Welcome to Fightful's NJPW G1 Climax 28 Block Update. With only three matches left in each block, only a handful of mathematical winners remain. And one Block is clearly dominating in terms of match quality.
Night 11 Review (A Block - Sixth Matches)
Bad Luck Fale def. Togi Makabe - It was short and there was a pinfall. As a result, this was the best Fale match of the tournament. It still sucked.
Jay White def. Hangman Page - Not on the level of their Long Beach match, but still a solid outing for both guys. The back work paid off with Page being unable to hit rite of passage, allowing White to cheat before escaping with the victory. I still don't understand why the other guy moves when White goes to hit them with the chair. While the Firing Squad interference is way past tired, White's tactics at least have a point to them as he's still trying to win matches.
Minoru Suzuki def. EVIL - I liked the closing stretch of this one with the counters before Suzuki hit the GSP to put EVIL away. Prior to that, the work was fine, but the crowd wasn't into it and they never really kicked it into the next gear. The top of the Block is looking awfully crowded with Suzuki's victory.
Hiroshi Tanahashi def. YOSHI-HASHI - Not surprisingly, the crowd loved Tanahashi. Much like Okada against HASHI, the result was never in doubt, but they tried to create drama and make you believe HASHI could pull it off. Tanahashi gave him a lot and even needed a surprise roll-up to get the victory, which was then disputed by HASHI. Tanahashi remaining down while HASHI was up and arguing should not be dismissed. They wanted to convey just how hard HASHI pushed him and put over Tanahashi's potential knee injury.
Kazuchika Okada def. Michael Elgin - Uh oh, Okada is finding his groove. He's now won four straight and this was by far his most impressive outing. Still not quite The Rainmaker, but the clouds are beginning to form and the storm is brewing. As he's done all tournament, Elgin turned in another strong performance.
Match of the Night - Kazuchika Okada vs. Michael Elgin
A Block Standings
* Hiroshi Tanahashi: 5-1 (10pts.)
* Minoru Suzuki: 4-2 (8pts.)
* Jay White: 4-2 (8pts.)
* EVIL: 4-2 (8pts.)
* Kazuchika Okada: 4-2 (8pts.)
* Bad Luck Fale: 3-3 (6pts.)
* Michael Elgin: 2-4 (4pts.)
* Togi Makabe: 2-4 (4pts.)
* Hangman Page: 1-5 (2pts.)
* YOSHI-HASHI: 1-5 (2pts.)
Night 12 Review (B Block - Sixth Matches)
Tama Tonga def. Tomohiro Ishii - You already know what I'm going to say. The match wasn't good and then the Firing Squad interfered. At least it worked this time as Tonga was able to win after interference from Tanga Loa and Bad Luck Fale. Ishii tried, but in the words of random TEW 16 emails, "Tama Tonga can't work NJPW style, I'd job the kid out and off the roster."
Juice Robinson def. SANADA - Juice is mathematically eliminated, but he doesn't want to defend the US title against everyone in the Block after this tournament. Defeating SANADA is pretty big deal as SANADA looked to be a major player prior to his loss to Omega. With this loss to Juice, B Block becomes a three man race at the top. As far the match goes, it was your typical solid outing from these two. Juice move stealing was a tad much given where both guys are in the pecking order. But it did show a sense of desperation that I appreciated.
Tetsuya Naito def. Toru Yano - Nothing unexpected here. Yano played up his usual gimmicks, Naito went with it, and then Naito decided he was over things. Yano has officially been eliminated while Naito remains at the top, but still trailing Omega by two matches due to the tie breaker.
Kenny Omega def. Zack Sabre Jr. - Sabre had him. He dominated this match, turning Omega into various shapes throughout. But Omega needed one small opening to sneak away with the victory. Due the story they were telling, the match was a bit of a disappointment. ZSJ was his usual technical self and Omega played his role, but it lacked that typical hot closing stretch we're used to seeing in Kenny matches. In fact, this felt more like a night off for Kenny after a grueling tournament. Not a bad match, just below what these two are more than capable of. Keep in mind, the bar is so high for Omega and this Block that "disappointing" means "not the greatest match of all-time."
Kota Ibushi def. Hirooki Goto - Ibushi continues to be the MVP of the tournament. Even taking it easy, he and Goto had a very good match. I can't even fault Ibushi for not going all out after the match he had with Ishii. Not only that, but he has a huge match coming up with Naito with high stakes. Best to save yourself for that one. This bout was essentially a microcosm of the night for B Block. Disappointing due to fatigue and expectations, but still better than anything A Block is doing and better than 97 percent of what you'll watch all week. Ibushi's win keeps him alive in the tournament.
