With another year of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax behind us, let’s take a quick look back at the best and the worst of the tournament. In this post, I’ll be ranking everything across four categories: first, I’ll rank the wrestlers in each block by the average star rating (the standard 1-5 scale) I gave their matches. At the same time I will also rank the blocks themselves by the average star rating of all matches that took place in that block. We’ll then rank the eighteen block shows by average star rating for the G1 matches of each night. Finally, I’ll list my top 50 matches for the G1.

Hopefully all these rankings will help you figure out what to go back and watch in case you missed anything (or if you haven’t watched any of it at all and are looking to pick & choose in hindsight). Of course, these are all just the opinions of one obsessive enby with a large spreadsheet, and should not be taken too seriously. If you disagree with my ratings, feel free to @ me on Twitter and tell me I’m dumb: @toshanshuinla. If you’re one of the participants, please do not try to fight me. If you’re Bad Dude Tito, please keep being one bad, bad dude.

Let’s get into it with the wrestlers/blocks rankings!

Wrestler/Block Rankings

For these wrestler and block averages we are not including the semi finals or finals, since that would essentially be an unfair advantage for those wrestlers who participated- these averages are strictly based on their normal block matches only.

Block A
Average: 3.19 (4/4)

We start out with the so-called “monster block”, which ends up finishing with our lowest average of the four blocks by quite a wide margin. This really didn’t surprise me given that Toru Yano & Bad Luck Fale were both in this block, but the other wrestlers did their best to deliver some good stuff (and even Yano & Fale ended up having their moments, relatively speaking).

7th: Toru Yano (2.54)

Results: 1-5 (2 points), 7th place
Best Match: vs. Lance Archer, Night 12 (8/6) Osaka ***1/2
Worst Match: vs. Bad Luck Fale, Night 7 (7/27) Korakuen *

Toru Yano had about what you would expect from a Yano G1- some comedy matches that landed (along with the Archer match I thought the Cobb match was quite funny as well) and some that didn’t (the match with Fale that ended up being my worst match of the entire tournament by a considerable margin). What else do you say about Toru Yano? He’s Toru Yano.

6th: Bad Luck Fale (2.58)

Results: 2-4 (4 points), 6th place
Best Match: vs. Lance Archer, Night 3 (7/20) Sendai ***1/4
Worst Match: vs. Toru Yano, Night 7 (7/27) Korakuen *

Kinda strange that they put both the night off guys in A block right? My only assumption is they really wanted to let Kazuchika Okada take things easy this year, especially after the first half he’s already had. Anyway, Fale peaked with a surprisingly good monster battle against Archer and a weirdly good styles clash against Tom Lawlor that I gave the same rating. He’s another guy that you kinda know what to expect from at this point, for better or worse.

5th: JONAH (3.33)

Results: 4-2 (8 points), 2nd place
Best Match: vs. Jeff Cobb, Night 11 (8/5) Ehime ****
Worst Match: vs. Toru Yano, Night 2 (7/17) Sapporo *3/4

As you can see there’s a huge jump from the Yano/Fale tier of A block to the rest, starting with JONAH. I thought JONAH had a very good first G1- his average rating is dragged down a bit by a truly dire Yano match from very early in the tournament, but if you took that match out his average rating would be a much stronger 3.65, which I think is more indicative of the kind of quality he put out there. His two highlights were the big meat battle with Jeff Cobb and his huge win over Okada from Night 13 in Osaka (which I also gave 4 stars to); I’m guessing most people would probably list the Okada match as his best, but I just slightly preferred the Cobb match.

4th: Tom Lawlor (3.38)

Results: 3-3 (6 points), 3rd place
Best Match: vs. Kazuchika Okada, Night 15 (8/10) Hiroshima ****
Worst Match: vs. Toru Yano, Night 10 (8/2) Hamamatsu **1/4

Another guy whose average is weighed down a lot by a subpar Yano match, I really loved what the Filthy one brought to the table in this year’s G1 Climax. His MMA-inspired grappling is exactly the kind of thing that used to be a major part of NJPW and hasn’t been in recent years (especially since Katsuyori Shibata was forced into quasi-retirement), so having him in the tournament was a real breath of fresh air and I hope he returns to Japan in the future.

3rd: Jeff Cobb (3.42)

Results: 3-3 (6 points), 3rd place
Best Match: vs. JONAH, Night 11 (8/5) Ehime ****
Worst Match: vs. Bad Luck Fale, Night 5 (7/24) Ota Ward Gym **1/2

The Imperial Unit had himself another strong G1, and frankly if you were one of the many people who had his match with Kazuchika Okada a lot higher than I did you’d probably rank him even higher (I was very much the low person on that one, as it just felt way too similar to their many previous matches in the last year). Even with that said, Cobb delivered bangers with the likes of JONAH, Lawlor and Lance Archer, and more than deserves his third place finish here.

