NJPW G1 Climax 28 – Day 1 Recap

NJPW G1 Climax 28 – Day 1 Recap

Hello, everyone, and welcome to NJPW’s G1 Climax 28, the biggest annual tournament in wrestling history! In what promises to be the most-stacked tournament ever, this show marks the kickoff period of a four-week tournament that looks to deliver hard-hitting, fast-paced action and sets us off on the Road to Wrestle Kingdom! If you need, I’ve organized the dates and locations for this year’s G1 Climax, which you can find right here!

I don’t know about you guys but I’m extremely excited for this year’s tournament, especially given the talent that is involved this year and how much attention has been brought to it in recent years. With that being said, let’s jump in to the show and see what NJPW has in store for us today!

The show kicks off with a stylish promo containing highlights of prior G1 Climax tournaments, as well as a shot of every competitor in this year’s tournament. As you look at the field this year, you can see that the tournament itself is stacked with talent, from stars like Minoru Suzuki and Hiroshi Tanahashi to IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada. We also get a run-down on the ‘A-Block’ section of competitors (given that Day 1 will be focusing on those competitors today, with the ‘B-Block’ starting on tonight’s show), with the announcement of the Finals taking place on August 12th. With that, our journey has begun and we’re brought to the Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo as we kick-off NJPW’s 28th G1 Climax, with English commentary provided by Kevin Kelly, Don West and Rocky Romero and Japanese commentary provided by Jushin Thunder Liger, Milano Collection A.T., and Shinpei Nogami!

Before we get to the tournament matches, however, we’re treated to a few non-tournament matches to prepare the crowd. These matches typically have competitors of the opposite block wrestling here to warm the crowd up, as well as develop or further any storylines that could come into play throughout the tournament. I’ll be doing my best to focus on every match for the purposes of providing you the complete experience. With that being said, let’s get started!

Match 1: Ren Narita and Toa Henare vs CHAOS (Hirooki Goto and Jado)

Young Lion Ren Narita gets his toughest test yet, as he teams with Toa Henare to square-off against the NEVER Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto and the returning jado (who was out with a back injury). Jado and Henare start things off, with Jado not missing a beat as he muscles Henare in the corner and delivers some chops to the chest. Henare, however, channels his Tongan spirit and fires up, headbutting Jado. This stuns Jado significantly as he walks very shakily to the wrong corner in an attempt to make a tag to Goto. Henare follows up with 2 more headbutts in the process, causing Jado to be dazed enough so that by the time he’s inches away from Goto, he drops to the mat. I legitimately thought he was concussed for a moment and I chuckled when he flopped to the floor. Henare manages to pull Jado into the corner, tagging in Ren Narita. Narita delivers forearms to Jado but tries to gain some speed by running into the ropes, meeting a shoulder-block by Jado as a result. Goto, in turn, drops Henare from the corner outside and incapacitates him.

The veteran duo proceed to work on Narita a bit with double-teams before Jado heads back to the corner. Narita manages to get Goto into the corner but makes the same mistake as before by building speed for an attack, leading to Goto booting him in the face. Goto, however, underestimates Narita by doing the same, leading to Narita executing a dropkick to drop Goto and tag Henare. Henare cleans house by dropping Jado from the corner and tackles Goto before slamming him to the mat. Henare and Narita double-team Goto with a running corner slam/Samoan drop but only get a two-count. Jado manages to incapacitate Henare on the outside by slamming him into the rails, as Goto headbutts Narita and lands the Ushi-goroshi for the pinfall victory.

Winners: Hirooki Goto and Jado

Analysis: This was a pretty solid opener to start the show off on the right foot. Ren Narita continues to evolve as he’s involved in more matches against the veteran wrestlers and this was no exception. This match was basically built on the return of Jado and the crowd was solely behind CHAOS for this exact reason but, action-wise, it’s great watching the Young Lions growing before our eyes. A lot of people give them flack because they tend to be sloppy or botch at times but that’s the point at this stage in their careers and the Western audience understands that greatly. The Young Lions are completely inexperienced wrestlers who are learning their craft and they’re expected to make mistakes and mess up but they learn in the ring so that they can be better for the next match. Stars like Tanahashi, Jay White and even Okada started off as brand-new Young Lions at one point and they grew to be the mega-stars they are today because of the same system. I’ll be honest, I’m a fan of Ren Narita and his improvement and I look forward to seeing more of his work as he gets better over time.

