Defrost Previews…G1 Climax 26 Block A

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Hey guys been a while. I think I said that last time too. I am very unreliable. Sorry about that. Anyway

The greatest tournament in Professional Wrestling is a mere few hours away when A block action gets underway from Sapporo, Japan. With all the upheaval earlier this year with the WWE raid of New Japan this year’s lineup looks very different than that of the last couple of years. NOAH involvement and several new comers are highlights. Let’s now take a look at the wrestlers in the A block and their chances to advance to the final.

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BLOCK a part 2

Togi Makabe

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The middle aged Japanese housewives favorite wrestler. Had some success earlier this year winning the IWGP Tag Team Championship with Tomoaki Honma in an angle that was really more about Honma. He is firmly an upper midcarder with name value, but his days as a realistic winner of the G1 or as IWGP Heavyweight Champion are behind him. He’ll get a high profile win over an Okada or Tanahashi somewhere, but he’ll finish middle of the pack in this block.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan

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The man who has entered more G1 tournaments than any other, a man second only to Mr G1 himself Masahiro Chono in G1 victories with three, and the man who enters his final G1 tournament this year. His won 3 out of 4 tournmanents in the mid 2000s. He won in 2003 over Jun Akiyama, in 2004 over Hiroshi Tanahashi, and in 2006 over the man who gave his spot in the tournament to Akiyama his long time tag team partner and friend, Satoshi Kojima. He goes in with the most overt storyline, and has the sentimental backing of being a legend making his final run. Not to mention for long time fans this storyline is almost exactly like Riki Choshu’s miracle 1996 G1 Climax win. For those reasons Hiroyoshi Tenzan has a strong chance of making it out of the A Block.

Tomohiro Ishii

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The Stone Pitbull has held both the NEVER Openweight Championship and the Ring of Honor World Television Championship this year, and made his first ever challenge of the IWGP Heavyweight Title in a MOTYC against Tetsuya Naito. That all said he will not be winning this tournament. Ishii is good for a mid sized show main event, but the Tokyo Dome is a bridge too far. Now does he have a chance for the A block. The fun thing about the G1 is that if say someone from the B block is winning then a guy like Ishii does have a chance to go to the final. It’s not a great chance, and I’d expect Ishii to be in the middle of the pack when it’s all said and done with maybe a win over and Okada or Tanahashi.

Hirooki Goto

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If you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em. Goto failed once again to win the IWGP Title earlier this year, and, to much ridicule from Tetsuya Naito, joined up with the Kazuchika Okada led CHAOS stable. Goto has won many NJPW tournaments in the past including the G1 Climax. He just does not seem to be in any position to get out of the A block this year. One would think he’d have to beat either Tanahashi or Okada to do so and that doesn’t really make much sense at the moment. Although in a certain way Goto winning the whole tournament and then being the first man to lose the Tokyo Dome title shot would be a perfect microcosm of his whole career.

Bad Luck Fale

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No chance really. I’ve been surprised by how they’ve used Fale since the exodus early this year. I thought he’d end up as Tama Tonga’s regular partner instead of Tonga’s brother. Fale works well as a giant monster heel against certain. Mostly Hiroshi Tanahashi. They have good matches with each other. They’ve not done much with Fale so I mean he’ll get a few wins here, but firmly in the middle of the pack.

Tama Tonga

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He has been a big disappointment this year. He always looks like a solid guy with real potential if he ever got an actual push. For the first seven months of this year he was given that real push. He and his brother were the IWGP Tag Team Champions from February until earlier this month when they lost them to Jay and Mark Briscoe. It was an unmitigated disaster. Haku’s son had one bad match after another that was met with complete indifference by the NJPW fans. Without his brother as an excuse this is really his last chance to show something. No way in the world he wins the block, but he has a real, and probably final, opportunity here.

SANADA

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Trying and failing to catch on in the United States Seiya Sanada returned to Japan as a freelancer most notably working for Big Japan. At Invasion Attack he was revealed as the newest member of Los Ingobernables de Japon where he helped Naito defeat Okada for the IWGP Title. Lately he has been embroiled in a feud with Yoshi-Hashi. Yoshi-Hashi has taken umbrage with SANADA just walking into NJPW while Yoshi-Hashi has had to pay his dues. SANADA has mostly dominated Yoshi-Hashi, but Yoshi-Hashi has gotten a couple of high profile wins over SANADA. SANADA is not winning the block, but this is a great opportunity for him to shine in high profile matches with several great workers and move his way up in the pecking order.

