To see the exhaustive research this article is based upon, please visit this link, a document which lists all G1 Climax Final Night scenarios from 1991, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2008, and 2010-2022: Final Night Scenarios
We’ve arrived to the final league night of the most surreally disconnected, largely forsaken G1 Climaxes of the modern G1 Climax era.
Years ago, we listened to an episode of the One Piece Podcast where the hosts interviewed a brand manager for Funimation. These were the salad years when anime was just starting experiencing a second Western peak, and before Sony gobbled up almost literally everything.
We don’t remember much, but there’s one thing we remember in (mostly) vivid detail. The brand manager was asked about streaming performance, and how Funimation collects and assesses data for their properties. During her answer, the brand manager noted that there was one licensed property whose performance stunned them.
The name of that anime escapes us, but we distinctly remember the show having a moderate amount of buzz, and then absolutely zero discourse during its one cour run. The brand manager noted this; Funimation was aware of the complete famine of public response to the show. What stunned them: the robust numbers the show was doing on their service.
How does this relate to the G1 Climax in any way?
Because that notion, that online discourse has entirely overvalued correlation to actual success and public interest in something, is pretty much the only hope for salvation a New Japan fan has right now.
New Japan discourse has been decimated by the pandemic, increasingly contracted as the particular conditions of Japanese wrestling persist. This year’s G1 Climax has been especially dire, the sparse chatter seemingly codified to very specific places: discords, wrestling media social media, New Japan-centric podcasts.
The Voices of Wrestling podcast has consistently speculated about the “rock bottom plateau” of WWE’s television audience, the number from which Stamford can’t sink any lower than. So… what about New Japan then? Is this, the blithe but diminutive coterie that thoroughly followed and/or covered this G1 Climax, the rock bottom plateau of New Japan’s English-speaking audience?
Or, is there a voluminous group that is silently, politely viewing this G1 Climax, completely bereft of the abnormal impulse to recklessly and brazenly spew analytical caterwauls and fangasms into the expanse of the internet forum?
That’s hard to imagine, considering what an arduous fucking slog this G1 Climax has been.
Industry Rule #4080
G1 Climax 32 Scheduling was Shaaady
A month ago, we wrote an obliviously long G1 Climax preview. The first part examined the changes in format and the scheduling set in place. We speculated on the effects of those changes, and especially the way they scheduled thing out; our conclusions were not favorable. To some, we were just “vomiting up our anxieties,” but we tried really goddamn hard not to come across caustic, or become engulfed in acrimony.
But it was pretty fucking obvious that this was going to be a very unfortunate G1 Climax to follow. And believe us, we were not alone in that assessment. Part of the impetus to write that article was our conversations with people on that subject.
Now, to be fair, this G1 Climax did surprise us in a couple of ways (which, to be clear, we were hoping to happen: we didn’t want our evaluations to be accurate):
- The return of the undercards provided some welcome, breezy fodder and allowed for a bounty of worthwhile, compelling backstage comments.
- The feeling of competition and block dynamics escalated immediately once they hit Night 12 in Osaka, far beyond what we expected. Now, that doesn’t mean it even approaches the blistering spirit of previous G1 Climaxes; it just exceeded our low expectations. We expected a vacant nadir until at least Night 15. Osaka galvanized and saved the tour. But even then, things were too disconnected.
And that is the unfortunate fulfillment of promises that this tour provided. We feared several things, all of which were sadly consummated:
- The reduced block size would result in significantly fewer marquee match-ups
- The diminished amount of marquee match-ups would result in a larger amount of lackluster cards (on paper)
- The one-match-per-block-per-night scheduling would suffocate the tour, leaving it bereft of momentum and pace, totally divorced from the real-sport competitive feel of prior G1 Climaxes
- The combination of the one-match-per-block-per-night scheduling and the resultant gaps in wrestler’s schedules (with some wrestlers having over two weeks off between certain matches), would result in this G1 Climax feeling like 28 separate G1 Climaxes, absent any of the traditional block dynamics.
The positive aspect of this: the wrestlers worked incredibly hard all tour. The match quality was slightly lower than recent G1 Climaxes, but not by a consequential amount. Context almost certainly plays a significant role in that perception. The first half of the tour was a sepulchral tribulation, with uneven cards and a totally lack of cohesion to the tournament itself.
As we noted in Part II of our preview, these weren’t unprecedented sentiments. Every other G1 Climax of recent memory has felt the same way: inchoate for the first half of the tour, which is often peppered with uninspiring cards. The problem with the 2022 G1 Climax: these sentiments were expanded and amplified. There was simply more of the onerous aspects.
For the first half of this tour, it simply did not feel like a G1 Climax; it felt like a disjointed tour with an abnormal amount of singles matches. Even at their depths, previous G1 Climaxes at least felt like a G1 Climax. But this G1 Climax, in which each member of a block moved almost independently of the other members, and blocks progressed at a glacial pace, this one was debilitatingly stark.
As noted, Osaka was the catalyst for some sense of concord. The crowds were electric and the cards delivered splendidly. Now, these were two of the most spectacular cards on paper for the entire tour, but they were a welcome agent of stimulation.
