With the G1 Climax 30 starting on 19th September we wanted to help those old and new, to New Japan Pro Wrestling, to navigate the 30th year of the G1 and what will be some of the highlights of this year’s tournament.
So here are 9 things to look out for in this year’s G1 Climax.
Tomohiro Ishii being the MVP of A Block
Every year we get to witness some of the greatest match’s put on during the G1 by Tomohiro Ishii if you ask anyone who has been watching for years they will tell you he is one of the most consistent high-level workers the tournaments has produced during the last six years. And yet he has never won, is this year, the year for him? Probably not but sit back and enjoy the magic that is Tomohiro Ishii.
Toru Yano: King of Sports
Toru Yano might be the greatest wrestler in all of New Japan and the G1 Climax gives us a glimpse into his genius once a year. When you first watch NJPW it is quite likely, if you don’t start off with a tournament, to brush Yano off as another ‘comedy wrestler’. He is in a way but like many of his contemporaries such as Colt Cabana and Orange Cassidy he can go in the ring at a high level when needed.
Pay close attention to who Yano beats during the tournament, this will often give you an insight to the top scorers in the G1 and who may win B Block. Last year Yano beat Jon Moxley, Tetsuya Naito, Taichi and Jay White.
Moxley & Naito both ended the tournament with 10 points, while Jay White ended on 12 points and won the B Block. Taichi, on the other hand, ended the tournament just outside of the top 4 in his block, on 8 points, but has gone on to have a fantastic later part of 2019 and win the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team titles with Zack Sabre Jr in 2020.https://4277d123ff9ae91c9798379fdce929a7.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Suzuki-Gun: Minoru Suzuki and Taichi
Block A contains two members of Suzuki-Gun this year, with the return of Minoru Suzuki to the G1 after a year absence, which he punished us for by not allowing us to hear his theme until the final night of the G1 Climax 29. Suzuki-Gun has a very complicated, dynamic and it looks like it won’t be plain sailing for Taichi as he faces, faction leader and everyone’s favourite murder grandpa, Minoru Suzuki.
What you need to know going into this match and tournament is Suzuki-Gun are some of the most brutal, yet technically gifted wrestlers on the roster. Expect some outside of the ring shenanigans, before the bell attacks and the members of Suzuki-Gun, not going easy on each other. At their very core the members of Suzuki-Gun value respect over everything when it comes to in-ring competition, even against each other. Also, expect some of the hardest hitting and vicious match’s you will ever see in the squared circle.
Will Minoru Suzuki beat Taichi and continue his reign of terror or will Taichi beat the leader and finally earn his respect and cement himself as the next in line to lead the group when Minoru Suzuki decides to retire.
Taichi might be the dark horse of this year’s competition and is someone to keep an eye on.
Suzuki Gun: Zack Sabre Jr
Zack Sabre Jr is the lone Suzuki-Gun member in Block B this year.
ZSJ made his G1 debut in 2017 scoring 10 points, the following year he would earn 12 points putting him top four in Block B. During last year’s tournament Zack got off to a rocky start in Block A, which was a very difficult and star heavy block, finishing with a respectable 8 points.
This year Zack might have a chance of scoring highly and will end up putting on some of the most technically sound matches in the whole tournament. Watch out for his matches against the likes of SANADA and KENTA who are two of the wrestlers who can match Zack in intensity and skill.
Make sure to watch the backstage comments after his matches, especially if he loses, last year he blamed it all on the UK government, Brexit and Boris Johnson in particular.
Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi
Former IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi are in separate blocks this year, Tanahashi in Block B and Ibushi in Block A, but will both be facing off against old rivals and current IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr.
Both Tanahashi and Ibushi are previous winners of the G1, Ibushi in 2019, and Tanahashi in 2007, 2015 and 2018; they also faced each other in the finals in 2018.
Pay close attention to the interactions between the members of Suzuki-Gun and Golden Ace during this tournament. ZSJ vs Hiroshi Tanahashi will be a barn burner of a match focusing on technical wrestling and a long standing rivalry. Kota Ibushi vs Taichi will also be an interesting match up, focusing more on strikes and hard hitting action. The most interesting match up on the card for Kota Ibushi will be against Minoru Suzuki as both have a nasty streak, if Suzuki pushes Ibushi too far we will get to see that switch flipped in this match.
