NJPW G1 CLIMAX 33 – NIGHT 17 RESULTS (8/10): Wells’s results & analysis of all four quarterfinal matches

by Kelly Wells (@spookymilk), PWTorch Contributor


AUG. 10, 2023

Announcers: Kevin Kelly & Chris Charlton

(1) LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Shingo Takagi & Yota Tsuji & Hiromu Takahashi) vs. TMDK (Shane Haste & Mikey Nicholls & Kosei Fujita)

Kevin Kelly continued to take issue with Shane Haste’s actions last night, intentionally going to a double countout with Jeff Cobb to clear the path for teammate Zack Sabre Jr. to make the quarterfinals. A fun, lively opener that was almost entirely Young Lion Fujita as the legal man against LIJ. Fujita is looking simply fantastic ahead of his excursion to Australia starting in September.

WINNERS: Los Ingobernables de Japon at 7:55.

(2) THE GUERRILLAS OF DESTINY (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) & SHOTA UMINO & EL PHANTASMO vs. STRONG STYLE (Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado & Ren Narita) & HIROYOSHI TENZAN

Entrances of the former team were very long as the three acts all entered separately, and Umino really milked his time, slapping hands with a lot of audience members (even more than usual). There was a series of nipple twists (starting with El Phantasmo, of course) that led to the announcers wondering why it couldn’t be a babyface move. Former concurrent Young Lions Shota & Ren paired off quite a bit, whether legal at the time or not, as they work toward another of what will surely be many meetings. Phantasmo finished off Tenzan with his Sudden Death superkick, after which Shota & Ren continued to brawl until Young Lions separated them.

WINNERS: Guerrillas & Umino & Phantasmo at 9:13.

(3) JUST FIVE GUYS (Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI & TAKA Michinoku) vs. BULLET CLUB (KENTA & Chase Owens & Gabe Kidd & Alex Coughlin)

Kenta and Taichi argued over which has a cooler-looking championship belt. Kanemaru acted as the arbiter and he raised Taichi’s hand, so Kenta brained him with the belt and the match started. Kenta pretended he was offering his DEFY championship to Taichi to roll him up for a near-fall as the early minutes were largely played for laughs, a rarity with this incarnation of Bullet Club. Kidd pinned Michinoku after a knockout punch in the rare Bullet Club match that never spilled out to the floor.

WINNERS: Bullet Club at 8:53.

(4) HIROSHI TANAHASHI & EDDIE KINGSTON & CHAOS (Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii) vs. UNITED EMPIRE (Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan & HENARE)

A decent match with some stiff-looking work. Kingston hit Henare with the backfist to finish.

WINNERS: Tanahashi & Kingston & Yano & Ishii at 9:43.

(5) HIKULEO (w/Jado) vs. TETSUYA NAITO – G1 Climax quarterfinal

Charlton continued to beat the drum that Naito needs to put it together and win to secure his match for Wrestle Kingdom 18, or there might not be a match at Wrestle Kingdom 19. That’s laying it on a bit thick, but it’s a good story for Naito at this stage in his career.

No time limit now that we’re out of the block stage. Naito backed up from a charging Hikuleo a couple of times to frustrate him. Hikuleo backed Naito toa rope and gave him a clean break before slapping him on the chest. Naito threw a series of shots but just one from Hikuleo turned the tide. Hikuleo charged and Naito dumped him to the apron, then dropkicked him to the floor. Hikuleo regrouped and told Naito to back up before he got back into the ring. Naito still charged in with a dropkick to the leg when Hikuleo entered. Naito worked Hikuleo’s leg around his body on the mat. Hikuleo threw some clubbing blows and fought for a rope to break.