Naomichi Marufuji

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The ace of Pro Wrestling NOAH. This is his second entry into the G1 tournament. He will do much better than a lot of western fans expect I sense. During the entry announcement video he got one of the biggest pops, and whenever Okada does personal appearances a match with Marufuji consistently is mentioned by the fans. As a matter of fact I fully expect Marufuji to defeat Okada setting up a title match between the two either in September or October. Marufuji has a good chance of making it out of the A block. Especially since I have him pegged for a win over Okada and he has defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi in the past. At the very least he will go into the final A block night in Sumo Hall with a chance to advance.

Kazuchika Okada

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Only twice has the IWGP Heavyweight Champion  won the G1 Climax. In 1995 IWGP Heavyweight Champion Keiji Muto defeated Shinya Hashimoto and in 2000 IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kensuke Sasaki beat Manabu Nakanishi. However, if you then look at their next respective title challengers, well sort of in Sasaki’s case, you see that they were being set up for strong outsiders. In Muto’s case it was UWFi ace Nobuhiko Takada, and in Sasaki’s it was AJPW’s Toshiaki Kawada. There are no outsiders that fit that bill these days in NJPW. So it stands to reason that Okada will not be taking home the trophy. However, what of his block chances. He is in the main event of the last day of A block action in arguably the biggest round robin match against Hiroshi Tanahashi which is a tip off that he’ll at least be in the mix on the last day. There is the issue of wasting what will be the likely Tokyo Dome main event on a show that has already sold out making it a bit less likely Okada makes it to the final.

Hiroshi Tanahashi

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The defending champion is coming into this tournament with a limp wing. Shoulder and biceps injuries kept him out of the big ladder match at Dominion, and looking at pictures you can see one arm is much smaller than the other and sorta misshapen. So who knows he can physically even make it to the end.  While it makes little sense to set up another Tanahashi vs Okada match on 1/4/17 it does make sense for a B block guy, Naito most likely, to beat Tanahashi in route to the victory. This makes Tanahashi a strong favorite to make it out of the A block, but not so much to win the whole thing.

 

A Block Predictions

7.18

Togi Makabe over Tama Tonga

Hirooki Goto over Bad Luck Fale

Tomohiro Ishii over Hiroyoshi Tenzan

Hiroshi Tanahashi over SANDA

Naomichi Marufuji over Kazuchika Okada

 

7.23

Hiroyoshi Tenzan over Tama Tonga

Naomichi Marufuji over Bad Luck Fale

Tomohiro Ishii over Hirooki Goto

SANADA over Kazuchika Okada

Hiroshi Tanahashi over Togi Makabe

 

7.25

Bad Luck Fale over Tomohiro Ishii

Hiroyoshi Tenzan over Naomichi Marufuji

Hiroshi Tanahashi over Tama Tonga

Kazuchika Okada over Hirooki Goto

Togi Makabe over SANADA
7.28

Hiroyoshi Tenzan over Togi Makabe

Kazuchika Okada over Tama Tonga

Hiroshi Tanahashi over Bad Luck Fale

SANADA over Hirooki Goto

Naomichi Marufuji over Tomohiro Ishii

 

7.31

Bad Luck Fale over SANADA

Tama Tonga over Tomohiro Ishii

Hiroyoshi Tenzan over Kazuchika Okada

Naomichi Marufuji over Togi Makabe

Hiroshi Tanahashi over Hirooki Goto

 

8.3

Naomichi Marufuji over SANADA

Tama Tonga over Hirooki Goto

Bad Luck Fale over Hiroyoshi Tenzan

Kazuchika Okada over Togi Makabe

Tomohiro Ishii over Hiroshi Tanahashi

 

8.6

Tama Tonga over SANADA

Hirooki Goto over Hiroyoshi Tenzan

Togi Makabe over Bad Luck Fale

Kazuchika Okada over Tomohiro Ishii

Hiroshi Tanahashi over Tomohiro Ishii

 

8.8

Naomichi Marufuji over Tama Tonga

Hiroyoshi Tenzan over Hiroshi Tanahashi

Kazuchika Okada over Bad Luck Fale

Togi Makabe over Hirooki Goto

SANADA over Tomohiro Ishii

 

8.12

Tama Tonga over Bad Luck Fale

Hiroyoshi Tenzan over SANADA

Togi Makabe over Tomohiro Ishii

Kazuchika Okada over Hiroshi Tanahashi

Hirooki Goto over Naomichi Marufuj

Block A Winner: Hiroyoshi Tenzan

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