Disclaimer: This recap, as well as following recaps for the G1 Climax, were written on a one-day delay to allow fans in other countries to catch up with the G1 Climax shows as a whole.
Welcome back, fellow readers! We’ve gotten off to an amazing start in NJPW’s G1 Climax, with some interesting decisions already starting to shape the direction of the tournament going forward! I’m sure you’re probably asking yourself at this point, “How could they possibly top what I just saw in Day 1?” Luckily, you don’t have to wait for the answer very long as it’s time we delved on to Day 2 of NJPW’s G1 Climax 28, with English commentary provided by Kevin Kelly, Don Callis and Rocky Romero and Japanese Commentary provided by Milano Collection A.T., Shinpei Nogami and Jushin Thunder Liger!
If you needed the recap on the explosive start for the G1 Climax with the A-Block, I’ve got Day 1’s recap right here! Same as before, I’ll be covering all the matches as they tend to have some elements that could effect the tournament in the long-run. That being said, let’s get on with the show!
Just like the last show, we’ve got a video reel that provides highlights of prior tournaments, as well as the group photo of all the participants. The only difference with this reel, however, is that we’ve got an overview of the B-Block participants, which includes IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega, IWGP United States Champion Juice Robinson and NEVER Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto. In that sense, you could make the case that the B-Block has the most competitive field, but the A-Block definitely has the most diverse in talent. This definitely adds a different element to the entire field, in that regard, because you can expect to not only set up contenders for every title, but you could also set up ‘contender-eliminator’ matches in the process.
Right after the video reel, we’re brought over to the Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, where Hangman Page and Chase Owens are making their entrance. We also hear from Rocky Romero as well that ‘Switchblade’ Jay White left right after his match with Okada the night before, signalling some rifts within the CHAOS faction.
Match 1: Bullet Club (Hangman Page and Chase Owens) vs Michael Elgin and Shota Umino
Something of note in Elgin’s entrance, his bicep isn’t taped up here but he’s shown some instances of discomfort, which indicates that there’s still some carry-over damage from his G1 Climax match against EVIL the night before. Young Lion Shota Umino seems ready to go and I’m looking forward to his performance here.
Elgin and Page start things off and we’re kicking off with a collar-and-elbow tie-up. Elgin muscles Page into the ropes before a clean break happens. Elgin only backs off slightly, not giving Page any space and forcing Page to circle around to the opposite side of the ring. This, however, results in Elgin having his back to Chase Owens, who sneaks in an attack from behind and kicks-off some double-team offense from the Bullet Club members. It doesn’t last very long, though, as Elgin is able to counter an Irish Whip to elbow Page in the face and boot Owens, allowing Elgin to tag in Umino. Page and Owens attempt to double-team clothesline Elgin but misses. Umino, in turn, climbs to the middle rope to hit a high-impact split legged dropkick, taking down Page and Owens.
Umino and Page are left in the ring and Umino fires off forearms and European Uppercuts to Page. Page manages to fight out and runs towards the ropes, but he fakes a clothesline onto Umino and clocks Elgin off the apron instead (Page and Elgin face off against each other next in the G1 Climax and, given Elgin tends to have a ‘short fuse’, it makes sense that Page would take advantage of this). Of course, that attack brings Elgin into the ring, as Page has Umino in a fireman’s carry. Page, however, sees this coming and boots Elgin in the gut while dropping Umino. Page then uses Elgin as a human post to kick off and land a standing moonsault onto Umino for a two-count.
Page tags in Owens, who continues to work on Umino with a hard Irish Whip into the corner and bringing Umino head-first into Hangman’s boot in the other corner. Owens and Page exchange frequent tags to keep the other man fresh, but Umino attempts to fight out against Owens with forearms. This doesn’t work out well, as Owens catches Umino with a snapmare facebuster, thrust kick to the gut and a swinging neckbreaker, only getting a two-count on the Young Lion. Owens, aware that he’s got the advantage at this point, proceeds to taunt his opponent, slapping his head and driving his boot into his head. Owens, however, gets a bit too arrogant and attempts a strike on Elgin, who saw it coming and blocks before slugging Owens with a forearm, sending him right into a dropkick by Umino. Umino proceeds to tag in a hyped-up Elgin at this point.
Elgin immediately rushes and knockes Page off the apron before firing some forearms into Owens. Owens reverses an Irish Whip attempt back onto Elgin, who uses the momentum to slide under the bottom rope to nail Page with another stiff forearm to drop him to the floor. Elgin rushes back on the apron and nails Owens with a slingshot shoulder tackle and Falcon Arrow for good measure, channeling that ‘fighting spirit’ to bypass the bicep injury again. Elgin prepares for the Elgin Bomb but Page comes in to break-up the attempt. Page is sent to the outside by Elgin but his back is turned to Owens, who fires a bicycle kick into Elgin’s face to stun him and lift him into a fireman’s carry. Elgin escapes, however, and rocks Owens with a loud forearm to the jaw. Weirdly enough, however, instead of capitalizing on the momentum, Elgin tags in Umino to continue the assault and Page takes advantage by pulling Elgin to the outside and slams him into the rails. Umino does fire up against Owens, to his credit, with a quick corner forearm and reversing a counter by Owens to land a spinebuster and transition into a full-boston crab submission. Page comes in to break the hold up with a forearm, but Umino holds on to the move. One more forearm attempt by Page was still shrugged off by Umino as Page attempts to run into Umino. Umino wisely relinquishes the hold, surprisingly, and forearms an incoming Page. However, by this point, Owens is up and catches Umino with an enzuigiri, leading to a rolling elbow by Page and a superkick by Owens to drop Umino. Page takes advantage to land a shooting star press from the apron to take out Elgin on the outside. Owens, in turn, lands Jewel Heist onto Umino for the pinfall victory.
Winners: Hangman Page and Chase Owens
Analysis: This match, as it was said by the commentators, was a complete sprint from start to finish. There was a lot of action packed in this match and all four competitors looked amazing. The main story in this match was the focus between Elgin and Page, who face each other next in the G1 Climax but Page was easily the standout wrestler here as he’s taken advantage of Elgin’s quick-burst temper to subdue him from the match. Shota Umino was incredibly impressive here and more than held his own in this bout. The moment where he took the forearms from Page and baited him in for another forearm was unorthodox for a Young Lion, showing that Umino was starting to learn from his matches and developing his moveset to better prepare himself for any attacks. Umino’s moveset and build would most likely lead to him being a Jr. Heavyweight upon his return from his inevitable excursion, as it seems he’s more tailored to that style. Owens is very underrated as a competitor and his talent is in full display here. Great showing, especially for an opening match, and a great start to the show.
Similar to last night’s show, we’re immediately pushed into the next match. I suppose this will be the status quo for the shows, so I’ll just work towards getting used to it.
Match 2: Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI and EVIL) vs. YOSHI-HASHI and SHO
LIJ’s set for combat as the team of EVIL, who’s most likely reeling from his match against Elgin the night before, and BUSHI (who enters with his outer-mask being half-his and half-Venom, which looks really cool) facing off against a newly-fired up YOSHI-HASHI and Roppongi 3K’s SHO. Basically, this is the equivalent of the battle of Cap Locks but it’s interesting to note that SHO’s getting quite a bit of time on his own and away from the R3K tag-team. YOSHI-HASHI notably has his right shoulder taped up here. EVIL looks to be in good shape but seems banged up.