We flow right into the next match immediately, which is a unique match because it features YOH and Yano Toru (the greatest wrestler ever, don’t change my mind) facing off against Tomohiro Ishii and SHO, i.e. Roppongi 3K facing off against each other and Ishii and Yano facing off against each other.

Match 2: Yano Toru (w/ DVDs) and YOH vs. Tomohiro Ishii and SHO

The match starts off with Ishii wanting to face off against Yano but Yano volunteers YOH for tribute. In turn, Ishii leaves SHO in the ring and Roppongi 3K start this match off. SHO and YOH trade with some Greco-Roman and Freestyle grapples, staying dead-even. After a handshake that led to YOH trying to fake a kick, SHO drops YOH with the AJ Styles-esque dropkick setup. Ishii tags in and, after a double-team shoulder block, Ishii dominates YOH. Ishii challenges YOH to a test of strength with YOH reciprocating via stiff chops to the chest. YOH immediately gets dropped by Ishii, however, and doped around with kick-shoves. YOH does manage to gain some comeuppance though by landing a dragon-screw leg whip, allowing YOH to tag the living reincarnation of greatness, Yano Toru, into the ring.

Yano immediately goes to rip the turnbuckle padding, but true to his word that he wasn’t going to cheat this entire tournament (and if that happens, I’ll retire and become a beet farmer) and after intervention by SHO, Yano backs away and trades shots with Ishii instead. Ishii, however, wins the exchange and Yano attempts to rake the eyes of Ishii but actually stops short and tries to stay true to his word. By the time you finish reading that sentence, however, Yano has already ripped off the turnbuckle padding in what was probably the fastest time Yano has gone back on his word. This tactic worked for about 20 seconds before Yano gets reversed and sent right into the exposed turnbuckles. Yano does manage to get his momentum back with an inverted atomic drop and catapults Ishii into the exposed turnbuckle. Yano attempts to low-blow Ishii but the referee intervenes, backing Yano up.

A series of exchanges and counters follow between Yano and Ishii, leading to a brainbuster by Yano and a tag-in by YOH. YOH speeds up the pace by catching Ishii with a kick to the face and a springboard double stomp, bringing SHO in to attack. SHO and YOH counter each other but YOH drops SHO with a flying forearm and attempts to suplex Ishii. Ishii counters out and strikes YOH with two forearms to the jaw but gets dropped with a backbreaker/neckbreaker combo. SHO and Ishii double-team YOH, leading to Ishii nailing the Vertical-Drop Brainbuster for the pinfall victory.

Winners: Tomohiro Ishii and SHO

Analysis: This was a pretty fun match, especially considering we got to see R3K battle each other and Yano being on the righteous path for about as long as a Goldberg match. There’s no doubt in my mind Yano’s definitely not going to keep up this promise throughout the tournament but it does promise to deliver some entertaining moments though. Ishii is always entertaining with his Strong-Style spots and R3K looks pretty good as they ramp up for their respective tournament matches.

The show continues to roll on, however, as we’re on to the next match!

Match 3: Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa vs. David Finlay and Juice Robinson

Tama Tonga is so entertaining to watch as a character and I always love watching Juice Robinson in action (especially as he comes down the ramp dressed in what looks like items that he found in Kid Rock’s closet of shame and costumes. Finlay and Tanga Loa start things off and Loa immediately takes control, hammering Finlay in the corner with punches and stomps. Loa whips Finlay from and back into the same corner and nails a clothesline to drop Finlay. Finlay manages to gain momentum by dropping Loa with a jumping uppercut, sending Loa into the corner and delivering a series of clotheslines before Loa powers out and drives Finlay back into the opposite corner, bringing Tama Tonga in for a Stinger Splash. It’s been all G.o.D. in this match as Loa tags in Tonga, who drops Finlay with an impressive dropkick and stomps on him. Tama tags in Loa, who slingshot sentons into Finlay for a two-count. Loa tags Tama back in from here and the punishment continues. Finlay does manage to capitalize on a distraction by Juice to drop Tama with a back suplex, allowing Finlay to tag Juice in.

Juice runs loose on G.o.D., dropping Tama and delivering strikes and clotheslines to Loa. Tama distracts Juice for a moment to allow Loa to regain the momentum shortly but it doesn’t fare well, as Finlay and Juice double team Loa out of the ring. Juice follows Loa to the outside and Finlay ascends the top rope to attack Tama but gets caught in Tama’s Gun Stun, leading to the pinfall victory.

