Creating a Legitimate & Believable #1 Contender
Both WWE and NJPW draw some parallels in creating a #1 contender for their respective world champion at their biggest event. WWE has the Royal Rumble match to determine the #1 contender while NJPW has the G1 Climax. Both the Royal Rumble and G1 Climax serve vital roles in each respective promotion, however the impact they can have varies.
The Royal Rumble match is a fun concept and is definitely one of my favorite matches to look forward to each year. However, the way the match is organized and orchestrated has a huge impact on the way the winner as well as that year’s WrestleMania is perceived (cough, cough Royal Rumble 2014, Royal Rumble 2015). The Royal Rumble has indeed lost some of its luster in previous years, but it does still serve a purpose on the Road to WrestleMania.
The beauty of the G1 Climax is that it pushes up and coming talent while at the same time utilizing established talent to help make for an intriguing tournament. Its round-robin style is unique and feels drastically different than a single-elimination tournament with its point system and block arrangement. Also, the fact that the reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion competes in the tournament is cool and can make for some interesting storylines.
A large problem is that the winner of the Royal Rumble match gets a guaranteed championship match at WrestleMania, but is not guaranteed the main event. In fact, the amount of Royal Rumble winners competing in that year’s WrestleMania event is roughly 50%. With the main event of Wrestle Kingdom traditionally being the IWGP Heavyweight Championship match, the winner of the G1 Climax is ultimately gifted a main event slot on one of the biggest professional wrestling shows of the year.