NJPW G1 CLIMAX 28 [Best Matches]: Aces & Twenty-Eights.

NJPW G1 CLIMAX 28 [Best Matches]: Aces & Twenty-Eights.

“Monsignor” Travis Moody
@TravMoody

If you never got out of that Comic-Con coma at the end of July and have been summer swamped this current August, I have good news for you: I have every must-see, great, and classic G1 Climax 28 match ranked here for you. While I haven’t yet and likely won’t attempt trying to rank up this year’s G1 with last year’s, I’d be willing to bet that 2018’s Top 20 faired better in overall quality. B Block was absolutely bonkers, with 2 or 3 matches killing it just about every night…

In fact, on this list of 22 matches (all contests ranked 4-Bibles or more by yours truly), only two have come from the A Block side. That’s crazy, and don’t blame Okada, Tanahashi or Suzuki for that. Those three legends of the Ace Block for the most part held their own (Elgin, Hangman and EVIL did their thing too); they just had no chance keeping up with the next level of Co-MVP’s Ishii and Ibushi, while Omega, Naito, SANADA and Sabre Jr. also had a 4+ in just about every match. Hell, even friggin’ Yano was somewhat of a revelation this year.

THE MUST SEES

14.

This was a **** match with a ***** decision. Sometimes booking results are just as important as what goes on in-ring. This was a beautiful wrestling match with two technical superiors that begs for a trifecta (their NJ Cup outting was even more juicy). While Zack Sabre gears up for Goto, where does Naito head from here? To the Walls of Alpha, of course. 4.25/5 (B Block, Night 18)

13.

Although Juice didn’t exactly have the best G1 due to a lingering hand injury early on that led to a huge hole in the the record column, this was a tremendous match that went pretty insane down the stretch. 4.25/5 (B Block, Night 6)

12.

This was a thrillride. As huge of a fan I am of Naito‘s I’m just not a fan of the seemingly always far more “calculated” second Destino. One always seems enough. Either way, this was yet another ridiculous match between the two that furthers their already dynamic catalog. 4.25/5 (B Block, Night 4)

11.

Two of the killers from B Block, with SANADA having finished his G1 with better * ratings than Naito. Either way, the L-I-J stud’s made so much progress from a year ago (a G1 he still crushed), so I’m thrilled for him. With Takahashi out indefinitely, someone else needed to step up, and here he did with athletic style and bombastic energy. Ishii finishes with the strongest argument for G1 28 MVP, this side of maybe only Ibushi. Tomohiro is the most unappreciated wrestler in the business too. Period. 4.25/5 (B Block, Night 18)


THE GREAT ONES

10.

A match so good I watched it in bed after getting home from work at 3:30 am one night and didn’t fall asleep. SANADA aside, these are arguably the two most gifted athletes in the G1 and that notion went on full display here. It was also cool to see Naito get the heat here in Osaka, seeing how much of a baby he is in the rest of Japan despite his heelish antics and smerky flamboyance. He is the modern day Ric Flair! This made Ibushi the ultimate good guy and brought a cool dynamic to a match you already knew would be great. With that, Night 14 wound up one of the top 3 or 4 nights in all of G1. 4.5/5 (B Block, Night 14)

9.

This one opened up with magnificent chain-mat wrestling, as expected from ZSJ.. but Ibushi nearly matched the technical wizard move-for-move. Ibushi was smooth as silk out there. And the heat turned up once Kota implented his incredible dives and crystal stiff strikes. Zack also proved his toughness in a contest that matched their hot affair from the New Japan Cup earlier this year. 4.5/5 (B Block, Night 2)

8.

With this defining main event moment, 2018 could be the year we finally see SANADA break out. But will being a damned good athlete/wrestler–almost at Ibushi level–be enough to overcome a lack of persona? Watch this great match and then you tell me. 4.5/5 (B Block, Night 8)

7.

If you enjoy “strong style”, Goto x Ishii was the best match of the tournament. How this match of superhuman intensity wound up #7 on this list is insane. 4.5/5 (B Block, Night 6)

6.

