Indiecent Exposure: G1 Climax 24 Preview & Predictions | Smark Out Moment

Indiecent Exposure: G1 Climax 24 Preview & Predictions

Posted by Oliver Court Sunday, July 20, 2014
G1 Climax 24 2014 Logo New Japan Pro Wrestling
New Japan Pro Wrestling's G1 Climax is the most important pro wrestling tournament in the world, with 22 wrestlers competing this year to make it the biggest G1 ever as well. For 11 nights over the next 3 weeks, wrestlers will push their bodies to the limit to endure the tough New Japan 'strong style', and hopefully put on some epic Match of the Year contenders, before the final night in the Seibu Dome brings it all to a close. G1 Climax 24 promises to be special, but will have a lot to live up to as the 2013 tournament is seen as possibly the greatest pro wrestling tournament of all time. I'll be previewing the tournament, showing why it is so special and determining who to look for to win the whole thing.

G1 for Dummies

Seibu Dome G1 Cimax 24 Final New Japan NJPW
Can the G1 Final pack this place out? NJPW will give it a go...
The 22 wrestlers in this year's G1 are split into two 'blocks' of 11, with every wrestler fighting everyone else in their block once. 2 points are earned for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss. The winner of each block will face each other in the Seibu Dome on the final night, while second place in each block participate in a seemingly meaningless 3rd place match as well. The booking of G1 is very 'even stevens', with main eventers routinely losing to wrestlers lower on the card in order to keep the tournament interesting going into the final night, with many wrestlers still having a chance of advancing to the final.

The G1 is a big deal in NJPW, because if a wrestler can perform well across so many nights in such a short space of time, then they can prove themselves to be worthy of a push. With such a physically punishing schedule, there's no bigger crucible in wrestling than G1 matches. Injuries are likely to occur, but bragging rights are earned for putting on great displays of hard-hitting wrestling for the entire tournament, so don't expect anyone (except maybe Tenzan) to hold back. Putting so many great wrestlers into so many matches is a recipe for Match of the Year contenders, and last year produced must-see matches such as Shibata vs Ishii and Nakamura vs Ibushi. Expect more matches like those this year.

The Wrestlers

A Block

NJPW Hiroshi Tanahashi IWGP Heavyweight Champion Century TalentHiroshi Tanahashi - New Japan's Golden Boy, probably their biggest star and one of the best wrestlers in Japan, Tanahashi is going to feature prominently in this tournament. His back may be giving him troubles, so don't expect too many main-event length matches from him, but do expect him to go all out against both Shibata and Nakamura; his two biggest rivals and two of his four main event matches on the tour.

Prediction: 14 points - 2nd Place in A Block

Satoshi Kojima - Former G1 Climax winner, Kojima is always a feature in the tournament, and is one of the 'teflon vetrans' along with Nagata and Tenzan, in that they can win or lose against anyone in the field without it being considered embarassing for either wrestler involved. He'll get a win here and there, but Kojima isn't going to the finals.

Prediction: 8 points - tied 7th in A Block

Yuji Nagata - Also a former G1 winner and has a very similar role to Kojima in this tournament. However, he is going in with a rivalry against Shibata, so their match should be very hard-hitting and is one to look forward to.

Prediction: 8 points - tied 7th in A Block

Tomoaki Honma NJPW G1 Climax 24 Kota Ibushi Replacement New JapanTomoaki Honma - A last minute replacement for Kota Ibushi, who is out with a concussion, Honma
should produce a lot of entertaining matches and will come up on the losing end in almost all of them. His act is to take a hell of a lot of punishment but keep on springing up from it and almost make a comeback before finally being put down, and it is very entertaining due to his style and manerisms. Obviously it's disappointing that Ibushi is out and we won't get to see his incredible stuff, but Honma is the best replacement I could hope for. When he wins a match, the crowd will explode.

Prediction: 2 points - 11th place in A Block

Katsuyori Shibata - A hard-as-nails strong style wrestler who, along with Ishii, produced one of the best matches of 2013 in last year's tournament. He'll get a re-match of that one as well as grudge matches against Tanahashi and Nagata, which promise to be brutally brilliant. Shibata's no-nonsense style is very exciting, and he should be one of the in-ring stars of the tournament.

