G1 Climax 32 Day 18 Report: Will Ospreay vs. Kazuchika Okada
This is the twentieth, and last, installment of POST’s coverage of the 32nd G1 Climax Tournament. This was the last of three consecutive shows at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo. The attendance was 6,716 fans. This was significantly higher than any other Budokan show for New Japan since 2019.
Recommended Undercard matches:
- Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & Lance Archer) vs. Los Ingobernables des Japon (BUSHI, SANADA & Tetsuya Naito)
- Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & Shingo Takagi vs. BULLET CLUB (KENTA & El Phantasmo)
- Tama Tonga & KUSHIDA vs. BULLET CLUB (Jay White & Taiji Ishimori)
- G1 Climax 32 Final: Will Ospreay vs. Kazuchika Okada – A fast-paced, super intense, counter-heavy battle of familiarity and wills. – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
House of Torture (Dick Togo, SHO, Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL) vs. CHAOS (YOH, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto)
YOH defeated Dick Togo via pinfall in 7:22.
Many people allude to the art of the opener, the idea that you use a hot match to get the crowd started. That is not the New Japan way, as they prefer to start slow and build things up. A 7-minute House of Torture match is a great example of that ethos. This was an okay match with some fun but odd CHAOS shenanigans. YOH looked decent in the finishing stretch, so it was a shame that the camera’s completely missed SHO waffling him with a title belt after the match.
Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor & Royce Isaacs vs. TMDK (Jonah & Bad Dude Tito)
Jonah defeated Royce Isaacs Togo via pinfall in 10:31.
This was a good, decent match. Jonah achieved more than I expected in the G1, and Lawlor added a nice change of pace although he didn’t blow people away. These teams had a lot of matches on the undercard during the G1, and this was another decent and enjoyable episode of the New Japan Strong offer match.
United Empire (Aaron Henare, Great O-Khan & Jeff Cobb) vs. BULLET CLUB (Juice Robinson, Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale)
Jeff Cobb defeated Juice Robinson via pinfall in 6:01.
This was an okay match. There was nothing bad, but the only high points were a brief period where Henare ran riot and the finish when Cobb caught Robinson out of mid-air and hit the Tour of the Islands. Like much of this card, it was pretty much a nothing match designed to get everyone on the show.
Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & Lance Archer) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, SANADA & Tetsuya Naito)
Taichi defeated BUSHI via pinfall in 8:01.
The best match of the show so far, thanks to the antics and shenanigans. There was more of that lovely anger and trolling from Sabre Jr. vs Naito on Tuesday. Taichi, SANADA, and even Archer got involved in showing off their muscle control. One of those matches where not taking things seriously was the right idea. I just hope we get something else from Naito and Sabre Jr. this year.
There was an advert for New Japan Rumble on 44th Street, a show taking place at The Palladium in Time Square, New York City on October 28th. In addition to that, they advertised that Stardom matches would be on the show.
In addition to that, it was announced that Wrestle Kingdom was moving back to being a one-night show on January 4th. New Year Dash would return to the January 5th spot, with that show taking place at Ota Ward City Gymnasium. This is the right move for New Japan, especially with the struggle to fill two Tokyo Dome shows and have two worthy main events.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & Shingo Takagi vs. BULLET CLUB (KENTA & El Phantasmo)
El Phantasmo defeated Shingo Takagi via pinfall in 8:39.
This was another very good mid-card tag match. It was short and fun, using KENTA for book-based antics while the focus was on Takagi trying to prove that his loss to Phantasmo on day 18 was a fluke. The action between Phantasmo and Takagi was great, playing off of their singles match and ending with a finish that suggests more to come from these two while protecting both wrestlers. Putting Phantasmo in the G1 Climax was honestly one of the best decisions that New Japan made for this year’s G1 Climax, he definitely made the most of his opportunity.
Hiroshi Tanahashi & David Finlay vs. The Good Brothers (Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows)
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Karl Anderson via pinfall in 10:03.
A good tag match, much better than I expected from Gallows and Anderson. It was nothing special, but it was very solid and fun. The finish with Gallows abandoning Anderson was strange and protected Anderson a lot. Finlay had some great performances in this year’s tournament, and he is another one who performed much better than I expected.
Tama Tonga & KUSHIDA vs. BULLET CLUB (Jay White & Taiji Ishimori)
KUSHIDA defeated Taiji Ishimori via pinfall in 9:30.
This was another good tag team match, in what felt like one of the better undercards on a G1 Climax final since New Japan decided to stop booking undercard singles matches on the last day. All four wrestlers worked well, with the match building to what will surely be two big matches on the next big New Japan show. Again, this was nothing memorably great but it was another solid, well-built, entertaining wrestling match. While Tonga vs White is not a match that interests me on its own, the crowd reaction showed that the New Japan fans care a lot about Tonga challenging White for the IWGP World Heavyweight title, and it could do very well if supported by a strong undercard.
G1 Climax 32 Final: Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay
Okada and Ospreay showed how familiar they are with each other in an early exchange that included an Oscutter attempt. When Ospreay tried to gain the advantage with his high flying, Okada cut him off and hit Ospreay with a DDT on the floor. Okada then did it again and started focussing on Ospreay’s neck, only for Ospreay to fight back with a vertical suplex and a handspring Enziguri. Ospreay used Pip Pip Cheerio and Okada’s trademark dropkick to the outside before hitting a top rope Corkscrew Moonsault onto Okada. That was followed by Ospreay using a guardrail-assisted Oscutter on Okada.
