NJPW G1 Cilmax 28: Day Seven
It’s 2:30am and here I am! G1 Climax 28 Day Seven is an A Block show and while I’m much more a fan of the B Block match-ups there are a few here that I am quite looking forward to. With my newfound admiration for Hangman Page I’m excited to see him and Tanahashi lock horns, and anybody with a pulse is waiting intently for Minoru Suzuki vs Jay White. I can’t wait to see two of my current favorites murder each other for my enjoyment. On with the show!
Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa vs Toa Henare & Shota Umino
Shota is out for revenge here after Tama Tonga dropped his father, referee Red Shoes, with a Gun Stun the night before. At least, that’s the narrative I’m running in my own head. I’ll be honest with you – Tama Tonga and the Firing Squad are doing nothing for me in on this tour so far. The splintered Bullet Club story has potential but Bad Luck Fale is not an exciting wrestler for me and Tama hasn’t had any matches that have really blown me away yet. Perhaps they’re building to something larger with all of the disqualifications and nonsense finishes but I’m just not feeling it yet. Also, Honma on commentary sounds like a god damn ghoul and it’s freaking me out. Umino and Henare hold of the Guerrillas of Destiny for a time, but eventually it’s Shota getting caught in Loa’s Apeshit to wrap this up. After the match Tama Tonga runs over Toa and Shota on his way to the back.
Hirooki Goto & YOH vs Toru Yano & Gedo
Goto is fresh off of a loss to Ishii in the hardest hitting match of the tour so far while Yano is riding high on the wave of pinning Kota Ibushi to grab two points. After a double-team on Gedo early on Goto and YOH cheese for the camera with a pose together and it’s adorable. Gedo recovers quickly, though, with the help of YTR from the outside and the duo offer their own pose in rebuttal much to the dismay of Goto on the apron. YTR and Goto are briefly legal together here, giving a preview of their upcoming July 26 meeting, and Yano shows off his skills to keep up with the NEVER Openweight Champion culminating with his rebound belly-to-belly suplex before both men tag out. With YOH and Gedo legal, the RPG3k member is able to catch a quick pin to close this match out.
Zack Sabre Jr & TAKA vs Tomohiro Ishii & SHO
Welcome to Zack Sabre Time! Ishii and Sabre on the 26th is going to be brutal if Ishii has his way. Ishii just scored big-time points by pinning Goto for 2 points on Day Six while ZSJ looks to recover from his loss in a tightly-contested match with my Sppoky Boy~ SANADA. Sabre tries his hand at knocking Ishii off of the apron with a running forearm while he and SHO are the legal men and Ishii doesn’t budge in the slightest. Sabre backs off and turns back to SHO and I’m now praying for Sabre to at least live through his match on the 26th. ZSJ and Ishii find themselves legal and Sabre can’t hold the Stone Pitball down with chain wrestling. He strikes Ishii again to no effect to which Ishii responds with a clubbing forearm of his own that hobbles ZSJ. Sabre finally finds some modicum of success as he escapes Ishii’s grip with his falling kick to the arm before immediately tagging TAKA back in. With SHO back in as the legal man, TAKA taps out to the cross-arm breaker and we get to hear the RPG3k theme twice in a row! Post-match the dastardly ZSJ locks Ishii in an armbar briefly before the hold is broken and Suzuki-Gun retreat to the locker room.
Kenny Omega & Chase Owens vs Juice Robinson & David Finlay
Juice puts his blinking glasses on an awestruck ringside child and it is adorable. Are Omega’s tassel pants exclusively for tag team matches? They should become part of the regular rotation. I’m excited to see the IWGP Heavyweight and US Champions collide on the 26th. It’s hard to pick a frontrunner for match of the night because so many of them are show-stealers on paper which just means that Day Eight is going to be an absolute blast. Owens employs a fun springboard back suplex back breaker on Finlay here as he and Omega maintain control early on. The Bullet Club tread a little too closely to the nether regions for my taste as they focus their offense on Finlay’s groin – Taguchi should have a monopoly on offense inflicted by, and on, that general area of the body. Owens is able to escape Pulp Friction and attempts to climb the top rope but Juice catches him in a fireman’s carry into a gutbuster for the three count. He and Omega have words after the match before Finlay and Juice celebrate in the ring. Fun little tag match here which, as these tag matches do, highlights Chase Owens as a pretty solid hand in the ring. I don’t know if he’ll ever rise above his current role in Bullet Club but I do enjoy watching him out there and he was a joy as part of the English commentary team.