Prediction: 12 points - tied 3rd in A Block

Shinsuke Nakamura NJPW King of Strong Style G1 Climax winner
Shinsuke Nakamura - The King of Strong Style is the most charismatic wrestler in Japan, and always puts on a good show against anyone (even Daniel Gracie, amazingly). He has many great match-ups to look forward too, such as Ishii and Tanahashi, and will feature prominently as his chances of winning the whole thing are high. He's my pick to win, and go on to headline Wrestle Kingdom against Okada in New Japan's biggest match-up.

Prediction: 14 points - 1st in A Block, Tournament Winner

Tomohiro Ishii - The best wrestler in the world right now, in my opinion anyway. Ishii has been in so many amazing matches this year, and it's a shame that we won't get a re-match of my current MOTY; Ibushi vs Ishii. Ishii looks more like a sumo wrestler than a pro wrestler, but his matches have been on another level recently, and hopefully that will continue in this tournament. Definitely one to watch.

Prediction: 12 points - tied 3rd in A Block.

Shelton X Benjamin - Shelton hasn't done much in New Japan this year, very much making up the numbers as part of Suzuki-gun. He'll get a chance to prove himself, but don't expect any long or must-see matches from Benjamin.

Prediction - 8 points - tied 7th in A Block

Davey Boy Smith Jr. - After a weak year so far in New Japan, DBS has a lot to prove in this year's G1, but I think he can rise to the occasion. The former WWE man has had great matches in Japan in the past, such as his IC Title match with Nakamura last year, and hopefully he can show that kind of form in this tournament.

Prediction: 12 points - tied 3rd in A Block

Doc Gallows - Gallows has been decent as a member of Bullet Club, but hasn't had the chance to stand out at all. With two main event matches in this tournament against Tanahashi and Nakamura, this is his chance to prove what he can do with 15-20 minutes and one of the best wrestlers in the world.

Prediction: 8 points - tied 7th in A Block

Bad Luck Fale New Japan G1 Climax 24 IWGP Intercontinental Champion Bullet ClubBad Luck Fale - After winning the Intercontinental Championship from Nakamura at Dominion, it's
clear that Fale factors into New Japan's long-term booking plans. He's been allowed to be a star for the Bullet Club stable as their monster enforcer, and has looked good in his two main event matches with Nakamura this year. Expect him to be protected in this tournament, losing infrequently and potentially advancing to either the Finals or the 3rd place match.

Prediction: 12 points - tied 3rd in A Block

B Block

Togi Makabe - Another former G1 winner, Makabe is sort of in the same spot as fellow veterans Kojima, Tenzan and Nagata now, in that he is there to add legitimacy to the tournament and put younger guys over, but not to challenge for the ultimate win. He's higher up the card than those guys, but the G1 is the great leveler. He'll have some good, hard-hitting matches, and he has one main event match with Okada, but he won't be a focus during the tournament.

Prediction: 10 points - tied 4th in B Block

Hirooki Goto - Goto has had a good year so far, with a terrific Tokyo Dome match with Shibata to
begin with, as well as a great main event match with Okada in February (although Okada's massive animatronic dinosaur was the best part of that match, and I'm not even making that up). A re-match with Okada in the night nine main event is more than welcome, and all his other matches should be at least serviceable.

Prediction: 10 points - tied 4th in B Block

Tesuya Naito G1 Climax Winner 2013 New Japan Pro WrestlingTetsuya Naito - This is a very important tournament for last year's G1 Champion. Naito was expected to become a true star after he won the tournament last year, but after losing his main event spot at Wrestle Kingdom, he has fallen down the card to the point where he was in a meaningless undercard match at the last big show; Dominion. He has had some amazing matches this year with Ishii, but his stock has definitely fallen. A great performance in this year's G1 may well rectify that and start his rise to the top again, but don't expect him to become a two-time winner here.

Prediction: 10 points - tied 4th in B Block

Hiroyoshi Tenzan - Tenzan used to be very good, but his body is completely worn down now after nearly a quarter of a decade of wrestling, and after pulling out of G1 halfway through last year, it's clear that Tenzan shouldn't be wrestling 10 matches in 3 weeks in such a physical tournament. All respect to the man, but his place should have been Honma's. He might get a few serviceable matches in, but there's no way Tenzan makes any noise in this tournament.