Post-match, Juice and Tama have a staredown, in preparation for their upcoming G1 Tournament match.

Winners: Guerrillas of Destiny

Analysis: G.o.D. absolutely dominated this match and it wasn’t even close for the most part. Finlay and Juice had short bursts of momentum and did their part in the match but it was all Tonga and Loa from the get-go. This was definitely needed as it helps to establish the new brutal edge that the two have following their attack on the Elite back at the G1 Special. At the rate he’s going, I fully expect Tama Tonga to win some singles gold at some point. Tama is just too talented and too unique not to have a singles title reign. That’s not to say Tanga Loa is any less of a competitor but Tama Tonga is on a different level at this point and, given that Tama has the background of being in the Bullet Club since it’s original days with Prince Devitt (Finn Balor), it would cement him as a leader of the new Firing Squad stable that he’s heading.

Just as Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa exit backstage, however, we’re already en route to our next match! I guess I understand that, since the card is stacked and the stories have to be built for the tournament, it stands that you have to go from match to match pretty quickly to keep the show going. It’d be a bit more polished though if we got some time to digest the matches we just saw before we get into the next battle though, lest you risk burning the crowd out early on in the show.

Match 4: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. and TAKA Michinoku) vs. Kota Ibushi and Yujiro Takahashi

We get a promo from TAKA before the match starts, as he hypes Zack Sabre Jr. to the crowd, declaring that ZSJ will win and everyone should JUST. TAP. OUT. (I love that line).

Kota and ZSJ start things off with a flurry of exchanges, with the story here being that Kota has the advantage with striking while ZSJ dominates on the ground. A tie-up to the ropes forces a break-up before ZSJ pie-faces Kota, leading to a swift kick that ZSJ barely dodges by fleeing outside. Back in the ring, we get a test of strength via a knuckle-lock that ZSJ wins with his grappling background. ZSJ lands a swift European uppercut but eats a series of speedy strikes from Kota Ibushi. ZSJ does manage to get a kick into Kota’s bicep, however, leading into a tag to Takahashi as ZSJ tags in TAKA.

Kota and Yujiro work together for a bit but, as the action dies down, TAKA stuns Yujiro with a kick and tags in ZSJ. Yujiro manages to drop ZSJ with a DDT, however, and a pinfall attempt is broken up by TAKA, which brings in Kota to take TAKA to the outside. Back in the ring, Yujiro tries to land Pimp Juice but is countered into an Octopus stretch and a surprise Michinoku Driver by ZSJ for the victory!

Winners: TAKA Michinoku and Zack Sabre Jr.

Analysis: It looks like Zack Sabre Jr. is being built to be a strong force for G1 Climax, adding his mentor’s finisher to his arsenal for the victory. ZSJ and Taka make for an entertaining duo together and it’s clear the synergy is there when the two are together. Kota Ibushi is unnaturally fast with his strikes and I’m legitimately asking myself how ZSJ was still able to dodge the initial kick from the start of the match. I don’t have much to say about Yujiro and TAKA, unfortunately, as they were clearly not the focus in this match and barely had any time for me to evaluate much of anything for them.

Time for the next match, however, as we roll on with the show! (If you’re asking yourself why these segues into the next match seem so forced and unnatural, it’s literally because this is what the pacing feels like for this first half: a straight rush from match A to match B with no pause).

Match 5: Bullet Club (Kenny Omega and Chase Owens) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito and SANADA)

The crowd is firmly behind Tetsuya Naito, the ‘Dark Ace’ as Masahiro Chono put it, with ‘Naito’ chants as he made his way down. We’ve also got a match with the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, who everyone will undoubtedly have their eyes on in the tournament. Naito and Omega start off surprisingly and the crowd explodes with dueling ‘Naito’ and ‘Omega’ chants. The two face-off in the ring and Kenny mocks Naito’s eye-taunt. Just as they’re about to lock up, both ‘tranquilo’ away, bringing in Chase and SANADA to start the brawl (albeit illegally).

