NJPW G1 CLIMAX 33 – NIGHT 2 RESULTS (7/16): Takagi vs. Kingston, Tanahashi vs. Sabre, Evil vs. Tonga, Cobb vs. Naito

By Chris Lansdell, PWTorch contributor


JULY 16, 2023

Announcers: Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton

An interesting music video leads us off with a theme of breaking out. Foreshadowing, in my New Japan? We shall find out over the next month I imagine.


Ishii always looks like he’s in pain coming down the ramp. Of course I will not be saying that to his face. Or anywhere in his vicinity for that matter. Finlay on the other hand has mastered the sleazy, Jay White-esque cocky heel look in a short time. Kevin Kelly reminds us that there is a 20-minute time limit this year in the round robin phase, which I expect to play a role in the standings more than once.

Both men exchange stiff forearms in the middle of the ring to start. As you might expect, Ishii gets the better of the exchange with a shoulder tackle. Finlay makes the bad life choice of backing himself into a corner while delivering a series of forearms, none of which seem to register on Ishii. The Stone Pitbull responds with one almighty smack of his own and Finlay is reeling. Finlay gains control with a chop block and starts working on the knee. Standard heel work on the knee by Finlay who starts a mocking “Ishii” chant. Chops and forearms in the corner beat Ishii down to the mat at the four minute mark.

Ishii counters a whip and catches a charging Finlay with a snap powerslam. He somehow manages to make it look good and also sell the knee. Ishii returns the corner beatdown favor and hits a suplex for a quick 2. Finlay (who I keep going to call White, which says a lot) counters a whip but Ishii holds on and hits a snug Saito suplex. A counter by Finlay leads to a hotshot into a blue thunder bomb to regain control. Uranage backbreaker by Finlay for a long 2 count. He changes tactics and applies an Indian deathlock in the center of the ring. Ishii breaks the hold so Finlay applies a side headlock and punches. Gutwrench attempt by Finlay, Ishii escapes but Finlay dropkicks the knee. Ishii comes roaring back with a lariat and both men are down at the 8:30 mark.

Ishii positions Finlay on the top rope and looks for a superplex…connects! Finlay kicks out at 2. Ishii hits a German and misses the sliding lariat. Finlay with a forearm, a spinning forearm and his own German suplex. Dominator from Finlay gets a very close 2 count. Finlay measures Ishii and tries for a spear but gets caught, powerbomb attempt by Ishii is escaped, Ishii shrugs off a heavy forearm and levels Finlay with his own. Finlay rebounds with a spear for 2, tries for a powerbomb but cannot get Ishii up. Stiff headbutt by Ishii and a stacking powerbomb for 2. Finlay counters a lariat with a headbutt, then hits a second blue thunder bomb for 2. Powerbomb attempt by Finlay…this time he connects. He cannot follow up as he catches his breath, then tries for Into Oblivion. Ishii escapes and hits a spear-like E. Honda style headbutt and the sliding lariat for 2. Finlay escapes the vertical drop brainbuster and eats an enziguiri for his troubles. Big lariat by Ishii gets a very close 2. The announcer calls the 15-minute mark. A series of escapes lead to an inverted stundog millionaire and the Into Oblivion for the win.

WINNER: David Finlay (2pts) at 16:04 (***)

(Lansdell’s analysis: Good hard-hitting opener that told something of a story and kept me interested. Either result seemed possible, which is not always the case in these block matches)

(2) TORU YANO (w/mascot Tomo-kun) vs. HIROOKI GOTO

Chris Charlton tells us that historically this match does not last long. For the uninitiated, Yano is mostly a comedy wrestler these days and has been known to win matches by doing things like attaching his opponents to guardrails with tape.

