Can you feel it? The butterflies fluttering in your stomach, the sharp jolt running up your spine, the little hairs on your arms standing up, the rapid heartbeats thumping in your chest, the extra little spring in your step as you go about your day, your thoughts racing 1,000 miles an hour in your mind. It can mean only one thing: The G1 Climax has arrived. Either that, or you should have checked the expiration date on that tuna salad sandwich you ate for lunch.

Yes, the greatest tournament in pro wrestling is back for its latest outing: New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax 29! Twenty wrestlers will compete over the course of a month in a round robin tournament to determine who is the best amongst their field. This year’s tournament is a who’s who of previous winners, longtime favorites, eternal underdogs, and exciting newcomers, all of whom are looking to add to their legacies, take the next big step in their careers, or make huge statements to the rest of the world.

Whether you are a casual fan who will cherry pick some of the key matches or a true New Japan hardcore who will watch every single show, this preview will be a helpful guide on the basics, the wrestlers, and the schedule for this year’s G1 Climax. So in the words of the late, great Marvin Gaye, let’s get it on!

Before we begin, a reminder to enter VOW’s G1 Climax 29 Pick’Em contest. For details on how to sign-up as well as prizes, visit voicesofwrestling.com/g1pickem.

The Basics

This year’s G1 Climax will run from July 6 to August 12. In a truly historic event, night one of the G1 will be held in Dallas, Texas, which is the first time that the tournament has ever been held outside of Japan. Like last year, the final three nights will be held in the legendary Nippon Budokan.

The twenty participants will be split into two blocks, A Block and B Block. Each participant will wrestle everyone else in their block in order to score points.

  • Win a match = 2 points
  • Go to a 30-minute time limit draw = 1 point
  • Lose a match, double DQ, double countout = 0 points

Whoever has the most points in each block at the end of block play will move on to the finals, which will have no time limit. Should there be a tie for first place in either block, the block winner will be decided via head-to-head tiebreaker. For example, if Wrestlers A and B finished tied for first with 12 points, and Wrestler A had defeated Wrestler B in their block play match, then Wrestler A would move on to the finals, or vice versa.

The winner of the finals on August 12 will be declared the winner of G1 Climax 29 and receive a contract that allows him the right to challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 14 in the Tokyo Dome. Should the current champion Kazuchika Okada win the tournament, it is presumed that he will be allowed to name his own challenger for the Tokyo Dome when the time comes.

Participants

When it comes to this year’s field of entrants, there is quite a lot of turnover from last year’s outing. Only 13 out of the 20 wrestlers who were in the 2018 G1 are going to be in the 2019 G1. The seven who did not make it are Kenny Omega, Hangman Page, Tama Tonga, Michael Elgin, Minoru Suzuki, Togi Makabe, and YOSHI-HASHI. While most of those exclusions are not shocking given that some of those guys have left New Japan or haven’t been performing all that well in the ring recently, it’s the exclusions of Makabe and Suzuki that are quite notable. Makabe has been in every single G1 Climax since 2004, while Suzuki, despite being 51, is still considered to be a pretty big deal with the fans. That said, looking at the seven new wrestlers coming in, I doubt many of us will be crying into our oatmeal. This year’s G1 Climax lineup is stacked to the gills.

Fale is the big bad monster of the Bullet Club, so if you’re expecting to see some wild sprints out of him, you’re going to be sorely disappointed; this is a man who once wrestled in a shirt that said “One Bump General” on it. Despite looking like a member of the Truth Commission who took a few too many trips to the buffet, Fale’s size and strength have been a big help in prior years. He’s scored an average of 10 points in his five previous G1 outings, including multiple victories over longtime rivals Tanahashi and Okada. Fale has yet to actually win the G1 Climax and the odds of him doing so this year are not good, but the former “Underboss” will be a sizable roadblock for anyone who wants to claim the trophy for themselves.