Just a couple of young boys I think you may have heard of having an alright match…… Okada? Tanahashi? Who? Yeah–watch this, dummies!! These two legends of the modern day New Japan go the limit with a wild assortment of match callbacks, signature move reversals, all in a titillating finish. Sure, you may have guessed the result, but with the Omega/Ibushi that followed, were you really so sure? By far and away the best A Block match and it took these two ring-gods to do it. 4.5/5 (A Block, Night 17)


THE CLASSICS

5.

I want to give this match a 5 for the Super Golden Bomb/Tiger Driver alone, but I felt like Omega’s B Block efforts against Naito and Ishii were slightly better. Slight. While this was 23-minutes of in-ring superiority in nearly every facet.. this is Budokan; not the Tokyo Dome. With Omega likely to renew his contract with New Japan past January 2019, I see these two working a slow build program towards WK14. That said, the Golden Lovers Collision stamps G1 Climax 28 as arguably the second best G1 match quality wise ever — behind only 2017 — even with all of the Tongans’ ref-bumpy bullshit throughout. Just go watch it. 4.75/5 (B Block, Night 18)

4.

The hardest hitting, greatest no-sell match of all time. Really. Ibushi was like a man/zombie possessed and Ishii peeled back so many layers of his character (stealing Ibushi’s finisher?? Yes!). If you thought this was the best match of this #G128, I wouldn’t argue; I gave Omega/Naito a 5, but yeah this was great — so long as you don’t mind some of the invincible selling-meets-super adrenaline stuff. 4.75/5 (B Block, Night 10)

3.

This was an all-out war that may have topped their epic encounter from Long Beach last year — so long as you don’t mind 13 V-Triggers (the only match’s slight hindrance). I still consider Ishii and Omega‘s G1 Special match the best New Japan singles match I’ve seen in person and this topped it. After a hesitant start, these two gelled like no other, leading to a perfect story: Omega can’t think about Tanahashi too much now that he has a looming title bout re-rematch with Ishii, perhaps at King of Pro Wrestling. 4.75/5 (B Block, Night 14)

2.

As expected, this rematch from the G1 Climax 27 Finals was absolute killer — a perfect match that, nuttily enough, has nearly been forgotten since the 17 additional nights of G1 action have transpired. How do you forget a five star match? Easy: have a month of B Block badassery and a legendary finale. To be fair to Naito/Omega, this was the unofficial beginning of greatness to this year’s tournament. The two biggest stars in New Japan today had this jaw drop several times down the stretch as I tried to predict each finisher reversal and couldn’t. Kevin Kelly and Don Callis (who was soon replaced by Rocky Romero throughout the tournament when his Impact duties rang) also called the classic action to perfection. 5/5 (B Block, Night 2)

1.

Much like last year’s G1, New Japan saved their best for last. But who really knew? Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi had an instant classic this past Saturday Night, one for the ages that has to be seen to be believed. In a year that never thought would top 2018, the Ace/iBushi Block battle nearly tops them all. It’s amazing that, at 41, Tana is still the top babyface in pro wrestling, and he stamped his greatness with back-to-back classics against red hair Okada in the A Block finals 2 nights before and here; Tanahashi was also more than up for the challenge, rising to moments reminiscent of fellow old timers Taker and HBK having back-to-back Mania classics. But this match was even better. Why? Because Ibushi is not of this earth. He led this classic athletically, with such grace and innovation that forced Tana to keep up with him. It’s amazing that a man so hobbled by injuries last year and for so much of 2018 — even gimping along in the majority of his matches pre-G1 — was able to answer the final gong against a man on another level than any other and rise above it. This road to the Dome should be something else. 6/5 Bibles (G1 Finals)


HONORABLE 4 BIBLE MENTIONS

  • Tomohiro Ishii v Zack Sabre Jr. (B Block, Night 8)
  • SANADA v Zack Sabre Jr. (B Block, Night 6)
  • Kenny Omega v SANADA – (B Block, Night 10)
  • Tetsuya Naito v SANADA (B Block, Night 16)
  • Kenny Omega v Hirooki Goto (B Block, Night 4)
  • Kenny Omega v Zack Sabre Jr. (B Block, Night 12)
  • Kazuchika Okada v EVIL (A Block, Night 15)
  • Kenny Omega v Juice Robinson (B Block, Night 8)

-Travis Moody

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