NJPW G1 CLIMAX 33 – NIGHT 8 RESULTS (7/26): Alan4L’s results & analysis of Kingston vs. Ishii, Tonga vs. Finlay, Cobb vs. Sabre

By Alan4L, PWTorch columnist


JULY 26, 2023

English commentary: Kevin Kelly & Christopher Charlton

(1) “KING OF DARKNESS” EVIL (w/Richard Togo) (4) vs. HENARE (2) – C Block match

A battle between two wrestler who have technically over-delivered in the tournament should be a nice prospect to open a show, but in the case of Evil expectations were for his matches to be horrid and they’ve merely been bad and with Henare he’s over-achieved for sure but not to the degree that you’d expect him to be able to overcome the ball & chain that is House Of Torture antics.

Dick Togo jumped the New Zealander during the entrances and that lead to probably the most fun part of the bout as the combatants brawled around Korakuen with the fans hot for the start of the show. We got the classic heel goes face first into the “West” signpost spot which is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. When they were back in the ring, the work was decent and pretty physical which we’ve come to expect from Henare now. With a bit of care or creativity for the finish this could have been a good opener but the expected Togo run-in was nothing special as Evil used the distraction (Henare countered Dick’s chair shot) to hit his namesake finisher for the win.

WINNER: Evil (6 pts) at 12:03. (***)

(Alan’s Analysis: Korakuen was there for them and there was potential for a match that produced at the level of Evil vs. Mark Davis from the NJ Cup in the same building but the flat ending cut that off at the knees.)

(2) ALEX COUGHLIN (0) vs. HIROOKI GOTO (4) – D Block match

The commentators referenced that Coughlin helped Goto train for the 2019 G1 when the latter went to the LA Dojo in preparation for the tournament which was a nice touch. Four years later and a very different dynamic was at play. Coughlin, ravenous for his first points, was going to be doing nothing to help an injured Goto who was ripe for the picking.

The majority of the match saw the War Dogs powerhouse drilling Goto into the dirt, with the veteran’s sporadic comeback attempts cut off routinely by targeted shots to the injured ribs. Coughlin showed good intensity that fit the situation and Goto was tremendous in selling (although it was probably pretty easy given the legit rough shape he’s in). After shutting down an attempted GTR, Coughlin hoisted his opponent up and dropped him square into the mat with a Jackhammer for the win.

WINNER: Alex Coughlin (2 pts) at 6:23. (**3/4)

(Alan’s Analysis: Short match which told a good effective story. Likely would have produced better were it not for the injury. Coughlin’s stock goes up with this win.)

(3) SHINGO TAKAGI (2) vs. MIKEY NICHOLLS (2) – C Block match

On paper when the fixtures were announced for the tour, this was a disappointment as Shingo’s only Korakuen match. He’s a God in that building and could have delivered a MOTYC with the right opponent. That was never going to happen with Mad Mikey, but the Australian’s efforts so far made it so that this was actually a match that had some juice.

It was simmering nicely with the crowd invested, Takagi being Takagi and Nicholls showing the same fire he’s displayed in his earlier matches. After a Nicholls superplex approximately eight minutes in, things had built nicely and the match was about to hit another gear. Then things gradually fell apart in a way that I have never seen in a Shingo Takagi match and I’ve watched the majority of matches he’s had since he debuted in 2004.

They were on completely different pages as they attempted several fast paced intense exchanges and it was really noticeable. Everything went wrong including the finish where Nicholls was on the wrong side taking a Pumping Bomber and Shingo just sort of ran through him, falling on top for what may have been an audible early three count. The obvious explanation is that Mikey got rocked at some point as his cut from his first match reopened and he looked to be out of it at points, but I went back and really couldn’t see any noticeable moment where this happened. It may have been as simple as taking a bump that did it, in which case they really need to check on the guy for concussion symptoms as it’s looking like there’s a lingering issue that he can’t shake and getting knocked loopy multiple times on this tour is very bad news.

WINNER: Shingo Takagi (4 pts) at 9:13. (**1/2)

(Alan’s Analysis: A real shame that this turned out the way it did. Hopefully Nicholls is ok.)