2nd: Kazuchika Okada (3.46)

Results: 5-1 (10 points), 1st place
Best Match: vs. Lance Archer, Night 18 (8/16) Budokan ****1/4
Worst Match: vs. Bad Luck Fale, Night 9 (7/31) Nagoya **1/2

No surprise to see Okada finish this high, but I thought his G1 was pretty inconsistent by his own lofty standards. Some of that was just being in a block with a weaker line-up than the others, but Okada also seemed to be in a kind of autopilot for a lot of the tournament (especially early on), having what could be reasonably described as by-the-numbers Okada matches. But he broke out of it in a big way later on, with all of my favorite Okada matches of the tournament coming late: 4-star matches with JONAH on Night 13 and Tom Lawlor on Night 15, and then the amazing sprint with Lance Archer on Night 18.

1st: Lance Archer (3.63)

Results: 3-3 (6 points), 3rd place
Best Match: vs. Kazuchika Okada, Night 18 (8/16) Budokan ****1/4
Worst Match: vs. Tom Lawlor, Night 6 (7/26) Korakuen ***1/4

The big man returns from AEW and ends up finishing atop the A Block for me in average star rating by a decent margin. Lance Archer simply had a great tournament. When you’ve got a block like this with two guys who tend to be anchors for most other wrestlers and end up having good matches with them (I went ***1/4 on his match with Fale and ***1/2 on his hilarious match with Yano), that’s going to give you a big leg up on the rest of the field in average rating. But Archer just looked like he was having the time of his life out there and made every moment count in his big return to both Japan and the G1, so at the end of the day he’s a very deserving best wrestler for A block.

Block B
Average: 3.70 (2/4)

Now we move over to the B Block, which ended up finishing with a strong 3.70 average star rating, good enough to make it the 2nd best block out of four. Two of my own personal favorite wrestlers who I know can be more divisive for others (Jay White & Taichi) are both in this block, so I may have been a little higher on it than some of you.

7th: Chase Owens (3.29)

Results: 2-4 (4 points), 4th place
Best Match: vs. Jay White, Night 9 (7/31) Nagoya ***1/2
Worst Match: vs. Great-O-Khan, Night 6 (7/26) Korkauen ***

Chase Owens was kind of the Mr. Consistency of this year’s G1- never got too high or too low, with all of his matches rating within a narrow band. He had one match I rated at three flat, three at three and a quarter, and two at three and a half. The pretty funny comedy of the White match put that one over the top of the Ishii match for my favorite Chase match of the tournament, as I thought the payoff aspect was a nice new twist on the tired “one BULLET CLUB member tells the other one to lay down for them” formula we’d seen a million times before this.

6th: Great-O-Khan (3.50)

Results: 2-4 (4 points), 4th place
Best Match: vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Night 10 (8/2) Hamamatsu ****1/4
Worst Match: vs. Chase Owens, Night 6 (7/26) Korakuen ***

I feel bad seeing a legitimate hero ranking second-to-last in his block, but if you pay attention to his average rating there was a big jump from 7th to 6th. O-Khan had a couple really high end performances- in addition to the Ishii match, I went ****1/4 on his battle with Jay White from Night 12 in Osaka as well. But other than those two matches I had at 4.25, he never got above 3.25 for me. So he peaked very high, but other than that was kind of just pretty good for his other four matches of the tournament- hence, he lands here. I do want to shout out his match with Taichi in particular- I couldn’t really go higher than the aforementioned ***1/4 on it just because it was so short, but it was an absolute blast while it lasted, with O-Khan’s judo and sambo-inspired style going up against Taichi’s sumo style. I hope they have a much longer match down the road.

5th: Tama Tonga (3.58)

Results: 5-1 (10 points), 1st place
Best Match: vs. Taichi, Night 14 (8/9) Hiroshima ****
Worst Match: vs. Great-O-Khan, Night 15 (8/10) Hiroshima ***1/4

Tama is the first wrestler we see who had his best and worst matches on back-to-back nights, and frankly I don’t really blame the guy for maybe looking a little tired out there the next night after his pretty epic clash with Taichi the night before. I could see some folks finding the Tama/Taichi match a little too goofy for them given all the “possessed iron glove” stuff, but I really like that they paid off that old story once and for all now that Tama is a babyface, and pretty much all the actual wrestling in the match was phenomenal. Tama had a strong tournament in a deep B block, with matches against Ishii & SANADA that I both went ***3/4 on as his other highlights.

