This weekend is bittersweet.
On one hand, the finality of NJPW’s G1 Climax 27 is a relief. A moment when completist wrestling fans can finally breath again, free of the constant rush of content flowing from NJPW World. Yet, it hurts because this year’s tournament—really, the last handful of years, too—has been so good, so entertaining and so much fun.
Do we really need a “relief” from a near-daily dose of great wrestling?
Either way, NJPW will put a bow on their 27th G1 Climax tournament starting tomorrow (August 11) as the A Block concludes block play, the B Block follows suit on August 12 ending finally with the G1 Climax 27 Final on August 13. All three shows will emanate from Ryogoku Kokugikan, better known as Tokyo’s Sumo Hall.
Let’s look at the remaining scenarios and how predictable or unpredictable they were using data from our G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em contest.
NJPW G1 Climax 27 – A Block
As mentioned, the A Block finishes up August 11 with their final five block matches:
- Tomohiro Ishii vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
- Yuji Nagata vs. Bad Luck Fale
- Togi Makabe vs. YOSHI-HASHI
- Hirooki Goto vs. Kota Ibushi
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito
Unfortunately, there’s only one match that matters here: Tanahashi vs. Naito.
Both men are currently tied atop the block at 12 points so it’s win or go home as the winner will go onto the G1 Climax 27 Finals. Tanahashi last won the G1 Climax in 2015, his second G1 Climax tournament championship (2007 being the first). Naito famously won the 2013 G1 Climax and parlayed that into a Wrestle Kingdom showdown with Kazuchika Okada. This match was notable for being voted down the card in favor of Tanahashi and Shinsuke Nakamura. That seminal moment is often referenced by Naito and used to fuel his anti-management rhetoric/character.
A few other scenarios do exist but they are pretty implausible.
Tanahashi & Naito could go to a draw which would leave both men with 13 points (draws are worth 1 point apiece). Presumably, these two would then have a rematch to determine the block winner. I suppose they could draw for eternity before NJPW gets bored and inserts someone else in the G1 Climax 27 Finals. I don’t see that happening.
Bad Luck Fale and Kota Ibushi both stand at 10 points but neither have a chance of reaching the Finals. Ibushi could win his match against Hirooki Goto giving him 12 points and putting him in a tie with Naito and Tanahashi. He holds the tiebreaker against Tanahashi but it won’t matter. One of Naito or Tanahashi is leaving August 11 with 13 or 14 points. Ibushi has no way to catch them.
The same goes for Bad Luck Fale who even with a victory of Yuji Nagata, cannot eclipse either Tanahashi or Naito and make it to the Finals.
Naito was the easy pick for most at the beginning of the tournament and remains the favorite to emerge. 78.4% of our G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em participants chose Naito as the eventual A Block winner. That’s a huge contrast to Hiroshi Tanahashi, who only garnered 2.7%. If Tanahashi does win the A Block, it will have to be considered a massive upset.
NJPW G1 Climax 27 – B Block
Those looking for parity and intrigue on these final nights are going to be left quite disappointed. Similar to the A Block, there is only one match that matters on August 12.
- Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega
- Minoru Suzuki vs. Toru Yano
- Tama Tonga vs. SANADA
- Michael Elgin vs. Juice Robinson
- Satoshi Kojima vs. EVIL
The scenarios here are easy: Okada wins, he goes to the Finals. Omega wins, he goes to the Finals. If Omega does emerge victorious he will make it back-to-back years in the G1 Climax Finals and if he does eventually win the whole thing, he’ll be the first back-to-back G1 Climax champion since Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2003 & 2004).
An Okada victory will give the current IWGP Heavyweight Champion his first chance at the G1 Climax crown since he won it in 2014. Okada will also have the opportunity to be the first G1 Climax winner/current IWGP Heavyweight Champion since Kensuke Sasaki (2000). Only Sasaki and Keiji Mutoh (1995) won the G1 tournament as champion, however the current champ has reached the final five times: Mutoh (1995), Mutoh (1999), Sasaki (2000), Kazuyuki Fujita (2005) and Yuji Nagata (2007).
Omega was a clear favorite to emerge from the B Block as 58.7% of VOW G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em participants saw “The Cleaner” winning. Okada’s 7.2% pales in comparison to clear second favorite Minoru Suzuki who 24.5% of participants thought could win the block.
NJPW G1 Climax 27 Finals
We’re left with four potential G1 Climax 27 Final matchups:
- Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
- Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito
- Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
- Kenny Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito
Some familiar, some new, some legendary. The most obvious scenario, according to our G1 Climax 27 Pick’Ems, is Omega vs. Naito and that remains the favorite by analysts as well.
This would be the second ever matchup between Omega and Naito. The last being one of the best matches of 2016 and VOW’s 2016 Match of the Year. If you’re reading this and haven’t seen that match (final B Block day of last year’s G1 Climax), open a new window and watch it right now. We’ll be here when you get back. Having to follow up that performance, in a G1 Climax Final, will be no easy task but who are we to doubt these two men after what they’ve done in the last handful of years?
The one scenario with the least amount of traction could be the most controversial and that’s Okada vs. Tanahashi. We won’t waste your time going over the history of these two, if you aren’t already aware, these two have battled for the last handful of years culminating in a series of must-watch, all-time-great matches. If these two were to meet in the Finals, it would be the 11th singles match between the two since 2010. Really, though, it’s unfair to count Okada’s young lion match as canon, so it’s better considered their 10th since Okada shocked the world defeating Tanahashi for the title at New Beginning in 2012. Their final match ended in a 30 minute draw at last year’s G1 Climax. The draw helped perpetual underdog Hirooki Goto make it to the Finals in one of the greatest moments of 2016.
Other scenarios include Okada vs. Naito and Omega vs. Tanahashi. The former (Okada vs. Naito) seems unlikely as most predict that to be the upcoming Wrestle Kingdom main event. NJPW could throw us a curveball but it doesn’t seem very plausible at this time. The latter (Omega vs. Tanahashi) is a fresh matchup with the last match between the two occurring at 2016’s New Beginning in Niigata. Omega won that time, taking Tanahashi’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Still, given the change in characters—most notably Omega’s rise to the main event scene of NJPW—since that time, the match may as well be from an entirely different generation.
NJPW G1 Climax 27 Champion
Over 70% (72.2% to be exact) of our G1 Climax 27 Pick’Em participants believe Tetsuya Naito will win this year’s G1 Climax and they are probably right. The long term story has been building to Naito getting his moment in the sun, a Wrestle Kingdom main event against longtime foe Okada. It was the most likely scenario at the beginning of the year and it remains so as we quickly approach the finality of the G1 Climax.
There is an off chance one of the others emerges but it’s very unlikely. Only 13.1% of our participants thought Omega had a chance to win with Okada and Tanahashi garnering only 4.4% and 0.2% of picks, respectively.
Continue following Voices of Wrestling’s G1 Climax 27 coverage right here at VoicesofWrestling.com. You can also join the discussion as fans from across the world discuss the event and everything else going on in the world of wrestling at voicesofwrestling.com/forums.