G1 Climax 28 N7
July 22 2018
We’re in Tokyo, Japan (or nearby anyway) at the Esforta Arena in Hachioji. I don’t remember ever seeing a show from here. Hosts are Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero. The latter puts over the variety on yesterdays’ killer B Block show.
Toa Henare & Shota Umino vs. Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa
Oh goody, the Firing Squad. If they were hinting at Henare joining the group it’s not evident here with Tanga giving him a vicious beating. What really frustrates me about Tama Tonga is that when he wants to be he’s an excellent wrestler. He just doesn’t seem bothered. He’d rather play the ‘cool heel’ role….which he’s terrible at. Umino has the misfortune of getting nothing on a dropkick here, Tanga bumping it anyway. Apeshit puts him away. This was fine. Why can’t Firing Squad just do this?
Final Rating: **1/2
Hirooki Goto & YOH vs. Toru Yano & Gedo
Goto vs. Yano in another CHAOS faction battle on the next show, which is Thursday (26/7).
Yano has abandoned his fair play approach that garnered him zero points from two matches. Gedo and YOH do some nice technical stuff in here as an aside and YOH gets the roll up pin on Gedo. Which is a receipt for Gedo poking him in the eye at the start of the match.
Final Rating: *3/4
Tomohiro Ishii & SHO vs. Zack Sabre Jr & TAKA Michinoku
Sabre vs. Ishii is on Thursday. Their matches are always good. The floor for that is around ****1/4. Ishii has struggled in those matches too thanks to Sabre’s all round technical mastery. The only time he’s won was Mania weekend when he took Zack’s Rev Pro title.
SHO is well on his way to being a star. He’s the stand out junior, for me, going forward. He’s got an excellent chance of being in G1 at some point. Interesting to note Ishii shrugging off a lot of Zack’s stuff and forcing Sabre to transition quicker than he was intending. TAKA looks a bit sloppy here and SHO picks him off with the armbar. SHO looks better every time I see him.
Sabre makes a point of trying to break Ishii’s arm after the match has finished, trying to set up Thursday’s match.
Final Rating: **1/2
Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Kenny Omega & Chase Owens
Juice has Omega on Thursday. He’s still on zero points while Kenny has maxed out his three bouts. It’s all set for an upset. Notice how Kenny never wears a t-shirt now he’s IWGP champion?
Omega accidentally hits Juice on the bad arm and is very apologetic. This actually feels like a proper tag team match because FinJuice are a regular team and Omega has terrific chemistry with Chase. There’s a degree of shtick to Omega & Chase but it gels very well with FinJuice. Robinson puts Chase away with the Juicebox and this was easily the best tag on this show.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Tetsuya Naito & SANADA vs. Kota Ibushi & Yujiro Takahashi
It’s SANADA who’s wrestling Ibushi on Thursday but Naito has his back here. He’s wrestling Tama and clearly doesn’t give a hoot about promoting that match. The raw athleticism and energy of Kota and SANADA is astonishing. That’s going to be display on Thursday. Yujiro does have some interesting storylines, relating to his past but that doesn’t make him good. Despite Naito’s presence the focus is definitely on SANADA vs. Ibushi and hyping Thursday. Naito pins Yujiro with the victory roll. I always appreciate different finishes in the tags, rather than the predictable finisher finish.
Intrigue on the finish with SANADA walking out and ‘not seeing’ Naito wanting a fist bump.
Final Rating: ***
Michael Elgin  vs. YOSHI-HASHI 
Tacos has been injured all tournament and hasn’t looked good.
Elgin has looked great, having transformed his body but even Mike struggles with YOSHI-HASHI and his timing issues. His strikes here are awful and he’s heavily reliant on Elgin leading the match because whenever he’s in control it sucks. The counters are bad. The effort is non-existent. He’s injured, I get that, but it’s getting to the point where NJPW should just job him out quickly before someone else gets injured because he cannot lift anyone. His comeback here is the best work he’s done in the G1 so far but it follows a terrible first half of the match performance. It’s Elgin who makes it passable by kicking out so late and basically throwing himself half the time. In a way that’s what creates the storyline. The crowd want YOSHI-HASHI to succeed but he can’t. YOSHI-HASHI’s dramatic late kick-outs after being dismantled by Elgin are terrific. YOSHI-HASHI pulls Karma out of his ass and gets his first win. Holy shit! What a battling performance from Tacos. He was terrible in his previous matches and started off badly here but came fighting back. I think I’d have kept YOSHI scoreless to increase the underdog vibe he has.