Kota Ibushi & Yujiro Takahashi vs Tetsuya Naito & SANADA
I think we all know who winds up eating the pin in this one. SANADA and Ibushi start things off and it sounds like Honma is putting a hex on somebody on commentary. Yujiro gets the upper hand on Naito with a series of forearm strikes before stringing him across the top rope with a stun gun. With Naito still down Yujiro tags in Ibushi to give us a preview of a match that will happen on August 4 in Osaka. Naito is able to regain control long enough to tag in SANADA who looks to be in prime form for squeezing somebody’s head like a cherry tomato until it pops. Yujiro is confident that he can put Naito away but gets snatched in the Skull End by the non-legal SANADA before Ibushi hits a missile dropkick to drive him out of the ring. Recovering inside, Naito is able to pull off a quick victory roll on his former No Limit partner Yujiro for the three. Afterward LIJ stare down Yujiro and Ibushi until the two opponents for July 26 come face to face. With how good SANADA has been on this tour (and in general) and how good Ibushi always is, their main event match in Niigata is going to be off the charts.
Mike Elgin vs YOSHI-HASHI
Who cares? I’m going to use this time to heat up a McGriddle and hash brown I got last night in preparation for the early-morning festivities. YOSHI wins here and I’m happy with that. He’s a bad wrestler but not (as far as I know) a bad human being so you take the small victories where you can. I hope his only points in the tournament come from beating the big dumb baby.
EVIL vs Bad Luck Fale
Oh god, these matches being back to back just reminds me that some day we’re going to be getting Elgin vs Fale. Woof. I wish Fale’s pants fit better. If EVIL picks up a win here he’ll have 6 points in the block and be tied with Jay White (for now) in the lead. Can he be the first member of LIJ to break 4 points? EVIL attacks Fale from behind as he and Tanga are about to low-down too sweet one another. He outwits Fale inside and outside the ring as the Underboss struggles to figure out how to fold up a steel chair. While the referee is distracted by Fale and the weapon, Tanga jumps in to attack EVIL to give Fale the advantage as the two men fight into the crowd. After being buried under some of the ringside barricades EVIL makes it back into the ring at the 17-count. Let it be known how much I love the announcer counting and how panicked he always begins to sound once he reaches 15. It’s one of my favorite parts of New Japan. EVIL is able to recover and, on the outside, runs Fale into the barricade before wrapping a chair around his head and sending him into the steel ring post. EVIL is able to fight back from an attempt at the Bad Luck Fall but when he locks Fale up for the EVIL STO, the Underboss shoves him into the referee.
Like clockwork, this brings Tanga into the ring who, after a miscue, forearms Fale. BUSHI rushes the ring and mists Tanga in the face which brings Tama Tonga to the ring. He looks for the Gun Stun on EVIL but can’t connect – EVIL shoves him off into an enziguiri from Naito who has joined the fray. EVIL is finally able to hit the STO on Fale but the referee doesn’t want to count the pin. Out of nowhere, Tonga hits the Gun Stun on EVIL for another disqualification loss for the Firing Squad. For good measure he lays Naito out with the Gun Stun as well before raising Fale’s hand and chasing the ring announcer out of the arena with a chair. EVIL now has 6 points and joins Jay White in the lead!
