G1 Climax 30, the latest installment in New Japan Pro Wrestling’s annual gluttony of grappling greatness, is finally here. The tournament kicks off on Saturday, September 19.
Part of the fun for fans is trying to predict what will happen. A lot of websites now host contests, challenging people to correctly guess the outcome of every match in the G1. Filling out an entry is no easy task. I needed my laptop and a few pieces of paper to organize my thoughts.
You can’t just go through the list of matches and pick winners. You need to determine the final destination and then backtrack from there. Factor in the past history of wrestler, what they’ve done in the past, what they’ll do in the future and even their hometowns. Add in the complications of possible tiebreakers and it’s enough to twist your brain into knots.
Anyway, here’s how I think all the matches will play out and some of the storylines I’m predicting for G1 Climax 30. Will it actually play out this way? Who knows, but it’s fun to try!
Night 1 (Saturday, Sept. 19 – Osaka)
Will Ospreay defeats Yujiro
Taichi defeats Jeff Cobb
Minoru Suzuki defeats Tomohiro Ishii
Jay White defeats Shingo Takagi
Kota Ibushi defeats Kazuchika Okada
Night 2 (Wednesday, Sept. 23 – Hokkaido)
Shingo Takagi defeats Jeff Cobb
Kazuchika Okada defeats Yujiro
Minoru Suzuki defeats Taichi
Tomohiro Ishii defeats Will Ospreay
Kota Ibushi defeats Jay White
I really wanted to have Taichi blitz through the first few nights of this year’s G1 and set him up for a big match against Okada on Night 4, but there’s no way I can justify an underling defeating the beloved leader of Suzuki-gun.
Night 3 (Sunday, Sept. 27 – Hyogo)
Taichi defeats Yujiro
Minoru Suzuki defeats Jeff Cobb
Kota Ibushi defeats Tomohiro Ishii
Will Ospreay defeats Shingo Takagi
Kazuchika Okada defeats Jay White
Why have Ospreay defeat Shingo? I think Ospreay will come out of this G1 positioned for some future shots at the NEVER Openweight Title and Shingo is a key player in that division right now.
Standings After Three Nights
Kota Ibushi: 6
Minoru Suzuki: 6
Kazuchika Okada: 4
Will Ospreay: 4
Jay White: 2
Shingo Takagi: 2
Tomohiro Ishii: 2
Jeff Cobb: 0
Suzuki is a tricky guy to predict. He was deliberately left out of last year’s G1, and his disappointment and frustration later propelled him to a IWGP Heavyweight Championship match against Okada. So, will Suzuki be treated like Yuji Nagata and Satoshi Kojima were in recent years, or will this be a resurgence? I’m going with the latter, but I could easily see it flipped the other way.
Night 4 (Wednesday, Sept. 30 – Tokyo)
Minoru Suzuki defeats Yujiro
Kota Ibushi defeats Jeff Cobb
Kazuchika Okada defeats Taichi
Jay White defeats Will Ospreay
Tomohiro Ishii defeats Shingo Takagi
Night 5 (Monday, Oct. 5 – Kagawa)
Shingo Takagi defeats Yujiro
Jay White defeats Jeff Cobb
Minoru Suzuki defeats Kazuchika Okada
Taichi defeats Tomohiro Ishii
Kota Ibushi defeats Will Ospreay
Night 6 (Wednesday, Oct. 7 – Hiroshima)
Tomohiro Ishii defeats Yujiro
Kazuchika Okada defeats Jeff Cobb
Will Ospreay defeats Minoru Suzuki
Jay White defeats Taichi
Shingo Takagi defeats Kota Ibushi
Standings After Six Nights
Kota Ibushi: 10
Minoru Suzuki: 10
Jay White: 8
Kazuchika Okada: 8
Shingo Takagi: 6
Tomohiro Ishii: 6
Will Ospreay: 6
Jeff Cobb: 0
Night 7 (Saturday, Oct. 10 – Osaka)
Jeff Cobb defeats Tomohiro Ishii
Jay White defeats Yujiro
Will Ospreay defeats Taichi
Minoru Suzuki defeats Kota Ibushi
Kazuchika Okada defeats Shingo Takagi
Here’s your battle for control of A Block between Minoru and Kota. This is also where I start worrying about my predictions because their match is not scheduled to be the main event on this night. It’s supposed to be Kazuchika and Shingo going on last. Anyway, Minoru wins and we all get to freak out over him being two nights away from an incredible Cinderella run to the finals of G1 Climax 30.
