wrestling / TV Reports

Hamilton’s New Japan G1 Climax 33 – Night Seventeen (Quarter-Finals) 08.10.2023 Review

August 10, 2023 | Posted by Ian Hamilton
NJPW G1 Climax 33 - Night Seventeen - Kazuchika Okada vs. Zack Sabre Jr. Image Credit: NJPW
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Hamilton’s New Japan G1 Climax 33 – Night Seventeen (Quarter-Finals) 08.10.2023 Review  

Quick Results
Hiromu Takahashi, Shingo Takagi & Yota Tsuji pinned Kosei Fujita, Shane Haste & Mikey Nicholls in 7:55 (**¾)
El Phantasmo, Shota Umino, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa pinned Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Ren Narita, Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado in 9:12 (**¾)
Gabe Kidd, KENTA, Alex Coughlin & Chase Owens pinned TAKA Michinoku, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI in 9:01 (**¾)
Eddie Kingston, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomohiro Ishii pinned HENARE, Jeff Cobb & Great O-Khan in 9:43 (***¼)
G1 Climax 33 – Quarter-Final: Tetsuya Naito pinned Hikuleo in 13:11 (***½)
G1 Climax 33 – Quarter-Final: Will Ospreay pinned David Finlay in 17:21 (***¾)
G1 Climax 33 – Quarter-Final: EVIL pinned SANADA in 16:16 (***½)
G1 Climax 33 – Quarter-Final: Kazuchika Okada pinned Zack Sabre Jr. in 21:46 (****¼)

— If you’re on Twitter/X/the bird app, give me a follow over on @IanWrestling. I’m also over on BlueSky, Instagram and Threads by that same name, and if you’ve put your chips in on Mastodon, catch me here. One of those has to be the winner, right? And I’ll be hopping around those until they fall off… In the meantime, check out the GoFundMe that’s still open for Larry’s family

We’re in Chiba at the Funabashi Arena for the last stop before Sumo Hall – and it’s the quarter-finals of the G1 Climax. Kevin Kelly’s joined by Chris Charlton for the whole show…

TMDK (Shane Haste, Mikey Nicholls & Kosei Fujita) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, Yota Tsuji & Hiromu Takahashi)
We open off with Kosei Fujita charging at Shingo in the corner, only to get barged down with a shoulder tackle.

Hiromu’s in to trade chops with Fujita, following in with a low dropkick before Yota Tsuji’s in to hurl Fujita with a back body drop for a near-fall. A gut shot drops Fujita, but he’s quickly back in with a dropkick as Shane Haste came in to clear house. A reverse powerslam from Haste nearly puts away Tsuji, before Mikey Nicholls came in… and got stopped with a tijeras.

Hiromu’s back in, but he’s bounced with a shoulder tackle as Fujita returned to try his luck. A shotgun dropkick has Hiromu in trouble, as did a suplex, before Hiromu backed Fujita into the corner to escape a wheelbarrow. The ring fills and clears as we’re on the home stretch, with a Hiromu-chan Bomber laying out Fujita ahead of a Falcon arrow for a near-fall… Fujita tries to sneak a win with roll-ups, but a corner death valley driver and a Time Bomb ends up being enough to get LIJ the win. **¾

Guerrillas Of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa), El Phantasmo & Shota Umino vs. Strong Style (El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki & Ren Narita) & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Some strange bedfellows on show here… as they’re suggesting that Ren Narita is far from happy in the Strong Style trio.

Umino and Narita start us off at pace, throwing forearms before a front kick left Shota on the back foot. El Desperado and Tama Tonga are in next, with Tama getting sparked out with a right hand before he returned with a Superman-like punch.

The ring filled to isolate El Desperado… everyone has their fun with him, but Shota’s unhappy at El Phantasmo going for the nipples, reminding ELP “we babyface.” Tanga Loa’s in to hit some spinning slams on Desperado, before a threatened comeback ended with the Strong Style apron being cleared.

A headbutt dropped Desperado, but he’s able to get back up and tag in Minoru Suzuki as my feed gives out. We’re back with Tanga Loa going for a suplex, but he ends up hitting it to break a Suzuki guillotine. Tenzan and ELP are in, with Phantasmo eating some Mongolian chops and a brainbuster, leading to a Mountain Bomb and an Anaconda Vise.

Umino hits the ring to break up the submission… but Narita takes over as the pair trade strikes and Exploders before we went back to Tenzan and Phantasmo. Mongolian chops from ELP are shrugged off as Tenzan hits some of his own… only to run into a Sudden Death for the win. **¾

Post-match, Tama Tonga and Minoru Suzuki squared up… while Narita and Umino continued to go nose-to-nose. Yep, fight forever isn’t just the name of a buggy video game – it’s what those two are probably going to do.