Naito worked an Indian death lock and dropped back for added pain. Hikuleo reached a rope to break. Naito worked Hikuleo over in the corner and charged him to the opposite corner. Hikuleo lifted Naito for Snake Eyes but Naito slipped free and hit another low dropkick as he continued to work the leg. Naito again slipped out and hit a reverse DDT for two. Naito kicked at Hikuleo’s head dismissively and then threw some rights until Hikuleo managed some big chops to surprise him. Hikuleo hit Snake Eyes to ground Naito and hit him with a lariat. Corner splash by Hikuleo followed by a suplex for two. Hikuleo threw some chops and then some rights at the ropes. Naito ran at Hikuleo, and knowing Hikuleo would go for the snap powerslam, he laid him out with a right.

Naito went for Esperanza but Hikuleo caught him for a running powerslam. Big boot turned Naito inside out. Hikuleo went for a delayed powerbomb but Naito punched himself free. He went for a Destino but Hikuleo hit Last Ride for two. Naito trapped Hikuleo on a slam attempt for two. The two exchanged elbows and forearms. Hikuleo hit the snap powerslam and went for his finisher. The crowd went crazy as Naito reversed and hit a big DDT. The crowd clapped together. Naito went for Destino and Hikuleo hit a big powerslam. He set up his finisher again and Naito hit a reverse DDT. Destino finished.

WINNER: Tetsuya Naito at 13:11. (***1/2)

(Wells’s Analysis: A slow-moving opening few minutes had this looking like a glorified squash for Naito, but Hikuleo got some thrilling near-finisher spots that brought the crowd to life. Once the bracket was complete, it was easy to see that Hikuleo made sense as a second representative of A Block. It kept Tsuji, Umino and Narita from doing a job in a big spot and allowed Naito to look like he really accomplished the impossible by beating a much larger opponent)

(6) WILL OSPREAY vs. DAVID FINLAY (w/Gedo & Gabe Kidd & Alex Coughlin) – G1 Climax quarterfinal

The winner faces Naito in the semis. Kidd and Coughlin blocked Ospreay’s path to the ring, so Jeff Cobb and Great-O-Khan joined him. He smiled widely as the three strode to the ring.

The crowd was amped. The two locked up and Finlay grabbed some hair, so Ospreay responded in kind. Ospreay backed Finlay to a rope and Finlay begged off, then hit a cheap shot. Rope run and a boot by Ospreay. Ospreay took Finlay to the corner for some mounted punches, then hit a huge back body-drop. Finlay tried to exchange some rights but Ospreay was in the power position. Ospreay went for a springboard but Finlay shoved him to the floor, and then went out and charged him twice into the barricade. Finlay cleared the ring announcer table and set it up on the floor. He set up a powerbomb, and Jeff Cobb grabbed the table and moved it out of the way to cheers. Cobb shoved Finlay, and referee Marty Asami sent Cobb away from ringside. The War Dogs worked over Ospreay to boos as this happened. Finlay covered Ospreay in the ring for two.

Finlay threw rights to the breadbasket and charged Ospreay to the opposite corner pad. Finlay stepped on Ospreay and posed to boos. Ospreay slapped on an abdominal stretch and Finlay went to the eyes and reversed. Ospreay hip-tossed Finlay to break the hold. Finlay charged Ospreay to a corner and he exploded out of it with a lariat. Both guys sold for a moment. The two reversed momentum a few times and Ospreay hit a springboard Pele kick. The crowd, as they’ve been all night, was very loud for a New Japan show. Springboard flying fist landed by Ospreay for two. Ospreay went up but Finlay recovered and yanked Ospreay down, dropping his face on the corner pad. The two exchanged back elbows and rights. Finlay went to the eyes again and then bit Ospreay’s head to boos. Ospreay threw a chop and hit a German suplex. He set up the Oscutter but Finlay followed and slammed Ospreay back on the mat from the second rope. Again, both men sold.

