NJPW – G1 Climax 28 Early Preview

The participants and blocks have now been revealed as the best wrestling tournament in the world is set to kick off in July when New Japan’s G1 Climax returns for 2018. A month of solid wrestling that consistently offers some of the best bouts we will get all year, it’s the best time to be a wrestling fan. And in a first, all 19 shows will have English commentary! This will no doubt be done by the excellent Kevin Kelly who will likely be joined by different wrestlers throughout the tournament with Don Challis joining for the finals towards the end.

I would have liked to see some fresher faces in the tournament, I was very much hoping Matt Riddle would be involved. But that doesn’t take away from the incredible lineup that will deliver stellar matches every night. The blocks offer some huge matches to look forward to, and here’s 3 matches that caught our attention the most.

The G1 Climax 2018 blocks & participants

Kenny Omega vs Kota Ibushi (B Block)
We’ll start with the obvious one as the Golden Lovers will compete against each other for the first time in years. The pair have a very intricate story that dates back to 2008 when the team were wrestling in DDT and carries on to this day. This is a match that could easily headline Tokyo Dome and has the potential to be the match of the year in any year, although with the 30 minute time limit restriction in G1 matches it may be difficult. If Ibushi wins the G1 I think I’ll be booking flights to Tokyo to see him face Kenny at the Dome for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

Kenny Omega vs Zack Sabre Jr (B Block)
ZSJ has proven himself in NJPW and the Japanese crowd loves his wrestling style and it will be intriguing to see him step into the ring vs Omega. It’s a battle of technicality in Zack against the speed demon that is Omega.

Minoru Suzuki murders vs Kazuchika Okada (A Block)
We had this match at The New Beginning and G1 last year but it is always a unique, hard hitting bout. It’s incredible that Suzuki has just turned 50 years old and will be competing in the most competitive wrestling tournament of the year. Okada is going to be interesting to watch in this tournament as it will be his first and likely only opportunity to work his way back to the main event of Wrestle Kingdom and attempt to claim back the Championship he lost to Omega at Dominion. Okada’s reign was so prestigious and every match was different as he adapted to the other wrestlers style, and we can expect Okada to pull out the strong style that NJPW is renowned for in this match.

What do we think will happen?
A Block Winner:
Heart – Minoru Suzuki
Head – Kazuchika Okada
B Block Winner:
Heart – Kota Ibushi
Head – Tetsuya Naito
G1 Winner:
Heart – Kota Ibushi
Head – Kazuchika Okada

I would love to see Ibushi win the G1 and it lead to Omega vs Ibushi at Wrestle Kingdom; I didn’t expect the 2 to be in the same block and thought they would keep it as a special attraction for the Tokyo Dome, although they could use the G1 to further the deep history between them. However I think it’s likely Okada wins otherwise he runs the risk of almost being insignificant, after almost 2 years with the belt we’re accustomed to seeing the Rainmaker in or around the main event, and if he isn’t there then who is he? If he doesn’t win that is a story I’d love to see, a disheveled Okada fighting his way back to the top, perhaps going for the Intercontinental Championship against Jericho. Failing that, give me Suzuki vs Omega please!

Let us know who you think will win on Twitter!

– Ciarán Hayward