And now our look at the other half of the bracket of this year’s G1 Climax
Every year tons of people pick Shibata. Even Kenta Kobashi on twitter picked Shibata to win this tournament. He has picked him for the last 3 years. He never comes close. Western fans have been screaming for a Shibata push as long as New Japan has been a going concern starting with the uStream era. He is on his way to that push with his signing an actual contract, and the WWE raid. Shibata just finished up a feud with the New Japan dads blowing it off by beating Nagata to regain the NEVER Title. Problem for Shibata is that it feels like such a done deal that Tetsuya Naito is coming out of the B Block that it is hard to countenance a real shot for Shibata. Next year feels like his year.
Speaking of the New Japan dads here is their leader. He was great in that role as the final boss Shibata had to overcome in his feud with the dads. Listen he has no shot to win the block, but he’ll have really good matches with everyone. He is much like Liger in that even at their age they really can still go even if they don’t get as big a push as they used to. He is one to watch for entertaining matches, but not one to watch for the sporting nature of plausible winners.
The last two G1s were all about Honma maybe finally possibly getting a win. He defeated Tomohiro Ishii in a Korakuen main event to put a pin in that story. Since then he and Makabe won the World Tag League and the IWGP Tag Titles at the Tokyo Dome. However, he has always been sort of a shady dude which led to his firing not too long ago by NJPW. Last year a story of domestic abuse emerged regarding Honma. Nothing came of it put I have personally found it hard to be as into Honma as I was before. No shot at winning the block.
#BigMike. The current IWGP Intercontinental Champion has found a home in NJPW. He was floundering before last year’s G1 Climax. People were upset he was announced to be in the tournament. He went on to be a breakout star in the tournament. He is in the mold of Scott Norton or Buzz Sawyer in Japan. A barrel chested white dude tossing people around. He earned himself a contract with New Japan and it really is the perfect place for him. As IC Champ he will do well with a few strategic loses sprinkled in to set up future challengers. Maybe a second or third place finish in the B block.
The resident troll of NJPW. Has been spending his time in NOAH lately where he is one half of the GHC Tag Team Champions with Naomichi Marufuji. He is not winning the block, but he will get at least one big upset. He will have matches far more fun than you expect. You need a guy like Yano in a tournament like this. Like a palette cleanser. He is also a welcome addition in my book.
The former IWGP Heavyweight Champion, leader of Los Ingobernables de Japon, and the odds on favorite to win the 26th G1 Climax. His transformation from the white bread babyface Stardust Genius to the hottest act in pro wrestling has been especially fun to watch. I called for a heel turn for years when he was rejected after returning from knee surgery. He is so perfect in his role. He plays it so well. He is ostensibly a heel because the fans turned on him so he stopped caring. Then the fans started cheering him. He has done nothing to solicit cheers, but has said in promos that any wrestler who says he doesn’t like being cheered is a liar. That’s so much better than the usually hackneyed cheap heat heel mocking the fans cheering him. His stable is the coolest in wrestling. He has Tokyo Dome main event written all over him in a way he did not when he lost the fan vote to Tanahashi and Nakamura almost 3 years ago. Will he take his second G1 trophy home? Tranquilo.
King of Darkness Evil
The gimmick is a bit goofy, but he has gotten so good in the ring. A member of Los Ingobernables de Japon. He and Naito are going to have a match that will has a high probability of being one of the top highlights of the tournament. He’ll be middle of the pack, but he has a good shot at being one of the breakout stars of this tournament.
He doesn’t even want to be here. Omega and the Young Bucks are so over the top in their blatantness of wanting to be in WWE right now I have a hard time giving caring about any of them. Probably be their near the end since he and Naito main event the last night of the round robin. He’ll lose to Naito and then he can go back to obnoxiously setting up feuds for himself in another promotion he’d rather be working in.
The “adopted son” of Kensuke Sasaki and Akira Hokuto made his wrestling debut when he was 2 years old I think. Or maybe 14 years old. One or the other. He wrestled for New Japan in the mid 2000s when Kensuke was there, but hasn’t worked there since after Kensuke and NJPW had a falling out over Riki Choshu. Long story short Kensuke worked for Choshu in a short lived promotion and it ended badly. NJPW bringing Choshu back angered Kensuke so he left and took his guys with him. Nakajima is a great worker. He had an amazing rivalry with KENTA. Nakajima is my pick for the breakout star of this tournament. Already people are salivating over his match with Katsuyori Shibata. He will do well, but not finish near the top. Hopefully he kills it to the point NJPW brings him in full time.
The fans choice. The fans in Japan were very upset that Yoshi-Hashi was left out of last year’s G1. He has grown in the ring in the last few years, and while not on the Ishii or Honma level of worker he is in that mold of the underdog the fans have all rallied behind. Listen he is going to be near the bottom of this block, but he will be a fun addition and the pop he will get in those victory will be amazing.
B Block Predictions
Kenny Omega over Yoshi-Hashi
Katsuhiko Nakajima over Toru Yano
Michael Elgin over EVIL
Katsuyori Shibata over Tomoaki Honma
Tetsuya Naito over Yuji Nagata
Toru Yano over Kenny Omega
Tetsuya Naito over Michael Elgin
EVIL over Yuji Nagata
Yoshi-Hashi over Tomoaki Honma
Katsuhiko Nakajima over Katsuyori Shibata
EVIL over Katsuhiko Nakajima
Kenny Omega over Tomoaki Honma
Yuji Nagata over Yoshi-Hashi
Katsuyori Shibata over Michael Elgin
Tetsuya Naito over Toru Yano
Yoshi-Hashi over EVIL
Toru Yano over Tomoaki Honma
Katsuhiko Nakajima over Yuji Nagata
Tetsuya Naito over Katsuyori Shibata
Kenny Omega over Michael Elgin
Kenny Omega over EVIL
Toru Yano over Katsuyori Shibata
Michael Elgin over Yuji Nagata
Tetsuya Naito over Tomoaki Honma
Katsuhiko Nakajima over Yoshi-Hashi
Yuji Nagata over Toru Yano
Tomoaki Honma over EVIL
Katsuhiko Nakajima over Tetsuya Naito
Katsuyori Shibata over Kenny Omega
Michael Elgin over Yoshi-Hashi
Michael Elgin over Toru Yano
Kenny Omega over Yuji Nagata
Katsuyori Shibata over Yoshi-Hashi
Katsuhiiko Nakajima over Tomoaki Honma
Tetsuya Naito over EVIL
EVIL over Toru Yano
Tetsuya Naito over Yoshi-Hashi
Kenny Omega over Katsuhiko Nakajima
Katsuyori Shibata over Yuji Nagata
Michael Elgin over Tomoaki Honma
Yoshi-Hashi over Toru Yano
Michael Elgin over Katsuhiko Nakajima
Yuji Nagata over Tomoaki Honma
Tetsuya Naito over Kenny Omega
Katsuyori Shibata over EVIL
Block B Winner: Tetsuya Naito
G1 Climax Final
Tetsuya Naito over Hiroyoshi Tenzan