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NJPW G1 Climax 31.


The Natural
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  • 2 weeks later...
Spoiler

A BLOCK

Kota Ibushi (7th entry, 5th consecutive, 2019, 2020 winner)

Shingo Takagi (3rd entry, 3rd consecutive, IWGP World Heavyweight Champion (as of writing))

Tetsuya Naito (12th entry, 12th consecutive, 2013, 2017 winner)

Zack Sabre Jr. (5th entry, 5th consecutive)

Great-O-Khan (debut entry)

Toru Yano (16th entry, 15th consecutive)

Tomohiro Ishii (9th entry, 9th consecutive)

KENTA (3rd entry, 3rd consecutive)

Tanga Loa (debut entry)

Yujiro Takahashi (8th entry, 2nd consecutive)

Spoiler

B Block

Hiroshi Tanahashi (20th entry, 20th consecutive, 2007, 2015, 2018 winner, IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion)

Kazuchika Okada (10th entry, 10th consecutive, 2012, 2014 winner)

Hirooki Goto (14th entry, 14th consecutive, 2008 winner)

YOSHI-HASHI (5th entry, 2nd consecutive)

SANADA (6th entry, 6th consecutive)

Taichi (3rd entry, 3rd consecutive)

Jeff Cobb (3rd entry, 3rd consecutive)

EVIL (6th entry, 6th consecutive)

Tama Tonga (4th entry, 1st in three years)

Chase Owens (debut entry)

 

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Block A looks like it'll be the more interesting and better match-wise one. I do understand this is the best they could do considering everything. Should be some good stuff, but it's getting harder and harder to get excited with 3/4 empty arenas and dead crowds. I'll still do my best to watch everything though haha I'm sure there'll still be some great stuff somewhere.

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Shave the bottom two guys off of each block, and you’ve got a solid tournament, given the limitations. I understand the impulse to throw those guys a bone, but man…that is a LOT of potential Bullet Club BS, every night of the tournament.

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The Bullet Club shenanigans, if not heavily checked, will kill this tournament. Waiting to see the schedule now as it tends to spoil things with the Block finals nights. Owens and Yujiro are total drains but I get why this is the groupings we got. I could see a Khan or Loa break out with strong performances.

I'm guessing Naito or Sanada are winning. Okada is also a threat. Could see Block A end in Naito-Ibushi and Block B Sanada-Okada. Naito-Sanada, winner challenges Shingo. Naito-Okada, how did they avoid that in the last year?

I'll go further, guess Power Struggle:

Shingo vs Naito

Sanada vs EVIL

Tanahashi vs Tama Tonga

DG vs Khan-Cobb

Yano vs Yujiro

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12 hours ago, The Natural said:

Yujiro Takahashi has to be the worst guy in NJPW, right? I think EVIL and SANADA suck. The Guerrillas of Destiny also get on my wick as well but I'd take them all over Takahashi.

I'll take Yujiro over YOSHI-HASHI, Taichi, and Owens. Although it would be better without the four of them. As far as worst in NJPW, Tiger Mask is still around. 

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I'm just so bored with this lineup of guys by this point. I'm sure there will be some good matches but really who cares when it's the same dudes getting pushed year in and year out. I'd put money on Ibushi winning a third straight year so he can "finally" get his big long run with a belt he's been chasing since he went to the finals with Tanahashi however many years ago. 

If Cobb won it would at least be something different but I don't see Takagi vs Cobb doing business at the Dome (although it would be a hell of a match)

Okada vs Takagi I'd like to see again and Okada hasn't won the GI in a long time so that might be my preferred result (plus I just enjoy his work a lot more than Ibushi's). Beyond those options I don't know what you do.

SANADA's work has declined back to his bland AJPW/W1 days. Him and EVIL have that TenKoji kind of vibe where they had a really exciting run as a team but have underdelivered in big singles matches. Naito has just lost too many times after getting big wins, I can't imagine him still having cache in a Dome main event.

Ibushi I will never understand the appeal in beyond him being crazy athletic; I think by the time they turned him heavyweight and started moving him up the card his act was already played out. He's had some great matches with Tanahashi but he's too similar to Tanahashi's clean-cut babyface act without having any of Tanahashi's charisma or personality for me to invest in him as a top guy. There was some intrigue when Omega was still around in having him and Ibushi rekindle their long feud on the main event scene, but since Omega left for AEW there haven't been any opponents besides Tanahashi who can really get anything out of Ibushi other than long matches with lots of finishers and the requisite "in the zone" spot where he goes stone faced and starts stiffing guys because he's "snapped" or whatever (all super cringey since he doesn't have the acting ability or intensity to pull it off, no matter how great his strikes look).

Tanahashi I love but it's just too late in the game for another G1 win, plus him winning a few years ago already felt like his "Last Stand" kinda moment.

I think that covers everyone who conceivably could win? They should have put SHO and YOH in there instead of Yujiro and one of the Gorillas to help get their singles pushes underway. Maybe throw Hiromu in there too and see how he does against all the heavies. 

Edit: I forgot about Taichi, who I'd actually love to see go to the finals and die a valiant death against Okada or whoever. 

Edited by Belgian_Waffle
I forgot about Taichi
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Obviously, the favorites are Okada, Ibushi, and Naito.  Both 2-time winners.  So, if being stale is the issue here, and by the way it most definitely is, well then...

Just give this to Cobb.  

I absolutely loved Shingo and Cobb from Wrestle Kingdom, it's still on my short list of my favorite matches this past year.  It also felt like that match, as epic as it turned out to be, was in fact a beginning of something potentially much bigger, if the New Japan bookers were so inclined to take it in that direction.  Obviously, Shingo rode that momentum from the start of 2021 to where he is now, and Cobb hasn't been far behind in retrospect.  Both guys are also peaking in their respective careers, and are pushing 40.  

In January, most likely you'll have Ospreay on the show, so a match with Okada, Ibushi, or even Naito would work fine and could easily be built up as a top match, likely some hoo-hah concerning the "real title" and whatnot, so if Shingo-Cobb is already slotted in, it will be surrounded by a lot of strong matches.  By January, some AEW involvement could also be factored in, it's still iffy but possible.  

I really wouldn't have any problem with the other candidates since a match with Shingo is pretty much can't miss (unless you're Evil).  Again, great, but predictable.  New Japan needs some further changes to truly feel energized again.  Cobb just wiping everyone out in the G1 would certainly do that, as least for me.  But I don't think I'm alone.  

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Spoiler

BIG JUICE!!!

 

Last 2 matches in all seriousness are well worth a watch. The first two tournament matches were fun but not noteworthy. The Yano match enjoyment really depends on how you feel about his antics. 

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