Notable matches: I cannot stress enough that Fale is not the kind of guy you should expect to have a match of the night, but when it comes to who will get the best out of him, your best bets are his matches against Kazuchika Okada (7/18) and Hiroshi Tanahashi (8/7).

One of the heavier hitters of Los Ingobernables de Japon, EVIL is a former NEVER Openweight Champion, IWGP Tag Team Champion and NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion. The gothic hoss has delivered in past G1’s with strong performances against guys like Okada, Elgin, and Omega, but so far he’s never been able to get over the hump and make it to the finals. Recently EVIL has been a bit distant from the rest of his LIJ stablemates, refusing to do the LIJ fist bump at the end of their matches. Perhaps this is just a momentary bit of strife or perhaps it is leading to an eventual split from LIJ further down the road, but either way, this frustration could be exactly what the “King of Darkness” needs to win the G1 Climax and welcome us all to the Darkness World.

Notable matches: EVIL can dish out the violence as good as anybody, so his match against fellow moody boy KENTA (7/20) should be fun to watch. Of course, he’s also in the same block as his tag partner SANADA (7/18), so their match together should also have some extra juice to it.

It’s a tale as old as time. Hiroshi Tanahashi, the “Once in a Century Talent,” the multi-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, the man who lives and breathes New Japan Pro Wrestling, is coming into the G1 Climax (his 18th consecutive appearance, by the way) with an injury. One year it’s his back, another year it’s his neck, another year it’s his arm. Tanahashi’s opponents target the injury throughout the matches and we worry and fret. “How could they do this? Don’t they know this man is seriously injured? Won’t somebody think of the children?” And guess what happens? Tanahashi comes out of the tournament smelling like roses with another slew of outstanding matches to his name and then the next year we start the process all over again. Last year Tanahashi came into the G1 Climax with an injured leg, his opponents targeted it throughout the whole tournament, and he ended up winning the whole thing! This year Tanahashi has an injured elbow and if you think he isn’t gonna do his damnedest to sell the injury, have some more great matches, and be in the running for winning the tournament for the fourth time, then you don’t know Hiroshi Tanahashi.

Notable matches: It’s a match we’ve seen plenty of times before–three times in 2018, actually–but his match against Kazuchika Okada (7/6) will be must-watch because it’s the first time it’s happening in the U.S. The American fans will no doubt be buzzing for that main event and those guys have yet to disappoint when they’re in the ring one-on-one. Also, circle your calendars for his match against Will Ospreay (8/10) which will take place in Budokan Hall and could potentially determine the outcome for A Block.

2019 has been a redemptive year for Okada. After losing the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to Kenny Omega at Dominion in June 2018, Okada went on a bit of a slump. He went to a draw in the A Block decision match to Tanahashi in the G1 Climax 28 (causing him to miss the finals), lost again to Tanahashi in a rematch at Destruction in September, then lost to CHAOS turncoat Jay White at Wrestle Kingdom 13. Since then, Okada has bounced back with his second New Japan Cup victory in March, defeated White to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at G1 Supercard in Madison Square Garden, and has made successful defenses of the title against SANADA and Chris Jericho. Now he’s entering his eighth G1 Climax with the belt around his waist and the determination to win the tournament for the third time. The IWGP Heavyweight Champion hasn’t won the G1 since 2000, but Okada has been nigh untouchable since April. He could easily make it rain in Budokan on August 12.

Notable matches: Besides the Tanahashi match in Dallas, Okada has some excellent-looking matches on the docket. He’s got a rubber match against Zack Sabre Jr. (7/14) (both men are tied 1-1), the next match in his series against Will Ospreay (7/20) in Korakuen Hall, an undeniable dream match against KENTA (7/27), and his long-awaited rematch against Kota Ibushi (8/10), which is taking place in Budokan and could determine the A Block winner.

