Road to G1 Finals: Breaking Down the Homestretch of the World’s Greatest Tournament


One month ago today the annual G1 Climax tournament kicked off at the American Airlines Center in front of a red hot Texas crowd. After 14 grueling shows and more than 120 matches (and counting), we are finally on the home stretch, hurdling towards the highly anticipated G1 Finals on Monday, August 12th.

Before we get started, let’s take a look at the current standings, with two nights of competition – meaning a total of four points – left for both blocks.

A Block Standings

  • Kazuchika Okada – 12
  • Kota Ibushi – 10
  • EVIL – 8
  • KENTA – 8
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi – 8
  • SANADA – 6
  • Zack Sabre Jr. – 6
  • Lance Archer – 4
  • Will Ospreay – 4
  • Bad Luck Fale – 4

B Block Standings

  • Jon Moxley – 10
  • Tetsuya Naito – 8
  • Hirooki Goto – 8
  • Tomohiro Ishii – 8
  • Jay White – 8
  • Juice Robinson – 6
  • Toru Yano – 6
  • Jeff Cobb – 6
  • Taichi – 6
  • Shingo Takagi – 4

The names in red indicate that they have already been mathematically eliminated from winning this year’s G1. Don’t get it twisted – that doesn’t mean there’s no point in those competitors continuing to try their hardest to win. As has become tradition, scoring a win over a reigning champion during the G1 often means earning a future title opportunity during the fall.

IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada and IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Champion Jon Moxley currently lead their respective blocks, but neither is home free yet. Mox’s block in particular has remained a close race, with six potential challengers still in the mix to take his top spot before this is all said and done.

First let’s tackle the A Block.

Okada (12) and EVIL (8) will meet in the main event of Day 15 on Wednesday, and obviously the Los Ingobernables de Japon heavy needs the victory to stay alive.

A rare win over the champ doesn’t mean he’s immediately headed to the finals, however, as he’ll still need to beat Lance Archer on Day 17 this Saturday, and hope that Okada also suffers a loss to the “Golden Star” Kota Ibushi that same night. Because EVIL beat Ibushi earlier in the tournament, a 3-way tie at 12 points means EVIL advances to the G1 Finals.

Ibushi’s path to the finals is slightly more simple. If he wins his next two matches, over Zack Sabre Jr. and Okada respectively, he’s going to the G1 Finals. Period. If he happens to lose to ZSJ on Wednesday, he could still make it if both he and EVIL take down Okada – which at this stage in the game doesn’t seem tremendously likely – and EVIL also loses to Archer on Saturday.

The B Block is slightly more complicated.

With only 6 points, if Juice Robinson or Toru Yano lose either of their remaining matches, they’re out. If block leader Jon Moxley wins either of his remaining matches, they’re out. Good luck, boys.

The four stars currently sitting at 8 points don’t quite have it as hard, but they’ve definitely still got a small mountain to climb if they want to make the G1 Finals.

When it comes down to potential ties, Moxley has defeated both Tetsuya Naito and Tomohiro Ishii, which definitely gives him an edge, but he suffered a loss to Jay White, who is still very much alive in the tournament. His remaining matches are against Hirooki Goto on Day 16 (Thursday) and Juice Robinson on Day 18 (Sunday), who are both in contention.

There are so many possible scenarios for the B Block remaining at this point, but probably the most important factor to consider is that NJPW almost always books the final two nights of the tournament so that it statistically comes down to very last match with as much tension as humanly possible.

The main event of the B Block Finals is Tetsuya Naito vs. Jay White, and both stars are considered huge front-runners to win the whole thing. Moxley faces Juice, and the money has to go to the champion on that night – EXCEPT THAT – Moxley beat the holy hell out of him in his first New Japan match, took his title, and Juice has been out looking for blood and revenge ever since. So that’s a very interesting potential foil. If Juice dethrones the champ on the final night of blocks, it’ll open the floodgates for a whole bunch of options.

Here are the remaining tournament matches:

Day 15 – A Block
Wednesday, August 7

  • SANADA vs. Lance Archer
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Bad Luck Fale
  • Will Ospreay vs. KENTA
  • Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
  • Kazuchika Okada vs. EVIL

Day 16 – B Block
Thursday, August 8 

  • Toru Yano vs. Taichi
  • Jeff Cobb vs. Tetsuya Naito
  • Hirooki Goto vs. Jon Moxley
  • Juice Robinson vs. Jay White
  • Tomohiro Ishii vs. Shingo Takagi

Day 17 – A Block
Saturday, August 10

  • Kazuchika Okada vs. Kota Ibushi
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Will Ospreay
  • KENTA vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
  • EVIL vs. Lance Archer
  • SANADA vs. Bad Luck Fale

Day 18 – B Block
Sunday, August 11

  • Juice Robinson vs. Jon Moxley
  • Tomohiro Ishii vs. Taichi
  • Toru Yano vs. Jeff Cobb
  • Hirooki Goto vs. Shingo Takagi
  • Tetsuya Naito vs. Jay White