EVIL and YOSHI-HASHI kick things off and it looks like YOSHI-HASHI is still retaining his aggressive persona, getting into a battle of shoulder-blocks and chops but ultimately losing against EVIL’s raw strength. EVIL kicks YOSHI-HASHI in the gut and initiates a running shoulder block but is ultimately countered by YOSHI-HASHI, who drops EVIL with his own shoulder block and a delayed-vertical suplex for a two-count.
YOSHI-HASHI continues the offense with stiff chops to EVIL and whips him to the other side. Immediately, EVIL counters to send YOSHI-HASHI over instead, leaving him to be taken out by a waiting BUSHI, who climbs in immediately as EVIL catches an incoming SHO with a drop-toe hold, setting BUSHI up for a basement dropkick to his face. EVIL takes YOSHI-HASHI to the outside and whips him violently into the rails by the commentator’s tables, sending him over the rail. BUSHI, on the other side of the ring, has SHO in a headlock and rakes his eyes in the process. EVIL grabs YOSHI-HASHI and sends him back into the ring. During that move, it’s noted that YOSHI-HASHI is starting to limp from the right leg and clutching his neck, indicating a potential injury to watch out for in his next G1 Climax match. EVIL covers YOSHI-HASHI for a two-count and tags in BUSHI, who immediately proceeds to choke out YOSHI-HASHI with his shirt. EVIL comes back in and the two double-team YOSHI-HASHI, with BUSHI landing a missle dropkick. YOSHI-HASHI does manages to comeback, however, with a desperation Headhunter to drop BUSHI and tag in SHO.
SHO immediately fires up on BUSHI, landing forearms and clotheslines, and takes out EVIL with a forearm on the apron. SHO readies BUSHI for a deadlift German Suplex but BUSHI manages to catch SHO with a few elbows and an enzuigiri to escape and tag EVIL. EVIL tries to land a corner Rolling Lariat but is caught by SHO, who whips around and delivers a Backstabber and transitions into a cross-armbar. YOSHI-HASHI, in turn, takes BUSHI out on the apron to give SHO clearance to focus on extending EVIL’s arm. EViL, however, uses his height to get his leg on the bottom rope to break the hold while BUSHI takes out YOSHI-HASHI by slamming him into the rails. BUSHI manages to get back into the ring and the LIJ-duo double-team SHO with a flurry of offense before YOSHI-HASHI makes the save. YOSHI-HASHI catches BUSHI with a step-up inverse enzuigiri to subdue BUSHI and goes for EVIL. EVIL blocks the Lariat attempt, however, and drops YOSHI-HASHI with EVIL to send him outside. SHO, on the other hand, gets rocked with a double-knee facebuster by BUSHI and EVIL locks in the Banshee Muzzle for the submission victory.
Winners: BUSHI and EVIL
Analysis: The show is two-for-two on fast-paced and intense tag-team matches so far! The story for this match was focused on EVIL and YOSHI-HASHI, who face each other next in the G1 Climax, but EVIL looks to be only minimally damaged through fatigue. YOSHI-HASHI, on the other hand, looks to be damaged significantly from the neck, leg and taped-up shoulder. This will definitely play into his next match, which happens the very next day. To his credit, it looks like the aggressive persona is here to stay and he’ll need that going forward, as he’s off to a bad start with this year’s tournament after a loss. BUSHI and SHO were impressive in their own right, especially SHO, who seems to have much more of a flashy appeal compared to his partner YOH (maybe it’s the gold?). BUSHI is BUSHI, which is not a bad thing and delivers a very nice balance to EVIL’s powerhouse-movepool, which is needed to keep the team’s fluidity balanced and that was on display here. This was definitely a great match and worth a watch if you have some time on your hands.
YOSHI-HASHI is carried to the back by the Young Lions and we’re off to the next match fairly quickly.
Match 3: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and El Desperado) vs. Togi Makabe and Toa Henare
Something to note regarding Suzuki’s entrance, in this case, is that Suzuki is walking quite normally down the ramp with no noticeable limp or tape/pads to protect the knee. There may be a possibility that Suzuki, given his personality, may be trying to hide the injury but that’s something to look for as the tournament progresses.
Makabe and Henare make it to the ring and, during Toa’s pose, Suzuki kickstarts the match by attacking Makabe in the corner, with kicks and stomps before tossing Makabe to the floor. Both men brawl on the outside, with Makabe whipping Suzuki to the rail on the side. Meanwhile, in the ring, Desperado and Henare continue to battle in the ring, with Desperado raking Henare’s eyes. Henare, in turn, slams Desperado to the mat as Makabe slides in and the two catch Desperado in a double-team shoulder block. Henare continues to stomp Desperado and follows up with another scoop slam and fires up the crowd with poses. However, he makes the mistake of starting to build momentum by running into the ropes towards Suzuki’s side, leading to a kick to the back and an armbar by Suzuki onto Henare, using the ropes to hang off Henare’s arm for leverage. Suzuki also extends the fingers as well, allowing for hyperextension on the arm itself. Suzuki then pulls Henare to the outside and slams him into the rails. Makabe and Desperado, on the opposite side, brawl as well, leading to Desperado slamming Makabe into the rails. Suzuki, in the process of this, reunites with Desperado as the duo open the entrance ramp doorway and proceed over to the entrance ramp.
Chaos (not the group) ensues in the process as Suzuki and Makabe brawl into the crowd, with Suzuki slamming Makabe into the nearby chairs as the crowd flees. Suzuki, not satisfied with this, grabs the nearby railings and even a chair and tosses them onto Makabe, incapacitating him in the process. Desperado (and Suzuki, after some time) continues to work on Henare with stomps in the ring. After some time, Makabe manages to make his way back to the corner, but gets sent back to the outside by Suzuki. Henare, however, manages to gain enough cognizance to dodge an attack by Suzuki and counter with a shoulder tackle, allowing him to tag in a fired-up Makabe.
Makabe rushes in and cleans house on Suzuki-gun, knocking Desperado off the apron and catching Suzuki with a series of corner clotheslines and mounted punches. After letting out a hearty laugh, Makabe attempts a Northern Lights Suplex but Suzuki catches Makabe with a knee to the face. The two then engage in a test of strength as they exchange stiff forearms to the jaw and challenging the other to return the damage. Suzuki, with his facial expression as twisted and maniacal as ever, wins the exchange with vicious shots that not only drop Makabe to a knee, but causes him to cross his eyes as well (which is extremely impressive, as Makabe is an extremely tough and durable individual). Suzuki attempts to whip Makabe into the ropes but Makabe reverses and sends Suzuki running. Suzuki attempts to use the momentum, however, to clothesline Makabe but Makabe ducks and counters with a lariat, sending them both to the mat as Makabe is still dazed from the forearm strikes earlier.
At this point, Henare has made it to the apron, leading to Makabe tagging him in. Henare goes wild and knocks Desperado off the apron. Makabe remains in the ring and the two double team Suzuki for a bit before Desperado comes back to distract Makabe. Makabe tosses Desperado out of the ring, but Suzuki catckes Makabe off the distraction and sends him out as well. Henare attempts to capitalize on Suzuki being distracted to Irish Whip him across the ring, but Suzuki counters the move to send Henare across instead. In the same motion, Suzuki darts in the same direction as Henare, which causes Henare to stop his motion mid-ring and Suzuki to slip around to Henare’s back and catch him in a sleeper hold but immediately transitions him into the Gotch-style Piledriver for the pinfall victory.
Post-match, Makabe and Suzuki have a stare-down, grabbing each other by the neck and raring to fight before the Young Lions hold the two back. Suzuki, in turn, chokes out the Young Lion holding him back and kicks the railing near the commentator’s table, causing a series of shrieks that no fan should ever hear.