Finlay charged right into a Spanish Fly for two. Ospreay charged into a spear by Finlay. A dominator followed for a long two. Finlay grabbed the table and set it up again. He went up to the apron with Ospreay and set up a powerbomb. Ospreay slipped through and hit a superkick followed by an Oscutter from the second buckle to the apron. Both guys spilled to the floor. Ospreay looked at the table, then the camera, and grinned as Asami protested. Ospreay set Finlay up on the table and went to the top rope. Gabe Kidd dragged Finlay to safety to boos. Ospreay superkicked Kidd and Finlay capitalized. He tried a powerbomb through the table, but again Ospreay slipped free and powerbombed Finlay through the table. A loud “Ospreay” chant rang out. Ospreay reentered the ring and Asami started the count. Finlay milked it to 19, and Ospreay hit him with a dropkick the moment he entered the ring.

Oscutter was thwarted once, but a second effort landed for two. Ospreay went up and hit a Leap of Faith, but Asami was checking on Finlay unbeknownst to Ospreay, and he was bumped. The War Dogs went after Ospreay, and O-Khan laid down on Ospreay and took the blows, eliciting a big “O-Khan” chant. Cobb showed up again and he laid out the Dogs, after which Cobb splashed O-Khan atop them. Gedo passed the shillelagh to Finlay, who used it on Ospreay to boos. Kenta Sato replaced Asami as referee and ran down the ramp. Finlay covered for two. Finlay went for a move but Ospreay reversed to Slumdog Millionaire. Ospreay reversed a move to Hidden Blade and hit Stormbreaker to finish.

WINNER: Will Ospreay at 17:21. (****1/4)

(Wells’s Analysis: An exhilarating ride that could fairly be called overbooked, but the War Dog shenanigans allowed for a lot of doubt about who would win this match and go on to face Naito. There were a lot of moving parts and every player played his part to perfection, including the crowd, who seem to be a considerable amount louder than the next loudest crowd through this tournament. Finlay is the first block winner to fall, and I had him as being the only one to do so tonight, though I don’t think it’s impossible that Evil will cheat Sanada to start something between them)

(7) SANADA vs. EVIL (w/Dick Togo) – G1 Climax quarterfinal

Here’s another one where a guy’s advancement made sense in the context of his quarterfinal opponent. Of Evil, Charlton said “I have no idea how this idiot and the Dick he’s with managed to get out safe last night.” Evil sent Dick Togo to the back, and the announcers weren’t fooled that he would stay there.

Evil threw a kick and snapped on a headlock. Kelly mentioned this is the third team to win a tag league and face off in G1 playoffs. Rope run and a basement dropkick followed by a regular one by Sanada. Evil bailed and Sanada immediately hit him with a plancha and tapped his ear to get the crowd going. Sanada rolled Evil into the ring and Evil got in some shots as Dick Togo reappeared already for the distraction. Evil took Sanada out of the ring and charged him into the barricade against the timekeeper, laying him out as Evil often does. They went back into the crowd and Evil put a chair to Sanada repeatedly as referee Red Shoes Unno tried to get it back to the ring. Evil went back to the ring and the crowd chanted for Sanada. Unno counted to 15 and Sanada reentered the ring just to get tossed out. Evil shoved Sanada into the timekeeper again, laying him out a second time in three minutes, which was pretty funny. Unno reached 14 this time and Sanada entered again. Evil charged Sanada into a turnbuckle where there was no pad anymore. Unno wouldn’t make the count as he recognized the missing pad.

Evil stepped on Sanada’s head for a moment. Sanada got up and threw some big palm strikes. Evil hit a knee and charged Sanada to the exposed corner again, but Sanada put on the brakes and charged Evil into it. Sanada kipped up and started to put Evil in the Paradise Lock, but Togo hit gone to the apron. Sanada dragged Togo into the ring and put him in the Paradise Lock, and then tripped a charging Evil into him. Togo went sprawling out of the ring and Sanada slammed Evil for two.

