As somebody that only got into New Japan a few years ago and believes it to be the best promotion in the world today, I adore helping curious fans get into NJPW in any way that I can. Previously, I’ve written a Guide to Wrestle Kingdom (New Japan’s equivalent of WrestleMania), a Beginner’s Guide to New Japan, a Guide to Using Their Streaming Service, and several other NJPW related guides, which seemed to help a lot of people begin their viewing experience with the company, as well as learn more about it.
As this summer will be a lot of people’s first time experiencing a G1 Climax tournament, I thought I would put together a quick bullet point guide taking you through all of the vital information you need to know about how to watch it, when and what time each show is on, the most important matches of the tournament, how to get around streaming issues, and much more. Here is my Bullet Point Guide to NJPW’s G1 Climax Tournament 2018 for New Japan Newbies
- History and What it Actually Is
- Why You Should Watch It
- How to Watch it and When it Starts
- Who is Participating in the Tournament
- Live Start Times for Every Show
- English Commentary
- How to Avoid Streaming Issues
- List of Must-Watch Matches, When They’re Happening and Why They’re Interesting
- Where do I go From After G1?
- What if I want to Sample Some G1 Matches First for Free?
- List of Essential Recent Past G1 Climax Matches with Links
History and What it Actually Is
- The G1 is a round-robin style tournament (meaning that wrestlers compete for points rather than eliminations) for heavyweight wrestlers consisting of two blocks with ten competitors in each block. Over the course of the usually month-long tournament, each wrestler will compete against everybody in their respective block, and then the overall winner is decided when the points leader in block A and block B face each other in the finals.
- Each match has a 30 minute time limit – 2 points for winning, 1 for a draw, and 0 for losing.
- The prize for winning the G1 has varied over the years, from championship gold to good old fashioned sportsmanship pride, yet the current tradition is that the winner of this tourney gets an IWGP World Heavyweight Championship opportunity at New Japan’s biggest show of the year, Wrestle Kingdom.
- The tradition of an annual heavyweight tournament held in August started in New Japan in 1974. Although it has gone through many names over the years, the tournament was branded as the Grand One Climax in 1991, and has remained the same every year since. Although the G1 is considered a continuation of that tradition, NJPW does not recognise earlier tournaments as part of the G1 lineage.
- An interesting note about the G1 is that the IWGP Heavyweight Champion also competes within the tournament, even though the prize is a shot at the title they already hold. The IWGP Champion hasn’t won the G1 since 2000.
Why You Should Watch It
- The G1 Climax is known for being an exhibition of high quality matches on an almost daily basis. This is a chance for New Japan talent to show off just how good they are, so most take advantage of this opportunity and try to put on the best matches they can.
- Arguably, this is the greatest G1 Climax lineup of all time, or at least in recent years. The amount of potential match of the year candidates in this one tournament is ridiculous (as you will find out later in the guide).
- If you like amazing pro wrestling matches, you need to watch G1 Climax.
- Every show will offer at least one great match, and no other company or event in the world can offer this much high quality wrestling in such a short amount of time across so many shows.
- This year’s tournament features the likes of Kenny Omega, Kazuchika Okada, Tetsuya Naito, Minoru Suzuki, and more.
- Some of the best New Japan matches in history have taken place during the G1, including the third bout in the incredible Okada vs. Omega series.
- With 18 live shows over a four week period, with each show involving five singles matches, the G1 is an almost daily exhibition of amazing wrestling, and extremely good value for money.
- The G1 creates interesting situations that we wouldn’t normally see, e.g. teammates being forced to fight against each other, and there is always a surprising victory or two in the tournament.
- New stars can be made during the G1. Tomohiro Ishii’s popularity exploded with NJPW after an incredible performance during the 2014 tourney.
How to Watch it and When it Starts
- The only way to watch any G1 show is through the company’s streaming service – NJPW World. – CLICK HERE FOR MY GUIDE ON USING AND GETTING THE MOST OUT OF NJPW WORLD
- NJPW World can be accessed through an official app on Amazon Fire Sticks, as well as through njpwworld.com on laptops, phones and tablets with Chromecast support.
- Not only does it work out at slightly cheaper than WWE Network every month, it offers regular live shows, as well as access to previous events from decades past, matches from select indie promotions such as Ring of Honor and RevPro, and exclusive documentaries that follow the lives of both their Japanese and English speaking roster members.