Winners: Minoru Suzuki and El Desperado
Analysis: There was a LOT of action packed into this match and a great way to hype Makabe and Suzuki’s face-off in their G1 Climax match. I definitely enjoyed the segments between both Makabe and Suzuki and I especially appreciate that they kept the action between the two of them to a minimum, with Henare filling the role of the wrestler that can serve as the bridge between the two. Desperado, as good as he was in this match, was really a non-factor here but filled his role quite nicely.
Something to note in this match was that Suzuki showed no signs of knee damage from his G1 Climax match against Tanahashi. During that match, Suzuki was screaming in so much terror from the inverted dragon screw that you could’ve been led to believe he tore a ligament or jammed his knee. In this match, he was walking around just as fine and didn’t even lose a step during his transitions. Granted, Suzuki did move a bit slower than his usual paces and only sped up when it was a chance at a direct victory so that’s still something to be aware of. Conversely, now that Makabe is coming off the loss in this match, one has to wonder if that will play a role in his momentum ahead of the match.
After a slight pause, we’re off to the next match as the blaring of ‘Underboss’ signals the arrival of BC Firing Squad’s Bad Luck Fale and Tanga Loa.
Match 4: Bullet Club Firing Squad (Tanga Loa and Bad Luck Fale) vs CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada and Gedo)
Bad Luck Fale and Tanga Loa slowly and methodically walk to the ring, looking as focused as ever. Conversely, our former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada looks as broken and erratic as ever, as he twirls balloons down the ramp (whacking a Young Lion with one in the process) and stumbles down the ring in the process. It’s clear Okada’s body language is that he’s very well enjoying his time away from the top and not having to deal with the pressures of being the face of the promotion. However, it seems that Okada has become lost and less like the “Rainmaker” without the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
Okada and Fale start the match off, as the crowd cheers for the former champion loudly. Fale muscles Okada to the ropes, feigning a clean break before throwing a wild clothesline, which misses its target. Okada, in turn, fires off a few forearms to the Underboss’ face but it has no effect, as Fale nails Okada with a wicked forearm to drop him to the mat. Okada tries to posture himself up against the corner as Fale comes charging against him but, to his luck, Okada was able to duck, sending Fale crashing into the corner sternum-first. Okada attempts to lift the big man for a scoop-slam but Fale’s still too fresh, rendering the move useless. Fale, on the other hand, clubs Okada with a forearm to the back and lifts Okada up with ease for a slam but is unable to hold Okada for long as Okada nails him with a DDT, driving his head to the mat. Tanga Loa comes in at this point to attack Okada but is eventually caught with a forearm, giving Okada the chance to ascend to the top rope and nail Loa with the ‘Scooby Dooby Doo’ cross body as Okada spaces out in the middle of the ring (I love broken Okada so much). However, this takes his attention away from a recovering Fale, who’s back on his feet at this point.
Okada fires forearms at Fale but Fale counters with one stiff forearm to send Okada reeling. This doesn’t slow Okada’s momentum, however, as he jumps back on the offensive with continual forearms. Fale, in turn, delivers another vicious forearm, dropping Okada to a knee in the process. Okada, still firing himself up, continues the assaulting forearms against Fale but, this time, he proceeds to build up some speed by rebounding against the ropes on the final strike. This, however, proved to be moot as the big man levels Okada with a shoulder tackle that would make an NFL linebacker proud and follows up with a huge splash for a two-count.
Fale tags in Loa, who continues the assault on Okada with corner splashes and shoulder-blocks to the sternum, all while mocking the ‘Scooby Doo’ taunt (with a couple of expletives thrown in for good measure). Loa sets up for a back suplex but Okada flips out and catches Loa in his knee-plant neckbreaker to send the two men down. Okada does come around just enough to tag in Gedo, however, and Gedo fires off a few rights (with heavily taped fists, I might add) at Loa before building up for a huge right hand towards Loa. Before he could fire off that right hand, Fale clocks Gedo from behind and drops him to the mat. Fale and Loa attempt to double team Gedo but a missed corner splash from Loa leads to Fale charging Gedo but splashing into Loa instead. Gedo nails Fale in the back of the head with a forearm, which barely stuns the man, but Gedo lures Fale to the ropes and ducks a swinging right arm from Fale to get around him, leading to Okada clotheslining Fale out of the ring. Gedo, in turn, catches a still-reeling Loa with a superkick, but only garners a two-count. Gedo throws another right at Loa and runs towards the ropes to drop Loa with a lariat. However, Loa catches Gedo and sets up for the Tongan Driver. Gedo slides out, however, and rolls Loa up while holding the tights for a two-count. Gedo attempts a Small-Package pin but Loa muscles Gedo up instead, nailing him with the Tongan Driver in the process for the pinfall victory.
Post-match, Fale attempts to drill Okada into the announcer’s table with the Bad Luck Fall, but Okada slips out and bolts to the other side of the ring and away from the Underboss, as the two stare each other down.
Winners: Bad Luck Fale and Tanga Loa
Analysis: While a fun match for what it was, it served solely as a preliminary to establish the dangerous presence of Bad Luck Fale as he and Okada face off against each other in their next G1 Climax tournament match. Ever since dropping the weight, Fale has been on an entirely different level, looking faster and stronger than he ever has been. Okada, on the other hand, is slowly losing his edge and is becoming a shadow of the “Rainmaker” and the unbeatable phenom that he once was. I fully expect that to play a role in his next match against Fale, as Fale has a history of defeating Okada in past G1 Climax tournaments. As for the match, it was solid for what it was, Gedo is alright but nothing eye-opening and there isn’t enough soap in the world to clean up Tanga Loa’s vocabulary but I digress.
After Tanga Loa and Bad Luck Fale fire off a few more f-bombs and leave backstage, we’ve got our next match ready to go, as Jay White and YOH make their way down the ring.
Match 5: CHAOS (Jay White and YOH) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi and David Finlay
The crowd cheers “GO ACE!” as Tanahashi and David Finlay make their way down the ramp. Tanahashi definitely has a slight limp in his movement, showing slight signs of the leg damage from his G1 Climax match against Minoru Suzuki. It looks like Tanahashi and Jay White will be starting things off as a teaser before the two face off in their next G1 Climax match.
The crowd erupts into ‘Tanahashi’ chants as the two circle the ring, but White slides out and teases leaving the match, noting that he ‘gets his points tomorrow’ (which is still pretty wise, why drain your energy in the tag match when you could conserve your strength for the tournament matches?). Realizing that he could use the opportunity to soften Tanahashi up, however, White comes back into the ring, ready to go, but tags YOH in immediately, noting that he had a plan in mind. Tanahashi, in turn, tags in David Finlay and the two legal men go at it, exchanging headlocks and hammerlocks before Finlay levels YOH with a running shoulder block. However, his momentum leaves his back turned against White, who sneaks in and throws Finlay head-first into the middle of the turnbuckle padding with full velocity (it looked pretty nasty actually). Tanahashi, in turn, comes in and the two trade strikes before White clips Tanahashi’s injured leg with a kick and dragon screw, reaggravating the injury once more. Tanahashi and White end up outside, with White dominating Tanahashi as he tosses him into the rails.
