Four weeks ago, some of the best heavyweight wrestlers in the world set out on a grueling journey across Japan, all with one goal in mind: to crown the true best of the best. The G1 Climax Champion. 20 competitors, 19 events, 30 days, 9 cities, 13 arenas and 189 matches later and we have our winner!
Sunday at the historic Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, Japan the undisputed ace of New Japan Pro Wrestling, Hiroshi Tanahashi, became G1 Champion for the third time in his legendary, Hall of Fame-worthy career.
The 41-year-old superstar finished 8-1-1 in his block to advance to this weekend’s finals, defeating the “Golden Star” Kota Ibushi in one of the greatest wrestling matches there has ever been to once again raise the G1 trophy and punch his ticket to the main event of Wrestle Kingdom at the Tokyo Dome.
Over the last four weeks Tanahashi scored victories over Michael Elgin, Bad Luck Fale, EVIL, Togi Makabe, Hangman Page, Minoru Suzuki and Yoshi-Hashi. His single loss came at the hands of the upstart “Switchblade” Jay White, who took this year’s tournament by storm early on. The ace also wrestled his long-time rival, the former record-breaking champion Kazuchika Okada, to a 30-minute time limit draw.
As has become tradition in the modern era, the winner of the G1 Climax earns the right to challenge for any IWGP world championship they so choose, in the main event of the annual Tokyo Dome show. Tanahashi has already made it very clear that he will be pursuing the IWGP Heavyweight Championship – a title he has held prestigiously on seven different occasions – and unless the title changes hands over the next four months, he will be facing Kenny Omega to headline Wrestle Kingdom 13 on January 4, 2019.
Tanahashi won his first G1 tournament in 2007 and then again in 2015. This will be his 16th consecutive, annual Tokyo Dome event, and his 10th time either challenging for, or defending the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.