Back slide by Yano gets a quick 2. A series of reversals leads to another quick 2 for Yano. Low bridge by Yano and Goto goes to the floor, Yano follows with the corner pad and attempts to smack Goto but misses. They work a series of attempted whip reversals on the outside in a display that has to be seen to be believed, leaving both men out of breath and dizzy. Yano recovers faster and whips Goto into the barricade a few times. Yano lifts the ring skirt, bundles Goto under the ring, and then encourages Tomo-kun to follow. Yano goes under, and the ref takes a look before returning to the ring to count. We hear battle noises under the ring, and Yano emerges first. At the 10 count, Goto rolls out from under the ring with the mascot head on his head. I am not making this up folks. The commentators are selling this like crazy Goto is able to remove the mascot head and roll back in the ring at 19.

Goto charges and Yano in front of the exposed turnbuckles, so of course Yano moves. Schoolboy for 2. Goto recovers with a lariat and both men are down. Goto is up first and hits a spinning leg lariat in the corner followed by a bulldog for 2. Yano tricks Goto with a fake run into the ropes and hits an inverted atomic drop and a whip to the exposed corner. Yano attempts a last ride powerbomb, Goto escapes but Yano gets a series of rollups for a couple of near falls. Goto blocks two low blow attempts (one with each hand) and headbutts Yano to his knees. GTR by Goto ends it.

WINNER: Hirooki Goto (2pts) at 6:48 (**)

(Lansdell’s analysis: Yano is not for everyone, but I usually enjoy his matches as something of a palate-cleanser. This was fun, with a unique spot under the ring, but ultimately didn’t do much. Yano knows his role and plays it well, and Goto is usually good for one spoiler win.)

In case you were worried about Tomo-Kun, they emerged from under the ring with a loose horn but under their own power. And that is a sentence I never expected to type in a wrestling review.\

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(3) HENARE vs. MIKEY NICHOLLS (w/Ichiban Sweet Boy Kosei Fujita)

Henare is sporting a newly-shaved head and face paint that hearkens back to his indigenous roots. Wait, is that a tattoo? It is a tattoo. That could not have been easy.

Henare looks terrifying right now. Giving Mike Tyson vibes. They exchange shoulder tackles without either man giving an inch. Back elbow by Nicholls, Henare pops up and they slug it out to the floor. Nicholls gets the upper hand on the outside until Henare revseres a whip and sends Nicholls over the barricade. Henare lays in some round kicks to the chest, Nicholls no-sells and comes back with some shots. Back in the ring, Henare gets the better of a series of counters with a pop-up Samoan drop. He’s not even Samoan! Midsection shots by the heavy-handed Henare, a snap mare and some kicks to the spine followed by a senton from Henare. Curb stomp by Henare for 2. Henare shrugs off a comeback attempt from Nicholls and levels him with a spinning heel kick at the five minute mark.

Nicholls stops a charging Henare with an elbow and hits an awkward DDT. Corner clothesline and another awkward DDT, this time of the tornado variety, gets a 2 count. Nicholls deposits Henare on the top, but his superplex attempt is stopped with some shots from Henare. The reprieve is temporary as Nicholls climbs all the way to the top and hits the move. They exchanged unprotected headbutts and Nicholls has been split open, hard way. They exchange blows and escapes before Henare eats a Mikey bomb for 2. Henare avoids the sliding lariat, connects with a body shot and locks in Ultima. Nicholls fights for the ropes and makes it for the break as the announcer calls the 10-minute warning.

Streets of Rage attempt by Henare is countered into a Death Valley Driver by Nicholls for 2. Nicholls now has blood all over his forehead and on to his face. He goes to the top for a moonsault, but misses by some margin. It looked great, at least. Henare stalks Nichols, hits a series of strikes and a heavy leaping knee. A running knee strike in the corner from Henare leads to another blocked Streets of Rage attempt. Nicholls and Henare exchange headbutts and counters until a NASTY Emerald Fusion gone wrong by Nicholls drops Henare on his neck for the win.

WINNER: Mikey Nicholls (2pts) at 13:16 (**½)

(Lansdell’s analysis: A hard-hitting match that didn’t quite flow smoothly and ended on a scary bump that might well have injured Henare. Nicholls looked concerned after the bell. This would have been higher-rated if not for the few spots that were off, and the finish.)

