Bullet Point Guide to NJPW’s G1 Climax Tournament 2019

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The biggest highlight of the NJPW calendar is here once again. The G1 Climax is an annual blessing, providing us all with an array of match of the year contenders. But with nineteen shows, twenty competitors and ninety-one tournament matches, there’s a lot to keep track of. Just like I did last year to an overwhelming reception (thank you, Kevin Kelly), I’ve put together a guide that will give you all the info you need to know about this year’s G1.

Also, since Jon Moxley was announced for his first match in New Japan, the traffic for my Beginner’s Guide to New Japan and guide for using their streaming service have both exploded. Clearly Moxley has brought along a wave of new fans to NJPW curious to see what a post-WWE Dean Ambrose is like, so for everyone signing up to NJPW World just to see more of Moxley, or for those who will be experiencing their first G1 this summer, and still aren’t totally familiar with everyone on the New Japan roster or how the tournament works, this is a guide to help you out with all the basics.

If you’re a more experienced fan though, there is definitely still some use info in this guide to keep track of when matches are happening, at what times, etc. With that being said, this is my Bullet Point Guide to NJPW’s G1 Climax Tournament 2019.

 

Contents:

  • What is the G1?
  • Why You Should Watch It
  • How to Watch it
  • Who is Participating in the Tournament
  • Non-Tournament Competitors
  • Schedule and Live Start Times for Every Show
  • List of Must-Watch Matches and When They’re Happening
  • List of Other Interesting Matches and When They’re Happening
  • How to Avoid Streaming Issues
  • What if I Want to Sample Some G1 Matches First for Free?
  • Where Do I Go From After G1?
  • Recommended Matches with Links and English Commentary

 

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What is the G1?

  • The G1 Climax is an annual round-robin tournament for heavyweight wrestlers in New Japan Pro Wrestling.
  • Entrants in the tournament are split into two blocks: each wrestler must face every other member of their block in a singles match during the tournament.
  • Singles champions are all eligible to compete in the G1 Climax, including the IWGP Heavyweight Champion.
  • Two points are awarded for a victory, one point for a draw, zero for a loss.
  • Tournament matches have a thirty-minute time limit, except for the finals.
  • At the end of the tournament, the wrestler with the most points in each block will face off in the final to determine the overall winner.
  • If two or more men finish with the same amount of points, the winner will be determined by who won when they faced each other during the tournament (e.g. wrestler A and wrestler B both finish with 16 points, but wrestler A beat wrestler B in their match, so wrestler A wins the block).
  • If their match ended in a draw, the winner will be determined by a coin toss, which has happened in the past.
  • The winner of the G1 goes on to challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at New Japan’s biggest show, Wrestle Kingdom. If the champion wins the G1 (in this case Kazuchika Okada), he can select his opponent for Wrestle Kingdom (although the IWGP Champion hasn’t won the G1 since 2000).
  • This year’s G1 starts on the 6th of July and ends on August 12th.

 

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Why You Should Watch It

  • G1 Climax is known for hosting some of the best matches of the year, every year. For most New Japan fans, it’s the most important time of the year thanks to how regularly they get to see five-star matches.
  • Essentially, it’s like watching top quality, pay-per-view headlining matches several times a week for a month. You can see multiple top tier bouts within the space of a couple of hours on some shows.
  • 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.
  • It’s the best time of year to sign up for NJPW World in terms of value for money. You get nineteen shows over a four week period, and it costs less than the WWE Network monthly.
  • Every show will have English commentary available from a fantastic announce team. In my opinion, New Japan has the best commentary team out there at the moment that will provide you with insightful information and add excitement to the matches.
  • It’s an opportunity for NJPW’s heavyweight division to show off just how good they are against some of their top peers so they always look to impress. The popularity of certain wrestlers have exploded in the past just from having a really good run in one G1 tournament.
  • With matches taking place several times a week, it’s very easy to make a big impression in such a short space of time.
  • Where WWE has the Road to WrestleMania starting at Royal Rumble, the road to NJPW’s biggest show starts in the G1. It’s the anchor for the rest of the year for New Japan, setting up rivalries and championship matches for the next six months.
  • Pick up a victory on any singles champion during the tournament, including the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, and you’re pretty much guaranteed a title match leading up to Wrestle Kingdom in January.
  • 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.
  • This year’s G1 features the likes of Jon Moxley (formerly known as Dean Ambrose), KENTA (formerly known as Hideo Itami), Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi and more.
  • In basic terms, if you love top quality pro wrestling matches, you need to watch the G1 Climax. No other event can rival this level of quality on such a consistent basis.

