You can find every card and start time plus more information on the 2016 G1 Climax by following this link.
I get beyond excited every year when the summer rolls around. It’s time for the hottest wrestling stretch of the summer: the New Japan Pro-Wrestling G1 Climax tournament. To go over the basics, this tournament pits some of the best in the world along with the rest of the NJPW roster (plus outsiders) against each other. This tournament is 19 shows long with alternating block nights. What that means is we have Block A’s show then Block B’s. The other block that aren’t in the tournament matches will be showcased on the undercard in multi-man tag matches. After 19 shows that will get painful but for the first while it isn’t bad. Tama Tonga and YOSHI-HASHI were standouts on the undercards during the 2015 G1, and they are now both in the tournament. Who will standout this year? What are the matches I’m most and least looking forward to? You’re in the right place. Here is Wrestling With Words’ preview of the G1 Climax.
Togi Makabe: Ugh. I don’t care for Togi Makabe in the G1 Climax, ever. As time goes on Togi Makabe will forever remain an entrant until he retires. He has a job for life and is one of the most popular wrestlers on the roster. I’m sure you’ve heard of sweets and his daytime TV antics, as he has his own show. Makabe is filler on every card to us hardcore’s, unless you’re a Makabe fan. Then good for you! The inevitable Ishii spectacle will be entertaining at the very least, SANADA and Marufuji bring fresh matchups to Makabe’s table – and lastly the match vs. Okada could be good because of Okada. Makabe won’t have an impressive tournament as usual but he’s the popular utility guy. Acceptable. He’s in the weak block anyways.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan: Tenzan has declaired that he is going to win this year’s tournament, as he took Kojima’s spot. He’s been #blessed with this opportunity. Big match Tenzan is very well a thing that is going to happen on more than one occasion. His matches vs. Tanahashi and Styles in last year’s tournament are a testament to what he can still do. However it will be a spotty tournament for Tenzan as his body continues to break down and the dates get harder to make. Tenzan has the spirit of a warrior however and his health still remains in-tact. He only gets more older and questionable as a full time performer. A lot of Tenzan matches should be a good time.
Tomohiro Ishii: Now we’re speaking my language. Tomohiro Ishii during any given G1 the past few years could be considered a crazy ass man, a legendary bump taker, a man that powered through every injury given to him and an elite tier seller. Oh also one of the best wrestlers in the world. The G1 tends to raise Ishii’s stock tenfold which already is worth a lot on the wrestling landscape. Ishii makes magic with whoever is in the ring with him for the most part. Something the majority of us fans will die for: Ishii vs. SANADA is going to be a highlight of the tournament. Ishii vs. Marufuji could be a rare REALLY good Marufuji match. That and all the mainstays makes for a killer looking tournament for Ishii. And once again, this dude is in the *bad* block.
Hirooki Goto: All aboard the Dustin Spencer-Hirooki Goto hype train. I look forward to podcasting with Dustin, but more so analyzing another Goto G1 Climax run. Dustin is the biggest propriitor of Goto’s come G1 time and it will be interesting to see what happens this time around – as Goto is in the weak block, working with “lesser” opponents. Not to mention that Goto has had an above average year mostly due to him joining CHAOS and working the Ingobernables (EVIL in singles, trios, etc). Once again SANADA and Marufuji could be interesting matchups for Goto. Goto vs. Marufuji possibly provides the most mysterious matchup on paper in the entire tournament. That could flop or excel in big ways. That sentence in itself can be used to predict Goto’s G1 run this year. We won’t know till the time comes.
Bad Luck Fale: Fale isn’t thaaaatttt bad, guys! When the G1 rolls around Fale is a convenient switch-up for a block. He makes matches interesting regardless if you like his in ring work or not. Most importantly we will get the insane Tanahashi and Okada matches. For that I thank the “bad” block. Even a Tonga/Fale match could be an intriguing clash after what we saw happened last year when Fale faced Styles, a fellow Bullet Club member. I can’t see Fale being terrible but he certainty won’t be a breakout star or anything. A solid constant that could surprise us. My expectations are low, and that is the best way to treat someone like Fale. He may end up delivering.
Tama Tonga: When he isn’t in an awful tag team with his brother, Tama Tonga is fantastic. Tonga is a great worker as showcased recently in his Mexico mini-excursion and all throughout this last year and a bit. Tonga’s fully motivated and a slot in the G1 boosts morale a lot. Tonga has a lot of interesting matchups to work with and I have faith that he will make the most of his time in the tournament. Matches with fresh blood like SANADA and Marufuji could turn out well. The big matches are Okada and Tanahashi obviously. But it’s COMPLETELY fresh like we’ve never seen. A fully matured Tonga vs. Okada and Tanahashi will be stuff of epic proportions. I am incredibly excited for Tonga in this field, even if it’s in the weaker block. He will help elevate the A Block.