Match of the Night - Kota Ibushi vs. Hirooki Goto
B Block Standings
* Kenny Omega: 6-0 (12pts.)
* Tetsuya Naito: 5-1 (10pts.)
* Kota Ibushi: 4-2 (8pts.)
* SANADA: 3-3 (6pts.)
* Zack Sabre Jr: 3-3 (6pts.)
* Tomohiro Ishii: 2-4 (4pts.)
* Hirooki Goto: 2-4 (4pts.)
*Tama Tonga: 2-4 (4pts.)
*Juice Robinson: 2-4 (4pts.)
*Toru Yano: 1-5 (2pts.)
Night 13 Preview (A Block - Seventh Matches)
Togi Makabe vs. Hangman Page - Both guys have been mathematically eliminated, so this is a match with no real consequence. It probably won't get much time either. Page is having a good in-ring tournament and should be rewarded with a victory here.
Michael Elgin vs. Bad Luck Fale - Mathematically, both guys are still alive. In Elgin's case, he would need to win out and still need ton of help, including a draw between Suzuki and Okada. Fale would also need to win out and receive slightly less help. Basically, it's not looking good for either man. We've been conditioned to expect Firing Squad interference, so go ahead and plan for that.
Jay White vs. YOSHI-HASHI - If White were 5-1, I could see see HASHI pulling the upset. But at 4-2, White needs a victory to keep pace with Okada, Tanahashi, and Suzuki. The crowd will be into HASHI, which should help the overall package of this match. White will likely need underhand tactics once again as HASHI gives him all he can handle.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. EVIL - EVIL's closing stretch is just miserable. That said, I could see him picking up a victory here to create a a four-way tie at the top of the Block heading into the final two matches. The more likely outcome is Tanahashi fighting from underneath again to come out on top and remain in first. The match quality will largely depend on which Tanahashi wants to show up.
Kazuchika Okada vs. Minoru Suzuki - It's a good thing Okada is starting to become whole again because Suzuki is not the guy you want to face if you're mentally and physically struggling. These two have had countless matches against each other, including a draw in last year's G1 and a match in the rain earlier this year. With both guys taking it easy on Night 11, we can only hope they are prepared for war on Night 13.
Night 14 Preview (B Block - Seventh Matches)
Juice Robinson vs. Zack Sabre Jr. - Both guys are wrestling for pride as losses to Omega have them mathematically eliminated. From a win-loss perspective, this has been a disappointing tournament for ZSJ. After winning the New Japan Cup earlier this year, I certainly expected him to be in the mix past Night 12. The match should be good with ZSJ attacking Juice's hand and Juice looking for means of escape.
Hirooki Goto vs. Tama Tonga - Now that Tonga is working matches that have no bearing on who wins the tournament, I can thankfully skip everything he does. I advise you to do the same.
Toru Yano vs. SANADA - Much like Juice against SANADA, the result will depend on the story they are trying to tell with SANADA. My guess is they want to keep him strong heading into his match with Naito, but the "coming up short against Omega and slipping into self-doubt" isn't out of the question. Expect the usual Yano outing only with 100 percent more Yano since he's got nothing to lose.
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Kenny Omega - Once again, this will depend on where they are going on the final night. If they want to create drama, Omega has to lose here or to Yano in his next bout. Otherwise, he enters the final night against Ibushi with the Block already won. But unbeaten Omega is the other story NJPW could go with. It's the less appealing story because the stakes are much lower, but still an option. Ishii is having a great tournament and it'd be nice if he got rewarded with a win here and a future title shot down the line. As long as both guys are feeling up to it, the match should be awesome. They had a trilogy of classics last year with Omega going 2-1.
Tetsuya Naito vs. Kota Ibushi - Oh boy. Not only should this be awesome, but the stakes are extremely high. A loss doesn't quite end the tournament for either man, but they're going to need help from Yano if they want to stay alive. No matter who loses, they would need Omega to lose out if they want to win the tournament. So, if Omega defeats Ishii earlier in the night, the loser of this match would be done. Unless Omega-Ishii goes on last, in which case we should get multiple cuts backstage to the Ibushi-Naito loser watching the main event on a monitor while standing at an odd angle. They had a classic at last year's G1 and I'd be shocked if they don't have another classic here.
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