G1 Climax 28 N2
July 15 2018
We’re in Tokyo, Japan at the Ota City Gymnasium. I have had approximately 4.5 hours sleep since finishing N1. This is the theme of G1. Exhaustion, loss of sleep. Hosts on English comms are Kevin Kelly, Don Callis and Rocky Romero.
Michael Elgin & Shota Umino vs. Hangman Page & Chase Owens
Big Mike had an injured arm yesterday. Be interesting to see if it remains a focus here. Elgin vs. Hangman is in Hokkaido tomorrow. The big difference in teams here is that Chase has Hangman’s back whereas Shota is playing by the rules. Basically Elgin has no mates now because the whole Taguchi Japan unit are missing from the tour. Elgin is exceptional here, albeit ignoring the arm already. His new found mobility, complete with his meaty forearms makes him a genuine threat this G1. Chase puts Shota away while Page is busy flipping off the apron.
Final Rating: **1/2
YOSHI-HASHI & SHO vs. EVIL & BUSHI
EVIL has YOSHI-HASHI tomorrow so he’s on his way to his first win. SHO is what YOSHI-HASHI wishes he was. Technically strong but fiery in a believable way from an underdog position. Tacos comes in taped up, as he was yesterday, and has suffered some shoulder issues. He goes on to sell the neck. YOSHI-HASHI is such a weird guy because sometimes he turns it on and he’s *great* and then he’s back to ponderous again. He does both within this match! Moments of fiery brilliance almost immediately followed by minutes of meh. Banshee Muzzle puts SHO away but it’s a stark reminder that EVIL has a big finish that will hurt YOSHI-HASHI.
Final Rating: **1/2
Togi Makabe & Toa Henare vs. Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado
MiSu vs. Togi is tomorrow. Suzuki is showing no ill effects of his knee issues in the Tanahashi match but the Makabe match will be a brawl so I’m fine with that injury angle ending quickly. It was a means to Tanahashi getting on the board yesterday.
This match is all about selling the Suzuki vs. Makabe brawl, which I’m already excited about. Suzuki laughing in mid strike duel is wonderful and I can’t wait for more of it. Suzuki kills off Henare with the Gotch Piledriver to shut his shit down in short order. The match worked as a preview.
Don Callis screaming and running away from MiSu is tremendous selling. It takes him a while to get back adjusted to comms too.
Final Rating: **1/2
Kazuchika Okada & Gedo vs. Bad Luck Fale & Tanga Loa
Oh good, it’s the Firing Squad. I wonder what tactical master stroke they have lined up for Fale vs. Okada? Speaking of the former champ Okada comes out here like a fucking goofball. Again.
It’s a brave character change. Okada, now unencumbered by the IWGP title, is free to be himself. It’s only when we lose everything that we’re truly free. Firing Squad made a ‘statement’ last night but if they really wanted to make a statement why don’t they use this aimless tag for such political ambition? Instead Tanga pins Gedo and we move on.
Final Rating: **
Hiroshi Tanahashi & David Finlay vs. Jay White & YOH
Jay has Tanahashi tomorrow. Big start to the G1 for him, especially with Tana carrying an injury.
This match interests me because it’ll be a change to see how far Jay has advanced since being beaten clean by Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom. Jay again shows he distaste for factions by threatening to walk out on YOH. The thing is; he’s right! Get YOH to do the lifting. He’s not in G1. Jay needs to save his energy. Jay is the smartest man in this; jumping Finlay and killing him off before going after Tana’s knee. Jay picks his spots and happily uses the chair to soften Tana up in other ways.
Then he tries to get YOH to hit Finlay with a chair. That doesn’t happen and White looks on disgusted as YOH eats the Stunner for the finish. This was all about Jay and New Japan have done a fine job of rebuilding him after a stuttering start.
Final Rating: ***
Tomohiro Ishii  vs. Toru Yano 
These two have been regular tag partners for some time.
