Hiroshima played host to the last day of combined block competition as C and D block returned to competition in NJPW G1 33.
Main evented by Shingo Takagi and David Finlay, Hiroshima Sun Plaza witnessed the twelfth day of action in the 2023 G1 Climax Tournament. After today’s action, the blocks go solo, with support competition, before we head into the playoffs. Every point still matters, who’s gonna take ’em?
Buckets and Brutal Competition on Day 12
G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match – Hiroshi Tanahashi (3-2) vs. Alex Coughlin (1-4)
The last night of combined block action got underway with Bullet Club’s Alex Coughlin taking on ‘The Ace’ Hiroshi Tanahashi. Coughlin met Tanahashi at the ropes in an attempt to intimidate the veteran, early. However, Coughlin did at least wait for Tanahashi to finish posing for the crowd before getting the match started. In the early going, Alex Coughlin used his strength to bring The Ace down to the mat regularly, while Tanahashi began work on the lower limbs of his opponent with kicks and submissions.
As the match moved to ringside, Coughlin started to show his dirty side again, knocking down Tanahashi and scoop slamming a Young Lion onto his prone body. This did not deter Tanahashi, though, and, back in the ring, he hit Twist and Shout, and a pair of Slingblades before going for a Crossbody from the top rope. Impressively, Coughlin bridged this Crossbody and got a nearfall from it, before hitting a Death Valley Bomb for another two count. It was after a Jackhammer than Alex Coughlin was able to keep Tanahashi down for three and pick up an upset win over Hiroshi Tanahashi.
G1 Climax 2023 Block C Match – Mikey Nicholls (0-5) vs. EVIL (4-1)
Mikey Nicholls, who is having a G1 tournament to forget in 2023, took on EVIL in the next contest. EVIL met Nicholls on the ramp and began the assault before taking him in the ring for the bell. After Nicholls showed his strength with a Delayed Vertical Suplex, the match went back outside and the poor ring announcer took a spill when Nicholls was thrown into his table. Through the crowd, EVIL continued his onslaught, throwing Mikey into chairs and choking him with various objects. EVIL then returned to the ring to wait for a countout victory.
Nicholls made it back to the ring, barely, on the count of 18 and EVIL went right back to the choke, using a t-shirt he had hidden from the referee. Dick Togo got on to the apron for the distraction but Mikey was able to shove EVIL into his manager and thwart that problem. EVIL went for a low blow but Nicholls blocked it with his knee. However, in the fracas, the referee was knocked down and Togo was able to get into the ring to assist his charge. To the aid of Nicholls came Kosei Fujita who took care of Dick Togo, allowing Nicholls to lock EVIL in a Zack Sabre Jr. style capture pin and collect his first win of G1 33.
G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match – Toru Yano (1-4) vs. Shane Haste (2-3)
In your comedy interlude of the night, Shane Haste looked to go .500 in the tournament with a win over
everyone’s favourite YouTuber, Toru Yano. After coming to the ring wearing a drawstring bag as a hat, Yano asked to exchange it with Shane Haste’s orange top hat. Haste obliged, reluctantly, but Yano pulled the bag over Shane’s head and tried to roll up the Australian for the quick win. Shane Haste, however, kicked out.
As typical for a Yano match, the fight soon went underneath the ring and, when Shane Haste emerged, he did so with a bucket taped to his head. Lord Buckethead fought valiantly for a while but, once he managed to get it off, Toru Yano low blowed Haste and rolled him up to pick up his second win of his debut G1 tournament.
G1 Climax 2023 Block C Match – Tomohiro Ishii (1-4) vs. HENARE (1-4)
Already eliminated from playoff contention, this next battle of the heavy hitters was purely for pride as HENARE took on Tomohiro Ishii. As the match kicked off, the pair launched strikes back and forth, exchanging momentum throughout the course of the first ten minutes.
As the match drew on, the back and forth never really ended but HENARE was able to wear down Tomohiro Ishii with a Full Nelson before following up with a Uranage for a nearfall. Ishii retaliated with the Sliding Lariant but could not hit the Vertical Drop Brainbuster. This allowed HENARE to deliver Streets of Rage and defeat Ishii for the very first time in his singles career.
