Welcome everyone to Fightful's NJPW G1 Climax 28 Block Update. We're nearly halfway through the tournament with some big matches still on the way. Only one man remains unbeaten, a champion has yet to get his hand raised in victory, and a couple of guys are having breakout tournaments.
Night 7 Review (A Block - Fourth Matches)
YOSHI-HASHI def. Michael Elgin - HASHI ends up keeping his tournament hopes alive with a big victory over Elgin. This significantly hurts Elgin's chances of winning seeing as he still has to face Okada and Tanahashi. Performance wise, this was another strong showing by Elgin while HASHI more than held his own. Crowd was really into HASHI fighting from underneath and popped big for the victory.
EVIL def. Bad Luck Fale - Hey look, the Firing Squad interfered and we got another disqualification. Having Los Ingobernables de Japon members BUSHI and Naito make the save for EVIL sets up that feud down the line. But this nonsense has no place in the G1. Especially with how often they are doing it. Match was nothing special before the run-ins and I think everyone was just waiting for Tonga and Tanga to get involved.
Minoru Suzuki def. Jay White - White tried to bump the ref and cheat, but Suzuki was having none of that. Match was rather underwhelming with an anticlimactic finish. Crowd just didn't seem into much of it and there was little reaction for the finish. Suzuki was his usual bad ass self, but White's offense and underhanded tactics don't resonate the same against Suzuki. Just a clash of styles. White suffers his first loss while Suzuki moves to 2-2 after starting 0-2.
Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Hangman Page - Not quite the star making performance Page had against Okada, but still a good showing. With this being the fourth match in as many nights for both guys, the fatigue looked to be real. Tanahashi always plays a great face peril, Page just isn't the guy to have extended heat segments with. Things would have been better if it were a back-and-forth match with both guys pulling out all the stops. Again, the scheduling may have been the reason why that didn't happen. Tanahashi stays at the top of the standings while Page is at the bottom.
Kazuchika Okada def. Togi Makabe - Much like Tanahashi and Page, the G1 fatigue hurt these guys. The match never picked up to the level you would expect out of a G1 main event. With Okada playing Broken Balloon Okada, his mediocre efforts stand out even more than when he's The Rainmaker. No real drama either as Okada was never going 1-3 to start the tournament.
Match of the Night - YOSHI-HASHI vs. Michael Elgin
A Block Standings
* Jay White: 3-1 (6pts.)
* EVIL: 3-1 (6pts.)
* Hiroshi Tanahashi: 3-1 (6pts.)
* Kazuchika Okada: 2-2 (4pts.)
* Minoru Suzuki: 2-2 (4pts.)
* Michael Elgin: 2-2 (4pts.)
* Togi Makabe: 2-2 (4pts.)
* Hangman Page: 1-3 (2pts.)
* Bad Luck Fale: 1-3 (2pts.)
* YOSHI-HASHI: 1-3 (2pts.)
Night 8 Review (B Block - Fourth Matches)
Hirooki Goto def. Toru Yano - God bless Yano and his short matches. Not much too this one. Yano tried to "sneaky style" his way to victory, Goto overcame and put him away quickly. Even after the break, Goto needed a night off following his war with Ishii. Goto remains in the mix while Yano stays where everyone figured he would be.
Tetsuya Naito def. Tama Tonga - By far the best Tonga match of the tournament, although that's not saying much. It felt like he was actually trying to win and the interference, while still annoying, at least had a point. The Firing Squad-LIJ angle was advanced with all of the run-ins, but they didn't play into the finish. Tonga was the first person of the tournament who failed to kick out of destino, which tells you his place in the pecking order.
Zack Sabre Jr. def. Tomohiro Ishii - ZSJ was put over strong in this one as he forced the ever tough Ishii to tap out. Kevin Kelly made it a point to mention that Ishii had never tapped out prior to this loss. Ishii has had a very strong tournament performance wise while Sabre continues to turn in good outings against different styles. The middle of the Block is packed right now. Things will get sorted out over the next two matches, but for now, plenty of people remain in the mix.
Kenny Omega def. Juice Robinson - Omega extracts some revenge following last year's loss to Juice in the G1. Omega remains the only competitor without a loss while Juice remains the only competitor without a victory. Poor Juice. The crowd seemed a little out of this given the two guys involved. Maybe they could not decide who they loved more? The one thing this match highlighted is just how useless Tama Tonga and the Firing Squad have been in this tournament. If they don't care about winning and only care about hurting Omega and creating chaos, why weren't they out here to cost Omega? And what damage did they really do with the post-match attack on Night 6?
