NJPW G1 Climax 26 Finals – Review Discussion Panel
August 14, 2016
We Write Wrestling – @WeWriteWrestlin
After a finals match versus Hirooki Goto that was more exciting than it had any right to be—and one in which he used the finishers of all three past Bullet Club leaders during the finishing sequence—Kenny Omega is your 26th G1 Climax Champion. As is his right, he will now proceed to the January 4th Wrestle Kingdom 11 event to compete for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. That match will likely be against current champion Kazuchika Okada provided he maintains his reign though anything can happen between now and then.
Instead of just giving you an individual recap like you could get from any other site, We Write Wrestling NJPW contributors, Derrick Thompson and Andrew David, engaged in a discussion about their thoughts regarding this G1 and what they feel are the likely possibilities for the world of New Japan going forward.
Andrew David(AD): He is a new member for the WWW team and has made his presence felt as he reviewed the B Block of this year’s G1 Climax tournament
Derick Thompson(DT): One of We Write Wrestling’s newest writers, Derick has written two columns prior to this review previewing the finals of the A and B Blocks of the G1.
What did you think/feel about Kenny Omega winning it all?
DT: I am both amazed and shocked! With being a fellow prairie boy like Kenny (I live about 6 hours west of his home city, which in Canada isn’t far), I couldn’t be prouder. After taking the B Block yesterday, best I was hoping for was 1st Canadian in the finals, I never expected Kenny to win it all. He truly was the MVP of G1 CLIMAX 26
AD: Originally, Omega was my pick to win it all, and if you don’t believe me check the first preview article we posted here at WWW. But as the tournament wore on I just felt like the way he was losing and even the way he was winning—sort of in this nondescript way—gave away the that maybe he and New Japan were on the outs. When Naito made his run, I thought, judging from the crowd reaction both to him and other LIJ members, that that was the headline story the company needed going forward. But it just goes to show you what a world class performer like Omega and clever booking on Gedo’s part can do. In the span of one (incredible) match, they’ve reinvigorated multiple careers and storylines that seemed to be floundering prior.
Who was your pick originally if not Omega?
DT: Like a lot of people I picked Naito to take it all
AD: I was rolling with The Cleaner from Day One. But by about Day Ten I was entertaining the idea that maybe Nagata or Elgin would take it all. Going into the Block finals themselves I was convinced along with everyone else the tournament was Naito’s to lose.
Where do you think the other late-stage contenders go after this?
DT: I see The Wrestler leading the upcoming fight against Pro Wrestling NOAH, and think the Time Bomb will be the return of Suzuki. That match has me excited!
AD: I don’t care so long as wherever he ends up on the card he gets the protection and respect, booking-wise, that he deserves. I’m sick of this Shibata paying dues redemption story. I want the Shibata elite and merciless destroyer story.
DT: He’s the champ, and one of the best there is, and I expect more of the same going forward. Another match against Marifuji for sure
AD: I said this when he lost to Marufuji, for as much fanfare and future talk bestowed upon him, when it comes down to the actual booking of big time matches Okada is, in my eyes, an incredibly weak champion. I think this is because of his close friendship with Gedo. A person will take more liberties with someone to whom they’re close than with someone to whom they’re not, but I think Gedo gives Okada has too many losses and not enough convincing wins. He needs to destroy Marufuji and has to have a dominant run going forward into Wrestle Kingdom both for his sake and to make Omega’s likely win that much more meaningful.
DT: I think it’s time for The Ace to slow down a bit. It’s not that Tana can’t still be in the title picture, but I’d like to see him and Elgin go for the tag straps.
AD: I agree completely with Derrick here. Tanahashi staying strong and dependable atop the singles roster does nothing for no one, including Tanahashi. But a dominate tag team run alongside Elgin with a possible feud between the two, later on, sounds very intriguing.
DT: See above, counting on Big Mike to keep stealing shows.
AD: Elgin’s my personal pick for the MVP of this year’s G1. He had a compelling match, in my opinion, with every single one of his opponents and emerged, I think, as a possible heir to the hero role currently occupied by Tanahashi. I know he’s gaijin, but if any foreigner could take that spot, Big Mike could do it. I want him and Tanahashi to take the tag titles then feud with someone younger over the IC belt like EVIL or SANADA.
DT: This tourney was the first time I’ve seen him work and wow, I hope to see much more of him in this NOAH vs NJPW feud
AD: First time seeing him in all his singles, bleached glory. I watched some old NOAH tag matches, but he was a younger, much less confident performer. He’s Marufujui’s heir in some ways, and I look for him further establishing NOAH’s legitimacy as Japan’s number two promotion and think a NEVER Open Weight title reign could be in his near future.
DT: A title match against Okada for sure, perhaps a GHC tag champs vs. IWGP tag champ?
AD: He can’t win against Okada. Okada took enough lumps in this tournament, and he needs to reestablish himself at the top of the food chain. That said, this was my first exposure to Marufuji in singles competition, and I was blown away to the point where I binged on any YouTube match of his I could find. He is a complete five-tool performer, and after he feuds with Okada, I think he and Nakajima will have a similar battle for the soul of NOAH much in the same way Okada and Tanahashi have feuded the past couple of years in New Japan.
Who were your surprises for this G1, meaning who performed better than you had originally expected? Who performed worse?
DT: YOSHI-HASHI surprised the hell out of me! I never expected him to do as well as he did. I did expect more from Tenzan; I think Gedo dropped the ball on that story.
AD: EVIL. New Japan bills him as a big man, but I was less than convinced going at the start. The G1 changed all that for me. The guy is for real evil, and I thought the chair attacks on Shibata were going to kill him. I’ve never worried for Shibata’s safety in a match ever before, and EVIL had me thinking the guy was going to get carried out. I’d like to see him in an IC title feud with Elgin or an Open Weight program against Nakajima or even Shibata himself.
What do you feel was the best match of the tournament? Why?
DT: So many great matches to choose. It might be due to it still being fresh in my mind, but Omega/Naito was 5* easy.. Ishii/Okada wad also a 5* match but I think the B Block final was just a little better. So many ups and downs, the selling on both parts was superb, and the story told in that match perfectly sets up Bullet Club vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon
AD: Omega vs. Naito. End of story.
What about the tournament was most satisfying to you? What was most disappointing?
DT: This was the first time I watched an entire Go from night one on, the fact that I made it with never falling behind was pretty satisfying! I also marvel at Gedo’s booking, seeing how he can piece everything together to all work out at the end is satisfying in the way a perfectly fitting shirt is satisfying. That said, the Tenzan story was a letdown. It was built up so much as his last G1, how he got his spot, winning at first; and then, nothing.
AD: I too wish the Tenzan story had gone all the way to the finals. I was hoping Tanahashi’s losing streak would be more significant and think Okada vs. Tenzan could have been a much more emotionally compelling match. But in the end, they went with the tried and true formula of Okada vs. Tanahashi, which isn’t bad per se though I would have like to have seen something different.
What would you have liked to have seen happen that didn’t?
DT: Seeing a Fale vs. Tonga match, and a Naito vs. Evil match both happen, was expecting more tension on both Bullet Club and for LIJ, was a bit let down it didn’t happen
AD: ANYTHING involving Yano. Dude is a total creep, and I’ll never understand why he’s even permitted to be in the G1 much less win TEN POINTS! It’s an atrocity. Hell, it’s a damn human rights violation.