Monday, July 30, 2018

NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night Eleven Review

NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night Eleven
July 30th, 2018 | Takamatsu City Gymnasium in Takamatsu, Kanagawa | Attendance: 2,555

Following another night off, the G1 Climax returns with just eight nights left until the finals. That’s kind of crazy. It feels like this just started, yet also somehow feels like it’s been on for a while. Anyway, I noted that due to the Firing Squad and this A Block, we’re only getting about half a great G1. Let’s see if the A Block can turn it around. On tap today is a rematch from something I feel got overrated last year (Okada/Elgin), the blandest guy in the block against the ace (Tanahashi/YOSHI), a WK8 rematch (Fale/Togi) and a Super Strong Style Evolved rematch (White/Page).

David Finlay and Juice Robinson def. Shota Umino and Toa Henare in 5:05
The Guerrillas of Destiny def. SHO and Tomohiro Ishii in 5:55
SANADA and Tetsuya Naito def. Gedo and Toru Yano in 6:43
Chase Owens and Kenny Omega def. TAKA Michinoku and Zack Sabre Jr. in 5:29
Kota Ibushi and Yujiro Takahashi def. Hirooki Goto and YOH in 6:31

A Block: Bad Luck Fale [4] vs. Togi Makabe [4]
These two met in the G1 last year (**½), in 2016 (**¾), and 2015 (**½), as well as at Wrestle Kingdom in 2014. Fale won all the G1 meetings but lost in the Tokyo Dome. Interestingly, only Fale and Omega have yet to be pinned in the G1, as all Fale losses came via DQ. So, Tanga Loa did the big intro for Fale, which was dumb. It made sense for Sabre/Tonga because of TAKA. Here, it was just a waste of time. Speaking of wastes of time, that was most of this match. They did the brawling we’ve come to expect from these two for most of the match. Fale continued to be a thorn in Makabe’s side. Makabe rallied and nearly won, but Tanga pulled out the referee and we got the typical Firing Squad nonsense. Only Tanga Loa can not be booked in the G1 and still be the worst part of it all. Fale hit Makabe with his chain and won in 7:51. This was bad, but at least didn’t last long. It’s tiresome to go over why the Firing Squad stuff is shit. [¾*]

Things have gotten hectic for me today, so the rest of this review will probably be shorter than usual.

A Block: Hangman Page [2] vs. Jay White [6]
Back in March, White retained his US Title against Page (***) on the US show. Page has only won via DQ, while White has dropped two straight after beating Okada, Tanahashi, and Elgin. This was another case of White playing up the cunning yet vicious heel, while Page continued to wow the live crowd with his athleticism. Page is basically eliminated, yet you never got the sense that he was willing to do anything to get some points on the board. There was some ref shenanigans again, as well as a few spots involving a steel chair. White got back on track with the Blade Runner in 17:10. Like their US match, this was fine but nothing special. The extra stuff with the chair and ref felt unnecessary. [**¾]

A Block: EVIL [8] vs. Minoru Suzuki [6]
Last year, EVIL bested Suzuki in the G1 (***). When you get these two in a match, you’ve come to expect some hard hitting brawling. It started just that way, with some around the ring. It was a lot of striking. In this match, bringing the chair into play worked and made much more sense than in the previous one. I always get a kick out of EVIL’s signature double chair spot. It just looks cool. EVIL won out during a forearm battle in the ring, before they moved into finisher counters and the bigger stuff. Minoru won out there and hit the Gotch Style Piledriver to tie him with eight points at 12:13. A good, stiff battle between two of the better brawlers out there. [***¼]

A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi [8] vs. YOSHI-HASHI [2]
The man at the top of the block against the man at the bottom. Tanahashi won their match last year (**½). This was more of the same. Like the Page/White stuff earlier, you never got the sense that YOSHI-HASHI was bringing any sort of urgency to the table. I did like the note about how nervous he looked coming into the match and how his confidence grew as the match progressed. That was honestly about all I enjoyed about this. It’s just nearly impossible to buy HASHI as any kind of threat, especially to someone like Tanahashi. HASHI got his knees up on the High Fly Flow and went right into the Butterfly Lock. Tanahashi countered and rolled up HASHI to steal it in 12:36. HASHI got in Tana’s face after the match to argue the three count. This was fine but like the rest of the show, it never sniffed being great. [**¾]

A Block: Kazuchika Okada [6] vs. Michael Elgin [4]
Okada bested Elgin in the G1 25 and G1 27 (both ***¾). We’re still getting the Okada who doesn’t take things seriously. He flexed and mocked Elgin while having fun. I mean, I’d be the same way if my “struggles” involved me being 3-2 in the tournament so far. Like their match last year, Elgin caught him with the high impact offense he’s known for. He threw Okada around with ease at points. Yet, he could never do enough to keep Okada down. In fact, from the pure standpoint of moves being done, this was great. But there’s more wrestling than the moves. There was nothing behind any of them. The match lacked emotion or a true story that mattered or made sense. Okada won with the Rainmaker after 20:56. Man, for someone who is supposed to be struggling after losing the IWGP Title, Okada is doing well. [***]

Overall: 5/10. I’m sick of these mediocre A Block shows. Only Fale/Togi was flat out bad, but most of the other stuff wasn’t memorable. Okada/Elgin was solid, yet hollow and EVIL/Suzuki was the best match on the show, yet capped out at ***¼. There’s just nothing interesting going on with this block from an action or story standpoint.

Hiroshi Tanahashi10 (5-1)Kenny Omega10 (5-0)
Minoru Suzuki8 (4-2)Tetsuya Naito8 (4-1)
Jay White8 (4-2)SANADA6 (3-2)
EVIL8 (4-2)Kota Ibushi6 (3-2)
Kazuchika Okada8 (4-2)Zack Sabre Jr.6 (3-2)
Bad Luck Fale6 (3-3)Tomohiro Ishii4 (2-3)
Togi Makabe4 (2-4)Hirooki Goto4 (2-3)
Michael Elgin4 (2-4)Juice Robinson2 (1-4)
Hangman Page2 (1-5)Toru Yano2 (1-4)
YOSHI-HASHI2 (1-5)Tama Tonga2 (1-4)

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