Meanwhile, in the ring, YOH has Finlay in a figure-four headlock but it’s broken up when Finlay reaches the ropes. YOH tags in White and the two double-team Finlay, including White slamming Finlay into the apron and the rails, similar to what he did to Okada in their G1 Climax match. White rolls Finlay into the ring and gets a two-count on Finlay. Finlay tries to fight back, however, catching White with a Uranage-transitioned backbreaker and tagging in a fired-up Tanahashi. Tanahashi drops White with a forearm and slugs YOH off the apron before catching White with a springboard cross-body, which looked a bit off because of Tanahashi’s leg but Tanahashi rolls through and strums the air-guitar to pop the crowd. Tanahashi slams White and climbs the middle-rope, landing the corner flip senton for a two-count as the crowd erupts into a ‘GO ACE’ chant.
Tanahashi uses the adrenaline rush to charge towards White for a Sling Blade, but gets caught by White, who attempts to set up Blade Runner. Tanahashi catches White’s leg, however, and lands a dragon-screw to drop White. Tanahashi attempts another Sling Blade but White ducks and lands a snap Saito Suplex, leaving both men drained enough to tag their respective partners in.
Finlay and YOH go at it, with YOH gaining the advantage as he lands a flying forearm and corner splash. YOH attempts a suplex but Finlay follows through to land behind YOH and waist-locks him. YOH fires off a few elbows to daze Finlay and rebounds off the ropes for a clothesline, but Finlay ducks and rushes the ropes only to be met by a superkick from YOH. YOH capitalizes on this with a Falcon Arrow for a pinfall attempt but Tanahashi breaks up the pin. White comes back in to confront Tanahashi and the two eventually end up back outside, where he subdues Tanahashi with a chair. White then tries to coerce YOH to use the same chair on Finlay but YOH ultimately refused, leading Finlay to land the Stunner on YOH for the pinfall victory while Jay White looked on without attempting to break up the pin.
Post-match, White takes another shot at Tanahashi, slamming him into the rails nearby before walking off. Eventually, Tanahashi and Finlay recover and celebrate in the ring and pose in the ring before leaving to the back, looking fabulous in the process but limping regardless.
Winners: David Finlay and Hiroshi Tanahashi
Analysis: This was a neat little match that allows Jay White to show off his arrogant, weasel-like character as he gets one over on Tanahashi, despite losing the match. The story was definitely between the two of them en route to their next match in the G1 Climax but it also had elements of White’s continual dissention in CHAOS as he leaves his partner YOH hanging. White was the standout star here, despite not doing as much as the other competitors, but coincidentially, that’s what made him standout so much. Tanahashi, on the other hand, continues to show signs of damage with that knee injury and, given that it’s this early in the tournament, he would’ve better been served taking a countout loss here and resting up in time for the next G1 Climax match, which should be his top priority. YOH and Finlay were basically non-factors for this match and didn’t offer much here, though I will say YOH was impressive in the moments he was involved in the match (though I still say that I’d favor SHO moreso, to be honest).
We’ve got a small intermission (they actually exist, it’s a miracle!) as we gear up for this show’s G1 Climax matches! For this show, we’ve got the start of the B-Block matches, as we kick things off with Chuck Norris’ worst nightmare, Yano Toru, complete with his DVD and a steel chair (but…your promise to not cheat?) as he prepares to do battle with the Stone Pitbull himself, Tomohiro Ishii. By the way, remember that Yano promised not to cheat! Seems repetitive that I just said that, no? That’s because the announcers won’t stop mentioning it every few seconds.
Match 6: G1 Climax – B-Block: Yano Toru (0) vs. Tomohiro Ishii (0)
Yano fires himself up, channelling every bit of momentum he had from prior matches and his prior experiences in G1 Climaxes, and readies himself for an epic battle…and then runs towards the ropes to break up any potential contact from Ishii before anything even happens. As he’s out of the ropes, however, it suddenly breaks out into an actual brawl, with the two men exchanging a series of forearms to the face, with Ishii getting the upper-hand. Ishii rushes to the ropes and charges back, but “secret ninja” Yano Toru ducks and gets a waist-lock on Ishii. Ishii manages an elbow on Yano to break out, but then gets caught in an arm-drag by Yano. Yano actually proceeds to follow up with side-throws and shoulder-blocks to throw Ishii off his game before the two end up on the floor outside. Ishii manages to counter an Irish Whip by Yano to send him into the rails but he misses the follow-up attack and crashes into the rails in the process. At this point, Yano grabs a chair for use, but remembering his promise and knowing his best friend is his opponent (more like the referee was there, in actuality), he relinquishes the chair, much to the shock of the crowd. Ishii takes advantage, however, and clubs Yano with strikes.
Back in the ring, Ishii delivers a series of loud and hard chops to Yano’s chest, turning it red in the process. Ishii proceeds to dominate Yano for a bit before nailing a Saito suplex on Yano for a two-count. Yano does fire up, in turn, and the both of them exchange more forearms, before Yano hits an inverted atomic buster on Ishii. With Ishii down, Yano gathers his courage and his integrity, with the burning fire of his promise to not che–he tears off the turnbuckle padding in the corner. I’m sorry, but I legitimately couldn’t type that with a straight face. Yano attempts to use the turnbuckle padding on Ishii, but he fails as Ishii attempts to Irish Whip Yano into the exposed turnbuckles. Yano is able to halt himself before hitting the steel, but Ishii rushes in and misses Yano, crashing back-first into the steel.
Yano proceeds to walk over to the opposite side of the corner and does his signature ‘YANO TO-RU’ RVD-style taunt, to which Ishii attempts to rush Yano from behind. Yano ducks before the ‘RU’ part of his taunt, however, which sends Ishii into the corner (with padding, this time). Yano does the taunt again on the opposite side (where the exposed turnbuckles are) and Ishii once again attempts to attack, but this time Yano turns around to stop Ishii short and grabs Ishii’s legs to drop him in position as Yano catapults him into the exposed turnbuckles yet again. Yano, sensing his opportunity, prepares a low-blow on a prone Ishii, but the referee stops the attack. Ishii capitalizes on the hesitation and separation to send Yano into the exposed turnbuckles and lays into Yano’s chest with chops and strikes. Ishii sends Yano to the opposite corner and lands a corner clothesline, but then attempts another Irish Whip to the exposed turnbuckles, leading to Yano reversing it and sending Ishii into it instead. However, Ishii fires up instead and nails Yano with a shoulder tackle.
Yano eventually gets a surprise backslide on Ishii but only gets a two-count. Yano then catches Ishii in a fast cradle but still only gets a two-count. Ishii retaliates by nailing Yano with a headbutt, causing Yano to lay prone on the corner with the exposed turnbuckles. Ishii rushes Yano but gets countered and sent head-first into the middle-exposed turnbuckle and gets rolled up by Yano for an extremely close two-count. Yano, frustrated, nails Ishii with a forearm, but Ishii starts firing up. Yano fires a series of forearms to Ishii but Ishii eats them and challenges Yano for more as the two trade strikes, but this time, Yano drops Ishii with a harsh forearm to the jaw. Yano rushes Ishii but Ishii ducks to end up behind Yano and lands a German suplex but Yano instantly pops back up, catching Ishii with a belly-to-belly suplex for for a two-count. Yano rushes the ropes and rebounds towards Ishii, only to eat a stiff lariat in the process.
