G1 Climax 28 N1
July 14 2018
We’re in Tokyo, Japan at the Ota City Gymnasium. Hosts are Kevin Kelly, Don Callis and Rocky Romero.
Toa Henare & Ren Narita vs. Hirooki Goto & Jado
Goto is wrestling SANADA tomorrow but there’s no interaction here as SANADA is busy seconding Naito in the first half main event. This is Jado’s first match since October last year and I keep thinking he’s retired but here he is.
Goto seems to have finally adjusted to being in CHAOS. He struggles with change. Maybe if he’d stuck with that Shinzaki gimmick he’d have gotten into that by now. I’m begging for Narita to pin Goto here. That would be amazing. It’ll never happen with Goto being in G1 and Narita being a young boy but one can but dream. Goto pins Narita with Ushikoroshi and we learned nothing here.
Final Rating: **1/4
Tomohiro Ishii & SHO vs. Toru Yano & YOH
Intriguing they’ve got SHO and YOH on opposing sides here, it’s one of the rare interesting things on the undercard tags for N1. The reason for this is Ishii vs. Yano is a Block match tomorrow in Block B. Although it’s interesting that nobody gives a shit about that match and instead are fired up to see Roppongi 3K collide. Their young boy matches were terrific. I’m also very into Ishii beating the absolute shit out of YOH for daring to step up to him. Yano has apparently agreed to not break any rules in this tournament although he immediately goes to the buckle and only stops when SHO tells him not to. Then he does it anyway. Yano gets a lot of love for actually wrestling in this match. Is he actually going to wrestle all the way through the tournament? Ishii puts YOH away with the brainbuster and this was a solid tag with good storytelling. It’s got me excited for Yano vs. Ishii tomorrow!
Final Rating: ***
Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Guerrillas of Destiny
GOD are more than the sum of their parts but this is still not a match that grabs me in any way. Tama Tonga has started a new Bullet Club offshoot Firing Squad. I could not give any less of a shit about Tama Tonga. He’s been in New Japan forever and he’s done nothing. He’ll do nothing in this G1. He’ll do nothing in the next G1. The Firing Squad is going to suck. And Tanga Loa is just bad, always has been.
Juice Robinson has gained a lot of character. Tama pins Finlay with a Gun Stun in mid air. I didn’t pay any attention to this. Sorry.
Final Rating: NR
Kota Ibushi & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr & TAKA Michinoku
This is a preview of Kota vs. Zack. Which is a pretty fucking awesome match to have on the goddamn UNDERCARD tomorrow. Main is Kenny vs. Naito. Sabre has been tapping out bitches all fucking year long. It’s been a glorious ride. He shows a lack of respect for Ibushi here, as well he should. He’s a master of submissions. Who the fuck did Kota Ibushi ever submit?
Step on him Zack! Teach him the business! The Ibushi/Sabre interaction is enough to whet the whistle but that’s about it. Then we have to watch Yujiro for a bit and that’s…less good. Sabre pins Yujiro with the Michinoku Driver, which is awesome because he ‘learned it’ from TAKA. I love that. It gives Zack a threatening impact move. “I got bored of being the best technical wrestler in the world. I’m going to do everything”.
Final Rating: **3/4
Kenny Omega & Chase Owens vs. Tetsuya Naito & SANADA
Omega enters G1 with a bullseye on his back, as IWGP Champion. First gunman up to the range is Naito. Interesting that Kenny, as champion, comes in without a t-shirt for an undercard tag. Is he now taking everything seriously as New Japan’s top guy?
Whereas Naito shows up with a t-shirt on because he doesn’t give a fuck. Omega believes he’s in Naito’s head because he beat Okada and Naito did not. Chase Owens does good work here, continuing to improve and again asking Milano Collection AT how to do the Paradise Lock in mid-match. While Kenny shows elements of his comedy in this, it’s interesting to me that he’s definitely better than in any undercard tags in years gone by. Skull End puts Chase away and this was really good.
