KELLER & MARTIN FLAGSHIP (11/28)
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RADICAN’S G1 CLIMAX 28: NIGHT 1 REPORT
JULY 14, 2018
OTA-CITY GENERAL GYMNASIUM
AIRED LIVE ON NJPW WORLD
Note: I’m only covering the tournament matches this year and will not be reviewing the undercard matches, but I will include the results in each report.
Announcers: Kevin Kelly, Don Callis, and Rocky Romero
(1) CHAOS (Jado & NEVER Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto) beat Ren Narita & Toa Henare.
(2) CHAOS (SHO & Tomohiro Ishii) beat CHAOS (YOH & Toru Yano).
(3) G.O.D. (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) beat IWGP U.S. Champion Juice Robinson & David Finlay.
(4) Suzuki-Gun (Taka Michinoku & Zack Sabre Jr.) beat Yujiro Takahashi & Kota Ibushi.
(5) L.I.J. (Tetsuya Naito & SANADA) beat Bullet Club (IWGP World Hvt. Champion Kenny Omega & Chase Owens).
A BLOCK RESULTS & ANALYSIS
One interesting note is that there are no champions in the A Block this year.
(6) Togi Makabe (0) vs. YOSHI-HASHI (0) in a G1 Climax 28 A Block match. HASHI is taped up and the tournament has just started. HASHI whipped Makabe into the guardrail chest-first on the outside several times during the early going. Makabe mounted a comeback and hit his signature punches in the corner. Both men began trading forearms in the middle of the ring a short time later. Makabe got the better of the exchange and HASHI collapsed to the mat. HASHI got up and dropped Makabe with a big right. Makabe hit a western lariat a short time later and both men were down. They battled up top and HASHI slid under Makabe and carried him out of the corner for a sit-out powerbomb for a near fall. Makabe blocked Karma, but ate a western lariat and then a double knee strike off the ropes for a 2 count. HASHI got the butterfly lock, but Makabe got to this feet. He almost escaped, but HASHI hit a back stabber. HASHI applied the butterfly lock again. Makabe appeared to be stuck in the middle of the ring, but he began to stir and inched his way towards the ropes. Makabe finally got the rope break and the fans applauded. HASHI went up top and hit a Headhunter (Blockbuster) for a near fall. He went for Kharma again, but Makabe fought out of it. HASHI no-sold a big German and got right up. Both man ran at each other and hit clotheslines at the same time. HASHI ended up going into the corner. Makabe got up first and got the upper hand. He set up for the Spider German a second time and nailed it. He followed up with the King Kong Knee Drop for the win.
WINNER: Togi Makabe at 12:30 (2 pts)
Star rating: (***) – This got off to a slow start, but the action picked up late. HASHI seems to come alive during the G1 and he really appeared to be on the verge of winning this match, but Makabe pulled out the win in the end.
(7) Bad Luck Fale (0) vs. Hangman Page (0) in a G1 Climax 28 A Block match. Fale is in much better shape than he has been in previous years for the G1. Page made his entrance and posed on the ropes and Fale jumped him from behind and sent him flying to the floor. The ref called for the bell and the match was on. Page fired right back with a dive to the floor after Fale tossed him into the ring and hit several punches from the mount. Fale got back into the ring and then left. Page followed him, but Fale turned around and decked him with a punch. They went into the crowd and Fale tossed Page through several rows of chairs. Fale tossed Page through another couple of rows of chairs as fans scattered from the scene. The announcers mentioned Fale had lost 40 pounds. Page hit a clothesline and Fale wouldn’t go down. He hit a second one, but Fale dropped to a knee. Page maintained the upper hand and went for a German a short time later as Tonga Loa made his way down to the ring. Fale blocked a second suplex attempt and backed Page into the corner. He hit a big splash in the corner and then a standing splash in the middle of the ring for a 2 count. The announcers explained that Page was slow to go after Fale because he saw Loa. Page countered the grenade into a rollup for a 2 count. He turned Fale inside out sending him over the ropes to the floor with a clothesline. He set up for a dive, but Loa dragged him to the floor. The ref didn’t see the interference. Page wiped out Loa with a superkick. He hit a dropkick through the ropes to deck Fale. He then wiped out Fale and Loa with a moonsault to the floor! WOW! Page hit the Buckshot Lariat for a 2 count.
