G1 Climax 32 Day 5 Report: Hiroshi Tahanashi vs. Tetsuya Naito, Bad Luck Fale vs. Jeff Cobb
This is the fifth installment of POST’s coverage of the 32nd G1 Climax Tournament. This is the second day at Ota Ward gymnasium after day four, which was seen by many as the best show on the tour so far. The attendance was 2,518, almost 600 people more than the previous day’s Ota Ward show.
- Undercard – Aside from moments to shine for the likes of Tom Lawlor and Lance Archer, the undercard didn’t have anything worth going out of your way to watch.
- G1 Climax 2022 Block D Match: Yujiro Takahashi vs. El Phantasmo – Basic Bullet Club vs Bullet Club antics + formulaic Yujiro Takahashi structure = this. Decent but instantly forgettable.
- G1 Climax 2022 Block B Match: Taichi vs. SANADA – Very good after the first five minutes, lots of action with a nice, frantic flow. – RECOMMENDED
- G1 Climax 2022 Block A Match: Bad Luck Fale vs. Jeff Cobb – Mercifully short but still slow and plodding.
- G1 Climax 2022 Block C Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito – A good match but disappointing by their standards. Overexposure and advancing years took their toll. – BORDERLINE RECOMMENDED
CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. House of Torture (Dick Togo, EVIL & SHO)
Toru Yano pinned Dick Togo at 7:41.
Bullet Club (Chase Owen & KENTA) vs. Team Filthy (Royce Isaacs & Tom Lawlor)
Chase Owens pinned Royce Isaacs at 8:52.
TMDK (Bad Dude Tito & JONAH) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & Shingo Takagi)
JONAH pinned BUSHI at 8:35.
Suzuki-gun (Lance Archer, TAKA Michinoku & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs. United Empire (Aaron Henare, Great O-Khan & Will Ospreay)
Aaron Henare submitted TAKA Michinoku at 8:22.
David Finlay, Kazuchika Okada & Tama Tonga vs. BULLET CLUB (Gedo, Jay White & Juice Robinson
Tama Tonga pinned Gedo at 8:42.
G1 Climax 2022 Block D Match: Yujiro Takahashi vs. El Phantasmo
Takahashi tried to trade his valet Pieter to Phantasmo in exchange for Phantasmo laying down. As you would expect, Phantasmo went back on his word and tried to roll up Takahashi. Phantasmo used fast-paced aerial offense to control the early goings until he got distracted by Pieter and Takahashi hit a DDT on the floor.
Takahashi slowed things down until Phantasmo fought back with a dropkick. A reverse DDT started a series of big moves from Takahashi before Phantasmo used a reverse crossbody and a Lionsault. Phantasmo showed off his power by using a Brainbuster, a powerbomb, and his spinning torture rack neckbreaker for nearfalls. Takahashi used both the Miami Shine and the Pimp Juice DDT, but neither move got the job done. Phantasmo crumpled to the mat when Takahashi went for the Big Juice DDT, letting Phantasmo buy time in order to hit a Superkick.
SHO tried to get involved but Phantasmo stole a page out of Eddie Guerrero’s book by pretending to get hit by Takahashi’s wrench. Phantasmo used the confusion to take out SHO with a tope and then pin Takahashi with the Thunder Kiss ‘86.
El Phantasmo defeated Yujiro Takahashi via pinfall at 15:39.
If you have seen a Bullet Club vs Bullet Club G1 match, or a Yujiro Takahashi G1 match, then you know how this one went. The initial antics led to the typical low-energy Takahashi bomb fest. This was a decent match, but Takahashi’s lack of charisma and energy meant I struggled to stay interested. Phantasmo had a decent, enthusiastic performance, but this was another forgettable G1 match from Takahashi.
G1 Climax 2022 Block B Match: Taichi vs. SANADA
SANADA and Taichi showed off their muscle control a lot in the early goings until Taichi got annoyed at SANADA. Taichi gained control before SANADA used his athleticism to fight back. Taichi got back into the match using an Axe Bomber before removing his trousers. A superkick from Taichi was countered by a spin kick but Taichi countered SANADA’s flying nothing with a Chokeslam.
SANADA escaped the Black Mephisto and hit the Tiger Suplex. Taichi kicked out at one, and SANADA also kicked out at one after Taichi hit a backdrop suplex. Taichi went for a second rope Chokeslam, but SANADA flipped out of it and used an O’Connor Roll for a nearfall. SANADA got another nearfall with the TKO before locking in the Skull End. The bleach blond LIJ member then fell victim to his biggest weakness, his own hubris. Yes, SANADA let go of the Skull End to hit the Moonsault and Taichi got his knees up.
