NJPW enters the final stages of their G1 Climax 30 tournament with 16 nights down and only three more to go.

This two-part series (one for each block) will recap each G1 Climax tournament participant and focus on their scenario—or lack thereof—to move onto the G1 Climax 30 Finals on October 18 from Tokyo’s famed Sumo Hall.

Watch: NJPW World
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VOW G1 Climax 30 Standings & Scores: http://voicesofwrestling.com/g130pickem/

Yujiro Takahashi (0)

  • Wins: N/A
  • Losses: Kota Ibushi, Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Will Ospreay, Shingo Takagi, Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & Jay White
  • Block Championship Status: Eliminated

At zero points, Takahashi is toast and now will need to pull off a huge upset of Jeff Cobb to avoid being the first wrestler since Tomoaki Honma in 2014 to not score a single G1 Climax tournament victory. Before 2014, you need to go all the way back to 2006 when the future Yoshi-Tatsu (then Naofumi Yamamoto) failed to register one pin or submission in an entire tournament. 

Can Yujiro avoid that fate? We’ll look into it more when we get to Cobb. 

Shingo Takagi (6)

  • Wins: Kota Ibushi, Will Ospreay & Yujiro Takahashi
  • Losses: Jef Cobb, Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Taichi & Jay White
  • Block Championship Status: Eliminated

A lot can change in a year and there’s no better example than the hellscape year we’re currently living in. With that said, I was one of many who expected Takagi to have a breakout of sorts in this year’s G1 Climax. Instead, after scoring 8 points total last year, Shingo has stagnated and sits at 6 points going into the final block night. 

If Shingo can defeat Minoru Suzuki he’ll be able to match his point total from last year. While it’s definitely possible and more than not likely, it’s definitely disappointing to see Takagi stuck in the bottom half of his block yet again. 

Tomohiro Ishii (6)

  • Wins: Shingo Takagi, Taichi & Yujiro Takahashi
  • Losses: Kota Ibushi, Jeff Cobb, Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay & Minoru Suzuki
  • Block Championship Status: Eliminated

Ishii is the perpetual underdog but dammit we all want him to have that one miracle one. The one year when Gedo and the NJPW brass just say FUCK IT and The Stone Pitbull headbutts and grunts his way to the G1 Climax finals. Unfortunately, that won’t be this year. Standing at 6 points, Ishii is officially eliminated from reaching the G1 Climax 30 Finals and will need a victory of Jay White to match his 8 point score from last year. 

Keep an eye on Ishii and White as they are main eventing the final A Block match. Ishii, though completely eliminated from contention, could play a huge role in how the next year plays out for NJPW. White is currently tied for first in the block and 12 points and only needs a win to advance. Could Ishii play the spoiler here and send Switchblade home? 

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Minoru Suzuki (6)

  • Wins: Jeff Cobb, Tomohiro Ishii & Yujiro Takahashi
  • Losses: Kota Ibushi, Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, Taichi & Jay White
  • Block Championship Status: Eliminated

Suzuki’s 9th G1 Climax won’t stand out among his previous tournaments as we received stand Suzuki fare: reliably great performances, funny faces and lots of stiff elbows. At 6 points, Suzuki has no chance to move on in the tournament. This has been a constant trend for Suzuki who can be relied upon for a one-off IWGP Heavyweight Championship chance every few months but has never fared well in G1 Climax competition. Suzuki peaked in 2011 with 12 points but has been mired in a streak of 8-10 point performances since. 

Suzuki will need a big win over LIJ’s Shingo Takagi to hit 8 points and avoid tying his all-time worst G1 Climax tournament showing from 2005 (6 points).  

Jeff Cobb (8)

  • Wins: Tomohiro Ishii, Will Ospreay, Shingo Takagi & Jay White
  • Losses: Kota Ibushi, Kazuchika Okada, Minoru Suzuki & Taichi
  • Block Championship Status: Eliminated

Jeff Cobb’s G1 Climax 30 cannot be called anything but a huge success. After questions of his in-ring prowess after his G1 debut last year, Cobb has risen to the occasion with a handful of standout matches throughout the tournament. While he’s far from the upper echelon of the NJPW roster, Cobb’s absolutely proven his worth now and in the future. 

Score-wise, Cobb has already matched his point total from last year (8) and with a victory over the hapless Yujiro Takahashi, Cobb can reach double digits in his second-ever G1 Climax. 

Now, Cobb is officially eliminated above…BUT this match has HUGE ramifications and can cause insane scenarios to play out. We’ll dive into that more when we talk about Will Ospreay. 

Taichi (8)

  • Wins: Jeff Cobb, Shingo Takagi, Minoru Suzuki & Yujiro Takahashi
  • Losses: Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Will Ospreay & Jay White
  • Block Championship Status: Eliminated

I’m one of Taichi’s harshest critics but it’s impossible to deny his performances in this year’s G1 Climax. An initial worry that Taichi would be the “muckman” of the A Block — DQs, quick distraction victories, cheating, etc. — instead Taichi has fit perfectly into the stellar A Block roster with great performance after great performance. 

Unfortunately, it’s all for naught as Taichi has no chance of making the G1 Climax 30 Finals. A victory over Kota Ibushi on the A Block final night would give Taichi 10 points, his highest G1 Climax point total ever. 

Will Ospreay (10)

  • Wins: Tomohiro Ishii, Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Jay White & Yujiro Takahashi
  • Losses: Kota Ibushi, Jeff Cobb & Shingo Takagi
  • Block Championship Status: Let’s get wild!~ 

A few months ago it didn’t seem possible for Will to get to Japan again let alone partake in NJPW’s annual G1 Climax. Thankfully, Ospreay was able to make it in for the tournament and he’s made the most of every minute in the tournament with tremendous performances. 