Ishii positions Yano and then lands his sliding lariat only for a two-count. Ishii, visibly drained, prepares to land the Vertical-Drop Brainbuster but Yano grabs the referee to prevent the lift, leading to Yano cradling Ishii for a close two-count. Yano swings at Ishii and misses, leading to Ishii getting a waist-lock on Yano. Yano grabs the referee and readies a leg-kick low-blow but Ishii catches the leg and headbutts Yano. Ishii rushes Yano but Yano attempts to send Ishii into the nearby referee. Ishii stops short, however, but Yano readies his arm for a low-blow on Ishii. Quickly enough, Ishii sends the referee into Yano to prevent the low-blow, resulting in Yano shoving the referee quickly to the side and getting Ishii in a waist-lock. Ishii, in a page out of Yano’s playbook, low-blows Yano and catches him in a quick La Magistral cradle for a pinfall victory.
Winner: Tomohiro Ishii (2)
Analysis: This was an awesome start for the B-Block, as we get a great back-and-forth here to kick off what many are considering to be the ‘best block’ for this year’s G1 Climax. Ishii-matches are always a guilty pleasure and I’m a fan of the Stone Pitbull so I’m glad he got the win here, as he always performs extremely well in G1 Climaxes. However, this win was bittersweet as it came at the cost of Superman’s kryptonite, Yano Toru. On a more serious note, this may have been one of Yano’s best matches to date, as he showed some fire here that matched well with Ishii’s Strong-Style pacing and, while I fully expected Yano to cheat at some point (it’s Yano, duh), I laughed when he kept making attempts to cheat regardless. Great start to the tournament matches on this show!
The show rolls on and we’re off to the next match in the G1 Climax!
Match 7: G1 Climax – B-Block: Tama Tonga (0) vs. Juice Robinson (0)
Tama Tonga is coming out with all the confidence in the world, strutting and shaking, with Tanga Loa by his side. Juice, conversely, looks like what would happen if Captain Jack Sparrow invaded a rave in Spain and inhaled the Kool-Aid. Most notably, Juice still has the cast on his left hand, courtesy of “Switchblade” Jay White. To compensate for the density of the cast, it was announced that, if Juice uses the cast, he will be DQ’ed.
The two men lock up to start the contest, with the two trading off on headlocks, wrist-locks and hammer-locks. It’s clear here that Juice is looking to use his grappling skills to compensate for the broken hand, as the two continue to exchange counters. After the fight slides to the floor, where Juice escapes a headscissors by Tonga, Tonga stops short of running into an arm-drag by Juice, as the two end up in a stand off as the crowd chants for Juice. Juice invites Tonga into a Greco-Roman knuckle lock but leaves his mid-section open, leading to a shot by Tonga, who sends Juice to the outside. Juice gets momentarily distracted by Tonga Loa on the outside, allowing Tonga to attack from behind. Tonga sends Juice into the outside ringpost rail, causing Juice to go in shoulder and injured hand-first. Tonga proceeds to aim for the hand, propping it into the rails by the entrance ramp and attempting to slam the door into it before Juice narrowly pulls the hand out in time, exclaiming that it was “this close”.
Juice heads back into the ring, goading Tonga to get back in, as Tonga does the same to goad him to the outside. Tonga turns up the speed with a series of rushes and misdirection to disorient Juice, but Juice manages to catch him with arm drags and hip tosses before landing a backdrop to establish control over Tonga. Juice whips Tonga into a corner and rushes him but Tonga dodges and catches Juice with an impressive dropkick to send Juice to the floor. Juice starts to favor his hand, but he can’t rest easy as Loa attacks him from the outside with clubbing blows and a clothesline. Juice rolls back in the ring before the 20 count and Tonga immediately resumes the attack with strikes and a belly to back suplex. Tonga taunts Juice and whips him into a corner but misses a corner splash. This allows Juice to have Tonga in an electric-chair position but Tonga fights off and lands a neck breaker for a two-count.
Tonga pulls a repeat and lands the corner-splash this time before immediately following up with Tongan Twist for a two-count. Tonga, now frustrated, targets the broken hand of Juice by standing on it and following with closed right-hands to the head before one more stomp to the hand. Tonga fires off a combo of body strikes before attempting the headbutt, but Juice parries it and starts up the jabs with the right hand this time. Juice is unable to finish the combo, due to the left hand/cast, and rebounds off the ropes instead, only to get countered by Tonga as he locks in a hanging guillotine. Juice manages to utilize his strength, however, to power out and nail a jackhammer, but he can’t follow up with the cover as he’s favoring his left hand.
Juice instead follows up on a cornered Tonga with clotheslines and a brutal-looking cannonball. Juice then attempts the electric-chair once again but Tonga slides out and sets up for Tongan Twist again. This time, Juice counters into a brainbuster but doesn’t get him all the way over for the full move. This only gets a two-count, resulting in Juice once more attempting and hitting the electric chair drop, but still lands a two-count. Juice rallies the crowd and sets up for Pulp Friction but Tanga Loa pops up on the apron. This forces Juice to let go of the move and flip Loa into the ring. Juice fires off the full jab/left straight combo to Loa (no DQ as Loa wasn’t the opponent). Juice sets up Pulp Friction once more on Tonga, but Tonga spins out this time, catching Juice with Gun Stun for the pinfall victory.
Post-match, Tonga and Loa stand over a downed Juice before walking out of the ring, as Juice is helped to the back.
Winner: Tama Tonga (2)
Analysis: This match had a slower and more methodical pace to it, presumably to compensate for Juice’s hand, but it didn’t really work here as well as it should’ve worked. Tama, while extremely fluid in the ring, didn’t work to his strengths here and Juice wasn’t as explosive as he could’ve been. The pacing, while respectable, was a bit too deliberate and it brought things down a little bit here. I would’ve preferred to see either more of a faster pace or more aggression from Tama Tonga, who’s still establishing his new heel persona as the leader of the BC Firing Squad. Given that Tonga won here, tradition would establish that Tonga would most likely get a shot at Juice’s IWGP United States Championship, which would help to establish that heel persona a bit more. The work-rate for this match, however, was very respectable and I’d probably give this match another watch but, so far, this probably wasn’t the best match on the card.
There’s no time to rest, however, as we’re already set to go for the next match (for this case, only, I’ll give it a pass because the crowd definitely hit a lull after the last match).
Match 8: G1 Climax – B-Block: Hirooki Goto (0) vs SANADA (0)
SANADA’s ‘Cold Skull’ mask looks insanely cool and Hirooki Goto’s entrance is so awe-inspiring. I digress though, as we’re all set to watch what I consider to be the sleeper match of the night. Both wrestlers look fairly fresh for this match, as neither had a very difficult preliminary match before this G1 Climax match.
The match starts with a pretty intense lock-up, with the two even for the most part before SANADA counters out of a headlock by Goto and sends him running into the ropes. Goto uses the momentum and speed to drop SANADA with a shoulder block. Goto maintains the advantage and sends SANADA to the outside with a clothesline over the top-rope. SANADA, in turn, immediately rushes to the top rope and drops Goto with a missile dropkick, sending Goto to the outside. SANADA immediately follows suit and the two brawl outside, with SANADA slamming Goto into the rails back-first. The two then brawl into the entrance ramp, trading chops to the chest before SANADA hits a forearm and drops Goto into the rails face-first with a release-fireman’s carry.
