G1 Climax 28 N16
August 8 2018
We’re in Kanagawa, Yokohama, Japan. This is the last stop on the G1 tour before returning to Tokyo and Budokan Hall for the Block finals on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday the G1 concludes after a gruelling 19 date tour in one of the hottest Japanese summers on record. Hosts are Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero and Chris Charlton.
Issues: I was all set to do this on the day it happened but my train was cancelled. Then the next one was late so I got home two hours late and basically had to go to bed. My schedule doesn’t get any easier so I struggled the following day. This was the one time where if there had been another show on Thursday I would have fallen very behind. Anyway, beyond my control.
Togi Makabe & Toa Henare vs. Michael Elgin & Shota Umino
Elgin-Makabe in the Block A final day. That should be fun as they basically run into each other here. The massive meat collision. Shota has impressed on the undercards during this tour, often in the best tag of the night. The way he stands up to Togi is briefly impressive until he gets knocked on his ass. Henare polishes him off with the Urinage. This was a tidy little match. Good showing from the kids and Makabe/Elgin should be good based on this interaction.
Final Rating: **3/4
YOSHI-HASHI & SHO vs. Hangman Page & Chase Owens
Page vs. HASHI on the last day of the Block. That has less chance of being successful. Although Tanahashi did recently highlight Page and Tacos as two guys he’d like to form a stable with. Hopefully Budokan will draw a performance out of YOSHI-HASHI. Kelly points out no G1 participant has dropped a fall in the tags, which is something that could have made a tag interesting or different. Especially with an injured guy who’s struggling all tournament like YOSHI-HASHI. Two guys who’ve generally delivered in these tags are Chase and SHO and they’re solid here. Hangman pins SHO with Rite of Passage to end an all-action bout.
Final Rating: **3/4
Bad Luck Fale & Tanga Loa vs. Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado
The King of Yokohama is here and he’s not best pleased at Fale coming in here claiming to be some sort of anti-establishment badass. That’s fucking Suzuki’s job mate! They brawl all over the place while comms debate whether it should be a count out. Suzuki re-emerges from the depths of the building with an umbrella wrapped around Fale’s neck. They’re gone for so long Rocky Romero has time to have a chat with the front row. MiSu continues brawling with Fale even after Tanga has beaten Despy with Apeshit. The Budokan match might be pretty good.
Final Rating: *1/2
Jay White & YOH vs. EVIL & BUSHI
Jay vs. EVIL on Friday. If Switchblade wins he moves up to 12 points and stands a chance at winning A Block. It would be a big upset if that happened. But he’s there. On the verge. Jay utilises YOH by ordering him around but EVIL is just as good at manipulation and the G1 boys basically give their junior counterparts a pasting. Jay’s inability to be a decent human being results in BUSHI clocking YOH with MX for the win. I’m hoping YOH gets a match with Switchblade at some point.
Final Rating: **3/4
Hiroshi Tanahashi & David Finlay vs. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo
Okada eventually had Tanahashi’s number after a long feud but does this Okada have Tana’s number? Does Tanahashi have this Okada’s number? Does anyone? Maybe his balloon guy. I hear they’re tight. Anyway, Tanahashi and Okada renew acquaintances and it’s an intriguing contest. They’ve faced each other so many times already that they have these tidy little sequences that look so artful and effortless. The finish is Finlay downing Gedo with the Stunner and there was just enough of Okada vs. Tana to whet the whistle for Friday. This great rivalry will begin anew on Friday. They tease a fight, but instead both pose on announce tables and the crowd almost exclusively chant “Tanahashi”. Ohhh.
Final Rating: **1/2
Juice Robinson  vs. Tomohiro Ishii 
Ishii has been outstanding this G1, again. He shows up every night. He kills it against everyone. Juice has been good too. Neither has had a big haul of points but Ishii has bested Kenny Omega and Robinson has gotten it together in the latter stages.
So they’re both peaking here, albeit after they’re eliminated. As with all Ishii matches it’s violent and intense. Robinson wasting no time laying a marker down with how he’ll approach the contest; big chops. If you bring it to Ishii, it’s like giving him a licence to wreck you. Ishii’s mocking jabs are a delight. When he steals people’s spots and is a dick about it, that’s peak Ishii. It helps that when they get into the duelling chops that Juice’s big hands make a big noise. It sounds like someone chopping down a tree. The match lives on the edge, which is wonderful. They’re half a second away from a brutal botch several times only for it to come off. The superplex recovery is especially good. They have a few legitimate ‘your turn’ miscues that hurt the overall effect and keep it from being a truly great match. Juice is still improving so there’s more to come. He’ll know where to fill in later. The match gets especially heated down the stretch where Juice shows the same capacity to thrill as Ishii. Taking the abuse and coming back, continually kicking out. Brainbuster finishes for Ishii but Juice looked terrific again here. I was enjoying his work before G1 but his performances here have pushed him into my favourite wrestlers list.
Final Rating: ****1/4
Hirooki Goto  vs. Zack Sabre Jr 
Sabre wants to make a point; that he can kick Goto’s ass without submissions and stuff. It’s admirable but it results in a savage strongstyle beating, despite those tasty lifters. Zack learns from his initial mistake and precedes to torture Goto.