Yano is planning on sticking to the rules this year. Not sure how long that’ll last. Yano briefly looks to hide in the ropes and then says “ok, let’s do it” and they’re trading! Yano almost sticks to the rules but can’t help himself and exposes the buckle. The ref stops his low blow and the internal struggle of Yano is a major plot point. One of Yano’s actual wrestling strengths has always been the flash pin and that creates a lot of thrilling near falls. Yano wrestling is one thing but the Fighting Spirit is quite another! It leads to a hard-hitting bout with stiff strikes. So much for Ishii easing himself into the G1! Then when the match can’t get any better Ishii nut shots Yano and rolls him up for the win! He stole the pin! The longer you’ve been watching these boys the more you’d have gotten out of this. I loved it.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Juice Robinson  vs. Tama Tonga 
I’m hoping Tama wants to make another ‘statement’ here with a quick DQ so I don’t have to watch him wrestle for too long. Instead they start with a laborious pace. The only positive I have is that both guys swear a lot. What really annoys me is that Tama can wrestle, when he wants to, and he’s really good at it…but he prefers to do the bullshit, which he sucks at. His wrestling style suits a blue-eyed babyface and his brain won’t accept that. He wants to be a “bad boy”. Well, guess what; not everyone can be the edgy heel my dude. This match only shines when Tama stops the bullshit and just wrestles. The one heel move he has that works for me is going after Juice’s injured hand. That’s it. Everything else sucks. Juice has Pulp Friction lined up but gets ‘distracted’ by Tanga. Why? Just hit your finisher. Anyway Tama hits the Gun Stun because of it and wins. Another horrible Firing Squad display. The actual wrestling was very patchy and the story stuff sucked.
Final Rating: **
Hirooki Goto  vs. SANADA 
Moving on from Tama and onto something better. I frequently make fun of Goto for choking but when it comes to third from top, you need a solid match, he’s your guy. Goto is an in-your-face bruiser and SANADA can do that but he’s more than that.
The sheer range of skills that SANADA has is delightful. I still wish he had more a personality but there’s time for that to develop. His outside the ring dress sense is so snappy I know there’s a switch in gimmick in there somewhere. This match builds slowly, which is unfortunate given it has to follow Tama. I love how they show the similarities between the GTR set up and Skull End and how easy it is to turn that into a counters sequence. This leads right into SANADA lifting Ushikoroshi! SANADA can be a little cheeky at times, on the sly. I love how prepared he is for Goto’s rope running, something that traditionally puts opponents at a disadvantage. He’s done his homework. Goto has to change his approach and throw an unexpected headbutt to stop him. Then a stunning switch; reverse GTR from a rope hanging set up.
— Italo Santana 🇧🇷 (@BulletClubItal) July 15, 2018
Catching SANADA cold and tactically winning the match allows Goto to smash him with a nice high impact GTR, a move I’m not keen on, for the pin. Sluggish to start this got good toward the finish with SANADA’s homework being countered by Goto’s creativity and aggression.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Kota Ibushi  vs. Zack Sabre Jr 
Kevin Kelly points out Sabre’s tournament pedigree. He’s won just about everything although him taking the New Japan Cup earlier in the year probably removes his chance of winning G1. Sabre has added the Michinoku Driver to his repertoire. Sabre beat Ibushi in the second round of the New Japan Cup. Kota takes an interesting approach here, trying to use his speed and flexibility to catch Zack on the mat, territory where Sabre normally dominates everyone with ease.
Kota switches tactics, after proving he can match Sabre for bridges and whatnot, and unleashes the big kicks. Interesting to note he also uses his power advantage, which is a rarity for him. So Sabre switches it up, showing he’s done his home work, and stops Kota in mid triangle moonsault. The trouble with Zack eliminating Kota’s high flying is it takes the excitement out of the match. Which is a complaint you could level at a lot of Sabre matches. His offence is great but he’s not good at getting over his opponents offence. Unless the opponent is also good at technical stuff. The best part of this match is Sabre going after kicks, to prove his point (that he can beat people at their strengths not just technical mat stuff) and Kota kicking shit out of him for it. This, in turn, allows Kota to unleash some flying. I like the psychology of Zack being his own worst enemy and a totally cocky prick. But there’s a reason why he is and he counters the Pele Kick right into an ankle lock and when Zack sticks to his strengths he’s unbeatable.
