Saturday, July 21, 2018

NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night Five Review

NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night Five
July 20th, 2018 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 1,683

I woke up to the news that Dave Meltzer gave Omega/Goto and Omega/Naito five stars. I mean, I can kind of see it on the latter, but the former? Dave’s such a parody. Anyway, the A Block is up today, with Kazuchika Okada looking to get his first two points against G1 rookie Hangman Page, Jay White trying to go to 3-0, and the annual Bad Luck Fale/Hiroshi Tanahashi match.

TAKA Michinoku and Zack Sabre Jr. def. Shota Umino and Toa Henare in 7:04
Kota Ibushi and Yujiro Takahashi def. Gedo and Toru Yano in 4:36
SANADA and Tetsuya Naito def. David Finlay and Juice Robinson in 7:58
The Guerrillas of Destiny def. Chase Owens and Kenny Omega in 5:40
SHO and Tomohiro Ishii def. Hirooki Goto and YOH in 6:58

A Block: Jay White [4] vs. Michael Elgin [4]
Two guys entering unbeaten. Something has to give. White’s coming off wins over Okada and Tanahashi, but this is his toughest physical challenge yet. He’s been great as a heel and the crowd was way into this. They badly wanted him to get his comeuppance. Early on, White learned that he couldn’t match Elgin and the pace was slow. Around ten minutes, things picked up as White found ways to level the playing field. If there’s one thing his character has done well, it’s being cunning/smart. We got a frightening spot where they tried some sort of suplex on the apron and both tumbled to the floor in a heap. Elgin beat the countout back in and went wild with offense, but a Buckle Bomb saw him throw White into the referee. Someone should keep count of the ref bumps in this tournament so far. A low blow and Blade Runner kept White unbeaten after 17:44. If you cut off some of the early stuff and make this around 13 minutes, it would’ve been better. The final ten or so minutes are strong, but I’m already over ref bumps here. [***¼]

A Block: Minoru Suzuki [0] vs. YOSHI-HASHI [0]
Both men entered 0-2, but Minoru has kind of dominated his matches. They met in a NEVER Title match last year (**½], which Minoru won. YOSHI brought fire at the start again, this time jumping Minoru before the bell. Suzuki responded by attacking his bad shoulder. It took away a lot of YOSHI’s signature offense. He lost a lot of the energy he brought at the start and the match suffered. Parts of it were dull and other parts saw some ugly bumps. YOSHI kept going for the Butterfly Lock, which has failed him in the tournament thus far. Minoru wasn’t about to fall victim to that shit. He survived that and an inside cradle, before putting YOSHI out of his misery with the Gotch Piledriver in 13:44. Most of what HASHI did felt flat and it killed the middle of this match, which felt way longer than it was. [**¼]

Minoru hilariously threatened to fight Kevin Kelly after the match.

A Block: EVIL [2] vs. Togi Makabe [4]
First time ever meeting here. You know what this was? A good old fashioned HOSS FIGHT. And yes, they fought this like one. It was two big dudes beating the hell out of each other all over Korakuen. They fought where Hiromu and Desperado did twice earlier this year. Of course, their war was much different. When things got back to the ring, EVIL took control and wore Makabe down. Just as Makabe was fighting back and starting to get things going, EVIL delivered the STO to get the win in 10:16. They kept this short and to the point. I’m a sucker for a good battle of big lads. [***]

A Block: Bad Luck Fale [2] vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi [2]
This is Fale’s fifth G1. He’s faced Tanahashi each year. In 2014 (***½) and 2015 (***½), Fale won. In 2016 (***¼) and 2017 (***), Tanahashi won. That’s not counting two matches outside of the G1 in 2016 (***¼ and ***) and one in 2015 (***¼). Tanahashi knows how to get the best out of Fale. This was standard for them. Fale dominated at points, with Tanahashi garnering the sympathy from the crowd. Fale threw him around outside and Tanga Loa got in some cheap shots. Tanahashi made his big comeback and the fans ate it up. He hit the High Fly Flow and would’ve won, but Tanga pulled the referee out. Oh, look. Another ref bump spot. Tanahashi fought them off, but got hit with a Gun Stun when Tama Tonga arrived. Fale draped an arm over Tana, but Red Shoes flipped off the Firing Squad and called for the DQ at 16:27. This was every Fale/Tanahashi match ever, but with a finish that made the Firing Squad regret their actions. Maybe they cut it out because they’ve been a drag all tournament. [**¾]

The Firing Squad jumped Tanahashi after the match. Fale complained to commentary that they can’t win with refs like this. Dude, you just had a 3-on-1 beating.

A Block: Hangman Page [2] vs. Kazuchika Okada [0]
Page’s first main event. Okada’s been a different man since losing the IWGP Title. I predicted he start 0-3, with this being the biggest upset, before winning out the rest of the way. Okada was all smiles, which angered Page. He said this wasn’t the Okada he wanted. Page started beating on him, but went overboard with the, “THIS IS OKADA NOW” stuff he shouted. Less is more, buddy. He does better with the action portions, stealing Okada’s signature spots and coming across like he was better. It seemed like getting outclassed by this G1 rookie finally woke Okada up. He got going and began to look a bit more like the Okada we’ve seen for the past few years. It took only one Rainmaker for Okada to put down Page in 17:31. A good match. It was another strong showing for Page, who has had two in a row. Okada has looked and wrestled differently, which is appreciated. [***¼]

Overall: 5.5/10. The worst night of the G1 so far by a wide margin. The opener and main event were both good, but never seemed to sniffed greatness. I enjoyed the EVIL/Makabe fight. Fale/Tanahashi was nothing we haven’t seen before and I didn’t care much for Suzuki/HASHI. I’m ready for a new B Block show.

Jay White6 (3-0)Kenny Omega4 (2-0)
Michael Elgin4 (2-1)Kota Ibushi4 (2-0)
EVIL4 (2-1)Tetsuya Naito2 (1-1)
Hiroshi Tanahashi4 (2-1)Hirooki Goto2 (1-1)
Togi Makabe4 (2-1)Tomohiro Ishii2 (1-1)
Hangman Page2 (1-2)SANADA2 (1-1)
Bad Luck Fale2 (1-2)Zack Sabre Jr.2 (1-1)
Kazuchika Okada2 (1-2)Tama Tonga2 (1-1)
Minoru Suzuki2 (1-2)Juice Robinson0 (0-2)
YOSHI-HASHI0 (0-3)Toru Yano0 (0-2)