Henare walks to the back aided, looking groggy but able to move his arms and legs at least.

(4) SHANE HASTE (w/Ichiban Sweet Boy Kosei Fujita) vs. ALEX COUGHLIN

Haste is out in a fetching orange hat. Coughlin comes out twirling his NJPW Strong tag title like Bianca Belair’s braid.

Coughlin charges at the bell and hits a fallaway slam right off the bat. Coughlin shrugs off a chop and chokes Haste down. Coughlin with a beatdown, but Haste comes back with a very high dropkick sending Coughlin to the floor. Haste goes for a dive but gets caught in the ropes and by Coughlin, who hits an overhead suplex on the outside followed by a whip to the barricade. Coughlin continues the aggression on the outside, but Haste comes back with a backdrop on to the apron. The comeback is short-lived as Coughlin lifts Haste from the apron and gets a deadlift gutwrench suplex from the outside to the inside, and gets a near fall. More heel tactics by Coughlin and a hard whip to the corner at the five minute mark sends Haste to the mat.

Haste counters an Irish whip with an arm wringer into a backdrop suplex, a series of kicks, a reverse backdrop suplex and a running elevated PK for a near fall. Coughlin blocks a suplex attempt but after a few counters eats the mat on a release falcon arrow for 2. Kicks to the chest and back by Haste but a missed shot leads to a German suplex and a Death Valley Driver by Coughlin for 2. Mounted punches by Couglin into a straight-up choke, and a stiff inside-out lariat gets 2 for Coughlin. Impressive power by Coughlin to hold on to a suspended vertical suplex, but Haste turns it into a guillotine choke! Coughlin then turns that into a pop-up powerbomb for 2! Very nice exchange there. Coughlin berates the ref before tossing Haste to the outside. A whip to the barricade by Coughlin, who retrieves a pair of chairs and tosses them into the ring. Ten minutes have elapsed.

Coughlin rolls Haste back in, then gets his title belt and brings it into the ring. The ref takes it away and while his back is turned, Haste hits a Saito suplex on the chairs followed by a pop-up uranage for the three count.

WINNER: Shane Haste (2pts) at 11:13 (**½)

(Lansdell’s analysis: Solid if unspectacular effort from the two G1 debutants there. Haste showed some unorthodox but exciting offense, and I think the reckless aggression from Coughlin could be one of those mini-stories that we often see woven into G1 block matches.)


How, HOW is this not the semi-main? Easily the match I am most looking forward to this morning. Eddie is out to his AEW theme and shows no sign of the fact that he is living a dream right now.

The two bulls square up to each other and this could be violent. Shingo gets the best of the early exchange with some chops, but Kingston replies with chops of his own. Shingo wins the exchange with a double-handed chop sending Kingston to the mat. He pops up with open handed slaps, Shingo returns with interest, and they exchange again. Ouraken by Eddie! Shingo rolls to the floor to avoid the cover. Eddie follows with some aggressive chops and a whip to the barricade. Neither man is giving an inch as Shingo comes back with a whip of his own, and Eddie rebounds off with a lariat on the outside. This is just a physical war. Back inside, Eddie with some machine-gun chops in the corner. Shingo absorbs it and fires back with shots of his own in the corner. Eddie turns the tables and hits a few chops and an exploder for 2. Eddie looks for a dragon suplex but is countered with an elbow and a lariat by Shingo as we reach the five minute mark.

Kitchen sink and a shoulder tackle by Shingo level Kingston. Vertical suplex by Shingo who has established control now. Eddie is positioned on the top for a superplex, which connects. Has there been one of those in each match now? Two count for Shingo, who mockingly kicks at Eddie’s head. Eddie is not amused. Right jabs by Shingo and a chop, and Eddie does not seem impressed. He fights to his feet and the two exchange chops to the neck. Ouraken by Eddie is ducked into a back suplex by Shingo. Enziguiri by Eddie into a back suplex of his own for 2. Both men are slow to get up, but Eddie is first two his feet and attempts a Northern Lights bomb. Shingo counters with an elbow. Eddie measures Shingo, who fires himself up, and they charge into each other with lariats. Left-arm lariat from Shingo is countered by Eddie with a slap, they exchange clotheslines. Half and half suplex by Eddie, Shingo pops up right into a lariat! Both men are down as the announcer calls the halfway point.

