Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Field for This Year's G1 Climax Has Been Announced

Ibushi's tournament slate this summer is in New Japan
Photo Credit: WWE.com
The field for the G1 Climax, New Japan Pro Wrestling's annual massive round-robin tournament, has been announced, and it is notable for its lack of surprises but up-and-down quality. The tournament, which will run from July 17 through August 13, will be the 27th installment. Kenny Omega won last year's fray, earning his chance to have his six-star match with Kazuchika Okada at the Tokyo Dome at WrestleKingdom 11 on January 4. He will have his shot to repeat, as he's one of the 20 wrestlers announced this morning during the broadcast of the NJPW Kizuna Road tour event. The full field is as follows:
Kenny Omega, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, Michael Elgin, Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI, Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, EVIL, Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata, Juice Robinson, Zack Sabre, Jr., Minoru Suzuki, Kota Ibushi
Notable by his absence is the possible next IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Cody Rhodes. While Rhodes will headline the G1 Climax Preview Special show July 1 in Long Beach, CA with a title shot against Okada, he has several other notable North American dates during the run of the tournament. Most notably, he'll be working for WrestleCircus in the tour the company named after him. Still though, you won't hear me complain, especially since the tournament will also include two Cruiserweight Classic semifinalists who happen to be among my favorite workers in the world.

This tournament won't be Ibushi's first rodeo, but the fact that he's working it as Ibushi and not Tiger Mask W is perhaps the biggest surprise. Some expected a Ring of Honor, Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, or even an All-Japan Pro Wrestling entrant, but it's a solidly NJPW-native field. Sabre's addition is nice because he's currently working on a worldwide resume high in prestige. The G1 will help with that. Also, much like this year's Best of the Super Juniors was Jushin Liger's final big NJPW tournament run, G1 Climax 27 will be Nagata's final tango. He won the 2001 tournament, and has been in every field since 1997.

Only the field of wrestlers has been announced. The blocks and individual cards will be announced at later dates. However, the lack of form has not stopped people from making predictions, namely for an Omega/Ibushi final. The two best friend wrestlers have an inextricable history that dates back to their days together in Dramatic Dream Team. Of course, that final, or any final that has Omega as the presumptive winner, hinges on him locking down some kind of deal to stay with NJPW for another year after WrestleKingdom. His year-to-year contract status always puts him (and the Young Bucks) in the crosshairs of WWE contract rumors. Personally, I think WWE would squander Omega's talents, but it's also not up to me to decide his future. Either way though, while this year's field doesn't seem exotic, it does, from top to bottom, feel like a complete field.