This week’s article covers the 10th to 15th shows of New Japan’s G1 Climax 28. New Japan started in Nagoya and toured the islands of Kyushu and Shikoku before spending two days in Osaka. This was the southernmost and westernmost leg of the G1. Osaka is New Japan’s second hottest market after Tokyo and was host to two of the best shows on the tour. You can find our weekly round-ups for the 1st and 2nd weeks HERE and HERE. Strictly speaking, this covers week 3 and most of week 4 but I wanted to avoid too many spoilers and too many match recommendations just to make up the numbers.
Instead of five thoughts like the first two round-ups, we will quickly recap the standings since there are only four shows left.
1. Hiroshi Tanahashi 
2. Jay White 
3. Kazuchika Okada 
4. Minoru Suzuki 
5. EVIL 
6. Michael Elgin 
7. Hangman Page 
8. Bad Luck Fale 
9. Togi Makabe 
10. YOSHI-HASHI 
A Block comes down to two matches, White vs EVIL and the main event of Okada vs Tanahashi. Despite having tie breaking wins over the other two, White still needs to win to have a chance of finishing top. It’s Tanahashi’s spot to lose. As long as Tanahashi does not lose to Okada, he will win A Block. If Okada loses to Tanahashi, this could exacerbate the simmering tensions between White and the rest of CHAOS. I half expect this situation with CHAOS to flare up on the last day of the G1 Climax.
On a similar note, Tanahashi has suggested that he would love to take Hangman Page and YOSHI-HASHI under his wing so it will be interesting to see if that comes to pass.
1. Kenny Omega 
2. Kota Ibushi 
3. Tetsuya Naito 
4. SANADA 
5. Zack Sabre Jr 
6. Tomohiro Ishii 
7. Hirooki Goto 
8. Tama Tonga 
9. Juice Robinson 
10. Toru Yano 
Like A Block, only three people are left with a chance of winning the block: Omega, Ibushi and Naito. In Yokohama, Yano will be aiming to upset Omega while Ibushi has an almost guaranteed 2 points as he faces DQ magnet Tama Tonga. Naito has the toughest task as he faces his LIJ team mate SANADA. Both men have a lot to gain as a win for SANADA means that he can finish above his leader. If Naito loses and either Omega or Ibushi win their match then Naito is out of the running.
On Saturday in Budokan Hall, Naito has to face Zack Sabre Jr. Sabre has only lost matches due to being outsmarted, which means that the manipulative Naito may have the advantage here. Despite that, everything comes down to Omega vs. Ibushi. Their last match against one another was six years ago in the same venue.
Will Omega be a dominant champion and reach the G1 Finals? Or can Ibushi beat his friend and have a chance at making Omega vs Ibushi 3 happen at the Tokyo Dome for the IWGP Heavyweight Title?
Tomohiro Ishii vs Kota Ibushi – Night 10 (Nagoya, Aichi 7/28)
In a promotion filled with wrestlers like Tanahashi, Okada, Omega and Ibushi, it is easy to be overlooked: Tomohiro Ishii is one of the best wrestlers on the planet and he got to show it here. Both men went all out here in a hard-hitting, action-packed match full of drama and spectacle. These two really know how to bring out the best in each other.
Kenny Omega vs SANADA – Night 10 (Nagoya, Aichi 7/28)
SANADA has had a great run of matches recently and this is another example of him looking very good. Omega targeted the leg and this plays into the story throughout. This got very tense towards the end with both men trying to win with their established finishing patterns. Be aware that this did run a little long, which seems to be becoming a trademark of Omega’s G1 run this year.
Kenny Omega vs Zack Sabre- Night 12 (Kagoshima, Kyushu 8/1)
This was the second ever singles match between these two: Their first encounter was in front of 100 people in a town hall in England. Sabre did his best to disable Omega’s legs, with Omega really struggling to keep up against the constant onslaught. In the end it was a question of Omega fighting to survive against the focused Sabre.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs EVIL- Night 13 (Fukuoka, Kyushu 8/2)
This match saw EVIL ditch his pipe-chair baseball antics and focus on trying to knock out Tanahashi with Lariats. Tanahashi has thrived in the G1 by relying on experience and intelligence. Here he had to use them to try to overcome the brute force of EVIL.
Toru Yano vs SANADA- Night 14 (Osaka, 8/4)
A great match doesn’t need to be full of action, athleticism or crazy moves. It doesn’t need to be the main event or go over 15 minutes. This match was short and it was more than a little silly. It was also memorable, as so much drama was built around trickery and the paradise lock. The finish was brilliant and I highly recommend the English commentary for this one.
Juice Robinson vs Zack Sabre, Jr. – Night 14 (Osaka, 8/4)
Sometimes you want to watch something simple. A good guy fighting against the odds as his opponent targets a limb. It’s one of the oldest stories in wrestling. It worked incredibly well here because Juice is one of the best baby faces in wrestling and Sabre is probably the best submissions guy on the planet. Sabre was vicious in his focus on the hand and that got you behind Juice even more.
Tomohiro Ishii vs Kenny Omega – Night 14 (Osaka, 8/4)
For me the best matches are those where I care about who wins and who loses. Tomohiro Ishii is the best at making me care. If you want to be picky then this wasn’t the smoothest match. This wasn’t a match about perfect execution — it was about passion. Ishii used his toughness and sheer strength of will to fight and claw against Omega, fighting back against everything that Omega could think of. This was probably the most exciting match in the G1 so far; it had me punching the air at the end.
Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi – Night 14 (Osaka, 8/4)
After Ishii vs Omega, people wondered how these two could follow that match. They did it by going to the extreme. Both Ishii and Naito went for a more daredevil match, full of crazy moves that had you both cheering and cringing. This kind of match won’t be for everyone but if you like matches full of intense action then you will love this one.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Michael Elgin- Night 15 (Osaka, 8/5)
Michael Elgin has probably had the most consistent performances in A Block this year. This was probably Tanahashi’s best match so far in this years G1, a dramatic encounter of power vs experience.
EVIL vs Kazuchika Okada- Night 15 (Osaka, 8/5)
Last year EVIL’s best G1 match was against Okada. This year they did it again. These two have great chemistry together, with EVIL’s lariats and EVIL mixing really well with Okada’s Rainmaker. The start may have been slow but the finish was electric with a lot of great drama as both men looked for the opportunity to seal the victory.
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