Hideo Itami is dead. He died when he left WWE back in February after a disappointing five-year run of poorly-timed injuries, missed opportunities in NXT, unusable finishers that he invented in the first place, and being stuck at the kid’s table on 205 Live. But where there is death, there is also life. Out of the ashes of Hideo Itami arises the phoenix of KENTA, a grumpy asskicker who loves hip hop and hates anybody who gets in his way. If you’re unfamiliar with KENTA, go back and watch some of his matches in Pro Wrestling NOAH during the 2000s. Spoiler alert: They rule. Now to be fair, 2019 KENTA is a total wildcard because this is a different wrestler than the one who left Japan back in 2014. He’s had some injuries, his spirit’s been kicked in the crotch a few times by WWE, and it looks like he’s enjoyed his fair share of Denny’s Grand Slam breakfasts while in the States. We don’t know 100% what he’ll be like in the ring. But at the end of the day, this is still KENTA we’re talking about here. He didn’t come to New Japan to dilly dally and eat pancakes; he came to wrestle in the G1 fucking Climax. And if he brings the fire and the fury like he did in his younger days, it’s gonna be a summer of redemption for our man KENTA.

Notable matches: Honestly, it’s gonna be so fascinating to watch KENTA in this environment after so long away that I suggest you watch all of his matches. He’s gonna be in there with a bunch of different styles too, so we’ll see how he interacts with Kota Ibushi (7/6)Hiroshi Tanahashi (7/14), Lance Archer (7/18), Will Ospreay (8/7), and Zack Sabre Jr. (8/10).

The enigmatic Kota Ibushi came within an inch of winning last year’s G1 Climax in an incredible finals against Tanahashi. This year, the “Golden Star” has a few more title reigns under his belt (he won the NEVER Openweight Championship last December and the IWGP Intercontinental Championship in April) and a promise that New Japan will remain his home for the rest of his career. Ibushi had spent the past number of years in New Japan as a freelancer, which put a limit on how far the company was willing to push him. Now that he’s got his name signed on the dotted line, Ibushi can finally have the rocket strapped to him. But will 2019 be his year? He’s enormously popular with the fans and a world class wrestler, but he’s got some stiff competition being in the same block as guys like Tanahashi, Okada, and KENTA. Ibushi is a heavy favorite, no doubt, but even the heavy favorites fail to win the big one.

Notable matches: Ibushi was arguably the MVP of the 2018 G1 and I fully expect him to be in the running again this year. He’s already had great matches with a lot of the guys in his block like Will Ospreay (7/18), SANADA (7/20), Hiroshi Tanahashi (8/3), Zack Sabre Jr. (8/7), and Kazuchika Okada (8/10). His first-ever singles match against KENTA (7/6) is one that fans have been waiting years to see.

It’s been a while since Lance Archer has competed in a G1 Climax; the last time he was in the tournament was 2014. He’s been a super solid hand in the tag division for quite a long time and he also hustled his big Texas butt off to help sell tickets to the Dallas show, so to see him get this spot is pretty cool. Since this is Archer’s first G1 and his first extended singles run in New Japan in years, we should expect him to be very motivated to put his best (and biggest) foot forward and make the most of this opportunity. He’ll do what he does best: be a giant, powerful, angry man who can toss dudes across the ring and move around with relative quickness. That’s gonna spell trouble for anybody who steps to Archer, and that’s just the way he likes it. It’s like the big man says, “Everybody dies!”

Notable matches: Archer is wrestling Will Ospreay (7/6) in his hometown of Dallas, Texas, which is a rematch of their great New Japan Cup match from March. Archer also made Kazuchika Okada (7/30) one of his primary targets on the Kizuna Road tour, so their match together should also be grand ol’ time.

SANADA returns for his fourth G1 with a brand new aesthetic: Sexy Sky Pirate Prince Skeleton Man! A little wordy, I know, but it’s still a fantastic look for the “Cold Skull.” SANADA has come close to main event success twice so far in 2o19. He made it to the finals of the New Japan Cup, only to lose to Okada. He also had an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match at Wrestling Dontaku in May, which he also lost to Okada. The “Rainmaker” has been a hurdle that SANADA has never been able to overcome, but them both being in the A Block means that the two will wrestle each other for the third time this year. Maybe the third time’s the charm for Captain Pretty Bones as he looks to conquer the G1 Climax.