Final Rating: ***
Togi Makabe  vs. YOSHI-HASHI 
Tacos is out of his depth. He’s only had five wins over two years. Four points last year and he’s done nothing since. He looks meek and timid and needs to deliver. If I was picking G1 matches I was fired up about this would be low on the list. Comms highlight that YOSHI-HASHI is too nice. Duh. Tacos is perhaps the most frustrating ‘nice boy’ in all of Japan because he just shows no fire at all. Togi is aggressive by comparison and borderline clumsy; throwing outta control forearms. I like that they tease Makabe just dominating YOSHI-HASHI into a quick loss. This leads to YOSHI-HASHI bringing a spirited comeback. He needs a good tournament. This is a good start with him being persistent and punishing Makabe’s arrogance. His utter no sell on a German suplex is great stuff. Why does he never show this fire?
Makabe flattens him with the Spider German though and the King Kong Kneedrop finishes. Surprising stuff all round here. YOSHI-HASHI bringing the fire and still losing! Don’t get carried away by Makabe. He frequently starts hot and fades.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Hangman Page  vs. Bad Luck Fale 
Fale has a new attitude (“fuck em”) and has definitely dropped weight over the past year. He even lets the ring announcer introduce him without murdering the poor guy. This is a big chance for Page, although this is not the match for him to prove anything. I’ll be looking out more for his bouts with Tanahashi, Suzuki and Okada. He takes a shit load of abuse here, taking bumps so Fale can stroll through the match. Page does show some nice fire here and when he clotheslines Fale out of the ring it gets a genuinely big reaction. And then Tanga Loa interferes. What? It’s the G1 shitsack. Get the fuck out of here. There’s no interfering in the G1. That’s like taking a shit in church. Tama Tonga then runs in and WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS THIS GARBAGE? GET IN THE FUCKING BIN. The Firing Squad? What a fucking joke. This whole angle is a goddamn mess. Why would you get Fale deliberately disqualified in the first match? How fucking stupid is Tama, from a kayfabe perspective? Also the Firing Squad is like Vince Russo throwing together a bunch of scrubs in WWF who he couldn’t get over on their own. Like a crappy Nation of Domination B-team 2k18. What really irks me is that the finish makes no sense at all. Fale wasn’t in trouble. Why even do this? To send a message? Well, the message is that you’re losers.
Final Rating: DUD
EVIL  vs. Michael Elgin 
The bad taste of Page v Fale remains in the mouth here. These two bring us a recovery slobberknocker though. Two big hosses going at it. They even throw in some psychology with Elgin busting up his arm and therefore being unable to power out of stuff. Elgin has switched his moveset around since dropping size so a lack of power isn’t such a big issue for him in 2018. I do enjoy a bruising encounter between two large men and that’s mostly what happens here, with added evil from EVIL. The Elgin is agile motif keeps cropping up and Big Mike is keen to reinvent himself as a more versatile performer, clearly. The debate comes from the arm injury though and whether Elgin continuing while hurt will cause him to struggle throughout the tournament. Which would be a more effective narrative if Mike switched arms on some of his moves instead of ‘manning up’. I do appreciate him switching to kicks, which helps to get over both narratives. The new moveset and the ineffective arm. He brings no consistently with it though. It’s a pity the arm stuff intrudes so much as this is a hard-hitting battle and I find the arm work distracting. The best part of the match is it feels important and whoever wins has genuine momentum. Elginbomb finishes and that feels like a big deal. You can’t say that about either of the preceding matches.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Hiroshi Tanahashi  vs. Minoru Suzuki 
Suzuki’s music has been remixed and initially I’m all “sacrilege” and then it turns out to be great. No major beat changes, just a little tweak. We’re reminded that Suzuki mangled Tanahashi earlier in the year for the IC title. And then Suzuki just randomly dropped it to Naito, who didn’t even want it.
