NJPW G1 Climax 28: Day Eleven
Well, here we are with another A Block show on G1 Climax 28 Day Eleven. Unfortunately it’s one of the weakest looking cards of the entire tour but with a block that features Bad Luck Fale, YOSHI-HASHI, and Mike Elgin that’s bound to happen. Elgin is a great wrestler but a terrible human being, by all accounts (especially Twitter accounts!) so I have a deep moral requirement to write the big dumb baby off. YOSHI has had a couple of good-to-great matches, the most notable against Okada on Day Nine, and the story here has been everyone dunking on him in post-match interviews. This is also my first show trying out the English commentary which I have heard good things about, so why not give it a whirl? Maybe they can help boost the weak show for me!
Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs Toa Henare & Shota Umino
Juice is now mathematically eliminated from winning the G1 and, sadly, his hand is wrapped up again. I had hoped that by removing the tape and utilizing the punch in his last match that it would be a turning point but we’re back to square one for ‘ol Juicy. On August 1, Juice faces SANADA and if he beats my Spooky Boy~ he could spoil his changes at winning B Block. Shota Umino is getting better with every match on the tour. He’s got a great intensity and it’ll be interesting to see where he goes once he’s no longer a Young Lion and can expand his moveset. Finlay gets himself another pinfall victory with the Prima Nocta on Umino as Henare rushes the ring to break things up but is too late.
Tomohiro Ishii & SHO vs Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa
At this point I am exhausted by Firing Squad. The constant DQ and nonsense finishes have soured things quite a bit and, while I have faith that it will lead to something after the G1, it’s not fun to watch at all. Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero make the point on commentary that Tama Tonga is also mathematically eliminated from winning the G1. He and Fale have made it a point in post-match interviews to drive home they’re not focused on winning the G1 but rather making a mockery of the tournament as a whole. GoD start off in typical fashion with both men working over Ishii at the start until SHO slides into the ring for a dropkick on Tama. GoD keep SHO isolated for much of the match and, despite a flurry against Loa late in the match, SHO is taken down with a big lariat and Apeshit for another pinfall victory for Tanga Loa. Ishii is coming off of one of the best matches of the G1 this year against Ibushi and may flip it around to have one of the worst matches if the Firing Squad keeps their streak of stupid finishes alive. That may be a bit of hyperbole, but still. Stop the madness.
Tetsuya Naito & SANADA vs Toru Yano & Gedo
YTR will face Naito on August 1 and SANADA on August 4 so this will act as a preview for both of those matches. I’m still a little heartbroken over SANADA coming up short against Omega on the 28th. I thought he would be the man to finally knock Omega from his undefeated G1 Fun Run but the planets just didn’t align that way. I’m still of the belief that SANADA should be the champion of every division because, god damn, the dude is a machine and has been absolutely incredible this entire tour. Yano wants to start off with Naito who refuses to start the match, so Yano steps out and lets Gedo kick things off with SANADA. The beard-centric attacks continue on Gedo as LIJ pull and dropkick his poor follicles. Once legal, Yano removes the turnbuckle pad and uses it as a weapon against Naito. Both men avoid contact with the exposed buckles in the corner but Naito earns the advantage with the leg sweep and slingshot dropkick combo. After a tussle between Naito and the referee, the referee goes down and YTR uses the opportunity to slingshot Naito into the exposed steel in the corner. Both men quickly tag out where SANADA ties Gedo up. YTR frees him behind SANADA’s back and Gedo resumes the faux position using the trickery to grab a quick pin attempt on SANADA for two. If anyone were going to figure a way around that move, of course it would be Yano. Things don’t last long from here as SANADA taps Gedo out with the Skull End.
Post-match, Naito tries to leave the ring with the turnbuckle pad but is stopped by young boys. He returns to the ring to have his hand raised with SANADA who then leaves the ring before taking part in the customary LIJ fist bump with Naito.