Notable matches: There’s the Kazuchika Okada (8/3) match in Osaka and the intra-stable match against EVIL (7/18), but don’t sleep on the Zack Sabre Jr. (7/6) match or the Kota Ibushi (7/20) match. SANADA has really good chemistry with those similarly hunky men.

It’s been a hell of a 2019 for Will Ospreay. He defeated Kota Ibushi to win the NEVER Openweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 13, then won his second Best of the Super Juniors tournament in the spring when he defeated the unbeaten Shingo Takagi in the finals. He then defeated Dragon Lee just four days later at Dominion to win his third IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. Add to that his ever-growing list of incredible matches and you’ve got a guy who is on top the world. And now he’s gonna add to that list with his debut in the G1 Climax. He won’t be the first junior champion to be in the tournament–Tatsuhiko Takaiwa did so in 2000, as did Prince Devitt in 2013–but based on his year so far, it feels like he could believably go all the way to the finals. We’ve seen that he can hang with the heavyweights, he’s added some bulk to his frame without sacrificing his agility, and the guy just has “future worldwide star” written all over him. I doubt he’ll actually go all the way, but make no mistake: Will Ospreay is going to have an incredible G1 Climax debut whether he triumphs or not.

Notable matches: Ospreay managed to have at least a good match with everybody in his block in the BOSJ and I’d wager that he could so again here. The five matches that I recommend you really keep an eye on are the rematch with Kota Ibushi (7/18), the rematch with Kazuchika Okada (7/20), his match against Zack Sabre Jr. (7/30), his first-ever match against KENTA (8/7), and his first-ever match against Hiroshi Tanahashi (8/10).

Welcome to Zack Sabre Time! He’s the reigning RevPro British Heavyweight Champion and arguably the best technical wrestler in the entire world. What makes him such a dangerous competitor is that he can beat any of his opponents no matter what their style is. It doesn’t matter if you’re a grappler, a striker, a speedster, a bruiser, or a giant because Zack will tie you up in some convoluted submission hold named after an obscure British reference and make you tap out. Or he’ll hit you with the Zack Driver and pin you. Or he’ll twist you around and pin you with a crazy roll-up. The options are seemingly limitless for ZSJ and it’s that sinister creativity that could see him become the first British G1 Climax winner in history.

Notable matches: My mind keeps going back to that Kazuchika Okada (7/14) match because New Japan are running that Royal Quest show in England in late August. It’s the company’s first solo show in the U.K. and the perfect main event for that show would be Okada defending the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Sabre after ZSJ beats Okada in the G1. Just putting that out there.





Hirooki Goto is affectionately known as “Goto the Geek” around these parts. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great wrestler with hard-hitting and intense offense. He’s a former IWGP Intercontinental Champion, NEVER Openweight Champion, IWGP Tag Team Champion, three-time New Japan Cup winner, and he won the G1 Climax in 2008 on his first try. Having said that, Goto is still a geek. He’s had so many chances to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and he’s failed every single time. He touted that he would win the New Japan Cup this year, then SANADA booted his ass out in the first round. Even his titantron shows him eating a Rainmaker from Okada in slow motion. So yeah, he’s a geek. Having said that, though, I expect Goto to have a really good tournament in terms of match quality. As I mentioned, he’s a great wrestler who just doesn’t get pushed to the level of an Okada or Tanahashi. And that’s okay, not everybody should be. All that matters is that he tries his best, and with a guy like Hirooki Goto, you can always count on him to do so.

Notable matches: Goto and Tomohiro Ishii (8/1) being in a singles match together is never not awesome. On a similar note, he’s wrestling Shingo Takagi (8/11) on the final B Block night in Budokan, which also sounds quite delicious.