SANADA def. Kota Ibushi - This was a huge victory for SANADA for two reasons. First, it puts him at the top of the Block with a victory over another guy expected to be at the top. Second, it's a big momentum win heading into his next bout against Omega. After a 2-0 start, Ibushi now drops to 2-2. As expected, both guys gave a great effort and turned in awesome performances. SANADA really looked like a star in this match. The post-match ovation certainly confirmed that. It looked like SANADA was going to take on risk too many at the end, but the final moonsault paid off for the win. Like seemingly everyone in this Block, both guys are having awesome tournaments.
Match of the Night - SANADA vs. Kota Ibushi
B Block Standings
* Kenny Omega: 4-0 (8pts.)
* Tetsuya Naito: 3-1 (6pts.)
* SANADA: 3-1 (4pts.)
* Kota Ibushi: 2-2 (4pts.)
* Tomohiro Ishii: 2-2 (4pts.)
* Zack Sabre Jr: 2-2 (4pts.)
* Hirooki Goto: 2-2 (4pts.)
* Tama Tonga: 1-3 (2pts.)
* Toru Yano: 1-3 (2pts.)
* Juice Robinson: 0-4 (0pts.)
Night 9 Preview (A Block - Fifth Matches)
EVIL vs. Hangman Page - I'm a little worried about this match. Both guys can elevate against the right opponent, but neither has proven to be able to carry a match. With a few days off, hopefully both guys are rested and ready to deliver. EVIL will have to fall back at some point and Page could use a pinball victory to keep him as a threat moving forward.
Jay White vs. Bad Luck Fale - Nope. Not only do I expect this to be bad, I expect there to be more Firing Squad and Jay White shenanigans. The only way I could see this going differently is if White decides not to bump the ref, knowing Tonga and Tanga will interfere. Even if there is no Firing Squad interference, a straight match between these two doesn't elicit excitement. Fale is limited and best against babyfaces in peril. White is a dick and his offense won't resonate against a big guy like Fale.
Michael Elgin vs. Minoru Suzuki - Elgin is having the best tournament of anyone in A Block. And Suzuki is always game to hit people/get hit really hard. Both guys are at 2-2. Elgin just took a loss to YOSHI-HASHI and a win over Suzuki would do wonders for his stock the rest of the tournament.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Togi Makabe - Tanahashi beat Makabe last year in the G1 and holds a 2015 victory over him as well. These two typically work pretty well together and this has the potential to steal the night. Over everyone on the card, the rest should help these two the most. Tanahashi likely picks up the victory.
Kazuchika Okada vs. YOSHI-HASHI - Typically, this wouldn't be all that important. Okada would walk through HASHI without much trouble and we'd all move on. But this new Okada could realistically struggle with HASHI and it would be believable. Don't get me wrong, there's a less than one percent chance that Okada loses. They can at least sell HASHI's chances a bit more than they could have a year ago.
Night 10 Preview (B Block - Fifth Matches)
Tama Tonga vs. Zack Sabre Jr. - We'll see if Tonga can build on his match against Naito. This is Suzuki-gun vs. Firing Squad, and while Sabre Jr. doesn't use as much crowd brawling and cheating tactics as his stable leader, we know he has some tricks up his sleeve. It's still hard for me to get into any Tonga match just knowing interference is right around the corner. Sabre still needs victories to stay strong while Tonga's tournament may as well be over.
Juice Robinson vs. Toru Yano - Alright, Juice has to pick up his first win here, right? This should be fun while it lasts, although I don't expect it to last all that long. If Juice doesn't win here, then they are setting him up for a hell of a redemption run with IGWP US title defenses.
Hirooki Goto vs. Tetsuya Naito - Both guys essentially got nights off on Night 8, so they should be ready to throw down on Night 10. Naito defeated Goto in last year's G1. We know Naito will be at the top of the Block until the end. With Omega still undefeated and Naito already having a loss to him, Naito should continue to pick up victories in order to keep pace with the IWGP heavyweight champion. Given the two competitors, expect this one to steal the show.
Kenny Omega vs. SANADA - If there were ever a time to give Omega his first loss of the tournament, this feels like it's going to be it. They obviously see a future with SANADA, who is only 30 years old and having an outstanding year in the ring. Omega defeated SANADA in last year's G1. That match was disappointing given their respective abilities. With SANADA killing it this year, I have a feeling they'll make up for last year's underwhelming outing.
Kota Ibushi vs. Tomohiro Ishii - Ibushi now finds himself in desperation mode following two losses. Never lose to Yano, folks. Ibushi defeated Ishii in last year's G1 and these two have outstanding chemistry. They'll go strike-for-strike, Ibushi will take risks, and Ishii will look to redeem himself following a tap out loss. Ibushi should rebound with a victory here.