Note: some aspects of this piece have previously been noted in a series of articles I wrote for the site last year, which itself was an extension of my ludicrously long and sloppily brazen essay for the 2019 ebook. While they are technically rewritten and rephrased, there are some redundancies, for which I apologize. I also apologize for writing articles and reviews so intolerably prolonged and messy that Rich canceled the ebook forever. Sorry about that.

It’s a funny thing, covering a company that’s seen so much momentum and Western interest evaporate. When the Great Leaders of this site talk about how dreadful the action is on New Japan content on this site… that’s at least 65% me! And I’m a fucking nobody. Imagine how the announcers, wrestlers, staff feel. This is the motherfucking GRADE ONE CLIMAX, and previews have come across as perfunctory. The prosaic ways in which podcasts have tackled this thing, saturated in ennui and drabness. It’s a shame.

Yesterday, I grappled with the unfortunate pandemic booking patterns that were established in G1 Climax 30 last year, and tragically these shambolic patterns continue into this year. The consoling predictability that was imbued in modern, heyday-era G1 Climaxes has vanished.

And yet, there’s still so much to be enthusiastic about; ultimately, this is an astounding collection of wrestling talent. If you had to reduce a wrestling roster in a pan, like a steadfast, hungover, flame-eyed sous chef, and this is the result you produce? My friend, that roux of yours is going to have some Michelin stars attached to it. No other company could manufacture a caucus of this caliber under these conditions. The proof: the last 16 godawful, Kafkaesque, bewildering months of our lives.

The actual booking of the G1 Climax matches as a total package give insight into company perspectives, both coming out of the arduous Winter and Spring, and heading into its yearly culmination/rebirth in January. Where do certain wrestlers stand? Who is primed for ascension? Which rivalries take precedence over others? Was Dick Togo’s articulate discourse persuasive or not? All of these question-types could be found in the sequencing of each show and the overall sequencing of the entire G1 Climax.

And so, here are the CP averages, with the main events and semi-main events of each wrestler, with comparisons to 2020:

For reference:

Red over someone’s name means A Block and Blue over someone’s name means B Block.

If their entire row is red, it means that person was in the A Block Final Main Event. If their entire row is blue, it means that person was in the B Block Final Main Event.

If their entire row is green, that means that they were in the G1 Final.

If their row is italicized and bolded, they won that year’s G1 Climax.

If their name is in gold and bolded, they were the champion going into that year’s G1 Climax.

Shingo: Main Event World Champion of the Best Wrestling Company in the World (when no one is watching or reading)

Kierkegaard made it to 42, somehow, before he thought himself to death. I doubt he would have made it to 22 if wrestling fans existed in 19th century Denmark. I’m sure some dandy charlatan from New Amsterdam would have swooped in and killed the Copenhagen scene.

There are no Knights of Faith amongst wrestling fans. We have devotees, who hate the wrestling part and cry emoji you to death in defense of inherently inhumane, labor-detesting business practices. And narrative. It’s not wrestling if you can’t plot it the story on a fucking Freytag pyramid and fill each box on an indirect characterization worksheet. And to be fair, there are also swaths of flesh that substituted critical thought for reactionary dismissiveness ages ago. But these are not Knights of Faith, these are incorrigible devotees.

Wrestling fans are Knights of Infinite Resignation, almost by design. The contrived nature of the whole endeavor of professional wrestling ensures that. If all works well, the wrestling business obfuscates and the wrestling audience wills themselves to sublime ignorance. When things don’t work well, or we strive for something better, the result is very simple: angst.

Shingo Takagi induced the Knight of Infinite Resignation response as strongly than anyone in wrestling. Concerns: he’ll spin the wheel in Dragon Gate forever, he’ll be stuck in the NEVER level forever, he’ll settle in as a gatekeeper to the actual world championship scene. Those concerns, exacerbated by his insane stamina and intense ferocity in the ring, signaled downright fatalism.