After SANADA manages to drop both Owens and Omega, Naito and Omega are in the ring and Naito takes advantage of the downtime to attack Kenny. Kenny is able to regain the momentum with a counter back-suplex, however, and he tags in Owens. The two double-team Naito for a bit and frequently exchange tags (even throwing in a “Three-Sweet”). Owens attempts to lock Naito in a Paradise Lock but is unable to correctly apply the move, leading Owens to ask the move’s innovator, Milano Collection A.T. (conveniently commentating tonight, look at that) for directions. This leads to Naito regaining the advantage, however, and he tags in SANADA, who actually locks the Paradise Lock on Owens for a thumbs-up from Milano. That was pretty funny, I’ll admit.

After a bit of double-team struggle between all four teams, Kenny and Owens land a double-team Kotaro Krusher but Naito sneaks in and drops Omega with a Tornado DDT and stuns Owens with a enzuigiri, leading into SANADA moonsaulting into a transitional Skull End seamlessly for the submission victory.

Post-match, Naito mocks Omega on the outside, but Omega takes Naito’s hat and mocks his poses before flipping the bird at Naito.

Winners: Tetsuya Naito and SANADA

Analysis: This was probably the best match of the preliminaries. The crowd clearly loves Naito and Omega, which really elevated the presentation of this match. All four men were great in the roles they were in and the controlled chaos of the double-teams added a frenetic pacing to the match that kept the action going from start to finish. Definitely wouldn’t mind more matches from these four and a great showing for Naito and Kenny heading into their G1 Climax showdown.

We FINALLY get a pause for a moment to prepare us for the start of the G1 Climax tournament matches! Just to briefly summarize how the points-system works in this tournament, the winner is awarded 2 points and the loser receives no points, In the case of a draw, both men receive 1 point. In order to assist in keeping track, I will be adding a points-measure after each competitor’s name during this tournament and a tally at the end of the article for organizing. Did you get all that? Great! Let’s get started with the tournament!

Match 6: G1 Climax – A Block: YOSHI-HASHI (0) vs. Togi Makabe (0)

The G1 Climax tournament kicks off with Togi Makabe facing off against YOSHI-HASHI. The match starts off with a brawl between the two soon enough. Makabe had instances of overpowering YOSHI-HASHI but YOSHI-HASHI catches him with a running corner clothesline and the fight goes to ringside. The two brawl at ringside, with YOSHI-HASHI firmly in control (that’s really weird to type, given it’s YOSHI-HASHI of all people). Makabe has barely gotten any offense in as YOSHI-HASHI lands a devestating brainbuster for a two-count. Makabe starts to fire up after eating some stiff strikes and lays in some strikes on his own. After some more strike exchanges, Makabe catches YOSHI-HASHI with a powerslam for a two count. YOSHI-HASHI tries to fire back with strikes but Makabe mounts him on the corner and throws a few mounted corner punches before landing a northern lights suplex for a two-count. Makabe and YOSHI-HASHI begin to exchange strikes but Makabe gets the upper hand and drops him with a lariat as they both drop to the mat.

Makabe eventually positions YOSHI-HASHI up top for a spider German Suplex but YOSHI-HASHI slides out and lands a powerbomb for an extremely close near fall. YOSHI-HASHI sets up for Karma, but Makabe fights it off, leading to YOSHI-HASHI hitting a lariat and meteora for a two count. YOSHI-HASHI locks in his butterfly lock submission but Makabe fights out. YOSHI-HASHI follows up with a Backstabber and returns to the butterfly lock, but Makabe reaches the ropes. YOSHI-HASHI heads up top and catches Makabe with the blockbuster for a two count. YOSHI-HASHI sets up for Karma but is again countered by Makabe and Makabe lands a wicked German suplex but YOSHI-HASHI fires up and they both land a lariat on each other, sending them both down. Makabe manages to land one more lariat before landing the spider German suplex and the King Kong Knee Drop for the pinfall victory.

Winner: Togi Makabe (2)

Analysis: This was an amazing showing for YOSHI-HASHI, who showed a fierce fire here that’s usually uncharacteristic in his matches. I was pleasantly surprised by how well this match turned out and I actually found myself rationalizing a YOSHI-HASHI victory against Togi Makabe, of all people. YOSHI-HASHI is going to need this fire if he’s going to last in this tournament, especially since he’s not very much favored to win much here. This was a great start to the tournament as a whole and definitely the right match to start things off!

