(So, I just realized I saved this post as a draft instead of publishing it. It’s old now, but what the hell, I wrote it so it goes out to the blog. Update #3 will be coming shortly.)
We are halfway through the G1 Climax, and I think New Japan has officially turned my brain to mush. With a new three hour show almost every day, I’m having a hard time focusing on anything else wrestling related. I want to write about Rowdy Roddy Piper, but can barely wrap my head around his death. I want to write about how I have almost zero interest in Summerslam, but WWE is so negligible right now it’s easy to ignore. So let’s get into the G1. The tournament has taken it’s toll on more then just my tenuous grip on sanity, as three wrestlers have left the ring bloodied and Shinsuke Nakamura had to forfeit a match because of a potentially severe elbow injury. But they keep trucking along and putting on awesome matches every night, so I too will persevere.
After five matches, Shibata leads Block A with 8 points. In Block B, CHAOS stable mates Okada and Ishii are tied for the lead with 8 points. It’s still anyone’s tournament though, with 10 people sitting in second place in the two blocks. I’m sitting tied for third place in the bracket at Voices of Wrestling, which I’m fairly happy with. Two nights I only got two picks correct, but I’ve gone 5/5 several days. Anyways, let’s look at some of the guys in the tournament I didn’t look at last time.
Katsuyori Shibata: Shibata leads Block A, only having lost to AJ Styles on the opening night. He won the match of the tournament so far, an awesome match against Kota Ibushi on Night 7, and has put in several other 4-star matches. I’ve been keeping track of my personal ratings for every match in the tournament, and Shibata has the highest average. He’s a hard-hitting, hard-kicked, take no nonsense kind of guy, and though I don’t expect him to win the tournament, he’s certainly put on a fantastic showing so far. Next he fights the lethal jokester Toru Yano, and the clash of styles should be exceptional.
Kazuchika Okada: Tied for first in B Block, the IWGP champion will not go undefeated in the G1 Climax as he said he would, as he lost on Night 8 to the Intercontinental Champion, Hirooki Goto. No doubt that sets up a Champion vs. Champion match after the G1. Okada is still on pace to meet Nakamura on the final night to determine the winner of Block B, but he has to get through another wrestler first.
Tomohiro Ishii: Many people are surprised Ishii is tied with Okada for the lead in Block B. Since I have Ishii as the upset winner of Block B, I am not one of those surprised people. Time will tell though, as Ishii and Okada meet August 7th on Night 12 to determine who will take sole position of the lead. Ishii’s one loss came to injured friend and stablemate Nakamura, and it is likely he will lose both his matches to those higher then him in CHAOS. But I’m hoping he headbutts Okada right out of his Rainmaker and gets an upset.
Tomoaki Honma: Honma is the only man to be mathematically eliminated from the tournament, as he continues to be unable to pick up a win in singles competition. Honma is one of the most popular wrestlers on the roster, and the “Kokeshi is Happy!” movement is sweeping across the relatively tiny country of Japan. Despite his popularity, he remains winless. Will he win a match during this tournament? Every match he gets so incredibly close, but his best chance is on the final night against an anemic Yujiro Takahashi. The drama of him potentially winning makes every match of his a delight, and the pain as he misses one Kokeshi headbutt too many all the more unbearable. Hang in there Honma, we still love you.