The semifinals of New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s G1 Climax 33 went down today (Aug. 12) in Tokyo’s Ryogoku Sumo Hall.
Kazuchika Okada will be in the finals of the prestigious tournament for the third straight year and fifth time overall, having survived the full House of Torture experience to advance. During the obligatory ref bump in his match with EVIL, SHO & Yujiro attacked and Dick Togo choked Okada with his wire. But NJPW’s current Ace kicked out of EVIL’s STO finish, hitting his own version of it as part of sequence that led to a Rainmaker and the victory.
The main event was a much better match. Will Opsreay delivered yet another great performance in a tournament — and year — full of great performances from the British star. He came up short, however. The Aerial Assassin fought through Tetsuya Naito’s early attempts to ground him, and proved he could hang in a striking exchanges. One led to the referee delivering a standing ten count, but Naito beat that and kicked out of multiple Hidden Blades, an Oscutter and a Leap of Faith.
The woozy Los Ingobernables de Japon leader avoided several of Ospreay’s signature moves by falling out of the way of them, then reversed his finisher into his own. The IWGP United States champion kicked out of one Destino, but couldn’t kick out of a second.
Naito will be making his fourth G1 finals appearance, and first since 2017 when he defeated Kenny Omega to win the tournament for a second time. He also won in 2013 over Hiroshi Tanahashi. Okada has never lost a G1 final; if he keeps that streak alive he’ll tie Masohiro Chono for most G1 wins ever.
The finalists have a long history. They’ve faced off in singles matches 13 times, with Okada holding a 7-6 edge. They’ve never opposed each other in the G1 final, but have wrestled in the tourney’s group stage twice in 2012 and 2014, with Naito winning both. Most of their showdowns have involved New Japan’s top belt, the IWGP Heavyweight/World Heavyweight title. In matches with those belts on the line, Okada has a 6-2 record over Naito.
After one of New Japan’s epic rivalries is renewed tomorrow in Sumo Hall, the winner will have earned himself a contract for an IWGP World Heavyweight championship at Wrestle Kingdom 18 on January 4, 2024 in the Tokyo Dome.
That show will stream on the NJPWWorld subscription service, where you can also find all the shows from the month-long G1 Climax 33 tournament.