NJPW G1 CLIMAX 29 [A Block Preview]: Aces and Greats.

Dan Niles @DanNilesWrestle

It’s time for the most grueling tournament in pro wrestling, G1 Climax 29 from New Japan Pro Wrestling brackets have revealed some big names that have never debuted in the field of twenty competitors before. The IWGP Junior heavyweight champion, Will Ospreay, Shingo Takagi, Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley all staked their claim to be entered into the month-long endurance test at NJPW Dominion and Jericho is the only competitor that won’t be making his G1 Climax debut this year. That makes this the freshest field of competitors in the history of the G1, with potential for a first-time winner and unexpected outcomes.

The opening night will take place on July 6 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. NJPW has never before presented a night of the G1 Climax in America until now, this could mean big things for international stars on the NJPW roster like Jeff Cobb. Some of the greatest matches arguably of the 2000’s have taken place during this summer spectacular like Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Shinsuke Nakamura and Kenny Omega vs Tetsuya Naito, what matches and wrestlers will have the world talking during the 29th annual tournament?

Only one winner can take home the massive trophy after going through his block and winning the Finals against the winner of the opposing block. Satoshi Kojima, Togi Makabe, Tama Tonga, YOSHI–HASHI and Minoru Suzuki have been taken out of this year’s tournament. The winner receives 2 points per match, a draw scores 1 point and a loss results in 0 points awarded. Let’s see who has the best chance of making it to Wrestle Kingdom 14 with an IWGP heavyweight championship title shot, shall we? There are nineteen nights for the G1 Climax scheduled plus the Final.



A Block

Lance Archer

Age: 42
G1 Climax experience: 5th year

Lance Archer has not appeared in the tournament since 2014 but “The American Psycho” always earned an impressive eight points against top level competition. Davey Boy Smith Jr is no longer with Archer in Killer Elite Squad or Suzuki-Gun so it’s up to Archer to show what he can do against the main players. Archer is a rare athlete that can perform a Chokeslam just as easily as a Moonsault, a rematch with Will Ospreay from the New Japan Cup will be one not to miss. Perhaps the best is yet to come from Archer despite his age and a single’s push could be the result of his efforts.

EVIL

Age: 32
G1 Climax experience: 4th year.

EVIL received one of the biggest reactions in G1 Climax history in 2017 when Okada went undefeated in the Summer event only to be pinned by EVIL when Okada was the IWGP heavyweight champion. The momentum could never stay with EVIL of course but he has been the NEVER Openweight champion and IWGP tag team champion since then with SANADA. This year EVIL will be wrestling SANADA one-on-one and we shall see if dirty tricks will be necessary or if the Los Ingobernobles De Japon members truly want to see who is the best. EVIL will also get a chance to get revenge on rival, Zack Sabre Jr.

Bad Luck Fale

Age: 37
G1 Climax experience: 6th year. 

Every tournament needs a big man and Fale has plenty of history with both Okada and Tanahashi in main events. Only this year Fale has a mixed bag to contend with from the submission master of Zack Sabre Jr to the lethal strikes of KENTA. Fale may have the weight advantage but he isn’t the same man he was when he was the IWGP Intercontinental champion a few years ago. One can’t underestimate the previous strengths of Fale in this tournament though.

Will Ospreay

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion

Age: 26
G1 Climax experience: Debut

There has never been a British winner of the G1 nor has the IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion ever entered. Ospreay just began lifting weights under one year ago and now he has the raw power to utilize the Stormbreaker against much larger opponents. It’s going to be a showcase for “The Aerial Assassin” this year because Ospreay can have a great match with anyone of any size. Ospreay will be wrestling KENTA and Hiroshi Tanahashi for the first time.

SANADA

Age: 31
G1 Climax experience: 4th year.

The finalist of this year’s New Japan Cup tournament with Kazuchika Okada has to be looking to make his mark in main events instead of tag team matches. The time is now for “Cold Skull” to secure his spot among the top crop in NJPW, a clean Moonsault victory over men like Okada and Ibushi would go a far way to proving that. SANADA always has his best matches against “The Ace” so Hiroshi Tanahashi better be ready for the Skull End.

Hiroshi Tanahashi

Age: 42
G1 Climax experience: 18th year. Winner in 2007 and 2015.

Last year, in Tanahashi’s seventeenth G1 Climax, it would have seen unlikely that “The Ace” would win it all but not only did he do that but he also became the first man to trade the G1 briefcase in for the IWGP heavyweight championship at Wrestle Kingdom. Every time it seems Tanahashi may be slowing down, he still has matches that among the best on the card. A match with KENTA will be nothing short of jaw-dropping and it will go a long way to showing just how much Tanahashi still wants the spotlight. The fans may have Tanahashi’s back but recent promos have told us that the fans may not always be in his corner as the years wind down.

Zack Sabre Jr

Age: 31
G1 Climax experience: 3rd year.

“The Technical Wizard” has all of the tools to make it to the Finals but it may not be the right time for Sabre. The influx of new talent will keep Sabre on his toes and the match with fellow UK import, Will Ospreay, may be one of the best of the tournament. Sabre has a tied record against “The Rainmaker” after evening the odds in Rev Pro. Sabre had possibly the best match in his NJPW career against Kota Ibushi in this tournament’s past, a rematch will tear the house down.

Kota Ibushi 

Age: 37
G1 Climax experience: 5th year. 

The potential is there for “The Golden Star” to take his first ever victory lap in the G1 after signing an exclusive contract with NJPW this year. It was a short IWGP heavyweight championship reign for Kota Ibushi after trading the title with Tetsuya Naito and getting head-butted in the eye in the process. That is going to be the ultimate motivator for Ibushi because Naito is not in his block this year and Ibushi finally gets his hands on Kazuchika Okada and KENTA. With Ibushi not holding that title any more, he can set his eyes on the ultimate prize in NJPW and his very first Wrestle Kingdom main event.

KENTA

Age: 38
G1 Climax experience: Debut

The former Hideo Itami claims that he wants to go back to being the way he was before going to America, not being able to be the ass-kicker he could be in WWE. This is a dream for fans of smash-mouth wrestling, KENTA is just like Naomichi Marufuji as a former Pro Wrestling NOAH competitor plying his trade in NJPW. The GTS will not be banned and the only thing hindering KENTA will be the thirty-minute time-limit. KENTA is the pick of the G1 Climax 29 tournament, a win over Okada may already earn KENTA a shot at the IWGP heavyweight championship before January 4.

Kazuchika Okada

IWGP Heavyweight Champion

Age: 31
G1 Climax experience: 8th year. Winner in debut year in 2012 and 2014.

There aren’t many big matches where “The Rainmaker” ends up in the loss column and that’s mostly due to the fact that Okada usually goes into the G1 as the IWGP heavyweight champion. Past macthes with Togi Makabe and YOSHI-HASHI have not truly tested Okada the way fans would like in the Summer but this year it’s a whole other story. Okada has never lost to CHAOS stablemate Will Ospreay but this may be time that IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion pins the IWGP heavyweight champion, a landmark event that has never happened before. Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi is once again the match to watch, it may not even be an argument that that is the best rivalry of the past twenty years with the way both have grown as a result of the battles over the decade.

-Dan Niles

We’ll have Dan’s preview of the G1 Climax B Block up soon! 

The Ringside Apostles want to shout a loud “arigatō!” to our friends at Last Word On Pro Wrestling for the lending hand!

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