Last week, we ran a Twitter poll regarding New Japan Pro Wrestling’s ongoing G1 Climax 26. I was curious if our followers liked this year’s event more, less or about the same as last year’s G1 Climax 25.
Have you enjoyed this G1 Climax… #G126
— Voices of Wrestling (@voiceswrestling) July 28, 2016
Unsurprisingly, the poll results showed heavily that people enjoyed last year’s tournament more than this year. Many of the replies indicated that the person voting hadn’t disliked this year but felt it was ultimately disappointing, or that G1 Climax 26 had been missing something to this point.
Good, not great has seemingly become the consensus among astute NJPW fans this summer. The 26th iteration of the G1 Climax hasn’t been bad, awful or unwatchable… it’s just been, good.
Last week, I also asked our Twitter followers to describe the G1 Climax in one word. Words like great, awesome, etc. were not mentioned. Good on the other hand, was, trailing only tranquilo and Tenzan for overall appearances in the results.
Tranquilo being number one finally gives me a reason to post a GIF the greatest child to ever walk this earth:
— Kieran Graham (@kierangraham712) July 25, 2016
Anyway… obvious comparisons point to last year, when, as many will recall, we were having similar conversations about the quality of work and if the 25th G1 Climax could live up to the lofty standards of year’s prior:
Unquestionably, 2013 and 2014 were the pinnacle of the G1 Climax tournament. Between exploding accessibility of the product in the UStream age, both blocks working on the same shows as well as an overall more talented, deeper roster, the G1 tournament reached unimaginable heights:
“I’ve run out of superlatives to describe what this company is doing.” – Joe Lanza (August 10, 2013)
Even in the moment many of us knew this was too good to be true and this simply wasn’t sustainable—a correction, or regression to the mean just had to happen. Now that we have another year to compare, last year appears to have been that correction. Instead of being an outlier, it may have set our new, more-realistic G1 Climax in-ring standard.
At this point last year—10 nights down—our reviewers gave 12 G1 Climax matches **** or better:
- Night 1 – A.J. Styles vs. Katsuyori Shibata (****)
- Night 1 – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi (****1/2)
- Night 3 – Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tetsuya Naito (****1/4)
- Night 3 – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan (****)
- Night 4 – Kazuchika Okada vs Tomoaki Honma (****1/4)
- Night 5 – Kota Ibushi vs AJ Styles (****1/2)
- Night 5 – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Tetsuya Naito (****)
- Night 6 – Hirooki Goto vs Tomoaki Honma (****)
- Night 7 – Katsuyori Shibata vs Kota Ibushi (*****)
- Night 8 – Tomoaki Honma vs. Michael Elgin (****)
- Night 8 – Kazuchika Okada vs. Hirooki Goto (****1/4)
- Night 10 – Yuji Nagata vs. Tomohiro Ishii (****)
This year? That number sits at 11.
- Night 1 (July 18): Naomichi Marufuji vs. Kazuchika Okada (****1/2)
- Night 1 (July 18): SANADA vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (****1/2)
- Night 1 (July 18): Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Tomohiro Ishii (****)
- Night 4 (July 24): Tetsuya Naito vs Michael Elgin (****1/4)
- Night 5 (July 25): Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Naomichi Marufuji (****)
- Night 7 (July 28): Tomohiro Ishii vs Naomichi Marufuji (****1/4)
- Night 8 (July 30): YOSHI-HASHI vs EVIL ****
- Night 8 (July 30): Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Yuji Nagata (****)
- Night 8 (July 30): Michael Elgin vs. Kenny Omega (****1/2)
- Night 8 (July 30): Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tetsuya Naito (****)
- Night 10 (August 1): Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomoaki Honma (****)
For all the hand-wrangling and worry… this year on a similar pace to last year. Of course, this isn’t scientific by any means and there are obvious differences between the two lists in terms of reviewers and what not but I found it quite interesting just how close we are to last year.
We’ve also seen a similarly high peak this year with three matches at ****½, the same as last year.
What does this all mean?
I hadn’t planned on coming to any grand conclusion with this post but merely wanted to get people off the ledge as far as their G1 Climax malaise. Trust me, I feel it. I’m finding watching the G1 this year far more of a job than it had been any year prior when I looked for any means to start watching. I remember sitting on a beach during my family vacation two years ago huddling next to my phone watching all of the matches I missed the night prior. I almost didn’t want to go on these vacations because I would miss matches, miss nights and most importantly, miss the conversations surrounding it all.
This year? It’s not that way for me at all. I won’t deny the malaise is there but I do want people to remember this point last year and see what we have coming ahead. You may be disappointed and underwhelmed by the G1’s output so far and while fair, bright lights are ahead. Last year finished strong and the same can absolutely be expected for this year.
Over the next week alone we’ll see Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii, a matchup that shocked the world at last year’s G1 Climax Finals: Michael Elgin vs. YOSHI HASHI, Tanahashi vs. Naomichi Marufuji, Kazuchika Okada vs. Ishii and the much-anticipated Tetsuya Naito vs. EVIL encounter. Looking farther ahead, we still have Tanahashi vs. Okada on August 12 and Naito vs. Kenny Omega on the 14th among many others.
We’re living in a pretty lucky wrestling world when good is disappointing. Take a few moments to enjoy this year’s tournament.
Cut off your comparisons to 2013 and 2014 and instead live for the moment, this moment. Lose yourself in this year’s tournament and appreciate it for what it is, you might find out you like it more than you thought.