Match 7: G1 Climax – A Block: Hangman Page (0) vs Bad Luck Fale (0)

We’ve got some Bullet Club Civil War action here, as Hangman takes on Fale. Fale doesn’t wait for Hangman to get into the ring as he attacks during Hangman’s entrance and they start to brawl around the ring and into the entrance ramp. Fale tosses Page into the crowd, sending some fans away from the rows. Eventually, the fight spills back Back in and Fale maintains control but Page begins to build momentum and nails Fale with two clotheslines to bring the big man to a knee. Page leverages for one more but turns it into a sunset flip pin, but it’s countered by Fale, who misses the following elbow drop. Page follows up with a running shooting star press but gets a two count.

At this point, however, Page starts to slow down because he notices (though it isn’t shown on camera) that Tanga Loa is at ringside. Fale capitalizes on the distraction and hits a corner splash and a running splash but only gets a two count. A series of exchanges leads into a cradle from Page for a two count and Fale is sent to the floor. Page readies for a dive but Loa cuts him off by grabbing his leg and pulling him outside. Page fights off Loa with a superkick and takes both men down with a moonsault from the top. The fight goes back into the ring and Page nails the Buckshot Lariat for a two count. Page sets up for a Rite of Passage but Tama Tonga runs in and clips Page’s knee. Tama, Loa and Fale shove the referee out of the ring and all three proceed to gang up on Page, forcing a DQ. The Firing Squad attempt to use Page’s rope but Omega, Ibushi, & Owens run out to make the save.

Winner: Hangman Page (2)

Analysis: A rare DQ finish in the G1 Climax definitely is a powerful moment, but I’m gonna throw a hot take here: I’m not a fan of how this match ended. I totally understand that I just went off on a tangent about how the stories will play out in the tournament and there’s a Bullet Club Civil War story in the mix but this wasn’t the match to do it. Absolutely no disrespect to Fale and Page, as they’re both amazing superstars in their own right, but this could’ve been handled with a few distractions from Loa and a decisive pinfall victory here would’ve been sufficient. The DQ finish would’ve better served the Tama Tonga/Kenny Omega match, as it would’ve made sense that they’re looking to take out the Bullet Club’s leader. Instead, the Firing Squad just cost their own man valuable points in the G1 Climax, gave those points to the very opponents they’re fighting against and ended up being chased out, which weakened their own position. The match itself was good for what it was but the ending could’ve been handled a little bit better, in my opinion.

Onwards to the next match in the G1 Climax! Oof, this pacing is starting to get exhausting.

Match 8: G1 Climax – A Block: Michael Elgin (0) vs. EVIL (0)

This match-up screams ‘hoss fight’ and I’m so glad I’m right. The match immediately starts with a kick to the gut by EVIL and they both start exchanging stiff shots to each other, ranging from hard chops to shoulder tackles. They eventually both end up outside and Elgin whips EVIL into the rails, following up with stiff chops to the chest. Elgin unbuckles the entrance ramp door and prepares to clothesline EVIL into the ring post but he dodges, causing Big Mike to hit the post hard. EVIL starts working the arm, even wrapping a chair into the arm and slamming it into the ringpost.

The fight spills back into the ring, as EVIL continues to work Elgin’s arm and nails a high-jump senton for a two count. EVIL has Elgin in a submission arm lock and Mike tries to fight back but the bicep injury hampers his strength. Elgin does eventually power out but the hesitation from his arm causes EVIL to rush him. Elgin catches him with a belly-to-back suplex and an exchange of strikes, sending EVIL to the floor, where Elgin follows with a dive through the ropes. Elgin sends EVIL back in and follows with a slingshot stomp and a deadlift German suplex but only gets a two count. EVIL starts to fire back but Elgin catches him with stiff clotheslines. Elgin, in a bizarre move given his ‘arm injury’ removes the elbow pad that would’ve protected the arm, and delivers another stiff lariat. EVIL eventually counters out of a press slam and nails Elgin with a superkick, clothesline and bulldog for 2. EVIL now has an Armbar on Elgin but Elgin escapes and lands a bicycle kick.