SANADA drags Goto back into the ring and works on Goto’s neck in particular with elbow strikes and stomps. Goto fires back with chops to the chest and rebounds from the ropes but SANADA drops him with a back-elbow and follows up with a moonsault. Goto moves out of the way but SANADA switches direction mid-flip to land behind Goto, nailing a basement dropkick onto Goto’s neck in the process for a two-count. SANADA grounds the pace a bit with a chin-lock now but Goto fights out with elbows. SANADA catches Goto with a knee to the gut and runs the ropes but Goto follows right behind, disorienting SANADA enough to land a lariat and drop him. Goto follows up with a series of strikes, ending with a Saito-suplex but still lands a two-count. Goto sets up for Ushi-goroshi but SANADA fights out, sending Goto into the ropes and leapfrogs him twice before shutting him down with a high-leap dropkick and an immediate plancha to the floor. After a very brief lull to catch his breath, SANADA rolls Goto back in and the two athletes trade blows before Goto takes advantage and lands a brutal Ushi-goroshi, sending both men down. Goto sets up for GTR but SANADA manages to counter out and transition into the Skull End, swinging Goto around in the process.
SANADA attempts to set up for the TKO but Goto tries to fights him off by laying in elbows. SANADA refused to relinquish the hold, however, and follows through with his own Ushi-goroshi, transitioning immediately into Skull End. Goto attempts to fight out but SANADA drops to the mat and grapevines the hold. However, in a very nice touch, Goto utilizes the fact that both men are sweating to slip his head out SANADA’s grip, loosening the hold. In order to compensate, SANADA heads up top while Goto is still recovering and attempts the moonsault but Goto rolls inward to avoid as SANADA crashes into the mat.
As both men rise to their feed, SANADA rushes Goto, who almost decapitates SANADA with a lariat, turning him inside out. Goto fires up and prepares the PK-Penalty Kick, but SANADA catches the kick and drives a European Uppercut into Goto before rushing the ropes. Goto follows suit and rushes SANADA again for another lariat but SANADA ducks it and rushes the ropes again as Goto follows suit once more. SANADA ducks the lariat once again and catches Goto in an O’Connor roll and transitions immediately into the Skull End. Goto counters the hold this time and the two battle back and forth for a suplex before Goto lands a head butt, square onto SANADA’s jaw. Goto follows up with the reverse GTR and sets up for the finishing GTR but is countered into a cradle for an extremely close fall. SANADA catches Goto with an elbow and moonsaults into Skull End, but Goto counters and drapes SANADA on the top rope, nailing him with a draping GTR. Goto finishes off SANADA with the final finishing GTR for the pinfall victory.
Winner: Hirooki Goto (2)
Analysis: Holy cow, that was the polar opposite of the prior match in terms of pacing and action. From bell-to-bell, SANADA and Goto never slowed down and the pacing was extremely frenetic. SANADA is such a standout star and has seriously found his groove as a singles star with his Ingobernable persona. The speed, control and fluidity of this moveset combined with the countless transitions into the Skull End that can end the match at any point lend themselves to the fact that SANADA is a dangerous competitor to keep your eye on as this tournament rolls on!
Goto, conversely, is celebrating this G1 Climax in a personal sense as this tournament is 10 years removed from his very first G1 Climax. That being said, he was in full display for this match as he looked like an unbeatable warrior. With a match like this, Goto has definitely made a statement that he’s a competitor to keep your eye on as well, but given that he’s the NEVER Openweight Champion, I’d be hard-pressed to believe we’re going to see his next contender very soon!
Just as soon as Goto’s music ends, however, we’re thrust right into the next match, as Zack Sabre Jr. and TAKA make their way out to the ring!
Match 9: G1 Climax – B-Block: Zack Sabre Jr. (0) (w/ TAKA Michinoku) vs. Kota Ibushi (0)
Before the match starts, we get an awesome promo from TAKA to hype ZSJ as a dangerous competitor, who can break any man and that he will be the winner of the tournament, even noting that he’s got a new maneuver for use – the Zack Driver. He mentions that everyone else that faces him should JUST. TAP. OUT. Kota Ibushi, in turn, seems to have a spring in his step, looking as focused as ever in preparation for his match. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention that there is a bit of history within this match, as ZSJ defeated Ibushi in this year’s New Japan Cup (which ZSJ went on to win) but Ibushi defeated Sabre in last year’s G1 Climax.
The crowd erupts into an ‘Ibushi’ chant, as the two square off. Sabre is looking to take the action to the ground, as he slides towards Ibushi’s legs before catching Ibushi’s head and grounds him. Ibushi tries to roll through and hold ZSJ in a full-guard but ZSJ uses his legs to clip the ankle of Ibushi to release the hold and walk away, standing the match up again. The two go back at it again, with ZSJ controlling Ibushi with an armlock and ultimately contesting control with a knuckle lock. Ibushi, however, utilizes his strength to gain upper leverage. The two continuall trade control before ZSJ captures a bodyscissor and sprawls back into upper-control. The two continue to train control over the knuckle locks before Kota manages to catch ZSJ with a kick to the hamstrings Sabre put on a chain wrestling clinic in the opening sequence, before confidently stepping away. They traded knuckle locks, before Sabre transitioned to an armbar. Ibushi manages to reach the bottom rope, but Sabre went right back to the knuckle lock and transitions into a beautiful bridging suplex and maintains control. Ibushi tries to roll out with a monkey flip, but the grips are still locked together.
With their hands still locked, Kota is able to utilize his kicks at close-distance to drop ZSJ to the floor, but the grip is maintained. The two trade kicks but Ibushi inevitably gets the upper hand (or leg) in the strikes. Ibushi follows up (while the two are still clasped) with forearms, so Sabre let go of the hands and responds with European uppercuts. Ibushi, in turn, nails ZSJ with a thunderous roundhouse kick, sending ZSJ to the mat.
ZSJ rises up to hit a European uppercut. Ibushi, in turn, turns on the afterburners and delivers about four strikes in 2 seconds, culminating with a standing moonsault for a two-count, as ZSJ rolls to the apron. Ibushi follows suit but ZSJ tied up Ibushi with a rope-assisted wrist-lock. Ibushi, in turn, drops ZSJ to the floor with a kick and prepares for the Golden Triangle, but Sabre catches him with a heel hook on the apron. ZSJ pulls the hold onto the floor, which looks quite violent. ZSJ utilizes that damage to target Ibushi’s legs with strikes but Ibushi strikes with a hard punch that was dangerously close to a low-blow. ZSJ, however, is unrelenting with his holds, using a modified Muta lock, surfboard, STF and Crossface to tear at the ligaments in Ibushi’s legs. Ibushi does counter back with forearms, but ZSJ lands kicks towards the legs of Ibushi. However, that doesn’t stop Ibushi from landing a stomach-churning kick to the chest. ZSJ tries to aim for a basement dropkick towards Ibushi’s legs, but gets caught in a double foot-stomp instead. Ibushi tries to grab a waist-lock on ZSJ, who maintains wrist control to escape and nails Ibushi with a Pele kick. ZSJ rebounds off the ropes but eats a dropkick by Ibushi, sending him to the outside where Ibushi follows through with a plancha to subdue ZSJ.
Utilizing a few moments to catch his breath and work out the legs, Ibushi sends ZSJ back inside and prepares a springboard attack but misses. Upon the landing, Ibushi lands on his feet but his leg buckled, leading to ZSJ catching him with a single-leg crab. However the move was too close to the ropes, which allows for a lucky rope-break. Ibushi goes for a lariat but ZSJ kicks the arm away a series of times. ZSJ goes for a lariat but Ibushi ducks it, going for a Pele kick of his own. ZSJ ducks the kick, however, catching an ankle lock but Ibushi rolls through, sending ZSJ into the turnbuckles and nailing a lariat upon coming up to send both men down. Ibushi attempted to land the Golden Star Bomb but ZSJ rolls through, transitioning into an omoplata/single-leg crab hybrid, driving Ibushi’s knee into the mat like a hammer to a spike. ZSJ went for a full single-leg crab but overextended, forcing the two men into the ropes, breaking the hold. Ibushi makes it to a corner, where ZSJ nails him with another European uppercut. ZSJ rushes to the opposite side and follows through to build momentum but Ibushi jumps out of the way, nailing ZSJ with a follow-through powerslam but misses the follow-up second-rope moonsault. ZSJ takes advantage of the now-kneeling Ibushi and delivers a pair of penalty kicks, but only gets a two-count for both.