But good things happen in this life. Accidentally, of course. Arbitrarily, of course. Shingo’s ascent this year was dramatically rapid, assisted by circumstances. If Kierkegaard thought himself to death, Shingo talked (to himself) his way to the vertex of New Japan Pro Wrestling. And now, he enters the G1 Climax as champion. That’s not insignificant.

And it’s not insignificant in how it affects his booking. Look at how Shingo went from a decent elevation in 2020 to an absolutely sky-piercing ascension in 2021:

YearCP AvgCP RankMain EventsME RankSemi-Main EventsSME Rank


God damn. Not only is Shingo an entire match higher on average than last year, he has as many main events in 2021 as 2019 and 2020 combined. His 4.375 average would be 11th overall under the 2015 one-block-a-night restructuring. The only other people to average this high: Kazuchika Okada (5 times), Tetsuya Naito (2 times), Hiroshi Tanahashi (2 times), and Kenny Omega (2 times). For those awaiting the chance to see a wrestler like Shingo Takagi surmount the wrestling mountain, make sure to savor this exact moment. Your moment gets to last a month.

The five main events is astounding and denotative of Shingo’s place in this company right now. Having five main events in a G1 under this current format, to main event the majority of your block, is special. Of these last seven years, the only ones booked in 0nly Okada (5 times), Tanahashi (3 times), and Naito (3 times) have done it. That’s pretty awesome.

Of course, Shingo being champion provides several steadfast truths, some beneficial and some absolutely detrimental to his campaign.

Truth #1: The champion does not win the G1 Climax. The champion doesn’t even win their block. TRUTH LIKELY AFFIRMED: SHINGO WILL NOT WIN G1 CLIMAX 31 NOR WIN HIS BLOCK.


Truth #3: The champion either loses early or loses late. TRUTH CONFIRMED.

In fact, I’d like to expand on that.

Shingo has five main events. As noted above, this is an accolade of sorts, a testament to Shingo’s inherent worth. He’s in rare company main eventing that many times in a single G1. The problem with Shingo: the main events are front-loaded. And that’s as literal as it could get. His first five matches are all main events, and all substantive ones as that: Ishii-Sabre-Naito-KENTA-Ibushi. Honestly, not just a considerable stretch, but the cream of the block. After that, he finishes with a stream of drivel: Yano-Loa-Khan-Yujiro.

Truth #4: The champion does not get upset. The champion beats the lower and mid card opponents, without fail. TRUTH ALMOST CERTAINLY CONFIRMED, BUT… YANO? COULD HAPPEN?

Most likely, Shingo will run the table past Night 9. He’s guaranteed 8 points. You’d have to think that he’ll win at least 2 out of the 5 major main events ahead of him. KENTA and Ishii seem like easy targets, but they could also easily be future title defenses. All five of these guys could be. But if Shingo wins 3 out of the 5, he’ll have 14 points. That’s a pretty big number; in the last seven years, 2 out of fourteen blocks have ended with a tie at 14 points. So, someone would have to reach 16 points, which has never been done in a 20-man G1 Climax, or one person in this murderer’s row of a block would have to rack up 7 wins as well.

And so, things are very good for Shingo. He’s booked on paper as strong as a champion could be, and even though he’s going to eat some losses early, he’ll look strong as fuck beating up sinews dudes and jabrones to finish.

There are a few guys that have the opposite booking trend, starting at the bottom of the card and finishing with a string of matches at or near the top. It’s pretty cool to see the intricacies play out in the grid. It has to be a little crunched to fit the space here, but blue is match 1, red is match 2, grey is match 3, gold is match 4 (semi-main), and green is match 5 (main). Notice the trends near the beginning stages and closing stretch:

Some guys start strong, and some guys finish really strong.

Unfortunately, EVIL is one of the wrestlers that finishes really strong.