Page signaled for the finish and the announcers wondered if he could hit the Rite of Passage. Tama Tonga ran down and hit a chop block. The ref tried to intervene, but Tonga shoved him to the floor. The ref called for the DQ.
WINNER via DQ: Hangman Page at 8:13 (2 pts)
Star rating: (**) – This was a good way to further the split in The Bullet Club, as Fale has joined Tonga, Loa, and Haku, although Haku wasn’t in attendance. Page looked really good before the match came to an abrupt end. He’s a future star in the making.
After the match, Fale got Page’s noose. They began to put the noose around Page’s neck, but Kenny Omega, Chase Owens, and Kota Ibushi ran out to make the save.
(8) EVIL (0) vs. Michael Elgin (0) in a G1 Climax 28 A Block match. Both men have met three times in the G1 Climax now. This is their third consecutive year meeting. They are 1-1 against each other. Elgin has really leaned out this year. Both men went back and forth and Elgin ran through a chop and knocked EVIL down with a shoulder tackle. They went to the floor and Elgin whipped EVIL into the barricade. Elgin charged at EVIL, but he got out of the way and Elgin clotheslined the ringpost. EVIL shoved the ref away and he put Elgin’s arm inside a chair before running Elgin’s arm into the ringpost. OUCH! EVIL began working over Elgin’s arm inside the ring. EVIL worked a double arm submission. Elgin struggled, but managed to power out of it. He eventually hit a side suplex and both men were down. Elgin sold his arm as he went after EVIL. EVIL eventually rolled to the floor, but Elgin nailed him right away with a dive through the ropes. Elgin followed up with a slingshot double stomp back into the ring. Elgin followed it up with a deadlift German with a bridge for a 2 count. EVIL slid out of a brainbuster attempt. He got a boot up when Elgin charged into the corner, but Elgin no-sold it and hit several clotheslines in the corner. Elgin then got a running start and hit a HUGE running clothesline. Elgin went for a military press, but EVIL slipped out of it. EVIL tossed Elgin’s foot to the ref and hit a kick to the gut.
EVIL hit a bulldog and immediately got a modified Fujiwara armbar when Elgin kicked out. They went back and forth and EVIL eventually snapped Elgin’s bad arm over the top rope. EVIL went out to the apron and grabbed Elgin’s arm. They both jumped off the apron and EVIL slammed Elgin’s arm over the guardrail. WOW! The ref began his count and EVIL was shown sitting in the ring. Elgin got back into the ring at 16 and the fans applauded. Elgin slumped in the corner and EVIL hit him with a running senton for a 2 count. EVIL tied up Elgin in the Banshee Muzzle. Elgin got out of it and both men hit a clotheslines at the same time a short time later. Elgin fired up and missed a charge in the corner. They went back and forth and Elgin ducked a charge in the corner and hit the German. EVIL blocked a clothesline and hit Darkness Falls for a 2 count! WOW! Elgin blocked Everything is EVIL and hit a falcon arrow and both men were down. Both men got up and began trading blows. Elgin hit a pair of BIG forearms and EVIL went down to the mat. Elgin set up for a clothesline, but EVIL hit a misdirection lariat off the ropes! EVIL set up for Everything is EVIL once again, but Elgin powered out! Elgin hit a superkick, but EVIL fired back and wiped Elgin out. EVIL bounced off the ropes, but Elgin caught him with a HUGE clothesline. Eling followed up with a superplex, but EVIL kicked out. WOW! Elgin hit the buckle bomb and went for the Elgin Bomb. EVIL slid out and Elgin went for the burning hammer. They continued to trade sick counters. Elgin hit a splash mountain powerbomb and then the Elgin Bomb for the win. Holy s–t!
WINNER:: Michael Elgin at 16:08 (2 pts)
Star rating: (****) – This was a great match. EVIL had Elgin on the ropes and he worked over his arm for the entire match. They had some incredible fighting spirit spots and counter sequences down the stretch and the fans really came alive for the build to the finish. The question is how will Elgin’s arm be going forward.
