Bloody hell, G1 Climax 30.
I mean, bloody hell.
It has been one month of deceptively long matches, lobotomized officiating, legitimate career resurrections, and excruciating discourse on a modified cobra clutch that has made me want to modify my brain with an icepick on numerous occasions.
Gratefully, we’ve reached the end. In our two-part historical preview of this year’s G1 Climax, we noted how Gedo’s overall G1 Climax booking shows very clear and robust patterns. Now that the final nights have arrived, we look specifically at final night history. We combed through every single G1 Climax participant in the Gedo Era, back to 2010. All 196 of them. Every single win and loss in this godforsaken tournament since 2010. We picked out anyone that went into their block’s final night leading their block, tied for the lead, or within two points of the lead. Every scenario required for victory was thoroughly parsed.
It was a soul-shattering experience. It resulted in a document so long that it had to be edited out of this article. If you’d like to see what a decade of professional wrestling scenarios looks like, color-coded and all that, follow this link.
The historical precedents heavily suggest a G1 Climax 30 Final between Jay White and SANADA.
I know, super exciting and outlandish, but it’s what the historical record clearly indicates. Now, this does indeed contrast with the historical general booking trends discussed in the articles linked above. But, as those articles concluded, the trends are kinda fucked this year anyway. An examination of all the Realistic Outright Winning Scenarios of the past decade clearly show the most historical aligned conclusion to be White vs. SANADA. We’ll see if this is the next historical trend to be augmented.
Point of Order: We are going to crank the pretension immediately to “You’ve turned me into a 2A activist” levels and introduce the phrase “Realistic Outright Win Scenario.” You are going to see that a lot in this article. That is because this article only recognizes scenarios in which a wrestler can outright win a block, and only considers scenarios with actual results. No-contests, double count-outs, and any other life-debasing nonsense do not exist here. Furthermore, we do not entertain tiebreaker situations involving anything beyond a head-to-head tiebreaker. We can’t even confirm that the tiebreakers even officially exist past that point. And why would they?
These multi-person tiebreaker morasses do exist, of course… In horrifying, Kafkaesque abundance. They are endless, exhaustive, and thoroughly pointless. You could not fathom the mind-numbing terror we felt from the savage monotony of working on Hirooki Goto’s 2015 multi-man tie scenarios. We get cluster headaches and we would have preferred getting a cluster attack.
The Realistic Outright Win Scenario In Action
Here’s the entry for 2010 Toru Yano, incarnate nightmare of the joyless utilitarian. Two points behind the leader, tiebreaker in hand, it would seem like he had a chance to win the block. The Realistic Outright Win Scenario explanation looks like this:
Outside Main Event: Toru Yano at 10
- Toru Yano had already lost to Tetsuya Naito, whom he was tied with at 10.
- Even though he held the tiebreaker on Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hiroshi Tanahashi held a two-point advantage at 12. Therefore, any result in the final would eliminate him. He could not realistically win outright.
There were three realistic outcomes of the Naito-Tanahashi main event: Tanahashi goes to 14, Tanahashi goes to 13, or Naito goes to 12. All eliminate Yano from outright winning. Keep this in mind, because this is exactly the situation Zack Sabre Jr faces in 2020, and why we consider him eliminated.
By our count, there are 27 situations like Yano 2010 from 2010-2019, wrestlers within two points but realistically eliminated. Trust us, you do not want to unravel these yourself. Presumably, there might have been some unrealistic sequence of conditions that gave Yano a chance, which were ignored because there’s no goddamn way that was ever going to happen. And there’s absolutely no way it ever will happen. Could you imagine Gedo coming out after a block final main event, chalkboard and pointer stick in hand, elaborating some labyrinthine three-tiered tiebreaker scenario? The limits of Japanese social conformity would be in tatters. If it ever does happen, march on New Japan’s offices like it’s 1789. Hey, it is October…
The Block Final Main Event
The overwhelming sense one gets from examining the history and analyzing the patterns is that Gedo does not fuck around with the Grade One Climax. Out of the forty competitors to be in a block final match between 2010 and 2019, thirty-eight went into that match with the chance to win the block if victorious. This is distinct from having a chance to win when the night began; this is after all the other block matches have finished.
The way those 38 played out:
- 18 won their match and won their block as a result. That’s out of 20 opportunities. A 95% success rate.
- 17 lost and were eliminated.
- 2 drew and lost the block as a consequence, the infamous “Wake Up Goto and Get That Bastard Out There, He Won!” Okada-Tanahashi draw in 2016
- 1, and only one, lost their match, causing them to lose the block to someone outside the main event. That would be Hiroshi Tanahashi in 2014, losing to Davey Boy Smith Jr. This allowed Shinsuke Nakamura to “Beat It” dance his way into the final.
Only Davey Boy Smith Jr and Minoru Suzuki, both in 2014, went into their block final match mathematically eliminated before the final night even began. We can now add 2020 Tomohiro Ishii to that group. We’ll return to this, because 2014 was a wild year in the historical record.
