Norrissey’s G1 Climax 28 Night Twelve Review
1 August 2018
Live from Kagoshima Arena, Kagoshima
You can read my preview of the entire tournament here.
You can read my Night One review here.
You can read my Night Two review here.
You can read my Night Three review here.
You can read my Night Five review here.
You can read my Night Six review here.
You can read my Night Seven review here.
You can read my Night Eight review here.
You can read my Night Nine review here.
You can read my Night Ten review here.
You can read my Night Eleven review here.
We’re finally caught up! Night Twelve’s upon us, and tonight sees whether IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega can widen his lead upon the rest of the B Block. He’s taking on the Submission Specialist, Zack Sabre Jr (he of “I WANT COLD BEER” fame). In the main event, Kota Ibushi looks to return as the hometown hero as he takes on Hirooki Goto. I’m pumped for tonight, so let’s go!
Your commentators for the evening are Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero.
G1 Climax 28 B Block Match: Tama Tonga (Bullet Club/Firing Squad) vs. Tomohiro Ishii (CHAOS)
We’re off with more B Block action, as Tomohiro Ishii looks to be the latest to endure an average to poor match at the hands of the Firing Squad. Loa promises that Tama will make Ishii’s face black and blue, but don’t worry about that, Ishii emerges from the back with not one, but two black eyes from recent action. So that part’s already taken care of. Ishii calls for both men to come get the beating they deserve, and Loa wisely retreats to the floor. The bell sounds and Tama goes for a quick Gun Stun to no avail. Tama, to his credit, looks like he’s scared at the brutality that Ishii can deliver on a regular basis. Ishii calls for some forearms and they start running the ropes in all directions before Tama can slide behind Ishii and sneaks in a Dropkick to take the early control. Snap Suplex gets the first two count of the encounter. Tama dropkicks Ishii outside and the Loa beating is underway as Ishii eats the guardrail. This can’t go longer than ten minutes, can it? Tama chokes Ishii against the ropes and gets some stern admonishment from referee Marty Asami. Please, like that’s gonna do anything. Ishii spits at Tama from the ground and eats some more punches for his troubles. I don’t think that’ll bother him too much though. Ishii calls for more, Tama gets his eyes crossed after a headbutt attempt, and Ishii throws a Powerslam to take control. Ishii’s in now with corner chops and forearms before a final kick to Tama’s face sends him to the ground. Running shoulder tackle from Ishii, five minutes past. Ishii runs the ropes again but Loa trips him up, so Ishii does the only logical move he can do and pulls Loa into the ring! Tama hits his old finisher, which looks like a Guillotine DDT but I can’t make out what Kelly calls it. Doesn’t matter, Ishii kicked out regardless. Tongan Twist countered into a Twisting Suplex, then Ishii hits a Powerbomb, but Tama pulls the referee out of the way and you know what happens next. Loa comes in and hits some chairshots that are so sick they actually bend the chair across Ishii’s back. Ishii fights out of Guerrilla Warfare and Loa eats a German Suplex, then he hits a Saito Suplex to Tama! Ishii levels the chair across Tama’s face and back, and he strikes him so hard that the chair loses the padding. Ishii’s now looking for the Brainbuster across the chair, but Tama hits the Tongan Twist across the chair, and he pulls Asami in to count the pin, but ISHII KICKS OUT AT TWO! What a tough ol’ bastard. Gun Stun, no, they trade clothesline attempts, Tama hits the Gun Stun but instead of falling flat, Ishii catches him and eventually turns him inside out with a Lariat, but only gets two. Sliding Lariat from Ishii gets two! Thanks to Loa pulling the referee outside, of course. Bad Luck Fale sneaks inside and tries to level Ishii with a Grenade, and he eventually connects to a chorus of boos. Right on cue, Loa whips Asami inside, but ISHII KICKS OUT AGAIN! We’re at ten minutes past, so I guess I can’t call them all. Ishii fights out of another Gun Stun and goes for a Brainbuster! Which of course Tama turns into a Gun Stun proper and pins the Stone Pitbull. Man, oh man. Tama Tonga def. Tomohiro Ishii via pinfall. I will say this, if you are actually digging the Firing Squad storyline, THIS match (along with the Naito match) are the ones to watch. It took three men to beat Ishii, which just goes to show what a tough man he really is. Of course, it doesn’t help him in the standings, though. **1/2
