Friday, August 10, 2018

NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night Seventeen Review

NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night Seventeen
August 10th, 2018 | Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 6,180

Since I began watching the G1 Climax, the final set of shows was held in Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Hall. This year, we’re in Budokan Hall to wrap things up for each block. The lackluster A Block is coming to an end today. Only three members of the block are still alive, that being Jay White, and the obvious Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada. Will the A Block tell a compelling story on their final night? Or will we get more of the same?

White wins the block with a win and Tanahashi loss.
Tanahashi wins the block with a win or draw. A loss knocks him out.
Okada wins the block with a White loss and a win.

SHO and Tomohiro Ishii def. Shota Umino and Toa Henare in 6:07
The Guerrillas of Destiny def. Gedo and Toru Yano in 4:11
Hirooki Goto and YOH def. David Finlay and Juice Robinson in 5:25
SANADA and Tetsuya Naito def. TAKA Michinoku and Zack Sabre Jr. in 6:16
Chase Owens, Marty Scurll and Kota Ibushi vs. Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks ended in a no contest in 5:20

A Block: Michael Elgin [6] vs. Togi Makabe [4]
Surprisingly, this has never happened before. Entering our final night, neither man has anything on the line, so the match loses a lot of interest. Commentary kept hyping how much Budokan means to Elgin and how this was his first ever match in this arena. I’m sad that Makabe didn’t get to keep his 8 point streak in the G1. Anyway, this was a solid battle of two hard hitting brutes. It’s the kind of match that works for Elgin, and especially for Makabe at this stage in his career. Elgin held serve for a lot of this, until Makabe rallied and started in with some desperation moves. He used the King Kong Knee Drop to pull into a tie with several others at six points at 8:46. As I said, a fine hard hitting match. It did suffer from a lot of what late G1 matches Gedo has booked suffer from. There was nothing at stake and no drama. [***]

A Block: Hangman Page [6] vs. YOSHI-HASHI [4]
Another first time ever match. A win for YOSHI-HASHI prevents him from sitting alone at the bottom of the standings. They managed to give this a greater sense of urgency than the previous match. It felt like two guys looking to prove themselves. YOSHI because he’s basically a scrub, and Page because it’s his first G1 and he’s only had two pinfall wins, though they did come over Suzuki and Makabe. They had some solid exchanges, but a few things feel like they didn’t click right. It was about as good as can hope for from YOSHI, who found a sweet Rite of Passage counter with a Destroyer. He then hit Karma and won in 10:22. Good stuff from two guys who work hard. [***¼]

A Block: Bad Luck Fale [6] vs. Minoru Suzuki [8]
Oh, boy. Fale and all his tournament shenanigans against Suzuki and his Suzuki-Gun antics. However, Minoru is the master and can have bangers because he’s one of the best in the world. Minoru is able to match up with Fale in the brawling department, having the kind of fight that mostly fits them. The Guerrillas of Destiny made their expected run-ins, though it came at a sensible time when Fale was in serious trouble. El Desperado got involved, showing Suzuki-Gun wasn’t going to go down without a fight. In the end, a Gun Stun led to the DQ at 8:51. Fale didn’t get pinned at all during this tournament. Three wins and SIX disqualification losses. And people complain about Raw. [*¾]

A Block: EVIL [8] vs. Jay White [12]
A loss for Jay White would complete a monumental collapse after starting 3-0 and beating Tanahashi and Okada. Of course, that’s exactly what happened. But, before we get to the official result, there’s the match to discuss. Thankfully, we got some legitimate moments of drama and intrigue as they went at it. Commentary noted how the people who beat White so far were the guys who didn’t play by the rules, Fale and Suzuki. That style was right up EVIL’s alley and he gave Jay a lot of trouble. They had a strong battle that mostly played to their strengths. Like the rest of this card, it was kept short and that’s good due to the lack of importance for most of them. We got the usual ref bump and EVIL ducked a chair shot, before hitting Everything is Evil to win in 11:36. Best thing on the show so far.[***½] 

A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi [14] vs. Kazuchika Okada [12]
Of course it comes down to this. Classic Gedo. A ton has been said about this feud and some call it the best ever, though I’d put it behind more than a handful. Okada must win to take the block, while Tanahashi can just kill time for a draw. That works for the story as it allows Tanahashi to take a methodical pace. It’s his match to dictate. It works so the usual slow Okada start make sense. They kill about ten minutes, focusing on each other’s leg. Nothing major went down there. It was strange to see Okada struggle so much with Tanahashi’s knee work. You’d think he’d have figured it out after beating him so often. Tanahashi did what he could to pull me back in at a few turns. Fatigue set in and Okada couldn’t get the job done, with time expiring to give Tanahashi the block at 30:00. It wasn’t bad, but it kind of felt like a compilation of their matches rather than one that stood out among the crowded field. Going the route of the draw felt like the rest of this Okada “redemption” angle. Half-assed. It’s hard to take someone’s fall seriously when they go 7-2-1 in a tournament. At the very least Okada could’ve been stopped at the gates by his old rival. His character work also hasn’t been great in this tournament and it wasn’t here. Their chemistry always allows them to have a good match, but this wasn’t ANYWHERE near their best work. Though, it was still above their WK10 stuff. [***½]

Overall: 6/10. It was the A Block’s final opportunity to step up. They missed the mark and delivered more of the same. There was a sense of consistency from everyone. Some guys were solid (White, EVIL, Makabe, Page), some guys disappointed (Okada, Fale), some dudes were lame (HASHI), and one was strong (Tanahashi). In the end, this block was once again a massive letdown and it held back this G1 from being great. 

Hiroshi Tanahashi15 (7-1-1)Kenny Omega12 (6-2)
Kazuchika Okada13 (7-2-1)Tetsuya Naito12 (6-2)
Jay White12 (6-3)Kota Ibushi10 (5-3)
Minoru Suzuki10 (5-4)Zack Sabre Jr.10 (5-3)
EVIL10 (5-4)SANADA8 (4-4)
Hangman Page6 (3-6)Tomohiro Ishii8 (4-4)
Bad Luck Fale6 (3-6)Hirooki Goto6 (3-5)
Michael Elgin6 (3-6)Tama Tonga6 (3-5)
Togi Makabe6 (3-6)Juice Robinson4 (2-6)
YOSHI-HASHI6 (3-6)Toru Yano4 (2-6)