4th: SANADA (3.63)

Results: 3-3 (6 points), 3rd place
Best Match: vs. Taichi, Night 5 (7/24) Ota Ward Gym ****1/4
Worst Match: vs. Great-O-Khan, Night 8 (7/30) Nagoya ***

SANADA had a quietly good tournament, as he put up some strong performances and never really got too low despite feeling like he wasn’t exactly making waves either (especially not in the standings, where the former finalist wasn’t much of a factor). His ongoing friendly rivalry with Taichi produced another awesome match, as the two men just have amazing chemistry together. Other highlights included an awesome **** match with Tama Tonga and a ***3/4 affair with Ishii.

3rd: Taichi (3.92)

Results: 2-4 (4 points), 4th place
Best Match: vs. Jay White, Night 16 (8/13) Machida Gymnasium ****1/2
Worst Match: vs. Chase Owens, Night 11 (8/5) Ehime ***1/4

We’re now into the top 3 of the B Block, and as you can see if you’re paying attention to the average star ratings there was a huge jump from 4th to 3rd. These three men really carried the block from a star rating perspective, and it starts out with the Holy Emperor. I think I was probably the high one on his battle with Jay White- it’s two wrestlers I absolutely love having a long, story-based main event, but I could see it being a little slow or boring for some other people. But even if you don’t have that one as high as I did, I would be surprised if you didn’t love his latest battle with rivals Tomohiro Ishii and SANADA, both of which I went ****1/4 on. On the other hand, the Tama match that I went **** on may have been more of an acquired taste as well. Still, I thought this was another awesome G1 for Taichi, and at this point he’s up there with YOSHI-HASHI for “people who still think he’s bad probably just don’t actually watch New Japan anymore.”

2nd: Jay White (3.96)

Results: 5-1 (10 points), 2nd place
Best Match: vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Night 4 (7/23) Ota Ward Gym ****1/2
Worst Match: vs. Chase Owens, Night 9 (7/31) Nagoya ***1/2

Being the champion heading into a G1 Climax always makes you essentially the biggest focal point of the block matches of the tournament, even if you rarely end up going to the actual finals, so it’s always interesting to see how someone does in their first time in the role. Jay White didn’t just pass with flying colors, he earned extra credit along the way. When your “worst match” of the tournament is a match that made me smile and laugh as often as his match with Chase did, you’re doing pretty damn good. White’s story of always barely finding a way to get past a wide variety of opponents (before finally losing to Tama in the end) was one of the most enjoyable parts of this G1, and he deserves his nearly 4-star average here.

1st: Tomohiro Ishii (4.04)

Results: 2-4 (4 points), 4th place
Best Match: vs. Jay White, Night 4 (7/23) Ota Ward Gym ****1/2
Worst Match: vs. Chase Owens, Night 13 (8/7) Osaka ***1/2

What is there left to say about Tomohiro Ishii? If this really does end up being his last G1 Climax (as rumored), it’s more than fitting that he went out topping his block in average star rating yet again. He’s just one of the best to ever do this. Of his six matches, I had only two below the four star level (a 3.75 match against Tama Tonga along with his 3.5 star “worst” match above). It would be a stunning performance from almost anyone else, but from Tomohiro Ishii, it’s just another year in the Grade One Climax. Hopefully the rumors aren’t true and we’ll see him back next year.

Block C
Average: 3.80 (1/4)

While I wouldn’t be surprised if I was a little higher on the B Block than other people (as I mentioned earlier), on the other hand I WOULD be surprised if C Block wasn’t most people’s favorite block. This was just a stacked block from the moment the lineups first came out, and it didn’t disappoint, finishing in first place among the four blocks in average star rating.

7th: EVIL (3.46)

Results: 3-3 (6 points), 3rd place
Best Match: vs. Tetsuya Naito, Night 9 (7/31) Nagoya ****
Worst Match: vs. Aaron Henare, Night 13 (8/7) Osaka **3/4

I know what most of you are probably thinking here- “hah, of course EVIL finished last! Everybody hates EVIL, am I right?”. Here’s where I think it’s worth putting things in perspective- EVIL’s 3.46 average has him finishing last in the stacked C Block, but with the same rating he would be 6th in B Block, tied for 4th in D Block, and tied for 2nd in A Block! Now, that’s not a perfect comparison since EVIL also benefitted from the deep lineup of opponents in C Block, but I just wanted to point this out since I think his ranking will make him look worse than he actually was. I found EVIL to be a very effective wrestler in this tournament- unlike a certain House of Torture stablemate we’ll get to later, his antics rarely ever annoyed me (other than his one misstep with Henare, he didn’t have another match below 3.25 for me) and it was just plain satisfying to watch him lose to the likes of Naito and Tanahashi. I really think he’s got his whole match formula down to a science at this point, and he and Togo are just a much more enjoyable act together than some people want to give them credit for.

