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Re: G1 CLIMAX 28

Post by greenmanRD » Thu Aug 16, 2018 11:59 am

I would be pretty surprised if Tanahashi loses the title shot, they haven't done Tana/Omega in 2.5 years and I imagine both guys want this match badly. Hell, Omega's already calling Tana out on Twitter, and sure that's not engraved in stone or whatever, but the build for these two will be fun as hell. It's tough to envision a Tanahashi win over Okada, but their G1 match ended with Tana about to beat Okada. This version of Okada is not stronger than the Ace, and they've made sure to put that idea out there. Heck, even if Omega is leaving for WWE after Wrestle Kingdom, then I think Tanahashi is the perfect guy to take the title off of him.

They are clearly going to keep dragging out this Okada story, and I think he'll be back in the IWGP Title scene by Dominion 2019. Okada looking to chase the IWGP Intercontinental title because he just needs a belt to feel whole again is an interesting twist for a story. I wonder if we'll see Gedo do that. Okada has a looming match with White for control of CHAOS, and I have been anticipating that this match will be at Wrestle Kingdom. I'm assuming the stipulation will be loser leaves CHAOS, but we'll see. White makes the perfect foil for Okada before Okada is ready to return to the IWGP Title.

The only concerns I have though is what's there to do for Naito, Ibushi, Jericho, Sabre, Suzuki, or Ishii, there's a ton of talent that has no obvious big matches at Wrestle Kingdom ahead. They can do Naito/Jericho again, but eh, I don't think we need to see that again. Ibushi honestly makes a ton of sense to go for the IC Title just because he's such a Nakamura mark that wanting to restore the honor to the title or whatever is completely aligned with who he is.

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Frank Olson
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Re: G1 CLIMAX 28

Post by Frank Olson » Sun Aug 19, 2018 4:56 am

My ranking of G1 performers, worst to best...

20) Tama Tonga
(Best Match: Tetsuya Naito, Worst Match: Kenny Omega)
I’m not some humorless purist who demands that all pro wrestling matches conform to UWFI rules or anything like that, but I do ask that any shenanigans make some sort of logical sense, or at least entertain me. And unfortunately there wasn’t very much in the tournament-long Bullet Club OG storyline that either made sense or entertained me. It just seemed like there wasn’t much thought (from Gedo or any of the BC OGs) put into what these characters were trying to accomplish. If they just wanted to create chaos and didn’t care about the tournament, then why did they spend so much time wrestling regular matches before blatantly attempting to get disqualified? Tama Tonga did virtually no actual wrestling in any of his nine G1 matches this year, opting instead for very boring beatdown spots in between copious amounts of equally boring interference from his brother, mixed with a little bit of also boring crowd brawling, and slathered in incoherently growled mid-match promos. This is the biggest push that Tama Tonga’s had in his career and yet somehow he’s never seemed like more of a jobber to me.

19) Bad Luck Fale
(Best Match: Michael Elgin, Worst Match: Togi Makabe)
I’m only ranking Bad Luck Fale better than Tama Tonga because he had one match I actually liked (vs. Michael Elgin) and another that was almost good (against YOSHI-HASHI) whereas I didn’t really enjoy any of Tonga’s matches, and because the Bad Luck Fall is one of my favorite finishers (although we didn’t see it too often in this tournament). But Elgin and YOSHI-HASHI were clearly the better performers in both of those matches I liked. Despite his recent weight loss Fale actually seems slower and clumsier than ever before. I guess we are supposed to think that his character doesn’t care about the G1, but I wish that it at least felt like the performer did.

18) Togi Makabe
(Best Match: Minoru Suzuki, Worst Match: Bad Luck Fale)
Makabe seemed to be trying harder than usual this year (which is to say that he was only in house show mode for about half of his matches) but he’s still someone I could do without in the G1. He certainly has some value as a veteran presence, especially with the total absence of the New Japan Dads in this year’s tournament, and he’s a fun character, but overall the in-ring standard of the company has increased to a level that he seems either unwilling or unable to keep up with for nine straight matches. I assume that it will be a few years before Makabe does his G1 retirement, but personally I’d like to see him focus on his tag team with Tomoaki Honma rather than compete as a singles wrestler going forward.