SANADA: From the Ikkitosen Strong Climb to debuting in Sumo Hall and now the G1 Climax. 2016 has been a helluva year for Seiya (SANADA). The Ingobernables member is arguably who I’m most excited for this time around in the G1. SANADA is a world class worker who makes anyone he works with look like money. He’s the main reason I’ve turned around on YOSHI-HASHI for example. The SANADA vs. Okada and Tanahashi matches will be out of this world. I could even see them being MOTYCs. New never before seen guys in New Japan matches like a Sanada vs. Marufuji in the G1 could peak interest. SANADA working with the others in the block, especially Ishii and the other matches will solidify an amazing G1 for the former Keiji Mutoh protege. Ecstatic isn’t enough to describe my feelings regarding SANADA in the G1.
Naomichi Marufuji: I need to smarten the hell up. I’ve done more putting over of Marufuji than I have burying. All jokes aside, I’m not looking forward to Marufuji in the G1 Climax. There are a set few matches I know will be minimum good, but that’s because of the magnitude of opponent and pressure put on Marufuji. The rest can be thrown in the nearest garbage bin. I am not one to judge or automatically assume things, but at this point it is so hard to put faith in Marufuji. Not only is he the worst guy on offense in wrestling but he is awful at laying out matches. We all know that Okada match is going to a time limit draw. And honestly who REALLY wants to see Marufuji and Tanahashi on the ground for 15 minutes? Ugh. None the less, it’ll be a thing. Marufuji’s G1 will damn sure be a thing we have to take in. Let’s pray for the best.
Kazuchika Okada: Superman Okada comes to the rescue. For Kazuchika Okada, it’s best you set your expectations high. Because that’s what everyone will be doing come the G1 Climax. He’s in the prime of his career and he’s bound to deliver against multiple guys. He also will pull out good-great matches from Fale, Tenzan and Makabe. Hopefully that is. Okada is the big dog who wants to win the G1 as champ, something he hasn’t done. The buzz is all about the G1 finals and a potential rematch vs. Tetusya Naito, but I’m unsure it’s going that way if they do the Wrestle Kingdom main event with them. Match quality alone, Okada will have at minimum a good tournament. The possibilities regarding booking are as interesting as ever. Could Fale, SANADA, or even Marufuji garner an upset? We ALL know however that it will come down to the August 12 match. Okada vs. Tanahashi. I’ll save my thoughts on that match for the next G1 preview. The man below…
Hiroshi Tanahashi: In a typical year you may see Hiroshi Tanahashi win some type of championship, get some type of injury, rest for a period of time, but the only certain is that he will deliver in the G1. Tanahashi is arguably the best big match performer on the planet and has been for some time. How that factors into the G1 Climax is the fact that there are multiple big main events throughout the tour for the A Block. Tanahashi will be in the majority of them against all types of opponents. Tanahashi must deliver against NOAH’s former ace, smaller guys, giants and long-time rivals. Tanahashi’s G1 will be filled with ups and downs, but we all know he will deliver in prime situations and come out on top with all them High Fly Flows. Now the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The match vs. Okada on August 12 will decide the block. It will be the next chapter in what’s arguably one of the greatest in-ring feuds EVER and definitely the best in-ring feud this decade. It doesn’t matter who will win, because the likely MOTYC will captivate everyone and cause polarizing debates and cheering for each guy. In a word I can only use to describe it: it will be lit.
The A Block of the 2016 G1 Climax is by far the weaker of the two. However we still have tons of combinations to look forward to and big match performers to come up huge throughout the tour. Although this is considered the lesser of two placings, this block still contains Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii and SANADA. It also contains potential bloomers like Tama Tonga, Naomichi Marufuji and the ever so polarizing Hirooki Goto. Togi Makabe and Hiroyoshi Tenzan provide veteran presence.
Top 5 Matches I’m Looking Forward To
Kazuchika Okada vs. SANADA on July 23
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii on August 3
Kazuchika Okada vs. Tomohiro Ishii on August 6
Tomohiro Ishii vs. SANADA on August 8
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada on August 12
These Might Not Be Good
Naomichi Marufuji vs. Bad Luck Fale on July 23
Togi Makabe vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan on July 28
Togi Makabe vs. Naomichi Marufuji on July 31
Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Bad Luck Fale on August 3
Katsuyori Shibata: This might be the year Katsuyori Shibata finally does it. However that’s been said in years past. Double however! Shibata’s on the largest wave of momentum ever and has finally cleared the air with his da’s. Shibata is also the current NEVER Openweight Champ and doesn’t seem to be losing it anytime soon. Shibata has a tough field to get through though. With that comes the mark-out meter breaking at all of the matchups that will be happening. I take a look at the entire field, and this goes for everyone but most importantly Shibata, every match seems legitimately great on paper. We also get INSANE matchups like EVIL, Omega, Nakajima and Elgin – plus Naito. This could be an all time great G1 run for Shibata as last year he mounted up great match after great match. He had two out of this world bouts vs. AJ Styles and Kota Ibushi. You can place anyone from this field, yes, even Toru Yano given his G1 track record in those “vs. slots” and you’ve got an ongoing amazing run for Katsuyori Shibata this year. I cannot WAIT.