6th: Aaron Henare (3.63)

Results: 1-5 (2 points), 7th place
Best Match: vs. Tetsuya Naito, Night 11 (8/5) Ehime ****1/4
Worst Match: vs. EVIL, Night 13 (8/7) Osaka **3/4

While not posting baffling memes that appear to glorify the horrific imperial period of Japanese history and other memes that are just openly misogynistic, Aaron Henare managed to have himself a pretty damn good G1 from a match quality perspective. Given all that’s come out about him lately I’m not sure I really want to glorify him beyond that, so you can see his stats above and his best/worst match, and let’s just leave it at that. I guess we can also add that finishing with just 2 points doesn’t seem very primal, bro.

5th: Hirooki Goto (3.71)

Results: 3-3 (6 points), 3rd place
Best Match: vs. Zack Sabre Jr, Night 12 (8/6) Osaka ****1/4
Worst Match: vs. KENTA, Night 10 (8/2) Hamamatsu ***

Hirooki Goto had one of his strongest G1s in quite a while, as I’m assuming being an actual factor in the tournament with some big wins over the likes of Naito & Tanahashi (when’s the last time he was alive to win his block entering the final night?!) resulted in him having more motivation and thus putting in some stronger performances than he has in recent years. Both those aforementioned matches with old rivals Naito & Tanahashi were awesome (I had both at 4 flat), and along with his best match against ZSJ it helped him have a great tournament.

4th: KENTA (3.79)

Results: 3-3 (6 points), 3rd place
Best Match: vs. Zack Sabre Jr, Night 2 (7/17) Sapporo ****1/2
Worst Match: vs. Hirooki Goto, Night 10 (8/2) Hamamatsu ***

It was difficult to know what to expect out of KENTA coming off such a long injury layoff, but he had himself a pretty damn great G1 Climax. He’s developed quite an annual rivalry with ZSJ, and the fact that they managed to have a completely different type of match than their recent pervious meetings (almost entirely striking as compared to their other heavily mat-based matches) and still have it be as fantastic as it was says a lot for both guys. I had two other 4+ matches for KENTA (4.25 with Naito and 4 flat with Tanahashi), and another near miss at 3.75 against Henare, so it was a very strong return to action after those litany of injures suffered back at Wrestle Kingdom.

3rd: Hiroshi Tanahashi (3.92)

Results: 3-3 (6 points), 3rd place
Best Match: vs. Tetsuya Naito, Night 5 (7/24) Ota Ward Gym ****1/4
Worst Match: vs. Aaron Henare, Night 1 (7/16) Sapporo ***1/2

Just like with B Block we see a big jump up as we get to the top 3, as all three of these men had yet another incredible G1. The Ace clearly has to do more with less when you’re talking about his physical condition (much like another wrestler we’ll be getting to in a second here), but that’s no problem at all for one of the best wrestlers of all time. He delivered yet another awesome match in his very long running rivalry with Naito, and three more matches that hit the 4 star level (all at 4 flat) with other longtime rivals in ZSJ, Goto and KENTA. Once in a century talent, indeed.

2nd: Zack Sabre Jr. (3.96)

Results: 4-2 (8 points), 2nd place
Best Match: vs. KENTA, Night 2 (7/17) Sapporo ****1/2
Worst Match: vs. EVIL, Night 15 (8/10) Hiroshima ***1/2

Some people were born to be Japanese professional wrestlers, and you don’t need to have been born in Japan to have been born to be a Japanese professional wrestler. Zack, like some others (Lance Archer is definitely another one- he’s just so much better in NJPW than he is in AEW, and that’s not a shot at his AEW work at all really), is just in his perfect role as a foreigner in Japanese wrestling. His wrestling style, where he can beat you with a submission as easily as he can beat you with a sudden flash pin (a lost art in America if we’re being honest with ourselves), is far more suited to the unpredictable match times of Japanese shows than rigidly laid out US television. His honest-to-god tweener character, where you can be rooting for him in one match and then laughing hysterically at his over-the-top tantrum after a big loss in the next, is a much better fit for Japan and its wider range of alignments as well. His interview style is a perfect fit for the freeform, casual nature of the backstage press conferences, allowing him to be one of the strongest English language promos in all of wrestling. None of this is me saying he wouldn’t get over in AEW or maybe even WWE- he’s so talented that I wouldn’t put it past him. But what I AM saying that I’m very glad he remains with New Japan Pro Wrestling, and I’m going to enjoy it for as long as it lasts (hopefully many more years to come). He had yet another fantastic G1 Climax this year, and here’s to many more.