 

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How to Watch

  • The only way to watch all of these G1 Climax shows is through the company’s streaming service – NJPW World. – CLICK HERE FOR MY GUIDE ON USING AND GETTING THE MOST OUT OF NJPW WORLD
  • US VIEWERS: The first show on July 6th is only available to watch live in the US on AXS TV. It will air live everywhere else on NJPW World, and become available to watch on-demand for US viewers not long after broadcast.
  • NJPW World can be accessed through an official app on Amazon Fire Sticks, as well as through njpwworld.com on the Xbox One browser, laptops, phones and tablets with Chromecast support.
  • Do not use the iOS/Android app. Just use your browser if watching on your phone or tablet.
  • Every show will have English commentary available from a fantastic announce team. In my opinion, New Japan has the best commentary team out there at the moment that will provide you with insightful information and add excitement to the matches.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • This year’s G1 Climax starts on July 6th, so unless you wants to spend a couple of weeks catching up on past New Japan matches, the best time to sign up is July 1st or after.
  • Once you cancel your subscription (if you decide to), 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 thirty minutes after they’ve been broadcast.

 

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  • IF YOU HAVE AXS TV ­- The channel will be showing a selection of matches from the tournament in the coming weeks following the events, so if you’re unsure of whether you want to subscribe or not, watching on AXS TV first could be a good way of testing the waters first.
  • Personally I’d recommend watching on NJPW World in order to enjoy the excitement of the full show without having to wait or watching edited versions of matches (editing is bound to happen with longer matches).
  • With so many matches taking place in such a short amount of time, AXS will only be able to show a fraction of the G1.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE SCHEDULE FOR UPCOMING NJPW SHOWS

 

Who is Participating in the Tournament?

Debut G1 for those in bold

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A Block

  • Kazuchika Okada (CHAOS)

  • Will Ospreay (CHAOS)

  • KENTA

  • Zack Sabre Jr. (Suzuki-Gun)

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi (Taguchi Japan)

  • Kota Ibushi

  • EVIL (LIJ)

  • SANADA (LIJ)

  • Bad Luck Fale (Bullet Club)

  • Lance Archer (Suzuki-Gun)

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B Block

  • Jon Moxley
  • Tetsuya Naito (LIJ)

  • Tomohiro Ishii (CHAOS)

  • Juice Robinson (Taguchi Japan)

  • Toru Yano (CHAOS)

  • Hirooki Goto (CHAOS)

  • Jay White (Bullet Club)

  • Jeff Cobb

  • Shingo Takagi (LIJ)

  • Taichi (Suzuki-Gun)

 

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Non-Tournament Competitors

A selection of talent will compete alongside tournament entrants in tag team matches throughout the G1 whenever they’re not competing in official tournament matches: these wrestlers have been nicknamed the C Block.

  • Shota Umino (Young Lion)
  • Ren Narita (Young Lion)
  • Yuya Uemura (Young Lion)
  • Yota Tsuji (Young Lion)
  • YOSHI-HASHI (CHAOS)
  • Chase Owens (Bullet Club)
  • Yujiro Takahashi (Bullet Club)
  • Jushin Thunder Liger (Main Unit)
  • Tomoaki Honma (Main Unit)
  • Toa Henare (Main Unit)
  • Minoru Suzuki (Suzuki-Gun)
  • Yoshinobu Kanemaru (Suzuki-Gun)
  • BUSHI (LIJ)
  • Clark Connors (LA Dojo Student)
  • Karl Fredericks (LA Dojo Student)

LEARN MORE ABOUT NEW JAPAN’S YOUNG LIONS HERE

LEARN ABOUT NEW JAPAN’S FACTIONS IN MY BEGINNER’S GUIDE

 

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Schedule and Live Start Times for Every Show

The opening set of matches in every show will involve wrestlers from the opposite block competing in tag team matches alongside members of the C Block against their opponent for the next show. So during an A Block show, B Block wrestlers will all be in tag team action.

July 6th A Block: 11pm UK, 3pm Pacific, 5pm Central, 6pm Eastern, 7am Japan

  • Kota Ibushi vs. KENTA
  • Will Ospreay vs. Lance Archer
  • EVIL vs. Bad Luck Fale
  • SANADA vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada

 

July 13th B Block: 10:30am UK, 2:30am Pacific, 5:30am Eastern, 6:30pm Japan

  • Juice Robinson vs. Shingo Takagi

  • Tomohiro Ishii vs. Jeff Cobb

  • Hirooki Goto vs. Jay White

  • Toru Yano vs. Tetsuya Naito

  • Jon Moxley vs. Taichi

 

July 14th A Block: 7am UK, 11pm Pacific (13th), 2am Eastern, 3pm Japan

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. KENTA
  • Will Ospreay vs. SANADA

  • Kota Ibushi vs. EVIL

  • Lance Archer vs. Bad Luck Fale

  • Kazuchika Okada vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

 

