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Pantoja’s NJPW G1 Climax 32 Night Eight Review

July 30, 2022 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW G1 Climax 32 Night Eight - Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. Image Credit: NJPW
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Pantoja’s NJPW G1 Climax 32 Night Eight Review  

NJPW G1 Climax 32 Night Eight

July 30th, 2022 | Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium Nagoya, Aichi | Attendance: 2,225

Hey, this is one of the better cards with a few matches I’m pumped for and some that are at least mildly intriguing.

D Block: David Finlay [2] vs. Shingo Takagi [2]

First time meeting and one of the most exciting matches in the entire tournament on paper. Finlay is coming off of winning the best match in the tourney so far and carries the US Title that isn’t his. Shingo gained the first upper hand with a DDT outside. On commentary, ELP said they should just throw out the US Title and the entire country too. I am now an ELP fan. Shingo held serve until Finlay busted out a Blue Thunder Bomb that Kevin Kelly called a Falcon Arrow and ELP was quick to correct him. For the most part, this match followed the idea that Shingo was always a step ahead and had an answer for everything while Finlay got in hope spots and flashes of brilliance. Finlay also seemed to survive everything thrown at him, including Pumping Bombers and even Made in Japan. Finlay countered Shingo down the stretch with a Stunner through the ropes and then pulled him into a rollup to score the upset in 14:50. That wasn’t quite the banger I wanted but it was still a very good match that told a simple story and gave us a plausible upset that worked. Both guys have Will Ospreay next up. [***½]

A Block: JONAH [0] vs. Tom Lawlor [0]

Another first time match and one I like since both guys are new and, say it with me folks, DIFFERENT. Lawlor threw his shorts at JONAH to get a sneak advantage early. JONAH weathered the storm and started throwing the BIG BOY offense around, pouncing on him, headbutting him, and hitting a splash. Lawlor went to the leg to combat that, applying a half crab into a heel hook. That set up a string of back and forth where Lawlor had to use his speed, smarts, and technical skills and JONAH could just throw him around to cut him off. For example, Lawlor did some wise work and JONAH just powerbombed the hell out of him to stop that. He added the Torpedo splash to get his first G1 win in 11:32. Not your typical G1 match and that was my favorite thing about it. Two good, interesting guys. [***¼]

B Block: The Great-O-Khan [0] vs. SANADA [2]

SANADA beat GOK at Wrestle Kingdom earlier this year (**½). Can’t believe I live in a world what I like O-Khan more than SANADA now. I could tell that I wasn’t going to be a big fan of this almost from the start. They opened this with a lengthy feeling out process that SANADA tends to do and it often doesn’t work. It’s like he structures his matches as Okada does but in far less interesting fashion, which is saying something. It took a while for this to get going and although it was an improvement, it never felt like it got out of second gear. GOK got his knees up on a moonsault attempt following a TKO and looked to capitalize with the Sheep Killer. GOK raked the eyes to escape Skull End. SANADA survived a moonsault and countered the Eliminator into a cutter before winning with his own moonsault in 16:35. That was technically fine but poorly paced and pretty dull. [**½]

C Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi [2] vs. Zack Sabre Jr. [4]

Tanahashi leads this rivalry 5-4 and I’ve seen them all. Sabre Jr. won at the G1 27 (****¼), New Japan Cup 2018 (****½), G1 Supercard (****), and Destruction in Beppu 2019 (***¾). Tanahashi won at Destruction in Hiroshima 2017 (***¾), New Japan Cup 2019 (****), G1 29 (****¼), Royal Quest (****), and the G1 30 (***¾). Needless to say, these two deliver together. This match got off to a methodical start with a feeling out process but unlike the prior bout, they made it work and kept it engaging. As it progressed, we got more into the character work as ZSJ was cocky and talked trash, triggering Tanahashi firing up, which is what ZSJ wanted as he’d goad him into another hold. It’s such a simple concept but it helps ZSJ matches stand out and work. I liked the idea of Tanahashi doing some of ZSJ’s signature stuff like the next twist. It shows their knowledge of one another and a mind game of sorts. Sabre responding with a Dragon Screw was perfect too. Tit for tat. The entire bout was a lot of them being evenly matched, which is in line with their past. They went into bigger moves late like the Slingblade and some ZSJ uppercuts. Their closing stretch was strong with believable counters that didn’t really overdo it. The Ace hit the Zack Driver for two but Sabre Jr. nearly won with the European Clutch. The fans totally bought into that. The finish saw Tanahashi get out of an armbar and win with a pin in 17:32 despite Sabre’s arm being under the ropes. That was like most of this G1. Disappointing. There was a lot to like about it and I did enjoy it but it was on the lower side of their matches together. [***¾]

The final score: review Good
The 411
This is the most 7/10 G1 Climax ever. This was another night with something that was really lackluster (SANADA/O-Khan), a few good matches, and nothing I’d consider truly great.

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G1 Climax 32, Kevin Pantoja