The G1 Climax 30 Realistic Outright Win Scenario Layout
So how does 2020 fit into the historical continuum? Well, in a really bloody annoying way, naturally. Knowledge of history yields two equally exciting results: either the continuation of historical tradition or the dismantling of it. Gedo’s providing us with both. Here’s where things stand in the Realistic Outright Win scenarios:
- A Block
- In Main Event: Jay White at 12
- To win, Jay White needs to defeat Tomohiro Ishii. He can also win by drawing Ishii, if Kota Ibushi and Kazuchika Okada both lose or draw.
- He holds the tiebreakers over both Kota Ibushi and Kazuchika Okada.
- In Main Event: Tomohiro Ishii at 6
- Mathematically eliminated.
- Outside Main Event: Kota Ibushi at 12
- To win, Kota Ibushi needs to defeat Taichi and have Jay White lose or draw.
- Kota Ibushi holds the tiebreaker over Kazuchika Okada. He lost to Jay White.
- Outside Main Event: Kazuchika Okada at 12
- To win, Kazuchika Okada needs to defeat Will Ospreay and have Kota Ibushi and Jay White both lose or draw.
- Kazuchika Okada has already lost to both Kota Ibushi and Jay White. He holds no relevant tiebreakers.
- Outside Main Event: Will Ospreay at 10
- Will Ospreay had already lost to Kota Ibushi, with a two-point deficit. He cannot realistically win outright.
- In Main Event: Jay White at 12
- In Main Event: EVIL at 12
- To win, EVIL needs to defeat SANADA. He can also win if he draws SANADA and Naito loses.
- EVIL holds the tiebreaker over Tetsuya Naito. He has lost to Zack Sabre Jr.
- In Main Event: SANADA at 10
- To win, SANADA needs to defeat EVIL and have Tetsuya Naito lose.
- SANADA holds tiebreakers over Zack Sabre Jr. and Tetsu Naito.
- Outside Main Event: Tetsuya Naito at 12
- To win, Tetsuya Naito needs to defeat KENTA and have the EVIL-SANADA main event end in a draw
- Naito has already lost to both EVIL and SANADA. He does not hold any relevant tiebreakers.
- Outside Main Event: Zack Sabre Jr. at 10.
- Zack Sabre Jr. holds the tiebreaker over EVIL, but EVIL holds a two-point advantage over him and he has lost to SANADA. Therefore, any result in the final would eliminate him. He could not realistically win outright.
The general setup of these nights is fairly traditional and aligns with the historical precedents. The block final main events contain the simplest outright win scenarios. Outside of the main event, there are two Realistic Outright Win Scenarios in the A Block, and one in the B Block. The cards are structured in a way so that if all of these wrestlers outside the main event lose, the people in the main event with Realistic Outright Win Scenarios are free to win the block. And the people outside the main event almost always lose. The path is always cleared for the ones at the top.
Since 2010, twenty-nine people have gone into their block’s final night with a chance to win but not scheduled to be in the main event. Here’s how those 29 break down:
Outside Main Event with a chance to realistically win their block outright and lost = 24/29. An 83% failure rate.
- Outside Main Event with chance to realistically win their block outright, won their match, and won the block = 2/28 (2014 Nakamura, 2016 Goto)
- Outside Main Event with chance to realistically win their block outright, won their match, but did not win block: 1/28 ( 2014 Styles)
- Outside Main Event with a chance to realistically win the block outright, drew in their match, and did not win block = 2/28 (1 match – 2010 Shinsuke Nakamura v. Go Shiozaki)
Indeed, the evidence certainly suggests that Ibushi, Okada, and Naito will all lose. It is an 83% chance they lose, coupled with the 90% odds that the winner comes from the block final. The best chance that outsiders have is to face each other. This has only happened three times, and each time something interesting happened. In 2010, as shown above, Shinsuke Nakamura and Go Shiozaki drew. This did not result in a block win for either man, but we’ll return to that match later. It produced a very tense few hours. In 2014, Nakamura defeated Bad Luck Fale, which did result in his block win. And in 2016, Hirooki Goto defeated Naomichi Marufuji, the consequence of which was the Ultimate Goto-like Goto Moment. All positive results, and completely irrelevant because none of the outsiders face each other this year.
At first glance, this seems very propitious for Jay White, in particular. But Jay’s circumstances connect to history a bit deeper than that. We need to take a look at Jay’s situation in particular. And to do that, we need to talk about 2014. 2014 was strange.
Jay White and the Very Weird 2014 G1 Climax
Jay White’s 2020 scenarios mirror 2014. And by that, I mean all of it. He simultaneously reflects both block leader’s final scenarios in 2014. For the proponents of the J1 Climax, this is both good and bad. It did not end well for one of these historical precedents.
The bad: Jay could be the next 2014 Hiroshi Tanahashi. Things were laid out perfectly: Tanahashi went into the A Block final night tied with Shinsuke Nakamura at 14 points, held the tiebreaker over Nak, and was facing a mathematically eliminated wrestler in his block’s final match. And Davey Boy Smith, Jr., to boot! Who in their right mind could possibly have thought that Davey Boy Smith Jr. would beat peak Tanahashi at such a pivotal event?