July 15th B Block: 10am UK, 2am Pacific, 5am Eastern, 6pm Japan

  • Toru Yano vs. Shingo Takagi

  • Juice Robinson vs. Hirooki Goto

  • Tetsuya Naito vs. Taichi

  • Tomohiro Ishii vs. Jay White

  • Jeff Cobb vs. Jon Moxley

 

July 18th A Block: 10:30am UK, 2:30am Pacific, 5:30am Eastern, 6:30pm Japan

  • KENTA vs. Lance Archer

  • EVIL vs. SANADA

  • Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay

  • Kazuchika Okada vs. Bad Luck Fale

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

 

July 19th B Block: 10:30am UK, 2:30am Pacific, 5:30am Eastern, 6:30pm Japan

  • Juice Robinson vs. Jeff Cobb

  • Shingo Takagi vs. Taichi

  • Toru Yano vs. Jay White

  • Hirooki Goto vs. Tetsuya Naito

  • Tomohiro Ishii vs. Jon Moxley

 

July 20th A Block: 10:30am UK, 2:30am Pacific, 5:30am Eastern, 6:30pm Japan

  • Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Bad Luck Fale

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Lance Archer

  • KENTA vs. EVIL

  • Kota Ibushi vs. SANADA
  • Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay

 

July 24th B Block: 10:30am UK, 2:30am Pacific, 5:30am Eastern, 6:30pm Japan

  • Juice Robinson vs. Toru Yano

  • Hirooki Goto vs. Taichi

  • Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tetsuya Naito

  • Jeff Cobb vs. Jay White

  • Jon Moxley vs. Shingo Takagi

 

July 27th A Block: 10am UK, 2am Pacific, 5am Eastern, 6pm Japan

  • Kota Ibushi vs. Lance Archer

  • Will Ospreay vs. Bad Luck Fale

  • EVIL vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. SANADA

  • Kazuchika Okada vs. KENTA

 

July 28th B Block: 8am UK, 12am Pacific, 3am Eastern, 4pm Japan

  • Hirooki Goto vs. Toru Yano

  • Juice Robinson vs. Tomohiro Ishii

  • Jeff Cobb vs. Taichi

  • Shingo Takagi vs. Jay White

  • Tetsuya Naito vs. Jon Moxley

 

July 30th A Block: 11am UK, 3am Pacific, 6am Eastern, 7pm Japan

  • Kota Ibushi vs. Bad Luck Fale

  • Kazuchika Okada vs. Lance Archer

  • KENTA vs. SANADA

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. EVIL

  • Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

 

August 1st B Block: 10:30am UK, 2:30am Pacific, 5:30am Eastern, 6:30pm Japan

  • Jeff Cobb vs. Shingo Takagi

  • Juice Robinson vs. Tetsuya Naito

  • Taichi vs. Jay White

  • Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hirooki Goto

  • Toru Yano vs. Jon Moxley

 

August 3rd A Block: 9am UK, 1am Pacific, 4am Eastern, 5pm Japan

  • KENTA vs. Bad Luck Fale

  • Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Lance Archer

  • Will Ospreay vs. EVIL

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi

  • Kazuchika Okada vs. SANADA

 

August 4th B Block: 7am UK, 11pm Pacific (3rd), 2am Eastern, 3pm Japan

  • Juice Robinson vs. Taichi

  • Hirooki Goto vs. Jeff Cobb

  • Jon Moxley vs. Jay White

  • Tomohiro Ishii vs. Toru Yano
  • Tetsuya Naito vs. Shingo Takagi

 

August 7th A Block: 10:30am UK, 2:30am Pacific, 5:30am Eastern, 6:30pm Japan

  • SANADA vs. Lance Archer

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Bad Luck Fale

  • Kazuchika Okada vs. EVIL

  • Will Ospreay vs. KENTA
  • Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

 

August 8th B Block: 2:30AM Pacific, 5:30AM Eastern, 10:30AM UK, 6:30PM Japan

  • Jeff Cobb vs. Tetsuya Naito

  • Hirooki Goto vs. Jon Moxley

  • Toru Yano vs. Taichi

  • Juice Robinson vs. Jay White
  • Tomohiro Ishii vs. Shingo Takagi

 

August 10th A Block: 10am UK, 2am Pacific, 5am Eastern, 6pm Japan

  • EVIL vs. Lance Archer

  • SANADA vs. Bad Luck Fale

  • Will Ospreay vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

  • KENTA vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
  • Kazuchika Okada vs. Kota Ibushi

 

August 11th B Block: 10am UK, 2am Pacific, 5am Eastern, 6pm Japan

  • Tomohiro Ishii vs. Taichi

  • Tetsuya Naito vs. Jay White

  • Hirooki Goto vs. Shingo Takagi

  • Toru Yano vs. Jeff Cobb

  • Juice Robinson vs. Jon Moxley

 

August 12th Finals: 7am UK, 11pm Pacific, 2am Eastern, 3pm Japan

  • Final: A Block Winner vs. B Block Winner

  • The rest of the card will be confirmed closer to the time.