Yuji Nagata: I am of the majority that still enjoys everything Yuji Nagata does. When I first got into puroresu, Yuji Nagata was one of my original favorites. In a field like this, I am going to be increasingly repetitive as we run through the names. I don’t see a bad match happening with Yuji Nagata vs. anyone in this field. MAYBE Toru Yano’s matchup could be considered “bad” but that would most likely be somebody overreacting to a flash finish at the 0:37 mark. We have storyline intertwining with Shibata being in the same block and that rematch happening. The Nagata match I’m most looking forward to is against Kenny Omega. How wild is that on paper? Nagata is going to have a great G1 because of all his opponents. There’s not much else to say. Blue Justice won’t prevail, but Nagata will pick up some wins along the way.
Tomoaki Honma: Tomoaki Honma solidified himself as a cult hero in the 2014 G1 Climax, losing every single match. In 2015’s tournament he managed to beat Tomohiro Ishii! This year I expect a split in the wins and losses column for Honma, but he definitely won’t go winless nor win the whole thing. Honma is a great utility player in the tournament, with hopes and dreams fluctuating with every match. There are so many matchups that live crowds and us watching at home will eat up. You can believe Honma can beat someone like Nagata or YOSHI-HASHI. But will those accurately be the wins he gets? Maybe he’ll get an upset over someone else bigger. Regardless, Honma is set up to have yet another great tournament. The matchups are either reoccurring, fun and fresh. That’s all I can ask for.
Michael Elgin: After Big Mike proved all the doubters wrong last year, he looks to have an even better tournament this time around. Elgin is the perfect fit for a block like this. I am excited for every single matchup. There are storyline-based ones like Omega, but then we get HUGE never before seen matchups like KATSUYORI SHIBATA! That is going to be on the same level as the remarkable Ishii match from last year. We also get rematches like Tomoaki Honma. Elgin has another hoss to fight, champions to clash with and slot-ins that are proven to be able to have super fun matches in the tournament. All the doubters know Elgin can deliver and this will be his time to prove he’s meant to be a puroresu all-star – cementing his place in an all time great block with MOTYC matches on paper.
Toru Yano: Toru Yano always proves people wrong during the G1 Climax. Sure we may get some short matches, but he comes out and plays in ways we aren’t able to see him do throughout the rest of the year. Much like what Ryusuke Taguchi brings to the Best of the Super Juniors, Toru Yano will WRESTLE. His match against AJ Styles last year was amazing. The best thing about the G1 is unpredictability. Not only can Yano work and have all these different dynamic matches against different guys, but he adds in his usual tricks. Whether or not a match will go 0:37 or 17 minutes with a huge brawl, Yano will mix things up and have another under the radar tournament. The key to a tournament is also variety. Toru Yano is the perfect mix of someone who should always be in this tournament. YTR = successful G1.
Tetsuya Naito: To quote Canadian legend Drake, Tetsuya Naito is “lookin’ for revennnggeeee, all summer ’16, all summer ’16, all dirty not clean.” To those who think I did that just because I’m a millennial, you are only have right. It literally depicts Naito’s G1 in the best way. He’s all dirty, all Ingobernable, looking to nut-shot whoever comes in his way – using his squad to his advantage as he looks to get out of this ridiculous all time great block. He’s looking for revenge vs. Kazuchika Okada and CHAOS after they took his title. It’s all summer ’16 during the G1 Climax, culminating in the finals where he’s likely to be representing this very block. Naito is going to have a great G1 much like everybody else in this block. I don’t expect him to be the best worker in the block because of limitations via gimmick, but the entertainment value is going to be prevalent – taking the “money’s worth” value and shooting it through the roof. I can only see the block coming down to Shibata and this man. Naito is taking the Ingobernables to the finals. Unless if Shibata grinds that Dome rematch dream to a halt.