17) EVIL
(Best Match: Kazuchika Okada, Worst Match: Bad Luck Fale)
If it wasn’t for the Tongan narrative completely shitting the bed, then EVIL’s overall performance would have to be considered the biggest disappointment in this year’s G1. He was a standout last year who really raised his stock in my eyes, but this year it seemed like he regressed back to the early version of his character, who spends more time doing tepid crowd brawling and chair shot spots than he does having high level matches. I did think that his match with Okada was pretty great (despite clearly paling in comparison to their match in the 2017 G1) but aside from that there weren’t any standout performances from EVIL this year. He really felt like just a guy throughout most of this tournament, and I had thought he was well past that point by now.

16) Hangman Page
(Best Match: Michael Elgin, Worst Match: Bad Luck Fale)
I think that Adam Page is a solid pro wrestler who is having a good 2018 overall, but I didn’t think that he was a standout in this G1 by any means. He didn’t have any performances where I really felt that he was stepping his game up the way he did in his match against Kota Ibushi at that Wrestlemania-weekend ROH show earlier this year, and I really didn’t think he delivered against the big stars in his block like Okada and Tanahashi. That said, I do like the way he was booked, and I do think those big late-tournament wins over Makabe and Suzuki have done wonders for his perception with the Japanese crowds, to the point where I think that New Japan fans may now actually believe in him as a US or NEVER Title challenger in the future. I won’t mind if Page is in the G1 again next year but I also won’t really miss him if he’s gone.

15) Minoru Suzuki
(Best Match: Kazuchika Okada, Worst Match: Bad Luck Fale)
Suzuki was a really welcome component of the tournament this year, as he was one of the few really fun and charismatic characters in the largely dreary world of the A Block. But while he thankfully didn’t rely on the non-stop Suzukigun interference spots that he used in his 2017 G1 run, it did still feel like he spent a lot of time this year coasting on his charisma and falling back on generic walk-and-brawl work. I thought the Okada match was great and that the Makabe and Tanahashi matches were a lot of fun (the way Suzuki sold the inverted Dragon Screw in that last match was one of my favorite individual moments of the whole tournament), and the loss to Page was a cool moment, but there wasn’t anything truly blow-away from Suzuki this year.

14) Michael Elgin
(Best Match: Kazuchika Okada, Worst Match: EVIL)
Big Mike did consistently good work as the glue guy in the A Block. He could be relied on to put in a strong and fast-paced athletic performance against all of his opponents and never failed to deliver (except to some extent in his first match against EVIL, where he seemed weirdly determined to go out of his way to show off how poorly he was going to sell the arm that EVIL spent the whole match working on). He didn’t really have any storyline going on or anything to make the viewer care about him though, and he’s already facing an uphill battle in that regard given his recent real-life controversies. So this was a solid tournament for Elgin but certainly my least favorite of his G1s to date.

(Best Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Worst Match: Bad Luck Fale)
I know that a lot of people think that YOSHI-HASHI is boring and that he doesn’t deserve to be in the G1. From a kayfabe perspective it really doesn’t make much sense that he was included in this year’s tournament, since he is the lowest ranked heavyweight in CHAOS, and basically that faction’s equivalent to someone like Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi, or Toa Henare. I suppose that if Beretta or Kojima had been healthy that YOSHI-HASHI would not have made the cut this year. But I’m really glad he was around, because he’s the only guy in A Block who had nine matches that I liked (the Fale match wasn’t great but YOSHI-HASHI did his best to work within that situation). YOSHI-HASHI almost never has truly great matches, but you can always rely on him to try hard even though you know that the company is never really going to get behind him. His match with Tanahashi is one of the hidden gems of this year’s tournament, and he and Tanahashi screaming at each other after the match is one of my favorite moments of this year’s G1.

12) Juice Robinson
(Best Match: Tetsuya Naito, Worst Match: Tama Tonga)
I have a spreadsheet with my own nerdy star ratings for each match in this G1, and I was surprised to find when I tallied them up that Juice had the seventh-highest average for me of anyone in the tournament. The thing is though that he was typically the lesser performer in most of his matches. Juice is one of my favorite guys in New Japan but I think that he was a bit out of place in the workrate-centric B Block, where he seemed a step behind many of his competitors. He would’ve been a welcome fun and energetic character in the often boring A Block, where he might have also been able to pick up a few more points. That said, the running storyline with the injured Left Hand of God was a lot of fun, the backstage promos were consistently excellent, the victory over longtime rival Hirooki Goto was a cool moment, and the matches with Ibushi, Naito and ZSJ were terrific.