Meanwhile, whilst not part of the tournament, Hiromu Takahashi fought a dinosaur today…
G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match – Hirooki Goto (2-3) vs. Jeff Cobb (4-1)
A must win for Hirooki Goto, next, as he took on Jeff Cobb. With his ribs heavily taped, Goto struggled to overpower the larger, Cobb, so instead looked to remove the vertical base of the United Empire member, by attacking the knees. This was difficult to achieve, though, and Cobb maintained momentum of the the match to his side with attacks to the midsection of the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion.
As the match progressed, Goto fought valiantly, and despite the sense that Cobb could have ended things whenever he wanted, he procrastinated too long. Goto hit a Code Red to weaken Jeff Cobb and followed up with the GTR to even up his G1 2023 record at 3-3.
G1 Climax 2023 Block C Match – Eddie Kingston (3-2) vs. Tama Tonga (3-1-1)
In a match that many have been looking forward to for a while, Guerrillas of Destiny’s Tama Tonga went to war with AEW’s Eddie Kingston, next. After an early ‘feeling out’ process, Tonga removed his top and invited Kingston to launch his best chop into his chest. Tonga absorbed the shots and took Kingston down but it wasn’t long before the Mad King regained his base and the two men went back and forth again.
As the pair continued to wear each other down with hard hits and sudden offense, the two men went back and forth with Exploder and Side Suplexes. Eddie Kingston struck with a Spinning Back Fist and went for the cover but Tama kicked out at two. Tonga fought back into the match, briefly, but after Kingston hit the Northern Lights Bomb, it was all over. Eddie Kingston moves to 4-2 while Tama Tonga falls to 3-2-1.
G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match – Tetsuya Naito (3-2) vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (4-1)
In a very important match atop D block, Zack Sabre Jr. took on Tetsuya Naito. After the appropriate and traditional wait for Naito to disrobe and pass his clothes to Zack, the match got underway. Despite not being able to frustrate Sabre with his pre match technique, Naito did get under the skin of the NJPW World TV Champion in the early going and took the match to ringside where he punished Zack by dropping him on the barricade and Neckbreakering him on the floor.
Naito continued to get the better of Sabre throughout the first ten minutes, wearing down the head and neck with submissions and insulting the Briton by spitting in his face. Whilst trapped in a particularly nasty leg lock around the neck, Naito refused to release the hold, further drawing Sabre’s ire. Zack began to rally back, applying his own submissions and attacking the arm of Naito but Tetsuya was still able to hit Destino for a two count. Sabre quickly grounded Naito and locked him in a series of submission moves but the Ungovernable One escaped and hit Destino for a second time.
With three minutes left on the clock and the crowd firmly behind Naito, Sabre struck hard and went for the finish but Naito countered into the Naito Driver to continue the match. The two exchanged pinfall attempts back and forth but it was a rollup by Naito that was successful and he evened their scores at 4-2 a piece.
G1 Climax 2023 Block C Match – Shingo Takagi (2-2-1) vs. David Finlay (4-1)
In the main event, David Finlay took on Shingo Takagi. With Tagaki’s playoff chances likely quashed, this match was David Finlay’s to win. The match began traditionally with a collar and elbow tie up. As Takagi gained control, Finlay feigned a rib injury which allowed him to shock Shingo and send him crashing to the outside of the ring. The Rebel tried to put his opponent through a table, next to the ring, but Takagi escaped.
Back in the ring, Shingo Takagi wrestled back control of the match but David Finlay once again used dirty tactics and was able to put Takagi through the table that was set up earlier. Finlay hung Takagi on the ropes gut first and followed up with a Dominator but was only able to achieve a two count. Finlay stung Takagi with repeated Lariats but The Dragon absorbed them and managed to hit Made in Japan. Finlay survived the move and was able to hit a Spear and a pair of Powerbombs as time began to expire on the match.
At the two minute warning, both men laid on the mat. Takagi was the first to rise and lifted Finlay up into Last of the Dragon to pick up his third win in the G1 Climax tournament.
A Block Flies Solo on Saturday
Combined group competition is over for G1 33. On August 5th, A Block return, supported by some tag team matches.
Into the business end of the group stages we go! Let us know how you’re enjoying G1 33 so far in the comment section below!