Kenny Omega & Chase Owens vs Zack Sabre Jr & TAKA
Could ZSJ be the man who delivers Omega his first loss? The list of credible names to knock Omega down a peg is becoming increasingly shorter as the days go by but if anybody can do it, it’d be Zack Sabre Jr. Omega has openly noted in post-match interviews that he can’t wrestle Sabre’s style so if ZSJ can lock Omega in endless submissions he could have a chance at tapping out the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. TAKA spends much of the match in the ring being worked over by Omega and Chase while Sabre tries to run interference time and time again. The Suzuki-gun pair find themselves controlling Bullet Club for brief spurts of time but Chase is able to drop TAKA with the package piledriver for the win. After the match ZSJ locks Omega in a choke briefly before being chased out of the ring. Their match on August 1 is one of the matches I’m most looking forward to.
Hirooki Goto & YOH vs Kota Ibushi & Yujiro Takahashi
Ibushi and Yujiro control the pace early on as they keep YOH in the ring. Once Goto is tagged in he lays waste to both men as he snap suplexes Ibushi onto Yujiro. He quickly tags back out to YOH and the Chaos duo feel the brunt of Ibushi with a double Pele kick. YOH is able to get things back on track with Yujiro in the ring but as he rebounds from a failed O’Conner Roll on Yujiro, Ibushi catches him with a missile dropkick. Yujiro scoops YOH up for Pimp Juice and the three count to score his team a victory ahead of Ibushi/Goto on August 1.
Togi Makabe vs Bad Luck Fale
I don’t have high hopes for this one. Makabe is fine but he’s never been a guy who I really go out of my way to make sure I see. Fale is, of course, Fale. Tanga Loa is out with him and I’m sure he won’t be a factor in this match at all. Both men sit at 4 points right now and I wish I was sitting anywhere else as Loa starts his slam poetry session introducing Bad Luck Fale. Loa trips Makabe and pulls him out of the ring early on in this match allowing Fale to jump him from behind and begin to lay a beating in on the outside of the ring. Fale does as Fale does and pulls Makabe into the crowd before hurling him into the ringside chairs. Back in the ring Fale keeps Makabe under his thumb with a plodding pace until Makabe gets his second wind and begins laying in strikes of his own to The Underboss. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Loa pulls the referee out of the ring as Makabe looked to score a three count on Fale. With the ref down on the outside Fale uses Makabe’s chain to assist with a clothesline before Loa rolls the official back inside for a three count. Y-A-W-N.
Jay White vs Hangman Page
I’m really looking forward to this one – Switchblade has been on fire throughout the G1 and I’ve become a Hangman Page fan over the past several weeks thanks to his performances against Okada and Tanahashi. White looks to get back into the first-place race as a win here would set him up at eight points in a tie with the current block leaders EVIL and Tana. White bails out of the ring twice to avoid Page’s offense and uses a ringside young boy to catch Page off-guard as he pursues him. White tosses Page back inside and turns his attention away just long enough to see himself get caught with a suicide dive from Page. As Switchblade looks to escape Page’s attack once more, Hangman attempts the Shooting Star Press from the apron to the floor. White is able to avoid impact and then drop Hangman on the arena floor with a backdrop driver and a follow-up back suplex on the edge of the ring apron. White continues to work on the back of Page until Hangman hits a surprise clothesline to swing things back in his direction. Page finds himself on the apron for the flipping slingshot clothesline but White counters with a snapping Flatliner followed by a deadlift German suplex. After working his way back to an advantage Page tries for the clothesline from the apron once more but can’t generate enough power due to the damage White has inflicted on his lower back. White lays into him with a series of chops and uppercuts before hitting the far ropes – Page uses the opportunity to force himself up and over with the slingshot clothesline which, this time, connects.
