After a month-long gauntlet, New Japan Pro Wrestling’s annual G1 Climax is about to hit its…..well……climax. The final nights of both the A and B blocks of the tournament are set to take place over the next two nights, and there are still plenty of possible outcomes on who we could see battling it out for that Tokyo Dome briefcase in the finals (at least on one side of the bracket). We’re going to go into all of the possible winners of each block, and what each competitor needs to happen to find themselves in the main event of WrestleKingdom 16.
The A Block is wide open as we enter the final night. Nearly half of the field could possibly win could go to the finals. All four of the competitors, Kota Ibushi, KENTA, Zack Sabre Jr., and current IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Shingo Takagi, are tied with 12 points. Every single competitor that is still mathematically alive to win the block must win their match tonight, and most will need some other matches to go their way as well.
KENTA is the only man in the tournament that controls his own destiny. All he has to do is get the win over Kota Ibushi and he’ll be heading to the finals. If KENTA were to lose to Ibushi though, he would be mathematically eliminated from winning the block. Even if all other possible winners lose or tie in their matches, overtime between the former GHC Heavyweight Champion and the Golden Star would be enforced as opposed to the usual time limit draw. If this were to happen, whoever walked away with the victory would also punch their ticket to the finals.
The defending G1 Climax winner will need some help if he wants to win his block for the fourth year in a row. First, and most importantly, he needs to beat KENTA. Before he even worries about that though, he’ll need Zack Sabre Jr to lose or tie in his match with Tanga Loa. If both Ibushi and ZSJ win and advance to 14 points, Sabre Jr. would win the block off the head-to-head tiebreaker since he beat the two-time G1 winner on Night 5.
Zack Sabre Jr.
The 2018 New Japan Cup winner needs that exact doomsday scenario we just discussed to happen if he wants to compete in the G1 finals for the first time in his career. Even if Zack is able to defeat Loa in his match, it’s meaningless if KENTA is victorious in the main event. Both wrestlers would be at 14 points and KENTA would advance off the head-to-head tiebreaker with his win over the Submission Master on Night 13.
Ironically, The current IWGP World Heavyweight Champion has the toughest, and most complicated, road to the finals. On top of him needing to win his bout with Yujiro Takahashi, he’ll need two matches to also go his way. First, he’ll need Sabre Jr. to not get two points from Tanga Loa. Whether that comes in the form of a loss or a tie is irrelevant. Next, he’ll need Ibushi to suffer the same fate as ZSJ in the main event against KENTA. Takagi would lose out on a head-to-head tiebreaker if he were to wind up deadlocked at 14 with either Sabre Jr. or Ibushi. His win over KENTA on night 7 is crucial to the World Champion’s path to the final.
Jeff Cobb & Kazuchika Okada
The B block is MUCH simpler than the A block. In fact, there’s only one match we need to concern ourselves with: Jeff Cobb Vs Kazuchika Okada. Cobb has had a historic G1 climax so far, becoming the first man in modern G1 history (since 2011 when the field expanded to 20 wrestlers) to enter the final night with a perfect 8-0 record. He’s already tied with Okada, A.J Styles, and Shinsuke Nakamura for the most points in a single tournament in G1 Climax history, and with a win or tie would break it. He’s going to need to if he wants to make it to the finals because Okada is right behind him at 14.
That’s the most important thing to remember: Jeff Cobb doesn’t have to BEAT Kazuchika Okada to win the block. As long as the United Empire strongman is able to go the full 30 minutes with the Rainmaker and avoid being beaten, he’ll advance to the finals with a record-setting 17 points.
All of the pressure rests on the shoulders of the two-time G1 Climax winner. To win the block he’ll have to beat Cobb and force the head-to-head tiebreaker to advance at 16 points. If Okada were to knock off Cobb, it’d be his third G1 final in his already storied career.
The final nights of the tournament kick off tomorrow morning at 5:30 AM eastern with the A Block.