1st: Tetsuya Naito (4.04)

Results: 4-2 (8 points), 1st place
Best Match: vs. Aaron Henare, Night 11 (8/5) Ehime ****1/4
Worst Match: vs. Zack Sabre Jr, Night 18 (8/16) Budokan ***1/2

Yes yes, I know- if you’re aware of my opinions from either my Twitter or my former podcast Wrestling Omakase, you’re probably not very surprised that I have Tetsuya Naito at the top of his block in average star rating. But what can I say- I thought Naito had a fantastic year in the G1, even in spite of his obvious physical limitations at this stage of his career. I had three very different matches all at 4.25 for Naito (vs. Tanahashi & KENTA being the other two), but I thought his match with Henare was his best of the block matches. He made the Alpha Bro look like a million bucks as he just absolutely sold his ass off for him, especially his repeated body blows, and I like that they had the balls to just have Naito get one big Destino out of nowhere for the win instead of doing the normal NJPW back-and-forth reversal sequence that can get played out during a long tournament. Then add two more four star flat matches against EVIL & Goto, and the most fun you can have in 118 seconds in his match with Zack, and you get one hell of a G1. And that’s not even including his very best match, his ****1/2 match in the semi finals with Will Ospreay. So yes, I’m biased, but in my own biased opinion Naito delivered yet again. Go write your own column if you don’t like it, punk!

Block D
Average: 3.45 (3/4)

Finally, we wrap things up with the D Block, which happened to finish in third place among the four blocks. There’s one wrestler in particular who very much dragged down the averages here, with everyone else having pretty damn good tournaments, so let’s get right into it.

7th: Yujiro Takahashi (2.58)

Results: 3-3 (6 points), 2nd place
Best Match: vs. Juice Robinson, Night 11 (8/5) Ehime ***1/4
Worst Match: vs. YOSHI-HASHI, Night 14 (8/9) Hiroshima **

Look, I don’t have anything against Yujiro Takahashi. He seems like a nice enough guy, Pieter is very attractive (and frankly he could play this gimmick with her much, much creepier than he does in reality, so I appreciate that), and a lot of people I’m friends with on Twitter seem to weirdly enjoy him a lot. Hell, I thought he was surprisingly good two years ago when he first came back into the G1. But I can only give you my honest opinions here, and I thought Yujiro wasn’t very good in this year’s G1. I had only two matches at three stars or better for him all tournament (in addition to his best match with Juice, I went 3 flat on his match with ELP, probably for the funny Pieter storyline more than anything else). He just had a very subpar tournament. And I’m not saying this in a “I automatically hate even the tiniest bit of interference” way, because I thought EVIL & Jay White both had strong tournaments despite having various amounts of interference throughout. Yujiro’s matches were just largely boring and sometimes even bad. Somehow he came out just slightly ahead of Toru Yano for lowest average rating in the entire tournament (and tied with Bad Luck Fale), but for who I actually think I enjoyed the least, it’s pretty easily Yujiro.

6th: David Finlay (3.38)

Results: 3-3 (6 points), 2nd place
Best Match: vs. Juice Robinson, Night 6 (7/26) Korakuen ****1/2
Worst Match: vs. Yujiro Takahashi, Night 3 (7/20) Sendai **1/4

That’s one gigantic jump from last place to second last in the block, huh? Finlay’s story in this tournament with his big wins over his ex-partner Juice & Will Ospreay after taking hold of his US belt (from Juice) was a tournament highlight. Finlay’s average is greatly inflated by him putting on the absolute performance of his life against Juice, as the two of them tore the house down at Korakuen in a match I wrote about in detail on my one & only nightly G1 review (sorry Rich!). Other than that match though his G1 was perhaps a little pedestrian, as he never hit the 4 star level for me again- he got close against ELP with a 3.75 match, and had a couple 3.5s, but also had a disappointing 2.75 match against YOSHI-HASHI to go with his perhaps understandable worst match against Yujiro. So kind of a one match tournament for Finlay, but man did he make his one match count at least.