Even though it was still a laborious task, requiring far too much alignment and conjecture, it was from that night that we could start to see each block take shape. It is from that point that we saw the path of Night 18. It is from that show from which the backwards design of this G1 Climax began to reveal itself.
We finally had a sense of gravity. Things began to accrue over the next five nights, and it is from here that we can now assess Night 18. We had concluded our three-part preview of the G1 Climax with a speculative evaluation of Night 18, and what the match-ups portended; now we can appraise how Night 18 actually fits into the g1 Climax historical record.
The Realistic Outright Win Scenario
Just like all proper academics, two years ago we took analytical processes that any idiot could devise, slapped an acronymic phrase on it, capitalized that phrase to escalate the highfalutin stakes, and buried the details in a dense stew of jargon and an onslaught of data and historical references.
We did it again last year, and goddamn it, we’re doing that again this year. Hell, we did it just a few months ago for Best of the Super Juniors. Like all great academics, we desperately clutch our overstated analyses despite being the only person in the hold who invest any sort of value in them.
This is the Realistic Outright Win Scenario (ROWS):
- Only scenarios where a wrestler can outright win a block are considered
- The outright win can be by head-to-head tiebreakers, but nothing beyond that
- That is, multi-person ties in which win-loss records within the tie group are factored, and other fucking nonsense, are not worth our time
- Every match on the final night will result in points
- Therefore, the notion of a no-contest is inherently unrealistic and not considered in the delineation of a wrestler’s ROWS
A ROWS scenario sheet looks like this:
- In Final Block Match: Kota Ibushi at 12
- To win, Kota Ibushi needs to defeat KENTA and have Zack Sabre Jr. lose.
- Kota Ibushi held the tiebreaker over Shingo Takagi. He had lost to Zack Sabre Jr.
- In Final Block Match: KENTA at 12
- To win, KENTA needs to defeat Kota Ibushi and have Shingo Takagi lose..
- Kota Ibushi held the tiebreaker over Zack Sabre Jr.. He had lost to Shingo Takagi
- Outside Final Block Match: Shingo Takagi at 12
- To win, Shingo Takagi needs to defeat Yujiro Takahashi, have KENTA defeat Kota Ibushi, and have Zack Sabre Jr lose.
- Shingo Takagi held the tiebreaker over KENTA. He had lost to Kota Ibushi and Zack Sabre Jr.
- Outside Final Block Match: Zack Sabre Jr at 12
- To win, Zack Sabre Jr. needs to defeat Tanga Loa and have KENTA defeat Kota Ibushi
- Zack Sabre Jr held the tiebreaker over both Kota Ibushi and Shingo Takagi. He had lost to KENTA.
- Outside Final Block Match: Tomohiro Ishii at 10.
- Tomohiro Ishii had lost to both Kota Ibushi and KENTA, who each held a two-point advantage over him. Therefore, any result in the final would have eliminated him. He could not have realistically won outright.
- RESULT: Tomohiro Ishii lost to Toru Yano (2nd position). Shingo Takagi wrestled to a double count-out draw with Yujiro Takahashi (3rd position). Zack Sabre Jr. lost to Tanga Loa (4th position). Kota Ibushi defeated KENTA to win the block with 14 points.
- In Final Block Match: Kota Ibushi at 12
It doesn’t appear on Voices of Wrestling, but please visit the link at the beginning of this article to see a color-coded version of every one-winner-per-block scenario, dating back to 1991.
Motivations and History
The motivation for the Realistic Outright Win Scenario was our bemused anathema to kayfabe G1 Climax scenarios. It’s a lot of fun to speculate on convoluted, labyrinthine multi-person tie scenarios, but we desired to keep it simple: if only one person can win a block, then it makes sense to only consider the ways a wrestler could be the only person to win their block.
Thus, the “outright” aspect of the formula. A scenario that involves anything beyond head-to-head tiebreakers is superfluous and unsupported by the historical record.
The “one-winner-per-block” concept stretches all the way back to the first G1 Climax in 1991. It accounts for 17 G1 Climaxes out of the 32 (we’re ignoring the bizarre four-block G1 Climax in 2000, which was also “One-winner-per-block” for reasons we’ll explain later. Trust us, it does not count). That’s 34 blocks. Only once have they booked an unbreakable tie.
It was between two wrestlers, Shinya Hashimoto and Masahiro Chono, in the B Block of the very first G1 Climax in 1991. The tie was between only two wrestlers, and the tie was because they wrestled to a time limit draw in their league match. But this was a very different time. The tie is actually irrelevant, because before 2001, the G1 Climax did not consider the head-to-head tiebreaker.
That’s a mind-boggling revelation when one examines the historical record, but it’s true. Before 2001, if wrestlers were tied by points, they had a run-off tiebreaker match, no matter what happened in their head-to-head match-up.
The G1 Climax as we know it stretches back to 2010: two blocks, one winner per block, a one match final. Under this system, for 24 blocks over 12 years, and a multi-person tie has never happened. Everything always falls into place, with overwhelmingly repetitive precision.