- The first tournament starts on July 14th and finishes on August 12th
- With so many shows during the G1, NJPW World is at its best value during the tournament
- Please note that there is no free trial period available, so you will need to purchase the service in order to watch.
- Regardless of when you sign up, the billing date for NJPW World is the first day of every month for every user (so you could be charged 2 days in a row if you signed up on the last day of a month) – IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON SIGNING UP, DO IT AS CLOSE TO THE BEGINNING OF THE MONTH AS POSSIBLE
- Once you cancel your subscription, you immediately cannot use your account, even if you have weeks left until your next billing date – IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON CANCELLING, DO IT AS CLOSE TO THE END OF THE MONTH AS POSSIBLE
- Live shows are available to watch in full usually within fifteen minutes after they’ve been broadcast
Who is Participating in the Tournament
- Hiroshi Tanahashi (17th G1) – has had two 5* matches in past G1’s
- Togi Makabe (15th G1)
- Michael Elgin (4th G1)
- Kazuchika Okada (7th G1) – has had two 5*+ matches in past G1’s
- Jay White (G1 Debut) – could be looking to make a big impact
- YOSHI-HASHI (3rd G1)
- Bad Luck Fale (5th G1)
- Hangman Page (G1 Debut) – a great chance to show off what he can do
- EVIL (3rd G1)
- Minoru Suzuki (8th G1) – having one of the best in-ring years of career so far
- Juice Robinson (2nd G1)
- Hirooki Goto (11th G1)
- Tomohiro Ishii (6th G1) – has had two 5* matches in past G1’s, known for his G1 performances
- Toru Yano (12th G1) – offers something different to every other participant
- Kenny Omega (3rd G1) – has had three 5*+ matches in past G1’s
- Kota Ibushi (4th G1)
- Tama Tonga (3rd G1) – the only time of the year Tama gets to compete as a singles wrestler
- Tetsuya Naito (9th G1) – has had three 5*+ matches in past G1’s
- SANADA (3rd G1)
- Zack Sabre Jr. (2nd G1)
Live Start Times for Every Show (Use a Converter for Your Time Zone if not Listed)
Weekend shows are in red as they are the ones most people will be able to watch live – time is in 24 hour form
- Saturday July 14th – 2:30(Pacific), 5:30(Eastern), 10:30(UK), 18:30(Japan)
- Sunday July 15th – 23:00 July 14th(Pacific), 2:00(Eastern), 7:00(UK), 15:00(Japan)
- Monday July 16th – 2:00(Pacific), 5:00(Eastern), 10:00(UK), 18:00(Japan)
- Thursday July 19th – 2:30(Pacific), 5:30(Eastern), 10:30(UK), 18:30(Japan)
- Friday July 20th – 2:30(Pacific), 5:30(Eastern), 10:30(UK), 18:30(Japan)
- Saturday July 21st – 2:30(Pacific), 5:30(Eastern), 10:30(UK), 18:30(Japan)
- Sunday July 22nd – 0:30(Pacific), 3:30(Eastern), 8:30(UK), 16:30(Japan)
- Thursday July 26th – 2:30(Pacific), 5:30(Eastern), 10:30(UK), 18:30(Japan)
- Friday July 27th – 2:30(Pacific), 5:30(Eastern), 10:30(UK), 18:30(Japan)
- Saturday July 28th – 2:00(Pacific), 5:00(Eastern), 10:00(UK), 18:00(Japan)
- Monday July 30th – 3:00(Pacific), 6:00(Eastern), 11:00(UK), 19:00(Japan)
- Wednesday August 1st – 2:30(Pacific), 5:30(Eastern), 10:30(UK), 18:30(Japan)
- Thursday August 2nd – 2:30(Pacific), 5:30(Eastern), 10:30(UK), 18:30(Japan)
- Saturday August 4th – 1:00(Pacific), 4:00(Eastern), 9:00(UK), 17:00(Japan)
- Sunday August 5th – 23:00 August 4th(Pacific), 2:00(Eastern), 7:00(UK), 15:00(Japan)
- Wednesday August 8th – 2:30(Pacific), 5:30(Eastern), 10:30(UK), 18:30(Japan)
- Friday August 10th – 2:30(Pacific), 5:30(Eastern), 10:30(UK), 18:30(Japan)
- Saturday August 11th – 2:30(Pacific), 5:30(Eastern), 10:30(UK), 18:30(Japan)
- G1 FINALS Sunday August 12th – 23:00 August 11th(Pacific), 2:00(Eastern), 7:00(UK), 15:00(Japan)
- FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, EVERY G1 SHOW IS AVAILABLE LIVE WITH ENGLISH COMMENTARY
- For new viewers, this is the perfect G1 to start with – the NJPW World English commentary team do a really good job of going over previous history between wrestlers, and keeping you up-to-date with statistics and performances in the tournament.
