Live in front of 3,907 at the Ota Gymnasium, the first night of the G1 Climax 28 is officially in the books! Including the tags, there were ten matches on the show but all throughout the tournament I’ll only be discussing what happened in block action. The A Block were up first with their opening five matches of the tournament. Let’s get into what happened tonight!
Togi Makabe (1-0) def. YOSHI-HASHI (0-1) @ 11:06 via King Kong Knee Drop **3/4
All it took was some new pants from Y-H to turn me from listless to excited. He came out showing some nice fire, caving in Makabe’s chest with a series of impressive chops to open the match. Makabe kept egging him on, wanting to show off his old man fighting spirit. The intensity stayed high throughout the match aside from a couple of Butterfly Locks that no one bought. There was a glaring contrast up and down the show on who’s submissions the crowd found believable. Y-H wasn’t one people believed but outside of that, this match was great. The fire on display from Y-H has me cautiously optimistic and the new pants are definitely a factor as well. Makabe slammed Y-H’s head into the ring post a couple of times before laning the Spider Suplex, followed up by the King Kong Knee Drop. Not a show stealer but definitely the one match that overdelivered upon my expectations.
Hangman Page (1-0) def. Back Luck Fale (0-1) @ 8:06 via DQ – **
Another hot start with Fale attacking Page before he could enter the ring. Page followed up with a tope suicida and they were off to the races. Fale kept the match on the outside, throwing Page into the audience’s chairs a couple of times before heading to the ring. Page looked strong with a few meaty lariats that helped him gain the advantage but Tanga Loa stopped the momentum by tripping Page on another attempted dive. He was able to overcome the first wave and had Fale up for the Rite of Passage before Tama Tonga came from behind with a chop block. The three of them stomped Page into the mat, causing a disqualification. Omega, Ibushi and Owens come out to make the save before Fale could secure the noose around the neck of Page. The story worked well for both guys. Page looked capable of beating Fale while Fale and his crew showed their motives. Whether that’ll bleed over to their non-BC matches, we’ll have to wait and see.
Michael Elgin (1-0) def. EVIL (0-1) @ 16:08 via Elgin Bomb – **1/2
Two meaty boys having a good ‘ol beef-off, sign me up. As you’d expect, there were a lot of shoulder tackles and big lariat exchanges throughout the match. Elgin went too big early, attempting a lariat on the outside but hit the ring post whe EVIL ducked. EVIL then proceeded to take advantage of the arm whenever he saw an opportunity. This was another case of no one buying into a submission. EVIL locked in the Banshee Muzzle to zero reaction and Elgin powering out of EVIL’s every attempt to exploit the arm didn’t help matters. They went a little long for the sake of an epic feel but the arm being a non-factor near the end kind of hurt the stakes. They did a lot of cool big guy stuff but the conclusion didn’t feel as big as it could have been.
Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-0) def. Minoru Suzuki (0-1) @ 13:59 via High Fly Flow – ***1/2
This was a match where the submissions mattered. After a hot and sloppy start, Suzuki took control with a dropkick to the knee. The next four minutes consisted of Suzuki transitioning from submission to submission while Tanahashi sold and sold. No one is a better seller than Tanahashi. No one. After he finally forces the rope break, Tanahashi swings at Suzuki and catches his retaliation kick into a Dragon Screw. The Ace began a nice flurry but found himself caught in a Figure Four after missing a second rope Senton. He reaches the ropes again and the two begin trading strikes. Suzuki peppers Tanahashi with slaps to the face, only a shot or two away from causing a knock out. Tanahashi rolls Suzuki up and after the kick out, drives Suzuki’s heel into the mat with another Dragon Screw, jamming Suzuki’s knee. Slingblde, standing crossbody, High Fly Flow, Tanahashi wins. Great match from both man. They brought it and put on a performance that earned them the match of the night.
Jay White (1-0) def. Kazuchika Okada (0-1) @ 25:37 via Blade Runner – ***
Okada, now sporting balloons and red hair, faces off with his Chaos brother, and now titleless, Jay White. Both Chaos men come into the G1, recently losing their titles and now the power struggle within the stable has officially begun. White stuck his hand out and Okada, though hesitant, shook the hand but White was quick to turn it into the Blade Runner. Okada seamlessly transitioned to a Rainmaker but White ducked and they smiled at each other. The smiles wouldn’t last. White obliterated Okada the entire time, laying in some nasty chops. He began toying with Okada, something Okada doesn’t take lightly and White knew exactly what he was doing. He got Okada off his game, ducked a Rainmaker into a Flatliner + German suplex combination. White grabs a chair from under the ring, shoves the referee but eats a dropkick assisted chair to the face by Okada. A third Rainmaker is attempted, this time White backhands the referee on the windup and with no referee to see, low blows Okada, throws a chair at his face and hits the Blade Runner for the win. Post-match he tells the crowd they can boo him because he doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him. He’s the new leader of Chaos because Okada has been dying a slow death since Dominion. Breathe with the Switchblade. This was a long, but interesting, match. Once again, absolutely no one bought the submission spots which only made the match feel longer. You should see this if you care about the Chaos dynamic but I understand that twenty-five minutes can be a bit of a chore to sit through so make the judgement call for yourself.
I’d be lying if I told you this was a great show. There were a lot of interesting moments in each match but length and shenanigans made most of the matches borderline as best. Definitely seek out Tanahashi and Suzuki but the others depend on how you feel about the wrestlers involved.
Tanahashi vs Suzuki
(1-0): Jay White, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin, Hangman Page, Togi Makabe
(0-1): Kazuchika Okada, Minoru Suzuki, EVIL, Bad Luck Fale, YOSHI-HASHI
Kenny Omega vs Tetsuya Naito
Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr.
Hirooki Goto vs SANADA
Tama Tonga vs Juice Robinson
Tomohiro Ishii vs Toru Yano