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Favorites, and a comeback story, emerge in New Japan G1 Climax tournament

NJPWGlobal’s Twitter

Action continued over the weekend in New Japan’s G1 Climax 32, with shows on Sat., July 23 and Sun., July 24 taking this year’s tournament past the quarter mark.

There’s a long way to go (check out the full G1 match schedule here). But even more than normal, in the four Block format, every match counts. Early leaders are in a strong position, and wrestlers still looking for their first points may already be out of contention... or are set-up for a big comeback run in the weeks ahead.

Saturday’s show was probably stronger throughout. The only dud was the match between CHAOS members Kazuchika Okada and Toru Yano. We got serious Yano, but the outcome was never in doubt as Okada established himself as the frontrunner in his “Monster” Block.

Zack Sabre, Jr. continued a strong run to take top position in his block, and Shingo Takagi & YOSHI-HASHI turned in a fun, stiff battle that was probably the match of the night. Tom Ishii tried to get in the Switchblade’s head by calling out the reigning IWGP World Heavyweight champ’s reliance on his manager Gedo, but that didn’t shame the duo into not pulling Bullet Club shenanigans.

Zack Sabre, Jr. def. Aaron Henare via submission with a half-crab

• Shingo Takagi def. YOSHI-HASHI via pinfall with Ground Cobra

Kazuchika Okada def. Toru Yano via submission with the Money Clip.

Jay White def. Tomohiro Ishii via pinfall following Blade Runner

Yesterday wasn’t quite as strong all around, with the main event proving to be the show’s main draw. El-P used a low blow to win, then stole Takahashi’s girl, PIETER. SANADA’s victory over Taichi was solid but unremarkable, and your rating of Jeff Cobb’s first win of this year’s tourney will depend on if your love of meaty men and estimation of Bad Luck Fale’s declining skills.

The Universal Ace put points on the board, and did so at the expense of two-time G1 winner Tetsuya Naito. LIJ’s leader is in an early hole, and will need to get a un-Tranquilo the rest of the way to make a run at the semi-finals.

El Phantasmo def. Yujiro Takahashi via pinfall after Thunder Kiss ’86

• SANADA def. Taichi via pinfall with a bridging O’Connor Roll

Jeff Cobb. def. Bad Luck Fale via pinfall with Tour of the Islands

Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Tetsuya Naito via pinfall with an inside cradle

Those results give us the following standings:

A Block

Kazuchika Okada (2-0-0): 4
Toru Yano (1-1-0): 2
Bad Luck Fale (1-1-0): 2
Jeff Cobb (1-1-0): 2
Tom Lawlor (0-0-0): 0
JONAH (0-1-0): 0
Lance Archer (0-1-0): 0

B Block

Jay White (2-0-0): 4
Taichi (1-1-0): 2
Tama Tonga (1-0-0): 2
SANADA (1-1-0): 2
Great-O-Khan (0-0-0): 0
Chase Owens (0-1-0): 0
Tomohiro Ishii (0-2-0): 0

C Block

Zack Sabre Jr. (2-0-0): 4
Hirooki Goto (1-0-0): 2
Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-1-0): 2
Aaron Henare (1-1-0): 2
EVIL (0-0-0): 0
Tetsuya Naito (0-2-0): 0
KENTA (0-1-0): 0

D Block

Will Ospreay (1-0-0): 2
Juice Robinson (1-0-0): 2
El Phantasmo (1-1-0): 2
Shingo Takagi (1-1-0): 2
Yujiro Takahashi (1-1-0): 2
David Finlay (0-1-0): 0
YOSHI-HASHI (0-1-0): 0

D Block is the only grouping where everyone’s wrestled at least once. It’s also the one without someone alone in first, but Ospreay & Juice are due to face off on the final day of round-robin action, so...

Give us your early impressions of this year’s G1 below. And remember you can watch every show of the tournament with a subscription to the NJPWWorld streaming service here.