One of the best periods of time for many wrestling fans came to a close as the G1 Climax 29 ended. Now it’s time to look back and speculate for the stories leading up to Wrestle Kingdom!
The G1 Climax is now behind all of us and we can now sit back and ponder on everything that happened. I suggest we start things off with some of the biggest news coming out of the end of the tournament.
First things first, Kota Ibushi, like many were expecting, ended up winning the tournament, making him the first man to win all three of New Japan’s biggest singles tournaments, alongside the Best of the Super Juniors and the New Japan Cup. The Golden Star, who had officially signed with New Japan earlier this year, now is in the best position to finally achieve what now feels long overdue, in reaching the status of full fledged main eventer and credible Heavyweight champion. While I expressed my doubts concerning the handling of this story in previous articles, notably bringing up Ibushi’s other big story with the Intercontinental championship, he himself in his latest press conference reflected on that, and came up with a very surprising and interesting idea.
If Ibushi manages to defend his G1 contract against KENTA and EVIL, who he lost to during the tournament, and defeat Kazuchika Okada for the Heavyweight championship on January 4th, he would like to face whoever the Intercontinental champion is on the second night in the Tokyo Dome. An idea which sure seems reminiscent of Tetsuya Naito’s latest (and slightly delusional) goal of becoming a double champion. That’s quite interesting considering the special rivalry between the two men, as Ibushi did acknowledge that him making such a proposal was “a little bit of a message” sent to the leader of L.I.J, who was the first one to express such a desire.
Whether or not Ibushi’s suggestion comes forth is still up in the air, and to be honest, I personally wouldn’t bet on it, but who knows ? New Japan has surprised us a lot this year already, and with them running the Tokyo Dome two nights in a row next year, you can be sure of one thing : Big, impactful and possibly even historic things will happen next January. Having one of your top stars leaving the Dome with the two biggest championships in the company would, in theory, absolutely make sense in that aspect.
Speaking of impactful things, on the same night Ibushi won the G1, let’s bring up the other big news of that last G1 night. KENTA, who was teaming with Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI against Bad Luck Fale and the Guerrillas of Destiny, turned his back on his one night partners as Ishii was reaching to him for a tag. Following that, he went on to attack Ishii and delivered the GTS to the Stone Pitbull. However, Katsuyori Shibata, the man who brought KENTA to New Japan was watching and, two years after returning and announcing that “he was alive” following his near career and life ending injury, took matter in his own hands, raiding the ring and knocking his soulmate out, going as far as delivering his signature dropkick to KENTA. However, the Bullet Club trio hadn’t left the ringside area and helped the man who would now become the newest member of the group, and the second most hated man in New Japan Pro Wrestling, as they all attacked Shibata in a chorus of boos, KENTA even hitting Shibata with a Penalty Kick, adding insult to injury.
As some fans have been vocal about their concern regarding the current state of Bullet Club, this addition solves one, if not the faction’s biggest problem. Since Tama Tonga decided he would be focusing on tag team wrestling, only Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi and Hikuleo were the other Heavyweights in BC besides Jay White, with Fale being the only one with some credibility to enter a tournament like the G1 these days, credibility which he is losing year after year in the eyes of fans. Assuming KENTA in Bullet Club remains a thing for long enough, the growing issue of BC lacking a second top Heavyweight behind the Switchblade is now solved. Lastly, KENTA’s first big match as a BC member has been announced, and at Royal Quest, he will face none other than Tomohiro Ishii, for the NEVER Openweight championship. Will KENTA’s treason towards his longtime friend lead him to gold and glory ? We shall see. It surely didn’t help him gaining the respect and love from the New Japan audience, which he was struggling to acquire throughout the G1, so in the end, joining Bullet Club only makes sense in that regard. A bold, yet very interesting and smart move here.
Let’s now finish things off by addressing some slightly minor things I wanted to highlight as well. Let’s keep going with “outsiders”, by starting with Jon Moxley, and specifically his pairing with Shota Umino. What seemed at first like something purely comedic took shape as the Young Lion would now follow the Death Rider’s path, accompanying him throughout the tournament and vowing to learn as much as he can from Mox. It is quite unusual for Young Lions to get such a level of exposure, but it sure confirms the high hopes New Japan has in their trainee, after he competed in the New Japan Cup last March.
Speaking a bit of Moxley himself, he has adapted nicely to what was a new environment for him and looked pretty good throughout the G1, even getting up to five wins in a row to start things off. Now, this was something which I didn’t think was the best decision to make, as it kind of killed some of the unpredictability I expect from the G1.
Secondly, the Junior Heavyweights had their fair share of spotlight in this tournament and they absolutely delivered. Both Will Ospreay and Shingo Takagi proved, besides “only” reaching 8 points, that height and weight was an obstacle Juniors could go over, with Ospreay rocking signature wins over Hiroshi Tanahashi, KENTA and SANADA, making a statement as Junior Heavyweight champion. Shingo as well had his marquee wins, as he managed to claim the victory over Hirooki Goto and NEVER Openweight champion Tomohiro Ishii. Takagi also announced that he would now fight as a Heavyweight, confirming what fans have wanted to see since The Dragon made his debut last October. With his wins, we can fully expect Shingo to target the NEVER championship down the road, and there are legitimate reasons to get excited about this.
Obviously, a lot more happened between SANADA finally beating Okada, EVIL trying to catch-up to his L.I.J partner, Taichi proving his worth notably to Ishii, Lance Archer stepping up big time on a big stage, and so on and so forth. Every year, the G1 not only gives us interesting bits of story when it comes to the main event scene, but let’s not overlook how a good amount of wrestlers get to shine and see progression in their character development.
Allow me to make a quick parallel : Some Manga fans will tell you how much tournament arcs in Shonens can be great when it comes to storytelling and developing characters. New Japan keeps showing that the same can also apply to wrestling, when done right.
This article now comes to its closure. What is YOUR takeaway from this year’s G1 Climax ? Tell me about your favourite matches, stories playing out or anything else occurring throughout this awesome month of wrestling we witnessed.