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It’s G1 Season: Fall Brawl Edition!



Welcome to my first New Japan Pro Wrestling editorial and what a way to start it off by running down the upcoming G1 Climax, the 30th edition of it in New Japan history! Thanks to (a now canceled) Tokyo Olympics and a [redacted] that plagues the world right now, this G1 has been moved to September 19th and will conclude on October 18th.

The G1 Climax is a round-robin tournament that has two blocks of 10 people, every competitor will face every person in their block once with the person will the most points at the end winning their block and facing the winner of the other block in the finals to see who is that years G1 winner! The winner gets the honor of carrying a briefcase with him which holds an IWGP Heavyweight title match at Wrestle Kingdom inside that he’ll defend against anybody who may have beaten him in the tournament. I shall be running down every participant in this year’s G1 and will be giving out my predictions on who will win both blocks and who will win the G1 as a whole. Let’s get started!

A Block

Kota Ibushi

Say hello to last year's G1 winner and the man to lose not one but both matches at the two-day Wrestle Kingdom 14 event this year. On day one he unsuccessfully challenged Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and on the second day, he lost to “Switchblade” Jay White. Even though he and Hiroshi Tanahashi held tag team gold together as Golden☆Ace, they would lose the championships to the Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr.) and an Ibushi/Tanahashi match seems to be in the works. I don’t see Ibushi even winning his block this year especially seeing how we haven’t had a back to back winner since Hiroyoshi Tenzan did it in 2003 and 2004.

Jeff Cobb

Cobb, to be honest, disappointed last year in the G1 putting on a string of mediocre matches that were one of the lowlights on the tournament. I still love this guy and I hope the intensity from him picks up in his second go-around this year. Jeff is more than likely going to finish where he was last year, in the middle of the stands as New Japan doesn’t push outside performers that usually only come in around tournaments over their main guys.

Kazuchika Okada

The man who (metaphorically) runs New Japan is in a strange position as he is without his Heavyweight championship entering play. Okada dominated last year’s G1, only losing to Sanada and eventual winner Kota Ibushi and I can see him making the finals of the G1 this year because…he’s Okada. Minus his Wrestle Kingdom matches, Okada’s 2019 was filled with non-memorable bouts which showed how kinda one dimensional and slower he is as every match felt like the same Okada match with the same pacing with the only differences of who he’s in the ring with. His four matches with Sanada didn’t help as most were overblown and are masterpieces of failed wrestling epics. I don’t want to see Okada in the finals or challenge for the championship for the next couple of years but since he is the Rainmaker, it would be no surprise to see him in the finals.

Tomohiro Ishii

Ishii’s thing is that he puts on great matches with anyone and doesn’t win big matches. He can challenge for the top prize but I’ve never expected him to win it. I believe the only tournament he has won in New Japan is the recent NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tournament for the vacant NEVER Openweight 6-Man Championships. Ishii is going to give us exactly what he’s given us before, great hard-hitting, stiff, intense wrestling throughout the tournament and I’m fine with this. He’ll finish most likely in the middle of the pack.

*sigh* Will Ospreay

I will be unbiased on how I think the tournament is going to play out as I can see Ospreay making it to the top of his block and possibly even winning it. However, I will be biased about how I feel about the man with his scandals of him blackballing a female wrestler from British wrestling companies because she accused his friend of sexually assaulting her or when he heavily criticized another British female wrestler after went home from a tour of Japan due to a family emergency. She has not returned to the Japanese promotion since then. As much as he is an amazing athlete, he comes off just as much as a condescending prick. Also, since New Japan doesn’t seemingly want to do anything about what happens to their wrestlers outside of Japan, we’ll probably be seeing Ospreay past the tournament. I don’t see him winning the entire tournament but he could win his block, unfortunately.

Shingo Takagi

One of my new favorite wrestlers in New Japan, Takagi took the Best of The Super Juniors 26 by storm, going undefeated until he reached the finals and lost to Will Ospreay. Entering the G1 the same year he would hit roadblocks in the tournament, finishing with 4 wins and 5 losses. He would capture NEVER gold at the beginning of the year by beating Hirooki Goto for the belt before losing it recently to Minoru Suzuki. Takagi is my darkhorse for this block, as I wish for him to make it to finals especially since he doesn’t have a belt to hold onto. Suzuki being in the same block may prove to be away for him to challenge once again for the NEVER Openweight Championship though and he may finish with a middle of the road record again.