Sanada went for Skull End. Evil reversed into Darkness Falls but Sanada put him up and hit a TKO. Sanada landed on his feet after a top-rope miss and Evil bailed to the floor. Sanada followed and Evil charged him into one barricade, and then another, and a third after a double reverse. Timekeeper Makoto Abe was spared for once. Evil took Sanada in and tried the Darkness Scorpion, which was denied. Togo tripped Sanada and Evil trapped him in the Darkness Scorpion. Kelly mentioned (via New Japan historian @chrissamsa) that these two wrestled over 400 matches together and now 43 as opponents, including tags.

Evil put up Sanada for Darkness Falls. Sanada reversed to Skull End and Evil fought it off enough that Sanada couldn’t fall back. Sanada lifted and spun Evil. Togo hit the apron and Sanada chargedEvil into him, clearing him again. Sanada hit a shining wizard. Sanada went for Deadfall but Evil blocked the ref and hit a low blow. He went for Everything is Evil and Sanada fought it off, then hit his own low blow. Sanada hit Deadfall and covered, but Togo dragged Unno out of the ring at the two count. Togo choked Sanada and the two heels went for Magic Killer, but Sanada wriggled free of Togo and cleared him yet again. He laid out Evil and begged Unno back into the ring. Sanada hit a powerslam and went up and hit the moonsault for a long two. Sanada went for Deadfall but Evil raked his eyes to keep from taking the move.

Evil missed a lariat and Sanada hit a dropkick. Evil hit a second attempt at a lariat and covered for two. Evil set up Everything is Evil and Sanada stepped back for an enzuigiri and a shining wizard. Sanada set up Deadfall but Evil again fought it off. He hit Everything is Evil and the shocked crowd cried out as Evil covered for the win.

WINNER: Evil at 16:18. (***1/2)

(Wells’s Analysis: This was the match with the biggest upset potential of the night, and they’re really milking crowd vitriol for Evil. I actually dig this booking, because Evil isn’t winning the tournament, but he’s going to set up a program with Sanada for the championship now where Sanada can answer the critics who were upset he didn’t work his previous matches with Evil like a blood feud after Evil first went to Bullet Club. Now Sanada has all the reason in the world to be angry and come back for revenge. Evil’s shenanigans often overshadow how good he can be in the ring, but I think he showed it quite a bit in this match between all the heel antics)

(8) KAZUCHIKA OKADA vs. ZACK SABRE, JR. (w/Kosei Fujita) – G1 Climax quarterfinal

Sabre backed Okada to a rope and Sabre feigned a cheap shot in a few different ways before a clean break. Okada did the same and missed a cheap shot. The two ran the ropes and met in the center of the ring repeatedly, where neither man gave until Sabre hit a boot. Sabre hit some stiff kicks to Okada’s back and Okada just looked irritated. Okada caught a kick and tossed Sabre to the outside and ran him to one barricade, and then the opposite. Okada went for a tombstone on the floor and Sabre slipped over the barricade and clamped on a submission move there. Sabre went for a suplex over the barricade and then stepped up onto the barricade for a spot that would be scary if they went through with it, but of course Okada hit a DDT to the floor. Okada hit the ring and Unno reached the count of 13 before Sabre made it.

Okada hit a rude awakening and covered for one. Okada put Sabre’s head into a corner and followed with some back elbows. Okada hit some back elbows in the corner and grounded Sabre. Okada loomed over Sabre, who shoved his skull into Okada’s face and threw a palm strike. Okada hit a flying elbow in the corner and Sabre yanked Okada’s arm as he fell to the mat, working the shoulder. Rope run and Sabre hooked on a complicated submission. Okada hip tossed Sabre, who cranked Okada’s head with his feet and hit a dropkick to the back of the head.

Sabre sold the work to his arm and then tried a full nelson. When Okada wouldn’t concede, he switched to a cravat. Okada shoved Sabre off and went for a slam, but Sabre helled on for a guillotine. Okada set up Sabre in the corner but Okada flew off the second buckle with a European uppercut. Sabre wrapped up Okada’s left leg and twisted, then added an arm to the mix and twisted up Okada’s wrist. He hammerlocked the other arm and wrenched on Okada, who kept rolling to the ropes only to have Zack trap the appendage. Okada rolled Zack into the ropes to break.