Minoru Suzuki came out to a new entrance video and a remixed version of his theme to face Hiroshi Tanahashi. The fans clapped as he made his way down to the ring.
(9) Minoru Suzuki (w/El Desperado) (0) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (0) in a G1 Climax 28 A Block match. Suzuki went right after Tanahashi and tried to overwhelm him. Tanahashi fought him off, but Suzuki eventually hit a dropick to Tanahashi’s leg. He then grabbed a heel hook and began cranking on it for a long period of time. Tanahashi tried to get to the ropes several times, but Suzuki kept dragging him away from the ropes and applying the hold again. Suzuki switched to an ankle hook as Tanahashi tried to get to the ropes. Suzuki dragged him away from the ropes once again. Tanahashi tried to escape, but Suzuki switched back to the heel hook. Romero said it might be time for Tanahashi to tap out and live to fight another day. Suzuki switched to a knee bar as Tanahashi tried to free himself. Suzuki switched to the ankle lock. He then turned it into a STF. Suzuki dragged Tanahashi back into the middle of the ring and applied the achilles lock as he continued to overwhelm Tanahashi. Tanahashi struggled to the ropes and finally got to them as the fans cheered. Suzuki hit some light slaps to Tanahashi’s face and laughed at him. Tanahashi tried to fire back, but Suzuki began kicking away at his knee. Tanahashi caught a kick and hit a dragon screw. Tanahashi went on the attack with a light heat seeking missile in the corner. He then hit a flying forearm before staggering to his feet. He went up top for a senton, but missed and Suzuki hit a HUGE PK for a 2 count. He then grabbed an achilles lock as soon as Tanahashi kicked out. Suzuki then turned it into a figure 4. Romero said Tanahashi should just tap. Callis said this would set the tone for Tanahashi’s G1. The fans tried to rally behind Tanahashi, who eventually reversed the figure 4. Both men eventually rolled towards the ropes and they had to break the hold at the 10 minute mark. Suzuki hit some light kicks to Tanahashi’s face. Kelly said Suzuki had 2 goals left and those were to win G1 and become the IWGP Hvt. Champion at Wrestle Kingdom. Suzuki hit a flurry of big slaps to Tanahashi’s face. Tanahashi tried to fire back, but Suzuki ducked and continued to slap him across the face.
Suzuki grabbed a choke and Tanahashi began to fade. He then went for the Gotch Piledriver, but Tanahashi went low to block it. Suzuki almost got him up, but Tanahashi dropped back down to the mat. Suzuki let him go and went back after the leg, but Tanahashi rolled him up for a near fall. Tanahashi got another pinning combination for a nearfall. They went back and forth and Suzuki went for the Gotch Piledriver, but Tanahashi slipped out and hit a reverse dragon screw. Suzuki screamed like he had been shot! WOW! Tanahashi fired up and hit the Sling Blade. He made the cover for a 2 count. Tanahashi was bleeding from the mouth and he went up top and hit a standing High Fly Flow.. He went back up top and hit the traditional High Fly Flow for the win. WOW!
WINNER: Hiroshi Tanahashi at 14:21 (2 pts)
Star rating: (****) – This was very similar to their match in January where Suzuki dominated Tanahashi and Tanahashi ended up losing the IWGP IC Championship and went out on a stretcher. He dominated him again in this match and went after his leg over and over with submissions. Tanahashi managed to get in the one shot he needed to win when he hit an inverted dragon screw, which spelled the beginning of the end for Suzuki. I’ve never seen Suzuki in that much pain.
Suzuki stormed off and shoved El Desperado aside on his way to the back. Tanahashi was helped to the back with a limp by one of the Young Lions.
Jay White came out first for the A Block main event. Kelly noted he’s the youngest member of the A Block. He was wearing the same red gear he wore for the G1 Special in San Francisco when he lost the IWGP U.S. Championship to Juice Robinson. Kazuchika Okada was out next to his newly remixed theme. He came out sporting red hair, multicolored balloons, and a t-shirt. He was once again not wearing his usual entrance gear.