Both men find themselves on the ring apron where White tries several ways to suplex Page to the arena floor. Page fights off every attempt and connects with the picture perfect moonsault from the top rope onto White on the arena floor. Back inside he rocks White with a running dropkick in the corner before setting up for another moonsault. White uses the referee once more in this match as he shoves him into the ropes causing Hangman to lose his balance. White scurries to the outside and shoves Page from the top rope causing him to flip and land back-first along the edge of the apron. After causing a referee distraction with a decoy chair, White smashes Page across the back with a second chair but is only able to pick up a two count. This match has perhaps one of my favorite ending sequences so far with White attempting to use the chair in the ring before the referee shoves him and forcefully causes White to drop the chair to much applause from the crowd. White goes to pull Page to his feet but Page’s boot slips off in White’s hand leaving him open for a small package. Both men attempt their finishers here with Page countering out of the Blade Runner by spitting in White’s face which is basically perfect. Page almost uses the chair on White but the referee stops the attempt and throws the chair from the ring allowing White to hit Page low behind the referee’s back before connecting with the Blade Runner to add two more points to his tally. Solid performance from Page yet again but he’s still at the low end of the block and in danger of finding himself alone in last place if YOSHI-HASHI can upend Tanahashi later tonight.
Minoru Suzuki vs EVIL
Jesus, HOW DO I CHOOSE?! I loved the interactions between these two during their tag team match last week and this is, for me, the real main event of the show. EVIL and Suzuki both delivered post-match interviews after Day Ten, Suzuki’s being (obviously) fucking terrifying. The King of Darkness looks to propel himself to the top of the A Block with ten points if he can beat The King of Pro Wrestling, otherwise Suzuki will find himself near the top of the group with 8 points. Suzuki charges EVIL before the introductions and this one spills out of the ring immediately as the two men look to tear one another apart. EVIL rolls Suzuki back inside after taking control on the floor.
Back in the ring Suzuki catches EVIL in the ropes with an armbar before pulling him back to the outside and whipping him into the guardrail. He bounces EVIL’s head off of a table at ringside before hitting him with a chair. Not satisfied, Suzuki wraps a portion of the guard rail around EVIL’s head and smashes that with a chair to add more damage to his head and neck. Suzuki gets back into the ring and surveys his handiwork as EVIL struggles to get back to his feet on the arena floor. He makes it back into the ring at a 19-count and Suzuki continues the onslaught within the confines of the ropes. EVIL is able to build a comeback and recreates a moment from their tag match as he stands on and kicks at the head of Suzuki as he recovers on the mat. As it did in their tag match, this only enrages Suzuki who lays into Suzuki with strikes and kicks.
The action spills outside once more where Suzuki continues to attack EVIL with chairs. EVIL is able to fight back, hurling a chair into the face of Suzuki as he advanced with one of his own. EVIL hits one out of the park with a chair wrapped around Suzuki’s head before rolling him back inside to continue the fight where one of these men can actually earn some points. Both men stand tall in the center trading harsh forearm shots and slaps leaving EVIL on top. EVIL attempts Darkness Falls which is countered into a rear naked choke from Suzuki before also being countered into an attempted EVIL STO. Neither man is able to hit their finisher here and they counter back and forth until EVIL hits the ropes and Suzuki ducks a clothesline. He slips behind and locks on the rear naked choke yet again, failing an attempt at the Gotch-style piledriver before yet again applying the choke to EVIL and eventually spiking him into the mat with the piledriver. Suzuki picks up the win and two more points. EVIL, Suzuki, White, and Tana are now in a second-place tie with 8 points.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs YOSHI-HASHI
Kevin and Rocky on commentary make a point to talk about how YOSHI has mentioned how much his body hurts and remark on the lack of confidence on his face as he makes his way to the ring. Don’t make this any sadder than it already is, guys. Tanahashi has control for most of this one, though things do dip at times when he plays to the crowd too much and allows for YOSHI to take advantage. YOSHI enjoys a a healthy portion of this match on top after connecting with a spinning mule kick as Tana prepared a dragon screw leg whip. YOSHI is able to battle back with a running powerbomb and swanton bomb for an extremely close two count but Tana begins to build a small comeback. YOSHI cuts him short with a clothesline and brainbuster for another close two count. YOSHI looks to put Tana away with Karma but he’s able to block and then roll through the move. YOSHI maintains wrist control and connects with a chop before Tanahashi rebounds with a Slingblade. Tana lands YOSHI high on the back of his head with a straightjacket German suplex before ascending to the top rope for High Fly Flow which YOSHI avoids by rolling toward the corner. Tana goes down holding his right knee as YOSHI recovers in the background. YOSHI comes off of the ropes with a sliding Meteora for another two count before attempting the Butterfly Lock. Tanahashi is on his game, though, and twists to the side to roll YOSHI up for three.