ZSJ goes back to the legs again with a series of kicks, nailing Ibushi’s left leg (Ibushi kicks with his right leg so hitting his left leg [i.e. the ‘plant’ leg] cuts the ability to drive through with the full rotation of the kick). ZSJ makes the questionable decision of inviting Ibushi to a kick-off, however, as he proceeds to eat kicks to the legs from Ibushi. However, of note, is that while still powerful, Ibushi’s kicks were not delivering the same pop that they had from the start of the match. ZSJ catches one of the kicks and manages to turn it into an ankle lock, transitioned into a German suplex. Ibushi manages to roll out mid-throw, however, and counters with a Palm strike to send both men to the mat. It’s also noted that a nearby trainer has made his way ringside, in consideration for Ibushi’s legs. Meanwhile, the two trade hard strikes (to put it in perspective, you could see the perspiration being slapped off their body) towards each other but they’re both exhausted, as they both fall to the mat.
ZSJ rises back up and delivers a series of European uppercuts. Ibushi parries one and attempts a backslide but ZSJ manages to catch himself onto the top-rope to prevent the slide-through. Instead, Ibushi hits a hard roundhouse to ZSJ’s spine, rendering him prone as Ibushi lands a bridging German suplex for a nearfall. Ibushi sets up for the Kamigoye but ZSJ checks the kicks three times before rolling Ibushi up for a pinfall attempt and a Triangle choke. Ibushi powers through, however, and turns it into a powerbomb but only gets a two-count. With both men clearly drained, Ibushi slaps his leg to get some circulation back in and goes for a high kick, but ZSJ catches him with Hurrah! Another Year, Surely This One Will Be Better Than The Last; The Inexorable March of Progress Will Lead Us All to Happiness! (no seriously, that’s the name of the move, I’m not kidding you, look!).
Ibushi attempted to counter out with a slam, but the knee buckled, sending both men tumbling into the ropes. ZSJ attempted to set up the Zack Driver but Ibushi catches ZSJ with a dragon suplex and nails a kick. Ibushi drops the kneepad and prepares for Kamigoye once more but Sabre ducks out and catches Ibushi with a kneebar. Ibushi rolls through, but ZSJ maintained wrist-control. Ibushi utilized this, however, to land a bridging suplex and transitioned into a Kamigoye for the pinfall victory.
Winner. Kota Ibushi (2)
Analysis: I take it back, this may have been the best match so far. There was so much going on in this match that I’m 100% sure I missed something in writing as I recap this match. To give you guys a view as to how I recap these, I watch the shows live (overnight, as I live in New York, USA) and I compile notes through note-taking, time-codes and memorization. From there, I’ll take those notes and I’ll compile all of these recaps. With that being said, compiling the details for a Zack Sabre Jr. match is so complicated because the man has so many different angles, techniques and transitions that it’s hard to catch them all. That being said, I absolutely love watching Sabre go to work and his slow dissection of his opponents is so hypnotic at times.
Ibushi, in turn, is just a joy to watch and his kicks are so blood-curdling to hear, much less feel. I can only imagine the painful feeling that his opponents must feel the day after, but I digress. This match was everything that you could expect from a G1 Climax match: hard-hitting action, frenetic pacing, technique and power, close encounters and a decisive finish that leaves you wanting more. I’ve seen these two go at it numerous times and yet I still find myself wanting more and more every time. I can’t wait for their next encounter. It’ll be interesting to see how Kota fares throughout the tournament, however, given the damage incurred on his legs from ZSJ’s offense, and that’ll be a telling factor in this tournament.
Kota barely makes it backstage, notably crawling backstage, and after a brief pause, it’s time for our main event!
Match 10: G1 Climax – B-Block: Kenny Omega (0) vs. Tetsuya Naito (0)
It’s finally time for the IWGP Heavyweight Champion to grace the stage as Kenny Omega is set to do battle against the ultimate Ingobernable, the ‘Dark Ace’ Tetsuya Naito! As I mentioned before, matches featuring the IWGP Heavyweight Champion (along with the other champions, to be honest) have a higher significance in the G1 Climax because whoever pins the champion in the tournament traditionally receives a title shot in the future, usually at the next NJPW event. Can Tetsuya Naito, the winner of the last G1 Climax, be the first to do so and reclaim his glory against Kenny Omega, the winner of the second-to-last G1 Climax?
Naito comes out with an awesome white suit, adorned with a white cape, while Kenny Omega comes out in the black trunks, aiming to win the G1 Climax as the reigning champion, the first to do so since 2000 when Kensuke Sasaki did the same, albeit this was before the ‘Wrestle Kingdom Title Shot’ was awarded to the winner.
The match starts out as the crowd erupts in dueling ‘Naito/Omega’ chants. Instead of sliding away from the lock-up, Naito and Omega engage, with Omega catching a headlock before being shoved to the ropes. Omega counters with a shoulder-block and a rebound from the ropes to step over Naito’s back, taunting Naito and even stealing his Tranquilo pose. Immediately after, however, Naito manages to force the repeat for the same step-over sequence, stealing Kenny’s gun shot pose. Naito sends Omega to the outside in the process and fakes the dive out before flipping back and rushing back to the dive again. Naito stops short once again, however, before spitting on the doctor and landing the Tranquilo pose again. Omega, visibly frustrated, rushes in, but Naito catches him at the helm with strikes before sending him to the ropes. Omega counters, however, sending Naito to the ropes and catching him with a knee lift and a follow-up suplex to pick up a two count. Omega continues with kicks to the back and forcing Naito to the corner, where he choked Naito with his boot in the corner. Omega focuses his attack on Naito’s lower back, landing stomps and even a backbreaker for a two-count, but Omega continues the assault with a half-clutch camel clutch. Naito, however, manages to get to the ropes to break up the hold.
Omega continued targeting the lower back with forearm shots and even a chop to the chest for good measure. Naito does manage to come back with a pair of forearm strikes and palm strikes to the chest. Omega manages to stifle the offense, however, and prepares a powerbomb. Naito blocks the lift as much as he could but Omega fires with palm strikes to the back. Naito, however, comes back with palm strikes to the chest and clubbing forearms to the back. Naito sends Omega to the ropes and ducks for a backdrop but Omega kicks Naito to stun him and tries another powerbomb tease. Naito manages to fight out, however, sending Omega right back to the ropes, but this time landing a hip toss and a dropkick to the neck/back. Omega attempts to catch Naito with a swinging right arm but Naito ducks, retaliating with a spit to the face. This aggravates Omega, who retaliates with a rake of the eyes and the set up for You Can’t Escape, which Naito ironically escapes, and sets Omega up on the corner for a draping neckbreaker before immediately pulling Omega up for a swinging neckbreaker. Naito sets Omega up for the slingshot dropkick combo but Omega catches him and hits You Can’t Escape this time, only landing a two-count.
