[Please note: By the time I post this, and indeed you read it, the tournament is over, and a winner has been crowned. I have no idea who that may be, and to save myself some time, I am only going to review the G1 tournament matches themselves. There are potential spoilers for every previous day of action.]
New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) annual heavyweight tournament concludes, where for the last few weeks, two blocks of ten competitors have competed in a round-robin format in the G1 Climax 28. The two winners – one from the A Block, and one from the B Block – will soon face off in the final, with the winner receiving the main event title match at the annual January 4th show, Wrestle Kingdom. Day 16 means we are at the penultimate round for the B Block, with three matches all involging potential winners. Two of Los Ingobernables de Japon’s best go head to head in the main event, as Tetsuya Naito and SANADA face off one on one. Toru Yano looks to play spoiler by getting a cneaky win over the reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega, while the leader of the Bullet Club OGs, Tama Tonga, takes out some frustration on Omega’s confidant and tag team partner, Kota Ibushi.
+ Tetsuya Naito vs SANADA (G1 Climax B Block Match): the story of the two best in Los Ingobernables de Japon is clear cut and straightforward, but it was the action that was the standout part of this match. Naito and SANADA are just so fast, and transition between moves – giving or receiving – so quickly, but they also each know the perfect times to slow it down. This was a great match, with a good ending and a fantastic post-match
+ Toru Yano vs Kenny Omega (G1 Climax B Block Match): there was a fair bit of comedy here, but most of it made sense. Omega/Yano from last year was all comedy, so I am glad they toned it down a bit here. Omega really is the best in the world right now
+ Tama Tonga vs Kota Ibushi (G1 Climax B Block Match): Tama hasn’t exactly set the in-ring wrestling world on fire since stabbing Omega in the back, but at least he knows how to get himself booed. Ibushi is such a beloved babyface that this had nuclear heat from the beginning, especially once the same old shenanigans you can expect occurred. It was the how it happened that was so interesting, and I found it incredibly interesting
+ Zack Sabre Jr. vs Hirooki Goto (G1 Climax B Block Match): I can’t say this was the crazy Goto match I’ve become used to, but it was a perfectly well worked wrestling match between contrasting, but also complimentary styles. Goto’s power game is different enough to Ishii, and striking style different enough to Juice that I may have found my new favourite Sabre match up
+ Tomohiro Ishii vs Juice Robinson (G1 Climax B Block Match): this match has really made me appreciate the hard hitting nature of Juice offense. I said as much after his match against Sabre, recently, and Juice going up against THE hardest hitter made for a great showcase of exactly that. This was great, and dammit I wish Ishii was higher on the totem pole
> Again, and it probably doesn’t ned to be said, the first two matches were people who were already mathematically eliminated. The matches were great, but frankly it did put a small damper on them
Should you watch this event: Even if the wrestling itself wasn’t the highest quality, this was the best day for storytelling so far. Every match made sense, and played off the previous matches from the B Block, and the tournament as a whole so far, and it has set the stage for a very interesting final round in two days’ time.