New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax 29 is on the cusp of its last two nights of block competition and each wrestler’s stakes at this point are close to what most fans expected when the match cards were announced but the road to the block finals have been anything but predictable. It wouldn’t have surprised many if wrestlers like Hiroshi Tanahashi, KENTA, or even Will Ospreay were in contention on the last night of competition, but the numbers only lined up for two wrestlers: IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada and 2018 G1 Runner Up, Kota Ibushi.
These NJPW fan favorites have been on a crash course to Budokan Hall since the tournament’s schedule was released, but they took two very different paths to get there.
|A BLOCK STANDINGS (wrestlers still in contention)|
Statistically, Kazuchika Okada has been the most dominant wrestler in the tournament. The IWGP Heavyweight Champion started the tournament with 6 straight wins and his Weighted Block Win Probability (wBWP) has remained at the top of the A Block for the G1’s entirety.
Weighted Block Win Probability calculates a wrestler’s likelihood to win a round-robin style tournament. Key factors to calculate wBWP include results to date (W/L record, points), total available future points (Max available points), win efficiency (average winning match time, fall attempts per match), momentum (streak), strength of future schedule (win%/total points of future opponents), Tiebreaker-based force ranking.
Proving his in-ring intelligence, The Rainmaker has averaged a tournament-low 2.4 pinfall attempts per match as he fought for his 7-1 record.
|Wrestler||Pin fall Attempts||Submission Attempts||Average Pin fall Attempts Per Match||Average Submission Attempts Per Match|
Okada’s dominance in the win column and his efficiency between the ropes is not evidence that his path has been easy. The competitors in A Block have thrown everything they have at the champion, forcing Okada to have the longest elapsed match time among both blocks at 2:44:11.
|Wrestler||Average Match Length||Average Winning Match Length||Average Losing Match Length||Total Match Length||Shortest Match||Longest Match|
Okada’s average winning match time is the second-highest in the entire tournament at 19:12, behind only SANADA, whose average is brought up significantly by his success in Okada’s only loss during a record-breaking 29:47 pinfall victory over the IWGP champion.
Okada and Ibushi’s current Weighted Block Win Probability
- Okada: 51.1%
- Ibushi: 48.9%
Kota Ibushi’s road to Budokan Hall has been a path of building momentum. The Golden Star started the tournament with two 20-minute losses, forcing fans to question his physical well-being and whether he could come back from such odds. On July 18, Ibushi battled against Will Ospreay in the second-longest match of the tournament (27:16) for his first victory. Even after this win, Ibushi’s Weighted Block Win Probability (wBWP)1 was only 6%. It looked like Kota was going to labor through the whole tournament, but he hit his stride and is currently driving a six-match winning streak into the A Block’s final night. Carrying this win streak almost entirely offsets Kazuchika Okada’s advantage of having two outcomes (win, draw) to win the Block against Ibushi’s single successful outcome of a clean victory.
Ibushi will come into his tilt with the IWGP Heavyweight Champion with more gas in his tank. His total elapsed match time is 25 minutes less than Okada’s, coming in at 2:19:20. This is a significant difference, but it is really highlighted by his improving efficiency: Kota’s last five matches have averaged 14:24, all in victory. Okada’s last five: an incredible 23:58. This 9:34 per match difference over the grueling last two weeks of the tournament will certainly play a factor in each competitor’s stamina.
Kazuchika Okada and Kota Ibushi have taken completely different roads to get here, but they will meet full speed at the crossroads of the A Block and only one wrestler will go through to the finals. If statistics have anything to say about it, it’ll be a closely contested match, and potentially one for the record books!