Welcome everyone to Fightful's NJPW G1 Climax 28 Block Update. We're one-third of the way through the tournament and we're starting to get an idea of where things are going.
Night 5 Review (A Block - Third Matches)
Jay White def. Michael Elgin - Another Jay White match, another ref bump. I'll give him credit, he keeps coming up with creative ways to knock the ref down. White has now defeated the top two stars in NJPW and a guy who was undefeated heading into the night. If he gets by Suzuki on Night 7, could he run through the entire block? Probably not, as his cheating ways will likely catch up to him, but man are they making him look strong in this tournament. The work was good and the story was coherent. Elgin dominated in the ring until the ref bump. White's best moments came on the outside. He would be great in a reverse battle royal. Both guys are having a great tournament thus far performance wise.
Minoru Suzuki def. YOSHI-HASHI - HASHI tried and got in maybe more offense than expected, but Suzuki was never falling to 0-3. HASHI's place in this tournament is established. He's taking falls and hopefully looking good in the process. That said, HASHI is 36 and unlikely to be anything more than a lower mid card guy, no matter how hard he tries to imitate Nakamura. Suzuki beating the hell out of overmatched opponents never gets old for me.
EVIL def. Togi Makabe - A good hard-hitting sprint from these two. Given their opponents on the final night, both men are expected to remain in the mix throughout the tournament. EVIL vs. White is definitely looking like a match that could determine the winner of the Block. As mentioned last time, EVIL should look strong throughout to build his eventual IC title match with Chris Jericho.
Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Bad Luck Fale - Tanahashi is one of the few guys who can get something out of Fale and he did his best here. Of course, Firing Squad had to interfere. It was nice to see Red Shoes show some smarts (and balls) and disqualify Fale for Tonga's interference despite not directly seeing it. Now that Fale has worked the top two guys and a Bullet Club member, hopefully they can stop with the shenanigans and just have him beat up fools. Red Shoes now becomes a big story throughout this tournament, specifically in Firing Squad and White matches. Tanahashi remains Tanahashi.
Kazuchika Oakada def. Hangman Page - Page hung tough and looked great in defeat. You knew he would use this to further increase his stock and that's exactly what he did. Okada finally picks up a victory, but still doesn't quite look like The Rainmaker. The Hiromu Takahashi comparison is super interesting. Does Okada start taking risks he's never taken and nearly kill himself in order to win? Okada's weakness throughout this tournament has been ref bumps, so more guys should try that approach.
Match of the Night - Kazuchika Okada vs. Hangman Page
A Block Standings
* Jay White: 3-0 (6pts.)
* Michael Elgin: 2-1 (4pts.)
* Togi Makabe: 2-1 (4pts.)
* EVIL: 2-1 (4pts.)
* Hiroshi Tanahashi: 2-1 (4pts.)
* Hangman Page: 1-2 (2pts.)
* Bad Luck Fale: 1-2 (2pts.)
* Kazuchika Okada: 1-2 (2pts.)
* Minoru Suzuki: 1-2 (2pts.)
* YOSHI-HASHI: 0-3 (0pts.)
Night 6 Review (B Block - Third Matches)
Toru Yano def. Kota Ibushi - Yano tried to be serious for about a minute and then he became Yano again. Being serious was getting him nowhere this tournament, but using tape, corner pads, and a low blow gave him his first victory. Ibushi being game and not afraid to embarrass himself helped here. Yano gets on the board while Ibushi suffers a semi-surprising loss.
SANADA def. Zack Sabre Jr. - You knew things were going to go poorly for Sabre Jr. when Taka screwed up his intro. This was a fun sprint, but too short to be on the level of their NJ Cup match. Still, they made the most out of their limited time and told a great story. SANADA went move for move and counter for counter with ZSJ, eventually coming up with an O'Connor roll for the win. SANADA has a tough run coming up so getting a victory here gives him some momentum. ZSJ is having a pretty rough tournament thus far.
Tetsuya Naito def. Juice Robinson - Speaking of rough tournaments. Juice came into the match with a serious look on his face, wanting to avoid going down 0-3. He probably wasn't prepared for a ruthless Naito, who went after the injured hand. Juice, as usual, looked good in defeat while Naito keeps pace with Ibushi. He's still behind Omega following the defeat on Night 2. Once again, I'm hating the destino kickouts. It's starting to mean nothing. Naito may want to come up with a new finish in the near future. The match itself was fantastic, which isn't surprising given the two performers and crowd investment in both guys.