 

List of Must-Watch Matches and When They’re Happening

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Kota Ibushi vs. KENTA July 6th – First Time Ever

Not only will this be KENTA’s first match since January, it will be his first singles match in NJPW since 2002! The former Hideo Itami is looking to make a big impact after a somewhat disappointing run in WWE, so thankfully for him, he’s got one of the best in New Japan to have his return match with.

Other than a few tag team matches a decade ago, KENTA and Kota Ibushi have never been one-on-one in a ring before. In this one, you can expect some extremely stiff strikes and kicks from both sides. It will be painful to watch in the best way possible.

 

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada July 6th

Yet another chapter in a never-ending, legendary rivalry. Okada and Tanahashi have faced each other multiple times in some of the most beloved New Japan matches of the last decade. The two undoubtedly have a special chemistry together, which is why their feud has been heralded as one of the greatest of all time. To get a match of this magnitude on night one is one of many reasons why fans are so excited for the 2019 G1. If this is half as good as their G1 battle last year, we’re in for a classic.

 

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Tomohiro Ishii vs. Jeff Cobb July 13th

Tomohiro Ishii is the MVP of practically every G1 he competes in. Each year, he steps up his game to an inhuman level to produce a stream of unbelievable matches. For this year’s tournament, his first night of tournament competition will see him go up against Jeff Cobb.

In terms of sheer size and strength, the handsome suplexing machine that is Jeff Cobb will be the biggest test for Ishii during his entire G1 experience. The former Olympic wrestler, ROH Television Champion, NEVER Openweight Champion, Lucha Underground Champion, and current PWG Champion uses his vast array of impressive suplexes, transitions and throws to overcome the majority of his opponents. Plus, Cobb isn’t all brawn, he can hit some amazing displays of athleticism that rival moves seen in the junior heavyweight division.

The first night of B Block of competition will gift us with an amazing hoss battle as the two biggest absolute units of the block clash. Japanese fans in attendance should eat this big man match up, so expect a hot crowd for one hell of a bout.

 

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Kazuchika Okada vs. Zack Sabre Jr. July 14th

Zack Sabre Jr. is one of very few men in New Japan that has figured out the key to defeating Kazuchika Okada. Although he did lose his championship opportunity match against The Rainmaker last year, ZSJ picked up a shock victory last summer over the longest-reigning heavyweight champion in New Japan history. With his vast array of submissions and transitions, Zack will prove to be one of Okada’s biggest tests throughout the G1 as he tries to find a way to escape the submission master’s exceptional techniques.

 

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Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay July 18th

January 4th of this year saw an absolutely brutal and exhilarating match between Kota Ibushi and Will Ospreay, two men with little caution for their own health and safety. This one could get dangerous, but we know for definite that it will be fast-paced, filled with inhuman feats of athleticism, huge, spectacular moves, and hard-hitting strikes. They had one of the best matches at Wrestle Kingdom this year, and they may just do the same in this year’s G1.

 

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. July 18th

Zack Sabre Jr. made his G1 Climax debut in 2017. In his very first match of the tournament, he managed to tap out Hiroshi Tanahashi, one of the most popular and successful performers in Japanese wrestling history. With that one victory, fans were made aware that ZSJ was going to be a huge deal in New Japan.

Since then, Zack and Tanahashi have crossed paths in multiple major situations, including in the New Japan Cup 2018 finals, in this year’s New Japan Cup quarter-finals, and most recently inside Madison Square Garden. Currently, Zack is leading 3-2 in singles victory over Tanahashi: can he submit this legend once again for another historic G1 win?

CLICK HERE FOR THE TOP 10 G1 DEBUTS

 

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Tomohiro Ishii vs. Jon Moxley July 19th – First Time Ever

Personally, this is the Moxley match I’m most looking forward to. For New Japan fans, Tomohiro Ishii is a gift during the G1 Climax. Despite being known as a fantastic wrestler anyway, Ishii seems to just step it up a gear during the annual summer tournament. Something about the G1 seems to invigorate him with extra fire to bust out several five-star classics. With his hard-hitting style, barrage of stiff strikes, and knack for absorbing inhuman levels of punishment, Ishii should be a fantastic fit for Moxley.

You’re not going to get any underhanded tactics, backing down or flashy moves in this one, just a straight up fight between two extremely tough men with too much pride to show any weakness the other. This won’t be a quick flurry of a match that ends in a one move counter, this will push the thirty minute time limit with the two men scrapping until the very end, exchanging blows and blood along the way.