EVIL: Speaking of Ingobernables members, EVIL is a first time entrant into the tournament. After returning from the mostly-failed excursion last year and COMPLETELY improving as time went on, EVIL is going to be one of the best guys in this tournament. There’s no doubting such as the breakout matches are all on tap, and EVIL is someone who thrives off of different environment. I hope he does the baseball chair spot in every single match so it can be a wildcard trivia question 10 years down the line. There are many fresh matchups as aforementioned but the most intriguing one is the one vs. Naito. Will there be a finger poke of doom? Will EVIL somehow overpower and subsequently upset his leader? The excitement is at an all time high for a first time entrant. EVIL is going to impress and then some, leaving his big ass hoss mark on the 2016 G1 Climax field.
Kenny Omega: Holy shit man. Kenny Omega is in the G1 Climax. This is what dreams are made of, brothers and sisters. I’ve been waiting for this for so long and was hoping this would be the case last year. Omega is the perfect addition to this all star block, giving us the most intriguing match lineup out of any competitor. Omega facing everyone one-on-one in this type of setting has folks salivating at the mouth. Omega vs. Shibata is a matchup unlike we’ve ever seen from the two. That will be a spectacle and a potential MOTYC. We also have god damn Nakajima vs. Omega which has never happened. The rematch vs. Elgin, the match vs. Naito (heel vs. heel, two major heel stable leaders collide) along with everything else is destined for greatness. I can see Omega placing a solid third but not winning the tournament. It is much too early for that and would literally blow everyone’s minds. I wish Minoru Suzuki was in this tournament so we could see another Suzuki vs. Bullet Club high stakes G1 match. I am NOT complaining whatsoever, as Omega is set up for an insanely fun G1.
YOSHI-HASHI: I used to despise Mr. Tacos, but he’s come a long way. Being a standout of the 2015 G1 undercard tags, HASHI has more than earned his spot here. What’s sad is that SANADA is in a separate block. Although that is completely logical, that robs us of another HASHI/SANADA match. That in itself is feud of the year type of stuff, with many inner-layering’s to the CHAOS vs. Ingobernables feud. YOSHI-HASHI has a chip on his shoulder with a lot to prove. It will be intriguing to see how HASHI works many people in this block. The YOSHI-HASHI/Shibata match will be like human pinball, but imagine if HASHI got an upset over him. Scenes. Back to reality, I’m fully on board with YOSHO-HASHI and fully expect him to, like Tama Tonga, make the most out of his time in the tournament. Even though the win column will go on a drout, the performances put in against everyone will be unmatched. HASHI has the heart of a warrior and will no doubt put on great match after great match with everyone.
Katsuhiko Nakajima: I never once thought I’d be previewing a KATSUHIKO NAKAJIMA G1 run. First off, watch his match against Katsuyori Shibata from Big Mouth Loud as a fun prelude to their tournament match. Also to see what he can do. That was young Nakajima! Now watch his February 2016 match vs. Minoru Suzuki. Nakajima is another Shibata type. He is stiff as hell and will stop at nothing to beat you. Nakajima adds a breath of fresh air into this tournament and block … and then some. This is why this block is so great. We have storylines. We have rematches. We have fresh matches in and of themselves. THEN WE HAVE EVERYONE DOING MATCHES AGAINST KATSUHIKO NAKAJIMA. Literally no one thought this would be a possibility. This will be a breakout tournament for Nakajima, for those to see what he’s capable of. To see how stiff he can be (vs. Shibata, vs. EVIL) and to see all the unique possibilities that come with a GOOD NOAH entrant. I am so glad Nakajima is in this block and Marufuji isn’t. Point being, holy shit this is absolutely incredible and why I love puroresu.
That is all why I think the B Block of the 2016 G1 Climax is an all time great one. To me, at least, there is no weak link. When I read through every single match on the card listings, there is not one bad match to my eye. Everything has potential, there is some hidden gems bundled up in the mix and then there are matches that are confirmed to be out of this world. I am so thankful Gedo put together this block. This is the all star team of NJPW/puroresu for match quality. We will more than take what we can get. We will mark out over what we can get. And in this case I wouldn’t ask for a better B Block. Through all the possibilities, matchups and more. All I can say is that this collection of performers is why I love wrestling.
Top 5 Matches I’m Looking Forward To
Katsuyori Shibata vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima on July 24
Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kenny Omega on August 4
Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Kenny Omega on August 10
Tetsuya Naito vs. Kenny Omega on August 13
Katsuyori Shibata vs. EVIL on August 13
These Might Not Be Good
Everything is going to be minimum good because this is an all time great block!
Well there you have it. My huge, well, probably way too huge G1 Climax preview is in the books. I hope you enjoyed my analysis. Be sure to stick with Wrestling With Words for coverage of the 2016 G1 Climax. Dustin Spencer and I will be doing a podcast after every show, as we’re proud to announce our annual tradition beginning this year: D&T Block: The G1 Podcast. We’ll catch you throughout the tournament!