The best pro wrestling tournament of the year returns! G1 Climax 25!
This year's tournament will take place over the course of 19 shows. Wrestlers are separated into two pools. Each wrestler faces off against everybody else in their block with two points awarded for a win and one point awarded for a tie. The two wrestlers who win their respective blocks will wrestle in a singles match to determine the winner and rightful challenger for the IWGP Heavyweight Title at Wrestle Kingdom. This year's contestants are...
“The Unchained Gorilla”
Career Highlights: Current NEVER Openweight Champion, IWGP Heavyweight Champion, IWGP Tag Team Champion, 2009 winner of the G1
This is the escaped ape's 12th G1 tournament. He's been going for over a decade without a break. This year has seen him put on some amazing matches in his feud with Ishii. Darkness is defined as the absence of light. The first half of a Makabe match is the absence of selling. Expect him to win several matches via gorilla spasm.
Career Highlights: Current NWA World Heavyweight Champion, CWA World Jr Heavyweight Champion, NWA World Tag Team Champion, IWGP Heavyweight Champion (4 times), IWGP Tag Team Championship (11 times), 2003 2004 and 2006 G1 winner
Tenzan is an old hand for New Japan and this is his 5th consecutive year of 20 total appearances in the G1. The Raging Bull is going to gore the shit out of some people this year. At 44 he has almost no chance of winning his block let alone the G1 but really he's here to put on hard hitting matches with the other giant slabs of beef in this block. He will also have mullet of the night every night.
“Sublime Master Thief”
Career Highlights: IWGP Tag Team Champion (2 times), GHC Tag Team Champion, Ranked #139 by PWI in 2011, Once beat Rob Van Dam
The super athlete Toru Yano has been preparing for the G1 by drinking and shilling CDs and feuding with a man who is way above him on the card. Nine out of ten of the years he's been in the G1 have been consecutive and he's always entertaining. The G1 is a great format for different characters to react to each other and watching opponents respond to Yano's cheating is always fun.
Career Highlights: Current IWGP Tag Team Champion (3 times), NWA Southern Tag Team Champion, World Tag League 2013 winner, Wrestling Observer Newsletter Worst Gimmick (2012, 2013)
The Director Of Chaos is not actually a part of Chaos. He's the corn fed colossus of the Bullet Club. As with last year the inter-stable matches should be interesting. AJ can drag a good match out of him but the match against Bad Luck Fale promises to be a trainwreck.
Bad Luck Fale
Career Highlights: IWGP Intercontinental Champion, That's about it...seriously.
Dump Car here isn't the most talented wrestler in the world or the most charismatic. He's tall...so there's that. He's recently added sitting on his opponent as a rest hold. He'll probably go to the outside and whip his opponent into the guard rail in every single match in his block. This is honestly a spot that could have been used on somebody who can have good matches.
Career Highlights: IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, IWGP Tag Team Champion, NEVER Openweight Champion, G1 Climax winner 2013
Naito's success has stalled out a bit since he won the G1 in 2013 when everybody suddenly realized he's a poor man's Ibushi. Recently he went back to Mexico in the same way people who get their Masters degree retreat back to the safety of taking on student loan debt instead of paying it off. While there he started associating with the lucha world's equivalent of the characters from Mean Girls. I predict shitty antics and heel turn teases throughout the tournament.
Career Highlights: IWGP Tag Team Champion, World Tag League winner 2014
Shibata's known as the guy who left the company when they needed him most to go on to have a dismal mixed martial arts career. Since coming back to New Japan he's slowly been winning back the good faith of fans and management alike with hard hitting matches. This will be his third year in a row competing and you can look back at his redemption with the company and find a lot of great G1 matches.
Career Highlights: IWGP Jr Heavyweight Champion (3 times), IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, Best of the Super Juniors 2011, New Japan Cup winner 2015, CHIKARA Rey De Voladores 2009, More DDT titles than I have room to list here
Holy fuck Kota Ibushi. He missed last year's G1 and we got the rise of Honmamania instead but this year we're getting both. At only 33 Kota Ibushi has held more titles than most people will in their entire career. He's had a strong showing since returning to challenge Nakamura for WrestleKingdom 9. His dual citizenship with DDT may prevent him from going all the way but it says a lot about the man that it doesn't sound all that improbable.
“Once in a Century Talent”
Career Highlights: IWGP Heavyweight Champion (7 times), IWGP Intercontinental Champion, IWGP Tak Team Champion (2 times), New Japan Cup (2005, 2008), G1 Climax winner 2007, CMLL Universal Champion, CMLL World Tag Team Champion, GHC Tag Team Champion, PWI ranked #3 wrestler in 2013, Can make playing air guitar look cool
Tanahashi is the man. Blending the tradition of strong style with his love for a more westernized sports entertainment style has lead him to worldwide success. This is his 14th consecutive year entering the G1. He's the ace of New Japan. There's a very high possibility that he'll win his block and the whole tournament.
“The Phenomenal One”
Career Highlights: IWGP Heavyweight Champion (2 times), ROH Pure Wrestling Champion, ROH Tag Team Champion, NWA World Heavyweight Champion (3 times), NWA World Tag Team Champion (4 times), PWI #1 ranked wrestler in 2010
Allen Jones Styles is the most over gaijin in New Japan in a long time. He's a legend on the indie scene. Since leaving the sinking ship that is IMPACT he's been the most sought after free agent in the business. Last year he had what many would argue is the match of the year against Minoru Suzuki on the August 1st show of the G1. To say he's a strong contender for winner is an understatement.
