NJPW G1 Climax 28 Day 3

07/16/2018

Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center, Sapporo, Japan

(reviewed 07/16/2018)

Hangman Page vs Michael Elgin

G1 Climax 28 Block A Match

Fuck Michael Elgin – Weird Tope Suicida Edition.

EVIL vs YOSHI-HASHI

G1 Climax 28 Block A Match

I think the thing that gets me about YOSHI-HASHI is that he so rarely ever feels like he’s holding his own in matches. I was something of a fan of the guy back in 2015 when he was just an undercard nobody who had a weird haircut and impressed me from time to time with his efforts against guys who beat the snot out of him with ease. Clearly I wasn’t the only person keeping an eye on him, as he found his way into a major tag match early in 2016 and earned himself a spot in that year’s G1. He did well in the former but the latter showed that he still had a way to go and he hasn’t exactly progressed since then. When I think about that aforementioned tag match or his NEVER title match with Suzuki last year, I think of moments in which he shows some tangible fire and momentarily manages to stand toe to toe against regular main eventers thanks to some spirited strikes or a bit of clever thinking. Sadly those moments are so few and far between, coming at a pace of about one a year at this point. The rest of the time YOSHI-HASHI’s just languidly going through the motions, with people like EVIL going 50/50 with him in matches because it’s what’s expected of anyone who isn’t currently holding a major title of some sort. Part of my complaint is that there’s so little sense of hierarchy, one of my favorite things about wrestling. EVIL and YOSHI-HASHI might both be career midcarders but one of these men has a pinfall victory over Kazuchika Okada and several titles under his belt while the other doesn’t, yet they remain evenly-matched for no real reason. That’s a larger systemic issue that comes from what modern fans like to see and not something that’s isolated to this match in particular, but still, YOSHI-HASHI is one of the worst culprits of that larger problem and this match is a great example of how.

Minoru Suzuki vs Togi Makabe

G1 Climax 28 Block A Match

Two mean pieces of shit hit each other a bunch and it’s mostly great. Not every elbow or chair shot is what it could be but these guys are both 45 or older so I’ll cut ‘em some slack.

Kazuchika Okada vs Bad Luck Fale

G1 Climax 28 Block A Match

Okada continues to employ the Jared Leto method of emotional relation and Fale continues to employ crowd brawling to relate his monstrousness. Guess which of those is less annoying. Outside of that this ain’t bad. I vaguely like the Fale/Okada matches because they throw Okada off his game in important ways and give more of a meaning to his weird, disparate bits of highflying. This sure isn’t their best outing but I’ll take it above a bunch of other highly-revered matches in this tournament so far.

Jay White vs Hiroshi Tanahashi

G1 Climax 28 Block A Match

So much better than their Tokyo Dome match from earlier in the year, unsurprisingly due to the fact that it addresses just about every issue I had with that first meeting. While the CHAOS membership is still something of a mess, White’s done much better in recent months to establish himself as a villain and a dangerous one at that. The leg work that felt sluggish and limp seven months ago now feels meaningful and malicious. Tanahashi’s likewise improved since Wrestle Kingdom. He’s started wrestling slower, more toned-down matches that suit his failing body better, padding a lot of his usual work out with more emotive selling and different approaches to old ideas. (Keep an eye out for how he adjusts the Shawn Michaels flying forearm to avoid landing on his bum knee.) What’s more, his leg work to combat White’s exploitation of Tanahashi’s many lingering injuries feels more heated and vengeful than it did back in the Dome. In a lot of ways this is just a rehash of that match but it’s a marked improvement in most every way, so I’m glad to see it. There are still a few issues here that drag this down for me, to be sure. White’s most overt heelishness—a few moments of cackling after various bits of cheating late in the match—feels pretty goofy in comparison to his other aggressive, down-to-earth efforts. Tanahashi seeking revenge for this cheating by way of his own chair shots and low blows is certainly warranted but struck me as unnecessary. In that vein the biggest problem here is a bit of bloat towards the end, with this running longer than their first match by a solid five minutes. The G1’s time limit prevents this from getting egregiously long, but 24 minutes is still just enough time for an aging great and a young heel still finding his way to fumble the landing in a significant way. Thankfully it’s not significant enough to prevent this from being easily one of the best matches of the tournament thus far.

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