Friday, July 27, 2018

NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night Nine Review

NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night Nine
July 27th, 2018 | Act City Hamamatsu in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka | Attendance: 2,800

It’s probably not a good thing that we’re reaching the midway point of the tournament (usually a time for people to not put on matches as great as early or late) and I’m already sad when A Block shows come up. The B Block is exciting, fresh, and full of fun matches. The A Block is kind of there. However, this show is in Act City Hamamatsu, and we traditionally get good matches here (Tanahashi/Ishii last year, EVIL/Naito in ’16, Okada/Ishii in ’15, Shibata/Kojima in ’14, Suzuki/Nagata in ’13).

Hirooki Goto and YOH def. Shota Umino and Toa Henare in 6:41
The Guerrillas of Destiny def. TAKA Michinoku and Zack Sabre Jr. in 5:45
David Finlay and Juice Robinson def. Gedo and Toru Yano in 3:54
Kota Ibushi and Yujiro Takahashi def. SHO and Tomohiro Ishii in 7:08
SANADA and Tetsuya Naito def. Chase Owens and Kenny Omega in 8:22

A Block: Michael Elgin [4] vs. Minoru Suzuki [4]
Last year, Elgin beat Suzuki in the G1 (**½), but lost the NEVER Title rematch in September (*). I didn’t care much for either. Elgin started 2-0 but has lost two straight, while Suzuki started 0-2 and won two straight. Like their past matches, this was a big brawl between two brutes. Suzuki kicked his ass in the crowd and then no sold his chops because he’s Minoru Suzuki. Being the brilliant, sadistic bastard that he is, Suzuki targeted Elgin’s arm, which has been worked over for most of the tournament. Elgin did much better to sell it here than in previous matches. Thankfully, the arm also played into the finish. It allowed Suzuki to slip free of his grasp and hit the Gotch Style Piledriver for his third straight win after 14:10. Elgin has had a solid, but unspectacular tournament. I’d say this followed that trend of good but not great. I’ll give it the extra quarter point for Suzuki being awesome and Elgin selling the arm. [***½]

A Block: EVIL [6] vs. Hangman Page [2]
Page’s only win has come via DQ over Fale, while EVIL is having another strong year in the G1. Early on, this was more sluggish than you’d expect. Something about it didn’t seem to click the way you’d hope. For example, Page threw out some flips that only seemed to be there to try to pop the fans and show off his athleticism, more than to win a match. However, as it progressed, it improved. The fans got more into it and it felt more like a match where points were important. They threw bigger bombs, yet did so with a sense of being fatigued from a tough battle. That’s always appreciated. Page survived a lot of what EVIL threw at him, but couldn’t get up from Everything is EVIL, falling in 15:40. Page is like Elgin in that his matches have been good, but not great. Same here. I do think some of his matches have gone too long. This bordered on that. It got better late and could’ve used a minute or two cut off from the start. EVIL continues to be a consistent performer. [***¼]

A Block: Bad Luck Fale [2] vs. Jay White [6]
Guess what? Tanga Loa cornered Fale. White at least had the smarts to slide out of the ring and attack Loa. However, from there we got more of the same. Fale and White fought outside, following a similar formula to Fale’s tournament so far. I dislike this because I’m one of the people who typically enjoys Fale in the G1. He’s usually a safe bet for some solid matches. Not this year. Fale eventually won a boring match with the Bad Luck Fall. It only went 11:42, but felt longer than both prior matches. It sucked like most of what the Firing Squad has been involved in. The only thing of interest was how Naito had LIJ help yesterday, but it was clear that nobody from CHAOS was out to back up White. Though I don’t recall Okada getting help either. Also, classic Gedo to have White beat two top stars and then lose two straight [*¼]

A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi [6] vs. Togi Makabe [4]
This almost feels like an annual match, similar to Tana/Fale. They met in 2013 (***½), 2015 (***½), 2016 (***), and 2017 (**¾]. Tanahashi won them all except 2016. That’s just the ones I’ve seen, as Tanahashi also won in the G1 2004, 2005, 2010, and 2011, Makabe won in 2008, and they went to a draw in 2009. Wow. Anyway, you know what to expect here. Makabe can’t go the way he used to and a lot of his matches feel familiar. Like their battles the past two years, this was fine, but nothing more. The crowd was into it, since both guys are hugely popular. It just never seemed to have much urgency or energy behind it. They did the stuff you’d expect, it had a house show main event feel to it, and Tanahashi tied EVIL at the top of the standings with a High Fly Flow in 12:00. [**¾]

A Block: Kazuchika Okada [4] vs. YOSHI-HASHI [2]
The balls it takes to run this as a damn main event. It’s the top guy in CHAOS against the low man on the totem pole. He’d the low man in pretty much any stable, to be honest. This was their first singles match since shitting the bed at Wrestle Kingdom 6. I don’t think you’ll find another combination of guys who wrestled in 2012 to have their careers go in such opposite directions after. Anyway, the match trudged along similar to Makabe/Tanahashi. It was just there. It wasn’t bad, yet it never threatened to be any good. They had some callbacks to their past, which were appreciated. Okada hit a poor sitout Rainmaker and HASHI kicked out. Remember when only Tanahashi, Naito, and Omega had done that? Anyway, that set up a section of the match where HASHI got fired up and took it to Okada. However, many of their transitions and exchanges came off clumsily and you just never bought Okada tapping to the Butterfly Lock. Another Rainmaker ended this in 19:40. Booking that to go twenty minutes was a wild decision. Inoffensive, but nowhere near worthy of a main event. [**¼]

Overall: 5/10. Another ho-hum outing by the A Block. The two best matches went on first and it was downhill from there. Elgin/Suzuki was a fun powerhouse battle, while EVIL/Page saw them both put in the effort. White/Fale was more Firing Squad trash and the last two matches screamed “middle of the G1 filler.” At least the B Block is back soon.

EVIL8 (4-1)Kenny Omega8 (4-0)
Hiroshi Tanahashi8 (4-1)SANADA6 (3-1)
Minoru Suzuki6 (3-2)Tetsuya Naito6 (3-1)
Jay White6 (3-2)Kota Ibushi4 (2-2)
Kazuchika Okada6 (3-2)Zack Sabre Jr.4 (2-2)
Michael Elgin4 (2-3)Tomohiro Ishii4 (2-2)
Togi Makabe4 (2-3)Hirooki Goto4 (2-2)
Bad Luck Fale4 (2-3)Toru Yano2 (1-3)
Hangman Page2 (1-4)Tama Tonga2 (1-3)
YOSHI-HASHI2 (1-4)Juice Robinson0 (0-4)