With Ishii vs. Moxley, you should expect them to stand toe-to-toe and beat the absolute crap out of each other for as long as they can possibly stand it. Punches, forearms, lariats, headbutts, and a few signature moves – that’s about as diverse as this match will get, but for my money, it’s probably going to be the most exciting of them all. Seriously, whatever you do, don’t miss this clash between two of New Japan’s toughest champions.

CLICK HERE FOR MY TOP 10 TOMOHIRO ISHII MATCHES

 

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Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay July 20th

Kazuchika Okada is practically the reason why Will Ospreay came to New Japan in the first place. After wrestling for RevPro in the UK, Okada was so impressed by the young Ospreay who he saw perform on that show that he demanded NJPW needed to sign him upon arrival back in Japan. In the years that have followed, Will has become a multiple time champion and a two-time Best of the Super Junior tournament winner. As accomplished as he is though, a victory for the Aerial Assassin in his first G1 over the reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion would be the biggest moment of his career so far.

We’ve seen these two CHAOS teammates battle twice in the past, most recently during this year’s New Japan Cup, and both contests were brilliant to watch, so expect yet another top quality bout between two friends.

 

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Jon Moxley vs. Shingo Takagi July 24th – First Time Ever

Recently, Shingo Takagi was considered a junior heavyweight in New Japan, hard to believe given how he’s an absolute unit. Well, his demands for more heavyweight competition were met when he was added to this year’s G1 Climax.

After putting on a string of epic matches during Best of the Super Juniors in May and June, including a tournament finale which may just be the best match of 2019 so far, expectations are high for Shingo in the G1. What many fans won’t realise is that Moxley and Shingo do have some history together. They were members of a relatively short-lived faction in Dragon Gate USA called KAMIKAZE USA. However, despite being in the same stable, they never actually had a match with or against each other, so this will be their first ever official meeting inside a ring.

Right now, Shingo Takagi is on a hot streak that very few in pro wrestling can match, while Moxley is riding a wave of creative freedom and newly infused excitement following his WWE departure that we saw with Juice Robinson can result in a brilliant contest. If Shingo and Moxley can align their chemistry right, and are both willing to bring a high level of punishment to the other, we could be looking at Moxley’s best match of the G1 Climax.

 

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Kazuchika Okada vs. KENTA July 27th – First Time Ever

Two of the biggest stars of the 21st century in Japanese wrestling finally meeting at last. After spending years at the top of Pro Wrestling NOAH and a stint in the WWE, KENTA is now coming to New Japan, the battleground for this dream match. It’s a bout many thought would never happen, but thanks to the gift that is the G1 Climax tournament, we will finally know what happens when Go to Sleep meets Rainmaker.

 

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Tetsuya Naito vs. Jon Moxley July 28th – First Time Ever

Cocky, disrespectful, highly skilled, and tranquilo – that’s Tetsuya Naito. The leader of Los Ingobernables de Japon is one of the best in New Japan, a superb athlete capable of incredible, and some times extremely dangerous, matches, but he’s not exactly a welcoming presence in the ring. Naito employs the idea of being tranquilo: staying relaxed at all times. He shows his opponents little respect, and often mocks them by casually laying down in the ring, spitting in their face, or rolling out of the ring several times to avoid facing them.

Given that Moxley is a brand new foreign presence in New Japan, one that has used his WWE success to immediately become a champion and earn a spot in the G1 after just two matches, Naito is not going to be happy about that whatsoever. Naito had to work hard for a long time to get the spot he’s at. He tried to be a fan favourite for years but was met with a disappointing response. When he won the G1 Climax in 2013, his victory was received so poorly that fans voted for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship match to main event Wrestle Kingdom, rather than the heavyweight title bout Naito had earned thanks to his tournament victory.

Since his change in attitude, Naito has become arguably the most popular wrestler amongst Japanese fans despite his complete lack of respect towards any of his opponents. With Moxley entering at such a high level so quickly, expect Naito to show no good will towards him when they clash in the G1. Naito will taunt Moxley, he will literally spit at him, he will avoid all attempts to turn this into the fight Moxley wants it to be, which will only enrage the former WWE Champion even more. Expect a slow first five or ten minutes as Naito dictates the pace, before an explosion of rage from both men ends the match in a chaotic, vicious, and entertaining affair.

 

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Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr. July 30th

The two Brits in the tournament go against each other in a singles match for the first time in a New Japan ring (although they have wrestled one-on-one for several other promotions previously). It will be a battle of two completely different styles with only one being able to prevail. Watching Zack try to ground his high flying foe at every opportunity, and counter Will’s ridiculous aerial offence with some equally ridiculous mid-air reversals will be absolutely incredible. If you like counter wrestling, this may be the best example of that in the entire G1.