Ouraken blocked again, a series of shots by Shingo into his own Northern Lights bomb. It only gets a one count! Pumping bomber by Shingo gets two. Last of the Dragons is countered by Eddie, a clothesline gets a one count for Eddie. Forearms by Shingo and Eddie is groggy. Ouraken out of nowhere! A second one! And a third! Northern Lights bomb by Eddie and that’s enough for the win.

WINNER: Eddie Kingston (2pts) at 13:10 (***)

(Lansdell’s analysis: This was good and stiff but seemed to be missing something from this style of match. I can’t quite put my finger on it but the exchanges seemed almost abbreviated. I might be a little harsh because I expected more, but I was not on the edge of my seat here.)

We get an update on Henare, who is groggy but expected to be fine for the next round of matches next week. Good news.

(6) HIROSHI TANAHASHI vs. ZACK SABRE JR. (w/Ichiban Sweet Boy Kosei Fujita)

Tanahashi still has that undeniable charisma with his entrance and presence. Kevin Kelly points out that Toronto (for Forbidden Door) was not kind to Tanahashi, which could indicate the start of his descent down the card. Chris Charlton reminds us that these two have history, and that Tanahashi is 4-1 against ZSJ. Tanahashi is wrestling in some sort of weird sleeve halter top.

Early headscissors on the mat by ZSJ. Tanahashi escapes and applies one of his own, which of course ZSJ escapes. An extended collar and elbow leads to an exchange of stiff forearms, which Tanahashi wins. Backslide attempt by ZSJ is blocked, they go back and forth on the backslide until Tanahashi hits an arm pumphandle into a short arm scissors. ZSJ turns the hold over in an attempt to escape and makes it to the ropes for a break as we hit five minutes.

Tanahashi tries to jack ZSJ’s arm over the top from the apron, but gets caught in a sleeper instead. The referee calls for the break, and ZSJ hits a dragon screw in the ropes as Tanahashi tries to come back into the ring. That’s the cue for ZSJ to go after the leg of Tanahashi, applying a leg lace with a bridge. Tanahashi rolls to the ropes for a break. ZSJ continues to attack the knee of Tanahashi and mocks him with some kicks on the mat. Tanahashi gets to his feet and fires back with some kicks of his own, but ZSJ snaps the arm and goes back to the knee. Irish whip by Zack, Tanahashi comes off the ropes with a flying forearm to regain control. Scoop slam by Tanahashi who goes to the second rope, ZSJ gets to his feet but Tanahashi applies a kimmura while sitting on the turnbuckle. He kicks at ZSJ and hits a somersault senton from the second rope for two. Slingblade attempt by Tanahashi is blocked, ZSJ applies an octopus hold. At the halfway point, Tanahashi escapes with a hip toss and a drop kick.

ZSJ catches a kick from Tanahashi and hits a dragon screw, then applies a spinning toe hold. He transitions to a Texas cloverleaf, Tanahashi counters to a triangle choke, and ZSJ turns that into another dragon screw. It’s like they are each reading the other’s playbook. Another counter from Tanahashi turns into a heel hook by ZSJ. Tanahashi makes it to the ropes. Kneebreaker by ZSJ is blocked and Tanahashi connects with a Twist and Shout. A dragon screw…arm whip I guess by Tanahashi, followed by two more. Interesting innovation. He avoids a dropkick to the knee and hits a basement dropkick and a slingblade for two. Fifteen minutes have passed as Tana goes to the top.

ZSJ rolls through the High-Fly Crossbody and kicks Tana in the back of the head for two. Sabre Drive attempt is blocked, and Tanahashi rolls through into an armbar attempt. ZSJ tries to escape, Tana holds on, ZSJ stacks him up with a rollup for and gets the three as Tanahashi refuses to let go.

