NJPW G1 Climax 29: Five Questions w/Justin C and The Chairman

Earlier today New Japan Pro Wrestling released the A and B Block competitors for this year’s G1 Climax Tournament. Here is a list of each block:

A Block: Kazuchika Okada, Zack Sabre Jr., Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, KENTA, Will Ospreay, EVIL, Sanada, Bad Luck Fale, Lance Archer

B Block: Tetsuya Naito, Jon Moxley, Juice Robinson, Taichi, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Hirooki Goto, Shingo Takagi, Jay White, Jeff Cobb

And with these announced, Justin C and The Chairman answered five questions about this year’s G1!

What matches are you most looking forward to from each block?

Justin C: The A Block has the set of matches I am most looking forward to. Kota Ibushi and Zack Sabre Jr. had a great match last year. Will Ospreay should put on some great matches in this block. Ospreay and Ibushi should be phenomenal, though I worry going into that match that it could look like Naito vs Ibushi from Dominion.

When it comes to the B Block, I look forward to Naito vs Moxley. Those two both have the give no fucks attitude and I think they will have an entertaining match. And hell, I even am looking forward to Moxley vs Yano for the shenanigans. Yano better bring a pooper scooper to the match. I also think Shingo Takagi and Naito will put on the best match of this block.

The Chairman:

There are quite a few matches from both A and B block I’m looking forward to. Here’s my top picks.

Hands down in Block A the must see match for me is IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada vs Kota Ibushi. It’s been quite some time since these two faced off one on one. To my knowledge they’ve only faced off one on one twice where Okada has both victories over Ibushi (though the second time Ibushi was using his Tiger Mask W persona). Okada and Ibushi both are considered heavy favorites to win the G1 and I could see this match either taking place on opening night or the final night of A block. A win for Ibushi would more than likely guarantee him a title shot against Okada. A win for Okada further cements his legacy of being one of the best ever to wrestle in NJPW.

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi. Ibushi’s name comes up again, but when you have a match between the two men from last year’s G1 Climax final, you’re going to circle that date. I would personally have this match take place on opening night, but that’s just me. You know Ibushi wants to avenge his loss to the Ace last year. Tana of course defeated Ibushi to win the G1 Climax and eventually defeated Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Even though the Ace is slowing down, he’s always a threat every time he gets in the ring.

Evil vs Sanada. You don’t get to watch one of the top tag teams in NJPW wrestle each other and that’s what we’re getting here. These two about killed each other two years ago and we’re getting it here again. Sanada managed to walk away the victor last time so you know Evil will definitely like to get one over on his L.I.J. partner.

Okada vs Sanada. The 2019 New Japan Cup final revisited. Sanada has had quite a few run in’s with the Rainmaker whether it be for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship or in the G1 Climax. Sanada though has never been able to defeat Okada one on one. Sanada will get another shot at Okada and I’ll be anxious to see if Sanada and his new cool hairstyle can get the job done.

That’s enough A block, let’s go to B block. I’ll start with Jon Moxley against everybody. Yeah I’m going there, but who isn’t excited to see Jon Moxley? He’s completely rejuvenated and you know he’s going to have a target on his back for various reasons. Some may be interested in a future United States Championship match, some may be interested in giving him his first loss in NJPW, others may just want to beat him because he’s from WWE. However my top three matches I want to see involving Moxley are Tetsuya Naito, Jay White, and Toru Yano.

Tetsuya Naito vs Shingo Takagi is another match I want to see. Shingo has been on fire since joining L.I.J. last year and now he wants to win the G1 Climax. In order to do that though, he’s going to have to face the boss Tetsuya Naito. I’m looking forward to seeing what these two do to each other and we could easily see a top match contender here.

Who will be the breakout star of the tournament?

Justin C: The easy answer is Shingo Takagi. But I am going with Jeff Cobb. Cobb is still relatively new to the New Japan scene. But he is a monster who can put on great matches with anyone. I see him taking the Michael Elgin spot of this year’s G1 where he puts on good matches with anyone he is up against. I think when this G1 is done Jeff Cobb will be the one who’s star power will be elevated the most.

The Chairman: Well this G1 Climax is stacked. There’s heavy favorites that have won the G1 before, there’s new faces that have had success outside of NJPW or in the junior heavyweight division, and there’s guys that are getting overlooked because of these variables. Therefore I’m going to predict Sanada is the breakout superstar. I think he’s going to pull off some upsets against some of the more touted wrestlers in the A block, make things interesting until the end, and dare I say a five star match?

Which wrestlers will beat Okada in the A Block?

Justin C: Normally you have one or two people beat the Champion in Block matches to setup matches for the Title down the line. I find it interesting that Okada and Ibushi are in the same block. I think Okada wins that match. I think two people beat Okada: Will Ospreay and Sanada. Ospreay is being setup to replace Kenny Omega as the top gajin star. I think that is pretty obvious. A win over Okada would be huge for him. And Sanada’s star has grown over the last year. I see Sanada beating Okada and getting the Title match at Power Struggle.

The Chairman:  I figure Okada is good for two losses and one draw so here’s who I’m picking to defeat the Rainmaker. Kota Ibushi and Sanada. Two superstars that have never defeated Okada one on one will finally get their first taste of victory. I’ll also predict his match against Will Ospreay will be the one that results in a time limit draw.

Is there anyone not in this year’s G1 that you wish was?

Justin C: I was looking forward to seeing Minoru Suzuki against Jon Moxley when Moxley said he wanted in the G1 but that isn’t happening. Suzuki questioned why he wasn’t in the G1 after the announcement so I fully expect this to be turned into an angle very soon.

The Chairman: I’m pretty happy overall with the wrestlers selected for the G1 Climax this year. There’s no Yoshi Hashi so that right there is a reason to be excited. I am however sad there’s no Minoru Suzuki. That one is actually surprising to me, but I’m sure many Young Lions are rejoicing at that news. I’m also a little shocked Tama Tonga wasn’t picked either, but allegedly he claims he’s focusing on the tag team division?

Who wins each Block and the G1?

Justin C: After Dominion I was convinced that Kota would be winning the G1. I’ve become less convinced after today. I’m pretty confident Naito is taking the B Block. The only other person I see winning it would be Jay White, but I wouldn’t go back to that well right away. I’d maybe have White beat Naito then challenge him for the IC Title. As far as the A Block goes, I’ll go with Will Ospreay. I think the last night will come down to the trio of Ospreay, Okada and Ibushi all having a chance to win. I wouldn’t have Ibushi lose two G1 Finals in a row so I’m giving Ospreay the win in A Block.

And the winner of the G1? I’ll go with Naito. It may be my bias towards him. But as far as I’m concerned it is now or never with Naito. Naito isn’t getting any younger, and his body continues to take a ton of punishment. With two Tokyo Dome shows back-to-back, I think you can main event them with Okada/Naito and Omega/Ibushi. I’m convinced that second match is happening at the Dome. So Naito wins here and goes on to fight Okada at the Tokyo Dome. If Naito doesn’t win the Title this year then I don’t think he ever will.

The Chairman: Here is my way too early picks to win. Kota Ibushi wins the A Block. Jay White wins the B Block. We get ourselves a first time ever match between Ibushi and Switchblade that Ibushi wins avenging his loss to Tanahashi in the G1 Climax finals last year.

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