Nineteen shows of some of the best pro wrestling you’ll see all year.
This year’s G1 Climax was such an outstanding tournament that it inspired me to reward those that stood out with their fighting spirit, the personalities created memorable moments, and the wrestlers that put on the best performances, or entertained us all the most. These are the inaugural G1 Climax Awards.
C Block Standout Award – Tanga Loa
Along with helping and costing his Bullet Club OG brethren in their block competition matches, Tanga Loa was a dominant force in tag match competition this summer. In fact, Tanga was unbeaten throughout the entire G1, and even managed to pick up the NEVER Openweight Six Man Championships on the final night of the tour. If he can continue this momentum until the winter, the Firing Squad have a major chance of winning the 2018 World Tag League.
Most Deserving Team for World Tag League Award – Hangman Page and Chase Owens
As a dedicated C Block competitor, Chase Owens spent the G1 teaming with his Bullet Club brethren on the alternating days they were not competing in tournament action. During the B Block shows, Owens was supporting his fellow Virginia statesman, Hangman Page, and the chemistry was obvious throughout the tourney.
Virginia Club. Virginia Elite. Good Ol’ Virginia Boys (Confirmed to be their name by Chase on Twitter). The Virginia Butt Slappers. Call them whatever they want, these two need to make an appearance in the World Tag League later in the year.
Good Sportmanship Award – Toru Yano
Renowned king of shenanigans, Toru Yano, promised in this G1 he would cast aside his cheating ways, and aim to earn his victories through skill and fair competition. And that’s exactly what he did. Not once did we see him hit a low blow, untie a turnbuckle covering, or attempt to use a weapon throughout the entire tournament……except for in every single match……
Still, I think he genuinely did try his best to resist those sneaky tactics…..well, he tried a bit at least…..maybe….Yano just deserves an award, okay.
Best Call of the Tournament Award – DESTINOOOOOO
Kevin Kelly is easily one of the best commentators in pro wrestling today. He’s consistently fantastic for so many reasons:
– He provides background information in a way which is informative to new fans and not insulting to long time fans
– He injects so much passion into matches, especially during closing exchanges and after finishers, reminiscent of the Japanese commentators
– His chemistry with Callis is amazing
– He doesn’t hide his personality, yet knows when to be serious
– He openly promotes content creators not associated with NJPW on air on a regular basis purely off his own back
– He has an answer and a stat for nearly everything, so he clearly does his research
– Whenever there’s a guest commentator, he seems to have a really good bond with them
– Doesn’t shy away from mentioning other companies and wrestlers’ success outside of NJPW
During G1 28, he impressed many, including myself, by managing to scream “DESTINOOOOOOOOOOO!” for longer than some wrestling matches have lasted without struggling for breath. Whenever Naito hit his gorgeous finishing manuever, the experience was enhanced by this fantastic and memorable call.
Thanks to hearing it so much during the G1, the world’s longest Destino now joins other beloved Kelly catchphrases such as “HE HAS DONE IT!” and “V TRIGGERRRRRRR!”
Fighting Spirit in a Difficult Workplace Award – Rocky Romero
One of the most delightful aspects of this year’s G1 was hearing the improvement of Rocky Romero’s commentary from show to show. Starting off understated and being guided slightly by Kevin Kelly, Rocky really came into his own, developed his own voice, established his own signature calls and invoked passion in every performance.
How Rocky was able to put on such an impressive performance is a miracle though given the amount of difficulties he had to face throughout the G1. First of all, he had to look on as one of his Chaos stablemates attempted to break apart and alter the mindset of the group through villainous tactics and unnecessary violence.
On top of that, he had to deal with the heartbreak of others being given Okada’s balloons over Rocky despite how much he craved The Rainmaker’s attention, then when he finally got acknowledgement from Kazu, it was because he wanted to beat Romero’s face and phone into pieces with his inflated weaponry.
If all of that wasn’t enough, Rocky found himself tied up in knots courtesy of SANADA’s Paradise Lock, left screaming for help down the microphone for the NJPW World viewers to hear. This man is a true inspiration and a real trooper. We are all thankful that despite all of these tragedies, he at least managed to get through the entire tournament without a beating from Minoru Suzuki.
Best Hype Man Award – TAKA Michinoku
If I had somebody hyping me up the way TAKA Michinoku does with Zack Sabre Jr. every time he steps in the ring, I would be a major success in life. TAKA’s strange yet enjoyable style is all part of the delight that is ZSJ in NJPW.
Best Shenanigan Award – Toru Yano
Whilst Tetsuya Naito was showing off how tranquilo he was to the crowd, Toru Yano decided to sneak under the ring, crawl all the way to other side, slide back in behind his posing opponent, shrugged his shoulders, and attacked his foe. Toru Yano, you are a gift to us all, please never change.
Most Shocking Moment Award – Kazuchika Okada Parts Ways with his Manager of Six Years
One of the most prominent themes of G1 28 was Kazuchika Okada attempting to adapt to life following his loss to Kenny Omega at Dominion, and with it, the loss of his championship. Okada appeared to change everything about himself – his hair, his theme music, his attitude, his entrance routine, all a result of this career-altering loss.