Sabre isn’t bothered about one particular target and moves from limb to limb, just wanting to hurt Goto and weaken him. The trouble with this, and almost every Sabre match, is when Goto takes over Zack cannot take bumps convincingly. I’ve never understood why this is but he looks so uncomfortable right before the impact. He’s too smart to be a wrestler really. He’s thinking about the impact too much. Look at the dumb wrestlers; they don’t give a fuck. Zack is at his smartest here where Goto tries to give him the rope running misdirection and he goes to a neutral corner and it’s right into submissions again. Goto chokes beautifully at the end too. Going after GTR he’s simply rolled up into the European Clutch and pinned.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Kota Ibushi  vs. Tama Tonga 
Tama is clearly out to hurt Ibushi here and wreck the Bullet Club Elite angle. Tama spends a few moments pre-match cutting a promo on mouthy Twitter war veterans. This is the problem with Tama. You’ve got this angle with Omega and the whole Bullet Club split. It’s a major angle and he cannot stay focused on it because he’s too busy being a heel or trying extremely hard to be one. The storyline is right in front of you dude. T-shirt wearing Tama absolutely dogs the match. It’s as if he can’t remember how to wrestle. They have a couple of decent sequences, usually based around Tama’s speed, before Tama goes back to his usual antics and the match falls off a cliff. Then Kota Ibushi decides to dive off something high.
Kota Ibushi genuinely gets a buzz from doing ridiculous dives (or shooting himself with fireworks) but here he’s hitting a blind moonsault off the balcony and he doesn’t give a fuck. The second half of the match is far more driven, even if Tama Tonga horribly fails in his mission to assault Ibushi. There’s never any passion there at all. The only real passion comes from Kenny Omega, who makes the save after Bad Luck Fale runs in. Then Tama hits Kota with an ugly as fuck pop up Gun Stun and Ibushi is on the verge of elimination. This was probably Tama’s best match in this G1 and he had very little to do with it. The trouble with this angle is that it leaves Kenny Omega laid out right before his match.
Final Rating: ***
Toru Yano  vs. Kenny Omega 
Kenny starts the match flat on his back in the middle of the ring.
The match is antics heavy with Chase Owens saving Kenny from the exposed buckle, then re-exposing it when Yano is whipped into the same corner. That’s sensational seconding. It’s ridiculous that Kenny walks into here statistically capable of winning his block outright if he beats Yano.
Just catching up on G1 before the finals. This had me in stitches. Lovely work from Kenny Omega and Toru Yano pic.twitter.com/36FJdvz9NU
— Arn – no sleep only #g128 (@ArnoldFurious) August 9, 2018
And instead we get this? I mean, I’m laughing at this but Kenny could just take it seriously and win the G1 block a day early. If you can forget all that they do a load of fucking ridiculous stuff like turnbuckle whips. Yano’s next piece of strategy is taping Omega to Ren Narita and then knocking the young lion out and throwing him over the rail. Credit to Yano, I’m in bits here. When they slip into seriousness I start to get really into the near falls. Then the Tongans run in again. STAY IN YOUR OWN MATCHES! You’ve ruined a five star classic! Gun Stun on Omega and Yano gets thrown on top for the pin. If they’d left the Tongans out of this I’d have loved this match. Everything was so daft until it started getting serious with the near falls.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Tetsuya Naito  vs. SANADA 
Naito has to win here to give himself a chance of besting either Omega or Ibushi, but he now needs an unlikely draw. And wins over SANADA and Sabre.
SANADA is key too. He’s spent the whole of G1 avoiding conversation with his leader in LIJ. Now he can eliminate him from the G1 and change their friendship forever. SANADA won’t give Naito any room to breathe. He won’t even let him do the tranquilo pose. Tripping him up in mid flow. At times this feels like a major showcase of both men’s abilities and at times it feels like a character study of two mates and their differences. SANADA is undoubtedly the serious one. Whenever Naito does anything cheeky SANADA clobbers him for it. Even the spitting spot. They clearly have chemistry, based on their friendship and work together but I don’t feel the struggle enough. The match is a little too much like a dance. A little too pre-planned. Although based on the SANADA clip of him getting completely lost during the Kota Ibushi match it’s probably best to have him pre-planned to heck. If I’m totally honest, this match doesn’t grab me at all. SANADA in general during this G1 hasn’t grabbed me due to his lack of personality in the ring and Naito’s matches have tended to be sluggish to begin with before a hot finish. That’s certainly true here. The moonsault into Skull End, the attempted backdrop into the buckles (SANADA misjudging the distance and coming up short). Naito finishes with Destino. I’m going with the gut here and saying I wasn’t feeling this. It was good but it’s not close to match of the night for me.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Post Match: EVIL comes down, with Hiromu Takahashi’s ring jacket, and BUSHI.
While the snowflakes weren’t as aggressive as usual here the show was consistently entertaining and they put on a variety of matches, one for all the weirdos on Twitter who were complaining of 19 shows with “all the same style of matches on”. All five of the singles matches were different tonight with the ‘NJPW Strongstyle’ bout being the one that stood out, curiously enough. Now we’re into the business end. Next show is Friday (or in about 12 hours as I post this) and we’re getting very serious with Tanahashi vs. Okada. Then it’s Omega vs. Ibushi on Saturday and the G1 final on Sunday. Stay tuned! You ain’t seen nothing yet.
Kenny Omega 12
Tetsuya Naito 12
Kota Ibushi 10
Zack Sabre Jr 10
Tomohiro Ishii 8
Hirooki Goto 6
Tama Tonga 6
Juice Robinson 4
Toru Yano 4