This is what the 2022 ROWS Final Night Scenario List:
- In Final Block Match: Kazuchika Okada at 8 points
- To win, Kazuchika Okada needed to defeat Lance Archer.
- In Final Block Match: Lance Archer at 6 points
- To win, Lance Archer needed to defeat Kazuchika Okada
- Outside Final Block Match: JONAH at 6 points
- JONAH held the tiebreaker over Kazuchika Okada, but Okada held a two-point advantage over him, and JONAH had already lost to Lance Archer. Therefore, any result in the final would have eliminated JONAH. He could not have realistically won outright.
- In Final Block Match: Jay White at 10 points
- To win, Jay White needed to defeat Tama Tonga
- In Final Block Match: Tama Tonga at 8 points
- To win, Tama Tonga needed to defeat Jay White
- In Final Block Match: Zack Sabre Jr at 8 points
- To win, Zack Sabre Jr needed to defeat Tetsuya Naito
- In Final Block Match: Tetsuya Naito at 6 points
- To win, Tetsuya Naito needed to defeat Zack Sabre Jr and have Hirooki Goto lose to EVIL
- Tetsuya Naito had already lost to Hirooki Goto
- Outside Final Block Match: Hirooki Goto at 6 points
- Hirooki Goto had already lost to Zack Sabre Jr, who had a two-point advantage. Therefore, Hirooki Goto could not have realistically won outright.
- Outside Final Block Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi at 6 points
- Hiroshi Tanahashi concluded his G1 climax on the penultimate night. Therefore, any result in the final would have eliminated Tanahashi. He could not have realistically won outright.
- In Block Final Match: Shingo Takagi at 6 points
- To win, Shingo Takagi needed to defeat El Phantasmo
- In Final Block Match: El Phantasmo at 4 points
- El Phantasmo had tiebreakers over Yujiro Takahashi and David Finlay, but had already lost to Will Ospreay, Juice Robinson, and YOSHI-HASHI, with a two-point deficit to all of them. Therefore, El Phantasmo could not have realistically won outright.
- Outside Final Block Match: Will Ospreay at 6 points
- To win, Will Ospreay needed to defeat Rock Hard Juice Robinson and have Shingo Takagi lose to El Phantasmo
- Outside Final Block Match: Rock Hard Juice Robinson at 4 points
- Rock Hard Juice Robinson held tiebreakers over Shingo Takagi and El Phantasmo, but had already lost to had already lost to David Finlay, Yujiro Takahashi, and YOSHI-HASHI, with a two-point deficit to all of them. Therefore, Rock Hard Juice Robinson could not have realistically won outright.
- Outside Final Block Match: David Finlay at 6 points
- David Finlay concluded his G1 climax on the penultimate night. Therefore, any result in the final would have eliminated Finlay. He could not have realistically won outright.
- Outside Final Block Match: YOSHI-HASHI at 6 points
- YOSHI-HASHI concluded his G1 climax on the penultimate night, Therefore, any result in the final would have eliminated Goto. He could not have realistically won outright.
- Outside Final Block Match: Yujiro Takahashi at 6 points
- Yujiro Takahashi concluded his G1 climax on the penultimate night, Therefore, any result in the final would have eliminated Goto. He could not have realistically won outright.
The Superiority of Outright Wins
- The Final Block Match will end up being winner-take-all by the time the match begins
- Anyone with tiebreakers over someone in the Final Block Match are going to lose.
- If someone goes into the Final Block Match trailing their opponent, but can win the block by winning the match… they are going to win that match.
This isn’t a 100% certainty, of course. It’s merely an 87.5% certainly. The G1 Climax as we know it stretches back to 2010. That gives us 24 blocks over 12 years. In that time:
- 21 out of 24 Final Block Matches were winner-take-all when the match began.
- 27 out of 34 wrestlers that were outside the Final Block Match, but still had a ROWS, lost (79%).
- Of the seven outliers:
- 3 won their matches and ended up winning their block:
- Shinsuke Nakamura in 2014’s A Block
- Hirooki Goto in 2016’s A Block
- Kota Ibushi in 2020’s A Block
- 3 ended up drawing:
- Shinsuke Nakamura and Go Shiozaki wrestled to a time limit draw in 2012’s B Block
- Shingo Takagi improbably wrestled to a double count-out with the lissome menace Yujiro Takahashi in 2021’s A Block1
- 1 were victorious but did not win their block
- AJ Styles in 2014’s B Block. He won his match, but needed Kazuchika Okada to win or draw against Minoru Suzuki in the Final Block match to advance. Okada won and won the block, tied with Styles at 16 points and holding the head-to-head tiebreaker.
- 3 won their matches and ended up winning their block:
- Of the seven outliers:
- 13 times a wrestler trailed going into block final with chance to win:
- Wrestlers trailing going into their Final Block Match are 12-0-1
- The one outlier is Kazuchika Okada in 2018’s A Block. He could have won the block if he beat Hiroshi Tanahashi. Of course, the two had yet another G1 Climax time limit draw.