EVIL: Takaaki WataNObe

At first glance, it’s hilarious:

YearCP AvgCP RankMain EventsME RankSemi-Main EventsSME Rank


HA. HA. HA Look at this fucker’s calamitous drop. He hasn’t even returned to previous levels of mediocrity. He’s actually worse off than he was before he won the world title. As you can see, EVIL was thoroughly mid-card before 2020. He was stuck at a 3.111 average card placement for three straight years. You barely see people having two years in a row with the same card placement, let alone three. Well, there is one. We’ll get to him later. And the main event/semi-main events splits are pretty banal as well.

And then 2020, the year defined by EVIL. Or, rather, how many chose to define New Japan, through EVIL. A modest jump from 2 main events to 3, but a whole fucking four extra semi-main events. As shown in Part I of this preview, until 2020 having the most semi-main events overall in a G1 Climax was the indicator or a wrestler making a G1 Climax Final. That is, until EVIL lost to SANADA in the B Block final last year.

For all the bluster, EVIL kinda sucks in kayfabe. He’s impotent, flaccid as fuck until his minion pops out of his vacuum sealed kink bag to choke the opponent. Then the stuff that gets EVIL nice and turgid. Just Bill Hicks purple vein hard. After that, he wins some of the time, but most of the time he gets thwarted. He couldn’t even get that salacious fetish nonsense to work for KOPW. He lost the title back to Naito after only a month and a half. He failed in the G1 B Block final. He lost again to SANADA at Wrestle Kingdom. He lost to Shingo despite having a boat load of run-ins trying to distort the whole thing in his favor. He also had help in the match, FOLKS!

Why do we fear EVIL so?

Because. That’s why. Because. If you can’t make out the chart above, here’s what it says: EVIL, despite having brutally wretched aggregate numbers, goes into Night 18 with three straight semi-main events. Uh-oh.

And he faces SANADA on Night 18.

Well, fuck.

Nietsche was right, but eternal recurrence isn’t supposed to happen year-to-year. Our future lives are supposed to be tortured by EVIL and SANADA’s future lives. Why am our current lives getting such a lame deal?

And yes, I’m well aware that EVIL is over in Japan. I’ve been more than eager to share my position that the evidence strongly suggests that EVIL is over with the Japanese home base. If you want to see those ideas fleshed out, go ahead and read my review of Wrestle Grand Slam. Somebody has to. This article isn’t about the 2020 East-West Schism on EVIL. But it does hint at the lingering angst EVIL inspires.

By all accounts, Okada-Cobb should headline Night 18. But wouldn’t you have also assumed that Naito-KENTA would have headlined Night 18 last year? Well, that’s the big difference between this year and last year: no one had this sort of momentum going into their block finals. This is something unique to 2021. If we follow Newton’s Laws, Dick Togo’s politicking is that much easier because of this. Or, is this the result of it?

Tomohiro Ishii: The Barrel that Barrels

I’ll repeat this refrain until I no longer have to: enshrine this motherfucker.

If anything, I’ll lay out this logical case: in an era where the G1 Climax has been the premier event of professional wrestling, a monolithic tournament that has shaped and conformed an entire year’s perspective, that has stood as the workrate citadel of modern wrestling, at a time when workrate has hegemonically controlled the stimulation of wrestling fans, to the point where the leaders of this very site literally state that you can’t think about year-end awards until the G1 Climax…

Ishii has been at the summit, alone. I’m not breaking down GRAPPL numbers, but using that data as the best metric we have for discerning wrestling fans (and stingy ones too, my Lord), and especially beyond Dave Meltzer, or Dave and Larry Csonka, Ishii is the apex. I don’t even have to look at my files, and I can tell you Ishii’s GRAPPL ranks going back to 2016:

He’s been #1 every year, except for 2018 when Ibushi needed the greatest G1 Climax anyone has ever had, and even then only barely squeaking by him. Ishii averages four stars. Over the course of every match in the G1 Climax since 2016. That would be 45 matches. 4+. Let alone his performance in Most Outstanding Wrestler, where he has placed in the top ten for…

The number back up one interesting axiom about Ishii: he is the G1 Climax, and the Bald Junior Tag Team Specialist Booking Committee (That Strap Up the People They Coincidentally Manage) book him as such. At least, since 2018:

YearCP AvgCP RankMain EventsME RankSemi-Main EventsSME Rank


Interestingly, Ishii was booked pretty strongly in 2015, but then fell off for three straight years. Those also happen to be years where he outperformed his booking by insane degrees. As I said, he was the #1 rated wrestler by match rating every one of these years. That means that the difference between his card placement ranking and his match rate ranking in 2016 was PLUS 15. That’s one hell of an indicator.