(10) Kazuchika Okada (w/Gedo) vs. Jay White in a G1 Climax 28 A Block match. White offered a handshake after the opening bell rung. Rocky Romero indicated with a non-answer that these two aren’t the best of friends. Okada went to shake White’s hand and he pulled him in for the Blade Runner. Okada countered it and went for The Rainmaker, but White slipped out. Okada smiled at White’s antics before they went at it again. Okada sent White to the floor with a dropkick. He followed White to the floor where he whipped him into the barrier. Okada hit a running kick that sent White over the barricade and into the crowd. Okada set up for his signature dive over the barricade, but White got out of the way. White walked away, but Okada followed him into the crowd and hit a kick to the back. White suddenly fired back and hit a snap Saito suplex on the floor. White slammed Okada back and forth into the barricade and then the edge of the ring frame several times. Romero said, “This does not seem like two guys in the same faction, huh?” Kelly reminded us that White’s next opponent is Tanahashi. White dominated the action for several minutes. They ended up back in the ring and Okada tried to fire back, but White nailed him with a huge chop and sent him into the turnbuckle pad with a suplex for a 2 count. White continued to target Okada’s head and neck. He dragged him out to the apron and slammed him head-first over it. White then smothered Okada with the ring apron after taking it off the side of the ring. White told the ref he would stop and put the apron back on the ring. The fans applauded his noble gesture.
White hit a pump-handle back breaker shortly after the 10 minute mark. Kelly said the ring sounded funny because a board might have popped earlier in the show. White slapped Okada across the head before applying a Muta Lock. He asked Okada, “How’s your Rainmaker?” He raked away at Okada’s nose, but Okada got to the ropes eventually. White kept grabbing Okada’s hair. Okada slapped his hand away and he did it again and hit Okada with a light kick to the back. Okada got right to his feet and grabbed White by the throat. He nailed him with several forearms. He missed a charge in the corner and slipped out of a suplex attempt from White before hitting a DDT that left both men down. Okada kipped up first and went to town on White. They went back and forth and Okada caught White with a flapjack for a 2 count. Okada went up top and hit a splash for a 2 count. White fired back and countered Okada. He went for a German, but Okada blocked it. White then transitioned and hit a Saito suplex that once again targeted Okada’s head and neck area. White hit two suplexes and went for a third. Okada broke out of it, but White countered him and hit a twisting brainbuster for a near fall at the 15 minute mark. White went for the Blade Runner, but Okada slid out and got the Cobra Clutch.White began to fan and went down to a knee. White got out of it and applied a Cobra Clutch of his own on Okada on the mat. White wrenched down on the hold in the middle of the ring and Okada just started out at the ropes. He finally managed to get moving towards the ropes and he got the bottom rope with his leg.
The fans fired up with Okada down on the mat. Okada fired back hit White with a neck breaker over his knee and both men were down. The fans began chanting for Okada. He got up and sent White flying into the corner with a shotgun dropkick. Okada went up top a short time later and hit the elbow drop. Okada signaled for The Rainmaker. White countered The Rainmaker into a flatliner and then a German with a bridge for a nearfall. White measured Okada and hit a HUGE chop. He continued to chop Okada at the 20 minute mark. Okada gritted his teeth and fired back with three big uppercuts, but White fired back with a huge lariat for a 2 count. White fired up and hit a combination of strikes and then hit a Saito Suplex over the top to the floor. WOW! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! The replay showed Okada landing on his side on the apron. White dragged Okada over to one of the guardrails and hit a HUGE butterfly suplex as Kelly screamed that something was wrong with White. White was shown yelling at the Japanese announce team.
White went under the ring around the 22 minute mark and grabbed a chair. The fans booed. The ref tried to get him to drop the chair. He grabbed the chair, but White shoved him away. White missed a chairshot and Okada dropkicked the chair right into White’s face. Okada hit his signature dropkick off the ropes. He then hit the tombstone and the ref began to recover! WOW! Okada wound up and hit The Rainmaker, but White backfirsted the ref. They showed a replay and it was clearly done on purpose before Okada hit The Rainmaker. Callis said Okada should go get a chair now. Okada went for another tombstone, but White slid out and hit a low blow and the fans booed. The match reached the 25 minute mark and White grabbed the chair and tossed it right into Okada’s face. White signaled for the Blade Runner. The ref recovered rather quickly and made the cover for the win.