Eventually, EVIL and Elgin are on the apron and EVIL manages to take Elgin’s arm into the railing. Elgin rolls back in, barely beating the 20 count but EVIL follows through with an cannonball in the corner and follows with the Banshee Muzzle, but Elgin fires up and escapes, landing a lariat in the process. They exchange blows and Elgin hits a German but EVIL fires back with Darkness Falls for a two count. Elgin counters out of EVIL (the finisher) and lands a Falcon Arrow, as they both are down. They eventually rise and both exchange hard blows Elgin runs into a lariat by EVIL. EVIL attempts to hit EVIL again but is countered into a superkick by Elgin. EVIL responds with a German and Elgin retaliates with a lariat. Elgin then takes EVIL up top, landing a superplex but only gets a two count. A series of counters occur, ending with Elgin nailing the Buckle Bomb. Elgin attempts a Burning Hammer, but it gets countered. Elgin eventually manages to hit Splash Mountain and the Elgin Bomb for the pinfall victory.

Winner: Michael Elgin (2)

Analysis: Wow, what a fight. Elgin and EVIL are two of the biggest examples of Strong Style going today and this was a shining example of this style. Whenever Elgin has a strong opponent he can work with, his matches tend to be very entertaining and stiff. EVIL, in no surprise, always performs well in G1 matches and this was another notch on the big guy’s belt. He has proven that not only can he go, but he can believably bust anyone’s bracket at any given moment. The no-selling of the arm in a few moments can be lent to the ‘fighting spirit’ of Michael Elgin, but there’s only so few times that it can be believable before your suspension of belief is distilled. Nevertheless, this was definitely the best G1 Match so far (you probably can tell I love ‘hoss fights’).

You already know what I’m about to say here, so let’s get to it then!

Match 9: G1 Climax – A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi (0) vs. Minoru Suzuki (0)

This match is off to a great start as Suzuki immediately jumps on Tanahashi with strikes. Suzuki attempts to lock in a choke on Tanahashi but he fights out of it. That doesn’t work for long as Suzuki starts to attack the knee of Tanahashi. This was a great throwback to their match in January, where Tanahashi lost the IWGP Intercontinental Championship to Suzuki and had to take time off to heal. Suzuki proceeds to lock on a nasty-looking heel hook. Tanahashi fights back and tries to reach for the ropes but Suzuki continues to crank at the leg, transitioning into an ankle lock, then into an STF and then into a half-crab very seamlessly. Suzuki eventually leads back into the heel hook and Tanahashi eventually makes the ropes. All the while, Suzuki has a twisted, maniacal look on his face, which just adds to the viciousness even more.

The two eventually make their way back up and trade strikes. Suzuki fires off leg kicks at Tanahashi, who catches Suzuki with a dragon screw. Tanahashi channels his fighting spirit but continues to limp around as he makes his comeback. Tanahashi, however, misses the senton, leading to Suzuki catching him with a Penalty Kick and another heel hook. Suzuki transitions the hook into the figure four but Tanahashi rolls out and makes the ropes. Suzuki, in return, fires stiff and powerful forearms to Tanahashi and locks a sleeper hold before going for the Gotch-style Piledriver. Tanahashi manages to fight it off, however, and manages a sudden cradle but only gets a two count. Suzuki attempts another sleeper again but it’s countered out by Tanahashi. Suzuki then goes for a kick but Tanahashi catches it and hits an inverted dragon screw this time, causing Suzuki to scream in agony (very convincingly, I might add).

Tanahashi follows up with his signature sling-blade for a two count. Tanahashi then heads up to the top and hits High Fly Flow, then heads back up for a second High Fly Flow for the victory.

Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi (2)

Analysis: Holy cow, that was brutal. Minoru Suzuki is a terrifying wrestler and his facial expressions and moveset make him seem like an absolute terror in the ring. That being said, I enjoy that this entire match became a Tanahashi torture-session, including a callback to their January match with the attacks to Tanahashi’s leg. Tanahashi, conversely, was/is the Ace for a reason as the man can do wonders when it comes to high-stakes situations like the G1 Climax. The re-injured leg angle for both Tanahashi and Suzuki now adds a story for them both going forward for the tournament. That will definitely be something to watch out for as the tournament rolls on.

It’s now time for our main event, as CHAOS now face off against each other one more time!

Match 10: G1 Climax – A Block: Kazuchika Okada (0) vs. Jay White (0)

We’ve definitely got a very interesting main event here, as “Switchblade” Jay White finally confronts “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada, or rather whatever Okada is right now? Okada seems to be a broken, erratic mess since losing the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and it’s probably the funniest thing right now. Jay White offers a handshake to start things off and, when Okada reciprocates, immediately pulls him into Blade Runner, but Okada counters into a Rainmaker attempt. White now starts to turn up the aggression, laying in chops to drop Okada.