Back inside the ring, Ospreay dominated Okada. Okada fought back with a high back body drop and a flapjack. Okada repeatedly locked in the Money Clip, forcing Ospreay to reach for the ropes. After Okada used his top rope elbow drop and the Rainmaker pose, Ospreay fired back with hard chops and a Lariat. Ospreay teased a Piledriver on the apron, only for Okada to counter it with a back body drop. When Okada went for a Tombstone on the apron, Ospreay countered by using an Oscutter on the apron. Okada avoided a count-out loss, only for Ospreay to catch him with a top rope dropkick. Ospreay used the diving elbow to the back of the head and the Oscutter to get a big nearfall that left the crowd gasping.
An Ospreay superkick knocked down Okada, but Okada escaped the Storm Breaker and Okada took Ospreay down with a pair of wrist-clutch short arm Clotheslines. Ospreay avoided the Rainmaker but got caught off guard by Okada’s dropkicks, including one that caught Ospreay in mid-air. Okada then hit a spinning Tombstone, but Ospreay fired back with a flurry of strikes and the Chelsea Grin. The (Not So) Hidden Blade was countered into a dropkick by Okada, but Ospreay came back with a modified Tombstone Piledriver for another nearfall. Ospreay hit the Hidden Blade but again Okada kicked out. Ospreay used a Frog Splash and when that didn’t work, Ospreay used the Styles Clash for another nearfall. No matter what Ospreay tried, he could not put Okada away.
Ospreay called for Kenny Omega’s V Trigger and nailed Okada with it before looking for Omega’s One Winged Angel. That hubris nearly led to his downfall as Okada countered it into the sit-out Tombstone and a Rainmaker, only for the crowd to let out a massive roar as Ospreay kicked out. Okada looked for the Rainmaker, transitioning to German Suplex when Ospreay tried to escape. When Okada went for another Rainmaker Ospreay countered it into the standing one-man Spanish Fly. They traded big forearms on the apron, with Ospreay winning the exchange with a hook kick. They traded a series of lightning-fast counters before Ospreay used a pop-up forearm. Ospreay ran in for the (not so) Hidden Blade, only to get caught with an Emerald Frosion and the Rainmaker which finally saw Okada put away Ospreay.
Kazuchika Okada defeated Will Ospreay via pinfall in 33:53.
This will be seen by a lot of people as either the best or second-best match of the tournament. It had everything that people want in a big New Japan main event: Callbacks, an opening ten minutes that flew by, a crowd that bit on the nearfalls, athleticism, and an incredibly frantic finishing stretch full of fluid counters. There were elements that felt a little forced, but I would not call this a forced epic. This was two incredibly talented athletes going all out in a match that constantly kept you off balance and on the edge of your seat. I don’t know if they have had a better match, although they may well have. This was the kind of match that has become synonymous with the G1 Climax final. Yes, this was a great match. Yes, this will probably be discussed when we get towards MOTY season. That said, personally, I preferred Ospreay vs. Takagi. This will not change the mind of Ospreay or Okada’s doubters, but if you enjoy their matches then you will probably adore this one.
The takeaway: Final Thoughts
Honestly, this was one of the better G1 Climax Final shows for a while. Although, it did miss that big undercard moment like last year’s Katsuyori Shibata vs. Zack Sabre Jr. exhibition match. The final match was the best final match of the COVID era. The undercard was very fun and solid and built a lot of different matches. The attendance was huge compared to the other COVID-era Budokan attendances. In many ways, this show was a success.
This SHOW was a success. In my mind, G1 Climax 32 on the whole was not a success. I can think of very few matches from this G1 that stood out as great. Even by the standards of the last few years, there felt like a complete lack of buzz for the show on social media.
The structure of the tournament was a serious problem. It broke up the flow. It hampered the build-up tags and often the best stuff on the undercard was between wrestlers who were not even in the same block. Things felt disjointed and shows often felt lacking in star power or guaranteed reliable matches.
This year can be summed up as too much dead wood, and many of the better performers feeling one year older. There were performers who were not at the level that you would have expected from this tournament in the late 2010s. The block structure reduced the number of good matches in each block and overall, there was a distinct lack of quality, even when comparing this to the other G1 Climaxes of the 2020s.
The clap crowds did not help the atmosphere of these shows and as other companies have shown, removing restrictions will not see the crowds immediately return to pre-pandemic normality. After last year’s G1 Climax I hoped that 2022 would shake up the G1 line-up and freshen things up. That did not happen, and we got what I felt was the worst G1 Climax in at least a decade. Hopefully, New Japan can learn some lessons and things will be better in 2023.
A thank you
I apologize to anyone who has found my reports in this year’s G1 Climax to be overly negative. I will be honest and say that my interest in New Japan has never been lower. As someone whose main promotion was New Japan for over a decade, I have felt my connection and interest in New Japan wane over the years. As such, this will probably be my last New Japan report on POST Wrestling. It feels like time for me to move on and I’m sure that there is someone else out there who will do a better job than me for next year’s G1 Climax.
I want to thank John and Wai for giving me the opportunity to write for POST Wrestling back in 2020. I want to thank everyone else at POST for their kind words and encouragement. Special shout-outs to Andrew Thompson, whose words of encouragement early on meant a lot to me, and to Mike Murray & Bruce Lord, my G1 Climax brothers in arms. Thank you to everyone, especially you, the readers.