Night 8 (Tuesday, Oct. 13 – Shizuoka)
Will Ospreay defeats Jeff Cobb
Kota Ibushi defeats Yujiro
Shingo Takagi defeats Taichi
Jay White defeats Minoru Suzuki
Kazuchika Okada defeats Tomohiro Ishii
Night 9 (Friday, Oct. 16 – Tokyo)
(*Official Match Order TBD)
Yujiro defeats Jeff Cobb
Taichi defeats Kota Ibushi
Shingo Takagi defeats.Minoru Suzuki
Jay White defeats Tomohiro Ishii
Kazuchika Okada defeats Will Ospreay
We’re set up for some good drama heading into the final night. Kota and Minoru hold a potential tiebreaking win over Okada. However, both of them lose. Still, they hold onto a chance to get into a three-way tiebreaker until White squashes those hopes. As a result, White in position to win the block if Okada falters against Ospreay, who also enters the night with a mathematical chance to win the block.
In case you’re wondering, Here’s what happens if more than 2 wrestlers are tied at the end of the round-robin matches. The winner is determined based on which wrestler has the most points in only the matches against the other wrestlers they are tied with.
So what would happen in the dream/nightmare scenario where Okada, Ospreay, White, Ibushi and Suzuki all finish the block with 12 points (this requires that Ospreay beat Okada on the final night)? The winner of the block would be Ibushi with 6 points as a result of his wins over Okada, Ospreay and White. See? Simple, right?
As much fun as that sounds, I’m sticking with a simple head-to-head tiebreaker which goes to Okada.
*Kazuchika Okada: 14
Jay White: 14
Kota Ibushi: 12
Minoru Suzuki: 12
Will Ospreay: 10
Shingo Takagi: 10
Tomohiro Ishii: 6
Jeff Cobb: 2
(a.k.a. “All-Caps Hell”)
Night 1 (Sunday, Sept. 20 – Osaka)
Juice Robinson defeats YOSHI-HASHI
SANADA defeats Toru Yano
KENTA defeats Hirooki Goto
EVIL defeats Zack Sabre, Jr.
Tetsuya Naito defeats Hiroshi Tanahashi
Night 2 (Thursday, Sept. 24 – Hokkaido)
Hirooki Goto defeats SANADA
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeats Toru Yano
KENTA defeats Juice Robinson
EVIL defeats YOSHI-HASHI
Tetsuya Naito defeats Zack Sabre, Jr.
Night 3 (Tuesday, Sept. 29 – Tokyo)
SANADA defeats YOSHI-HASHI
Zack Sabre, Jr. defeats KENTA
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeats Juice Robinson
EVIL defeats Toru Yano
Tetsuya Naito defeats Hirooki Goto
Standings After Three Nights
Tetsuya Naito: 6
Hiroshi Tanahashi: 4
Juice Robinson: 2
Hirooki Goto: 2
Zack Sabre Jr.: 2
Toru Yano: 0
Night 4 (Thursday, Oct. 1 – Niigata)
Juice Robinson defeats.Toru Yano
Zack Sabre, Jr. defeats Hirooki Goto
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeats YOSHI-HASHI
EVIL defeats KENTA
SANADA defeats Tetsuya Naito
Just forget what I said earlier about faction underlings beating faction leaders. I’ll explain my thinking on SANADA beating Naito in a little bit.
Night 5 (Tuesday, Oct. 6 – Hiroshima)
Hirooki Goto defeats Toru Yano
Zack Sabre, Jr. defeats SANADA
EVIL defeats Juice Robinson
Tetsuya Naito defeats YOSHI-HASHI
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeats KENTA
Night 6 (Thursday, Oct. 8 – Okayama)
Hirooki Goto defeats YOSHI-HASHI
Toru Yano defeats Zack Sabre, Jr.
SANADA defeats KENTA
Juice Robinson defeats Tetsuya Naito
EVIL defeats Hiroshi Tanahashi
I’m giving Yano a win over Zack Sabre, Jr. because I absolutely must have an epic backstage interview meltdown from ZSJ in every G1 going forward.
This is also where I have Tanahashi’s G1 going off the rails so New Japan can tell the “wily old veteran whose body let him down” story heading down the home stretch.