Minoru Suzuki

Suzuki was interestingly left out of the G1 last year to the surprise of many but now the current NEVER Openweight champion is back! Beating Shingo for the belt at Summer Struggle, Suzuki is most likely going to follow the recent traditions of a championship holder in the G1 and is going to finish in the middle of the road. Loses to guys that are likely to challenge for his title or to people like Okada who the company holds more value in but he’ll get wins over wrestlers too, it’s just a question of who goes where.

Taichi

Our lord and savior Taichi is currently of half of the IWGP Tag Team champions with Zack Sabre Jr. You might think that he has a lot of believability that he’ll go far in the tournament as he has wins over Kota Ibushi and Hiroshi Tanahashi in this year’s New Japan Cup but since he holds the tag belts it becomes less likely that he will reach the top of his block. He might fall towards the middle-bottom of the group in fact with who’s in group A and it will be an uphill climb for our hero.

Jay White

Resident bearded knife pervert Jay White took an interesting detour, going first to the Karen infested United States of America to wrestle for New Japan Strong, NJPW’s Los Angeles based show. He’s coming back to Japan to participate in the G1 and is probably going to have a strong showing with a big possibility of him making it to the top of his block and heading to the finals. White along with Naito, Tanahashi, Okada, and Ibushi are the top dogs in the company so it should be no surprise if he ends up as G1 Winner as he was also runner up last year.

Yujiro Takahashi

When I saw Yujiro’s name on the ballot for this year’s G1 all I could think was “man…this could have been a really good spot for Sho” and that was about it. Takahashi has spent the last 3 months feuding and having mediocre singles matches with Okada which he constantly loses to (he even lost to him in a 3 on 1 handicap match). Yujiro might get 1 win over someone…might…but other than that he’s finishing at the bottom of his block.

Block B

Hiroshi Tanahashi

Previously on Life of Ace; our beloved stallion Hiroshi Tanahashi had just lost an IWGP Tag Team title match with his Golden Kota Ibushi against the scoundrelly Dangerous Tekkers, failing to recapture the gold. He and Ibushi are separated in the G1 as Tanahashi fights on Block B as a Zack Sabre Jr. match awaits him. The golden duo has been going through rough waters as of late with Ibushi being disappointed in his idol’s descent into seemingly a broken-down veteran. Can Tanahashi turn it around and become the Ace that we’ve all loved? Can he turn back the hands of time and rekindle that old flame to prove to Ibushi that he is not a has-been? Are they actually going to do the same storyline that they did back in 2018? Maybe…maybe not. You’ll have to tune into the G1 Climax 30 to find out!

P.S. I don’t think Tanahashi is seeing the finals this year but he will be near the top of the block.

Juice Robinson

I love Juice Robinson with all my gosh darn heart which makes me wonder where he would be right now if the whole [redacted] stuff didn’t happen. Would he still be in a charming tag team with David Finlay or would he be back on his own, trying to recapture the US Championship from rival Jon Moxley? In my perfect world Juice would be challenging for the IC belt or having a close but no cigar run in this tournament. I don’t think he is going to reach the top of the block this year but will be in the upper-middle part of it. I hope New Japan pushes Juice even more because he deserves every bit of it.

Hirooki Goto

I like Goto. I do. I think he’s in an Ishii position where we all kind of know he’s not going to win it but we’ll root for the man to do well in the Goto 1 Climax. He is one-third of the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Championship along with Ishii and a man that’s in the same block as him, Yoshi-Hashi which I’m going to be interested in watching. It’s also interesting to say that he is one of the most decorated wrestlers in New Japan history with a G1 win, three New Japan Cup wins, two World Tag League wins, a junior and heavyweight tag title reigns, a two-time Intercontinental champion, and a five-time NEVER Openweight champion but no IWGP Heavyweight Championship reigns. He’s done it all except that and I think Goto will have less success than he did last year as he slips to the middle of the pack.

Toru Yano

Let’s talk about a man. A real man’s man. A man who doesn’t back away from anybody. A man who has beaten the likes of Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, Jon Moxley, Kota Ibushi, Tetsuya Naito, and many more. The current (provisional) King of Pro Wrestling champion, Toru Yano! Like always, Yano will play spoiler to many men in the block and not get the title shots that he rightfully deserves when he beats champions (I’m looking at you Moxley, you coward). He will finish comfortably in the middle to bottom of the block as kings do not need to take trivial tournaments like these seriously.

Yoshi-Hashi

They did it. Somehow, they got me to care about Yoshi-Hashi. That 6-Man tournament got me to care about him and now I’m kind of rooting for the guy to do well. Congratulations on winning your first championship in New Japan Yoshi-Hashi and many good fortunes to you in the future. Not the immediate future though as he will land close to (if not) the bottom of the block.