— LARIATOOOO!! (@MrLARIATO) July 15, 2018
Sabre twists Ibushi into various shapes and it’s only Kota’s flexibility that saves him. The narrative is Ibushi hurting his knee but he’s not good at using the leg as the focal point for a match so that drifts in and out. Ibushi really steps up elsewhere. His timing in the crucial spots is immaculate and the strikes in this are excellent. The slaps and the selling of them are sensational. Zack has a great block of Kamigoye, shooting his knee into it to block the strike. Zack’s thought processes are marvellous. As this rumbles on I get worked into thinking it’ll be a draw.
Zack can’t get the submission and Kota can’t get in his big flips. Even when Ibushi makes a mistake they can pass it off as his knee collapsing. In the end Sabre wrestles circles around Ibushi and exposes his shortcomings, although that could be said of virtually everyone he’s ever wrestled. Despite this Kota slips out and hits Kamigoye for the pin.
Final Rating: ****1/2
Kenny Omega  vs. Tetsuya Naito 
These are the last two G1 winners. When Omega won G1 he beat Naito to take Block B. Last year Naito beat Omega in the final. Now they’re back! It seems you can’t have a G1 without Omega vs. Naito! Omega mocks Naito a little in the early going, thinking if he pisses Naito off he’ll make a mistake but instead Naito returns the mockery and imitation and Omega is the one who gets baited in! Naito 1 Omega 0. Then Kenny does the “you can’t escape” deal and Naito wriggles out. Naito 2 Omega 0. Basically Naito is like this all the time. He’s scouted Omega and Kenny is there resting on his laurels. Omega is the one who has to switch it up because he’s getting outwrestled. This is true for pretty much all of his trademark stuff. Naito is a half a step ahead, because he’s seen all this before and Kenny doesn’t seem prepared, or able, to change his offence around. It takes this happening half a dozen times before Omega switches to something dramatically out of left field; a dynamic dropkick through the ropes followed by a horrifyingly huge springboard dive into the front row.
Then a wrinkle in this where Naito takes too long, spends too much time posing, and Omega gets right on his shit. Then complacency the other way with Naito hitting a reverse rana to escape One Winged Angel; Omega going for it too soon and paying the price. It’s been a back and forth war with both guys aware of each others offence. The way Omega pulls a V-Trigger out of nowhere is wonderful but at the same time he then takes too long to follow up. The story of the match in a moment. Both guys looking for a killer blow before the opponent is ready.
This somehow ends up as a Naito powerbomb. The counters in this are sick. Naito takes the advantage by hitting Destino. It doesn’t finish but finally a big move lands and that puts Omega in peril. It gives Naito an opening. While it doesn’t immediately lead to the finish STEINER SCREWDRIVER COUNTER! WHAT! PRAYING MANTIS BOMB! NO PIN! WHAT! This fucking match. Just when you think it’s logically done something else happens. One Winged Angel finally gets it done and Naito paid the price for not putting Omega away when the chance arrived. Kenny made no such mistake, countering into the Steiner Screwdriver at a key moment.
Final Rating: *****
Omega vs. Naito delivers again! What a fucking match. I actually lost track of my own narrative because of a huge spot in this match and started typing in CAPS. You know that means my world has been rocked. Match of the Year? Maybe.
Tomohiro Ishii 2
Tama Tonga 2
Hirooki Goto 2
Kota Ibushi 2
Kenny Omega 2
Tetsuya Naito 0
Zack Sabre Jr 0
Juice Robinson 0
Toru Yano 0