Gedo. Gedo knew. The ACE ate a Liger Bomb and Nakamura, who had won his match against Bad Luck Fale earlier in the evening, now stood alone at 16 points. He gestured uncontrollably to the final.
The good: Okada rules! Save us from your rampant insecurities and give credit for those few times the $$$ Clip looked great. Okada came into the 2014 G1 Climax having lost the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to AJ Styles in the spring. Okada got his win back in Night 1’s sensational main event, which gave him the tiebreaker as they both went into the final night tied at 14 points. Okada faced the mathematically eliminated Minoru Suzuki in the block final match. Styles won his match against Togi Makabe earlier in the night to put the pressure on. Unlike Tanahashi in the A Block, Okada vanquished Suzuki to win his block, tied with Styles at 16 points but holding the head-to-head edge.
So, once again, Jay White. Controls his own destiny. Faced with a mathematically eliminated opponent, who stands a full six points lower than him. This certainly puts White more into the Tanahashi category than the Okada category. But the Tanahashi category is, at the moment, a Tanahashi’s only club. 5% of the historical record. But it’s not 0%. But White could also join the Okada category; that category resides in the 95% success rate mentioned above.
The Fate of Those That Control Their Fate
An interesting aspect of the 2020 G1 Climax is that both block finals contain wrestlers that control their fate. All Jay White or EVIL have to do is win their match. Anything else previous to the main event is insignificant from their perspective. This would seem to be as advantageous a situation, except for one thing: pro wrestling’s not real. This nonsense is planned, and heavily planned against the favorite.
As far as wrestlers that have controlled their own destiny, it’s a mixed bag. Roughly half of the wrestlers in their block’s final match controlled their fate, 18 in total out of 40. An outlier is Minoru Suzuki in 2013, the only person to hold their fate and not be in the block’s final match. The overall record of Fate Holders in the G1 Climax is, incredibly, 5-12-2. And four of those wins came in bouts where both competitors controlled their fate. Outside of this situation, the record is 1-8-2, the only win coming from… 2014 Okada, of course. If Gedo is bucking tradition and precedents, this might be the largest buck. For those of you hoping for a light’s out celebration at the end of Night 18, this is very good news. But it is not the only good news. History shows that SANADA is also helped by the deficit he faces.
The G1 Climax Is a Yearly Tale of Inequality
In B Block, we have an unequal final. EVIL sits at 12 points and SANADA at 10. And, on a side note, if you have a capitalization fetish the B Block might have given you the best month of your life. Anyway, out of the 20 block final matches since 2010, the supermajority has been between unequally pointed opponents, 13 out of 20. And in these matchups, the lower pointed competitor has won eleven of these thirteen encounters. The other two results? Okada and Tanahashi’s final G1 Climax draw and, for the umpteenth time in this article, Okada’s 2014 victory over Suzuki. In yet another “Only 2014 Okada Did,” this stands as the only time a higher pointed block final wrestler defeated the lower pointed wrestler. Things look good for SANADA. The historical precedent numbers are resoundingly on his side.
A consideration: SANADA’s situation is rare but not unique. He is the second wrestler to be in the final block match, trailing their competitor, and needing only one loss to go their way. The other is Kazuchika Okada in 2018. He trailed Hiroshi Tanahashi and was tied with Jay White. He needed to defeat Tanahashi and have White lose. White lost, because as noted the outsiders almost always make way for the main eventers. But, handed this gift, Okada drew with Tanahashi. Tanahashi won the block with an absurd 15 points.
And which person knocked out Jay White on that final night?
EVIL, of course.
That Time We Just Barely Avoided an Apocalyptic Situation
For those scenario gurus out there, standing on tables and apoplectically screaming about perplexing hodgepodge in which Zack Sabre Jr. or Will Ospreay can induce a bona fide G1 Conditional Crisis, I would love to tell you go swallow fire…. BUT… there is one particular historical situation we should evaluate, because it gives you cretins hope. And it involves draws, which the Realistic Outright Win Scenario concept only begrudgingly acknowledges.
Now we all remember the A Block 2016 final, when a Hiroshi Tanahashi v. Kazuchika Okada draw allowed Hirooki Goto to Pull a Goto and Goto his way to the G1to Final. A more obscure draw occurred in 2010, when Shinsuke Nakamura and Go Shiozaki, both major title holders in 2020, brought us to the brink of disarray.
Going into the final night of the 2010 B Block, we had 5 people tied at 8 points: Satoshi Kojima and Hirooki Goto, both in the main event; Shinsuke Nakamura and Go Shiozaki, both outside the main event but facing each other; and Yuji Nagata, also outside the main event and facing an eliminated opponent. All had Realistic Outright Win Scenarios.
Nagata lost. Nakamura and Shiozaki had their draw, making them one of the few people outside of a block final match to still be alive when the match began. What’s unique is the draw; because they drew, that meant that when the Kojima v. Goto final block match began Nakamura and Shiozaki were co-leading the block, at 9 points. If Kojima and Goto drew, it would have induced a four-way tie catastrophe. And so, while this balderdash has never actually happened, there was one time where it was close.
History’s a frightening kind of dry sometimes.