G1 Climax 28 B Block Match: Juice Robinson vs. SANADA (Los Ingobernables de Japon)
Juice Robinson’s mathematically eliminated from winning the B Block, but that’s not gonna stop him from putting on some great performances, and he has one of the block’s better workers in SANADA tonight. SANADA beat Juice in their only G1 Climax meeting, which was last year. Hopefully the Juice Gets Loose here in Kagoshima. Juice looks fired up having gotten his first two points against Yano on Night Ten. Kelly: “Juice will be happy when the big day comes and he doesn’t have to hear the announcer say that he will be subject to disqualification if he uses that left hand.” They circle each other to start, and trade arm drags, each working to maintaining wrist control. SANADA’s flips and counters to get out of armbars are a sight. They both go up for standing Dropkicks and we’re back at square one. Juice tries the SANADA double leapfrog and fails then they each try for Planches to the floor, Skull End, no, Pulp Friction, and all of a sudden the count out is at 17, and both men stop their slugging to both get in at 19. That was cool! Now they’re both back outside on the ground and the referee does what you might call a more conventional 20-count by NJPW standards. The referee stops the count as SANADA drags Juice through the crowd via Skull End! He brings Juice back into the ring and goes for a pinfall but only gets two. Juice tries for hope punches from his knees, but SANADA quickly brings him down with an arm bar followed by the Leg Drop on the arm. SANADA’S working on Juice’s bad arm with what almost looks like an Indian Death Lock Armbar, but Juice powers enough to lift up SANADA for the pin. He only gets two and SANADA keeps the hold applied but Juice reaches the ropes. SANADA runs the ropes only to eat a Full Nelson Slam by Robinson. He starts with the Juice Punches and finishes with a hard chop, followed by a great-looking Spinebuster. Great stuff here. Juice hits the Kevin Owens Special (aka CANNONBALL) and he goes up for the wicked Cross Body but SANADA kicks out at two. SANADA fights out of a Powerbomb attempt and does the Leap Frog spot before a Planche starts the 20-count again. He rolls Robinson back in but only gets a two-count. They trade TKO/Juice Box attempts but Juice eventually hits the High Side Kick, but SANADA locks in the Skull End! Now they’re alternating Skull End attempts before Juice of all people sits back and FULLY LOCKS IN THE SKULL END. He lets go and goes for the Moonsault (shades of SANADA’s offense! How cool) but misses. SANADA goes for the Moonsault, but his knees buckle as he lands on his feet, and Juice hits a nice looking Powerbomb for two. The cast tape comes off, followed by the soft cast proper and Juice begins demonstrating that he’s willing to go for broke with the left hand! He misses with his left hand and goes for a German, but SANADA rolls through and puts on the Skull End. Juice climbs the turnbuckle and reverses the hold, but SANADA backflips through the turnbuckle and puts on the Skull End again, but Juice rolls through! Both men tease Pulp Friction, but Juice connects with the left forearm! PULP FRICTION! One, two, three, and the Juice is Loose! Juice Robinson def. SANADA via pinfall. Neither man seemed to elicit the amazing reaction that other crowds have given them individually during the tour, but they obviously had a game plan going in and (especially in Juice’s case) showed great heart throughout the match. I’m glad Juice’s hand isn’t as hurt as the commentators have made it out to be in the past, because the story of him taking off the cast in order to use the left hand has been great. Juice looks to play spoiler going forward! I’m excited. ***1/4
G1 Climax 28 B Block Match: Toru Yano (CHAOS) vs. Tetsuya Naito (Los Ingobernables de Japon)
It’s Naito’s turn to have a day off… oh, wait a second, he took the night off in the contest against Goto on Night Ten. Alright, the man gets two nights off, in a row no less! What a lucky guy. Coming into this match, Toru Yano’s still mathematically eligible to win the B Block, but he basically needs every match for the rest of the tournament to go a specific way, and he needs to win out. So, I think the dream’s about to come to an end, boys and girls. Yano quickly sprints to the ring, and convention would say he would bludgeon a still fully-dressed Naito with his chair, but no, Yano just wanted to get his plugs in quicker. A funny bit ensues before the bell rings, as Yano insists that if Naito