5th: YOSHI-HASHI (3.46)

Results: 3-3 (6 points), 2nd place
Best Match: vs. Will Ospreay, Night 16 (8/13) Machida Gymnasium ****1/4
Worst Match: vs. Yujiro Takahashi, Night 14 (8/9) Hiroshima **

I feel so bad seeing YOSHI-HASHI finish in 5th place in my averages, because I thought he had a hell of a good tournament. You’ll see there’s very little gap in the actual numbers from here until the top of the D Block (really just a quarter star, which is nothing), as the entire top 5 of the D Block had strong tournaments. As I’ve said recently elsewhere, there’s no greater sign of someone who pretends they still watch New Japan without actually watching it than someone who says they think YOSHI-HASHI is still bad or boring. He was the ultimate feast or famine guy for me in this tournament- half his matches were 4 stars or better (in addition to his match with Ospreay, I had him at 4 flat against Juice and ELP) and another match with Shingo just missed it at 3.75. But his other two matches failed to crack three stars, dragging down his average and leaving him in fourth. Overall a strong tournament for him though.

4th: Shingo Takagi (3.58)

Results: 3-3 (6 points), 2nd place
Best Match: vs. Will Ospreay, Night 12 (8/6) Osaka ****1/2
Worst Match: vs. Yujiro Takahashi, Night 16 (8/13) Machida Gymnasium **1/4

Here’s the thing about having high standards: when you have a good damn tournament like Shingo Takagi did, with his 3.58 average in fourth place, it can look a bit disappointing. I thought Shingo felt like he was going through the motions a little at times in this year’s G1, which is perhaps understandable to a degree- he’s gone from being the reigning IWGP World Heavyweight Champion in last year’s tournament to kind of a non-factor this year (with all due respect to the King of Pro Wrestling trophy, which is to say very little), so perhaps it’s not surprising he’d take it a bit easier. Still, he found time to have yet another outstanding match with his main rival Ospreay, plus a four star match with seemingly new rival ELP and a match I gave 3.75 against YOSHI-HASHI that a lot of people seemed to like even more than that, so he certainly still had his moments.

3rd: El Phantasmo (3.67)

Results: 3-3 (6 points), 2nd place
Best Match: vs. Shingo Takagi, Night 18 (8/16) Nippon Budokan ****
Worst Match: vs. Yujiro Takahashi, Night 5 (7/24) Ota Ward Gym ***

If you told me before this tournament started that I was going to rank ELP, a wrestler I found obnoxious at worst and just barely tolerable at best in his previous role as a junior heel, as the third best wrestler by average star rating in his block, I would have been pretty surprised. And yet here we are, because ELP just had himself a strong, consistent tournament. He really toned down his more annoying shenanigans and got a chance to show off his actual in ring ability, delivering four star bouts with Shingo and YOSHI-HASHI and two more matches I rated at 3.75 with Ospreay & Finlay. If I gave him extra points for his hilarious note that he had Chris Charlton read at the pre-G1 press conference, he’d finish first easily.

1st (tie): Juice Robinson (3.75)

Results: 2-4 (4 points), 7th place
Best Match: vs. David Finlay, Night 6 (7/26) Korakuen Hall ****1/2
Worst Match: vs. Yujiro Takahashi, Night 11 (8/5) Ehime ***1/4

I didn’t know what to make of the new ROCK HARD Juice Robinson at first- I thought his first match of the tournament, with Shingo Takagi, was a little disappointing for a main event (I ended up going ***1/2 on it), and he felt too similar to the previous Juice to me when it came to his in-ring style. But man, did he just pick up a ton of steam as the tournament went on. Juice never had a bad night, so when your lowest rated match is only three-and-a-quarter, and every other match is 3.5 or better, your average star rating will be pretty strong. He delivered what was probably the best match of his career against ex-partner David Finlay at Korakuen Hall, a match where he did a complete 180 from his performance against Shingo and seemed to truly understand what it meant to work as a desperate, despicable heel. Add in a four star match with YOSHI-HASHI and a 3.75 for his match against Ospreay, and we end up with our one and only tie in average star rating at the top of a block. Heck of a job, Juice.

1st (tie): Will Ospreay (3.75)

Results: 4-2 (8 points), 1st place
Best Match: vs. Shingo Takagi, Night 12 (8/6) Osaka ****1/2
Worst Match: vs. Yujiro Takahashi, Night 7 (7/27) Korakuen **3/4

I have a complicated relationship with young William Ospreay as a critic, with a couple of odd run-ins. The less weird one is that the man blocked me after a vanity search, which is perhaps not that strange (I’m sure he’s blocked lots of people). But the weirder one is that, last fall at a Strong taping in Philadelphia, he and I got into it on camera, which ended up getting immortalized on an episode of NJPW Xtra. As much as Ospreay used to annoy me as a babyface, I genuinely like his heel act a lot more (I think it suits him better in ring too, as he’s really toned down the goofier aspects of his selling and wacky faces from his babyface days), and I was merely trying to play into his whole “I’m the real world champion” storyline by arguing that Shingo was in fact the actual champion. The fact that he seemed to both take actual offense to this and delight in part of the crowd siding with him seems to indicate he still had some maturing to do at the time, especially if he was going to fit into a role as a top heel. Anyway, all of this really has nothing to do with his G1 Climax performance except to say that I perhaps have every reason to be biased against him, and I still thought he had a great G1, well deserving of his spot here at the top of the block. He seems far more natural playing heel than he did during our weird run-in last fall, that is for sure. So good for Will Ospreay, even if he’ll probably never unblock me on Twitter.