WINNER: Zack Sabre Jr. (2pts) at 16:20 (***)

(Lansdell’s analysis: That was a fun mat wrestling exchange from the master of that style. Tanahashi can still go when the match looks like this, but not many can carry that sort of match like Zack can. If Tanahashi’s theme for the G1 is that he needs to change and reinvent himself, we’ll see more like this. The announcers repeatedly said he doesn’t need the High Fly Flow, so that could be the approach. Good win for ZSJ here in a tough block.)

(7) EVIL (w/Dick Togo) vs. TAMA TONGA (w/Jado)

It’s been a while since Tama turned face but he still looks wrong with a smile.

Evil attacks before the bell and chokes Tama, but Tama comes back with an exploder suplex as Evil rolls to the outside. Tama follows him and continues the attack. Back in the ring, Tama with a series of shots in the corner and the ten-spot of punches followed by the Dusty Rhodes elbow. Tama charges Evil in the corner, but he and Dick Togo have loosened the corner pad. Evil moves and Tama eats steel in the corner. To the outside now and Evil suplexes Tama on the ramp. Evil opens the barricade and drags Tama into the crowd, throwing him into some chairs. It’s walk and brawl time. Evil deposits Tama into some chairs and heads back to the ring as Togo and Jado square off ringside. Red Shoes is unimpressed with Evil’s antics but starts the count. Tama makes it back to the ring at 19.99. Evil goes for the cover but the referee just turns his back and refuses to count the cover as we hit five minutes.

Evil continues his offense with a backbreaker. Tama tries to fire back with some gut shots and gets some separation with a drop kick. A pair of clotheslines and a body slam from Tama put him in control. Stinger splash from Tama gets a near fall. A seated lariat gets another near fall. Evil escapes a Tongan twist with an eye rake, then blocks a suplex and hits his own for two. On the kickout Evil throws himself on top of the referee, and this is probably the cue for shenanigans. Evil connects with a release fisherman’s suplex, and here comes Dick Togo. He knocks Jado off the apron and lays the boots into Tama Tonga. Evil joins in as the fans react negatively. Magikiller by Togo and Evil. Red Shoes is still down, but crawls over to count. Tama kicks out at one! We are ten minutes in.

Evil applies the Darkness Scorpion death lock in the middle of the ring. Tama fights to the ropes and the ref calls for the break, but Evil maintains the hold as long as legally possible. A fireman’s carry from Evil is reversed into the Tongan Twist from Tama. Yay for alliteration! Superman punch and an enziguiri follow from Tama, and a spinebuster takes Evil to the mat. Supreme Flow from Tama gets a near fall. Tama measures Evil, but Dick Togo pulls him out of the ring. Jado gets on the apron, distracting the ref and allowing Togo to snap Tama’s neck over the top rope. Everything is Evil…blocked! Tama gets a schoolboy for a near fall, but Gun Stun is blocked by Evil who then levels Tama with a lariat. As the announcer calls the 15-minute mark, Evil pulls Tama up.

Darkness Falls connects for Evil, but is only good for a two count. Tama blocks Everything is Evil, but eats a pair of lariats. Tama is groggy on his feet, and gets whipped into the exposed corner. He shrugs it off and comes roaring out with a lariat! Togo into the ring…Gun Stun to Togo! Bloody Sunday to Evil! It only gets a two count. Evil blocks an attack and tries to whip Tama into the exposed corner again, but Tama jumps to the second rope. Evil pulls the ref between him and Tama, who leaps over the ref and tries for Gun Stun. While the ref is facing the wrong way Evil hits a low blow! Everything is Evil! That’s enough for the win.

WINNER: Evil (2pts) at 17:30 (**½)

(Lansdell’s analysis:This would have got a higher rating if not for the ubiquitous House of Torture nonsense. I have to believe there’s a plan for all this cheating by Evil and his cohorts, but it’s pretty tiresome in the meantime. A good performance from both men nonetheless.)


