G1 tournament group stages close out in Shizuoka with the members of D Block taking part in their final matches.
After what was probably the most exciting close to a group in C Block yesterday, D Block will end with just as much intrigue following a night of matches in Shizuoka.
Eddie Kingston & Yuto Nakashima vs. House Of Torture (EVIL & SHO)
The onus was on Eddie Kingston to teach Young Lion, Yuto Nakashima, something about hard hitting to kick off the show, as the pair teamed to take on EVIL and SHO of House of Tourture. After sneaking into the playoffs yesterday, EVIL seemed more content to let SHO do the work in the match, lest EVIL hurt himself and his chances for further G1 advancement. This didn’t stop Dick Togo getting involved, as usual, and providing SHO with a spanner that he used on the skull of Nakashima in order to pick up the win.
Kaito Kiyomiya & Ryohei Oiwa vs. TMDK (Kosei Fujita & Mikey Nicholls)
More Young Lions in the next match, with Kaito Kiyomiya teaming with Ryohei Oiwa to take on Mikey Nicholls, teaming with Kosei Fujita. Mikey Nicholls picked up the win, defeating Oiwa but maintaining the dire winning record of Kaito Kiyomiya on his trip to New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Maybe I’m dreaming, but I’d love to see Kaito Kiyomiya and Kosei Fujita one on one before this is all over…
Hikuleo, Master Wato & Shota Umino vs. BULLET CLUB (David Finlay, Gabe Kidd & Gedo)
Bullet Club in action, next, with C Block winner David Finlay, teaming with Gabe Kidd and Gedo to take on A Block runner up Hikuleo, Master Wato and Shota Umino. It was Umino that bore the brunt of the Club’s War Dog mentality as Finlay and Kidd bit at his limbs on regular occasions. Hikuleo made an impact for his team with his size but it was Master Wato that picked up the win for his team, submitting Gedo.
Tomoaki Honma & Tomohiro Ishii vs. United Empire (Great-O-Khan & HENARE)
A tag team battle of heavy hitters was the next bout as old partners Tomoaki Honma and Tomohiro Ishii took on United Empire’s Great-O-Khan and HENARE. Honma had one of the best showings he’s had in a match for quite some time, going blow for blow with both Great-O-Khan and HENARE. The Streets of Rage was enough to put him down, though, and United Empire picked up the win.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, Shingo Takagi & Yota Tsuji) vs. Strong Style (El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki & Ren Narita)
Fresh off being robbed of his place in the G1 playoffs yesterday, Shingo Takagi teamed with his LIJ stablemates, Yota Tsuji and BUSHI, to take on Strong Style. Tsuji and Narita brought a lot of disappointment into this one and manifested it within this match. The contest culminated when Ren Narita tapped out BUSHI with the Cobra Twist.
The Final Block Matches
G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match – Toru Yano (2-4) vs. Alex Coughlin (2-4)
Nothing to gain in this one, from a G1 standpoint, only carnage to cause and damage to inflict as Alex Coughlin looked to maul Toru Yano. Coughlin would not have to wreak havoc alone as Gabe Kidd jumped Yano on the ramp and the STRONG Tag Team Champions piled guardrails on him. As the War Dogs tried to get Yano in the ring, Yano lost it and embraced a dark side that allowed him to remove Kidd from the equation, dragging him to the back while choking him with a chair. The match, if you can call it that, spilled into the crowd before finally getting into the ring for the bell.
Toru Yano risked disqualification, choking Coughlin with a cable and shoving down the referee when he tried to intervene. Referee, Marty Asami, was then knocked down by Coughlin, which allowed Kidd to return to ringside and set up a table. Coughlin tried to Suplex Yano through the table but Yano kept fighting and was able to turn the tables, literally, Powerbombing Kidd through the furniture to take him out of the situation for a second time.
As the official revived, Yano was trying to take a pair of scissors to the eye of Alex Coughlin. The blades, however, were confiscated and Alex Coughlin used his Tag Team Championship belt to strike Toru Yano between the eyes and pick up the win.
Despite the loss, I wish we saw this Toru Yano more often.
G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match – Shane Haste (2-4) vs. Jeff Cobb (4-2)
Despite this match not meaning a whole lot for Shane Haste, it would be crucial for Jeff Cobb, who needed a win to advance in the G1 tournament, as well as for Haste’s TMDK teammate, who could really do with Cobb losing to help his chances of progressing. The match started as more of a mat based affair than many would have expected, which gave Jeff Cobb the opportunity to demonstrate his lesser known technical prowess. When the match went ringside, Haste was able to exhibit his strength by Powerbombing Cobb on to the ring apron.
Haste continued to wear down the big man, exploiting the injuries he had brought into the match and delivered some surprisingly powerful manoeuvres on his bigger opponent. Despite this, Cobb was still able to rally back and overpower the Australian at times and the fight leaked up the entrance ramp. Cobb got the better of the exchange but, as Cobb tried to get back to the ring and beat the 20 count, Haste simply made a nuisance of himself and held the leg of Cobb to force the double countout. Jeff Cobb finishes the tournament on 9 points, which, with wins from Tetsuya Naito and Zack Sabre Jr., would not be enough to get him into the playoffs.
G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match – Hirooki Goto (3-3) vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (4-2)
Even the single point for Jeff Cobb makes it extremely difficult for Hirooki Goto to advance in this tournament but a win over Zack Sabre Jr. would, at the very least, put him in line for an NJPW World Television Championship match. Even without that incentive, Goto isn’t the kind of guy to hold back in the ring and he would be giving his all to defeat Zack Sabre Jr. The ruthless, Sabre, showed no mercy in the early going, though, targeting the injured back and ribs with kicks, submissions and guard rails.
Goto continued to fight back, despite the incursion of Sabre, picking up several nearfalls with big moves like the Ushigoroshi but continued to suffer at the hands of the TMDK leader. Before too long, Hirooki Goto was forced to verbally submit, the pain to his back too great. With the win, Zack Sabre Jr. advances to the playoffs for the first time, finishing D Block with 10 points.
G1 Climax 2023 Block D Match – Hiroshi Tanahashi (3-3) vs. Tetsuya Naito (4-2)
Unable to advance bit still able to affect the playoffs, Hiroshi Tanahashi took on Tetsuya Naito in the last block match of G1 Climax 33. Tanahashi started off the match with a cradle rollup and came thousandths away from shocking Naito from the get-go. The Ace continued to ground Naito and frustrate him but Tanahashi held the momentum of the match at the five minute mark, and beyond.
As the clock eclipsed ten minutes, Naito started to build towards a win, launching himself out of the ring and on to Tanahashi. Things started to get desperate for the Ungovernable One as the 15 minute call came but Tanahashi still kept himself in the match. Suddenly, though, Tetsuya Naito confirmed his place in the quarterfinals and won D block with a vicious Swing DDT that dropped Tanahashi hard on the top of his head.
The Quarterfinals Are Set
After weeks of group competition, we’re finally ready for the playoffs. Tomorrow night, from the Funabashi Arena, the quarterfinals will take place with Tetsuya Naito vs. Hikuleo, Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Kazuchika Okada, David Finlay vs. Will Ospreay, and SANADA vs. EVIL. Just as with all sixteen nights to date, stay with JEZ Sports for continued coverage of the G1 Climax tournament.
To the playoffs, we ride! Who will prevail in G1 33? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!