After weeks of exciting, hard hitting competition, New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax 33 will culminate with another match in the saga between Kazuchika Okada and Tetsuya Naito.
It’s hard to believe that this is the end. After nearly a month of getting up in the morning for event after event of incredibly competitive matches, it will end tonight with one final match between Okada and Naito. That match may sound familiar to you, and for good reason, because the pair have been indelibly linked since 2007. This will the the 13th singles meeting between Okada and Naito with The Rainmaker leading their series 7-6, so far. Can Okada take that win record to 8 and pull off the threepeat in G1, or will Naito even things up to win his third G1 Climax tournament?
Kaito Kiyomiya & Ryohei Oiwa vs. Oskar Leube & Toru Yano
Finals day kicked off with a tag team match, the last hurrah for NOAH’s Kaito Kiyomiya, as he teamed with Ryohei Oiwa to take on Oskar Leube and Toru Yano. As they have on a number of occasions since the group stages, Kiyomiya and Oiwa teamed well and Kaito picked up the win over Leube with the Shining Wizard.
Master Wato, Shota Umino, Tomoaki Honma & Yuji Nagata vs. Strong Style (El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki & Ren Narita) & Yuto Nakashima
Once again, Shota Umino and Ren Narita got the chance to go head to head as they were on opposite sides of the ring in eight man tag team action. Umino teamed with Master Wato, and veterans, Tomoaki Honma and Yuji Nagata, while Narita teamed with his Strong Style cadre and, Young Lion, Yuto Nakashima.
In much the same vein as Narita and Umino, Minoru Suzuki and Yuji Nagata renewed their age old hostilities but it was Umino who would pick up the win, pinning Nakashima after Death Rider. Oh, and then Umino and Narita went at it again after the match, of course.
Eddie Kingston, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tomohiro Ishii & YOH vs. TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima), Tiger Mask & Togi Makabe
A lot of legendary figures in this one as Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Tiger Mask and Togi Makabe teamed to take on Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tomohiro Ishii, alongside potential future legends Eddie Kingston and YOH. Eddie Kingston closed out his tour the way that he had lived it thus far, emulating his Japanese heroes both inside and outside of the ring, but the match closed out when YOH defeated Tiger Mask following a Superkick.
TMDK (Kosei Fujita, Mikey Nicholls, Shane Haste & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs. CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI), Oleg Boltin & Ryusuke Taguchi
The next contest pitted the TMDK team of Kosei Fujita, Mikey Nicholls, Shane Haste and Zack Sabre Jr. against Bishamon, Boltin Oleg and Ryusuke Taguchi. Haste defeated Hirooki Goto, possibly setting TMDK up for a future IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship match. This match officially marked Kosei Fujita’s last match as a Young Lion.
El Phantasmo & Guerrillas Of Destiny (Hikuleo, Jado, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. BULLET CLUB (Alex Coughlin, Chase Owens, David Finlay, Gabe Kidd & KENTA)
The ongoing beef between GoD and Bullet Club continued in a ten man tag team match. BC controlled the majority of the match with their aggressive stylings but Tanga Loa was able to surprise Chase Owens with a rollup to pick up the win for the Guerrillas.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi, Shingo Takagi & Yota Tsuji) vs. United Empire (Great-O-Khan, HENARE, Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay)
Another big stable war to continue the show, next, as Will Ospreay showed off his newly minted IWGP United Kingdom Heavyweight Championship, teaming with United Empire to take on Los Ingobernables de Japon. Looking perhaps to build momentum for their man, Tetsuya Naito, later in the night, LIJ fought hard to overcome the, more aggressive, Empire. In addition to doing this, Yota Tsuji picked up a huge win over Will Ospreay and posed with the U.K. Championship to make his future intentions clear.