Kenny Omega def. Tama Tonga - I'm 100 percent over Tonga and Firing Squad. The matches have been bad and the interference is already overkill. This was Tonga's chance to show something and it was another bland performance with no real finish. Maybe this sets up Omega being hurt moving, but if not, what exactly did the Firing Squad accomplish? The sooner this angle ends, the better.
Tomohiro Ishii def. Hirooki Goto - This was everything I wanted and more. This was more of a fight than a wrestling match, but that was to be expected. Ishii avenges his loss to Goto in last year's G1 and remains at the top of the leaderboard. He also potentially earns a NEVER openweight title match, which, yes please. Completely different from Juice vs. Naito, but great all the same. Your preference on which match was better will come down to your preference on how you like your wrestling.
Match of the Night - Tomhiro Ishii vs. Hirooki Goto
B Block Standings
* Kenny Omega: 3-0 (6pts.)
* Kota Ibushi: 2-1 (4pts.)
* Tetsuya Naito: 2-1 (4pts.)
* SANADA: 2-1 (4pts.)
* Tomohiro Ishii: 2-1 (4pts.)
* Tama Tonga: 1-2 (2pts.)
* Hirooki Goto: 1-2 (2pts.)
* Zack Sabre Jr: 1-2 (2pts.)
* Toru Yano: 1-2 (2pts.)
* Juice Robinson: 0-3 (0pts.)
Night 7 Preview (A Block - Fourth Matches)
Michael Elgin vs. YOSHI-HASHI - HASHI has to win at some point, right? Elgin figures to be in the mix until the end while HASHI has bouts against Okada and Tanahashi after this. A loss by HASHI here pretty much ends his tournament as five wins won't be enough to win the block. As much as I'd like to think HASHI manages to stay alive, there's no reason to believe he will.
EVIL vs. Bad Luck Fale - I don't know what to make of Fale's tournament thus far. He's usually given enough wins to stay in the mix. But he's 1-2 with two DQ losses. If there was ever a match for Fale to not need the Firing Squad, it would figure to be this one. Not expecting anything special from these two.
Minoru Suzuki vs. Jay White - How far are they willing to go with the White push? This is his toughest remaining match and if he wins here, he'll have a loss or two against the likes of Makabe and Fale. It's possible he loses by DQ in one of those matches. If you like guys fighting on the outside and pushing the boundaries of the rules, this match will be for you. They did plant the seeds of the refs smartening in the Fale-Tanahashi match. Maybe White tries to push his luck a little too much with another ref bump and Red Shoes gets sick of him as well.
Hangman Page vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi - This should steal the night in the same way Okada-Page stole Night 5. Page probably isn't going to pick up many victories in this tournament, his lone win came by DQ, but he's going to get himself over with outstanding performances in defeat.
Kazuchika Okada vs. Togi Makabe - It should come as no surprise that these two have had some great G1 outings in the past. Falling to 0-2 sort of telegraphed Okada's next few matches as he was unlikely to get too far behind the pack. He should pick up the win here to keep pace with everyone else.
Night 8 Preview (B Block - Fourth Matches)
Hirooki Goto vs. Toru Yano - This should be short and inconsequential. Goto will have a few days off after his war with Ishii and wrestling Yano is basically another day off. With all of the Firing Squad interference and Jay White cheating at every turn, Yano's antics are a breath of fresh air in this tournament.
Kota Ibushi vs. SANADA - If these two get time, this could steal the night. Ibushi brings it every night and SANADA always elevates his game against the top guys. After a loss to Yano, Ibushi picking up the victory seems likely.
Kenny Omega vs. Juice Robinson - If they don't play up the injury to Juice's hand and Kenny's knee too much, this should be a great match. Of course, if they don't play up Kenny's knee injury, what was the point of doing it? Juice desperately needs a victory and with Omega being undefeated and banged up, here is the match for him to steal. I could also see the Firing Squad costing Omega the match. With Tonga and Fale seemingly not caring about winning, as much as I hate the interference, their goal should be costing Omega.
Tama Tonga vs. Tetsuya Naito - Naito will be his usual great self. I have no interest in watching Tonga wrestle at this point. Hopefully the nonsense is kept to a minimum. I thought the Omega match could be a breakout performance for Tonga. Instead it was nothing more than storyline advancement. If Tonga is ever going to have a straight wrestling match in this tournament, this feels like the time. Unfortunately, we've been conditioned to expect the Firing Squad.
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tomohiro Ishii - Ishii's victory over Goto along with ZSJ's 1-2 record would seemingly pave the way for a ZSJ victory here. This is a clash of styles, but they made it work last year with a great match. I still maintain it's tough to have a bad match with ZSJ due to his technical ability and overall smoothness.