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By Austin Grinnell @WolfmanAustin13
We are down to the final matches in the 27th G1 Climax tournament now, and after a grueling first sixteen days, there are only two matches that really matter in the grand scheme of things. The final three days run on August 11th, 12th and 13th, with a sprint to the finish.
-The August 11th show is headlined by IWGP Intercontinental Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi facing off with Tetsuya Naito in a rematch from their bout at Dominion on June 11th, when Tanahashi defeated Naito for the belt. Both men are coming into this match with 12 points in Block A, but I fully expect Naito to get the win here, as he is on his way towards the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, and can get his win and momentum back over Tanahashi here without the Intercontinental Title being a consideration. I never had any doubt that this year was Naito’s to win, but it has been a fun ride watching him tear it up with the other wrestlers in A Block.
-The 11th will also see the return to New Japan of several faces that have been absent from the G1 Climax tour, as Bullet Club welcomes back the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, The Young Bucks, along with “The American Nightmare” Cody, Hangman Page and the second half of the Guerillas of Destiny, Tanga Roa.
-New Japan members Ricochet and the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions War Machine are also returning to the promotion here, as they will team up with Michael Elgin and the Coach of Taguchi Japan, Ryusuke Taguchi, to take on Bullet Club in ten man tag team action.
-August 12th will see the big main event, as IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada (with 13 points) meets his rival Kenny Omega (with 12 points), to decide who advances to the G1 Climax Final on August 13th. The story so far, has been that Omega presents the greatest threat in New Japan to Okada’s championship reign, but that Omega just cannot seem to hit Okada with his finishing move, the One Winged Angel. After a brutal series of bouts that may have exhausted the champion though, now may be the time for Omega to finally get that singles victory over The Rainmaker.
I believe that the smart money here is on Naito defeating Tanahashi, and Omega finally besting Okada, with Naito Vs Omega being the main event for August 13th in the finals. I feel like that outcome opens up the most possibilities for the promotion on the road to Wrestle Kingdom, January 4th from the Tokyo Dome.
The winner of the G1 Climax is tentatively set to face the IWGP Heavyweight Champion at Wrestle Kingdom, though the promotion has added the wrinkle of awarding the winner a briefcase with the contract for that match, and the contract itself can and has been defended in the past. Naito winning the G1 Climax would almost certainly cement his spot for Wrestle Kingdom, while giving Okada three big championship defenses in the months leading to January 4th.
EVIL and Kenny Omega would have victories over Okada, which would give them heavy consideration for championship matches, with King of Pro Wrestling in October and the Power Struggle show in November. It isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility that Okada advances to face Tetsuya Naito in the final of the G1 Climax, but unless New Japan has a completely different plan in place for Wrestle Kingdom, I cannot see them giving away the main event to their biggest show of the year, with little hype… especially considering that the G1 Climax itself is a large enough draw to ensure ticket sales and New Japan World viewership.
Naito Vs Omega doesn’t have the same intrigue as Naito Vs Okada, or even Okada Vs Omega, right now, but it doesn’t need to have that same level of intrigue, because it’s the G1 Climax Final. Even without the storyline build-up, Naito Vs Omega should be a contender for match of the tournament if that is indeed the direction that the company goes.
-IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion KUSHIDA returns to the promotion on the August 12th show, along with three guys from Suzuki-gun, with TAKA Michinoku, Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Takashi Iizuka re-joining their faction-mates for the first time in over a month.
-There are only three matches set for the August 13th final show. Obviously, the G1 Climax Final is one of those three. The other two matches announced will see both the Heavyweight and Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships defended in matches featuring Bullet Club. First off, War Machine will defend the Heavyweight Tag Team Titles against Cody & Hangman Page, while the team of Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet try to take the Junior Heavyweight belts away from The Young Bucks, who just recently dethroned the now-split Roppongi Vice for their sixth reign as champions.
-It’s going to be a difficult, but fun, 72 hours as I try to avoid spoilers for the final two shows, and have them both viewed in time to set up my chromecast and New Japan World for live viewing of what should be a tremendous final night!
This will be my last New Japan update prior to the finals of the tournament, so I hope everyone enjoys. For the next update, I’d really like to get some Q & A going, so if you have any questions about New Japan Pro-Wrestling, whether you need some facts or just want my opinion, hit me up on Twitter @WolfmanAustin13 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and your questions can be featured in upcoming New Japan updates here on Kayfabe Today.