June 23, 2018

G1 Climax 28 Preview

Last year I wrote a pretty funny preamble to my G1 Climax preview, so you guys should just re-read that.  Now let's take a look at this year's competitors!

(listed in order from Wikipedia)

BLOCK A

Michael Elgin
What Elgin may have lost in stateside support, he has gained in swole.  He's been booked really strong lately.  He beat Omega and Suzuki last year, but lost to Juice and Tama Tonga.  I'd expect a similar, solid performance this year, and hopefully nobody leaks any more texts of him burying dudes.

King of Darkness Evil
Evil is a perfect example of how the G1 can be great for establishing guys.  Since singles matches are basically considered a special attraction for the rest of the year, being able to see everybody have 9 different singles matches within a month can give a great insight into their character, in-ring style, and storytelling ability.  I thought this dude was a joke in 2016, but he had a great G1 last year which made me a fan, even taking a win over Okada in a match that was a highlight of the tournament.  This year he's entering as one of my favorites to watch in the G1, and the only LIJ member in A Block.  I doubt he stands a chance to win, but he'll be representing LIJ strong.

Bad Luck Fale
Fale used to always beat Tanahashi in tournaments, but Tana beat him last year.  Now it looks like he's basically in Elgin's shoes, being able to beat anybody or lose to anybody.  Fale is solo-repping the Bullet Club OGs for Block A.

Togi Makabe
I'm not sure if he's older than Suzuki, but he feels like it.  Last year, Yuji Nagata's final G1 performance was a terrific story, and I still have goosebumps from the ovation he got on the last day.  Makabe's king-kong bravado may not lend itself as well to gracefully stepping away, but I wouldn't look for him to take many points home.

Kazuchika Okada
Is he the shoe-in to win?  I'd be totally fine with that.  Go get your belt back, Rainmaker!  I'm looking forward to Okada's matches the most because he's my favorite sports team.

Adam Page
It's his first G1, which is probably be the most auspicious career highlight yet for Page.  He's been having great performances, and here he can act as a proxy for his teammates, keeping the heat going for Cody and the gang as the only 'new school' Bullet Club member in the tournament.

Minoru Suzuki
Another guy who'll be fun to watch throughout the tournament.  He's coming in on a hot streak that goes back all the way past last year's G1.  With Okada and Tanahashi in the mix, I don't think he'll be points winner, but he'll be making life hard for all of the A Block competitors.

Hiroshi Tanahashi
The Ace has one of, if not the best story going into the tournament.  Formerly dominant veteran, now the underdog looking to recapture his spot at the top of the heap.  That story will make all of his matches exciting, especially his bout with Okada, which will be the seventh or eighth between them, I think.  I do know that they've only had two G1 matches before, and they were both time limit draws.  Kevin Kelly will fill us in on the rest of the stats when the time comes. 

Switchblade Jay White
I feel about White the way I used to about Evil.  The gimmick is so campy, I can't see past it.  I'll be trying to watch his matches with an open mind.

Yoshi-Hashi
With three members, the Chaos faction is the most represented in A Block, so we'll see some of these team-mates fight for their spot within their club.  Yoshi-Hashi is the perpetual kid brother of Chaos,and it will be interesting to see him against White and Okada, even though his performance last year was underwhelming.

BLOCK B

Hirooki Goto
He's an innovator, he's a bruiser, he's a great technician, but somehow he's still boring most of the time.  Still, he shines best in the G1, and there are a lot of matchups to be excited about.  As the current Never Champ, he should finish strong, but I wouldn't expect him to take the block.

Kota Ibushi
With his team-mate holding the IWGP Heavy belt, it will be interesting to contrast Ibushi's record against Omega's.  Ibushi's kinda been on the sidelines for the coronation of Omega, with his last singles match being a losing effort against Cody in May.  I expect he'll be getting tons of underdog support from the crowd (and from my couch).  Last year was the first time he got through the G1 with a winning record, but it was still just 5-4.

Tomohiro Ishii
Even without much of a spotlight through the rest of the year, Ishii always closes out the G1 as a contender for the tournament's MVP.  The B Block roster is really strong, and I'm looking forward to every one of Ishii's matches.

Tetsuya Naito
Last year's winner, and there hasn't been a back-to-back G1 winner since '03-'04 when Tenzan did it.  It's always interesting to see what they do with Naito, and his match against Omega should be electric.  I could see him taking the block.

Kenny Omega
Fresh off his Championship win, it will be great to see everyone else gunning for the new top guy.  He'll have his loss to Juice last year to avenge, a match with Tama Tonga that may (or may not) glean insight into the Golden Elite's relationship to the OGBC, and of course a match against his best friend in the whole wide world.  And in between those great matches, more pure fire.  The champion never wins the tournament, so it will be interesting to see who can get a win over him.

Balls Deep Juice Robinson
He had that huge upset last year, so you can never count Juice out, but B Block is stacked so I wouldn't expect him to go far.  I become a slightly bigger fan of Juice every year, largely because of the G1.

Zack Sabre Jr
This year's KOPW tournament winner, Sabre can beat anyone or lose to anyone.  There are only two Suzuki-Gun members in the G1, with Suzuki in A Block and Sabre in B.  I'd expect him to represent his faction strong, but struggle with Yano and not take the block.

Sanada
The second LIJ member in B Block.  Sanada is another guy who can beat anyone and lose to anyone, but with B Block being so stacked, including his faction's leader, Sanada's going to have a hard time finishing with a winning record.

Tama Tonga
This is usually the only time of the year we get to see Tama wrestle singles matches, and I think he's really fun to watch.  He isn't exactly poised to take any upset victories, but I'll be rooting for him.  He's the only Bullet Club member (besides Kenny?) in B Block.


Toru Yano
Again, Chaos faction is the most represented with 3 competitors in B Block.  Yano won't be fighting for his spot in the way that Goto and Ishii will be, but he'll be wreaking mischief across the board.  Yano's matches are great because you never know what to expect, and the matches can end at any time outta nowhere.

NOTABLE NON-INCLUSIONS

Satoshi Kojima
I think he might be injured, I'm not sure.  He, Tenzan, and Nagata have all faded from the limelight in the past couple years, but Tenzan and Nagata had "goodbye" G1s in 2016 and 2017.  I was sort of expecting Kojima to get the same treatment this year.

Taichi
One of the things I was looking forward to most about this year's G1 was the possibility of seeing a bunch of Taichi matches.  He's only joined the heavyweight ranks recently, so there are a ton of fresh matchups waiting for him.  There are several guys in the tournament that I would love to swap out for Taichi.

Cody
This makes sense, I do like how they keep Cody's appearances more limited.  It keeps his heat... hot.  And like I said for Adam Page, with him being in the G1 he can keep that heat going, but take losses, while Cody stays strong.  It's solid booking.

CM Punk
*cue the music*


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