- Wrestlers that have an outright lead in a Final Block Match have an abysmal record: 1-14-1
- The outlier: Kazuchika Okada, again. He was leading his opponent in 2014’s B Block, and won. The reason it’s not counted above: his opponent, Minoru Suzuki, was actually
- Hiroshi Tanahashi and Jay White are the extra two losses. They had the exact same situation: they were leading the block, and were facing a mathematically eliminated opponent in the Final Block Match. All they had to do was win that match to win the block. They lost.
So yes, it’s thoroughly established that New Japan bookers, the bald junior tag team specialists they are, love a comeback story and adore winner-take-all final block matches.
Is that a good thing?
Yes, it fucking is.
Wrestling is not real. It is a theatrical simulation of sports. The reason for simulating something that already exists, and it is more popular, is the same reason theatre exists: because life is capricious, stupid, monotonous, prosaic, vulgar, not vulgar enough, and often not worth the effort. We’ve given up on this dumb article, that no one will read, at least a dozen times since we started writing it. At least a hundred times since we started the dreadful research for it.
Pro wrestling took shape because money is intoxicating. People pay money in the traditional sports for several reasons, but the big money is in match-ups between the most credible opponents in the most grandiose setting.
Unfortunately, those situations are unpredictable. Sometimes you get Malcolm Butler cutting off a quick slant to seal the Super Bowl in the final minute, and sometimes you get Roger Craig doing high-knees into the end zone of a Super Bowl decided in the first quarter.
The whole point of this nonsense is to fabricate credibility. The G1 Climax is one of the most exquisite, and reliable, vehicles of that agency.
Inherently, the G1 Climax involves matches and time. Due to the high level of competition and match quality, that person is already invested with a substantial amount of credibility. Under the current system, an entire month of equity is accumulated and invested in the one person that survives a block, multiplied by their credibility.
And the beauty of it is: you produce two people with all that credibility. And they’re facing off. All that equity and credibility get further condensed, forming a singularity in one person, who then carries that matter into the pinnacle of New Japan’s year, the main event of Wrestle Kingdom.
Things that completely fuck up that reliable formula:
- Convoluted tiebreaker situations
- Tortuous mathematics
- Yujiro Takahashi
- A five to ten minute explanation of why someone won a block, possibly involving either a PowerPoint presentation ala 2016 Drew Gulak or a series of charts and an old school pointer, like some carnival fuckface kamishibai man.
And so, once again, we propagate the outright win as the only one that should ever happen.
Of course, we say that because one of the prevailing storylines of the last few nights has been the possibility of the seven-way, all-block unbreakable tie in the D Block. There’s certainly some viability to the idea that the outlandishness of that booking decision might spark some interest.
It also might be a final confirmation that this company has lost its goddamn marbles.
Whether or not this is even a possibility, or has any precedent, requires a bit of a history lesson.
The Miserably Anti-OCD History of the G1 Climax Tournament
Several times, we have noted that 2010 is the beginning of the modern G1 Climax. There’s a reason for that, and not just because it was the first G1 Climax for Tetsuya Naito. And certainly not because it was the first G1 Climax of Yujiro Takahashi, that soporific bastard.
The reason 2010 is the starting point is that the 2010 G1 Climax is the farthest you can go back in G1 Climax history without breaking the streak of the “Two Blocks, One Winner per Block, One Match Final” format. 2009 had two blocks, but more than one person advanced per block, and there was a four-man tournament final.
And, unfortunately, the further you go back, the more stressful the unevenness of the year-to-year formatting becomes.
Here’s how it plays out:
The G1 Climax began in 1991. The format that year was the one that we are most familiar with, and the vastly superior one at that: two blocks, one winner per block, and a one match final.
But, of course, that has not always been the format. In fact, there have been four different formats used in the G1 Climax over the last 31 years:
- Two blocks, one wrestler advances per block, one match final (1991, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2008, 2010-2021)
- Single elimination tournament (1992-1993, 1997-1998)
- Two blocks, two wrestlers advance per block, four man tournament final (1995, 2001-2003, 2005-2007, 2009)
- Four blocks, one wrestler advances per block, four man tournament final (2000, 2022)
- Two blocks, fucking three wrestlers advance per block, four man tournament final (2004)
And through these multiple formats, precedents were certainly established, though closer inspection reveals that several of them are completely irrelevant and lack any sort of germanity to the G1 Climax we know today.
There were also rules changes along the way:
- In 2000, they decided to completely change the point system. Wins in the 2000 G1 Climax were worth one points, and… that’s it. Everything else was zero points. Draws, double count-outs, etc.
- In 2004, double count-outs and double-disqualifications were worth zero points. Now, that’s how it should be, but looking at the records of years previous and subsequent to this, it appears that the 2000 and 2004 G1 Climax were the only years they counted those results as zero points:
- In the inaugural G1 Climax of 1991, Scott Norton and Tatsumi Fujinami wrestled to a double count-out. Both wrestlers received one point.
- In 2001, Yuji Nagata and Kazunari Murakami wrestled to a double count-out. Both received a point.
- In 2003, Yuji Nagata once again wrestled to a double count-out, this time with a young Katsuyori Shibata, his brain firmly within his skull at the time. The each received one point.
- In 2005, Minoru Suzuki and supreme booker Kendo Kashin wrestled to a double count-out. Both received a point.