Since 2018, Ishii has been top 5 twice and just barely outside the top 5 once. He jumped to four main events in 2019. His main and semi-main numbers have dropped, but he remains in the top 5 for main and semi-mains. Simply put, in relation to everyone else, he is staunchly an upper mid-carder that can easily and naturally be inserted into main events. Including, as exhibited last year, a block final main event.

Ishii’s slate is fairly balanced. He’s booked to give a spark to all phases of the tournament. And, when he is not needed, he is given a rest in the opener. Nights where Ishii is in the opening match? Nights where you have Naito-Shingo and Naito-Ibushi as the main event. Ishii will coast along and easily average 4 stars a match. If you find ratings abhorrent… well, for one I pity you for never having encountered published criticism in your life, or for being anathema to something so inherently human, a higher order thinking skill always near the top of any educational taxonomy that has very much pushed the arts forward.

But yeah, if you hate ratings, and in wrestling ratings are uniquely odious at times, Ishii will simply have the largest amount of great matches. It will be , at the very least, the eighth straight year where he outworks everyone else. In recent years, he has been booked like a legitimate contender, even though he never even gets close to contending. He’s there strictly for his match quality.

En. Shrine.

If Chris Bosh can go into a Hall of Fame, Tomohiro motherfucking Ishii can.

The Return of Main Event Okada

The chart speaks for itself:

YearCP AvgCP RankMain EventsME RankSemi-Main EventsSME Rank


Look at that 2018. Take it out and take a good, long look at it. Unbelievable. 8 mains and 1 semi-main. Bloody hell. It just made his 2020 even stranger.

In my preview articles last year, I noted how preposterous is was for Okada to be sixth in CP average. He actually has a match in the first two slots for the first time ever in the G1 Climax. But I didn’t think that was a sign that he was going to fuck up the entire tournament.

And sure enough, that’s what he did. G1 Climax 30 had two options: tap or nap. It chose option three: be fucking BORING.

Or, at least, Okada was boring. He had G1 Climax career lows in everything. It might be the pinnacle of a guy working to his push. Or working his push? We still don’t know because, for a labyrinthine number of reasons and circumstances, we have yet to see the payoff of that arduous, tortuous string of matches.

Okada is also back to taking the first half of the night off. In fact, here’s a list of wrestlers who didn’t get warmed up until intermission:

2015: Shinsuke Nakamura, Kazuchika Okada, AJ Styles, and Hiroshi Tanahashi all were absent from the first two matches in the entire tournament.

2016: Tetsuya Naito was absent from the first two matches in the entire tournament. Kazuchika Okada was absent from the first three across the entire tournament.

2017: Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega were absent from the first three matches in the entire tournament. In the same block. Just remember, once they went with Kenny, they went with Kenny.

2018: Kazuchika Okada, Kenny Omega, and Hiroshi Tanahashi all were absent from the first two matches in the entire tournament.

2019: Kazuchika Okada and Jay White were absent from the first two matches in the entire tournament.

2020: Tetsuya Naito and EVIL, fucking EVIL, were absent from the first two matches in the entire tournament.

2021: Kazuchika Okada, Tetsuya Naito, and Shingo Takagi all were absent from the first two matches in the entire tournament. Unless, of course, Yujiro Takahashi drags Shingo, the goddamn WORLD CHAMPION, into the prelims. What a statement that would make to the annals of history.

