Check out our top 15 matches at G1 Climax 28.
Last year, we posted our list of the top 10 matches at G1 Climax 27. This year, we increase our list to the top 15, and we don’t use video from Dailymotion so that it won’t get pulled down at some point.
This list was an average of five different lists, all from folks who watched every G1 match in the tournament. Alan Counihan, Duan Greally, John LaRocca, David Rubio, and myself put our lists together to make the top 15.
All Twitter gifs are from MrLARIATO.
You can also check out the final of five podcasts John and I did together on the G1 tournament.
Onto the list!
15. Zack Sabre Jr. Vs Tomohiro Ishii (Night 8)
— LARIATOOOO!! (@MrLARIATO) July 27, 2018
14. Minoru Suzuki Vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (Night 1)
In one of the strongest G1 lineups ever, it was the New Japan veterans who set the standard from night 1. These two have the ability to connect with an audience, project feeling, and tell stories in a way that very few others do today. They were able to create something that stood as unique on the first show and it remained that way after a month long run where every type of match and move had been done. When you see Tanahashi and Suzuki in the ring, you’re watching a mastered craft. Either one of these men could have been the story of the tournament. It turned out to be Tanahashi who filled that role, but had their fortunes been reversed I have no doubt it would have been every bit as effective with Suzuki as a heel lead.
13. Kazuchika Okada Vs Adam Page (Night 5)
After I watched the match, the first thing I thought was that no one could’ve gotten Page over in beating him like Okada. Now, I don’t think that’s true because there were so many great wrestlers in this tournament, but that’s how I felt at the time. This match was a master class in getting someone over to a new level even if they weren’t winning. Page was with Okada every step of the way too.
12. SANADA Vs Tomohiro Ishii (Night 18)
— LARIATOOOO!! (@MrLARIATO) August 11, 2018
11. Kenny Omega Vs SANADA (Night 10)
— LARIATOOOO!! (@MrLARIATO) July 28, 2018
10. Zack Sabre Jr. Vs Tetsuya Naito (Night 18)
Build that started on the very first day of the tournament paid off in spectacular fashion in this one. TAKA Michinoku handing Zack his new weapon “The Zack Driver” (former Michinoku Driver II) in an opening night tag match was at first a cute little addition to their relationship. After four weeks of not hitting the move a single time, ZSJ finally executed it and it meant so much more – The Zack Driver dumped Tetsuya Naito out of the G1!! This was a stroke of booking genius from Gedo’s incredible wrestling mind. It didn’t hurt that it came at the end of one of the tournament’s most intense matches.
9. Tomohiro Ishii Vs Tetsuya Naito (Night 4)
After night 4, I had this as my third favorite match of the tournament. Now, you may think that doesn’t say much, but I rated Omega vs Naito (N2) and Omega vs Goto (N4) in the top 6 of all the matches in the tournament. This match was a back and forth classic, especially as they went toward the last few minutes. It was a battle of who could hit their finisher first. Ishii countered the Destino several times. Naito had to counter the Brainbuster. But Naito got his at the end to win the match.
8. Kota Ibushi Vs Tomohiro Ishii (Night 10)
The night before this match, Ishii, a man of few words, said the following: “Ibushi, you’ve been fighting meekly haven’t you? Tomorrow…I’ll bring it out of you.”
Well, he did just that. Ishii woke up the monster inside Kota and the result was an absolute WAR.
7. Kota Ibushi Vs Tetsuya Naito (Night 14)
Having to follow an instant classic (Omega vs Ishii) is a tall order, but few are better equipped to rise to the occasion than these two. Naito is at his shit heel best for most of the match, until Ibushi flips out of an inverted ‘rana and straight up kills Naito with a neck drop after head spike after head smash. A beautiful destruction this was, but one that makes you worry that the two most graceful and fluid wrestlers on the roster are also the two most impulsive and incautious.
6. Hirooki Goto Vs Tomohiro Ishii (Night 6)
— LARIATOOOO!! (@MrLARIATO) July 21, 2018
5. Kenny Omega Vs Tomohiro Ishii (Night 14)
— LARIATOOOO!! (@MrLARIATO) August 5, 2018
4. Kenny Omega Vs Tetsuya Naito (Night 2)
I couldn’t find the gif of the most ridiculous springboard leap from inside the ring to the outside that I’ve ever seen, but this was my favorite match of the tournament, even more so than the final.
— LARIATOOOO!! (@MrLARIATO) July 15, 2018
3. Hiroshi Tanahashi Vs Kazuchika Okada (Night 17)
My pick for the top match of the 2018 G1 Climax was Hiroshi Tanahashi versus Kazuchika Okada. It was classic in one of pro wrestling’s greatest in ring rivalries. This match has what I love about the sport of pro wrestling; dramatic storytelling. Tanahashi and Okada are two of the best in the world and Tanahashi is a master storyteller inside the squared circle. The crowd was rumbling before they locked up in the center of the ring. Including the finals, this match had the most heat from bell to bell. Early on it started with both men being evenly matched. Both could see their each other’s moves coming and thus would counter. The ring announcer called “twenty five minutes past” of the thirty minute time limit. This match was so good, it didn’t feel like we were that long into it. Tanahashi just had to hold on to a time limit to win the A block of the tournament, but that is not the guy Tanahashi is. He is an honorable wrestler and he wanted to pin his rival to make a statement. The crowd was going nuts in the final stretch. Classic Tanahashi hit his “High Fly Flow” frog splash on Okada who was belly down on the match. Tanahashi got out and let out a roar, saying that he is going to finish this. But before he could leap off the top rope, the bell rang signaling a time limit draw. It was a beautiful ending to another beautiful match between these all time greats.
2. Kenny Omega Vs Kota Ibushi (Night 18)
This was one of five ***** matches per my rankings in the tournament. It was also the single most anticipated match, as the final one of all the tournament matches. It was athletic, dynamic, dramatic, and featured some super scary spots. But I have a feeling that this was only the beginning of what’s going to be a classic set of matches.
1. Hiroshi Tanahashi Vs Kota Ibushi (Final)
This is what you get when two perfect stories collide in an electric atmosphere with two of the best wrestlers in the world supplying the action. The level of emotion in this match surpassed almost any I’ve ever seen. I will never forget the visual of Tanahashi moving forward, eating those strikes and not backing down.