Taichi repeatedly tried to steal the win with the Gedo clutch, but SANADA kicked out. Taichi used a big Kawada-style kick to the face and a Gamengiri before using a Sumo throw, only to cost himself the match when SANADA countered a Sumo charge into another O’Connor roll.
SANADA defeated Taichi via pinfall at 16:01.
After a slow start, this was a very good match, probably my favorite match of the show. While it had some of the usual questionable SANADA tropes, the action was exciting and frantic. Taichi has grown into one of the more dependable G1 performers and after the first five minutes, this was one of SANADA’s more focused performances. It helped that SANADA was positioned as the more cerebral wrestler, having to out-think the unorthodox Taichi. While it will not necessarily change the mind of SANADA’s detractors, the counters and flow felt more organic than SANADA’s usual fare.
G1 Climax 2022 Block A Match: Bad Luck Fale vs. Jeff Cobb
After a series of shoulder tackles, Cobb clotheslined Fale over the top rope. Unfortunately for Cobb, he got caught with a clothesline while he was on the apron. Fale worked over Cobb’s back, mocking Cobb’s signature back surfing spot. Cobb fought back with clotheslines and a dropkick, but Fale’s size let him get back in control, hitting a jumping splash for a two count.
Cobb escaped the Grenade and the Bad Luck Fall before hitting an impressive vertical suplex and the Tour of the Islands to win the match.
Jeff Cobb defeated Bad Luck Fale via pinfall at 7:13
This match was only seven minutes long and it still felt a little too long. Fale is probably the most limited wrestler in this year’s G1, and he does not have the charisma or the brawling skills to hide his limitations. I expect him to be part of many of my least favorite matches from this G1. Cobb’s comeback was short but highly effective, and he did a good job here. This was not terrible, but it was slow and plodding until Cobb’s come back.
G1 Climax 2022 Block C Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito
The match started with perfunctory grappling and lock-ups but neither wrestler wanted to back down and tempers started to flare. Naito focussed on keeping Tanahashi off balance before throwing him around ringside.
Naito targeted Tanahashi’s neck, with Tanahashi fighting back with a slap to the face and a Dragon Screw. Tanahashi then hit a jumping stomp to Naito’s knee that left Naito writhing in pain. Naito fought back with the Esperanza and Gloria before locking in the Pluma Blanca. Tanahashi was in trouble as Naito dominated him by using repeated elbows to the neck. Despite that, Tanahashi got a nearfall when he rolled through Naito’s top rope Frankensteiner.
A sudden injection of pace saw Naito hit a spinebuster before Tanahashi replied with a Dragon Screw. They traded elbows for a long time before they ran out of gas, then they went back for more. Naito hit an Enziguri, but Tanahashi fought back with three Twist and Shouts. The Ace then hit three Sling Blades for a nearfall. Tanahashi hit a High Fly Flow, but Naito dodged a second one and got a nearfall with a jack-knife cradle. The two veterans traded slaps before Naito hit Valentina, only for Tanahashi to shock Naito and the crowd by countering Destino into a small package for the win.
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Tetsuya Naito via pinfall at 22:22
I love Naito vs Tanahashi matches. The first wrestling show I saw live in Japan had a Tanahashi vs Naito match. That was twelve years ago. This was their 16th singles match, and I would not be surprised if this one ranks near the bottom. This felt like an exceptionally long twenty-two minutes.
I am not calling this a bad match. They had the crowd behind them, there were some very clever ideas, and they have great chemistry. The problem was that this felt slow, and it felt like they were going through the motions. Time waits for no man, and that was the case here. While both wrestlers have been on the downward swing for years, this felt much more pedestrian than their 2020 G1 Climax match, which was one of my favorite matches from that year’s G1.
Much of the match felt like it was doing things to kill time. Things like the stomp to Naito’s knee and the Frankensteiner roll through were good but felt like islands of interest in a sea of bland mat work and excessively long forearm sequences. A good match from two professionals, but the problem is that the current G1 Climax format means that shows cannot afford to have main events that are only good.
The takeaway: Final Thoughts
This show had a surprisingly good match in Taichi vs SANADA, two expected bland matches and a good but disappointing main event. While this show was not as bad as day three, this felt like another lacklustre G1 Climax show. It also reminded us that the days when Naito and Tanahashi can be relied on for consistently good G1 Climax matches are coming to an end.
There are three problems with this year’s G1 Climax. The first is that the early shows only have four tournament matches, so they suffer if even one of the matches is bad. The second is that most shows only have a couple of big names in singles matches, so the number of guaranteed good matches is low. The third is that most of the performers are another year older. All of them were on display today.
The first issue was a factor thanks to Bad Luck Fale, who will drag down a lot of shows. The second issue was that the two biggest names were in the same match. For the third issue, this was demonstrated by the main event, a strong match up on paper that suffered due to it not meeting their previously high standards.