CLICK HERE FOR ZSJ’S BEST QUOTES

 

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Jeff Cobb vs. Shingo Takagi August 1st – First Time Ever

Two highly athletic powerhouses face off in the B Block for the first time in singles action. Cobb and Takagi are similar in many ways: power offence is their main weapon of choice, but can also employ impressive and surprising flips and speed when needed to. Shingo said he wanted more heavyweight competition in New Japan, and Jeff Cobb is about as heavy as it gets.

Takagi is used to dominating junior wrestlers with his overpowering brawn, so it will be interesting to see how effective his brutal lariats and power moves are against somebody the size of Jeff Cobb. Expect both men to try and out-do each other both in terms of strength and athleticism in this match with very entertaining results.

 

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hirooki Goto August 1st

Goto and Ishii put on a perfect prototype of what a strong style match should be in last year’s G1. Full of exchanging shoulder blocks, chops, clotheslines, and a whole lot of fighting spirit, neither man would stay down in order to win those two points, even if it ended in both of them collapsing in pain. It was a five-star work of excellence that had me leaping out of my seat with excitement – here’s hoping they can recreate that magic once again this year.

 

Toru Yano vs. Jon Moxley August 1st – First Time Ever

If there’s anybody who’s got a chance of getting a sneaky victory over the IWGP United States Champion, it’s the ridiculous yet crafty Toru Yano. Known for his cowardly and comedic style in the ring, Yano may not get much real offence in on his foes, but that hasn’t stopped him from getting some major upset victories in past G1 tournaments.

Thanks to his underhanded tactics, ability to catch his foes off-guard with a roll-up, and mastering of the low blow, the dirty yet lovable Yano has picked up G1 wins over Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi, Minoru Suzuki and more. Don’t expect a five-star technical masterpiece in this one, but the combination of Yano being terrified of the ultra violent, chaotic, hardcore brawler that is Moxley, and Jon trying to work out the eccentric, comical style of Toru Yano will be an absolute delight to watch.

On paper, it’s a complete mismatch of styles, yet many fans are looking forward to this Moxley match the most during the G1 purely for the comic potential. Will Mox bring the violence for a three count, or will Yano cheat his way to victory? I can’t wait to find out.

 

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Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi August 3rd

Four whole weeks and nineteen shows lead up to Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi in the finals of last year’s G1, and it’s fair to say it was well worth it. With Kenny Omega by Kota’s side, and a rare appearance by Katsuyori Shibata accompanying Tanahashi, it was obvious it was going to be emotional before the bell had rung. We got to see Kota pull out some vicious, punishing strikes, and Tanahashi flaunt his god-like hair and legendary moveset.

The image of their slap exchange from this bout may never leave my mind, and the final sequence was perfect in making both men come out looking greater than when they entered. Brimming with emotion, excitement, and plenty of tension, it was the culmination of ninety tournament matches with fantastic results.

This year, we get to see the rematch of that epic G1 28 final. Despite being restricted by a thirty-minute time limit, I’m sure Ibushi and Tanahashi will pull out another excellent encounter.

CLICK HERE FOR MY TOP 10 G1 CLIMAX FINALS

 

Kazuchika Okada vs. SANADA August 3rd

For the third time this year, we will see Okada and SANADA face each other one-on-one, and I’m sure for the third time this year, we will get an incredible match out of the two of them. They first met in the finals of Spring’s New Japan Cup, and once again in May at Wrestling Dontaku, with both matches reminding us of how incredible of a pro wrestler Kazuchika Okada is, and how SANADA is set to be a future world champion with his ever impressive abilities. Time for them to blow us away one more time in the G1.

 

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Tetsuya Naito vs. Shingo Takagi August 4th – First Time Ever

This right here is one of the reasons why the G1 is so special: two men that have been friends for many years, currently members of the same faction, never once wrestled against each other yet are now being forced to thanks to the G1 Climax. Now, just because they’re on the same side, don’t expect them to go easy on each other – winning the G1 Climax is a prize that trumps all friendship. After some feeling out in the opening few minutes, expect these two LIJ teammates to bring everything they’ve got against each other and have one hell of a battle.

 

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Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. August 7th

Zack Sabre Jr. and New Japan are the perfect combination. Everywhere else we’ve seen the Vegan Tarantula, the commentators and promotions always just talk about how he’s a technical wizard, how he’s the best technical wrestler on the planet, etc (which is fine because he is), yet in New Japan, they add an extra level to that.

From day one, ZSJ has been portrayed as a genuinely dangerous wrestler, somebody who people should fear getting in the ring with. His submission and limb targeting skills are so advanced that NJPW always build his big matches around the fact he could seriously injure an opponent, with his foes often being banged up after their encounters with Sabre, regardless of whether they win or lose.

Whenever a wrestler is pitted against the Suzuki-Gun member in a singles match, they are forced to wrestle ZSJ’s style, making him a unique threat and tough to beat, however, as we’ve seen with Kota Ibushi, it is possible to beat Zack at his own game.