Okada tried a slam, but Sabre trapped Okada’s arm even as he was upside down and behind Okada. Okada broke free and hit his move. Okada put up Sabre in a corner and Sabre went for an uppercut again, but Okada dropkicked him out of the air. Okada dragged Sabre around andthen hit a lariat. He missed a second and Sabre escaped and hit some boots followed by a high-angle German for two. Okada managed his own German and went for a ripcord Rainmaker that missed. He hit a dropkick on the rebound, but a second attempt ended up with Sabre snapping on the Cobra Twist. They were right in the center of the ring, and Sabre trapped Okada’s leg when he started to try to move. Sabre gave up the arm to work the legs, then traded back to the arms. Okada finally was able to kick his way to the ropes.

Sabre wanted the Zack Driver but Okada threw forearms to the back. Sabre hit a nasty European uppercut. Okada tried some elbows with nothing on them as he sold the shot. Sabre hit a hard right and Okada sold that he had nothing left at the moment. Sabre hit another thundering European uppercut. He threw repeated uppercuts, then ran the ropes into an Okada lariat followed by a basement dropkick. Reversals led to a Zack Driver, but Sabre was selling and couldn’t cover. The crowd was nuts yet again.

The two struggled to their knees and exchanged forearms. They got in one another’s faces, trying to add an intimidation factor. They hit their feet and Okada unleashed a big forearm that sent Sabre to the ropes. Sabre responded with a big uppercut. The shots started coming faster and Zack slipped out of a backslide for a big lariat. The two exchanged quick rollups and Sabre got a believable near-fall on the third attempt. Twenty minutes elapsed, making this the longest match of the tournament. PK by Sabre. Dropkick by Okada. The crowd was electric.

Palm strike exchange. Okada absorbed a forearm and uncorked a twisting lariat. Rainmaker missed and Sabre trapped him in another submission. Cobra Flowsion and a Rainmaker finished. Okada put over Sabre on the mic as Sabre was still being helped to the back, and Sabre put up his pointer finger to acknowledge the words.

WINNER: Kazuchika Okada at 21:47. (****1/4)

(Wells’s Analysis: A match every bit as thrilling as the Ospreay-Finlay affair, but with a more methodical technical pace instead of a cavalcade of thwarted interference spots. I’d love to see Sabre go to the semis or farther one day, but he was never getting past Okada as Okada is going for a third straight G1 final victory.)

FINAL THOUGHTS (9.0): Now that we’ve got our semifinals it’s easy to say that we could have skipped this and just had the four men win their blocks, but I like the booking of Sanada being unbeatable in his block only to be cheated by his former partner, and each match had a reason to get invested. I thought Hikuleo-Naito had the potential to be a real disappointment this late in the tournament, but they told a good story in the match and made it worthy of the spot.

The semifinals, on Saturday, are:

Kazuchika Okada vs. Evil
Tetsuya Naito vs. Will Ospreay

Evil isn’t winning this tournament, but neither was Sanada as the sitting champion. We have three believable tournament winners here, and I expect Okada gets past Evil to face Naito or Ospreay in the final, as New Japan might love the heat they can get with Evil but seem very unlikely to put him in a position to deliver in a G1 final. Naito is the popular pick to win the tournament, but I come away from this show feeling Okada for the three-peat. Naito vs. Evil isn’t likely to finish this tournament and it’s hard to fathom Naito going over Okada. It’s easier to envision Okada defeating Ospreay to make up for his one loss in block action. At this point, I’m just glad to get such a strong first night of playoffs after a tournament that was often a trudge this year.

CATCH UP ON THE PREVIOUS REPORT: NJPW G1 CLIMAX 33 – NIGHT 16 RESULTS (8/9): Wells’s results & analysis of Tanahashi vs. Naito, Goto vs. Sabre, Cobb vs. Haste


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