11) Jay White
(Best Match: Kazuchika Okada, Worst Match: Bad Luck Fale)
A lot of people were irritated with the heavy use of shenanigans in Switchblade’s G1 matches, but for me what distinguished his antics from those of the Tongans was that he seemed like he was actually trying to win his matches, and he was often cheating in creative ways (the way that he casually knocked Red Shoes out with the momentum of a Rainmaker attempt was the most inventive ref bump I’ve ever seen). Oddly a lot of White’s best work was around the periphery of the tournament, in his backstage promos and in his undercard tag matches on the B Block shows (I don’t usually watch G1 undercards but I was loving his dynamic with YOH). White wasn’t out there having mat classics every night, but his character work was consistently compelling.

10) Toru Yano
(Best Match: Zack Sabre Jr, Worst Match: Tama Tonga)
I generally enjoy Toru Yano’s antics (hence my avatar), but he really stepped it up in this year’s tournament and brought some genuine variety to the proceedings. His “fair play” gimmick was too short-lived, but while it lasted it was hilarious to see him trying to go straight and earning big pops for basic amateur wrestling takedowns. Even some of his more traditional Yano-style comedy matches had some really memorable spots, like the thing where he and Rocky Romero were simultaneously trapped in the Paradise Lock in the SANADA match, or the moments where Chase Owens was doing everything he could to prevent Yano from tossing Omega into the exposed turnbuckles. No one in their right mind would seriously argue that Yano was one of the MVPs of the 2018 G1, but he was undoubtedly one of the most fun competitors.

9) Hirooki Goto
(Best Match: Kenny Omega, Worst Match: Tama Tonga)
Hirooki Goto gave consistently strong performances throughout the whole tournament despite being booked weakly (which I suppose is the story of his career). He can hang in there with anybody in New Japan, and really has some of the coolest looking offense in the whole company. Whether he was having a mini epic with Kenny Omega, a hard-hitting NEVER Title-style brawl with Tomohiro Ishii, or even a 2-minute squash with Toru Yano, it almost always felt like Goto was giving it his best effort and doing whatever he could to pick up the 2 points.

8) Kazuchika Okada
(Best Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Worst Match: Bad Luck Fale)
After his incredible G1 run in 2017 (where he was involved in at least 4 or 5 Match of the Year Contender-level matches in the space of a month) Okada took a bit of a back seat in this year’s tournament. This year his job was to tell the story of an Ace who had lost his confidence and was no longer the unstoppable world-beater that he’d been for the past two years as IWGP Heavyweight Champion. I thought he did a very good job putting that idea over in both his matches and his promos, even though I can understand how the story might have been a little too subtle for some people who don’t care for Okada. His tournament did have a sluggish start – I liked the White match but that was really all about Switchblade, and then he had consecutive lackluster bouts against Fale, Page and Makabe – but once he hit his stride with the YOSHI-HASHI match he had set the stage for several Best of the A Block affairs against Elgin, Suzuki, and EVIL. That led into the latest incredible chapter of his feud with Tanahashi. Okada may not have been as consistent as Elgin or YOSHI-HASHI (or practically anyone in the B Block for that matter), but he certainly peaked higher and wound up having an overall strong tournament.

7) Hiroshi Tanahashi
(Best Match: Kazuchika Okada, Worst Match: Bad Luck Fale)
At the end of the day, all that most people will remember about Hiroshi Tanahashi’s 2018 G1 run are his incredible Budokan Hall matches against Kazuchika Okada and Kota Ibushi. Up until then he’d had two really strong matches against Suzuki and YOSHI-HASHI, a couple where he was trying hard but didn’t have great chemistry with his opponent (White) or was fighting against a bad creative direction (Fale), and a bunch of others where he seemed to be in house show mode. Tanahashi was one of the least consistent performers in the tournament, but he peaked so incredibly high in those last two matches and still has such an impressive ability to generate massive crowd support that I almost feel forced to call him the A Block MVP.

(Best Match: Tetsuya Naito, Worst Match: Tama Tonga)
I hadn’t been that high on SANADA for the past year or so, but he really stepped up big time and had a great overall performance in this year’s G1. He was telling a very compelling tournament-long “anything you can do I can do better” story with most of his opponents, which really showed off a heretofore unseen versatility, as he did everything from have a mesmerizing technical showcase against Zack Sabre Jr to a wild comedy match with Toru Yano to a stiff striking battle with Tomohiro Ishii. It all climaxed with a well-built and heated match with faction leader Tetsuya Naito that nearly blew the roof off of the building in Yokohama. I did think the Ibushi match was a bit messy and disappointing, and the Tama Tonga match was nothing special (though SANADA worked around the BC OG nonsense better than most others in this tournament), but overall SANADA was one of the most consistent and versatile performers in the whole G1.