- Also in 2005, Shinsuke Nakamura and Toru Yano wrestled to a double count-out. Both received a point. Sources say that Nakamura was so hot over this booking decision that he made a vow to retire from the sport in 2016.
- In 2006, Yuji Nagata, fucking again, wrestled to a double count-out with Togi Makabe. Both received one point.
- In 2006, the exceedingly rare double knockout occurred, between Giant Bernard and Satoshi Kojima. Both received a point.
- In 2007, Giant Bernard and Akebono, a pairing which seems vaguely sacrilegious, wrestled to a double count-out. Both received a point. Incredibly, despite wrestling in the G1 Climax three times, Giant Bernard and Yuji Nagata never wrestled to a double count-out.
- Also in 2007, Toru Yano and Hiroshi Tanahashi wrestled to a double count-out. Both received a point.
- In 2009, Giant Bernard and Masato Tanaka wrestled to a double count-out. Both received a point.
- In 2021, Shingo Takagi and the loathsome bastard Yujiro Takahashi wrestled to a fairly hilarious double count-out. Both received one point.
So yes, there is more evidence to support the “DCO = 1 point” rule than any rational, productive person would expect. But that’s not the most egregious example from the pre=2010 period.
As we noted before: they didn’t use head-to-head tiebreakers until 2001. That lead to several preposterous situations:
- 1999 A Block: Keiji Mutoh and Yuji Nagata (who seems to be immersed in all of these strange historical situations) finish league play tied with 8 points. Even though Mutoh had defeated Nagata in their league match, a tiebreaker match was held, because New Japan did not use head-to-head tiebreakers at this time. Mutoh defeated Nagata to advance to the final.
- 2000 A Block: Yuji Nagata, of course, and Iizuka finish league play with 3 points each. Even though Nagata had defeated Iizuka in their league match, a tiebreaker match was held, because New Japan did not use head-to-head tiebreakers at this time. Nagata defeated Iizuka to advance to the final.
- 2000 C Block: Manabu Nakanishi and Hiroyoshi Tenzan finish league play with 3 points each. Even though Tenzan had defeated Nakanishi in their league match, a tiebreaker match was held, because New Japan did not use head-to-head tiebreakers at this time. Nakanishi defeated Tenzan to advance to the final.
So there you have it.
The first thing one would wonder, when presented with the idea that head-to-head tiebreakers were not used until 2001, is if someone got totally screwed, winning the league match against someone, but then losing the totally illogical tiebreaker match to them and being ousted.
It did happen. Hiroyoshi Tenzan got totally fucked over in 2000.
For all the above, at the very least, is why we consider 2010 to be the dawn of the modern G1 Climax era, and why our data sets and historical evaluations start there
We separate everything from before 2001 in our list of Final Night Scenarios from everything after 2001. Of course, the rest of the 2000’s were mainly tournaments in which more than one person advanced from a block.
We totally ignore that miserable situation. The one thing that they retained for this, the 2022 g1 Climax, was the one-winner-per-block concept. Determining the ROWS for a block in which more than one person can advance from the block is meaningless.
Frankly, what’s even the point of winning a block under that format? Who gives a fuck about that when the second place finisher advances as well. And in one year, the goddamn third place finisher!
Of course, there still are reasons to look back that far. Before we finally get to the 2022 G1 Climax Scenarios, let’s look at how
Precedents and Assorted Balderdash
Precedent: the champion has run the table to win a block
We really don’t want to give this motherfucker any credit, but we offer to you Kaz Fujita in 2005.
Now, no one was accepting that offer in 2005, besides maybe Pride, but this is what we offer to you.
In 2005, Fujita won all seven of his matches, taking the 1st place of B Block outright. That said, it’s not accurate to say he obliterated the block. He faced Shinsuke Nakamura in the final block match, Fujita sitting at a perfect 6-0 and Nakamura sitting at 5-0-1. If Nakamura won, he would have won the block with 13 points. Fujita, of course, beat Nakamura in 6:25
And so, 2022’s B Block can either support this precedent or upend it. Jay White can either join Kaz Fujita, and for the love of God keep Jay White away from Kazuyuki Fujita, or Tama Tonga can succeed where Shinsuke Nakamura failed (and not by beating Jinder Mahal).
On a side note, there have four times a champion has not participated in the G1 Climax. The first was Riki Choshu in 1992, but we can allow that one; it was a single elimination tournament for the NWA title that year, caught up in the unholy mess that was the early-90’s WCW title situation.
So that leaves three times a champion skipped the tournament, and they fall under two different wrestlers:
- Kazuyuki Fujita in both 2001 and 2004 (and then coming around to run the fucking table in 2005)
- Keiji Mutoh in 2008
In conclusion: fuck those guys.
Precedent: There have been multiple person ties in a G1 Climax
This hasn’t happened post-2010, but it almost happened in 2013’s B Block. Going into the final night, the situation was:
- Karl Anderson, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Minoru Suzuki at 10 points
- Tetsuya Naito, Shelton X Benjamin, Yujiro Takahashi, and Yuji Nagata at 8 points.