Career Highlights: IWGP Intercontinental Champion (2 times, current), IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, IWGP Tag Team Champion, G1 Climax Winner 2008, New Japan Cup (2009, 2010, 2012), PWI ranked #35 wrestler 2010
Goto rides into this, his 8th consecutive tournament, holding the IWGP Intercontinental title. He's going to have a great showing with a lot of the block he's in pandering to his style of wrestling. There's almost no chance of him winning but from what we've seen in recent months I don't think the crowd would be against it.
Career Highlights: IWGP Heavyweight Champion (2 times), IWGP Tag Team Champion (6 times), G1 Climax winner 2010, NWA World Heavyweight Champion, NWA World Tag Team Champion
At 44 Kojima's another hard hitting pillar of NJPW's events. He's on his 6th consecutive year of 14 total. There's almost zero chance of him winning but he should put on exciting matches anyway. It will be nice to see him wrestle nine people who aren't Tenzan.
Career Highlights: IWGP Heavyweight Championship (2 times), IWGP Tag Team Champion (2 times), G1 Climax winner 2001, New Japan Cup (2007, 2011), AJPW World Tag Team Champion, GHC Heavyweight Champion, GHC Tag Team Champion
17 appearances! Consecutively! Yuji Nagata is like a stern dad who has shown up to win all the titles. At 47 he's the oldest man in the group but he can still go. He is a legend in the business and is far beyond needing a win here.
“Minna no Kokeshi”
Career Highlights: BJW Deathmatch Heavyweight Champion (2 times), BJW Tag Team Champion (2 times), WEW World Tag Team Champion
Last year Honma went winless in his first G1. This year...he will probably also not win. However if you recklessly throw your skull at the ground enough times it's bound to hit a wrestler, that's just statistics.
Career Highlights: ROH World Champion, PWG World Tag Team Champion, AAW Heavyweight Champion, PWI ranked #14 wrestler in 2014, married to MsChif
Elgin's been begging New Japan for a chance and boy has he gotten it. A lot of people are down on the guy these days but frankly I have fond memories of his five star classic with Davey Richards at Showdown in the Sun. If he can bring that level of intensity to a match with the heavy hitters in B block his doubters are in for a great surprise.
“The Machine Gun”
Career Highlights: IWGP Tag Team Champion (4 times, current), G1 Tag League winner 2009, GHC Tag Team Champion, NWA World Tag Team Champion
One half of the Bullet Club's heavyweight tag team Anderson's been creeping on Maria and beating up her husband for the past few months. He has a surprising amount of experience in New Japan with six consecutive G1 tournaments. I think the only way he's getting out of this block is if New Japan's really intent on pushing some kind of Gallows/Anderson tag champ showdown nightmare scenario.
“Mr. R Rated”
Career Highlihgts: IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, IWGP Tag Team Champion, NEVER Openweight Champion
Six years in a row Takahashi has pelvic thrusted his way into the G1's undercard. This year he's surrounded by guys who are known as strong strikers. I do not have high hopes for him. His match with fellow Bullet Club member Karl Anderson should be interesting.
Career Highlights: NEVER Openweight Championship (3 times), WAR International Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Champion
Tomohiro Ishii is a meat monster that magically came to life when a gargoyle hate-fucked a slab of bag of ground beef. This is his 3rd consecutive appearance in the G1. Last year he was working with an injured shoulder and that nearly lead to a murder/suicide with Karl Anderson. Still it was one of the best matches Karl Anderson has ever had. Ishii can chain wrestle using only shoulder blocks and if he chops Takahashi hard enough he'll split in two and Ishii will be awarded two points for winning via fatality and Outworld will be one step closer to controlling Earth Realm.
“The King of Strong Style”
Career Highlights: IWGP Heavyweight Champion (4 times), IWGP Intercontinental Champion (4 times), IWGP Tag Team Champion, Gia Climax winner 2011, New Japan Cup 2014, PWI ranked #7 wrestler in 2010
Swagsuke is making his 9th consecutive Grade One appearance and 12th appearance overall. A lot of people believe that he's the best wrestler on the planet and it's hard to argue with them. He is basically Freddie Mercury via Michael Jackson as a legitimate MMA record but cooler than that sounds. There's a Twitter account deducted to comparing him to tropical beaches. Nakamura has done everything in New Japan and a win here would be no surprise.
Career Highlights: IWGP Heavyweight Champion (3 times, current), G1 Climax winner (2012, 2014), New Japan Cup 2013, PWI ranked #5 wrestler in the world in 2013 and 2014
Okada is a shining example of everything wrong with the politics surrounding American pro wrestling. He spent his excursion in Florida working a Kato (like from The Green Hornet) gimmick which isn't even the right kind of racist. He came back with a new arrogance and immediately backed up his words with milestone win after milestone win. He is basically a machine that creates success. He has a charity that donates money from his paycheck to fund cancer research every time he wins with The Rainmaker. He's also the IWGP Heavyweight Champion and there's no way he's going to win this but fuck it we're guaranteed a lot of great matches and in the end that's what the G1 is about.