Minoru Suzuki vs Jay White
This is the one I’ve been waiting for! Suzuki/White could easily be a main event match on any night and I am positively torn here. Suzuki is my absolute favorite right now but Switchblade has been on a roll with a total of 6 points racked up in the tournament thus far. This match is going to determine the landscape around the A Block leader one way or the other. White comes out looking much more confident than he did during the tag match with Suzuki the night before but, let’s be honest, who isn’t going to be actually shitting in their pants on their way to get devoured by The King? Once he’s in the ring, though, White’s game is to avoid Suzuki at all costs until he gets caught on the arena floor. Despite being hit from behind, White is able to turn the tables and whip Suzuki from the barricade to the apron and back again repeatedly. White uses the ring skirt to try and suffocate Suzuki and, afterward, Red Shoes refuses to count an attempted pin due to the rule-breaking, another small touch that I love about NJPW. Suzuki looks to put away with a choke leading into the Gotch-style Piledriver but White is able to wiggle free and collide with Red Shoes temporarily taking him out. White goes for his bread and butter with a low blow but Suzuki catches it, smiles a sick grin, and hammers a forearm into Jay’s face before connecting with the piledriver to add two points to his total and ruin Switchblade’s sweep of A Block so far. Suzuki, tired of Jay’s attitude and actions, angrily pins him with a hand squeezing his face. A fun, but short, match from two of the highlights of A Block so far and I’d love to see it again in the future with more room to breathe (with the Switchblade?!). Suzuki is perfection and White is only going to get better.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Hangman Page
Tana and Page continue their pantomime routine from the tag match the night before but this time it ends with Page breaking the air guitar over his knee to the horror of Tanahashi and the crowd. Page catches Tana coming off of the ropes by tripping him and smashing his right leg into the ring apron as he begins to work on the limb originally ripped apart by Suzuki. As the match goes on the two repeat the kick-catching spot from their tag match but Tana has learned his lesson and doesn’t let go of Hangman’s foot, instead opting to pull him down with a dragon screw leg whip to take control. These two find themselves fairly evenly matched, even moreso after Tana reverses Page’s figure four leglock and begins targeting his leg. Page is able to bounce back for a moment with his flipping clothesline from the apron but, for the most part, Tanahashi never lets him have any of the breathing room he enjoyed in his previous match against Okada. Tana connects with the cross-body block from the top rope before flattening Page with the High Fly Flow to grab 2 more points and tie him with Jay White and EVIL at the top of A Block!
Kazuchika Okada vs Togi Makabe
If Makabe can win here he’ll push himself up into a four-way tie for A Block leadership! Otherwise, Okada will move himself further up the bracket with 4 points after losses to Jay White and Bad Luck Fale and a win over Hangman Page. Makabe is having none of Okada’s bullshit early on and as the Rainmaker looks to bring down punches on the skull of the Unchained Gorilla in the corner, Togi shoves him to the mat before the action spills to the floor. Oakda unsuccessfully goes for Makabe’s chain and while Makabe wraps the weapon around his own arm Okada drops him on the arena floor with a DDT. Okada draws the ire of both the crowd and Makabe as, back in the ring, he places a foot on Togi’s chest for an arrogant pin that Red Shoes refuses to count. Okada is able to connect later with his Scooby Dooby Doo cross-body from the top rope but can’t find the mark with a dropkick to Makabe seated on the top rope. After being denied here, Okada hits a running dropkick torpedoing Makabe into the corner. The reverse neckbreaker brings a two count to the former champion and then he and Makabe stand toe-to-toe trading blows in the center of the ring. Makabe brings Okada to his knees with a set of clotheslines but on the third is caught with the Tombstone. Okada fails an attempt at the Rainmaker leading to a Death Valley Driver from Makabe leaving both men recovering on the mat.
Okada finds himself on the top rope and in the grasp of Makabe who looks to connect with the spider German suplex. Okada is able to avoid the throw but then finds himself on the receiving end of a spider belly-to-belly suplex. As Makabe leaps from the top rope, Okada counters with a standing dropkick before hitting a second dropkick to Makabe rebounding off of the ropes. Okada once again goes for the Rainmaker but finds a chop from Makabe instead. He lays Togi out with a discus clothesline before finally nailing the Rainmaker for the three count. Okada now finds himself sitting with 4 points and two wins in a row.
Truth be told, this wasn’t a spectacular night of G1 action in my book. I’ve said it before but A Block definitely lacks the quality of match-ups you’ll find in B Block and most of the matches tonight simply felt too short and didn’t grab me like others have. That being said, let’s take a look at the standings as we head into a three-day break!
Jay White: 6
Hiroshi Tanahashi: 6
Michael Elgin: 4
Togi Makabe: 4
Kazuchika Okada: 4
Minoru Suzuki: 4
Bad Luck Fale: 2
Hangman Page: 2