Tanahashi now puts himself in first place with ten points and, god damn it, I can’t believe I’m saying this but I found myself pulling for YOSHI at the end there. Is it YOSHI or is it the quality of his opponents that are bringing these great matches forth? YOSHI disputes the three count with the referee before getting in the face of Tanahashi – the two shout something back and forth for a few moments before YOSHI exits the ring. YOSHI-HASHI is now mathematically eliminated from winning the G1.
Kazuchika Okada vs Mike Elgin
Balloon Freak Okada is out again and, once more, avoids beating Rocky with a handful of balloons at the commentary table. Okada continued my favorite G1 trend of other wrestlers calling Elgin a fucking idiot with dumb muscles. Okada drops Elgin with a couple of DDTs on the floor and, if Elgin had any brains, I’d be concerned about his health and safety. Elgin surprises me by showing that he knows how to count to 20 when he rolls back into the ring at 19 to avoid being counted out. Elgin, the insect, robs us all of the joy of Okada’s Scooby Dooby Doo crossbody block from the top rope by catching Okada in mid-air. He climbs to the second rope with Okada on his shoulders but Okada is able to flip over him and back into the ring. Okada can’t hit a powerbomb from the corner but as Elgin leaps toward the Rainmaker he gets caught with a flapjack. Elgin fights back and blocks Okada’s corner dropkick before lifting him to the top rope for a thunderous superplex. He gets a two count off of this and follows with a buckle bomb which awakens Okada a bit. Okada slips out of the Elgin Bomb attempt and comes back for a Rainmaker attempt moments later but is caught with a kick from Elgin. Another attempt at the Rainmaker sees Elgin reverse the hold with a Rainmaker attempt of his own which Okada ducks. Elgin hammers Okada with two successive clotheslines for a two count.
Elgin assumes control here with a second buckle bomb before Okada catches him in a flash pin attempt for two. The big dumb baby recovers and clobbers Okada with a clothesline in the corner before setting up for Splash Mountain from the second rope. Okada counters with an armdrag and, back in the ring, Elgin uses his dumb muscles to pound elbows into Okada’s face. Okada looks for a dropkick as Elgin rebounds from the ropes but he gets caught in a sitout powerbomb before Splash Mountain in the center of the ring. Okada just barely kicks out before the three. Okada escapes Elgin’s attempt at a Burning Hammer and the two trade positions for a Tombstone before Okada plants Elgin into the mat. He lifts baby up and connects with a discus Rainmaker before pulling him up once more for the Rainmaker proper for the three count. Okada now boosts himself into a four-way tie for second place with Jay White, EVIL, and Minoru Suzuki.
The B Block is coming on August 1 with Ibushi/Goto, Omega/Sabre, and Juice/SANADA to look forward to especially. For now, let’s check in with the current standings in A Block!
Hiroshi Tanahashi: 10 (Possible Total Points: 16)
Jay White: 8 (PTP: 14)
EVIL: 8 (PTP: 14)
Minoru Suzuki: 8 (PTP: 14)
Kazuchika Okada: 8 (PTP: 14)
Bad Luck Fale: 6 (PTP: 12)
Michael Elgin: 4 (PTP: 10)
Togi Makabe: 4 (PTP: 10)
Hangman Page: 2 (PTP: 8)
YOSHI-HASHI: 2 (PTP: 8)