WINNER: Jay White at 25:58 (2 pts)
Star rating: (***¾) – This was a very good main event. White was relentless in going after Okada’s head and neck for large portions of the match. He took a ton of shortcuts and it was made clear that even though these two are in the same stable, there is no friendship here. White ended up cheating to win with a chair, a low blow, and then The Blade Runner.
White took Okada’s ice bag after the match to use on his own neck. Romero asked if you should do that to your own stablemate. He argued with Callis on commentary. Kelly said we shouldn’t be surprised because he stated his goals when he joined CHAOS. White raised his hand and then flipped the fans off after the match. He got on the mic and told the fans to boo all they want. The boos grew louder. He said he doesn’t care about what the fans think and feel. The fans booed more. He said Okada had been dying since Dominion and he had to pull the plug. He said Okada is now his Rainmaker and it’s now his CHAOS. He said this is his G1. He said the fans have no choice, but to be with The Switchblade. White now advances to face a wounded Tanahashi said Kelly on commentary. White grabbed Kelly’s mic and said he followed through on his word. Romero asked him what the hell he was doing. He welcomed Romero to his Chaos. Callis asked if they don’t get along. Kelly said let’s table this conversation.
White was shown backstage and he said when he joined CHAOS, Okada said when they wrestled each other, he would realize that Okada is on another level. He said Okada had been falling since Dominion. He said this was his company, his kingdom, his CHAOS. He concluded by saying, “It’s all Switchblade.”
Overall thoughts: This was a very good start to the tournament. There are so many little storylines in motion and this tournament already seems to be rolling along and it’s only the first night of a long journey. One of the most interesting developments is the Bullet Club civil war with The Firing Squad going after the Kenny Omega lead version of Bullet Club. G.O.D interfering and costing Fale the match against Hangman Page signaled that this is going to be a very different tournament from last year, which had only one DQ.
The big names in NJPW are in trouble, as Tanahashi had his leg brutalized by Suzuki in their match, which was very similar to their match back in January where Suzuki mauled him and beat him for the IWGP IC Championship. This time, Tanahashi managed to hit an inverted dragon screw late in the match that Suzuki sold like he had been shot before putting Tanahashi put him away.
Bullet Club isn’t the only factions with issues, as Jay White continues to elevate himself in NJPW with some great character work. This time he followed through on his promise to beat Okada when the time came. White cheated to win in a really good match with Okada. It was the second match on the card that didn’t feature a clean finish, which hasn’t been the case during G1 in recent years very often. White did a good job of selling the win by saying this is his CHAOS and NJPW is his kingdom in his post-match promo.
After the first night, it was clear this tournament was off to a fast start. From a pure really good match perspective, don’t lose sight of the great EVIL vs. Elgin match on this card, as it could get lost in the shuffle given the storytelling elements of some of the other matches.
STANDINGS AFTER NIGHT 1
Hiroshi Tanahashi (2 pts)
Togi Makabe (2 pts)
Hangman Page (2 pts)
Michael Elgin (2 pts)
Jay White (2 pts)
Kazuchika Okada (0 pts)
EVIL (0 pts)
Minoru Suzuki (0 pts)
Bad Luck Fale (0 pts)
YOSHI-HASHI (0 pts)
Kenny Omega (0 pts)
Tetsuya Naito (0 pts)
Kota Ibushi (0 pts)
Zack Sabre Jr. (0 pts)
Hirooki Goto (0 pts)
SANADA (0 pts)
Tomohiro Ishii (0 pts)
Toru Yano (0 pts)
Juice Robinson (0 pts)
Tama Tonga (0 pts)
I will provide a list of matches ranked at **** or higher for people just looking to watch the best matches from the tournament. This guide is also handy for those of you that are short on time and looking to sample the best of each night of G1 Climax 28.
Match recommendations for G1 Climax 28: Night 1
(8) Michael Elgin vs. EVIL (****)
(9) Minoru Suzuki vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (****)
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