Show Rankings

We’ll now rank each show based on my average star rating of just the G1 block matches on each night. I’ll list the full card of block matches for each of the nights in case you forgot as well. Note the wacky five-way tie- I guess that kind of thing can happen when you have a bunch of shows with only four matches on them.

18. Night 7 (7/27) Korakuen– 2.75
Ishii/Tama, Goto/Henare, Yano/Fale, Ospreay/Yujiro

17. Night 3 (7/20) Sendai– 3.19
Naito/Goto, Archer/Fale, Tama/Chase, Finlay/Yujiro

16. Night 10 (8/2) Hamamatsu– 3.35
Ospreay/Finlay, KENTA/Goto, SANADA/Tama, Yano/Lawlor, Ishii/O-Khan

15. Night 1 (7/16) Sapporo– 3.38
Okada/Cobb, SANADA/White, Ospreay/ELP, Tanahashi/Henare

14. Night 13 (8/7) Osaka– 3.40
Okada/JONAH, Ishii/Chase, ELP/Juice, Fale/Lawlor, EVIL/Henare

13. Night 14 (8/9) Hiroshima– 3.45
Naito/KENTA, Archer/JONAH, Taichi/Tama, SANADA/Chase, Yujiro/YH

8 (tie). Night 2 (7/17) Sapporo– 3.50
Shingo/Juice, KENTA/ZSJ, Yano/JONAH, Taichi/Ishii

8 (tie). Night 5 (7/24) Ota Ward Gym– 3.50
Tanahashi/Naito, Fale/Cobb, Taichi/SANADA, ELP/Yujiro

8 (tie). Night 6 (7/26) Korakuen– 3.50
Finlay/Juice, Archer/Lawlor, KENTA/EVIL, Chase/O-Khan

8 (tie). Night 8 (7/30) Nagoya– 3.50
Tanahashi/ZSJ, SANADA/O-Khan, Jonah/Lawlor, Shingo/Finlay

8 (tie). Night 17 (8/14) Nagano– 3.50
Tanahashi/KENTA, Cobb/Lawlor, Taichi/O-Khan, YH/Finlay

7. Night 9 (7/31) Nagoya– 3.55
Naito/EVIL, Okada/Fale, White/Chase, YH/Juice, Archer/Cobb

6. Night 16 (8/13) Machida Gymnasium– 3.65
White/Taichi, Ospreay/YH, Shingo/Yujiro, Cobb/Yano, KENTA/Henare

5. Night 18 (8/16) Nippon Budokan– 3.69
Okada/Archer, JONAH/Fale, White/Tama, Ishii/SANADA, Naito/ZSJ, EVIL/Goto, ELP/Shingo, Ospreay/Juice

3 (tie). Night 11 (8/5) Ehime– 3.70
Tanahashi/EVIL, JONAH/Cobb, Naito/Henare, Taichi/Chase, Juice/Yujiro

3 (tie). Night 15 (8/10) Hiroshima– 3.70
Tanahashi/Goto, Okada/Lawlor, EVIL/ZSJ, Tama/O-Khan, Finlay/ELP

2. Night 4 (7/23) Ota Ward Gym– 3.88
White/Ishii, Okada/Yano, Shingo/YH, ZSJ/Henare

1. Night 12 (8/6) Osaka– 4.10
Shingo/Ospreay, White/O-Khan, ZSJ/Goto, Archer/Yano, YH/ELP

Top 50 Matches

Finally, we’ve reached the end—simple list of my top 50 matches in NJPW’s G1 Climax 32. As mentioned way back at the start of this piece, this is the only ranking where I DID include the semi finals and finals. Enjoy!

1. Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay, Night 20 (8/18) Budokan, Final ****3/4
2. Jay White vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Night 4 (7/23) Ota Ward, B Block ****1/2
3. Will Ospreay vs. Tetsuya Naito, Night 19 (8/17) Budokan, Semi-Final ****1/2
4. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. KENTA, Night 2 (7/17) Sapporo, C Block ****1/2
5. David Finlay vs. Juice Robinson, Night 6 (7/26) Korakuen, D Block ****1/2
6. Jay White vs. Taichi, Night 16 (8/13) Machida, B Block ****1/2
7. Shingo Takagi vs. Will Ospreay, Night 12 (8/6) Osaka, D Block ****1/2
8. Taichi vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Night 2 (7/17) Sapporo, B Block ****1/4
9. SANADA vs. Taichi, Night 5 (7/24) Ota Ward, B Block ****1/4
10. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Hirooki Goto, Night 12 (8/6) Osaka, C Block ****1/4
11. Tetsuya Naito vs. Aaron Henare, Night 11 (8/5) Ehime, C Block ****1/4
12. Great-O-Khan vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Night 10 (8/2) Hamamatsu, B Block ****1/4
13. Will Ospreay vs. YOSHI-HASHI, Night 16 (8/13) Machida, D Block ****1/4
14. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito, Night 5 (7/24) Ota Ward, C Block ****1/4
15. Jay White vs. Great-O-Khan, Night 12 (8/6) Osaka, B Block ****1/4
16. Tetsuya Naito vs. KENTA, Night 14 (8/9) Hiroshima, C Block ****1/4
17. Kazuchika Okada vs. Lance Archer, Night 18 (8/16) Budokan, A Block ****1/4
18. Tetsuya Naito vs. EVIL, Night 9 (7/31) Nagoya, C Block ****
19. Kazuchika Okada vs. Tom Lawlor, Night 15 (8/10) Hiroshima, A Block ****
20. YOSHI-HASHI vs. Juice Robinson, Night 9 (7/31) Nagoya, D Block ****
21. El Phantasmo vs. Shingo Takagi, Night 18 (8/16) Budokan, D Block ****
22. JONAH vs. Jeff Cobb, Night 11 (8/5) Ehime, A Block ****
23. YOSHI-HASHI vs. El Phantasmo, Night 12 (8/6), D Block ****
24. Tama Tonga vs. Taichi, Night 14 (8/9) Hiroshima, B Block ****
25. Hirooki Goto vs. Tetsuya Naito Night 3 (7/20) Sendai, C Block ****
26. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Aaron Henare, Night 4 (7/23) Ota Ward, C Block ****
27. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr, Night 8 (7/30) Nagoya, C Block ****
28. JONAH vs. Kazuchika Okada, Night 13 (8/7) Osaka, A Block ****
29. Tom Lawlor vs. Jeff Cobb, Night 17 (8/14) Nagano, A Block ****
30. Hirooki Goto vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Night 15 (8/10) Hiroshima, C Block ****
31. Tomohiro Ishii vs. SANADA, Night 18 (8/16) Budokan, B Block ****
32. KENTA vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Night 17 (8/14) Nagano, C Block ****
33. Will Ospreay vs. El Phantasmo, Night 1 (7/16) Sapporo, D Block ***3/4
34. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. EVIL, Night 11 (8/5) Ehime, C Block ***3/4
35. Shingo Takagi vs. YOSHI-HASHI, Night 4 (7/23) Ota Ward, D Block ***3/4
36. Kazuchika Okada vs. Tama Tonga, Night 19 (8/17) Budokan, Semi Final ***3/4
37. Will Ospreay vs. Juice Robinson, Night 18 (8/16) Budokan, D Block ***3/4
38. KENTA vs. Aaron Henare, Night 16 (8/13) Machida, C Block ***3/4
39. Tama Tonga vs. SANADA, Night 10 (8/2) Hamamatsu, B Block ***3/4
40. El Phantasmo vs. David Finlay, Night 15 (8/10) Hiroshima, D Block ***3/4
41. Jeff Cobb vs. Lance Archer, Night 9 (7/31) Nagoya, A Block ***3/4
42. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tama Tonga, Night 7 (7/27) Korakuen, B Block ***3/4
43. Lance Archer vs. JONAH, Night 14 (8/9) Hiroshima, A Block ***3/4
44. Jay White vs. SANADA, Night 1 (7/16) Sapporo, B Block ***1/2
45. Hirooki Goto vs. Aaron Henare, Night 7 (7/27) Korakuen, C Block ***1/2
46. Tama Tonga vs. Jay White, Night 18 (8/16) Budokan, B Block ***1/2
47. David Finlay vs. Shingo Takagi, Night 8 (7/30) Nagoya, D Block ***1/2
48. Jay White vs. Chase Owens, Night 9 (7/31) Nagoya, B Block ***1/2
49. JONAH vs. Tom Lawlor, Night 8 (7/30) Nagoya, A Block ***1/2
50. Tetsuya Naito vs. Zack Sabre Jr, Night 18 (8/16) Budokan, C Block ***1/2

And that’s all I have for you! Until next year!

Powered by RedCircle