New Japan’s G1 Climax: The Final Countdown
As G1 Climax 2017 winds down, we take a look at the story so far.
This year’s G1 Climax has been a wild ride. While it hasn’t quite been up to the standards of some of the previous G1 tournaments, it has still been overflowing with world class matches and now we are approaching the finishing line.
There are three shows left, the final nights of Blocks A and B and the night of the final itself. All three of these shows will take place at the legendary Sumo Hall from 11th-13th August. Here we will take a look at the current standings and what possible outcomes may lie ahead.
Hiroshi Tanahashi: 6-2 (12pts.)
Tetsuya Naito: 6-2 (12pts.)
Kota Ibushi: 5-3 (10pts.)
Bad Luck Fale: 5-3 (10pts.)
Tomohiro Ishii: 4-4 (8pts.)
Zack Sabre Jr: 4-4 (8pts.)
Hirooki Goto: 4-4 (8pts.)
Togi Makabe: 3-5 (6pts.)
YOSHI-HASHI: 2-6 (4pts.)
Yuji Nagata: 1-7 (2pts.)
Heading into the last night of Block A competition only two wrestlers can make it to the final. This is because Tanahashi and Naito are facing each other in their last match. Whoever wins the match will make it to the final but there is always the possibility of a 30 minute draw. If two wrestlers finish on the same points whoever wins the head to head match is the one that goes through, on this occasion though that won’t be a factor as they will have drew with each other. This situation has only ever happened once in G1 history when Tanahashi and Togi Makabe found themselves level in 2009. In this situation the winner of the Block is determined by a coin toss. Tanahashi lost on that occasion.
The bigger question at hand here is whether or not it was a good move to leave the winner of the Block so clear cut, especially considering the situation with Block B. I’m not here to criticise the booking acumen of Gedo, because he has been doing a spectacular job on the whole, but I would have liked it to be handled slightly differently.
I think that the final night of Block A would have been more engaging had Kota Ibushi still been in the running. It would have been easy to accomplish, too. If they would have booked Togi Makabe to beat Naito on Night 15, which is in no way unrealistic, it would have meant that Ibushi joined Naito and Tanahashi as possible Block winners. This wouldn’t have changed their overall plan either as they could still go with whoever they originally planned to go with but it would have added some extra intensity to the main event.
As for who I think will win, I haven’t changed my opinion from what it was prior to the start of the tournament, Naito will win. I know this is an opinion that is shared by other writers here. It has always felt like the most sensible option to me and I still fully believe that he will win the tournament. The match itself should be excellent too.
Kazuchika Okada: 6-1-1 (13pts.)
Kenny Omega: 6-2 (12pts.)
EVIL: 5-3 (10pts.)
Minoru Suzuki: 4-3-1 (9pts.)
SANADA: 4-4 (8pts.)
Michael Elgin: 4-4 (8pts.)
Tama Tonga: 3-5 (6pts.)
Juice Robinson: 3-5 (6pts.)
Toru Yano: 3-5 (6pts.)
Satoshi Kojima: 1-7 (0pts.)
Onto Block B now and the reason I think that the booking of Block A was a touch short sighted, this Block is also down to two possible winners and just like Block A they are facing each other in their final match. This means that both Night 17 and Night 18 will have only one match that plays a significant part in the outcome of the tournament.
There are a couple of reasons that I singled out Block A for it’s disappointing booking rather than Block B. The first is the fact that Block A was the stronger of the two and had a wealth of interesting possible outcomes which they didn’t take. The second reason is that I always expected this Block to come down to this exact match. The only time it felt like this wouldn’t be the case was when EVIL handed Okada his first singles loss in a year.
As far as predictions go I would expect Omega to finally pick up the win against Okada. It is the right move from a story standpoint as it provides them with a ready made IWGP Title match at either King Of Pro Wrestling or Power Struggle. Due to his win against Okada, EVIL would take the title shot at the other show.
The last question that needs to be answered is whether this match can live up top the standards of their previous two encounters. I didn’t think their last match would be able to live up to their first but it did, so I have no reason to doubt that this will also hit those lofty heights.
Enjoy the rest of the tournament and make sure to check back after the tournament has finished as I will be grading every match from this year’s G1 Climax.