House Of Torture (Dick Togo, EVIL, SHO & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Just 5 Guys (DOUKI, SANADA, Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
Revenge on the mind of SANADA and Just 5 Guys in the last of the nights tag team matches as they look to avenge EVIL’s shady quarterfinal round win over the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion. SANADA had some moments in the ring with EVIL but the House of Torture used this match as an opportunity to further damage the injured arm of the champion. With SANADA out of the way, the House used their usual distraction and referee smashing antics, leading to SHO defeating Taichi. After the match, EVIL continued the assault on SANADA with the World Title belt before House of Torture handcuffed him to the ropes and officially declared their intentions for the gold.
Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito
It was finally time for the main event, the finals of G1 Climax 33 with Kazuchika Okada and Tetsuya Naito vying for the ultimate prize. With both men showing the scars of past victories, the match got underway with a slow, methodical feeling out process. Naito took an early advantage , kicking Okada in the knee and putting him in a chin lock to start the wearing down process. Okada retaliated with style, though, bringing Naito the ring apron and dropping him on the top of his head with a DDT. Okada put his foot on the chest of Naito for the cocky cover but Red Shoes Unno refused to count the pinfall in such disrespectful circumstances.
Momentum swung back Naito’s way with a hip toss over the knee and Okada sought refuge outside the ring. There would be no solace for The Rainmaker at ringside, though, and Tetsuya Naito whipped Okada into the barricade and delivered a Neckbreaker over the gate. Okada barely beat the 20 count and came back into the ring to be locked in a submission designed to further weaken his neck.
Kazuchika Okada looked to deliver neck damage of his own and fought back with White Noise to the knee. Okada dropkicked Naito from the turnbuckle to the outside and the fight went outside again. The biggest affect out there came from Okada, who delivered a Tombstone Piledriver to the floor. Naito avoided The Rainmaker, back in the ring, but fell to the picture perfect dropkick of the defending G1 champion. A defiant Tetsuya Naito twice spat in the face of his opponent before surprising Okada with a Tornado DDT. Naito was slow to reach his opponent, though, and did not capitalise on this big move in the form of a pinfall attempt.
Tetsuya Naito began to pummel the neck of Okada with pointed elbow strikes as Okada begged for more. Naito obliged and followed up with another submission. Okada faded but neither submitted or passed out and the match continued. Naito fought off the attacks of Okada and delivered Valencia for a nearfall. He climbed the turnbuckles but missed the Stardust Press. This allowed Okada to go for the kill, delivering a Tyrannosaurus Dropkick and making repeated attempts at The Rainmaker.
Back and forth the two competitors fought with momentum quickly swinging between them. Okada hit the dropkick and followed it up with the Landslide. Naito went for Destino but missed and instead trapped Okada in a two count pin. One the next attempt, Destino was delivered but Okada kicked out at the very last moment. Destino number three was avoided but Naito resolutely delivered two more and pinned Kazuchika Okada to win his third G1 Climax tournament.
G1 is over. What on earth do we do now?
This is the first G1 Climax that I have watched live from start to finish and what a tournament it was. Taking me back to the best WWE King of the Ring tournaments of past, but King of the Ring on steroids, I’ve enjoyed every single moment of it. Congratulations to Tetsuya Naito, a well deserved winner who has fought back against all manner of adversity in recent years. The rumours of a SANADA/Naito main event of Wrestle Kingdom next January seems to be all but set… so long as the champ can get past EVIL.
We’re not quite done with G1 here, though. On the next episode of The Main Event Podcast, we’ll be taking a look back at the good, the bad and the ugly of the G1 playoffs. The show will be broadcast live on Twitch at 8pm BST / 3pm ET at twitch.tv/JEZSportsLive and available everywhere the day after on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or anywhere else you get your audio.
A big thank you to everyone that has followed JEZ Sports coverage of G1 Climax 33. I hope you enjoyed it and will continue to come back for future coverage of New Japan Pro Wrestling.
What was your favourite moment from G1 33? Share your memories in the comment section below!