(4) HIROSHI TANAHASHI (2) vs. TORU YANO (0) – D Block match

Ah the lads, still riding the wave of their 2005 G1 miracle match where they went to a 30 minute draw in this very building. I’m afraid 2005 is a long time ago and what Hiroshi & Toru had on the 2023 menu was something very different.

The most worthwhile thing about this match was Chris Charlton’s explanation of the “Hiroshi & Toru” manga, yankee culture and that crouching pose! These guys have well and truly emptied their joint bag of tricks by now and nothing new, interesting or funny was on offer here. There was tape, there was a chair, there was low blow shenanigans and then Tana won with the High Fly Flow. The only surprising thing here was that he used up that bump on this match.

WINNER: Hiroshi Tanahashi (4 pts) at 7:45. (*3/4)

(Alan’s Analysis: If you’ve never seen these men wrestle before, you might have gotten a kick out of this. Otherwise it was nothing you haven’t seen a million times – only now Tanahashi has fancy sleeves.)

(5) TOMOHIRO ISHII (0) vs. EDDIE KINGSTON (4) – C Block match

If ever there was a timely tonic it was this. With the show in danger of being a rare Korakuen clanger out came the man who has had dozens of unreal G1 bouts in this venue and his opponent who views it as holy ground.

The crowd was eating out of the palm of Ishii & Kingston’s hands right from the start as they locked those hands together for a test of strength to begin the bout. From a test of strength they went to a test of strikes (didn’t take long) and it was clear this was going to be a hot match. Eddie started selling his lower back early which has been a running story for him on the tour and the bout became about him wanting to power through the pain to give back to Ishii what he was taking from the Stone Pitbull.

As the match wore on, Ishii developed the most disgusting welts on his pectoral from the chops Eddie was dishing out but that obviously wasn’t going to slow him down. They traded all the classic staples of their offense from backdrop drivers to lariats with nods to the legends of Japanese wrestling along the way. Eddie got a huge nearfall off two Uraken backfists and Korakuen was on fire. It was a surprising dip into the Chris Jericho playbook which scored big for Ishii as he busted out a Codebreaker on the man who went to war with Jericho last year. That proved the difference maker as it allowed him to hoist Kingston up for the match-winning vertical drop brainbuster.

WINNER: Tomohiro Ishii (2 pts) at 16:12. (****1/4)

(Alan’s Analysis: This definitely delivered and was a show saver at this point. The crowd loved it. Exactly the kind of match that fans were hoping for from the Eddie Kingston G1 experience.)

(6) SHANE HASTE (2) vs. TETSUYA NAITO (4) – D Block match

This first time match-up began with hat comedy, as Haste tempted Naito with his orange top hat and wanted to exchange it for the LIJ ball cap. Unfortunately I think this was a misjudgement given what was to come with this bout.

As Kevin Kelly noted on commentary, the book on Haste is that he has all the tools – athleticism, look, charisma, technique – but his downfall is that he doesn’t take things seriously enough. Up to now in the G1 he’s been coasting and his performances have not matched his potential. I watched this guy in the NOAH Global League a decade ago and there was so much more effort and fire in the belly. As this match wore on, we did start to see some of that. He was clearly upping the intensity levels, took some nice bumps (a beautiful looking tornado DDT being the standout) and had some solid offense. Yet, in spite of that, it still felt like it was just there.

Part of the problem I think was how Shane has presented himself (the crowd don’t take him seriously) and the other part was that given that the result was a major upset win, his opponent Tetsuya Naito was at best half assed in his efforts to make this feel like a huge deal. Now this might just be all that Naito is capable of in 2023 but when I think of momentous G1 upsets in Korakuen Hall, this will be low on the list in terms of impactfulness. Haste won with the Bomb Valley Death countering Destino when Naito had him on the ropes. With more motivation I think they could have built a more exciting and meaty closing stretch.

WINNER: Shane Haste (4 pts) at 13:44. (***1/4)

(Alan’s Analysis: If this is going to be Naito’s year, he’s not filling me with confidence unless he’s really just storing things in the tank. A win that ultimately I don’t think will mean much for Shane Haste and that’s a shame.)

(7) TAMA TONGA (4) vs. DAVID FINLAY (w/”Bulldog KT” Gedo) (6) – C Block match

Next up we had a match rife with bad feelings as Tama Tonga sought revenge following their last bout which saw him carted away on a stretcher after Finlay dismantled him en route to becoming the Never Openweight champ.

