there was question as to whether EVIL’s allegiance to Bullet Club would prevent him from fighting the group’s leader. Perhaps giving the message that he will be fighting, EVIL came to the ring flanked by the other members of the House of Torture. David Finlay brought Gedo and Gabe Kidd to the ring with him and both groups squared up in the middle of the ring. Referee, Red Shoes Unno, called for reinforcements to help him officiate the match and the bell finally rang.
As the match got underway, David Finlay found himself thrown to ringside where the extra officials had to keep the two parties separate. Meanwhile, EVIL used the distraction to remove the turnbuckle in the blue corner and promptly threw Finlay into the exposed metal on his return to the ring. EVIL showed no qualms about trying to cheat to win the match over his leader but Unno are crew were wise to it and the match continued.
David Finlay took exception to the insubordination of EVIL and fought his way back into the match. In the ensuing melee, all three officials were taken down which allowed the House of Torture and the other members of Bullet Club to brawl in and around the ring. The majority fought their way to the back, leaving only Gedo and Dick Togo in the corners of their men.
As the clock began to wind down, David Finlay got the better of late exchanges and was able to collect a nearfall with the Dominator. Steel chairs became involved with five minutes remaining and EVIL tried to take the win using Finlay’s Shillelagh. Cleverly, though, David Finlay blocked the shop with his NEVER Openweight title belt and delivered his own shot with the Shillelagh to pick up the win. After the match, Dick Togo called for truce and removed EVIL from the ring. Finlay took to the mic to redeclare his intentions to win the entire G1 tournament to bring Day 6 to a conclusion.
Not everyone was happy with Finlay’s win and subsequent declaration…
Don’t hold back, Kayla. Tell us how you really feel.
The G1 Returns Tuesday
Back to action from A and B block on Tuesday with an all United Empire encounter between Will Ospreay and Great-O-Khan, a battle of Bullet Club castoffs with El Phantasmo vs. Tanga Loa and the main event of SANADA vs. Kaito Kiyomiya.
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!