Jeff Cobb just looks like a tank. A confident tank. Naito is 3-0 against Cobb.

Naito tries to convince Cobb to do the LIJ salute, but Cobb is having none of it. Naito throws Cobb to the floor and runs the ropes, but Cobb trips him and pulls him to the floor as well. They trade whips to the barricade before going back to the ring where Naito locks in a cravate. Naito tries the combinación cabrón but Cobb catches him midair, Naito rolls through but eats a beautiful drop kick. Naito rolls to the floor and Cobb pretends to go for a dive before hitting Naito’s trademark taunt. Cobb goes to the floor and lays in some shots before returning to the ring and posing while he waits for his opponent. Naito rolls back in at a count of 16. Cobb hits a stalling vertical suplex drop and gets a two count on a cocky cover. No way this casual attitude comes back to bite him, right? That never happens.

At the five-minute announcement, Cobb carries Naito into the corner and hits the Combinación Cobb-rón before once again mocking Naito. Cobb goes for a whip, Naito tries to reverse with a tornado DDT but Cobb blocks it with sheet strength. Naito gets a double handful of hair to save himself and hits a spinning neckbreaker. Naito has a hip toss blocked but after a series of reversals he is able to get an armdrag and basement dropkick. Combinación Cabrón connects. Naito goes to the ground game with a full leg nelson. Cobb lifts Naito and gets to his feet, but a series of back elbows from Naito sends the big man back down. Naito puts Cobb on the top rope and goes up with him for a huracanrana…super powerbomb by Cobb! That gets a near fall. A standing moonsault from Cobb gets another near fall. Men that size should not be able to do that so easily.

As we reach the halfway point, Naito is on the apron and Cobb tries to bring him in the hard way with a deadlift superplex. Naito fights it off with forearms and tries a rana off the second rope but almost piledrives himself in the process. That was not supposed to look like that. Naito follows up with a tornado DDT and tries for Gloria, which is blocked. Cobb connects with Spin Cycle! A series of reversals and blocks by each man is capped off with a running Destino by Naito! He retains wrist control and tries for a second, but Cobb reverses into Tour of the Islands! Both men are down as the referee starts the count. Both men get to their feet at the count of 9. Rolling kick by Naito, inverted atomic drop and the running jacknife cover gets two for Naito. Tour of the Islands attempt from Cobb is blocked into a rollup for two more. Stiff right hand by Cobb into a German suplex, Naito fires up but is leveled by a headbutt to the chest. Tour of the Islands…connects! One…two…three!

WINNER: Jeff Cobb (2pts) at 14:39 (***½)

(Lansdell’s analysis: That was a worthy main event, especially in light of the minor disappointment that was Shingo vs Eddie. Cobb looked like a real threat and Naito helped that greatly by bringing his best. Given that Naito has promised to win the G1, this is not a great start for him. Solid match that probably stands as the best of the night.)

Cobb closes the night by donning Naito’s hat and mocking the LIJ roll call.

Overall thoughts: Not a particularly strong night of matches but nothing offensive or even bad on the card. I was personally disappointed by Eddie-Shingo, but it was still a solid match. There’s potential for some interesting storylines from night 2: Tanahashi’s reinvention attempts, Naito having to come from behind to make good on his guarantee, Henare’s new look, and the potential for Cobb to finally break through. A good amuse-bouche to set up the next six nights of action from these groups.

You can contact me at lansdellicious@gmail.com or on Twitter @lansdellicious

CATCH UP… NJPW G1 CLIMAX 33 – NIGHT 1 RESULTS (7/15): Sanada vs. Hikuleo Tanga Loa vs. Kenta, Owens vs. Kidd, Ospreay vs. Taichi, Okada vs. Great-O-Khan

OR CHECK OUT PROWRESTLING.NET.S REPORT FOR ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE: NJPW “G1 Climax 33 Night Two” results (7/16): Vetter’s review of Naito vs. Cobb, Tama Tonga vs. Evil, Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr., Shingo vs. Kingston

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