There are a lot of wrestlers who fight with honor, who believe in the sanctity of sportsmanship, and who carry a sense of decency and good will with them everywhere they go. Jay White is not one of those wrestlers. He is perfectly content with being a total scuzzbag who will use any advantage and shortcut to help him win a match. White has also used his impressive countering skills to secure huge victories in his career, including winning the IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship from Kenny Omega, pinning Okada clean in the Tokyo Dome, and defeating Tanahashi to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at this year’s New Beginning in Osaka show. Although his run with the belt only lasted a few months, White is not ready to lose his newfound spot in the main event scene just yet. He wants to win the G1 Climax and get that title back. With Gedo and his other Bullet Club buddies by his side, we could be all be breathing with the “Switchblade” sooner rather than later.

Notable matches: If you watched last year’s G1 Special in San Francisco, you would have seen White and Juice Robinson (8/8) have a tremendous match for the U.S. Title. They could capture the magic a second time in the rematch. There is also a huge first-time match in Budokan against Tetsuya Naito (8/11) which could determine the B Block winner.

If you’re looking for the Quadruple B (Big Boy of B Block), then look no further than Jeff Cobb. He’s a thick bastard at 265 pounds, but don’t let his size fool you. Cobb is not just large and in charge, he’s also got quite a bit of agility to him. I suppose he’s like Lance Archer in that sense, except he’s shorter, wider, and he can do a standing shooting star press because he’s awesome like that. Cobb is also a former NEVER Openweight Champion and this year’s representative from New Japan’s promotional partner Ring of Honor. Lord knows the New Japan-ROH relationship isn’t a perfect one, but if it allows guys like Jeff Cobb to come into the G1 and effortless throw people around like a total badass, then I’m all for it.

Notable matches: Cobb is so versatile when it comes to opponents. They could be fellow hosses like Tomohiro Ishii (7/13) and Shingo Takagi (8/1), or they could be skinnier guys like Jon Moxley (7/15) and Tetsuya Naito (8/8), and Cobb will throw them around with ease regardless. He should make a fun addition to the tournament.

Jon Moxley is the B Block wildcard. After taking his ball and going home his contract expired with WWE in April, Moxley left for greener pastures. His first stop would be AEW, where he debuted to a massive ovation from the crowd at the end of their Double or Nothing PPV. Following that, Moxley shocked the world when it was revealed that he was Juice Robinson’s mystery opponent for the Best of the Super Juniors final in Sumo Hall. Jon Moxley, the hottest commodity in wrestling, was coming to New Japan. He beat Juice to win the IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship in a violent brawl, then shortly thereafter made his intentions clear: “Jon Moxley wants in the G1!” He got his wish, which means the former Dean Ambrose will compete in the G1 Climax. He’ll be wrestling Tomohiro Ishii, Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, Taichi, Toru Yano, Juice Robinson, Jeff Cobb, Hirooki Goto, and Jay White over the course of a month. Imagine saying all that six months ago. Moxley brings such a unique energy to the B Block too. He just feels different. That’s what makes him a wild card, we have no idea what it’s gonna look like when he’s in there with Shingo or Naito or Taichi or YANO of all people. I can’t wait.

Notable matches: Watch every Jon Moxley match. All of them. Even the undercard tags on A Block shows where he’s teaming with his new “training partner” Shota Umino. This is gonna be fun.

“Flamboyant” is a good descriptor for Juice Robinson, especially if the above photo is any indication; he looks like Ebenezer Scrooge at Burning Man. Recently, however, Juice has adopted more of a serious attitude than his usual bombastic persona. It was spurned on by his straight-up fight with Jon Moxley over the IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship, before which he revealed that he had cut off his signature dreadlocks. It signals a possible sea change for Juice, who looks to redeem not only the loss of the U.S. Title, but his performance in last year’s G1. He was the U.S. Champion for the 2018 edition of the tournament, but he only scored a measly six points. A focused, more determined Juice Robinson could be a dark horse in this year’s B Block.