Final Rating: ***3/4
EVIL  vs. Bad Luck Fale 
EVIL decides to bait Tanga and try to get those sweet DQ points. When that doesn’t happen he gets Tanga’s distraction to work in his favour, although that doesn’t last. When the match is in the ring it’s not great. EVIL sells his elbow, targeted by Fale on the outside. Both guys are good at the outside the ring stuff but the wrestling itself is sub-standard. Fale looks both clumsy and cumbersome. He rarely delivers, with the occasional strike delivering and that’s it. The match takes too long to get to the Big Lads stuff and when it does it’s too short and shenanigans occur. Tanga, BUSHI and Tama all end up running in and eventually Naito. Fale botches the finish by going early on Everything is Evil. Then Tama hits Gun Stun and gets Fale disqualified. What a moron.
Final Rating: *
Jay White  vs. Minoru Suzuki 
Jay’s main hope here is that Red Shoes maintains law and order and keeps Suzuki off him. Jay called MiSu “an old man”.
Jay’s aim is to frustrate Suzuki by stalling and making him wait. The trouble with this tactic is that Suzuki is a veteran. He’s seen it all before. Yeah, he’s gotten exposed by Yano’s antics (and Jay is borrowing from that) but generally he’s hard to get at, psychologically. In the end it’s Jay who’s exposed. His tactics flawed Suzuki begins to dismantle the kid. Poor Jay. He played games with the devil and now he has to pay the price. Jay is a talented wrestler, which is touched on here when he wrestles out of the sleeper. He can’t escape the Gotch Piledriver though and that finishes. This was a clever story. Jay thought he had Suzuki all figured out and discovered once he got in there that MiSu is a different animal altogether in reality. The theory is fine. Reality hurts.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Hiroshi Tanahashi  vs. Hangman Page 
They do a bit of shtick with the air guitar, as they did last night in a tag. Hangman doesn’t want to play along now though. He wants those G1 points. Going after the leg is his game plan, one that is there for any Tana opponent that wants it.
They revisit this spot as well with Tana coming out with the dragon screw. The possibility of doing a double leg match seems to be quickly abandoned then revisited. The trouble with doing a leg match is it limits the spots you can do and they want to get their shit in. You really can’t do both. And they alternate between the two. Tana finishes with a pair of High Fly Flows and this was hugely underwhelming. Hangman can look back on the Okada match and say ‘that’s what I can do’. Here they just did a paint by numbers match and the in and out of the leg match irritated me.
Final Rating: ***
Togi Makabe  vs. Kazuchika Okada 
Earlier I made a point about Omega being all serious now he’s the champ and coming out wearing the title, not the t-shirt. Okada is now coming out in t-shirts all the time. Okada spent a chunk of yesterday goofing around with Makabe’s chain and Togi seems miffed about it.
Okada drifts in and out of taking this seriously. He’s still working on this new character. The result is a house show main event with Okada using his popularity to cover for a lack of action.
A sluggish match picks up toward the finish. They are clearly taking it easy, with a heavy schedule ahead. Okada ends up showing flashes of brilliance although Makabe doesn’t show as much of a threat as you’d expect. Okada busts out a nice rolling lariat to set up the Rainmaker and this finished strong, which is a bonus because the earlier part of the match was weak.
Final Rating: ***1/2
The first show where a lot of the wrestlers looked sluggish. The schedule is going to start to grind guys down. Good showing from a few wrestlers. YOSHI-HASHI really stepped his game up (about time) and the main event just about edged everything else as MOTN. You can tell we’ve left the confines of Tokyo as the effort levels begin to drop off. We’re into that G1 mid-tournament run where you get decent shows but not the same top tier level of matches. It comes as a shock to begin with but by the time we hit August you’ll be adjusted it and we’ll finish strong.
Jay White 6
Hiroshi Tanahashi 6
Togi Makabe 4
Michael Elgin 4
Minoru Suzuki 4
Kazuchika Okada 4
Hangman Page 2
Bad Luck Fale 2