G1 2018: The Participants
June 17, 2018
By: Lou Pickney
The participant list has been released for the upcoming G1 Climax 28 tournament. The annual round-robin returns next month with two blocks of ten this year and 18 returning participants out of 20 from last year, with only Yuji Nagata (who turned 50 in April) and Satoshi Kojima (who will turn 48 in November) out from 2017. Both wrestlers went 1-8 last year's G1, and it should be noted the willingness of aging veterans to put over the younger star wrestlers in New Japan is a key part of the process.
The two newcomers this year are IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion "Switchblade" Jay White (age 25) and "Hangman" Adam Page (age 26). White is a star in the making who had the proverbial rocket strapped to his back upon return from excursion, while Hangman Page has improved tremendously over the past year and seems a likely target for WWE on down the line.
I will go through the G1 list in more detail once the blocks are established, but traditionally Gedo splits teams and separates the factions between blocks as evenly as possible.
Golden Elite (2): Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi
LIJ (3): Naito, EVIL, SANADA
Bullet Club (3): Bad Luck Fale, Hangman Page, Tama Tonga
Suzuki-gun (2): Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr.
CHAOS (6): Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, Jay White, Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI
Great Bash Heel (1): Togi Makabe
Unaffiliated (3): Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin, Juice Robinson
This matched very closely with the projections I made on the Wrestling Observer message board, though I wasn't sure whether Tama Tonga would make the cut this year. But he did, and hopefully Tama can bounce back from last year's mostly lackluster performance.
Thankfully there is no Taichi, contrary to what some had speculated. YOSHI-HASHI made the cut, and that was hardly a given, particularly after Kevin Kelly recently on commentary alluded to Y-H being on the bubble. I had thought David Finlay might end up in there, ditto for Toa Henare, but they will both have their opportunities on down the line.
Amazon had the Fire Stick discounted this past week, so I ordered one and it arrived on Thursday. That is the one streaming device which actually has a New Japan World app. Unfortunately, it has presented some challenges for me early on, especially when it comes to finding older matches. I hope to give the World app a thorough review soon once I've had a little more time to spend with it.
I watched WWE Money in the Bank tonight after returning home from my girlfriend's apartment. The timing worked perfectly as I arrived at my house not long before the main card began. It's jarring to contrast Styles vs. Nakamura from Wrestle Kingdom 10 (a ****3/4 match), which by chance I watched on Thursday night while I was testing out the app, with the boring first 25 minutes or so of their match tonight at MITB. Great finishing sequence, though.
Overall the show was okay, but nothing I would particularly care to rewatch. Certainly better than Backlash, though that is hardly high praise.
Normally I watch WWE PPVs in Spanish, and I don't speak the language. I think it actually works better that way. But tonight I opted for English.
I'm not a masochist and thus don't enjoy modern-era WWE main roster weekly television, and I wanted to hear Jonathan Coachman as I haven't heard much of his work since his return. That was mostly a waste of time since it all becomes a wall of noise after awhile with the genuine emotion extracted from the product as much as possible. But then, during Ronda Rousey vs. Nia Jax, Coach came as close to referencing a rest hold as I've ever heard on a WWE broadcast. How embarrassing.
But I try not to be too tough on the announcers. They are doing what they are produced to do, and between the strange WWE verbiage and Vince McMahon's bizarre list of banned words and having the old man yelling at them in their headsets, it has to be a frequently frustrating job.
More tomorrow (Monday) when I believe the 2018 G1 block splits will be announced.
See any mistakes, omissions, or needed corrections? Please let me know: @LouPickney