Tetsuya Naito

The current reigning and defending IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion, Tetsuya Naito, is coming off of his successful recapturing of his title from his ex-LIJ member and current Bullet Club acting leader (when Jay White was not in Japan) EVIL at Summer Struggle. He is arguably the most popular wrestler in the country right now and he enters this tournament with the potential of making it to the top of his block but we all know how this song and dance go. There hasn’t been an IWGP Heavyweight Champion has won a G1 while holding the title simultaneously since Kensuke Sasaki did it in 2000 and to be realistic, I don’t see that mold-breaking now. I do hope for New Japan to shake things up and have Naito at least reach the finals but I don’t see that happening. The Stardust☆Genius is going to land close to the top but is going to be stopped by Kenta, EVIL, and/or his own stablemate, Sanada.

Sanada

Speaking of the handsome devil, I think I like Sanada but his 2019 was a drag from beginning to end. He had four singles matches with Okada last year, two of them were title matches, the best match, which was their G1 match, was only okay as the rest were a slog to get through and it kind of made me realize that maybe he isn’t ready or even capable of reaching the Heavyweight gold. This does not mean he isn’t capable of having great matches as his match with Suzuki at least years New Japan Cup was evident of that. It also does not mean that he won’t grab some points along the way and do much better than he did in the G1 last year. I can see him getting an upset win over Naito and EVIL and continue his feud with Zack Sabre Jr. while here. Sanada could either finish top of the block or finish in the middle but will win very important matches when it’s all said and done.


P.S. I just read that the final night of B Block has Okada vs Sanada penciled into it…God damn it.

Zack Sabre Jr.

The other half of the IWGP Tag Team Champions, the brash, cocky technical wizard is most likely going the way of his tag team partner Taichi. Both have momentum after beating Tanahashi and Ibushi to retain the gold but are more than likely to finish with around eight or so points. His battle with Tanahashi is no doubt doing to be interesting as their history stretches beyond the tag belts and into the British Heavyweight Championship that both men had a short back to school feud over in the September of 2019, a belt the Will Ospreay currently occupies. Zack will end his G1 run finishing in the middle I assume.

Kenta

Thanks to Kenta being stuck in America due to the [redacted] he was able to go on New Japan Strong and win the New Japan Cup USA tournament in August with a victory over David Finlay in the finals. Now that Kenta currently holds a briefcase of his own which grants him a championship match for the US Heavyweight Championship that is currently held by Jon Moxley, I don’t think he’ll be carrying around two and may finish where he was last year with eight points. By the way, he better not cut off his magnificent hair, it’s a new dynamic source to his power that he has yet to realize.

EVIL

The former Intercontinental and Heavyweight Champion who just lost his championships to his ex-leader, Tetsuya Naito. EVIL turned on his group at the New Japan Cup finals and would later defeat Naito for both belts the next day at Dominion. He would successfully defend them at Sengoku Lord against former stablemate Hiromu Takahashi before dropping them at Summer Struggle. This newly turned heel EVIL, despite his loss, still has a lot of momentum that he could ride going into this tournament. He is going to have matches against Naito and Sanada and current stable buddy Kenta that are going to be drama-filled and lead to further storylines down the road. While the story told from New Japan Cup to now has been good, the matches garner less favorable reviews but I won’t let that stop me from giving out a more positive prediction on where he might end up. EVIL is very much projected to end the G1 towards the top of the block, maybe just missing the finals thanks to a Sanada victory.

Who will be the 30th G1 Climax Winner? I’m glad you didn’t ask that because I’m having a hard time predicting it myself. The likeliest to win A Block are Okada, Jay White, and Ibushi (don’t let it be Ospreay) but I still hold out for my darkhorse Shingo sneak his way in there. I’m going to pick Okada to win the A Block and advance to the finals though. As for B Block the people, I’m looking at are Kenta, Evil, and Sanada. I do have a feeling the Sanada might be able to pull it out in the end and win his block somehow and advance to the finals.

Which leads us to, oh no, an Okada vs Sanada final where, dare I say it, Sanada is going to beat Okada and will win the G1 Climax, allowing him to fight for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom. Risking bet, 1000%, it’s a really out-there prediction but I have a feeling that it might happen. Prepare yourselves, this is going to be one hell of a ride.

© 2020 by GRESH DIGITAL MEDIA/GRESHAM FAMILY COMPANIES, LLC

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