They flub their lines in the early going but that works in a way because it shows how ragged both guys approach is. They’re both a bit long in the tooth and anxious to seize their last days in the sun. Suzuki goes back to torturing Tana for his amusement. Right back on the same leg holds that saw Tanahashi stretchered out of the building earlier in the year (New Beginning in Sapporo).
This is a familiar sight. The biggest issue they face is that Tanahashi can’t get out of these holds at all and yet there’s no submission in sight. Tana doesn’t get the breaks quickly enough. Suzuki on the other hand is damn near perfect. Ignoring Tanahashi’s forearms, with less on them as he can’t plant his feet, and going back to the leg instead of being drawn into a striking duel. Tanahashi does a fine job of mounting a comeback on one leg. It’s not as strong as it could be but he pays lip service to that bad leg wherever possible. When Suzuki does want to trade on strikes its when Tanahashi has no mobility and he can just pick him off with slaps for his amusement. Fitting into Suzuki’s sadistic mentality. Tanahashi’s only hope is flash pins, as if he was a youngster facing a veteran, but it’s effective. Then the BOMB. An inverted Dragon Screw. Suzuki drops like a sack of shit screaming in agony. Suzuki’s sudden loss of mobility allows Tanahashi to pick at him and the High Fly Flow finishes. This was beautiful. A massacre from Suzuki but Tanahashi used a combination of heart, perseverance and innovation to get through. Tanahashi is very predictable usually. Not at all here. He learned from being decimated in January but it took a while for his plan to come to fruition.
Final Rating: ****1/4
Kazuchika Okada  vs. Jay White 
I like the back story here where Jay White flat out stated he’d be coming for Okada at some point, even though he agreed to join CHAOS. He’s picked the right time to come for Okada with Big Kaz going through a bit of a crisis of personality. Red hair, terrible remix of his music, a shambling approach to walking. He looks drunk.
He certainly doesn’t look confident but in a storyline sense. In that he’s lost his belt and now he’s lost his identity a bit. Jay White can smell that weakness and almost hits Bladerunner moments into the bout. Jay is fucking ruthless here. Okada is all goofy and friendly and that gets him back suplexed on the floor and smashed into the rail. He made the mistake of assuming Jay would play by the rules and Switchblade doesn’t give a fuck.
There’s no doubt Jay has grown into this role and looks more at ease as a heel now. He even smothers Okada. This is his boss in CHAOS! Okada is so rattled by Jay’s aggression that he takes ten minutes to get going. Kinda like Greg “The Hammer” Valentine back in the day. The fact Jay is in this match shows how highly NJPW think of him but his assaults on Okada are all over the shop. He struggles in his control periods to tell an overarching storyline. Unlike say Minoru Suzuki in the last match. He does little things successfully like stealing Okada’s spots and talking trash. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect from a brash young punk, the kind of character he’s historically struggled to play. It also intrigues me that when he wants to Okada hits another gear and just blows Jay away with something like the John Woo dropkick where Jay flies backwards into the corner. Jay takes it to another level himself, which is thrilling. His Saito suplex over the top rope is terrifying and he’s quite happy to bash Okada with a chair, even if that never comes off for him. Despite the big dangerous spots it doesn’t have the feeling of one of Okada’s big title defences. It’s a touch under that in terms of quality and excitement. Plus the multiple ref bumps are a little off-putting. After the second bump Jay hits a low blow, uses the chair and the Bladerunner finishes. CLEAN AS A WHISTLE!!
Final Rating: ***3/4
Good opening night. Lots of variety. Lots of changes in direction like Yano wrestling, Okada being weird, new music, new looks, upsets and bullshit. I hate the Firing Squad. I’m pretty much on board with everything else.
Togi Makabe 2
Hangman Page 2
Michael Elgin 2
Hiroshi Tanahashi 2
Jay White 2
Kazuchika Okada 0
Minoru Suzuki 0
Bad Luck Fale 0