Thanks to his slim physique and high technical ability, Kota Ibushi has been able to go hold-for-hold with Zack throughout all of their previous matches, including last year’s G1. It makes for a fun and fascinating exchange of reversals, holds and transitions. Both men do not hold back with their strikes, practically slapping the souls out of each other. Their styles mix superbly together, so make sure you don’t miss their next encounter together during the G1.

 

Will Ospreay vs. KENTA August 7th – First Time Ever

KENTA is one of the names Will Ospreay watched as a teenager that inspired him to become a pro wrestler. Now, he gets to wrestle this Pro Wrestling NOAH legend. Expect big kicks, aerial assaults that defy physics, and one hell of a brawl. Will Ospreay is on the big match streak of his life, KENTA is looking to show the world what he is capable of post-WWE – this should be an interesting mix.

 

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Tomohiro Ishii vs. Shingo Takagi August 8th – First Time Ever

Lariats. Lairats. Lariats. Two super tough, hard-hitting, lariat-throwing badasses, each of them built like a fridge, will collide in the G1, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. There will be no fancy moves here, just fifteen+ minutes of two hoss wrestlers beating the crap out of each other, and it will be absolutely spectacular.

 

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KENTA vs. Zack Sabre Jr. August 10th

Kicks. Kicks. Kicks. Eight years has flown by since these two last had a singles match, and a lot has changed since then. KENTA went to and then left WWE, and Zack Sabre Jr. has developed massively into the best technical wrestler in the world. For their first encounter in New Japan, expect them to light each other’s chests up with a series of kicks that will have you coughing up blood just watching them.

 

Kazuchika Okada vs. Kota Ibushi August 10th

For the first time in five years, we will get to see two of the best in New Japan compete against each other one-on-one. In 2014 when they last met, Okada and Ibushi were in a different league to what they are now – literally for Ibushi as he was a junior heavyweight back then.

As they faced in a special junior vs. heavyweight showcase match at an NJPW anniversary show, this will be the first time they wrestle both as New Japan heavyweights. It will be a great showcase of how far both men have come in that time and why both are considered as two of the best in the world today. Plus, due to it taking place on the last day of A Block action, it will most likely be the deciding factor for who advances to the finals.

 

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Juice Robinson vs. Jon Moxley August 11th

Out of the nine men Moxley will face in the G1, Juice Robinson is the only one to have ever stepped in the ring with him before, and he’s the only one who knows him on such a personal level.

Formerly known as CJ Parker and Dean Ambrose respectively, Juice and Moxley have known each other for eight years, dating back to their days in FCW, the predecessor to NXT. As noted by Juice in one of his spectacular promos, Moxley was like a mentor to him: he would invite him out for beers and give him advice on his character and ring work as he was much more experienced.

Fast-forward to 2019, a mysterious video targeting Juice Robinson began to air during every New Japan show showing a man sat at a bar wielding a knife. For weeks, the identity of the challenger went unknown despite much speculation, repeatedly telling Juice that his “Time’s Up”. Finally, not long after his appearance at Double or Nothing, the man sat at the bar was revealed to be Jon Moxley to much excitement.

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By this point, the video had gotten into Juice’s head, feeling angry and disrespected by the constant targeting, the weeks of mystery, and the fact that Moxley was planning to make his New Japan debut at Juice’s expense, and take his IWGP United States Championship in the process. When his first post-WWE match came, Juice and Moxley ripped each other apart in one of the most violent melees seen in NJPW this year.

Brawling all over ringside, Moxley brought out a viciousness never seen in Juice before, forcing him to bust out moves not usually in his repertoire, and take risks never before considered, such as a dive from the top of the entrance structure. As much as Juice managed to push Mox to the limit, his brutal efforts proved to be ineffective as the result ended with a Moxley win and a brand new champion, taking away Juice’s pride and his most prized possession along with it.

Post-match saw Juice bust out an extremely passionate backstage promo, clearly beaten and devastated by his loss. Well, it’s not going to be long before he gets another shot at the former WWE Champion. Given that this is the only match-up we’ve actually seen before, we’ve got an idea of what Juice vs. Moxley will be like: an extremely entertaining street fight that will most likely break a few rules, and maybe even break a few bones as well.

Due to how gruelling the G1 is, it’s wise to keep a match from escalating too much in order to keep your body as fresh as possible for the rest of your matches, yet emotions may completely cloud over those reservations for Juice, so Moxley better expect his opponent’s best and most savage efforts in their G1 encounter. This will be the last match of block competition for both men: how much left will they both have in tank? Will Moxley being in the final come down to a victory in this bout?

Of all of his tournament meetings, this will be the most typical of Moxley’s style – expect fist-fights in the crowd, leaping off structures, blood, guts, maybe even a table or two. If you want to know what to expect from an uncaged, post-WWE Jon Moxley during the G1, this is your best bet.

