G1 Climax 32 Day 8 Report: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr., Tom Lawlor vs. JONAH

Mark Buckeldee recaps highlights and results from NJPW G1 Climax 32 Day 8 featuring Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. and Tom Lawlor vs JONAH

G1 Climax 32 Day 1 Report: Okada vs. Cobb, White vs. SANADA

G1 Climax 32 Day 8 Report: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr., Tom Lawlor vs. JONAH

This is the eighth installment of POST’s coverage of the 32nd G1 Climax Tournament. New Japan heads west, with the first of two shows at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium in Nagoya. The attendance was 2,225 fans.

  1. Undercard – There was nothing of note that you need to seek out, although there was some infighting in the Bullet Club.
  2. G1 Climax 2022 Block D Match: David Finlay vs. Shingo Takagi – A good underdog match with Finlay taking on the confident Takagi. – BORDERLINE RECOMMENDED
  3. G1 Climax 2022 Block A Match: Tom Lawlor vs. JONAH – A good big man vs little man match with a great finish. – BORDERLINE RECOMMENDED
  4. G1 Climax 2022 Block B Match: SANADA vs. Great O-Khan – Some good action and ideas but a little aimless at times.
  5. G1 Climax 2022 Block C Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. – A great, slick match based on grappling, familiarity, and confidence. – RECOMMENDED

Kosei Fujita & Ryohei Oiwa vs. House of Torture (SHO & Yujiro Takahashi)

SHO Submitted Kosei Fujita in 6:08.

Jado & Tama Tonga vs. Bullet Club (El Phantasmo & KENTA) 

El Phantasmo pinned Jado in 6:33.

Suzuki-Gun (TAKA Michinoku, Taichi & Lance Archer) vs. United Empire (Aaron Henare, Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay) 

Aaron Henare Submitted TAKA Michinoku in 6:28.

Los Ingobernables des Japon (BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito) vs. House of Torture (Dick Togo & EVIL)

BUSHI pinned Dick Togo in 8:05.

YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada vs. BULLET CLUB (Gedo, Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale, Juice Robinson & Jay White) 

Toru Yano pinned Gedo in 8:36.

G1 Climax 2022 Block D Match: David Finlay vs. Shingo Takagi

Finlay got the better of Takagi until Takagi hit a DDT on the floor. Takagi targeted Finlay’s neck and throat, although Finlay avoided a piledriver and fought back with a diving European uppercut. Finlay kept his momentum going using a Plancha and a springboard crossbody, before getting a two count with a Blue Thunder Bomb. Takagi’s power got him out of trouble as a Yukon Lariat turned the tide. He then used the Yukon Elbow, a Powerbomb and an STF into a facelock, which forced Finlay to reach the ropes.

Finlay fought back with a Uranage backbreaker that left Takagi writhing in pain. A superplex earned Finlay a two count but Takagi avoided the Acid Drop. Finlay countered both the Sliding Lariat and the Made in Japan into pinning combinations before downing Takagi with a Clothesline. A stunner gave Finlay the time to hit the Acid Drop, but Takagi kicked out. Takagi won a battle over a vertical suplex, and he caught Finlay with the Noshigami.

Finlay got turned inside out with a Pumping Bomber, but he kicked out. He also kicked out of the Made in Japan, to the crowd’s audible surprise. Takagi’s flurry of elbows stunned Finlay who eventually hit a desperation Stunner and used a Samson Clutch for the upset win. Takagi was incensed after the match and felt that he was robbed.

David Finlay defeated Shingo Takagi via pinfall in 14:50.

The takeaway:

This was a good underdog upset win, but I felt that it could have been better. Takagi is one of New Japan’s most consistent performers and he proved that again here with his selling, character work and smoothness. Finlay is an odd one to me. He is clearly competent and works well as an underdog, but I could not describe his character or personality to you. I also think that he has a messy move set and his style that feels like a patchwork quilt of what he can do, instead of being a cohesive whole.

The crowd really bought into the near falls and the shock upset win, although I do not know how much of that was the crowd thinking that Finlay has zero chance of winning. It was an effective way to give Takagi a loss and keep him strong, but I felt that it was lacking in places and most of that was my lack of connection to Finlay. I am sure that others will enjoy it more than me.

G1 Climax 2022 Block A Match: Tom Lawlor vs. JONAH

Lawlor used a Penalty Kick on the outside early on, but when he tried it again JONAH pounced him onto the ring apron and press-slammed him onto the guard rail. JONAH dominated Lawlor, wiping him out with a big elbow and a scoop slam before Lawlor avoided a back senton. Lawlor used a series of knees to the head but got caught by JONAH’s Lariat. JONAH’s jumping body attack was reversed into a heel hold and JONAH scrambled to the ropes.

Lawlor used leg kicks, a spinning wheel kick to the back and a jumping Russian leg sweep. When JONAH kicked out Lawlor went flying. They traded strikes, with Lawlor using the leg kicks and an Enziguri to rock JONAH. Lawlor got caught with the jumping body attack and JONAH went for a superplex, only for Lawlor to escape, headbutt the knee and hit a Uranage Slam for a two count.

A series of knees and a punt to the chest rocked JONAH but he reversed a front neck lock into an F5 onto the ropes. JONAH then grabbed Lawlor off the ropes and hit the Black Forest Bomb before climbing the top rope and hitting the Death from Above top rope splash to win the match.

JONAH defeated Tom Lawlor via pinfall in 11:32.

