Week 2 of the G1 Climax has come and gone. This week contained the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th shows of the tournament, travelling from Tokyo to Niigata and Shizuoka. A review of the first week can be found here. Here are five stories and 10 matches from the 2nd week of G1 Climax 28.
IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega has shown his dominance by being the only competitor who has yet to lose a match. Of course it helped that this week his opponents were Tama Tonga, a man who cares more about making statements than making the final, and the injured Juice Robinson. It feels like Omega will slip up at some point — the question is when and to whom.
Crisis of confidence
Only one wrestler has failed to get a point so far and that is the IWGP US Champion, Juice Robinson. Last year Juice came into the G1 as an underdog and he made a big impression, getting some shock wins. This year the fans have higher expectations. Unfortunately for Juice, the weight of expectations and the cast on his dominant left hand have seen him fail to get off the mark. Juice is really struggling with his confidence right now and he desperately needs a win. I highly recommend that you seek out his promo from the post match interviews for 7/26.
Okada is on a roll
While he may not have dropped the balloons or the goofy attitude, Kazuchika Okada appears to have dropped his run of bad form. The “Balloon-maker” is creeping towards the top of Block A. The questions are, can he sustain this run of form and will he keep this odd new attitude after the G1 is over?
A new chapter for Page
Adam Page has been slowly improving since he first started touring in New Japan. Now he is using the G1 to show how good he has become. His matches have been consistently among my favorites from the A Block, although he isn’t the finished article just yet. I might even go so far that he has jumped Cody in terms of Bullet Club members who I enjoy watching in the ring.
SANADA starts to shine
The person who has had the best run in week 2 of the G1 has to be SANADA. He put on a chain wrestling clinic against Zack Sabre Jr, in a match unlike almost anything that you will see this year. Then he went toe to toe with Kota Ibushi in a battle of athletic all rounders. With his last G1 match set to be against his teammate Naito, this feels like the start of something big for SANADA.
Toru Yano vs Kota Ibushi – Night 6 (Korakuen Hall, Tokyo 7/21)
Yano had a slow start to the G1 as his attempts at fair play backfired. Here he falls back to some of his old tricks. Of course, tricks only go so far against the sheer athleticism of Kota Ibushi. This had me smiling from bell to bell and is best described as ridiculous.
Zack Sabre Jr vs SANADA – Night 6 (Korakuen Hall, Tokyo 7/21)
Since he debuted in New Japan, no one has been able to come close to beating Zack Sabre in terms of technical wrestling. SANADA is seen as an incredible all-rounder who is full of potential. In this match he shows just how good he is technically, in what may be the best chain wrestling exhibition that I’ve seen in a New Japan ring for a long time.
Tetsuya Naito vs Juice Robinson – Night 6 (Korakuen Hall, Tokyo 7/21)
Throughout the G1, Robinson has been fighting with an injured left hand. Naito prides himself on bullying Robinson and that being a factor in Juice’s rapid growth. So we have an injured Robinson fighting against the odds as Naito mercilessly targets the injured hand in a dramatic underdog match.
Tomohiro Ishii vs Hirooki Goto – Night 6 (Korakuen Hall, Tokyo 7/21)
Ishii and Goto have a history of great matches, all of them hard-hitting and brutal. This one was no exception, easily the hardest hitting match so far. Both men constantly tried to knock each other down with strikes and Lariats, and both men only kept going through sheer force of will. The effort was so great that the winner wasn’t able to do the customary end of show promo.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Hangman Page – Night 7 (Korakuen Hall, Tokyo 7/22)
Aside from the match against Jay White, Tanahashi’s G1 matches have been fairly short and concise. That’s not a complaint as you get exactly what you need without overstaying its welcome. This match includes some great storytelling and a sense of fun. Page has had a great showing so far and is becoming one of the easiest Bullet Club members to watch.
Kazuchika Okada vs Togi Makabe – Night 7 (Korakuen Hall, Tokyo 7/22)
The charismatic brawler Togi Makabe has been having a good G1 by his standards. Okada is trying to get back on track and they have a good match full of drama.
Tetsuya Naito vs Tama Tonga – Night 8 (Nagaoka, Niigata 7/26)
There are two reasons that I chose this match for this week’s column: It’s an example of the Bullet Club OG/ Firing Squad’s approach to the G1 and it’s been a fairly slow week for great matches. This is an example of someone using numbers to gain an advantage, only for his opponent to have a gang of his own. Unless he really improves from his current form this will probably be the only time that I recommend a Tama Tonga match.
Zack Sabre Jr vs Tomohiro Ishii – Night 8 (Nagaoka, Niigata 7/26)
Sabre and Ishii have had a series of great encounters in the last year. This one was no exception, although it wasn’t afraid to be a little different. This was a battle of power and guts against intelligence and technique. Despite that dynamic, my favorite part of the match was Ishii using his own techniques and intelligence to keep Zack off-balance. Seeing Zack shocked by nearly being out-wrestled by Ishii was great.
SANADA vs. Kota Ibushi- Night 8 (Nagaoka, Niigata 7/26)
Ibushi may be the most athletically gifted wrestler on the planet. The thing is, SANADA has a lot of those tools. While he is a less talented high flier and striker, SANADA is an incredibly versatile all-rounder. In fact, that’s often to his disadvantage as he comes across as a jack of all trades, master of none. This match saw both guys at their most athletic and energetic. The match went at a frenetic pace without feeling like they were using big moves and kick outs just for the sake of it. SANADA is looking closer and closer to being the wrestler people think he can be and his last 2 G1 matches are proof.
Kazuchika Okada vs Yoshi-Hashi – Night 9 (Hamamatsu, Shizuoka 7/27)
Night 9 was the low point of this years G1 Climax: It was full of fairly dull and uninspiring matches, backed by a quiet crowd. Okada and Yoshi-Hashi hadn’t had a singles match against each other since the Tokyo Dome in 2012. The Hamamatsu crowd woke up for this one. While it won’t go down as a classic, and it will be forgotten by the Fall, it gets going at the end. The most noteworthy thing might be how Okada pays tribute to their Tokyo Dome match by breaking out the original Rainmaker.
If you’d like more wrestling news, opinions and hot takes-be sure to check out our new podcast, Poor Taste Wrestling. New episodes are available every Friday and you’ll get to listen to us break down RAW, SmackDown, NXT and more every week. You can also follow our wrestling Twitter @AiPTWrestling for all the latest news and match play-by-play.
Do you love wrestling? Do you have strong opinions on AEW, WWE, NJPW, Impact, ROH, and the independent scene? Do you like to write about wrestling? Then we want you on our team. AIPT is currently recruiting wrestling writers. Apply to write for AIPT today!