After another long, grueling G1 tournament nearly complete, it is time for the finale show. Easily one of the most anticipated shows on the New Japan Pro Wrestling calendar, as well as most people’s wrestling calendar’s in general. The finalists for this years G1 Climax were Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi. Below them were eight other matches, one of them being a title defense, in what was a very stacked card. Let’s start with the undercard.

Shota Umino, Ayato Yoshida & Yuji Nagata vs. Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & Michael Elgin

A six man match started off the card. Ayato Yoshida, who does not appear on many New Japan cards was touted by the English commentary throughout the match. I found it somewhat surprising how much offense he got in. This was Honma’s third match back after his scary injury back in March of 2017. He wrestled the night before defeating three CHAOS members. Makabe hit the King Kong Knee Drop on Yoshida to win the match. I was impressed with the match, especially Umino and Yoshida. Both guys are very young and have tons of potential. Nothing else really stuck out in this match.

Toa Henare vs. Bad Luck Fale

Excluding the main event tonight, of course being the G1 final, this is the only singles match on the card. In a grudge match Toa Henare faced Bad Luck Fale. Much like something Fale would do, Henare attacked Fale as he was still entering the ring. Very early on Fale hit the Grenade and a Bad Luck Fall. Within minutes Henare was squashed. This was a very surprising finish to be quite honest. I thought this was decent storytelling since it showed that Henare is young and still has a lot to learn. Henare was a carcass being carried to the backstage as some in the crowd looked worried.

Takashi Iizuka & Taichi Ishikari w/ Miho Abe vs. YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto

Taichi and Iizuka were absent for the majority of the G1 tournament, coming back to New Japan to wrestle in this tag match. In the next tag match it was Suzuki-gun versus CHAOS. Taichi Ishikari entered with Miho Abe. Despite having music and a microphone, he was cut off my Takashi Iizuka’s music many times. Both Abe and Taichi seemed upset over this. Iizuka did not show up for the most of the entrance, with fans “keeping their heads on a swivel”, looking for him. Despite Suzuki-gun having attendance issues, both CHAOS members were on time for the match. This turned out to be for their detriment. As CHAOS made their entrance, Ishikari jumped them with a chair.

Taichi got the win for his team after a Powerbomb. Of course, he did a beatdown after the match. He also threw Goto’s NEVER Openweight title while exiting. My favourite part of this match was Goto’s hot tag, which seemed weak at first, but then had some good moves in it.

Hangman Page & Cody vs. David Finlay & Juice Robinson

Cody hasn’t been seen since the G1 Special, so it was unexpected when he was announced for this card. Cody, The Young Bucks and many others have been tied up recently with planning the All In event, which is now only days away (so crazy to say that). They face the entertaining duo of David Finlay and Juice Robinson. Juice gave two children his hat and sunglasses while entering. David Finlay is the self proclaimed C Block champion, carrying a very small trophy out with him. Juice has fought most of the G1 with a cast, giving him a significant disadvantage, but is fighting without it tonight.

The match started with very entertaining chain wrestling by Page and Finlay. Juice hit an spectacular looking Crossbody during the match. He tried following it up with his trademarked punches but was stopped. Moments later Juice turned the tables once again and hit a Cannonball in the corner to both Cody and Page. Page hit a Standing Shooting Star Press for a two count. Very impressive for a guy of his physique to be hitting moves like that so seamlessly. Cody mocked Robinson by doing his famous punches. Moments later they were both trading their See-saw-like punches. Cody hit a Disaster Kick, only to be met with a kick in Robinson’s style right after. Pulp Friction got reversed into a Piledriver of some sort. Cody got the win from this. The commentary team called this win “unexpected” (I mean, was it?). Cody cut a promo afterwards, telling Juice that Cody is the next US Champion, while holding Juice’s belt. This match was very entertaining. The final combinations of moves had me on the edge of my seat. The promo afterwards by Cody did not seem that good.

Taichi Ishimori, Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga vs. Marty Scurll, Nick Jackson & Matt Jackson (NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship Match)

Tanga Loa cut a promo before their match. Very akin to what Taka Michinoku does when managing Zack Sabre Jr. Loa introduces their opponents, asking the ring announcer who they are since he apparently does not know. They are challenging for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championships. Current champions are Marty Scurll, Nick Jackson & Matt Jackson. This match was only made a title match after the champions declared it as one (and asking for approval from the ringside new President of NJPW). Nick got the hot tag late in the match and went after both Guerrillas of Destiny. Ishimori was kicked out of the ring by both Bucks, while Nick said “see you later buddy”. Tama Tonga got hit with a Swanton while being suspended on the ropes. Young Bucks tried a More Bang For Your Buck but Tonga escaped. Tama Tonga hit Marty Scurll with a Gun Stun out of nowhere, crowning new champions. This came out of nowhere because Scrull was fixated on Tonga Loa while Tonga came flying at him.

The mayhem at the end of the match was too fast to cover. It’s the aspect of New Japan Pro Wrestling tag matches which makes it most appealing for me. Lot’s of fun to watch, and the highlight of the bottom half of the card.