And we may still have one more in store as Ospreay battles CHAOS stablemate Kazuchika Okada on the final Block night in a tremendously important match. If Ospreay wins, he’ll jump up to 12 points and also eliminate Okada for contention. 

Ospreay would need a lot to go right for him to have any chance at making the block final. If Ospreay shocks the world and defeats Okada, he’ll need both White and Ibushi to lose as well to force a three-way tie. Oh, fun. Ospreay has a tiebreaker over Ibushi and White and White has a tiebreaker over Ibushi. Got all that? 

It’s confusing as hell but that’s what we’re here for. Ospreay shocks the world beats Okada enters a massive tie that can only be broken by going down seven or so levels. Even more interesting, Ospreay can advance to the block final IF Jeff Cobb defeats Yujiro. Yep, we’re back to that match again! 

Here’s VOW’s own Thomas Fischbeck on the all-important Jeff Cobb vs. Yujiro Takahashi match:

The reason Cobb/Yujiro is important is if White/Ospreay/Okada/Ibushi are tied at the top of the block, Ospreay, Ibushi, and White are all 2-1 in the four-way tie. It then moves to a three-way tie, where they are all 1-1 against each other. Because that is unbreakable, it moves on to the best record against the level at the next points. Basically, because Ospreay lost to Cobb, if Cobb makes that second level of points, Ospreay has a worse record at that level, enough that he loses the tiebreaker (Ibushi advances), while if Cobb doesn’t, Ospreay will advance

Now, NJPW is not going to do this unless they’ve absolutely lost their goddamn minds but keep it in the back of your mind. Don’t forget this year we saw Dick Togo make a surprise appearance to help EVIL beat Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. 

Anything is possible in 2020. 

Hey, you want some more? Sure you do. Back to Fischbeck: 

If Cobb is not there, Ibushi will be 2-1/1-2, Ospreay will be 3-0/2-1, and White will be 2-1/2-1. (The first slash if Suzuki wins, the second if Shingo wins) so either Ospreay will win the block outright at 3-0 or progress to a 2-1 tie with white, where he has the head to head. If Cobb is there, Ibushi will be 3-1/2-2, Ospreay will be 3-1/2-2, and White will be 2-2/2-2. Thus, if Suzuki beats Shingo, Ibushi progresses to the final, if Shingo beats Suzuki…. it would literally be an unbreakable tie.

My brain hurts. Let’s move on. 

Kazuchika Okada (12)

  • Wins: Jeff Cobb, Tomohiro Ishii, Shingo Takagi, Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & Yujiro Takahashi
  • Losses: Kota Ibushi & Jay White
  • Block Championship Status: Okada needs to win or draw, and for White and Ibushi to lose

This one is much easier. 

The, uh, master (?) of the cobra clutch has a much easier path to the block finals. Okada merely needs to have a better result than both White and Ibushi to move on. That means if Okada wins and they both lose or draw or he draws and they both lose. His destiny is pretty much set defeated Ospreay and keep your fingers crossed. 

Okada has not made a G1 Climax Final since his last tournament victory in 2014. Can he reverse the curse or will his insistent on making Fetc…sorry, the Cobra Clutch happen doom him in the end? 

Can Ospreay pull off the upset and have everyone scrambling to figure out tiebreakers only broken by sack races on non-consecutive Sundays? 

Ospreay has never beaten Okada (0-4) but I’ll join a list of many hoping he does it to create CHAOS (pun intended) atop the G1 Climax 30 standings.

Kota Ibushi (12)

  • Wins: Jeff Cobb, Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Will Ospreay, Minoru Suzuki & Yujiro Takahashi
  • Losses: Shingo Takagi & Jay White
  • Block Championship Status: Needs to win and for White to lose

Last year’s G1 Climax winner is in the mix again this year with a relatively easy path towards the G1 Climax 30 Finals. Ibushi has had a tremendous yet somehow still disappointing tournament. Ibushi is one of the best wrestlers on the planet so when he just has a bunch of good to really good matches, it feels like a let-down. With that said, if Ibushi does move on we can expect at least one more great match in the G1 Climax 30 Final. 

But what does he need to do to get there? It’s pretty simple, actually. If Ibushi defeats Taichi, he’ll need to root for a Jay White loss or draw. 

Ibushi can also make it to the Finals if he draws, White loses and Okada & Ospreay go to a draw themselves. That’s a lot of draws. 

Jay White (12)

  • Wins: Kota Ibushi, Kazuchika Okada, Shingo Takagi, Minoru Suzuki & Yujiro Takahashi
  • Losses: Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay
  • Block Championship Status: Just win, baby!

Like Ospreay, it didn’t seem possible for White to even return to Japan a few months ago let alone take part in the annual G1 Climax tournament. White is back and he’s immediately been thrust back to the top of the company. The BULLET CLUB leader (for now!) has been teasing dissension with his unit and manager and that could play a huge role in how the G1 Climax 30 plays out. 

White’s path to the G1 Climax 30 Finals is the easiest yet: win. Yep, that’s it. 

If White wins, he’s in. If he goes to a draw with Ishii, he can still advance provided Ibushi and Okada both lose or draw.  

White is the heavy favorite right now to defeat Ishii and move on. Their match is the main event of the show and barring a BULLET CLUB turn or other shenanigans, White as of now has the clearest path to the G1 Climax 30 Finals.