We’re 11 years into the magnificent, all-time run of Kazuchika Okada as the center of New Japan’s universe. With the G1 Climax being the premier wrestling tournament each year, I thought it’d be interesting to see who would top the charts for being the most consistently excellent performer in the G1.
This data looks at the 2012 G1 Climax through night 17 of this year’s tournament.
As laid out in my article on the best wrestlers in 2022 per Cagematch match data, matches are assigned several points based upon their Cagematch average rating. These point assignments are:
Points per match
Matches under 6.75 are not considered. There’s an argument that it should be, of course, but performers such as Toru Yano or Bad Luck Fale or regularly fail to crack that mark aren’t going to score many points.
There are a few caveats with this data. Not every match has a rating – the sub-5-minute matches aren’t eligible to be voted for. Matches must have at least ten votes to be considered – for the first several years of the tournament, not every match has that many votes, and a good number do not. Cagematch used to require matches to be approved by site administration; that changed a few years ago where you can vote on any qualifying match.
Tomohiro Ishii heads the field with 593 points and is second of everyone with the most points per match considered at 8.98 – only Kota Ibushi is higher with 9.02. This is arguably Ishii’s first down year, and he still managed to get five 4+ star matches out of Meltzer. Cagematch voters haven’t responded quite the same way, with Ishii’s matches against Chase Owens (7.61 on Cagematch, 4.5 stars from Meltzer) and Great-O-Khan (6.80 CM, 4 stars Meltzer) being a bit lower than I would have otherwise expected.
Joe Lanza via FlagshipPatreon.com reported that Tomohiro Ishii was nearly left out of this year’s G1 Climax and that his days as a tournament regular are dwindling. Ishii is getting up there in age and it does feel like he’s starting to fall from his peak in terms of his ability to physically perform at the impossibly high bar he’s established. But it is still wild to think that the greatest tournament wrestler ever could have been unceremoniously dropped from the field despite another fantastic performance last year.
I entered the data chronologically, and #2 Kazchika Okada was neck-and-neck with Ishii for the top spot – until the Red Ink era. Okada’s G1 match ratings on the site dropped off as it seemed that fans did not buy into the new finisher. Okada’s in a clear tier by himself here – a bit behind Ishii (though close enough that he could catch him next year if Ishii is inactive) but with a clear margin ahead of Tanahashi.
Hiroshi Tanahashi takes third and Tetsuya Naito fifth, with Kota Ibushi falling between the two. Ibushi being this high is an accomplishment given how relatively few G1s he’s been in. If his relationship with New Japan is so frayed that it can’t be rebuilt, then they’re losing one of their most spectacular performers on a year-in, year-out basis.
Hirooki Goto is a distant sixth. He’s definitely buoyed by his longevity, but he’s also been a very consistent performer. SANADA and EVIL are also where they are due to their longevity more than any kind of peak performance.
A few names that are no longer active in the G1 show up between eighth and twentieth. Kenny Omega landed in a tie for eighth with Shingo Takagi despite just a few years in the field. Minoru Suzuki (12th, numerous years off due to the NOAH run and age), Michael Elgin (14th, is Michael Elgin), Shinsuke Nakamura (15th, left to surf in Florida), and Katsuyori Shibata (16th, exploded own brain) all had short runs with great matches in the field.
In contrast, we have current competitors that are rapidly moving up the rankings. Zack Sabre Jr. (7th), Shingo Takagi (8th), Will Ospreay (11th), and Jay White (13th) have all been able to quickly land high on the list, and they should all only be moving upwards as their health allows.
We’ll close out with a chart of the top performers on a per-match basis, ignoring matches that fall below a 6.75 average.
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