Before our next match it is announced that Wrestle Kingdom 13 will take place on the 4th of January in Tokyo Dome. A logo is presented, and triumphant music is played. I find it comical that it is announced, as if people expected it wouldn’t happen this year or something. Although it was nice to see the new logo. Not my favourite one, but still a good logo.

El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Zack Sabre Jr. & Minoru Suzuki w/ Taka Michinoku vs. BUSHI, SANADA, EVIL & Tetsuya Naito

An eight-man tag match was the 6th match of the evening. Taka Michinoku, who was ringside for the match cut a promo beforehand. During the Naito entrance Taka went to the English commentary saying “I can’t speak English!” ironically, in English. Right off the bat in this match everyone took a partner and started brawling outside the ring. As you’d expect, Suzuki and Naito were fighting partners. Kanemaru tried to spit liquor in SANADA’s face, but he avoided it and put on a Skulls End for the win. Naito and Suzuki brawled after the bell, with Young Lions separating them. I don’t know if there has been a Los Ingobernables versus Suzuki-gun tag match that I haven’t enjoyed. For months now they have been very easy viewings.

Toru Yano, Jay White & Tomohiro Ishii vs. Yujiro Takahashi w/ Pieter, Chase Owens & Kenny Omega

Kenny Omega, who lost to Kota Ibushi the night before gets an easier night of work as he is in a 6-man tag match, teaming with Owens and Takahashi. They faced Yano, White & Ishii. When Yano was in the ring he was trying to unwrap a turnbuckle but members of the Bullet Club kept blocking him in what was a funny comedy spot. There was another spot where all members of the Bullet Club were doing a circle of submission moves while Pieter danced in the middle. Omega didn’t like the distraction, and made her leave the ring. Owens tried for a Package Piledriver but could not lift up Ishii. Ishii got the finish with the Brainbuster onto Chase Owens. Teammates of Owens were being held off at ringside during the pinfall.

Surprisingly, it felt that Jay White was in a background role in this match. I got a similar feeling with Yano, although Yano did get some spots in at the start of the match. After the match Ishii made it obvious that he wants Omega’s IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

Pro-Wrestler Sengoku Enbu (Ryusuke Taguchi), KUSHIDA & Rey Mysterio vs. SHO, YOH & Kazuchika Okada

Under Ryusuke Taguchi’s new alter ego alias Pro-Wrestler Sengoku Enbu, he made a debut in a 6-man tag match. From what I have gathered online the character that Taguchi is playing in this match is related to a film or something. The biggest name in this match was Rey Mysterio. What surprised my about this match was how much it flew under everyone’s radar. Like sure, there was a G1 final and all of that, but it’s Rey Mysterio! You would expect a little press about this match. KUSHIDA was riding on a hoverboard of some sort for his entrance. Mysterio came out in a special G1 outfit. Kazuchika Okada’s entrance was a little less grand than usual since, as he pointed out on social media, balloons are not allowed in this venue. Okada ordered to start the match against Mysterio. Both KUSHIDA and Taguchi did dives to the outside, leaving YOH and Mysterio in the ring. Mysterio hit a 619 and a Springboard Frogsplash for the win. This was a short, easy to digest match. It was placed right before the main event, which is perfectly fitting for it.

Kota Ibushi vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (G1 Climax 28 Final)

Now that all of the undercard matches have happened, there was only room for one more match. The match that this whole tour revolved around, the G1 Climax Final. In Ibushi’s corner was Kenny Omega. The crowd erupted with cheers as the bell rang to begin the match. Early in the match Ibushi did a nasty double stomp on the apron. Ibushi nearly killed Tana with a Piledriver shortly after. It was deadly to watch. Tanahashi put Ibushi into a Boston Crab which really wore him down. He got to the ropes, but not after being in the hold for a long time. Tanahashi did a High Fly Flow off the top rope to outside the ring. Ibushi tried wearing Tana down with strikes but it did nothing for Tana. The two ended up exchanging blows for more than a minute. Ibushi ended it with a vicious clothesline.

With tension in the match continuing to rise, Tanahashi attempted to end it with a Frogsplash. Ibushi blocked it with his knees. While still getting up, Ibushi landed a running knee strike, then a Standing Moonsault with Double Knees when landing. Shortly after Ibushi did a German Suplex off the middle rope than a Last Ride for a two count. The crowd absolutely erupted after the kickout. A Straightjacket German Suplex was followed up with an attempted Kamigoye which Tanahashi reversed into a Twist & Shout (twice). Tanahashi hit a High Fly Flow, then a Crossbody, and then a High Fly Flow to win the match. Your 2018 G1 Climax winner is Hiroshi Tanahashi.

This was an absolutely amazing bout. Both wrestlers put absolutely everything out there, and put on what was a suitable finale for what was a great tournament. Katsuyori Shibata, who was in his corner for the match lifted him up onto his shoulders and paraded him around the ring. Tanahashi indulged in the confetti and the celebration that followed the match. This put a wrap on the show.

While the undercard had some matches that did okay or only sort-of delivered, the main event made up for all of it. The end of the tournament was as grand as it could get. It’s sad that the next New Japan show is so far down the road, but at the same time it makes sense as everyone needs to rest up.