- Yuji Nagata defeated Yujiro Takahashi. Minoru Suzuki lost to Toru Yano. Shinsuke Nakamura lost to Shelton X Benjamin.
- If Anderson vs. Naito in the final block match ended in a no contest, we would have had a very complicated tie between Anderson, Benjamin, Nagata, Nakamura, and Suzuki.
- Tetsuya Naito defeated Karl Anderson to win the block. In one of the most incredible finishes in G1 history, Naito tied with Karl Anderson, Minoru Suzuki, Shelton X Benjamin, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Yuji Nagata at 10 points and holding the head-to-head tiebreaker over all five.
A similar situation nearly occurred in 2012’s B Block. Going into the final block match, the following wrestlers were tied at 8: Kazuchika Okada, Lance Archer, Hirooki Goto, Togi Makabe, MVP, Tetsuya Naito, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, and Shinsuke Nakamura. Okada, thankfully, beat Makabe to win the block with 10 points. If he hadn’t? Here’s how the win-loss into head-to-head would have played out:
- Archer 4-3, Goto 4-3, Makabe 3-4, MVP 3-4, Naito 4-3, Nakamura 3-4, Okada 4-3, Tenzan 3-4
- That eliminates Nakamura, Makabe, MVP, and Tenzan
- Archer 2-1, Goto 2-1, Naito 1-2, Okada 1-2
- Archer over Goto in the head-to-head. Archer wins block.
But no, to find an actual example of this, we have to look back much deeper.
This one is really fucking frustrating.
In 2002, more than one person advanced from each of the two blocks. A Block was simple:
- Yoshihiro Takayama won 1st place outright with 8 points.
- Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Kensuke Sasaki tied for 2nd place with 6 points. Thankfully, we were using head-to-head tiebreakers by this point. Tenzan won 2nd place by holding the head-to-head victory over Sasaki.
B Block, however… was a bit messier:
- Masahiro Chono won 1st place outright with 7 points
- Osamu Nishimura, Manabu Nakanishi, and Yuji Nagata (of course) all tied for 2nd place with 5 points. The way out of this doesn’t make any fucking sense, but this is the best we can decipher from it:
- Nagata wrestled to a time limit draw with Nishimura, but lost to Nakanishi. That eliminates Nagata.
- Nakanishi and Nishimura also wrestled to a time limit draw.
- In fact, Nishimura wrestled three 30 minute time limit draws that year. It is one of the most incredible G1 Climax lines in the tournament’s history.
- Nishimura and Nakanishi wrestled a tiebreaker match. Nishimura submitted Nakanishi in 5:49.
Seemingly, the logic here must be that because neither Nishimura nor Nakanishi took a loss within their group, and wrestled to a time limit draw with each other, this is an unbreakable tie.
We could counter: Nakanishi had an actual fucking win, and Nishimura had two draws! Nakanishi was 1-0-1. That’s obviously a better record than 0-0-2. What in the fuck. We reached out to wrestling historians on this, thinking maybe there is something lost in this fairly ancient history. Nobody had any fucking clue.
Now, one might be thinking, why are we so hung up on the win-loss record within the tie group? Perhaps that’s not how New Japan did things back then. Because, as we pointed out earlier, pretty much every year has avoided the multiple person tie, there isn’t much precedent for how to handle these orts of things.
But there is. There’s one more multiple person tie we need to dissect, and it provides us with a very pertinent precedent for the 2022 D Block, if they do indeed follow this precedent:
Precedent: if more than two wrestlers are tied, the tiebreakers begin with the win-loss record within that tied group, then it goes to head-to-head tiebreakers once that is sorted out.
Ok, this is so goddamn annoying we have to pause to acknowledge how goddamn frustrating this is.
In 2004, three people advanced from each of the two blocks. The 1st place wrestlers received a bye to the semi-finals. The 2nd and 3rd place wrestlers faced off in the quarterfinals. Those two winners moved on to face the 1st place wrestlers. Essentially, the old NFL playoffs format.
Once again, one of the blocks was very tidy. B Block was simple:
- Hiroshi Tanahashi won 1st place outright with 12 points
- Hiroyoshi Tenzan won 2nd place outright with 11 points
- Kensuke Sasaki won 3rd place outright with 9 points.
But then, the A Block. This one is a real doozy:
- Katsuyori Shibata, Genichiro Tenryu of all people, Shinsuke Nakamura, Masahiro Chono, Minoru Suzuki, and Yuji Nagata (of course) were locked in a six-way tie for 1st Three would advance. Here’s how we think they worked out the tiebreakers.
- First, we look at win-loss records within the tie group. In this case, each wrestler had five opponents within the group. The records were:
- Katsuyori Shibata: 3-2
- Genichiro Tenryu: 3-2
- Shinsuke Nakamura: 2-2-1
- Masahiro Chono: 2-2-1
- Minoru Suzuki: 2-3
- Yuji Nagata: 2-3
- That eliminates Suzuki and Nagata
- Shibata defeated Tenryu, and so Shibata claimed 1st place and Tenryu claimed 2nd This is why we believe that if this ever happens again, and for fuck’s sake it should not, head-to-head tiebreakers would follow the win-loss sorting.