Bullet Club (Alex Coughlin, Chase Owens, Gabe Kidd & KENTA) vs. Just 5 Guys (DOUKI, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
A blend of the Bullet Club sub-units here… and we start with everyone comparing their belts. Comparison is the thief of joy, you know. So is EVIL…

KENTA cracks Kanemaru with the Defy title to end the pre-match shenanigans, before Taichi ducked an attempted belt shot as KENTA then teased giving him the title. There’s been weirder title changes. Taichi wants nothing to do with the Defy belt, but KENTA puts it on him and rolled him up for a near-fall.

A hook kick from Taichi stops all that, as KENTA’s cornered and met with four boots as he got choked in the corner. A low dropkick from Kanemaru spins KENTA to the mat, but a quick turnaround has the Bullet Club crew on top, largely thanks to the guard rails on the outside and some KENTA choking on the inside.

Alex Coughlin takes over with some repeated backbreakers as he used Kanemaru for some curls ahead of a fallaway slam. In comes Chase Owens to have a swig of Kanemaru’s whisky, but Kanemaru knows how to stop the spray as an enziguiri kicked it out of Chase’s mouth. DOUKI’s in next to land a crossbody on Owens, before Kidd and Coughlin attempted to interfere. It backfires, as a tope from DOUKI took out Kidd and Owens.

Kidd’s in to poke at DOUKI, then bite on him, before he looked to rip off DOUKI’s half-mask. It’s stopped as we end up with TAKA Michinoku grabbing Kidd in a Just Facelock, but it’s quickly broken up as the ring fills and clears, before Kidd shoved TAKA into the ref, then laid out TAKA with a right hand to get the win. **¾

United Empire (Great-O-Khan, HENARE & Jeff Cobb) vs. Eddie Kingston, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomohiro Ishii
Eddie Kingston’s made it clear he wants to face Tomohiro Ishii – so them being on the same team is a curious move…

O-Khan and Tanahashi start us off, as Tanahashi went for O-Khan’s braid before he came out of the corner with a crossbody. Going for the ear, O-Khan then lifts up Tanahashi and threw him over the top, using a Mongolian chop to break the grip on the ropes before he used his own braid to choke Tanahashi with.

Tanahashi and Ishii combine with dropkicks to take down O-Khan, as Kingston came in to take care of Cobb and HENARE. O-Khan’s still legal though, and boots Kingston away before he refocused on Tanahashi with a back suplex. Tanahashi’s sat on and stretched in the corner, as HENARE came in to maintain the upper hand.

Cobb’s next, using Tanahashi as an air guitar while throwing some clubbing shots to the chest. Firing back, Tanahashi drags down Cobb with a Dragon screw, while some Keystone Cop moments from Cobb saw him wipe out HENARE as Ishii came into play. A leaping shoulder tackle downed Ishii, before Cobb missed a standing moonsault… he has more luck with a dropkick though, before the pair struggled over a suplex.

Ishii gets his suplex off first, before Kingston tagged in to hit the Kobashi chops on HENARE. A missed charge in the corner opens up Kingston for a triple-team, featuring a Spin Cycle from Cobb… it turns into a Parade of Moves from there, ending with Ishii and Kingston sandwiching HENARE with enziguiri, before an Exploder led to a blocked backfist.

Kingston’s waffled with a knee from HENARE, but manages to his the backfist at the third attempt… and that’s the win!

Now it’s time for the quarter-finals… and we’re doing away with time limits for the remainder of the tournament.

G1 Climax 33 – Quarter-Final: Hikuleo vs. Tetsuya Naito
We’ve a first-time meeting here – in any format, as these two haven’t even been on opposite sides of an undercard tag!

Naito tried to get under Hikuleo’s skin early on, which led to Naito leaning back into the ropes from the opening lock-up. A spit doesn’t help the big man’s temperament, as seen in an elbow strike before Naito low bridged him to the outside ahead of… the pose.

Naito allows Hikuleo back in, but he instantly takes out the knee as he proceeded to ground Hikuleo with a toe hold. The ropes force a break, but Naito’s right back on the knee as he rolled him into a Trailer Hitch. That’s turned into an Indian deathlock as the ropes again saved Hikuleo, who was finding it hard to get into his game.

Hikuleo went for a Snake Eyes, but Naito slips out and goes back to the knee as he kept Hikuleo on the deck. Chops finally carved an opening for Hikuleo, who adds a Snake Eyes and a clothesline for good measure. A suplex gets Hikuleo a two-count, before Naito avoided a powerslam and went right back to the knee. Elbows weaken Hikuleo but he’s able to counter an Esperanza into a powerslam… following with a chop before blocking a tornado DDT.

