Saturday, August 11, 2018

NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night Eighteen Review

NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night Eightteen
August 11th, 2018 | Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 12,023

The excellent B Block has blown away what those chumps on the other side have done. Will the trend continue for them the way it did for the A Block on their final night? Like the A Block, only three guys are still in place. There are two matches on the line for that, while some others see a small feud reignited and a battle of champions. Also, shoutout to the B Block for drawing about double what the A Block did last night.

Kenny Omega makes his third straight final with a win.
Tetsuya Naito wins the block if he beats Sabre and Ibushi beats Omega.
Kota Ibushi wins the block with a win and a Naito loss.

David Finlay and Michael Elgin def. Shota Umino and Toa Henare in 7:00
Bad Luck Fale and Tanga Loa def. Chase Owens and Hangman Page in 3:57
Marty Scurll and the Young Bucks def. Jay White and Roppongi 3K in 5:56
BUSHI and EVIL def. El Desperado and Minoru Suzuki in 7:38
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, and Tomoaki Honma def. Gedo, Kazuchika Okada, and YOSHI-HASHI in 9:00

B Block: Tama Tonga [6] vs. Toru Yano [4]
These two have kind of feuded in multi-man tags for a while, with Yano usually scared of him. Yano beat him in the New Japan Cup last year (½*) and again in the G1 (*¾). Yano is also fresh off a win over Omega and has been awesome in this G1, while Tonga’s done a lot of nothig. This was kind of the same match Tama has had with most guys. They did some stuff that was only mildly fun because Yano’s great. The Firing Squad showed up and a bunch of officials arrived to hold them back. Kevin Kelly calling this stupid on commentary was great. Yano won via DQ at 5:08 when Tama hit a Gun Stun on the referee. I appreciated Tama saying he didn’t care about star ratings before the match, because no wrestler should concern themselves with that. But when he said he didn’t care about points, that was dumb. Your goal is to win. This ultimately felt like another waste of time by the Tongans. Yano’s cool, though. [¾*]

B Block: NEVER Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto [6] vs. IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion Juice Robinson [4]
Here’s two champions who you might think were going through a storyline of struggling. Juice is, due to his hand, but Goto’s just below average. Juice has pinned Goto in tags, but lost two NEVER Title matches to him. Once at New Beginning 2017 (***¾) and earlier this year at Road to Wrestling Dontaku (****). Juice removed the cast as soon as the bell rang, hoping to avoid the issues he’s had throughout the tournament. Though this was a back and forth match, they made sure you got the sense that Juice wanted it more. There was a bit extra on everything he did. Juice kept missing the big left handed punch, but managed to look better than he has in a lot of matches in terms of control. They went into the typical closing stretch of countering moves. Juice won out and got the singles win over Goto he’s craved with Pulp Friction at 10:36. Even with the champions out there, it lacked some drama as a Gedo trope is to have basically everyone bottom out at 6 points, so a Juice win was expected. However, the in-ring stuff was strong and I liked the story of Juice finally getting back on track. [***¼]

It was announced that the Firign Squad left the building. It was better when we got that announcement about Tyler Breeze on NXT shows.

B Block: SANADA [8] vs. Tomohiro Ishii [8]
SANADA beat Ishii in his first G1 (***¾), but Ishii evened the score in the New Japan Cup last year (***½). This was great from the opening bell. They managed to make a chinlock spot, usually a moment of rest and uninterestingness in a match, work to dramatic effect in the first five minutes. SANADa ran into the same problem Omega had with Ishii. He threw everything at him, but this man was not to be denied. However, SANADA showed he could hang with Ishii as he would no sell strikes or popup after getting hit with a bit of offense. When SANADA’s knee became a problem, he started keeping the attack high, avoiding any issues. It was smart wrestling and one of those little things that is sometimes missing from his game. The finishing stretch was bonkers, with both men just giving it their all. The lariat bump SANADA took on his head was scary. Though he survived that, he could’t when he got hit with the Brainbuster, losing at 17:00. They did what other matches involving eliminated guys couldn’t. They made this dramatic and sucked me in. It felt like SANADA put everything together here and capped his best string of matches ever with a banger. Excellent exchanges and some unexpected emotion down the stretch. [****]

