The finals of G1 Climax 32 went down on Thursday night (Aug. 18) in Tokyo’s Budokan. After weeks of Block action and yesterday’s semi-finals, it came down to Kazuchika Okada and Will Opsreay.
Okada was seeking to become the fourth man to win the iconic tournament in two straight years (Masahiro Chono, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Kota Ibushi have done it). Ospreay was gunning to become only the second non-Japanese wrestler to do it (joining Kenny Omega’s club of one). New Japan’s current Ace and the reigning IWGP United States champion have faced each other seven times in the past, with Ospreay’s only win over the Rainmaker coming during the round robin portion of the 2020 G1.
The largest ever G1 has featured plenty of good matches, but hadn’t delivered many of the great matches the tournament has been known for over the years. Time will tell where the latest Okada vs. Ospreay showdown measures up to other big NJPW matches, but instant reaction has fans adding it to the Match of the Year conversation.
In another sign of the increasing crossover between New Japan and Bushiroad’s women’s promotion Stardom — more on that here — joshi wrestlers Syuri and Giulia presented the finalists with flowers before the bell.
The Aerial Assassin’s strategy was to integrate the offense of past Okada foils into his own. He used AJ Styles’ Styles Clash, Hiroshi Tanahashi’s High Flow Flow, and Omega’s V Trigger... and even attempted Kenny’s One Winged Angel to an audible gasp from the crowd despite COVID restrictions against reacting with anything but clapping. None of them did the trick.
Perhaps that’s because this was very clearly “big match” Okada. The father-to-be wasn’t pacing himself or holding anything back as stars understandably do in the G1’s early stages.
The finish came after Ospreay’s flurry of other people’s finishers and a huge Rainmaker from Okada failed to secure a win for either man.
／#G1CLIMAX32 最終戦(8/18)を公開‼️— njpwworld (@njpwworld) August 18, 2022
『G1 CLIMAX 32』ファイナルトーナメント決勝戦‼️
@rainmakerXokada × @WillOspreay
視聴&登録⏩https://t.co/Tj7UBINMhP#NJPW #G1FINAL pic.twitter.com/ehuzmYelLa
A striking battle that started with both men exhausted on their knees led to an explosive exchange of counters until Okada finally countered a Hidden Blade with Cobra Flowsion, and delivered one more thunderous Rainmaker to claim victory.
In addition to putting him in the back-to-back club, Okada is now alone in second place on the all-time G1 victories list with four. Only Chono has more, with five. He’s got a contract for a main event title shot at Wrestle Kingdom 17 — more on that here, too — which will likely be a shot at IWGP World Heavyweight champion Jay White. And he’ll defend the briefcase along the way, possibly against the only man to beat him in Block action, JONAH.
Ospreay’s loss will be tough to swallow for his fans, and New Japan fans hoping for a more surprising outcome. He won’t have time to lick his wounds, however. The Brit is booked for RevPro’s 10th Anniversary show this weekend, and will be in the States to take part in AEW’s Trios Title Tournament next Wednesday.
Let us know what you make of today’s match, and the tournament as a whole, in the comments below.