Sunday, July 15, 2018

NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night Two Review

NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night Two
July 15th, 2018 | Ota City Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 3,826

After a solid start to the tournament, the B Block takes center stage. On paper, this block is WAY stronger than the A Block. It has all three champions in the tournament and is just loaded. Night two features rematches from two of the best matches of 2017. I’m ready.

Chase Owens and Hangman Page def. Michael Elgin and Shota Umino in 6:18
BUSHI and EVIL def. SHO and YOSHI-HASHI in 5:21
El Desperado and Minoru Suzuki def. Toa Henare and Togi Makabe in 6:44
Bad Luck Fale and Tanga Loa def. Gedo and Kazuchika Okada in 6:08
David Finlay and Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Jay White and YOH in 8:05

B Block: Tomohiro Ishii [0] vs. Toru Yano [0]
Surprisingly, this is a first time ever meeting. Interestingly, they’ve been within two points of each other in each G1 together, yet never in the same block. The tag partners faced off and we saw a different Yano at first. Instead of his “BREAK” spot, he got back in the ring and traded forearms with Ishii. Yano seemed like he’d avoid cheating, but still eventually tried to use a chair and exposed the turnbuckle. Yano won out in a strike exchange that blew the crowd’s mind. The same went for Yano popping up on a German and busting out a belly to belly. GIVE YANO THE TITLE, BABY! The finish was a cool twist, as it was Ishii who hit a low blow and rolled up Yano at 8:52. Look, I might be the high man on this, but I loved it. You probably won’t find something more fun in the entire tournament. They played off their personalities, brought some surprises, and gave us a clever finish. [***½]

B Block: IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion Juice Robinson [0] vs. Tama Tonga [0]
Two guys who had their big moments at the G1 Special in San Francisco. Juice won his first title, while Tama jumped Kenny Omega and Cody to form the Firing Squad. Will this be the year Tama finally breaks out in a G1? Tama beat Juice in last year’s tournament (***). If Juice uses the cast he gets DQed, but Tanga Loa was also outside. They wrestled this at a slower pace than expected, with Juice not wanting to risk something happening to his hand. A Tanga distraction put his brother in control. Tama attacked the hand, even standing on it at one point. Juice rallied and Tanga got on the apron. Juice brought him in and laid him out with the cast covered left. Tama countered Pulp Friction into the Gun Stun to win in 14:06. It wasn’t bad, but it was the worst match of the tournament so far. It felt long, Tama still doesn’t work an interesting heat segment, and as much fire as Juice had, it didn’t help things. [**]

B Block: NEVER Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto [0] vs. SANADA [0]
SANADA beat Goto in his first G1 in 2016 (***). SANADA got off to a slow start, with Goto getting in the driver’s seat. Part of it could be experience, but part of it could be SANADA focusing on the big match with Naito later in the tournament. SANADA changed the tide a bit with some brawling outside. From there, it was an evenly matched battle. Goto hit one of the nastiest looking USHIGOROSHIS I’ve ever seen. Following some fun GTR/Dragon Sleeper teases and counters, SANADA hit his own USHIGOROSHI. The finish played into the GTR/Dragon Sleeper stuff, setting up a rope draped reverse GTR. Goto hit another for two points after 13:38. Back on track with some very good wrestling. The finishers and how well they play off each other was a highlight. [***¼]

B Block: Kota Ibushi [0] vs. Zack Sabre Jr. [0]
Oh, baby. Ibushi beat Sabre in last year’s G1, while Sabre bested him in the New Japan Cup this year. Both matches got ****½ from me. Commentary hyped Sabre as the best tournament wrestler around, with wins in BOLA, New Japan Cup, Super Strong Style 16, and more. Ibushi surprisingly tried keeping up with Sabre on the mat. It should be clear by now that’s where Sabre thrives. He switched tactics and started throwing harder strikes and brutal kicks. Sabre got sick of getting the shit kicked out of him, so he started bending and twisting Ibushi’s leg in vicious ways. Ibushi used it for offense, but it came back to haunt him. Each time Kota seemed to get something going, Sabre had a counter ready. They nailed some of the little things, like Kota kicking out at one from a PK and when Sabre hit another, he lifted his feet to do it again, but couldn’t and had to wait until two to kick out. Sabre continually had the Kamigoye scouted and checked it. They also teased a similar finish to last year’s G1 bout. They went into an incredible series of counters late, giving us fantastic teases and near falls, before Kota hit Kamigoye to win in 22:58. Just an outstanding combination of striking, counter wrestling, technical work, and drama. [****½]

B Block: IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega [0] vs. Tetsuya Naito [0]
In 2016, Omega beat Naito to win the B Block (****½). In 2017, Naito beat Kenny to win the entire G1 (*****). It’s the rubber match. They started this out by playing up their character work. Little things like Naito stealing Kenny’s gun taunt and both men being cocky. We saw them play up their history with callbacks to the other G1 matches. They had each other well scouted. I particularly liked Omega dropping to one knee for Naito’s corner sweep spot. Naito remained one step ahead of Kenny throughout and it felt like Kenny was getting outwrestled. He switched gears and brought out a wild dropkick spot that turned the tides. Combine that with Naito being a bit too tranquilo and the playing field was leveled. Once they built to the final minutes, this kicked up into the next level. So many breathtaking counters. Both men were looking for the death blow, yet the other was always ready for it. In the end, Kenny turned Destino into a STEINER SCREWDRIVER OF SORTS! A V-Trigger and One Winged Angel later and Omega wrapped it up in 23:19. Awesome match. It didn’t top their final last year, but was about on par with 2016. They so well off their past, it had a big fight feel with a crazy hot crowd that made for a unique atmosphere, and it gave us some dramatic final moments. [****½]