Fittingly they got this off to a hot start with Tama not waiting for the ring announcements and going right after the Bullet Club leader. The crowd were clearly into the rivalry as they were with the match from the outset. Finlay got the advantage when Tama took a spill from the bleachers area and they sold it like he had really damaged his leg.

Finlay was relentless going to work on the injury and Tonga sold it well. His sporadic hope spots and Finlay’s cutoffs were good stuff. Tama’s big comeback came off a great dropkick which Korakuen popped big for. But moments later when he came off the top for the big splash, Finlay got the knees up and Tama ate it hard. That looked fantastic. Finlay started to look for the Powerbombs that worked so well for him in May but Tama was avoiding them like the plague. He backdropped Finlay to the floor out of one attempt and hit a crowd pleasing plancha.

The methodical dissection which characterised the final minutes of their last encounter were a distant memory as this one was frantic and back & forth. It felt like the match was on a knife edge right up until Tama countered another powerbomb attempt with a flash hurricanrana and got the win.

WINNER: Tama Tonga (6 pts) at 14:22. (****)

(Alan’s Analysis: Very much enjoyed this and the highlight of both men’s tour so far. Hopefully it’s one that they can kick on from as they both look like being in contention. I would be shocked if at least one of these guys didn’t qualify from the C Block. They’re building a nice little rivalry and I wouldn’t be opposed to a rubber match before the year is out.)

(8) JEFF COBB (6) vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (6) – D Block match

A battle of undefeated wrestlers atop the D Block was our main event for the night. A great aspect of this match was that they had feuded for ZSJ’s TV title earlier in the Summer and those matches were built around the 15 minute time limit. Here they would have 20 to work with, and Cobb was motivated to use that time to finally get an elusive win over his white whale.

The early stages of the match were a showcase for Zack’s “tekkers” but also showing that Cobb could play that game too. However when it came to power & strength it was a no contest with the Guam man having Zack’s number all day long in that department. The work was slick throughout. A suplex on the floor put Sabre in a bad predicament and allowed Cobb to slow the pace down and really punish him.

Zack got back into things with a gorgeous tornado DDT (it was a night for them!). He started to look for any openings he could get but Cobb wasn’t giving away much. When Sabre could sneak in a submission or a cradle, the crowd were biting. It was really good stuff and it was taken to the next level by Jeff displaying a level of fire that he rarely ever hits (that has long been pointed to as his one flaw). Zack having the temerity to hit the Olympian with a German Suplex served to put Cobb into kill mode and he responded immediately with one of his own. This set up an F5 and then the Tour Of The Islands for a definitive win and what felt like a big moment in Cobb’s NJPW career.

WINNER: Jeff Cobb (8 pts) at 16:16. (****1/4)

(Alan’s Analysis: One thing that was a real take home point for me here was the extent to which both these guys are really solidified as top gaijin in New Japan. With Cobb’s age and ZSJ’s career aspirations being tied to NJPW, I could easily see both men seeing out their careers with this company and really leaving behind a damn good legacy in the process. This match ruled and showcased the attachment that the NJPW crowd have to both wrestlers.)

Cobb cut a simple but effective promo in Japanese to end the show. The fans went home happy.

Overall thoughts: (7.5) – Despite some really frustrating matches and a bad first half, this show ultimately delivered. It was carried on the strength of a great atmosphere and three bouts that I’d highly recommend.

Contact Alan at prowresparadise@gmail.com. Check out the ProWres Paradise podcast with a Torch VIP membership! Twitter: @Alan4L

CATCH UP ON THE PREVIOUS REPORT: NJPW G1 CLIMAX 33 – NIGHT 7 RESULTS (7/25): Lansdell’s results & analysis of Narita vs. Hikuleo, Okada vs. Hashi, Sanada vs. Kiyomiya


OR CHECK OUT PROWRESTLING.NET’S REPORT FOR ANOTHER VIEWPOINT: NJPW “G1 Climax 33 Night Eight” results (7/26): Vetter’s review of Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Jeff Cobb, Tama Tonga vs. David Finlay, Tetsuya Naito vs. Shane Haste, Tomohiro Ishii vs. Eddie Kingston, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Toru Yano

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