Well…here we go! The absolute madness of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax tournament is almost upon us and it means wrestling fans are going to be even more overwhelmed with great wrestling.
Let’s detail all twenty members of the tournament and how I think the tournament could go.
Making his return to the tournament for the first time since 2014, Lance Archer will be looking to make a huge impact in his coming back. In his first match- he will be in his hometown of Dallas, Texas to face off against fan-favourite Will Ospreay who is currently on the best run of his career. Whilst he may stumble there, Lance will feel he has a real chance in this tournament.
One half of EVIL and Sanada and representing Los Ingobernables De Japon, EVIL will be riding a high ahead of this years tournament. Showing some subtle signs of having some discontent within his LIJ brethren (refusing to do the fist-bump at the end of matches), this tournament could be exactly what the former IWGP Tag Champ could need going forward himself, alone and solo.
Bad Luck Fale
Fale has some serious pedigree within this tournament in previous years. Averaging almost 10 points for the tournament and having stand out matches with guys like Okada in previous years, the ‘One Bump General’ could pull off a few surprises.
The man who reached the final last year is hotly tipped to go one step further and win the whole damn thing this time around. Narrowly losing out to Tanahashi last year, Ibushi clearly has his eyes on the title of ‘G1 Winner’. He’s going to have fierce competition to win his block but ‘The Golden Star’ of New Japan can definitely do so.
Alongside one other man, KENTA wrestling in this tournament builds hype to this years competition like no other year prior. Having never wrestled for New Japan, the man formerly known as Hideo Itami is wasting no time getting involved instantly ingratiating himself into this insane tournament. Is he going to win the tournament? I don’t think so but he could absolutely give it a go.
The Rainmaker. The ‘New Ace’ of New Japan. The former two time winner of the G1 Climax. Kazuchika Okada is a mainstay of New Japan Pro Wrestling as well as wrestling world wide. Anyone who bets on Okada winning the whole tournament would be assured in their choice as he is a man hotly tipped to win the whole tournament- despite being the current IWGP Champion. He, like all others in this list so far, have a tough block to get off so we’ll see if there is a huge upset involving said Rainmaker.
The man who is being called 2019’s Wrestler of the Year enters his first ever G1 Climax to huge fanfare. Expected to be a standout of the tournament and maintaining his incredible hot-streak of insane matches this year, Will has high aspirations. Following his win at Best of the Super Juniors, he mentioned how he wants to be the guy to take the company forward and be the shining light for them in this new wrestling landscape. And a win in his debut year would certainly achieve that.
Zack Sabre Jr.
Entering his third G1 in a row, Zack will want to progress from the outings he has shown over the past two years. With his incredible technical wrestling ability, not many men will fancy their chances in an all out wrestling match with the guy. However, he is no stranger to hard hitting brawls so it could be the current Rev Pro British Heavyweight Champion’s year.
The other half of EVIL and Sanada, an interesting story has emerged from the block ordering. For the third time this year, Sanada will take on Okada in a singles match. Having come up short on the previous two occasions, will he manage to overturn the deficit this time around? Only time will tell but it certainly adds to the intrigue of this years tournament.
The original ‘Ace’ of Japan is the man who won the entire competition last year comes into another G1 with another injury. His elbow is giving him serious trouble but that won’t stop him delivering 5 star match after 5 star match. Making his EIGHTEENTH consecutive appearance, he’s a nail on to get incredibly far in this tournament.
Another man making his debut in the tournament, Cobb is a monster in the ring. A man of his size has absolutely no right to move around the squared circle in the way he does. Due to this, the Block B other competitors through up some fascinating first time match ups that we as an audience can’t wait to see.
Goto is a man that deserves to be on the level of Tanahashi, Okada and Ibushi but has unfortunately never reached those heights. Winning the tournament over a decade ago in 2008, Goto will want to make his mark again this year and prove to everyone why he is so under-appreciated. The block he’s in is clearly the weaker of the two so there is a real possibility he could do something here.
Going from one under-appreciated wrestler to another, it will be a huge disservice to ‘the stone pitbull’ if he never holds the world title. A man so effective. So terrifying. So incredible to watch in the ring that he deserves to be in that upper card and in main events. I really hope he can, at the very least, have a great showing this year and prove to everyone just how great he truly is.
A few months after leaving WWE, the man formerly known as Dean Ambrose is already on one of the best runs in his storied career. Clearly having fun wrestling again, Moxley brings a next level of unsubstantiated violence to the G1 in 2019. Pitting him against men such as Ishii, Naito and others is sure to create pure magic in the ring and it will also be incredibly interesting to see how far he goes in the tournament when you factor in his links with All Elite Wrestling. The eyes of the world will definitely be on the ‘Death Rider’.
Another man hotly tipped to win the entire tournament, the leader of LIJ is aiming to become a ‘double champion’ as he is the current IWGP Intercontinental Champion. With his statement of intent already set out clear before the tournament- he does have a major issue though. A two time winner of the competition, Naito has fallen at the championship hurdle both times. So will this be the third time lucky for the man focusing on being ‘Tranquilo’? Only time will tell.
He’s just lovely eh? I, alongside most of the wrestling community, have fallen in love with the man formerly known as CJ Parker since he left NXT and this years tournament could be another fantastic showing for the former eco-warrior. A man who completely captivates audiences with his outlandish wrestling style, his fantastic gear and raw promo skills- he may not win this year but everyone will be behind him.
Going from a man who everyone universally loves to a man even the universe probably hates…we have Taichi. I hate him. You hate him. WE ALL HATE HIM. BOOOOOOO TAICHI.
At this time last year, no-one would have, really, known who you were talking about when you mentioned the man who has captivated New Japan audiences this year. However, after his showing in this years ‘Best of the Super Juniors’ tournament, everyone will be looking at Takagi to put on some absolutely excellent match ups. With him getting to the final of said tournament, it will certainly be interesting to see how he fairs against a more physical type of competition.
The former IWGP Heavyweight Champion and current leader of Bullet Club is entering his second tournament in as many years. He’s just a dick. Plain and simple. He has no remorse, no level of sportsmanship and certainly doesn’t care about his opponents. He will do whatever he needs to do in order to win. And that creates a very dangerous ‘Switchblade’ for others to contend with.
Yano could literally either win the tournament outright or gain zero points. He’s that unpredictable.
Block A Winner:
Kota Ibushi– I feel they’re going to set up Ibushi vs Naito again (despite me not wanting to see that match after the last two altercations) as it feeds very nicely into that story. Ibushi can beat the man who took his Intercontinental Championship from him on his way to winning the big one.
Block B Winner:
Tetsuya Naito– Naito winning the block keeps him strong and he is, when looking at it, probably the biggest name in that block alongside White and, for Western audiences, Moxley. It makes the most sense.
Overall Winner of the G1 Climax 2019:
Kota Ibushi– As just mentioned in my Block prediction, Kota I feel is ready to be presented as ‘the guy’ for New Japan Pro Wrestling and this is a great way to get him to the top and fast.
You can find me on Twitter @McIverTheMark. Thanks for reading.