- Commentary will be provided on every G1 show by former WWF announcer Kevin Kelly, with guest announcers along the way, and will be joined by the extremely entertaining Don Callis, formerly known as Cyrus in ECW, closer towards the finals.
How to Avoid Streaming Issues
- Although not many users experience these anymore, NJPW World has been known in the past for having some streaming issues.
- Streaming issues are very unlikely to take place during live shows, especially ones as important as the G1, but it is still possible.
- BEST WAY TO AVOID ISSUES: NJPW World has two different servers for streaming – one for Fire TV and browsers, and one for mobile and tablet devices. The Fire TV and browser stream is the one that’s known to experience issues, so if you are having troubles, I would recommend switching to watching on a mobile or tablet device.
List of Must-Watch Matches, When They’re Happening and Why They’re Interesting
Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White – July 14th
The tournament kicks off in style with a chaotic clash. Clearly the black sheep of the group, when Jay White joined Chaos back in January this year, he openly admitted he would one day challenge the group’s leader, Kazuchika Okada. Now that the Rainmaker no longer holds New Japan’s biggest prize, it is the perfect time for the former IWGP US Champion and all-around knife pervert to make his move and over-throw Okada. Look out for White trying to make a huge impact in this one, and get the wrestling world talking to kick off this year’s tournament.
Also on the Same Show: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Minoru Suzuki – July 14th
Earlier this year, Minoru Suzuki tortured Hiroshi Tanahashi mercilessly in a way which we had never seen before in order to capture his first IWGP Intercontinental Championship. With a five-star match in their history dating back to 2012 (New Japan’s first one for fifteen years at that point), and the fact that Tanahashi never got a rematch against Suzuki for the title since his arm was so damaged for their war, this could be a very interesting rematch between two of New Japan’s most seasoned veterans.
Kenny Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito – July 15th
In both 2016 and 2017, I believe Kenny Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito was match of the tournament. Fighting in the semi-finals and then the finals in 2016 and 2017 respectively, these two displayed amazing chemistry together as they attempted to destroy each other. If you’ve seen these two face-off before, you’ll know exactly why you should be excited for this one.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White – July 16th
When Jay White returned from his young lion excursion and subsequently graduated from the rookie programme, his first target was one of the biggest stars in NJPW history – Hiroshi Tanahashi. The two faced at the biggest show of the year, Wrestle Kingdom, in what many believed to be a somewhat disappointing match. With 6 months of big-match experience under his belt now, and a determination to rectify his previous performance, expect White to put on a great show against The Ace.
Hirooki Goto vs. Kenny Omega – July 19th
A rematch from the 2016 G1 Finals that will no doubt be Goto’s highlight of the whole tournament. These two have had fantastic matches together before so expect history to repeat itself on July 19th.
Juice Robinson vs. Kenny Omega – July 26th
In 2017, one of the biggest upsets of the whole G1 Climax was when Juice Robinson, formerly known as CJ Parker in NXT, defeated Kenny Omega in a standout underdog performance. The victory earned him his biggest match of his career, an IWGP US Title Match against Omega, which he lost. As Kenny will want to make up for this embarrassing past loss, and Juice will be looking to recreate one of his standout career moments, especially following his huge win against Jay White for the US Title, this one should be interesting.
Kenny Omega vs. Zack Sabre Jr. – First Time Ever August 1st
When two amazing wrestlers clash for the very first time ever in a singles match, that is just something you cannot miss. How will Kenny adapt to ZSJ’s unique style, or will The Best Bout Machine just be too good for ZSJ to ground?
Minoru Suzuki vs. Kazuchika Okada – August 2nd
In 2017, Minoru Suzuki returned to New Japan, immediately targeting then IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada. They clashed over the championship and during that year’s G1 too with amazing results, so I cannot wait to see them collide with each other once again.
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Kenny Omega – August 4th
Ishii and Omega have a stream of amazing matches together. Although he seems to have chemistry with everybody, there’s just something about Ishii’s style that mixes perfectly with Omega’s. Plus, Ishii is known for his performances in G1’s, so this could be the dark horse for match of the tournament.