has to take his suit off, he’ll just put his shirt back on. Naito has the 4-2 advantage in G1 Climax action between the two. Yano’s incredibly peeved at Naito’s tranquilo-ness. Yano’s whipped into the ropes, calls for a break, but Naito pulls him outside, comes back in ready to tope, TRANQUILO! Yano’s not amused. The fight spills outside and Naito takes a tremendous spill over the barricade! You’d think Yano was the more serious of the two wrestlers here after all of this. Yano brings out the tape, but Naito grabs it and starts to affix Yano’s arm to the barricade. Naito casually gets back inside white Yano ACTUALLY BRINGS THE BARRICADE WITH HIM to break the count. Naito heads back outside with Yano and whips him into another guardrail and this match is nuts even for a Yano match. Naito examines Yano’s latest DVD production before clocking Yano across the head with it. Rocky: “That DVD costs 1,000 bucks!” Kelly: “You mean 1,000 yen?” They’re back in the ring and Naito looks to be in control but Yano starts with the turnbuckle undoing. He eventually eats the Leg Sweep/Dropkick Corner Combination and Naito channels his inner Hiroshima Carp ballplayer with the Home Run Swing, but Yano kicks out! Enziguiri by Naito, but the Flying Forearm misses and Naito now eats the exposed corner steal. Inverted Atomic Drop followed by the Corner Slingshot, and maybe the dream’s not over after all! Nope, quick two count. Yano trips Naito and gets a quick two-count. Belly to belly by Yano! Forget your low blows and shenanigans, people. Wait, nevermind, as Yano quickly whips off his shirt and starts to choke Naito before ripping Red Shoes’ shirt off! Rolling pinfall attempt gets two for Naito. DES-TINOOOOOOOO gets the pinfall in a very entertaining match. Tetsuya Naito def. Toru Yano via pinfall. Well, the correct guy won and Yano still put on a show for the fans. Everything is right again. Toru Yano’s finally eliminated from the tournament, joining Goto, Tonga, and Robinson at the bottom of the list. **3/4
G1 Climax 28 B Block Match: Zack Sabre Jr (Suzuki-Gun) vs. Kenny Omega (Bullet Club)
Kelly runs down Sabre’s impressive list of scalps in 2018, as he bested Naito, Ibushi, SANADA and Tanahashi to win the New Japan Cup. Add Okada to that list in Manchester for Strong Style Evolved UK and he’s earned talks for New Japan Wrestler of the Year, at least from a kayfabe standpoint. TAKA does his regular ZSJ hype promo (complete with Zack flipping the UK bird at the entrance) before Kenny Omega comes out to a raucous response. They quickly circle around the ring as Sabre looks to shoot low on the Heavyweight Champion. They start at the ground work, squirming through each other and bridging out of their opponent’s holds. Kenny’s quickly showing a propensity for mat-based offense alongside Sabre. Zack works the champion down into a Side Headlock, but Kenny’s up and forces him into the ropes. Sabre catches Omega by the ankle during a Leap Frog. Surfboard, but Omega gets out and goes for a quick V-Trigger. I’m already ready to throw up my hands and skip to the finish. Sabre’s outside and Kenny goes for Rise of the Terminator, but Sabre catches Omega with a Heel Hold on the apron and lets go before the count of five. Kenny manages to catapult Omega over the barricade and HITS A MOONSAULT OFF THE GUARDRAIL toward the crowd. Wow. They’re near the ramp now and Sabre goes for a Hammerlock but Kenny fights out of it and tries a Body Slam on the apron which Zack quickly switches into a quick Heel Hook and they’re already demonstrating such a frenetic pace between them. Red Shoes calls Zack back to the ring and starts the 20-count. Five minutes past. Kenny looks to be hurting in his foot but he’s back in at 11. Zack starts twisting Kenny back in the ring and Omega’s facials are much better than in his last match against SANADA. European Uppercuts from Sabre but Omega, ever so resilient, tries the hope punches, but Zack sweeps the leg and Kenny’s back down. Kitaro Krusher outta nowhere, but Kenny’s put a lot of stress on his foot and can’t follow up. Omega digs down deep and hits a Frankensteiner and Zack, guess what, YOU CAN’T ESCAPE! Oh wait, yes, he can, he’s the Tory-hating bastard himself, Zack Sabre Jr. Omega tries YCE again, but his knee almost gives way and he fails in his Moonsault as Zack gets the Triangle in again before Kenny scrambles to the ropes. Kenny runs the ropes and calls for the DDT before, and follow along with me, hitting the Tornado DDT, before a Twisting Pescado keeps both men down on the outside. Now Omega rolls