Notable matches: Juice has grown into an excellent pro wrestler these past few years and he’s in a block with some exceptional talent. The rematch with Jon Moxley (8/11) in Budokan is an obvious date to circle, but his matches with Shingo Takagi (7/13), Tomohiro Ishii (7/28), and Tetsuya Naito (8/1) should also be quite good.

Shingo Takagi was the odds-on favorite to win this year’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament. He hadn’t been pinned or submitted since joining New Japan in October 2018 and had been on an absolute tear through the junior division. Shingo continued barreling through his opponents like a Mack Truck when he went undefeated in his block at 9-0. His unbeaten streak came to an end in the finals, however, when Will Ospreay emptied the clip on “The Dragon” to put Shingo down for the three count for the first time in his New Japan career. Despite suffering his first loss, Shingo did not let it totally stop his momentum. He defeated heavyweight Satoshi Kojima at Dominion, then announced his intention to be in the G1 Climax. And now he’s in. It’s a new environment for Shingo in New Japan, as he’s being put amongst heavyweights while still being considered a junior himself. He has the size and aura to match his opponents, so he won’t look out of place, but to think that he’ll go undefeated in his block like he did in the Super Juniors would be foolhardy. That said, Shingo is still going to do what he does best: Kick ass.

Notable matches: Like his junior counterpart in the A Block, Shingo is such a great wrestler that it’s possible he could have at least a good match with every single person in his block. The ones that look the tastiest from my perspective are his match with Tomohiro Ishii (8/8) (if you want to know what that will look like, take two giant slabs of beef and smash them together as hard as you can) and his first-ever match with LIJ stablemate and longtime friend Tetsuya Naito (8/4).

Giving Jay White a run for his money in the sleazeball department is Taichi. It’s heavily documented that Taichi loves to use underhanded tactics to cheat his way through his matches, but it’s actually the serious Taichi, the guy who put his working boots on in matches against Ishii, Naito, Tanahashi, and Ospreay, that has made him a wrestler who people really want to see in the G1. We know he can deliver in the ring in a big singles match, he just needs the chance to show it and to tone down the bullshit. Being in his first G1 Climax will give Taichi ample opportunity to prove all of his naysayers wrong. As for the bullshit, don’t expect him to suddenly become Mr. Squeaky Clean for this tournament. He’s still Taichi, he’s still gonna be a cheeky little devil and pull out his bag of tricks. What matters is how much bullshit there’s going to be in Taichi’s matches, especially since he’s in the same block as Jay White and Toru Yano.

Notable matches: I have yet to see a bad Taichi vs. Tomohiro Ishii (8/11) match, so keep an eye on that one. His feud with Tetsuya Naito (7/15) has also produced some fun matches. And just for the hell of it, his match with Jon Moxley (7/13) should be one to watch because, I mean, it’s Taichi vs. Jon Moxley!

As one of the top stars in the company, Tetsuya Naito is always a favorite to win the G1 Climax. He’s won it twice before, but each time he’s failed to secure the ultimate prize by winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom; Okada has bested him on both occasions. This year puts a neat little spin on Naito’s story. Naito is the current IWGP Intercontinental Champion, a title which he had previously despised to the point where he would routinely chuck it around with reckless abandon. Currently in his fourth reign, Naito has pledged to be the first wrestler to hold both the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships at the same time. He tried to obtain this goal by winning the New Japan Cup, but he lost in the first round to Ibushi. Now he’s got another shot here with the G1 Climax. Should he emerge victorious in the tournament and retain both his title and the Tokyo Dome contract, Naito could put his name in the record books as a double champion of the two most prestigious belts in New Japan, perhaps finally defeating Okada in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom to do so. But first, he has to win.

