Good morning, and we are back!
Back from the beach, and back to G1 Climax 28. We are going to take you right to the last 2 days of the tournament, where the winner of first A Block and then B Block, should be determined. I am also going to skip the early matches, because they no longer play any role and jump right to the matches, involving potential winners of G1 Climax, which in Block A is limited to Okada, Tanahashi and Jay White. Jay White faces EVIL and in main event, it’s the leader, HIroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada. Jay White has to beat EVIL and have Okada beat Tanahashi to win. Okada has to beat Tanahashi, and have Jay White lose to win. Tanahashi, the leader of the block, wins as long as he doesn’t lose.
1. Jay White vs EVIL
Jay White says “This is mine, and you are not taking it from me.” He gets the best of EVIL in early exchanges. EVIL finally turned the tide with a shoulderblock and a running knee, but White back suplexes him over the top rope. Vertical suplex into the guardrail follows. Pumphandle backbreaker in the ring. As White tries to boot EVIL, he turns him around and kicks him in the stomach, takes him outside and works him over. Eventually White reverses a whip into an STO of his own. A couple of suplexes later, he gets a 2-count. They exchange an eye rake for a low blow, and White tries to set up the Blade Runner, but EVIL turns it into a Darkness Falls. With the ref down and EVIL hurting, this doesn’t go anywhere.
Double arm suplex and a lariat later, Red Shoes is up to count to 2. But Jay White blocks the STO, leading to him lariating EVIL. Again, an STO attempt, and this time Jay White adjuts himself to deliver a cobra clutch suplex. Kiwi Krusher, and … another two.
Jay White, smiling, pulls two chairs from under the ring. Red Shoes fights him, and just when it seems like chair shot is imminent, EVIL pulls Red Shoes in front of White, and lariats him. Now it’s EVIL with the chair, and again the ref blocks him, and now Jay White again delivers the cobra clutch suplex and again tries to set up the Blade Runner. The fact that we haven’t seen it yet in this match means it will most likely be the finish, but it’s reversed into an STO, which, in turn, is reversed into the ref, who gets knocked down, Jay White has the chair and is ready to deliver half-a-conchairto, but EVIL grabs him, delivers the STO and Red Shoes wakes up just in time to count 1, 2, 3 and eliminate White from Climax contention.
VERY GOOD match, with the kind of final build I have not seen from either of these two guys lately. Eh, I held out hopes White would go to the finals, because I think he is the most interesting heel the company has, aside from Kenny Omega 🙂 But now, we get to see Okada fight Tanahashi for the BLOCK.
2. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazhuchika Okada
Tanahashi has the points in case of a tie, but even with an hour of TV time left, I don’t expect this to happen. Normally, I skip matches between two wrestlers I am not a fan of, which is a very different concept from “thinking they are not good”, but it is a rare breed of wrestling fan that is going to skip Tanahashi-Okada. Let’s see what these two titans have for us today.
Cheers are for Tanahashi only, and Okada doesn’t like it. Here is the opening of the match: missed dropkick into a missed dropkick into a missed senton into a missed elbow drop into, of course, well deserved wild cheers for a creative well-flowing opening.
This leads to chain wrestling, also well done and leads to a rope break, that Okada fakes and Tanahashi delivers with a forearm smash. After some brawling, Tanahashi grounds Okada and goes to work on his left leg. Tanahashi tries to turn it into a sasori-gatame (look it up, it should not be called anything else), but Okada reaches for the ropes, before Ace can sit down. Tanahashi brawls and continues to work on the leg, wrapping it around the ring post at one point. Eventually, one of his moves is, however, reversed into a dragon screw, yes, by Okada. Doing what your opponent normally does definitely seems to be the theme in this match, and it’s an exciting one. Okada is now working on the leg outside, slamming the knee into the mat over and over. Tanahashi no sells Okada’s forearms, delivers some of his own, blocks a dragon screw and then does it to Kazuchika’s leg. Who will wear out the other’s appendage first is the question.
For now, it seems to be Okada, as Hiroshi does his usual tumbleweed off second rope. But in a game of running the ropes, CHAOS’s leader well-times an elbow and DDT’s HIroshi for a count of 2. Okada blocks dragon screw on the right leg, to get Fuchi dropkicked into the left, but comes back with a strong dropkick of his own. Missile dropkick by Okada, and he is ready to hit something big, but a shoulderbreaker is reversed into a tombstone. Chants of “Go, Ace!” as both men get to their feet and sling it out. Tanahashi almost downs Kazuchika, Kazuchika almost downs Tanahashi, but nobody falls and as Okada jumps to the outside of the apron to avoid a blow, he gets dropkicked into the guardrail. Flying crossbody by Ace to the outside. Okada gets dragon screwed on his way back in.
Texas Cloverleaf is applied, and it almost gets a submission, until finally HIroshi plants Okada face first on the mat with a Styles Clash. Top rope splash and Okada moves! Okada moves! Enzu-dropkick by Kazuchika as soon as Tanahashi gets up. Another dropkick, but Rainmaker is reversed into Sling Blade. No pin attempt. They are exhausted, and I am exhausted just writing this up. Another forearm war, this time Tanahashi falls face down flat in the middle of the ring. Shoulderbreaker by Okada–blocked twice, Tombstone by HIroshi blocked twice, second time, when Okada grabs the hem of Tanahashi’s shoe. Okada stands up in shoulderbreaker position finally, but no, it’s reversed into a Twist and Shout. Sling Blade, and, finally. a cover. 2. HIgh Fly Flow–no go. Okada dropkicks that baby. Tombstone by Okada. Rainmaker set up, Tanahashi reverses, Okada puts him down with a dropkick.
Rainmaker is reversed into a dragon suplex, and is finally delivered. No cover, he knows this won’t be enough. Rainmaker gets turned into a small package by Tanahashi. 2, 2, the announcers are shouting. Third time is not the charm, Dragon Suplex for 2 and 9/10s. As they get up, Okada already holds the arm. Two back elbows by Tanahashi, he is going into the corner, but Okada is holding him by the tights. Rainmaker? No, Tanahashi shoteis him down. What an EFFIN match. High! Fly! Flow!–NO–only 2. The bell rings. They are out of time. It’s a draw. Tanahashi wins A Block.
Not what I expected, but this match was better than I imagined. One of the instances, where the draw serves not a perfect ending, but a unique one, one that fits the contest perfectly.
There have been matches this year, with more spectacular high spots, with closer near falls, but none had better flow, none had two geniuses combining to tell a perfect story. ***** The logic of this match was just amazing. Nothing felt wrong or extraneous. Well worth hunting down, so glad I decided to do a full write-up for you.
Come back tomorrow to find out if Tanahashi will face Omega or Naito. Both match-ups have been largely unseen in New Japan over the last couple of years and are good choices.