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Pantoja’s NJPW G1 Climax 32 Night 15 Review

August 10, 2022 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW G1 Climax 32 Image Credit: NJPW
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Pantoja’s NJPW G1 Climax 32 Night 15 Review  

NJPW G1 Climax 32 Night 15

August 10th, 2022 | Hiroshima Sun Plaza in Nishi-ku, Hiroshima | Attendance: 1,522

Sending all of the good vibes to fellow reviewer Ian Hamilton as he deals with a family emergency and won’t be able to cover some of these tourney shows.

D Block: David Finlay [6] vs. El Phantasmo [4]

You pretty much know the result here as Finlay has to lose since a guy like Will Ospreay must be alive (and likely win). Lance Archer joined commentary here. Of note, everyone in this block could legitimately finish 3-3, which would be a total headache but actually different for the G1. The early stages of this were fought at a level playing field with each guy trying to get a feel for the other. They progressed into trading strikes before ELP took control with an Asai moonsault and springboard Swanton Bomb. As this got later into the runtime, it got better. These are two athletic, hungry guys who are out to steal the show. We got some close calls down the stretch, including one on a Blue Thunder Bomb, a favorite move of mine. Thunderkiss ’86 also got a near fall for ELP and he couldn’t believe it. The guys countered each other’s biggest moves and ELP won with a crucifix in 14:23. That was a really good opener. It keeps things interesting in the block, both guys did their thing, and I liked the finish. [***½]

B Block: The Great-O-Khan [2] vs. Tama Tonga [6]

I fully expect Tama to win B Block, so he needs to win here and he’ll hand Jay White his only loss in their last match. Unlike the previous match which was mostly a mix of high flying and technical stuff, this had more of a brawling feel to it. They fought to the outside early and GOK was pretty aggressive. While I’ve said I like the fire Tama has a babyface, he’s not really shining in the other role needed for faces, which is to take a beating and sell. GOK working him over for so long was boring and neither guy got me invested. The offense was lackluster and I never felt sympathy for Tama. In fact, the usual fire was even lacking from Tama’s comeback, making this a match that kind of just happened. The ending saw Tama counter the chokeslam into a mid-air Gun Stun after 14:32. This wasn’t bad but it also never really did anything that worked well. It felt like something you’d see on an unimportant house show. [**¼]

C Block: EVIL [4] vs. Zack Sabre Jr. [6]

These two have met at the 2019 New Japan Cup (***¾), G1 29 (***), New Beginning in Sapporo 2019 (***¾), and the G1 30 (***). EVIL ran up the aisle to attack ZSJ who had a baseball cap that said “I AM ZSJ” pulled down. It turned out to be Kosei Fujita, allowing Sabre Jr. to run out and get the upper hand on EVIL. They brawled on the ramp for a little over a minute before getting inside. 44 seconds into this, ZSJ used the European Clutch to win. My kind of G1 match! [NR]

A Block: Kazuchika Okada [6] vs. Tom Lawlor [4]

Will Okada do like he did for JONAH and make Lawlor look fantastic? You got the sense right off the bat that Lawlor was taking this more seriously than some of his other bouts. He went after the arm and really looked to impress, even as he removed his pants. I really liked how Lawlor went about his business here. He attacked the arm often and found ways to hurt it when you didn’t expect it, like catching an elbow drop into an armbar attempt. That moment took us past the 10 minute mark as Lawlor seemed to gain confidence with each passing moment but this is Okada we’re talking about here. He doesn’t go down easily. I popped for Lawlor laying into Okada with forearms and catching him in a sick looking Rings of Saturn style submission. He made a clear mistake by mocking the Rainmaker pose, getting a little too cocky. Okada blocked a sunset flip and sat down, scoring the three after 16:!6. A really good match that made Lawlor look strong. He didn’t even lose to the Rainmaker or the stupid Money Clip. He had a smart strategy and executed it but Okada is Okada. [***¾]

C Block: Hirooki Goto [4] vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi [6]

There’s a long history here with Tanahashi apparently holding a 13-2 record over him. I’ve seen the G1 23 (***½), G1 26 (***), G1 30 (***), G1 31 (***¼), and Dominion2022 (***¼). I didn’t have high hopes for this as it’s a pairing that has never really worked for me. As expected, the start to this wasn’t anything great or memorable but it had a bit more intensity than you might expect from these two. Goto seemed hellbent on winning and remaining alive as a loss would likely leave it to ZSJ and Tanahashi. Tanahashi put a target on Goto’s leg, doing his usual Dragon Screws and such to wear it down. Goto survived submission attempts and tied up Tanahashi in one of his own aimed at the arm. That gave each man a clear problem. They traded forearms to the point where they both collapsed. Goto ended up bleeding badly from the mouth and this was one of those cases where it added to the match. I’m so used to some Moxley matches where the blood doesn’t do much (he’s still my wrestler of the year though) and I really liked it here. Goto looked like a madman as he went into hard kicks and bigger offense. He finally pulled it out with GTR after 19:01. That far exceeded expectations and was Goto’s best match in a long time. It balanced the technical stuff with the violence expertly. [****¼]

The final score: review Good
The 411
A step up for this G1. We got two really good matches in ELP/Finlay and Okada/Lawlor, a lame one in Tama/GOK, a fun quick win for ZSJ, and a banger of a main event. Again, this is more in line with what the G1 should be.

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G1 Climax 32, NJPW, Kevin Pantoja