Notable matches: In addition to some of the matches mentioned previously, such as his eventual encounter with Shingo Takagi (8/4), get ready for another chapter in Naito’s fantastic in-ring feud with Tomohiro Ishii (7/24) and his match against Jon Moxley (7/28).

Not to put a damper on the proceedings, but Tomohiro Ishii is not going to win the G1 Climax. He’s one of the best wrestlers in the world and has been consistently delivering top-notch performances in the ring for many years now, but when it comes to making the big leap to main event status, that’s not in the cards for the “Stone Pitbull.” Ishii is not the guy who wins “the big one,” but that’s okay because that’s not why we love him. We love him because he’s a no-nonsense asskicker. We love him because he shows HEART and GUTS and FIRE in his matches no matter who he’s wrestling. We love him because despite having the personality of a barbed wire cactus covered in sandpaper, Ishii manages to be so good at garnering sympathy from the fans. This is a guy who was built for the G1 Climax. He’ll never go all the way, but every step of the journey will be so damn great to watch.

Notable matches: I hate to sound like a broken record, but Ishii is gonna have an awesome tournament with this block. He had an absolutely stellar tournament last year, but this year could somehow wind up topping that. You’ve got the match against Jeff Cobb (7/13), the match against Jon Moxley (7/19), the match against Tetsuya Naito (7/24), the match against Juice Robinson (7/28), the match against Hirooki Goto (8/1), the match against Shingo Takagi (8/8), the match against Taichi (8/11). HOOK IT TO MY VEINS!!!

The final entrant in this year’s G1 Climax is the ultimate master of mischief, Toru Yano. Yano, much like his fellow tricksters Jay White and Taichi, is a polarizing figure. Some people really love him, some people really hate him, and there’s a creamy nougat center where everybody else just goes with the flow. Yano’s role in the G1 Climax isn’t necessarily to win, it’s to be a spoiler for the other wrestlers. His nefarious tactics means that he can beat any of his opponents (usually via roll-up), so don’t be shocked if he pulls off major upsets against some of the bigger names in his block.

Notable matches: As far as shenanigans go, it’s gonna be his match against Taichi (8/8). As far as sheer bizarro world “Is this real life?” craziness, his match against Jon Moxley (8/1).





Schedule

The opening night in Dallas on July 6 will be shown live on AXS TV in the United States and live on New Japan World elsewhere. It will be available on New Japan World VOD in the United States afterward. All other shows will be shown live exclusively on New Japan World for all countries. Every show will feature English commentary. All matches are in ascending order on the card unless otherwise noted.