B Block: Tetsuya Naito [12] vs. Zack Sabre Jr. [10]
A win for Naito keeps him alive. Sabre said he was determined to play spoiler. Naito beat him in the G1 last year (***¾), while Sabre made him tap in this year’s New Japan Cup (****¼). Naito played some mind games to start, only for Sabre to grab at his “tranquilo” arm and wrap it in a submission. There was no time for games against someone as dangerous as Zack. He had an answer for everythig Naito did. There was a counter ready or a hold to catch him in. It wasn’t until Zack mocked his tranquilo taunt that Naito seemed to flip a switch and pick up the pace. From there, the battle was more evenly matched, but it still felt like Sabre had the upper hand. Naito was doing everything he could to not submit, wanting to stay alive in this important tournament. I must point out that the European Clutch continues to lead to fantastic near falls. In fact, every Sabre pin attempt seems to do that. Naito hit Destino, but since that move has been poop all year, he wanted another. However, Sabre countered into the finisher he’s been teasing all tournament, the Zack Driver. That got him the win in 18:17. Naito’s hopes of winning the tournament are dead. The match was great, with both guys playing to their charactes perfectly, filling things with drama, and giving us a great finish. [****¼]

In typical Gedo form, it all comes down to the main event. No way Naito was going to be allowed to be alive here.

B Block: IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega [12] vs. Kota Ibushi [10]
This hasn’t happened in six years. They’re best friends. Kenny started 6-0, but lost two straight. An Ibushi wins ties him with Omega/Naito/Sabre, but he’d make the finals due to tiebreakers over them all. Kota seemed to want to take this match as friends, but Kenny was more aggressive than expected. Maybe the thought of losing two straight forced Kenny to truly bring it. It threw Ibushi off his game and Kenny basically dominated the early stages. He wasn’t even holding back in terms of dropping his buddy on his surgically repaird neck. Ibushi finally had to stop taking his friend lightly and bring just as much aggression to level the playing field. Ibushi’s neck stuff added a lot to Omega’s V-Trigger to the back. I believe Omega became the first person to kick out of the Kamigoye, which was interesting since Ibushi is the only man to ever kick out of the One Winged Angel (though that was back in 2012). Ibushi nearly countered the One Winged Angel into a reverse rana, only to get dropped on his head. Omega wanted the super One Winged Angel, only for Ibushi to counter with a massive double stomp to the back of the head. He added the Golden Star Bomb off the top and the Kamigoye to advance to the finals in 23:13. I absolutely LOVE when NJPW main events stay under 30 minutes. Kenny had something similar with Okada in last year’s G1. Non-stop action. Their chemistry made everything click and they threw BOMBS at one another. Kenny came in aggressively and it took Kota stepping up to match him in that category to pull out the win. [****½]

Ibushi wins the block, facnig Tanahashi in the finals tomorrow. Regardless of how that match turns out, I can’t put this G1 near the top of the ones I’ve seen. It was about half a stellar G1. The B Block was incredible, but the A Block (and Tama Tonga) truly held this back. The A Block was the worst block I’ve ever seen in a G1, with only one match getting ****+ from me. Off the top of my head, I’d probably go 24 > 27 > 26 > 28 > 23 > 25. 

Overall: 8.5/10. It started with a whimper thanks to Tama Tonga, but it picked up right after. Goto/Juice was strong and the final three matches were all fantastic. Ishii/SANADA was awesome, Naito/Sabre was a dramatic battle of two guys playing to their strengths, and the main event was outstanding. The B Block ended with the same kind of bang they opened with.

Hiroshi Tanahashi15 (7-1-1)Kota Ibushi12 (6-3)
Kazuchika Okada13 (7-2-1)Kenny Omega12 (6-3)
Jay White12 (6-3)Zack Sabre Jr.12 (6-3)
Minoru Suzuki10 (5-4)Tetsuya Naito12 (6-3)
EVIL10 (5-4)Tomohiro Ishii10 (5-4)
Hangman Page6 (3-6)SANADA8 (4-5)
Bad Luck Fale6 (3-6)Juice Robinson6 (3-6)
Michael Elgin6 (3-6)Hirooki Goto6 (3-6)
Togi Makabe6 (3-6)Toru Yano6 (3-6)
YOSHI-HASHI6 (3-6)Tama Tonga6 (3-6)