So we are about 2 weeks-ish into the 29th G1 Climax tournament, held annually by New Japan Pro Wrestling, the tournament widely considered to be THE tournament in professional wrestling, and some great storylines are starting to emerge.
The Redemption Of KENTA
Hideo Itami is dead and buried, I think somewhere behind the WWE Performance Center. KENTA has returned and he’s in a bad mood. Introduced by LA Dojo Head Trainer Katsuyori Shibata at NJPW’s Dominion event, the former NOAH and NXT wrestler declared for the G1 and has plans to “take over”. After a near decade in NOAH and ROH, KENTA was one of the first high profile signings to NXT when HHH took the reigns in Orlando, and it did not work out. Two major injuries and then being shuttled to 205 Live led to frustration and then departure. KENTA is back, his first G1 match was against NJPW’s future franchise player in Kota Ibushi and it was one of the hardest hitting matches I’ve seen this year. Provided his injury bug is behind him, KENTA is going to have a prosperous career in New Japan, I could definitely see him in next years BOSJ tournament and definitely a future IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. Not to mention wins over Kota Ibushi AND Hiroshi Tanahashi help the cause.
The Liberation of Jon Moxley
After 8 years under the WWE tent, Jon Moxley was done. Obvious attempts to keep him signed, WWE’s best efforts fell short, and one Jon Moxley declared himself “FREE”. Mox has been everywhere and anywhere. He made his first appearance at the Best Of The Super Juniors Final, where he won the IWGP US Title from Juice Robinson and loudly declared he wanted in the G1, he also made some independent appearances in the US, with some appearances at Northeast Wrestling, but he is now embedded in the G1 with a plethora of first time dream matches. He’s gone to a much more physical style, a change in ring gear, and a new friend in NJPW Young Lion Shota Umino.
The Ascension of Kota Ibushi
Very few people have had a better year than “The Golden Star” Kota Ibushi. Phenomenal matches against Tetsuya Naito, signing a long term deal committing to New Japan, and being positioned as the future of New Japan. He’s always had outstanding performances in the G1 but has never won it, he’s come close but this might be his year. There are very few performers who can put all the tools together like Ibushi can. You want to strike? You want to wrestle? You want to brawl? Ibushi has no problem adapting. His chances to win this years G1 are as good as any, but the G1 is a marathon, not a sprint.
The G1 is an amazing tournament. It is 6 weeks of anywhere from 2 to 4 shows in a row of some of the best wrestling you will ever see showcasing New Japan’s best and usually a few surprise entrants and wins.
New Japan Pro Wrestling is available on NJPWWorld.com for about $10 monthly, and during the G1 our friends at AXS.TV are offering same day coverage of any Saturday events and a recap of the week’s action.