Overall: 9/10. The B Block is awesome and they delivered as expected. Ishii/Yano was a blast of an opener, before Goto/SANADA delivered a good back and forth match. Juice/Tonga ended up dragging things down in the middle. No worries, because the last two matches picked it up. Sabre/Ibushi was outstanding and my favorite match of the night. Naito/Omega was just behind it and capped things in wild fashion.

Jay White2 (1-0)Kenny Omega2 (1-0)
Hiroshi Tanahashi2 (1-0)Kota Ibushi2 (1-0)
Michael Elgin2 (1-0)Hirooki Goto2 (1-0)
Hangman Page2 (1-0)Tama Tonga2 (1-0)
Togi Makabe2 (1-0)Tomohiro Ishii2 (1-0)
Kazuchika Okada0 (0-1)Tetsuya Naito0 (0-1)
Minoru Suzuki0 (0-1)Zack Sabre Jr.0 (0-1)
EVIL0 (0-1)SANADA0 (0-1)
Bad Luck Fale0 (0-1)Juice Robinson0 (0-1)
YOSHI-HASHI0 (0-1)Toru Yano0 (0-1)

WWE Extreme Rules Predictions

These cards are massive. Way too many matches and I'm a bit too pressed for time to give long details. Anyway, if done right, this actually has a chance to steal the show. Two great stables with a stipulation that has potential. Sometimes Tables matches are dull, but if they can go the Hardys/Dudleys route from the original match, we've got a banger. Just give me less of the fans chanting "we want tables." I'm going with SAnitY, who badly need a win.

Winners: SAnitY

I really like both guys, but this feud has been boring. I'm gonna pick Finn to win. However, that's a guy who has done a whole lot of nothing over the past year.

Winner: Finn Balor

This might have the big match feel they were gunning for if Lashley wasn't involved in shit feuds since his return. A big win or two would make him seem like a real threat to Roman Reigns. Instead, it's clear he's not on Roman's level. Big Dog gotta eat, baby.

Winner: Roman Reigns

I really enjoy most of what the WWE does. However, they're been bad in a few aspects lately. One: They've gone way overboard with Braun. It's too much and I'm pretty bored of him by this point. Two: Angles like the port-a-potty one with Braun and Owens. It's just not funny at all. Three: And this one goes back for years. They rarely ever put on good cage matches. Remember Seth/Orton in 2015? Or Bray/Cena in 2014? Braun wins for obvious reasons.

Winner: Braun Strowman

Their Raw main event was very good and went nearly thirty minutes. Still, an Ironman match can be tricky to book. I wonder how this plays out. Also, Dolph is still boring as champion. The only guy to make him interesting in recent memory was The Miz. I'm gonna say Seth regains the gold.

Winner: Seth Rollins

When you come up short in winning the WWE Title, five or six times, you move down to the US Title? This is kind of an interesting matchup, because it's two guys with charisma who aren't great on the mic. I'm picking Shinsuke because the dude has to win something at some point. Right?

Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura

I've heard people whine and moan about Carmella's title reign, but I love it. Is she a technical wizard? No. But, she's playing the ultimate opportunist role better than anyone since Edge. She beat Charlotte once because of the Iiconics and the second time because she outsmarted her. She beat Asuka because of James Ellsworth. It's a brilliant run. Still, I think Asuka wins here, but she kind of died in the water when Charlotte beat her.

Winner: Asuka

I saw people complain that Daniel Bryan isn't in the main event picture. I get that. I also get that the company might not be sure how long Bryan's sticking around, so why invest a ton in that? Instead, they put him with Kane to reunite one of the most tag teams of the past twenty or so years. I think they get the titles for a feel good run.

Winners: Team Hell No

The B Team has won basically everything heading into this match. That's usually a sign for a loss at the PPV.

Winners: Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy

This match sucked at WrestleMania and again when they rematched it. Nia's character flipping for the Ronda feud didn't help her sympathy. It's clear what happens here, right? Alexa is Charlotte 2.0. They're booked way above and beyond everyone else. Nia will lose because Ronda/Alexa is the money match for SummerSlam.

Winner: Alexa Bliss

Other than the Tables match and the Team Hell No reunion, this is the only truly interesting match on the show. Rusev is finally getting a WWE Title and it comes against AJ Styles. AJ's still one of, if not the best wrestler in the world. People like to forget that because his chemistry with Owens ruined most of 2017 and facing Shinsuke "phone it in" Nakamura has killed his 2018. But, the dude had two bangers with Jinder Mahal and was awesome against basically everyone not named Owens or Nakamura. Expect Rusev and him to deliver one hell of a main event. As great as this is for Rusev, AJ will retain.

Winner: AJ Styles

2018 Prediction Record: 26-17
2017 Prediction Record: 81-37
2016 Prediction Record: 72-41
2015 Prediction Record: 60-35

Extreme Rules Prediction Record: 17-4