NJPW G1 Climax – Night 18 Preview

Night 18, the final night of block action in this year’s G1 is the second night in a row at Ryogoku. The final night of B Block is a 3 horse race for the final. Kota Ibushi won an incredible A Block finale last night and waits for Evil, Sanada or Naito in the final on Sunday.

Yuya Uemura v Gabriel Kidd

In a slight anticlimax to our Young Lion competition, Yota Tsuji already took the unofficial C Block crown Friday night with a win against Gabriel Kidd. However, both Kidd and Uemura will want to finish strong and put on a great curtain raiser to events in Tokyo.

Toru Yano (6pts) v YOSHI-HASHI (2pts)

For a short period of time at the beginning of the tournament it looked like Yano was going to be in with a shout. Sadly for Chaos’ resident prankster people caught on to him and used his shenanigans against him. Yoshi-Hashi on the other hand has never really been in contention but he has impressed everyone with his efforts. He only has a win over Sanada for his efforts but his stock has risen from some great performances that has shown the fire inside that had been missing in recent years. This all Chaos affair threatens to be suitably chaotic.

Juice Robinson (6pts) v Hirooki Goto (8pts)

This should be an interesting match. 10 points this year for Goto would be a bit of a shock, 12 years after he won the G1, so I suspect Robinson will get the nod here. His performances have levelled him up even if he does only sit at 6 points currently. Juice’s match with Naito in particular was an eye opener. He needs the points more than Goto at the minute.

Hiroshi Tanahashi (6pts) v Zack Sabre Jr. (10pts)

The Ace and Submission Master go at it for the 9th time in a singles meeting. Not only that but these two have been battling it out all summer over the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships. It’s been a tale of two very different tournaments here. Tana has had an awful tournament in terms of points. The matches have been excellent as always but he does seem to be slipping down the card a bit now. His time at the very top may be done and with a defeat here he gets his worst total for over a decade. 10 points is a good total though for ZSJ, 12 would be an excellent way of finishing. It’s only complicated tiebreakers that prevent him from being in contention for the final tonight as well. A repeat of Madison Square Garden would be ideal for one half of Dangerous Tekkers here.

Tetsuya Naito (12pts) v KENTA (8pts)

Now, things get really interesting. Naito’s defeat against Evil earlier in the tournament means he needs a bigger points total than Evil to go above him as Evil has the tiebreaker. As such, Naito must win and hope Sanada defeats Evil to progress to the final. Standing in his way is Kenta. These 2 have had a storied year dating all the way back Wrestle Kingdom 14. Naito beat Jay White to win the IWGP Intercontinental Championship on night 1 then defeated Kazuchika Okada to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship on night 2 to become the first “double champion”. As Naito was doing his triumphant LIJ roll call for the first time in Tokyo Dome we saw Kenta run to ringside and lay waste to Naito as the crowd went nuclear. In one night Kenta became THE heel in NJPW. The two would fight over the double championship at The New Beginning at Osaka Jo-Hall with Naito, just, retaining.

Then Covid-19 shut the company down over the spring.

Despite the time that has passed and now holding a challenging briefcase for the IWGP United States Championship, don’t think Kenta has forgotten about Naito. Even though he’s already eliminated, Kenta will want a statement win tonight for both him and his estranged Bullet Club partner in Evil.

SANADA (10pts) v EVIL (12pts)

For the first time since Evil turned his back on Los Ingobernables de Japon in the Summer we see the 2 former IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship and World Tag League x2 winning partners go at it one on one. Both were a little slow out the gates in this G1 but have been on a great run during the second half. How this goes down will depend a lot on what happens in the Naito/Kenta match. If Naito wins then Sanada is out and it’s about whether he can stop Evil from making the final. Naito loses then a Sanada win will force a three way tie at the top with Sanada progressing as he would have beaten both Naito and Evil. For Evil it’s all about the win. Regardless of what Naito does, he knows a win sends him through, it’s that simple.

The personal animosity here will make it interesting if Evil and Dick Togo can get Sanada to lose his trademark cool. Very rarely do we see much emotion from Sanada. The last time was about a year ago when he broke down in tears at Ryogoku after he lost again to Okada at King of Pro Wrestling. Make no mistake though, a win here and then on Sunday will make Sanada a mega star as so many have predicted. This will be a fascinating main event. Expect Evil and Togo to cheat as much as possible to prevent an Ibushi v Sanada final however. 


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