3 nights in and the G1 Climax has hit us with tons of unexpected moments, perhaps none bigger than Kazuchika Okada losing both his tournament matches. On the other side of the coin, we have Switchblade Jay White who has pinned both Okada and Tanahashi in his opening 2 matches and cemented his place as a very realistic winner of A Block. In B Block, the main event of the first night was a re-match of the G1 27 final between Kenny Omega and Tetsuya Naito, in a contest that for many trumped the previous 2 encounters between the pair.
The illustrious Rainmaker is in a dry patch at the moment as he is 0-2 in the A Block, with losses to Jay White and Bad Luck Fale. The aura around Okada is bizarre, with his changed hair, tights and addition of balloons to his entrance attire, he is a far cry from the unconquerable Champion we knew for almost 2 years. One thing is clear, Okada has to do something and do it quick if he wants any chance of getting to the G1 finals. His next opponent is Hangman Page on July 20th who should not be overlooked, as Page will be looking to prove himself in his first ever G1.
Switchblade Jay White
Jay White has been the breakout star for NJPW over the past few months which has exploded this week with his pinfall victories over Okada and Tanahashi. Whilst he got off to a rocky start in his debut versus Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom 12, he went on to pin Kenny Omega for the IWGP US Championship but then lose the Championship to Juice Robinson in San Francisco; in the process of the loss a devilish star was born. White has only upped the ante of his Switchblade persona as he implored devious tactics to win both his G1 matches, brutalizing his 2 opponents at ringside and taking full advantage of the metal barriers. If things continue as they have been, Jay not only has the chance to make the G1 finals, but NJPW have the chance to create their next big, foreign heel. What I often forget is that Jay White is only 25 years old and is already on a level that many will never reach, the potential is limitless.
Another shock is that the psychotic Suzuki is 0-2, with losses to Tanahashi and Makabe. The recently turned 50 year old is arguable having the run of his career since returning to NJPW, and I was blindsided by his defeat to Makabe. We are already preparing our well wishes for his next G1 opponent Yoshi-Hashi, as Suzuki will no doubt be looking to murder Yoshi to make up for his 2 losses. During his match with Makabe, it at times looked as though Suzuki may win by knock-out, which I would love to see during this tournament; Murder Grandpa to win via knock-out using his sickening forearms/elbows or his combination of slaps.
B Block has only had 1 night so far in comparison to A Block’s 2 nights, however it provided Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr and Omega vs Naito in 2 must see matches. Given everybody only has 1 win or 1 loss so far in this block, it could still go anybody’s way however Naito has to make up some lost ground if he hopes to be a contender. Kenny will be hoping to win the tournament as Champion, a feat that hasn’t happened since Kensuke Sasaki in 2000. Ibushi is a prospect that fans will be hoping to win the tournament, as it will lead to the dream match between Ibushi and Omega, the first time the Golden Lovers will face off since their time in DDT.
The English Commentary
I’ve always loved Kevin Kelly on the English commentary, he just seems to do everything right. He calls the match, he explains the stories, he offers reasoning where there might be doubt and he is truly invested in the match which in turn makes me even more invested. Having Rocky by his side for the G1 is a great addition as he adds his insight from his years spent being between the NJPW ropes. After the commentary fiasco during the G1 Special in San Francisco, it’s great to have 2 commentators that clearly love the work they do. Don Challis was there for the opening 2 nights and will return for the final 3 nights, and he exceeds in his role as colour commentator. This is the first time that every night of the G1 will have English commentary and we are certainly lucky to have Kevin Kelly at the helm for this ride.
Who do you think is going to win the tournament this year? Let us know on Twitter @WebbedMedia and we may have a prize for somebody who guesses correctly!
We still have a long way to go before we reach the final on August 12th but it’s looking to be an unforgettable G1. It’s the best time of the year to be a wrestling fan!