Kazuchika Okada vs. EVIL – August 5th
Arguably the most surprising upset victory in 2017’s G1 Climax was when EVIL defeated then IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, which instantly put a huge spotlight on the LIJ member. Okada will no doubt want to amend this shocking loss, whilst EVIL will be looking to once again capture that main-event spotlight with yet another impressive win.
Tetsuya Naito vs. SANADA – August 8th
LIJ vs. LIJ. Two amazing wrestlers aligned to each other forced to fight. This is what the G1 is all about – potentially great matches that would otherwise never be able to happen.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada – August 10th
Yet another chapter in the never-ending legendary rivalry. Okada and Tanahashi have faced multiple times in some of the most beloved New Japan matches of the last decade. The two undoubtedly have a special chemistry together, that will be on display once again when they clash on the final day of A Block competition.
Kenny Omega vs. Kota Ibushi – August 11th
And here it is. The match that will define this year’s G1. Golden Lover vs. Golden Lover for the first time in six years, inside the very same building. If there is one match you cannot miss in this year’s tournament, it’s this one. Their relationship and lengthy history throws up so many fascinating elements to be explored in this one encounter, and I for one cannot wait to experience it.
Other Interesting Matches to Watch Out For
Every Toru Yano Match – Yano is a palette cleanser during the G1. Although they’re not five-star performances, his comedy matches are a welcome change amidst so many great and serious wrestling bouts. Yano helps to break things up a bit and offer something a little different.
Hangman Page – In his first G1, Hangman Page will be looking to make a big impact, show off what he can do, and pull off a big victory or two. Keep an eye out for this Bullet Club member
Factions Collide – G1 Climax is the only time of year in New Japan where we’re guranteed to see members of the same stables being made to face each other. Whether it’s Chaos vs. Chaos, LIJ vs. LIJ, and Bullet Club vs. Bullet Club, matches between teammates always offer up an interesting dynamic with a chance of deception.
Tama Tonga vs. Golden Lovers – The G1 Climax tournament is the one time of year Tama Tonga is able to compete in singles matches, as he’s usually teaming with his brother, Tanga Loa. This year, with so many tensions within Bullet Club, Tama recently tweeting his dislike for Omega and Ibushi’s new faction, Golden Elite, and Tama laying out Kenny and Co after the recent G1 USA special, it will be interesting to see what happens when the bad boy gets his hands on Kenny and Kota.
ZSJ – Coming off his incredible victory in the New Japan Cup earlier this year, be on the lookout for Zack Sabre Jr. to put on a great showing in the G1, and pick up some more major victories. With his unique style that forces everyone to wrestle his style of match, ZSJ’s bouts will stand out amidst so many other great matches.
Where do I go From After G1?
- Think of the G1 finals as NJPW’s Royal Rumble – this is where the Road to Wrestle Kingdom begins.
- In September, there will be several major shows called Destruction in…, each with various title matches and feuds involved in the show, with smaller Road to Destruction shows in between. Expect some of the results in the G1 tournament matches to effect the match cards going into these shows.
- Whoever wins the G1 will be defending their title opportunity at WK over the next few months.
- October, November and December will include several shows a month, along with the World Tag League tournament in December, all leading up to the biggest show of the year, Wrestle Kingdom on January 4th.
What if I want to Sample Some G1 Matches First for Free?
- Check out New Japan’s English language YouTube channel. They regularly upload past matches featuring full English commentary, including world title matches and past G1 matches. They will be uploading some of the best past G1 matches every Monday whilst we’re in G1 season.
- Also, they now upload press conferences and interviews with English subtitles.
- If you have AXS TV, you can watch their New Japan highlight show every Friday night, however the G1 won’t be covered until several weeks after it’s began.
List of Essential Recent Past G1 Climax Matches with Links
My personal favourites are in bold italics
- Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega – 2017
- Tetsuya Naito vs. Kenny Omega – 2017
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito – 2017
- Minoru Suzuki vs. Kazuchika Okada – 2017
- Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito – 2017
- Hirooki Goto vs. Kenny Omega – 2016
- Tetsuya Naito vs. Kenny Omega – 2016
- Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – 2016
- Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – 2016
- Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – 2015
- Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomohiro Ishii – 2013
Hopefully this guide has helped you out, and I hope you enjoy this incredible tournament.
Follow me on Twitter Where I Will Be Live-Tweeting Every G1 Show I Possibly Can – @HairyWrestling
OTHER GUIDES AND ARTICLES