Saturday, July 6 @ American Airlines Center, Dallas

A Block: Will Ospreay vs. Lance Archer

A Block: EVIL vs. Bad Luck Fale

A Block: SANADA vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

A Block: Kota Ibushi vs. KENTA

A Block: Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

Saturday, July 13 @ Ota General Gymnasium, Tokyo

B Block: Juice Robinson vs. Shingo Takagi

B Block: Jon Moxley vs. Taichi

B Block: Toru Yano vs. Tetsuya Naito

B Block: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Jeff Cobb

B Block: Hirooki Goto vs. Jay White

Sunday, July 14 @ Ota General Gynasium, Tokyo

A Block: Lance Archer vs. Bad Luck Fale

A Block: Will Ospreay vs. SANADA

A Block: Kazuchika Okada vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

A Block: Kota Ibushi vs. EVIL

A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. KENTA

Monday, July 15 @ Hokkaido Sports Center, Hokkaido

B Block: Toru Yano vs. Shingo Takagi

B Block: Juice Robinson vs. Hirooki Goto

B Block: Jeff Cobb vs. Jon Moxley

B Block: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Jay White

B Block: Tetsuya Naito vs. Taichi

Thursday, July 18 @ Korakuen Hall, Tokyo

A Block: KENTA vs. Lance Archer

A Block: EVIL vs. SANADA

A Block: Kazuchika Okada vs. Bad Luck Fale

A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

A Block: Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay

Friday, July 19 @ Korakuen Hall, Tokyo

B Block: Shingo Takagi vs. Taichi

B Block: Juice Robinson vs. Jeff Cobb

B Block: Toru Yano vs. Jay White

B Block: Hirooki Goto vs. Tetsuya Naito

B Block: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Jon Moxley

Saturday, July 20 @ Korakuen Hall, Tokyo

A Block: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Bad Luck Fale

A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Lance Archer

A Block: KENTA vs. EVIL

A Block: Kota Ibushi vs. SANADA

A Block: Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay

Wednesday, July 24 @ Hiroshima Sun Plaza Hall, Hiroshima

B Block: Juice Robinson vs. Toru Yano

B Block: Hirooki Goto vs. Taichi

B Block: Jon Moxley vs. Shingo Takagi

B Block: Jeff Cobb vs. Jay White

B Block: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tetsuya Naito

Saturday, July 27 @ Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Aichi

A Block: Kota Ibushi vs. Lance Archer

A Block: Will Ospreay vs. Bad Luck Fale

A Block: EVIL vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. SANADA

A Block: Kazuchika Okada vs. KENTA

Sunday, July 28 @ Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Aichi

B Block: Hirooki Goto vs. Toru Yano

B Block: Juice Robinson vs. Tomohiro Ishii

B Block: Jeff Cobb vs. Taichi

B Block: Shingo Takagi vs. Jay White

B Block: Tetsuya Naito vs. Jon Moxley

Tuesday, July 30 @ Takamatsu City General Gymnasium Arena 1, Kagawa

A Block: Kota Ibushi vs. Bad Luck Fale

A Block: Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

A Block: Kazuchika Okada vs. Lance Archer

A Block: KENTA vs. SANADA

A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. EVIL

Thursday, Aug. 1 @ Fukuoka Citizen Gymnasium, Fukuoka

B Block: Jeff Cobb vs. Shingo Takagi

B Block: Toru Yano vs. Jon Moxley

B Block: Juice Robinson vs. Tetsuya Naito

B Block: Taichi vs. Jay White

B Block: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hirooki Goto

Saturday, Aug. 3 @ Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, Osaka

A Block: KENTA vs. Bad Luck Fale

A Block: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Lance Archer

A Block: Will Ospreay vs. EVIL

A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi

A Block: Kazuchika Okada vs. SANADA

Sunday, Aug. 4 @ Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, Osaka

B Block: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Toru Yano

B Block: Juice Robinson vs. Taichi

B Block: Hirooki Goto vs. Jeff Cobb

B Block: Jon Moxley vs. Jay White

B Block: Tetsuya Naito vs. Shingo Takagi

Wednesday, Aug. 7 @ Hamamatsu Arena, Shizuoka

A Block: SANADA vs. Lance Archer

A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Bad Luck Fale

A Block: Will Ospreay vs. KENTA

A Block: Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

A Block: Kazuchika Okada vs. EVIL

Thursday, Aug. 8 @ Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium, Kanagawa

B Block: Toru Yano vs. Taichi

B Block: Jeff Cobb vs. Tetsuya Naito

B Block: Hirooki Goto vs. Jon Moxley

B Block: Juice Robinson vs. Jay White

B Block: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Shingo Takagi

Saturday, Aug. 10 @ Nippon Budokan, Tokyo (Match Order TBD)

A Block: Kazuchika Okada vs. Kota Ibushi

A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Will Ospreay

A Block: KENTA vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

A Block: EVIL vs. Lance Archer

A Block: SANADA vs. Bad Luck Fale

Sunday, Aug. 11 @ Nippon Budokan, Tokyo (Match Order TBD)

B Block: Juice Robinson vs. Jon Moxley

B Block: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Taichi

B Block: Toru Yano vs. Jeff Cobb

B Block: Hirooki Goto vs. Shingo Takagi

B Block: Tetsuya Naito vs. Jay White

Monday, Aug. 12 @ Nippon Budokan, Tokyo

Finals: A Block winner vs. B Block winner