Make sure to pay close attention towards the end of the tournament and to those who have not racked up the points. This is around the time of the tournament where shock wins will happen out of nowhere and people you thought would be in the top four of each bracket could be cheated out of a possible win.
The last night of each bracket is the most important as this determines who will go on to the final and a match in the main event at Wrestle Kingdom on January 4th at the Tokyo Dome for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. This is the moment when a spoiler could really change the course of who will hold the belt come January 5th.
Keep a keen eye on Yujiro Takahashi, Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI and Jeff Cobb during the later stages of the tournament.
Red Shoes vs The Bullet Club
Red Shoes is one of the most famous referees in all of professional wrestling. He is so well loved that during Royal Quest in August of 2019 the crowd chanted “We Love You Red Shoes”.
The character of Red Shoes really comes to the forefront during the G1 Climax and his rivalry with Bullet Club. You will see him get annoyed, tell them off for pushing the rules and look like a disappointed dad most of the time. He has a different relationship with each faction but his most storied is with the Bullet Club.
Expect Red Shoes to reprimand the competitors, take a few bumps and possibly give a middle finger, literally he came out and DQed Bad Luck Fale of Bullet Club last year.
SANADA vs Tetsuya Naito
SANADA and Naito have faced each other once during the G1, since SANADA’s G1 debut in 2016. This year they are both in Block B and haven’t faced each other since the G1 Climax 28, that year Naito came out of their encounter victorious, but this year might be the year SANADA beats and surpasses the leader of Los Ingobernables de Japon.https://4277d123ff9ae91c9798379fdce929a7.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
During last year’s G1 Climax SANADA ended the tournament on 8 points, received some of the loudest crowd reactions, and had an absolute classic against Kazuchika Okada going to almost a time limit draw. SANADA won resulting in a title match against the champion at the time and continuing their feud into the autumn of 2019.
If SANADA beats Naito this year he will have a chance to challenge for one or both of Naito’s belts. With Evil’s betrayal at the final of the New Japan Cup, L.I.J. are in a state of flux with suspicion on their minds while also banding together and presenting a solid front.
Keep a close eye on this match and the fallout from it.
Los Ingobernables de Japon vs Bullet Club
The biggest and freshest storyline going into the G1 Climax this year is the betrayal of Evil and his joining of Bullet Club.
Shingo Takagi is the newest member of L.I.J. as of October 2018 and will be representing the faction in Block A this year; he will face both Yujiro Takahashi and Jay White. Yujiro will be someone to watch as he could prevent Takagi from earning 2 points this year. His most interesting matchup will be against the returning leader of the Bullet Club, Jay White. Takagi will also be having rematches with Will Ospreay, who he lost to in last year’s final of Best of the Super Juniors. Tomohiro Ishii from last year’s B Block and Minoru Suzuki who beat Takagi for the Never Openweight Championship on 29th August 2020.
Tetsuya Naito will be facing two of his biggest foes in the past year in KENTA and EVIL. Naito has been in a back and forth with KENTA since the late part of 2019 culminating in KENTA ruining Naito’s crowning moment as double champion on day two of Wrestle Kingdom on January 5th and a challenge a month later for the IWGP Intercontinental and IWGP Heavyweight championships. This match will take place on the last night of B Block.
Naito will also be facing EVIL towards the end of the tournament, continuing that rivalry and anger that has emerged after Evil’s vicious and callous betrayal of the man who brought him back to New Japan and trusted him. SANADA will be facing KENTA the day before and already has one singles win in the G1 over KENTA, could SANADA make it two years in a row?
SANADA will be facing his old tag team partner EVIL on the last night of Block B, I think this match will have a huge influence on who goes onto the finals of the G1 this year and a culmination of four years of missed opportunities and tag team glory. Who will come out victorious? The two of them have only faced each other two times, in the G1, over the last three years, each having just one victory over the other.
So get your snacks and drinks ready, sit back and enjoy some of the finest wrestling you will see this year.
The G1 Climax starts on 19th September at 9am BST, 5pm JST, 4am ET, 3am CT and 1am PT, available on New Japan World (the first month is free)