Standings After Six Nights
Hiroshi Tanahashi: 8
Tetsuya Naito: 8
Hirooki Goto: 6
Juice Robinson: 6
Zack Sabre Jr.: 6
Toru Yano: 2
Night 7 (Sunday, Oct. 11 – Aichi)
YOSHI-HASHI defeats.Zack Sabre, Jr.
KENTA defeats Toru Yano
Juice Robinson defeats SANADA
Hirooki Goto defeats Hiroshi Tanahashi
Tetusuya Naito defeats EVIL
I’m sorry. I meant to say that I must have TWO epic backstage interview meltdowns from ZSJ in every G1!
One other note on giving YOSHI-HASHI his win here: Aichi is his home prefecture and his hometown of Togo is about 30 minutes away from the arena where Night 7’s matches are happening. So this feels like the right spot to give him his win after many backstage interviews where he talks about his mission to prove he belongs in the G1.
Night 8 (Wednesday, Oct. 14 – Kanagawa)
KENTA defeats YOSHI-HASHI
Juice Robinson defeats Zack Sabre, Jr.
Tetsuya Naito defeats Toru Yano
EVIL defeats Hirooki Goto
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeats SANADA
I wish I could keep Tanahashi and Juice at least mathematically alive heading into the final night, but my scenario won’t allow it. We focus on the final two matches.
Night 9 (Saturday, Oct. 17)
(*Official Match Order TBD)
Toru Yano defeats YOSHI-HASHI
Zack Sabre, Jr. defeats Hiroshi Tanahashi
Hirooki Goto defeats Juice Robinson
Tetsuya Naito defeats KENTA
EVIL vs. SANADA (DRAW)
Naito seizes control of the block by beating KENTA. That puts Naito on top with 14 points and means that if SANADA can beat EVIL, Naito will win the block by virtue of his head-to-head win over EVIL. BUT, I have EVIL dragging SANADA to a draw to secure the point he needs to win B Block. I can see the LIJ fans storming out of the arena already!
Tetsuya Naito: 14
Hirooki Goto: 10
Hiroshi Tanahashi: 10
Juice Robinson: 10
Zack Sabre Jr.: 8
Toru Yano: 4
The final result will be disappointing for the LIJ fans, but I think it can also give new direction to the group. Going forward, SANADA can talk about how he once fought for LIJ but is now fighting for himself.
There’s also a new subplot of Naito. He was already betrayed by EVIL, and now he could blame SANADA for costing him his shot at winning the G1 Climax, first by beating Naito head-to-head and then by failing to defeat EVIL. The question going forward is whether Naito would hold a grudge.
There’s another outcome scenario I was working toward where Naito and EVIL wrestle to a draw in their match and then find themselves tied at the top of the B Block after the final night. I couldn’t find any tie-breaking rules or precedent for such a scenario and I’ve been told by many fans that New Japan would never do something this complicated. To those fans, I say there’s a first time for everything and I’m ready and willing to embrace the G1’s tiebreaker hell.
You might also notice I have both Ibushi and Tanahashi losing their matches against Taichi and Zack Sabre, Jr. I’m hoping that’ll somehow lead to a tag team championship match so New Japan can finally do whatever it’s going to do with Ibushi and Tanahashi.
In the finals of G1 Climax 30, I have Kazuchika Okada avenging his loss earlier this year to EVIL in the New Japan Cup Final and securing the right to presumably challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Championships at Wrestle Kingdom 15. Of course, Okada will have to defend that briefcase and we have challengers ready to go in Minoru Suzuki and Kota Ibushi.
Tetsuya Naito also comes out of the G1 with a new challenger in Juice Robinson (and maybe SANADA too). You’re also set up for a Shingo/Suzuki rematch for the NEVER Openweight Title, with Ospreay potentially waiting in the wings as the next challenger.
There are a lot of tag teams set up to challenge Taichi & ZSJ based on this outcome of the G1. Bullet Club could try to win gold by sending Jay White & EVIL after the belts while the question of who leads the faction remains somewhat unresolved. Juice could grab his old buddy David Finlay for a title match. There are also a bunch of CHAOS combinations, none more intriguing than Toru Yano & YOSHI-HASHI.
I hope you enjoyed some of this food for thought heading into G1 Climax 30. Enjoy the tournament and let’s hope it’s another great one!