Naito rolled to the outside to catch his breath, but Omega follows through with a back drop suplex onto the apron. Omega rips the floor mats to set up for a move but Naito (off-camera) leaps onto Omega with the dropkick from the apron, bouncing Omega’s head on the floor, and immediately brings Omega back into the ring for the slingshot dropkick and the Ingobernable salute. Naito sets up for Gloria but Omega counters out and sends Naito running to the ropes before catching him with a snap-hurricanrana to send Naito to the floor. Omega teased the Rise of the Terminator dive, but Naito rushes the ring back to cut Omega’s momentum, blocking a few strikes and catching Omega with a swinging DDT, dropping Omega on his head, but only getting a nearfall. Naito approaches Omega, who sends him outside, but this time, Omega follows through with a sliding dropkick to send Naito over the railing and scattering the audience. Immediately, the Young Lions rush into the stands to protect Naito and any fans, but Omega fires up in the ring and follows through with a springboard dive from the ring into Naito, clearing an impressive amount of distance.
Omega and Naito are looking worse-for-wear as Omega shoves Naito back into the ring and rallies the crowd as he ascends the top rope. Naito manages to crotch him on the rope, however, and ascends as well for a top-rope Frankensteiner. Omega, in turn, slides under and takes Naito’s legs away, dropping him face-first into the turnbuckle, and follows up with a Snap-Dragon and the Dr. Wily Bomb but still lands a two-count. Naito is propped on the ropes as Kenny loads the bullet and fires the gun, preparing for the V-Trigger. Naito dodges, however, catching Kenny in a release-German suplex. Kenny rolls through, however, and attempts another V-Trigger, but Naito blocks it and attempts a step-up enzuigiri, only to miss and clear Kenny for a full-force V-Trigger to the back of Naito. Omega sets Naito up for One-Winged Angel but Naito reverses into a reverse-hurricanrana, sending both men to the floor, as the crowd erupts into dueling ‘Omega/Naito’ chants. Naito sets Omega on the top rope and successfully catches him with the Frankensteiner from the top-rope before immediately transitioning into Gloria, but only managing a two-count.
Naito sets up for Destino, but Kenny catches him with a vile elbow to the face to stun Naito. Naito retaliates with the step-up enzuigiri, however, which stuns Omega enough for Naito to Irish Whip him into the ropes. Naito misses the flying forearm, however, and Kenny attempts the lariat. Naito ducks that and charges the ropes but Kenny charges on the opposite side, leading the two to meet in the center, where Omega nails another V-Trigger to stun Naito completely. Omega attempts to set up Aoi Shoudou, but Naito transitions it into a Destino out of nowhere. Naito, unsatisfied with one, attempted another Destino, but Omega reversed it into an attempt for Croyt’s Wrath, before flipping him forward instead and dropping him in an inverted piledriver, only receiving a two-count for his troubles.
Omega attempted to set up a Snap-Dragon, but Naito elbowed out of the hold, resulting in Omega landing a spinning wheel kick to the back of the head and sending Naito kneeling into the turnbuckles. Omega rallies up and lands a sickening V-Trigger onto a prone Naito before sending him to the top rope and setting up for a Snap-Dragon off the top rope. Naito, however, manages to elbow and kick him out. Omega comes back with a clubbing blow to the back and sets up for One-Winged Angel from the top rope, but Naito transitions to a sunset-flip powerbomb, as the two are barely able to move at this point. Naito manages to muster up a little energy and land Destino onto the champion, but gets a shocking two-count on the champion. Naito assumes wrist-control on Omega and prepares to land another Destino, but Omega blocks the technique, leading to Naito transitioning into a uranage instead. Naito maintains wrist-control, however, and sets up Destino once more, but Omega once again counters, returning Naito to standing position and catching him with a knee-lift to the face, to which Naito retaliates with a Koppou kick to daze Omega and send him reeling into the ropes. With that, Naito re-assumes wrist-control and sets up Destino for the third time in this sequence, but mid-transition, Omega drops him with a shock sit-out Tombstone Piledriver and only gets a two-count! Omega immediately rises and drills Naito with double underhook piledriver but still can’t put away the challenger!
Omega rises up one more time and gathers some distance, cold-cocking Naito with one more V-Trigger and finally landing the One-Winged Angel for the amazing pinfall victory.
Winner: Kenny Omega (2)
Analysis: Okay, so I know I said that Match 7 was the best and then I said Match 8 was the best. I’m sorry but this was, far and beyond, the match of the night. Kenny Omega and Tetsuya Naito are two of the best wrestlers on the planet today and I’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that could change my mind. Kenny Omega is firing on all cylinders and is finding more ways to make his matches must-see for any fan who watches wrestling. If you haven’t seen his matches with Okada, you’re robbing yourself blind of what could be the best sets of matches in wrestling history. Even barring that, Omega is still putting out some of the best work of his career and I implore you to view his matches if you ever have the chance.
Tetsuya Naito, in turn, is also one of the best wrestlers going today. There’s a reason that Masahiro Chono declared him to be the ‘Dark Ace’ of NJPW and that is because, in a sense, Naito is starting to become the equivalent of the early stages of what Stone Cold Steve Austin was: a uncontrollable man with a chip on his shoulder who wants the glory of being the champion, and yet…it’s much more than that even! Kazuchika Okada, Kenny Omega and Tetsuya Naito are three of the top stars in NJPW today and, believably so, any one of those three could be the IWGP Heavyweight Champion interchangeably and it would be completely believable. That’s a telltale mark of NJPW’s diverse roster and how they’re rising to be one of the best companies going today! As for this match itself, it was an incredible match! I don’t think I have the proper words to describe how wild, how intense and how close this match was for either competitor! This is definitely a must-see match and I give it one of the highest recommendations I could give.
Full Show Analysis: This is ONLY the second night of G1 Climax 28. Let that sink in and then let it sink in more because, with the show we got tonight, I’d have believed we were close to the end! The B-Block is out to an explosive start, with some of the most hard-hitting action of the tournament right now (and, like I said, because it still hasn’t sunk in for me, we’re only on the second night!). We’ve got up until August 12th for this tournament and I’ll be sure to cover it all as well as I am right now, so I’ll make sure you read this and feel as I feel as I’m watching possibly the greatest G1 Climax to ever occur in history! This was definitely a must-see show and I can’t wait to see how the A-Block is going to fare in the next show!
That’ll do it for this show, everyone! What did you all think of the show? Are you all as excited for the G1 Climax? I know I am for sure and I’m looking forward to every match! I hope you’ll all enjoy the matches as much as I will be and I’ll see you all again for the B-Block matches for NJPW’s G1 Climax 28!
* Togi Makabe: 1-0 (2pts.)
* Adam Page: 1-0 (2pts.)
* Michael Elgin: 1-0 (2pts.)
* Hiroshi Tanahashi: 1-0 (2pts.)
* Jay White: 1-0 (0pts.)
* Kazuchika Okada: 0-1 (2pts.)
* Minoru Suzuki: 0-1 (0pts.)
* EVIL: 0-1 (0pts.)
* YOSHI-HASHI: 0-1 (0pts.)
* Bad Luck Fale: 0-1 (0pts.)
* Kenny Omega: 1–0 (2pts.)
* Hirooki Goto: 1–0 (2pts.)
* Tomohiro Ishii: 1–0 (2pts.)
* Tama Tonga: 1–0 (2pts.)
* Kota Ibushi: 1– 0 (wpts.)
* SANADA: 0–1 (0pts.)
* Tetsuya Naito: 0–1 (0pts.)
* Zack Sabre Jr: 0–1 (0pts.)
* Juice Robinson : 0–1 (0pts.)
* Toru Yano: 0–1 (0pts.)
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Image credit: New Japan Professional Wrestling