Sabre back inside and climbs up top before Sabre springs up and wraps the arm in a Hammerlock before Omega throws him back down. High Crossbody sees Sabre lock on ANOTHER armbar, Kenny eventually responds with a Deep German Suplex. Ten minutes past. Breathe, Norrissey. Neckbreaker across the knees and Kenny looks fired up now. BANG! BUT IN THE TAUNT, HE GIVES HIS ARM TO SABRE! Omega still powers out of the Triangle and hits the Powerbomb. V-TRIGGER! OWA attempt fails as Omega falls to another Triangle followed by the Cross Armbreaker. Omega keeps his hands clasped and eventually hits a Snap Dragon Suplex! Another OWA, but Sabre clutches Omega for the two. Another V-Trigger attempt, but Sabre manages a Single Leg Boston Crab and gets the Heel Hook back in. Omega tries to escape but Sabre shows that he has some power and hits a German followed by the PK for two. Zack’s now hitting what has to be the best named move in wrestling: Orienteering with Napalm Death. Kenny’s trying to use his free leg to kick at Sabre’s head, so of course Sabre manages to grab that leg too and transition into a Calf Crusher, and Kenny BARELY makes it to the bottom rope. I’ve got blisters in me fingers typing all of this out. PK attempt, but Kenny catches it and they start trading hard chops. Zack Driver, no and Kenny tries a V-Trigger but Zack catches the leg, but a second V-Trigger connects! They trade roll-ups and Kenny gets the win outta nowhere! Whoa. Kenny Omega def. Zack Sabre Jr via pinfall. This was an intriguing match on paper, and both men delivered as Kenny adapts to Sabre’s game of swift, technical wrestling. Sabre had Kenny’s number for nearly the entire match, focusing on his bad (read: broken) foot and keeping the match submission-based. Omega, however, found the will to win with multiple V-Triggers, eventually rolling up Sabre for the victory. With the loss, Sabre can still reach 12 points, but because he lost to Omega (who’s now at 12 points), he’s essentially eliminated, unless something weird happens. ****
G1 Climax 28 B Block Match: Kota Ibushi vs. Hirooki Goto (CHAOS)
Ibushi returns with the reception they usually only give war heroes or Stanley Cup winners (shout out to my Washington Capitals!). He’s got a tall test ahead of him, as he’s only on six points right now and running out of chances to catch Omega. His opponent, Hirooki Goto (four points), now has zero chance of catching Omega at the top of B Block, but he’ll be fired up in the main event spot against Ibushi. Indeed, Goto looks ready to go, and this should be a cracker of a main event. Ibushi goes behind Goto first before Goto starts with the wrist control, and they trade your standard basic offense to start. Ibushi works Goto into the ropes and offers a clean break. A clock in the background reads 8:58 PM JST, and it’s nice to think that the fans can get out by 9:30 and get a good night’s rest after a wrestling show. Ibushi Leap Frogs over Goto while running the ropes but falls to an Arm Toss. Goto looks to follow up on this and runs right into a leaping Hurricanrana. Goto’s outside and the crowd comes alive for Ibushi as he goes for the Triangle Moonsault. Goto sees this however and runs along the apron to give Ibushi a stiff clothesline. They’re outside now and it’s Ibushi’s turn to get acquainted with the steel barricade. Goto looks comfortable working heel; he should do it more often. Back in the ring, Goto Snapmares Ibushi and works the neck with a Headscissors, and Ibushi’s playing a great Face in Peril. He tries to kip toward the ropes but can’t quite do it. Oh, wait, yes, he can. Ibushi’s got great Core strength, Rocky notes. Back to the neck by Goto, and we’re five minutes past. Ibushi tries to fight back with forearms, but Goto’s got an answer for everything. He runs the ropes, but Ibushi hits a nice-looking Dropkick, sending Goto to the floor. Ibushi calls on the fans for support, before a TRIANGLE MOONSAULT sends Goto reeling, and the fans are excited, to say the least. Red Shoes begins the 20-count, and Ibushi takes a moment to compose himself before rolling Goto back into the ring. That’s an awesome babyface spot that New Japan does, by the way. The Japanese fans sure do appreciate sportsmanship. Springboard Dropkick from Ibushi, and he goes for the Half-and-half before Goto fights out, and they both run the ropes before the Fierce Warrior hits a strong Lariat to send Ibushi down. More forearms from the NEVER Champion before he hits a Running Side Heel Kick in the corner. He then tries a Saito Suplex for the cover, but Ibushi kicks