- Nakamura and Chono had the same record. Unfortunately, that draw between the tie group was with each other. Thus, we had an unbreakable tie.
- Nakamura and Chono, therefore, had to wrestle a run-off tiebreaker match, for the right to move on to the play-in quarterfinals matches. Nakamura beat Chono in 4:39 by disqualification. Oy vey,
Now, the whole intrigue surrounding D Block is that the 7-way tie would be unbreakable, everyone holding a tying at 6 points and holding a 3-3 record within the tie group, Because the tie group is the entire block, there is no wriggle room.
Precedent: Wrestlers have clinched a block before the final night
This one is irrelevant now that Finlay and Tanahashi lost on Night 17, but if you’re wondering if there is precedent for someone winning a block before the final night, especially if they have the final night off, there is.
In 1996, Riki Choshu, still going strong, or at least still booked strong, ended Night 4 of G1 Climax 6 with 8 points in the A Block. There were five-man blocks that year, so Choshu in fact ran the table. The closest wrestler to Choshu was Kensuke Sasaki with four points. With only one match left, Choshu was uncatchable. He was the block on the penultimate night.
And he had the final night off! This was a year where the G1 Finals took place on the same night as the final block night. So, basically, Choshu sat around and waited for the B Block to be decided, then faced that winner, Masahiro Chono, in the main event of the night for the. The very refreshed Choshu beat the enervated Chono to win the G1 Climax.
There is one more example of this: Shinsuke Nakamura in 2009.
In the final year where multiple wrestlers advanced from a block. Nakamura won the B Block by running the table, as Choshu had done 13 years prior, and finishing with 12 points. Again, the big difference here is that Choshu accomplished this feat when only one person advanced from a block, while Nakamura did it when two people advanced. Regardless, Nakamura crushed the block; the closest person, Takashi Sugiura, somehow, finished with 7 points.
Nakamura, though, didn’t exactly coast.
On Night 6 of the tournament, he faced Yuji Nagata. Nakamura had 8 points, and Nagata had 5. If Nagata beat Nakamura, the gap would shorten, Nakamura at 8 points and Nagata at 7 points. Each had one match left on Night 7.
If Nakamura entered that Night with 8 points and lost, while Nagata entered the night with 7 points and won, Nagata would have won the block with 9 points.
Thus, by beating Nagata on Night 6, the penultimate night of the tournament, Nakamura clinched the B Block.
But, it’s Nakamura’s 2008 that’s even more substantial to our interests.
Precedent: Wrestlers have been eliminated on the final night by results from a previous match in the night
We mentioned how Final Block Matches almost always end up being winner-take-all, and how that necessitates that relevant wrestlers on the undercard lose. Wrestler holds a tiebreakers over people in final block matches lose 80% of the time. Simply put, wrestlers rarely get eliminated on the final night by people under them in the card.
In 2008, poor Yuji Nagata was again caught up in G1 history. He stands as the only person, in any of the 32 G1 climaxes, of any format, to:
- Be in a final block match
- Have a chance to win his block when the night begins
- Be eliminated before the final block match begins, by the result of a previous match on the show
Nagata went into the final night of the 2008 G1 Climax with 6 points, tied for the lead. He was in the final block match with a pre-Miroku-from-Inuyasha-staff Hirooki Goto, who now spins like Chris Masters/Bobby Lashley in his backstage comments.
Goto and Nagata were tied at 6 points with Toshiaki Kawada, Yutaka Yoshie, and Shinsuke Nakamura. Three legends on equal historical footing. Nagata was in a rough spot to begin with. He had already lost to Nakamura and Yoshie. Because Yoshie and Kawada faced each other, he needed to two of them to wrestle to some kind of draw, or else he had no chance to win the block outright.
And lo, Blue Justice prevailed! Kawada and Yoshie did in wrestle to a time limit draw.
BUT, that didn’t matter. Shinsuke Nakamura had already defeated Hiroyoshi Tenzan earlier in the night to reach 8 points. Yuji Nagata thus began the night with a chance to finish his block in a winner-take-all final match, and was eliminated by an earlier result.
And yet, he’s not the only person eliminated on the final night of a G1 Climax by an earlier result. He’s just the only person to be in the final block match and eliminated. In fact, there are two other people who were eliminated on the final night of a G1 Climax in such a manner, only they were outside the block final match.
That would be Toshiaki Kawada and Yutaka Yoshie in the 2008 G1 Climax.
That’s right. This historical precedent traces back to one fell swoop from Shinsuke Nakamura in 2009. These are the only three times this has ever happened.
And, incredibly, because this was 2008 Hirooki Goto, Goto actually beat Nagata to win the block. Goto must have used all of his luck back then: he also needed the Kawada-Yoshie match to end in a draw. He got his draw, took care of business in the final block match, and moved on to his sole G1 Climax victory.
As a quick aside: there are other example of people who were eliminated on the final night in such a fashion, but most of these are nullified because of the two-advance-per-block system they took place within.
There is one weird one, that is debatable.
