Thursday, July 19, 2018

NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night Three Review

NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night Three
July 17th, 2018 | Hokkaido Prefectural Gymnasium in Hokkaido, Sapporo | Attendance: 6,489

B Block closed out their first show with two stellar matches. A Block returns following a good start with a show in Hokkaido, where the G1 has traditionally started in recent years. We’ve got rematches set from Wrestling Dontaku 2017, this year’s Anniversary Show, and Wrestle Kingdom 12.

The Guerrillas of Destiny def. Shota Umino and Toa Henare in 6:40
TAKA Michinoku and Zack Sabre Jr. def. Jado and Toru Yano in 5:38
David Finlay and Juice Robinson def. Kota Ibushi and Yujiro Takahashi in 6:11
SANADA and Tetsuya Naito def. SHO and Tomohiro Ishii in 7:16
Hirooki Goto and YOH def. Chase Owens and Kenny Omega in 5:30

A Block: Hangman Page [2] vs. Michael Elgin [2]
Page won his first G1 match via DQ, while Elgin bested EVIL. Kevin Kelly made note of the ROH roots of both men and how they went to the same training camp for the company. Elgin also came in with a 3-0 record against Page. Page was overpowered from the start. He went high-risk early, hitting the apron SSP. That gave him some room to breathe and he wore down Elgin for a bit. Once that was over, this progressed into more of an even, back and forth match. The fans know Elgin as a big hoss, but they got to see that Page could hang with a guy like him. His powerbomb into a rana counter was great and the middle rope neckbreaker near fall that followed was a highlight. Page was more than willing to trade forearms with his larger opponent. In the end, he fell to a Tiger Bomb and Elgin Bomb in 17:17. It went longer than expected and felt like it at points. However, the action was better than expected. This was all about Page. He showed that he could flat out go in this environment against a big dude. It makes me want to see when Page battles a better hoss, like EVIL. [***½]

A Block: EVIL [0] vs. YOSHI-HASHI [0]
HASHI lost a hard fought battle to Togi Makabe, while EVIL dropped one to Michael Elgin. Their G1 26 was very good (***½). Unfortunately, HASHI seemed to be missing some of what made his match on night one work. There wasn’t as much energy behind a lot of his stuff. It started off hot, but faltered as it progressed. There was a scary powerbomb spot that sent both men tumbling to the outside. HASHI kept going for the Butterfly Lock, which cost him on night one. Nobody believes it’ll win a match, so it barely got a response from the crowd. EVIL ended him with the STO for the win in 12:37. For the third straight show, the second match takes a dive in quality. It wasn’t bad, but it needed a lot more to stand out. [**¾]

A Block: Minoru Suzuki [0] vs. Togi Makabe [2]
This is the Anniversary Show rematch, where Suzuki beat Makabe (***½). As soon as the bell rang, these two came out and beat the hell out of each other. It’s exactly what you want from Suzuki and Makabe. Chairs were brought into play and we got the usual ref bump in a Suzuki-Gun match. At least with Makabe, he was more than up to brawling with Suzuki and bending the rules. It was during this time that Suzuki took full control. Makabe refused to give up and stood toe to toe with Minoru, even when getting his ass kicked. Makabe managed to hit the Spider German. Suzuki stood back up, but ate the knee to the face. King Kong Knee Drop ended this in 14:58. It reminded me of Tanahashi/Suzuki in that Minoru dominated at points, yet still loss. It was different from everything else in the tournament thanks to the violent nature of it. The kind of war you want from them, though they may have overdone some of the ref bump stuff. [***½]

A Block: Bad Luck Fale [0] vs. Kazuchika Okada [0]
Fale usually dominates the top guys in tournaments. He’s unbeaten against Okada in tournaments, including a G1 win in 2016 (**¾), though he did lose to him later that year (**) and again in a title match in 2017 (***½). Carefree Okada was back. He had fun with Fale, taunting him, slapping him, and giggling. He’s a totally different person since dropping the title. It pissed off Fale and set up Tanga Loa, who was at ringside, attacking Okada. From there, Fale threw him into the chairs outside and beat him down. Okada made the expected babyface comeback and though he’s acting like a different guy, most of his in-ring stuff remained the same. However, instead of going for the Rainmaker, he went for the Tombstone, which nearly cost him in their title match. HE did hit two Rainmakers, but Loa distracted him. We got another ref bump moment, bringing out Tama Tonga to hit the Gun Stun. A Bad Luck Fall later and Okada was 0-2 after 13:38. Okada does okay with Fale, but not nearly as good as Tanahashi, Shibata, or Nakamura. This had some moments and I’m digging the changes in Okada. However, the Firing Squad continue to have their matches plagued by shenanigans. It’s like early Bullet Club stuff. [**¼]

A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi [2] vs. Jay White [2]
At Wrestle Kingdom, Tanahashi retained the IC Title over White (***¼), but it was before White got into the groove he’s in now. This is the building where White beat Omega, while Tanahashi has lost to SANADA and Sabre here the last two years. Considering what Suzuki did to Tanahashi’s knee on night one, it made sense for White to target it. Though Tanahashi was outwrestling him in the early stages, a shot to the knee would put Jay back in the driver’s seat. White showed how much he’s grown as he adapted his game plan. After Tanahashi got dropped on his neck, Jay put the attention there, hitting things like a Saito suplex outside. However, I wasn’t a fan of White trying to use a chair. I get that he wanted to damage Tanahashi, but going for a shot with it right in front of the referee was just dumb. That did set up a finishing stretch that the fans were completely invested in. Tanahashi got close to winning, but White knocked the ref into the corner, crotching Tanahashi. He hit the Blade Runner to win in 24:02 and has now beaten Omega, Okada, and Tanahashi in the same year. I liked most of this. White continues to nail his new character and he’s grown into it. The chair stuff was stupid and doing more spots involving the referee after Suzuki and the Firing Squad felt like a bit much. [***¾]

Overall: 7/10. There were three good matches on this show and two that kind of missed the mark. Nothing was great, but everything was watchable. Elgin/Page went too long, yet still managed to be better than expected. EVIL/HASHI was decent and Fale/Okada didn’t do much for me. Suzuki/Makabe was a fun brawl and White/Tanahashi felt like a worthy main event. There were too many ref bumps and shenanigans, though.

Jay White4 (2-0)Kenny Omega2 (1-0)
Togi Makabe4 (2-0)Kota Ibushi2 (1-0)
Michael Elgin4 (2-0)Hirooki Goto2 (1-0)
Hiroshi Tanahashi2 (1-1)Tama Tonga2 (1-0)
EVIL2 (1-1)Tomohiro Ishii2 (1-0)
Hangman Page2 (1-1)Tetsuya Naito0 (0-1)
Bad Luck Fale2 (1-1)Zack Sabre Jr.0 (0-1)
Kazuchika Okada0 (0-2)SANADA0 (0-1)
Minoru Suzuki0 (0-2)Juice Robinson0 (0-1)
YOSHI-HASHI0 (0-2)Toru Yano0 (0-1)