out at two. Ibushi then tries the forearm comeback again, but a Goto mid-kick stuns him. The Ushigoroshi attempt fails however, and the Ibushi Pele Kick puts both men on the mat. There are fans in the arena crying openly as they root for the Golden Star. The two men trade forearms in the center of the ring, and it really is anyone’s game at the moment. Ibushi starts his Signature Flash Strike combo, but Goto hits the Ushigoroshi outta nowhere! Ibushi kicks out at two. Ten minutes past. Goto shoves Ibushi into the corner as he’s looking to close the door on the hometown favorite. He positions Ibushi on the top rope before pummeling him with forearm strikes. It looks like Goto’s going for the top rope Ushigoroshi! But Ibushi squirms out of it and hits a Pele Kick to the center of Goto’s spine! Now Ibushi readies himself to deliver some top rope damage to Goto. Goto manages to push Ibushi to the floor, but Ibushi’s back up and tries the top rope offense again. Goto stuns Ibushi and goes for a Top Rope Sunset Powerbomb. IBUSHI FLIPS OUT, HOWEVER, and sends Goto into the ropes and hits an INSANE Lariat that only gets two. He lowers the right knee pad for the Kamigoye, but ever the resilient fighter, Goto fights out with forearms and yet, all the while, Kota manages a Straightjacket German for two. Goto responds with a Short Headbutt and Ibushi looks dazed. Goto with a strong Lariat of his own now, and he hits a Reverse G-T-R before setting up for a proper finisher. Ibushi gets out of it, but Goto goes for a sleeper in response. I hope this is a Shibata callback, because that would be awesome. He teases the G-T-R, then Ibushi teases the G-T-R, but Goto levels him in the process and Ibushi looks dead. One more G-T-R tease, but Ibushi’s out, BUT GOTO HITS THE SHOUTEN KAI! I think that’s the first time we’ve seen that move this entire tournament. Ibushi STILL MANAGES TO KICK OUT. A loud “IBUSHI” chant erupts. Oh, sorry, fifteen minutes past, by the way. That was like ninety seconds ago. Goto with the powerful mid-kick across the chest of Ibushi, and another G-T-R sees Ibushi roll him up for two. A mid-kick from Ibushi is met with a headbutt from Goto, and Kota’s the best at looking dead. Kota with the face slap outta nowhere, before BOMAYE gets two! Last. Ride. Powerbomb! Goto kicks out! Ibushi’s ready to call it as he readies Goto and hits the KAMIGOYE! The crowd is overjoyed as Ibushi gets the three count over the NEVER Champion. Kota Ibushi def. Hirooki Goto via pinfall. This was an insanely great contest, as both men brought their working boots and the hometown hero wins to send the crowd home happy. Goto plays a great heel, in this mold being the tough, resilient bastard who takes great pleasure in exerting extreme punishment against his opponent. Ibushi, for his part, powered through the struggle and keeps pace with Omega and Naito, in front of his home fans to boot. What a handsome, athletic man. ****1/4
Ibushi: “Thank you, Kagoshima fans, for your love and support. I hope to go all the way!”
Final Thoughts: No classics from this evening, I’m sad to announce, but the B Block continues to deliver in ways the A Block can only fantasize about. Omega and Sabre, two wrestlers with completely different styles, told a great story as the champion changed his entire outlook on wrestling to keep up with and eventually best the more technically-efficient grappler. Meanwhile, Ibushi put on another awesome performance in front of his hometown fans, and Yano entertained the masses in his losing effort against Naito. We’ve seen half the B Block eliminated at this point, as only Sabre, SANADA, Ibushi and Naito have the chance to catch Omega and main event at the Budokan on the 12th. Tomorrow, A Block action resumes, and it’s a big one. Okada takes on Suzuki in the main event, with the lingering fact that both of their last two matches went to 30-minute draws, while EVIL works against Tanahashi in a match that could very well decide the future of who wins the A Block. See you tomorrow. Kampai, everybody!
Standings (A Block):
Tanahashi Hiroshi – 10 pts
EVIL, Jay White, Minoru Suzuki, Kazuchika Okada – 8 pts
Bad Luck Fale – 6 pts
Togi Makabe*, Michael Elgin (yep, still alive) – 4 pts
Hangman Page*, YOSHI-HASHI* – 2 pts
Standings (B Block):
Kenny Omega – 12 pts
Tetsuya Naito – 10 pts
Kota Ibushi – 8 pts
SANADA#, Zack Sabre Jr# – 6 pts
Tomohiro Ishii*, Hirooki Goto*, Juice Robinson* – 4 pts
Tama Tonga*, Toru Yano* – 2 pts
# = kind of eliminated, but some weird shit can still go down
* = eliminated
Twelve down, seven to go.