After some exchanges, Okada eventually takes White to the floor. Okada sets up White for the running crossbody over the rail but White moves out of the way and into the crowd. Okada follows White, however, as the brawl continues into the crowd. White manages to catch Okada in a Saito suplex, however, on the floor and takes full control. White then proceeds to repeatedly slam him into both the rails and apron back first a few times. Back into the ring, and they trade strikes and chops. White manages to hit a Suplex into the turnbuckles and smothers Okada with the ring skirt. He does put it back neatly though, as the crowd cheers that moment (what even?). White then follows up with a back breaker for a two count but transitions into a Muta Lock. Okada does manage to make the ropes to break the hold but White holds on for an extended amount of time.

White starts cockily attacking Okada with mock kicks and taunts, which seemed to fire Okada back into old ‘Rainmaker’ temporarily. Okada then fires back with forearms and hits the DDT as they both are left laying. Okada then follows up with a running back elbow and the flapjack but only gets a two-count. Okada then climbs up and hits the cross body (while shouting ‘Scooby Dooby Doo’…I love Shattered Okada) for a two count. They exchange counters, leading to White hitting a series of suplexes for a two-count. Okada counters Blade Runner by White and locks in the cobra clutch. White, however counters out and into a cobra clutch/crossface variation. Okada struggles but then makes the ropes to break the hold up.

Okada fires back and lands a neck breaker and shotgun dropkick. After slamming White, Okada heads up top and nails the elbow drop. Okada attempts the Rainmaker but is countered into an attempted Blade Runner and then a German suplex for a really close two count. A series of exchanges follows but White ends the exchange with a lariat for a two count. White then Saito suplexes Okada over the ropes and to the floor. White follows and also suplexes Okada into the rails. White then grabs a chair to use, backing off Gedo in the process. White shoves the referee down to use the chair but Okada dropkicks the chair into White’s face. Okada follows up with a tombstone piledriver and sets up for a Rainmaker, which does connect but in the process of the ripcord, White backhanded the referee to send him down. White then low blows Okada and chucks the chair into Okada’s face before landing Blade Runner for the shock pinfall victory.

Winner: Jay White (2)

Analysis: Now that was a win I definitely did not expect, especially this soon in the tournament. The broken Rainmaker saga continues, as Okada’s erratic and broken psyche has caused him to lose his edge, so to speak. Jay White has seriously stepped up in this match and it shows as his character and in-ring work was on another level here. It will be interesting to see where either man will end up in this tournament. Jay White now has an injured Tanahashi to contend with next, meaning that we can expect to see more elements of his cunning and arrogant behavior on display.

As for Okada, you can tell that he’s enjoying the fact that he doesn’t have the pressure of being the champion and the face of the company for the time being. His entire body language just shows that he seems to be a lot more relaxed here and it may have been a much-needed break, especially given that the man had been at his very best for almost a full decade by this point. I hope he gets the chance to enjoy this as he will most likely be added back as the champion at some point but I’ll enjoy it as it is!

Full Show Analysis: This was a very strong start for the G1 Climax, as every match on this card played a vital role as to how the stories will be set up going forward, such as Tanahashi/Suzuki’s leg injuries, Okada’s broken and damaged psyche, Jay White’s high-rolling momentum and more. One thing in particular that I didn’t like about this show, however, was the pacing of the match card. There was little to no pause between any of the matches and everything occurred so fast that I couldn’t digest what I saw in the prior match because I was immediately thrown into the next one. I feel that this hurt the overall presentation of the show, as I was definitely starting to hit a burnout feeling around the 5th match (right before the tournament even started, I might add).

I feel that a few promotional videos for each match or a highlight reel of prior tournaments may help to dilute the frenzied pacing of the show and help the overall presentation just a bit. Regardless, though, this was an amazing start to G1 Climax 28 and we’re now en-route on the Road to Wrestle Kingdom!

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.)

* Juice Robinson: – (pts.)
* Hirooki Goto: – (pts.)
* Tomohiro Ishii: – (pts.)
* Toru Yano: – (pts.)
* Tama Tonga: – (pts.)
* SANADA: – (pts.)
* Tetsuya Naito: – (pts.)
* Zack Sabre Jr: – (pts.)
* Kenny Omega: – (pts.)
* Kota Ibushi: – (pts.)

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Image credit: New Japan Professional Wrestling

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