Is this the harbinger of a year-long payoff? Okada has shot back up to the top of both the CP list and the main events list. Alone at the top, by the way. And yet, he’s in a group many will scoff at. Overachievers like YOSHI-HASHI. Divisive fuckfaces like Taichi (who, by the way, had a five star match with Ibushi last year, and any rating below 5 is grounds for execution depending on state laws and torts). He has divisive rubbish like EVIL. He has underachievers like Tama Tonga and disappointments like Hirooki Goto and SANADA. There’s a surefire spark plug like Jeff Cobb. And, of course, the consummate legend in Tanahashi.

Forget these descriptors. Even if the ratings consortium overlook all of this, this block is filled from top to bottom with… REALLY GOOD WORKERS. Guys that are solid as fuck, and top out at amazing. Guys that are amazing, and top out as some of the greatest pro wrestling ever produced. He main events with everyone but Tama Tonga and Goto which, I mean god damn Goto. You don’t even get the main event with Okada anymore. What a dad with dad rock playing on his dad technology.

Speaking of Goto…

Odds and Ends (This would have been an Endo pun in New Japan had the guts to ask Bushiroad to deal with Cyberagent to save the G1 from… I dunno, American fans complaining about its roster?)

By the way, Google decided that when I typed in DDT Endo, that what I was really googling was “ddt endocrine disruptor.” I might need some after DAMNATION was dissolved so prematurely.

So, some quick thoughts:

Goto… for reasons indecipherable

Hirooki Goto has done just fine in the G1 Climax:

YearCP AvgCP RankMain EventsME RankSemi-Main EventsSME Rank


Remember when I said there was another one out there with a remarkably sustained run of equal mediocrity and banality as LIJ EVIL. Here’s you man.

What a bizarre line, and an unforeseen twist. At the very least, Goto got some main events, which would keep his CP average up. This year, he has zero main events, but ends up being number one in semi-main events. REMEMBER: UP UNTIL LAST YEAR, BEING THE FIRST IN SEMI-MAIN EVENTS HAD A 100% CORRELATION WITH MAKING A G1 FINAL.

Of course, Goto gets that distinction when it means essentially nothing. Good one, Samurai. Yeah, this makes as much sense as Samurai Flamenco, FOLKS!

Ibushi Remains Stable

Ibushi’s CP Ranks, since 2015: 10, 5, 3, 6, 5.

YearCP AvgCP RankMain EventsME RankSemi-Main EventsSME Rank


It’s hard to parse what they might do with Ibushi here. If anyone is a head-scratcher because of the triple-night Wrestle Kingdom, it’s him. All things equal, why would you have someone win three years in a row, especially since a win this year would instantly evoke a deep terror based on negative nostalgia for how the company handled his road to Wrestle Kingdom last year. And yet, if you have three night to fill, why not? You owe the guy. You know, for how the company handled his road to Wrestle Kingdom last year.

Ibushi’s main event/semi-main slate:

  • Ibushi: Main events – tied for 3rd in A Block, tied for 5th overall; Semi-main events – tied for 1st in A Block and tied for 2nd overall

Well now, he doesn’t have the top spot, but he’s close enough. In a stacked group, Ibushi is solidly behind Shingo and Naito. Those guys are well above a 4.0 CP average, whereas Ibushi has dropped to a 3.375. But then, look at the numbers; Ibushi has rarely been at the tip top in this tournament. They move him where they need him. That’s been their method with Ibushi for years now: he bolsters an undercard to absurd levels, has some of the greatest semi-main events in the history of the business, but at some point you have to solidify this guy as a main eventer.

It’s disappointing to see him get swallowed by Shingo and Naito. One has to wonder, is that a big clue as to the Wrestle Kingdom vision? The G1 Climax booking always lays its cards out for everyone to see, yet we often can never tell what we’re looking at until they percolate in our memories.

Look for the clap-crowd in your heart, and maybe you’ll enjoy this one.

Powered by RedCircle