The takeaway:

This was a good big guy vs little guy match, although it was a little slow at times. I am not a huge fan of JONAH, but he was good here; His offense looked good, and he carried himself well. Lawlor has added some much-needed energy and charisma to this year’s G1 Climax, but I felt that he needed to lean into the leg kicks more here. I loved the finish, which felt like a great, natural counter and a definitive win for JONAH. This was probably better than I expected but I probably had lower expectations than many. A good undercard mid-tournament match and another match that is probably worth a watch.

G1 Climax 2022 Block B Match: SANADA vs. Great O-Khan

O-Khan and SANADA repeatedly traded holds, with O-Khan always getting the better of SANADA thanks to his strong amateur wrestling pedigree. This led to O-Khan focussing on leg submissions, with SANADA having to escape using rope breaks. SANADA fought back with a swan dive dropkick and a Plancha. O-Khan used a stomach claw to avoid a TKO and nailed SANADA with a pump kick.

SANADA used a dropkick, but O-Khan got a nearfall with a Lariat. After a flurry of Mongolian chops, O-Khan challenged SANADA to bring it. Both wrestlers showed their guts by refusing to fight back. This led to SANADA catching O-Khan with an O’Connor Roll for a nearfall after a questionable accidental low blow. SANADA was on top with rolling elbows and a TKO, until O-Khan got his knees up to block a Moonsault.

O-Khan used the Sheep killer submission on SANADA, only for SANADA to reverse it into the Skull End. The hold was broken by O-Khan using his claw hold on SANADA’s face. O-Khan used a Seiken punch and then hit a second rope Moonsault for a nearfall. When O-Khan went for the Eliminator, SANADA hit a modified Ace Crusher and the Moonsault to win the match.

SANADA defeated Great O-Khan via pinfall in 16:35.

The takeaway:

This was another good, entertaining match that showed the strengths of both wrestlers. However, my main criticism of SANADA is that he cannot decide what he wants to focus on. In this match, you could apply that criticism to both SANADA and O-Khan. The opening grappling exchange felt like a good focus for the match but then it veered into striking exchanges, antics and even O-Khan showing his aerial prowess. The match meandered and was often disjointed.

Despite those criticisms, I enjoyed the match. O-Khan’s grappling is good, and I think that he should lean into it more. Some of the spots in the finishing stretch were good and the finish worked well. SANADA was generally in good form. This was a good example of two wrestlers who have a lot of potential if they actually sat down and worked out what they wanted to focus on instead of doing everything that they are capable of. 

G1 Climax 2022 Block C Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

Like the last match, this started with grappling although this was much crisper and more assured. Understandably, Sabre Jr. got the upper hand and easily countered anything that Tanahashi could produce. Well, he could not counter Tanahashi’s punches to the gut. Tanahashi was then firmly in control, using his trademark reverse crossbody before stealing Sabre Jr’s neck snap.

When Tanahashi tried to enter the ring, Sabre Jr caught him with a Dragon screw and a Jujigatame in the ropes. Sabre Jr. attacked Tanahashi’s left arm with holds and kicks as the Brit got increasingly more cocky. Tanahashi was on the ropes, with Sabre Jr. cutting off a comeback with a Fujiwara armbar and an STA (Stepover Toehold with Armbar). Sabre Jr. kept Tanahashi trapped on the mat, flowing between submissions until Tanahashi reached the ropes.

Tanahashi fired back with strikes and both wrestlers fought over a Cobra Twist until Tanahashi switched gears and hit a Dragon Screw. The Ace went back to the body punches that helped him earlier in the match, getting a two count with a flipping senton. Tanahashi and Sabre Jr. tried to out-think each other, with Sabre Jr coming out on top with a Jujigatame that led to another rope break.

Sabre Jr. then locked in another Jujigatame, which he transitioned into a triangle choke. That led to yet another rope break. Sabre Jr. let his anger get the better of him as he continued attacking the arm, only for Tanahashi to kick the Brit in the knee. A running front neck lock by Sabre Jr. was countered into multiple twist and shouts by Tanahashi. After applying an old Billy Robinson hold, Sabre Jr. went for a Zack Driver, but Tanahashi countered with his own Zack Driver for a nearfall. Tanahashi then hit a Sling blade and a cross body style High Fly Flow, except Sabre Jr. rolled through into a Japanese leg rolling clutch for a big nearfall that got a huge reaction. Sabre Jr’s Penalty kick was caught and after a series of transitions Tanahashi used a tight Jacknife cradle to pin Sabre Jr.

Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Zack Sabre Jr. in 17:32.

The takeaway:

As wrestlers get older, their style changes. As their style changes, their best opponent also changes. In 2022 I would say that Zack Sabre Jr. is Hiroshi Tanahashi’s best opponent. With Tanahashi being much slower, Sabre Jr’s style and Tanahashi’s technical skills mesh incredibly well.

This was a great match with lots of drama and intrigue coming from the holds and the chain wrestling instead of relying on big moves and stiff striking. While they have had better matches, I felt that this was a great main event and my favorite match on the show. I liked the sudden finish and also loved that this was a quick and breezy match at under eighteen minutes long.

The takeaway: Final Thoughts

This was an incredibly solid show. All of the tournament matches were good, although there were clear flaws in the first three matches and the main event will not be in people’s thoughts when it comes to match of the year time. If I were asked to recommend watching all of the tournament matches from any G1 Climax 32 show up to this point, this is the show that I would choose. That said, the format still feels weird and the standard this year feels a step below most previous G1 Climaxes.

About Mark Buckeldee 61 Articles
Hailing from Oxfordshire in the UK, Mark Buckeldee writes show reports for POST Wrestling.