5) Zack Sabre Jr
(Best Match: Kota Ibushi, Worst Match: Tama Tonga)
I’ve been surprised to not hear a lot of support for Zack Sabre Jr as one of the MVPs of this year’s G1, which I chalk up to him being in a super-stacked block and to him not really being involved in any of the matches getting high-end Match of the Year hype. But I thought he was consistently excellent, with a style totally unlike anyone else in the tournament. His presentation is so much improved from last year, with the great TAKA introductions, the New Japan Cup victory having established him as a serious threat to anyone on the roster, the Zack Driver and Cremation Lily giving him even more deadly looking ways to end a match, and a wider array of emotions on display. Zack’s displays of frustration after being out-wrestled by SANADA and mathematically eliminated by a loss to Kenny Omega were among the most memorable character moments of the entire G1. It’s also interesting to note that he wound up with the same amount of points as Omega, Naito and Ibushi, and more than his faction leader Suzuki, which really shows the faith that the company have in his abilities.

4) Kenny Omega
(Best Match: Tomohiro Ishii, Worst Match: Tama Tonga)
Kenny Omega has the distinction of being involved in my favorite and least favorite matches of this year’s G1, although I can’t really blame him for the failure of the match against Tama Tonga. All of his other matches ranged from very good to outstanding, and I thought he carried himself well as the dominant champion (even if he didn’t do quite as well in that role as Okada did in last year’s tournament). The matches with Naito, Goto, Ibushi, and especially Ishii all rank as high octane highlights of this year’s G1.

3) Tetsuya Naito
(Best Match: Kota Ibushi, Worst Match: Tama Tonga)
I hadn’t really been that into Naito for most of 2017, through a mix of unfocused booking of his character, plus what I felt were a number of underwhelming performances in high profile spots. But he shut my mouth with his consistently excellent output in the G1, from the dramatic and heated opener against Omega all the way up to his heartbreaking loss to ZSJ. He was consistently willing to put his body on the line to make his opponents’ offense look as devastating as possible, and he seemed to know exactly when to heel it up and when to work to gain the crowd’s sympathy. He even came close to having a palatable match with Tama Tonga, something that very few people in the B Block can say. I have no idea what Naito is going to be doing for the rest of the year, but I hope he can keep up this level of quality in the ring.

2) Tomohiro Ishii
(Best Match: Kenny Omega, Worst Match: Tama Tonga)
The Stone Pitbull is perfectly suited to the rigorous G1 tournament, as he seems to have an amazing ability to never get tired or lazy even in the middle of wrestling’s most grueling schedule, and his style can work against literally anyone on the roster. It’s hard to even imagine Ishii giving a poor performance. He’s Mr. Consistency when it comes to the G1 and I have absolutely nothing to criticize him for. He’s just an amazing pro wrestler.

1) Kota Ibushi
(Best Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Worst Match: Tama Tonga)
For most of the tournament I was thinking that Ishii was surely the G1 MVP, but when all is said and done Kota Ibushi racked up such an amazingly impressive resume that I don’t think he can be denied the top spot. Ibushi may not have been quite as consistent as Ishii (they both had lackluster matches that weren’t really their fault against Tama Tonga, plus Ibushi had a weirdly uneven one against SANADA) but he had a staggeringly high quantity of Match of the Tournament contenders. In fact I would say that literally half of his matches were of that caliber, which is just preposterous. Ibushi is an elite level high flyer, striker, and comedy match wrestler, and that amazing versatility really serves him well in the G1. He might be the most unpredictable and purely exciting wrestler in the whole world right now.

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Re: G1 CLIMAX 28

Post by Tigerkinney » Sun Aug 19, 2018 3:30 pm

Most consistent G-1 competitor this year....

Tama Tonga, everyone's worst match. Three G-1's and Tonga has shat the bed in all of them, lets face it he's a solid tag but a poor singles worker.

Excellent analysis on the G-1 competitors this year, Frank. I might rank a few in between differently inbetween, but my top 2 and bottom 2 would be exactly the same. No surprise there when it comes to the bottom two, aren't they everyone's?

I have to say you really nailed it with your assessment of Hangman Page, because that's exactly how I feel about him. He's got potential to be better than solid midcard guy but right now that's what he is, nothing more, nothing less.

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