Instead, Hikuleo hauls up Naito into a Last Ride powerbomb for a near-fall, before Naito began to respond with almost desperation elbows. An enziguiri has Hikuleo woozy, only for him to shake it off and drill Naito with a powerslam, before the Godsend was countered with a DDT. Naito tries to add a Destino, but it’s countered into a chokeslam, before a second Godsend was turned into Destino… a regular one followed, and that’s Naito into the semis. This was way better than I expected, given Hikuleo’s lack of big match singles experience, but in the end Naito managed to chip away for long enough to get the win – and face the winner of the next match on Saturday. ***½

G1 Climax 33 – Quarter-Final: David Finlay vs. Will Ospreay
These two have met four times previously, with Ospreay having a 3-1 record – Finlay’s win came in the D block of last year’s G1 Climax. Finlay’s got the War Dogs out with him, hoping they’re not gonna look like the chihuahuas they almost did against Toru Yano yesterday.

Kidd and Coughlin met Ospreay in the aisle… but Jeff Cobb and Great O-Khan came out to even the odds, and raise my anticipation of bullshit. From the opening lock-up, both guys go for the hair as Ospreay backed Finlay into the ropes… things head into the corner as Ospreay unloaded on Finlay, following with a back body drop before a springboard forearm was shoved away.

Finlay pulls a page out of the Jay White playbook, charging Ospreay into the guard rails, before he cleared the timekeeper’s table and brought it the other side of the rails. What, there’s no other tables under the ring, Dave? Jeff Cobb just moves the table away, then shoved down Finlay after he was spat at as tempers flared… leading to Cobb getting ejected.

With the referee distracted, Kidd and Coughlin put the boots to Ospreay, before Finlay sent Ospreay chest-first into the buckles. Headbutts followed as Ospreay went to mouth off… but Ospreay manages to catch Finlay with a Cobra twist, which is quickly reversed. A clothesline out of the corner dumps Finlay, before a handspring enziguiri looked to complete the turnaround.

Ospreay looked to go up for a Leap of Faith, but it’s way too soon as Finlay pulled him down into the corner pad, before an eye rake led to Finlay taking Ospreay into the corner. A German suplex has Finlay down, before an OsCutter’s caught with a side Russian legsweep off the middle rope. Resuming, a standing Spanish Fly catches Finlay for a near-fall, only for Finlay to return with a spear and a sit-out Dominator for a near-fall of his own.

Finlay heads outside and moves the table back, which prompted Great O-Khan up to dispute things as Finlay looked to go for a powerbomb off the apron… only for Ospreay to hit an OsCutter onto the side of the ring instead. From there, Ospreay eyes up the table, rolling Finlay onto it… then headed up top as Gabe Kidd pulled Finlay off the table.

Ospreay stays on it as a superkick lays out Gabe, before he reversed a powerbomb and put Finlay through the wood. Finlay beats the 20-count, but Ospreay’s ready to hit him with a Coast to Coast for a near-fall, before an OsCutter landed at the second attempt. Ospreay heads up top for a Leap of Faith, but Finlay pulls the referee onto him, so we get our bump… and now here comes the bullshit as Kidd and Coughlin swarm.

O-Khan tries to make the save, covering up Ospreay as Jeff Cobb returned… and hit a double back suplex to Kidd and Coughlin. Two clotheslines take them over the top to the floor as we cross the 15-minute mark, before O-Khan had a rush of blood to the head and got propelled into the War Dogs on the outside. Back in the ring, Ospreay connects with a hook kick, only to get cracked with a Shillelagh as Ospreay was going for a Hidden Blade.

NOW we get a second ref, with Kenta Sato counting a near-fall from a powerbomb for Finlay, before a Stundog from Ospreay bought him some time. An obvious Hidden Blade’s avoided, but Finlay ends up taking it anyway before a Storm Breaker got the win after a hot closing stretch. It’s Ospreay/Naito on Saturday – and if you can deal with the chicanery, this was a bloody good match. ***¾

G1 Climax 33 – Quarter-Final: EVIL vs. SANADA
The most storied of the quarter-finals – we’ve had six prior meetings, with a 3-3 record… but of course, that’s not the full story, as these two were tag partners for a looong time, winning the IWGP tag titles twice and World Tag League twice before EVIL turned his back on LIJ.

EVIL sent Dick Togo to the back before the bell, which only heightens suspicions, as we start with EVIL charging down SANADA, who returned with dropkicks to take EVIL outside for a plancha. Back inside, EVIL’s begging off before Dick Togo was signalled for… the distraction works as SANADA’s taken outside and through the timekeeper’s table.

Heading into the crowd, EVIL throws SANADA into the seats as he then looked to claim a count-out win. Of course, that wasn’t happening as SANADA rolled back in, and got thrown back outside, again going through the timekeeper’s table. Maybe they should move that somewhere else?