In 1994, when Hiroshi Hase, in the final block match of the B Block, was seemingly eliminated by Power Warrior earlier in the night. Hase came into the night with 4 points, while Power Warrior had 5. When Warrior won in the opening match, his 7 points were an unreachable target for Hase. This seems to fit the parameters for the in-night knock-out perfectly.
However, Hase was in an unwinnable situation. He came into the night with 4 points, trailing Tatsumi Fujinami, who had 6 points. Normally, this would not preclude him from winning a block outright. It seems like the perfect recipe for the classic G1 Climax come-from-behind victory.
The issue here is the lack of pre-2001 G1 Climax tiebreakers. Because head-to-head tiebreakers didn’t exist, Hase couldn’t actually have won the block outright. The best he could hope for was a tie with Fujinami at 6 points, which would have triggered a run-off tiebreaker match, even though the tiebreaker match with Fujinami would have been triggered by him… beating Fujinami.
This one is to your discretion. Because it’s unorthodox, we’re omitting it, but you could certainly argue that Power Warrior mathematically eliminating Hase overrides the head-to-head tiebreaker nonsense.
Here We Go, Yo, Finally
The Final Night Scenarios
Based on all this dense, mind-scrambling historical patterns, trends, and precedents, we conclude that this will happen on Night 18:
- JONAH loses to Bad Luck Fale
- This one doesn’t really matter, but because the record of wrestlers without a Realistic Outright Win Scenario is so putrid, we expect JONAH to enter that pantheon, probably by count-out. They are protecting this guy strenuously, which makes us very apprehensive about this prediction.
- Kazuchika Okada defeats Lance Archer to win the block.
- They called this guy “The Hope of Humanity!” Of course, he’s going to win the fucking block.
- Tama Tonga defeats Jay White to win the block
- This could be a passion pick. We could not be more invested in babyface Tama Tonga. He is an absolute revelation in this role. He has instantly embodied Hontai, to such a degree that we might be willing to commit blasphemy and say that he embodies the role more than even Ibushi did.
- This makes too much sense. The ubiquity of the BULLET CLUB stories, and the presumed perpetuation of those stories into Fall 2022 and beyond, make it appear very propitious that Tama gets the fall here.
- Tama would be an excellent title defense in Japan or abroad during the autumn. He’d be a welcome burst of vibrancy into that general lull.
- Jay’s been so overwhelmingly peremptory during this tour, with his backstage comment talk show, and his Night 17 post-match attack on Tama, and dubbing himself Jay-sus… it would pay off nicely to lose to Tama, specifically.
- Hirooki Goto loses to EVIL
- EVIL has been thwarted a lot on this tour. LOOK AT THE STATE OF HIM! Tanahashi, Naito, and especially Sabre outsmarted and outmaneuvered him. Hirooki Goto does not outmaneuver anybody.
- Couple that with the atrocious record of wrestlers without a Realistic Outright Win Scenario, and Goto almost certainly takes a big fall here.
- Tetsuya Naito defeats Zack Sabre Jr. to win the block
- This really is a confluence of everything they are infatuated with in G1 Climax booking: a come-from-behind story ending in a winner-take-all final block match.
- It is incredible that The Bald Junior Tag team Specialist Booking Consortium pulled off a come-from-behind story when they only had six matches to play around with.
- It’s mind-blowing to us that this is not the main event of the entire Night 18. This is the culmination of a year-long story. Naito was knocked out of G1 Climax 2021 by Zack Sabre Jr after one match, and Sabre has been chirping about it since. Sabre then knocked Naito out of the New Japan Cup. This is a pretty cool redemption/revenge story they’ve fallen into.
- Of course, this could be your chance to solidify and confirm Sabre as an actual main event level character. But based on the trends, trailing wrestlers always win. Naito should move on.
- Will Ospreay loses to Rock Hard Juice Robinson
- Shamefully, we picked this in our preview, but we assumed it would be for the block. Even the idea that Juice would prevail had become tenuous, until he stole the belt back on Night 17.
- The whole motivation for choosing Juice to upset Ospreay here was because of the United States title situation. When David Finlay retrieved the belt from Juice and returned it to Ospreay, it seemed like perfectly acceptable closure to that situation. Now that Juice has aggravated that wound once more, he has to win this match. What’s the point of all this if he doesn’t?
- Shingo Takagi defeats El Phantasmo to win the block
- Admittedly, we got this one totally incorrect in our preview. The notion of Juice winning the block obfuscated things too much. And this match certainly seemed like upset central, with El Phantasmo taking the last night fall over a former champion to cement himself as a heavyweight wrestler.
- Now that Rock Hard has re-thieved the United States title, and Shingo has gone on a bit of a run to get to this point, it makes sense to book an LIJ semi-final. With Tama and Okada as an unexpectedly semi-final, there are two options for a marquee drawing match: Naito v. Ospreay or Naito v. Shingo. Considering that Naito v. Ospreay is so protected the two almost never even touch in multi-man tags, Naito v. Shingo seems to be the most sensible choice.
Even though this G1 Climax played out as expected, a sad and disjointed affair for the bulk of the tournament, there is one final thing we predicted that we feel confident about: everything will come together for a spectacular denouement. Night 18 should be worthwhile and the mini-tournament final should be exceptional.
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