G1 Climax 2016

Well, I didn’t make it. In retrospect, vowing to review every match of a 19 day tournament when I had a freaking wedding in the middle of it was probably not my brightest idea. Ah well, maybe next year. I’m still working my way through the events, so will have a comprehensive list of matches that need to be checked out, but for now, let’s just talk about the winner of the G1 Climax: Kenny Omega.

There’s a lot to talk about in regards to Omega winning the tournament. The first being that he is the first gaijin to ever win, and only the third to reach the finals. That’s a HUGE accomplishment for Omega. That’s up there with, say, Brock Lesnar ending the Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak, or Chris Jericho becoming the first ever Undisputed Champion. It’s an accomplishment that could define Omega’s career. He could retire tomorrow, and still be the first and only foreigner to win the biggest tournament in wrestling.

I’m not a huge Kenny Omega fan. He often seems like he can’t figure out when to be funny and over the top, and when to be serious. He’s gotten better in his two big main events this year. He looks right at home going toe to toe with Tanahashi, but then the next night he’s goofing around with Captain New Japan or whoever. It creates a weird discord for me, and makes it hard to take him seriously. He’s had a good tournament though, and I haven’t even seen his final two matches yet, which everyone says are amazing. He has kept the goofing around to a minimal, except in his match against Yano, where he played a fantastic straight man to Yano’s antics.

I’m not sure what Kenny’s win says about the current state of New Japan. Omega is highly talented, there’s never been a doubt about that, and rumors have persisted for months that he was on the WWE’s radar. Perhaps this win was a way for NJPW to keep Omega happy in the company. After losing four guys to the WWE at the beginning of the year, we saw NJPW change course and start offering guys multi-year contracts and signing guys like Shibata and Elgin, who had been working as free agents. Maybe this win was a similar deal, designed to keep one of their top guys from leaving.

Unless Omega loses his opportunity in the coming months, he will be main eventing the biggest show of New Japan’s year. He’ll go one on one with the champion, presumably Okada. That’s quite a leap from this year’s WrestleKingdom, where he tried, and failed, to defend the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title. And there is the real risk that Omega could lose the chance, which will make every match from here until January a must-see.

The biggest risk is that Omega does leave, but at this point, why would he? New Japan is obviously supportive of him, and in the WWE, he’d be nothing but another guy. He’s a made man in NJPW with his win in the G1, but to truly be the man, he’s got to finish the job, and take the IWGP title.

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