Back inside, SANADA’s thrown into the conveniently-exposed corner pad, but the referee refuses to count the pin. A second throw into the corner sees SANADA put on the brakes as EVIL ended up running into the corner instead, before Dick Togo got thrown into the ring… and tied up in a Paradise Lock… before EVIL was tripped up into him.

SANADA’s back suplex gets him a two-count, before a TKO added another two-count… SANADA aborts a moonsault as EVIL rolls outside, baiting SANADA as the champion’s whipped into the guard rails. We cross the ten-minute mark as SANADA’s rolled into a Darkness Scorpion, but manages to break via the ropes.

Taking his time, EVIL looks for Darkness Falls, but gets caught with a Skull End instead, swinging EVIL around before throwing him into Dick Togo on the apron. Another Skull End follows, then a Shining Wizard, before SANADA was shoved into the ref to escape a Dead Fall. A low blow from EVIL’s met in return as SANADA pulled the same trick, before an O’Connor roll ended with Dick Togo pulling out the referee.

Cue the garotte wire, but SANADA’s able to counter a Magic Killer into a Magic Screw on EVIL. Shining Wizards take care of Togo, then EVIL as SANADA then called for the ref… so he could prepare for a moonsault, which landed for a near-fall. The Dead Fall’s teased again, but EVIL goes to the eyes to get free… before countering some strikes with a clothesline for a near-fall.

SANADA’s back with another Shining Wizard, but again the Dead Fall’s escaped as Everything is EVIL ends up putting SANADA away clean. A result I was half-expecting, and I’ll gladly take a reduced level of shenanigans… even if that means we’re likely to go overboard with it at some stage in Ryogoku at the weekend. ***½

G1 Climax 33 – Quarter-Final: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Kazuchika Okada
Sabre and Okada have four prior meetings between them – with Okada having a 3-1 advantage. Sabre’s only win came at Rev Pro in 2018, as a loss in 2019’s G1 sandwiched two unsuccessful cracks at Okada’s IWGP titles.

This being Okada, we’ve a measured start as a lock-up ended with Sabre taking things into the ropes, where he broke cleanly. Okada swung on the break, but Sabre ducks and struck first, before a front kick took Okada down to the mat. Kicks to Okada’s back follow, but Okada just snaps and takes Sabre outside, whipping him into the guard rails with some gusto.

Okada teases a landslide on the floor, but Sabre slips out and ties up Okada in the guard rails with a manjigatame, before a teased suplex on the floor ended with Okada countering it into a draping DDT. Sabre makes it back inside, but Okada’s waiting with a neckbreaker before he hammered Sabre with elbows in the corner.

Sabre’s arm whip stopped Okada’s momentum, as did a neck twist and a low dropkick to the back of the head. Okada tried to come back with a neckbreaker slam, but Sabre countered it with a guillotine choke, only got Okada to take him to the corner… with Sabre flying back out with an uppercut. Zack ties up Okada in a hammerlocked, grounded manjigatame, but the rolling around took the pair into the ropes for the break.

Sabre manages to counter the neckbreaker slam into an armbar… but Okada swings free and hits the neckbreaker slam anyway. Again, Sabre kicks away Okada’s attempt to dropkick him off the top rope, but this time Sabre leaps into a dropkick as Okada looked to get a foothold in things.

Zack ducks a spinning Rainmaker and planted Okada with a high-angle German suplex, which would have won had Sabre been able to maintain the bridge. Okada returns the favour, then caught Sabre with a dropkick as he came off the ropes, before a landslide attempt was countered into another manjigatame.

Okada’s rolled to the mat in the hold, as Sabre stretched him some more, rolling around Okada into a hammerlock’d armbar that quickly ended in the ropes. An uppercut rocks Okada from there, as Sabre looked to have the former champion on the ropes, only for a single dropkick to turn it back around, as Okada then snapped back with the landslide.

Sabre ducks a Rainmaker and returned with a Zack Driver instead. He can’t make the cover, so we’re back to strikes between the pair, with Okada throwing some particularly tasty elbows before he went for a backslide… but Sabre hits his clothesline first! A sit-down pin from Okada leads to some see-sawing… with Sabre ALMOST snatching victory, before he recoiled from a shotgun dropkick and back with a PK.

Another Okada dropkick has Sabre on jelly legs, as it’s back to the palm strikes… Okada’s spinny Rainmaker lands, before Sabre ducked the regular one and went back with a flying manjigatame. Okada countered out into a Cobra Flowsion… and from there a Rainmaker puts Sabre away. ****¼

We’re back on Saturday for the first of two shows in Ryogoku Kokugikan, with the semi-finals of EVIL vs. Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay vs. Tetsuya Naito.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Main event aside, there wasn’t much that stood out in the quarter-finals - but the closing stretch of Okada/Sabre had me out of my seat. Everything tournament-related delivered to an extent - and teed up things nicely for this weekend’s finale in Sumo Hall.