CLICK HERE FOR A RUN-DOWN OF ALL OF MOXLEY’S G1 MATCHES

 

List of Other Interesting Matches and When They’re Happening

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Will Ospreay vs. Lance Archer July 6th

In what is probably Lance Archer’s best singles match to date, the KES member took Ospreay to the limit by using his overpowering size to dominate during this year’s New Japan Cup. Despite his efforts though, Ospreay absorbed a barrage of gruelling punishment, and managed to lift his much larger opponent up for the Stormbreaker, and a very impressive victory. During the G1, we get to see a rematch and hopefully another great bout between the two.

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EVIL vs. SANADA July 18th

They’ve held tag team championship gold together, and now thanks to the G1, will have to face each other. It’s always interesting when two wrestlers so close to each other are made to compete.

Kazuchika Okada vs. Bad Luck Fale July 18th

Bad Luck Fale is one of the few men to hold a G1 victory over Kazuchika Okada. While he has beat him in the past, Fale’s size always proves to be a difficult match for Okada, so this could be the one instance where we see the world champion take a loss before the final day of block competition.

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Tomohiro Ishii vs. Toru Yano August 4th

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. In this battle of two close friends, expect some shenanigans from Yano, contrasted with all-business and lariats from Ishii.

Jon Moxley vs. Jay White August 4th – First Time Ever

Brace yourselves, we’re in for a knife fight.

‘Switchblade’ Jay White is a young sensation in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Claiming the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in early 2019 at the age of 26, it didn’t take long for the Bullet Club leader to make a major impact in NJPW. With the backing of his mentor Gedo, and his lightning quick ability to turn a match around in his favour, White has gotten victories over the biggest stars in the company, including Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada, making him a serious challenge for Moxley during the G1.

Given Moxley’s debut hype video centred around him etching his logo into a bar counter with a knife, it’s going to be a battle of the knife wielders in this fight. For White, this will be a new challenge, a new top star to learn from with a different style to the Japanese world champions he’s used to facing, and it will also be an opportunity to pick up a major victory that will have his name spoken around the world.

In the Moxley vs. White match, you can expect Moxley to better Switchblade when it comes to traditional brawling and wrestling, but at any moment, White can turn it around thanks to his dirty strategies, or one of his Bullet Club buddies at ringside causing a distraction. Plus, Moxley needs to watch out for Blade Runner, White’s deadly finisher which is known to come from out of nowhere, and can easily be set-up from a variety of different counters and transitions.

If this one ends in a loss for Moxley, it won’t be as a result of a chain of major moves or a hard-fought effort from White, it will be from a spilt-second opportunity taken by Switchblade, and the match will end in the blink of an eye. If he picks up the win however, it will mean Moxley has bested the leader of Bullet Club and is the king of the knife perverts.

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Kazuchika Okada vs. EVIL August 7th

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 managed to earn a victory back in last year’s G1, but will we see another shock victory in this one?

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Juice Robinson vs. Jay White August 8th

One of the biggest wins in Juice Robinson’s career was when he beat Jay White in surprising fashion for the IWGP United States Championship. There’s a lot of history between these two: will we see another shock victory from Juice in this one?

Toru Yano vs. Taichi August 8th

The two masters of shenanigans in New Japan finally clash in a singles match in a New Japan ring. Without question, this will be the most ridiculous match in the entire G1. We may not even see one single wrestling move in this. It could be a train wreck or a masterpiece, and I can’t wait to find out.

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Tomohiro Ishii vs. Taichi August 11th

Ishii and Taichi have had a couple of really good matches this year already. Ishii is able to bring out a violent side to Taichi that nobody else is able to, so I’m interested to see what kind of match we get on the final day of block competition.

Tetsuya Naito vs. Jay White August 11th – First Time

Jay White has faced and defeated all of the biggest names New Japan has had to offer in the last year and a half… except for one.

Amazingly, the leader of Bullet Club and the leader of Los Ingobernables De Japon have never wrestled against each other. Two cocky leaders finally colliding should result in a highly entertaining match that will help determine who will go to the finals on the last day of block competition.

 

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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 uncommon these days
  • 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

LEARN MORE WITH MY GUIDE ON USING AND GETTING THE MOST OUT OF NJPW WORLD

 

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What if I want to Sample Some NJPW 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. They upload a new free match every Monday that has some sort of connection to an upcoming show or an on-going tournament.
  • Also, they upload press conferences, interviews, promos and sometimes documentaries with English subtitles.
  • If you have AXS TV, you can watch their New Japan highlight show every Friday night, however the shows aren’t covered until days or weeks after they’ve aired.

 

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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 set-up 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 and 5th.

 

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Recommended Matches with Links and English Commentary

 

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