However, the biggest change of all came during the final show of the G1. As the tournament finals were taking place, Okada announced in a backstage interview that he no longer wished to have the ringside coaching of Gedo, his manager of six years. Going forward, how will this impact the ever-altering Okada’s performance in and outside of the ring? I can’t wait to find out.
Biggest Disappointment Award – Cancellation of C Block Finals
The C Block – it’s what the people want… but we never got what we wanted. Admit it, the reason you started watching G1 Climax wasn’t for A Block or B Block, it was to see the exhilarating C Block Final between Henare and David Finlay. Yet due to an unfortunate injury to NJPW legend Jado, the most anticipated match of the year was cancelled in favour of a tag team match. The people were left heartbroken and disappointed, that is until…
Biggest Consolation Award – Bringing Back the C Block Finals
In a hilarious promo video uploaded to David Finlay’s YouTube page, Kevin Kelly announced that the most important match of the G1 was back on!…..Sort of!
Although they couldn’t change it back to a singles, Henare and Finlay decided to make their tag match in Budokan the decider for the biggest prize in wrestling – the beautiful C Block Thumb Trophy. The people were finally given what they wanted, and thus, this tournament was instantly declared the greatest G1 Climax of all time.
Greatest Survivor Award (Most Accumulated Time in Tournament Matches) – Kazuchika Okada
The slogan for this year’s G1 was, “Be a Survivor!” and nobody channelled that message more than Kazuchika Okada. Across his nine A Block tournament bouts, he came just short of competing for three whole hours with a time of 2:59:19. Combine that with all that time he spent blowing up all of his balloons, and it’s fair to say Okada definitely put in the hours for this year’s tourney.
Best Non-Tournament Match Award – Rey Mysterio, ProWrestler Sengokuenbu and KUSHIDA vs. Kazuchika Okada and Roppongi 3K: G1 Finals
Rey Mysterio has been wrestling for almost thirty years. When Rey Mysterio had his first match in WWE, he was 27 years old and had already been wrestling for 13 years. 16 years on, he’s still going, still moving around like a 27 year old despite several knee surgeries, and looking for another WWE run. Watching him mix it up with Kazuchika Okada was a nostalgic treat for me, and watching Rey move around that smoothly on a show for my favourite promotion, that was one of my favourite moments of the tournament.
Hairy Highlight Award
So my favourite moment of this incredible tournament came on the very first night, before any of the block matches had even started. A few days before G1 28, Kevin Kelly came across a guide I had made to the tournament, and without being asked to, recommended and rated the guide for his followers on Twitter.
When Saturday came and the G1 began, Kevin gave me on shoutout live on NJPW World, slapped my guide wih his seal of approval, and told fans around the world to check out my site. To have somebody I’ve been listening to since the very start of my wrestling fandom who now works for my favourite company give my writing his stamp without being prompted to in any way, it really meant a lot. It was a confirmation that what I am doing is worthwhile producing and (hopefully) worthwhile reading.
Kevin did continue to give me plugs throughout the G1, all of which I’m greatful for. Plus, without Kevin, I wouldn’t have gotten a roasting from Don Callis, a moment I will never forget. Thank you Kevin for supporting various independent content makers, not just myself, your passion and dedication has been a delight to hear on every single show.
G1 MVP Award – Tomohiro Ishii
For putting everything he had into every single match, regardless of who he faced or what opportunities were on the line, Tomohiro Ishii gets my G1 MVP Award. In 2013, Ishii had NJPW fans everywhere talking with the efforts and matches he was involved in. It was this tournament that finally opened up main-event opportunities for the Stone Pitbull, and put him into the position we seem him flourishing in today.
Once again, whether it’s the summer weather hardening his stone torso or just the spirit of the G1, Ishii claimed the tournament as his own, forcing the world to talk about him thanks to his inhuman efforts. Going forward, it’s fair to say that once he gets his match against Kenny Omega, most likely in October at King of Pro Wrestling, Ishii will once again astound the world with his Best Bout Machine-breaking in-ring efforts.
Best Overall Show Award – August 11th
Featuring two of my favourite matches of the tournament, Omega vs. Ibushi as well as Ishii vs. SANADA, along with the brilliant ZSJ vs. Naito and the crowning of the people’s C Block champion, the final B Block show of the tournament was an appropriately great way to round off an impeccable showing for all ten men involved in the superior grouping of G1 28.
Best Bout Award – Kenny Omega vs. Tomohiro Ishii: August 4th
If you like physicality, you will adore this match. The amount of punishment both of these men took in this match is truly astonishing. It was bloody, it was brutal, and it was beautiful.
Starting off slow, Omega was beaming with arrogance as he boded Ishii, yet after a good ten minutes or so of build, they turned up the intensity to maximum and did not turn it back down until the bell rung. Kenny was clearly on a mission to prove that the V Trigger is one of the most effective and re-watchable moves on the planet, whilst Ishii was clearly on a mission to prove that he genuinely is made of stone as he absorbed blow after blow from his opponent. By the end of it, they were left bloody and brutalised, thanks to this absolutely incredible match.
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