Prediction: 6 points - 11th in B Block

AJ Styles NJPW IWGP Heavyweight Champion Bullet Club 2014 G1 ClimaxA.J. Styles - This is also a very important tournament for the current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, who has only wrestled three times in New Japan. He needs to prove to the Japanese fans that he belongs as the Champion, and pull out some great matches along the way. He is in the night one main event in a re-match against Okada, and he must deliver there. Hopefully there will be no Bullet Club run-ins in that match, otherwise the crowd may never take to Styles as a legitimate main event competitor. He is over in the west, but in Japan he still has to prove himself. This is Styles' chance.

Prediction: 14 points - 1st place in B Block, 2nd Place in Tournament

Kazuchika Okada Rainmaker G1 Climax winner 24 New Japan
Kazuchika Okada - The Rainmaker has been quiet in the past couple of months, having been spinning his wheels since losing the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Okada will definitely be looking forward to getting back into proper singles action, with 4 main event matches to look forward to in this tournament. He could very well win the whole thing, since the plan appears to be Okada vs Nakamura at Wrestle Kingdom next year, so keep an eye on Okada.

Prediction: 12 points - 2nd place in B Block, 3rd Place in Tournament

Toru Yano - The Santino of New Japan has been locked in an endless feud with Minoru Suzuki, so it might be nice to see him wrestle against someone else for a change in this tournament. I'm particularly looking forward to his match with Okada, which could be both hilarious and well-wrestled. Yano isn't winning this, but he could have some fun matches.

Prediction: 8 points - tied 9th place in B Block

Minoru Suzuki - Much like Yano, it'll be good to see Suzuki wrestle someone other than Yano for a change. He's another veteran who's wrestled most of his block-mates before, and he's about due to have a really good match, but I'm not thrilled about his chances of winning the tournament. An interesting one is his match with Lance Archer, due to their Suzuki-gun alliance. Could Archer turn babyface on Suzuki?

Prediction: 10 points - tied 4th place in B Block

Lance Archer - He's had a weak 2014 as a member of Suzuki-gun and the Killer Elite Squad, so Archer needs to get back on track in this tournament. He'll likely be the jobber of this block, but he's capable of producing good matches and I'm looking forward to his matches with Okada, Styles and Suzuki.

Prediction: 8 points - tied 9th in B Block

Yujiro Takahashi Bullet Club 2014 Tokyo Pimps NEVER Openweight Champion G1 Climax 24Yujiro Takahashi - The new NEVER Openweight Champion hasn't proved much in the ring this year,
with nothing but relatively flat matches since becoming a member of Bullet Club. Not even Ishii could pull a great match out of Yujiro, which is worrying. Still his character work is great, and he has a chance for some good matches against guys like Okada as well as two fellow Bullet Club members in Styles and Anderson.

Prediction: 10 points - tied 4th place in B Block

Karl Anderson - Anderson is the glue of the Bullet Club, and without his excellent mic work and leadership, that angle and their matches would basically fall apart. He's proven his worth in New Japan multiple times, and should get in plenty of good shows in this tournament. Look out for his match with Styles, which really has the potential for a turn against Bullet Club by one of them. I'd wager Anderson goes babyface since Styles has only just arrived in New Japan, and that would be very interesting for Bullet Club and New Japan if that were to occur. Alternatively, we could just get a 'Fingerpoke of Doom', which would get a ton of heat.

Prediction: 12 points - 3rd Place in B Block

The 10 Must-See Matches

Shinsuke Nakamura vs Katsuyori Shibata - Night 1
A.J. Styles vs Kazuchika Okada - Night 1 Main Event
Tomoaki Honma vs Tomohiro Ishii - Night 4
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Katsuyori Shibata - Night 4 Main Event
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Tomohiro Ishii - Night 6 Main Event
Yuji Nagata vs Katsuyori Shibata - Night 7
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Tomohiro Ishii - Night 7 Main Event
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Shinsuke Nakamura - Night 8 Main Event
Tomohiro Ishii vs Katsuyori Shibata - Night 10
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Bad Luck Fale - Night 11

G1 Climax 24 starts on July 21st at 07:00 BST (Britain) and 02:00 EST (USA), so Night 1 is not on at the most friendly time for the west, although the other events will be on later than that. You can buy the whole tournament on Ustream for $110, or individual shows for $25 for big shows, or $15 for smaller ones. If you've never seen New Japan before, then I highly recommend watching at least one of these shows, because it will most likely get you hooked on it, and New Japan is the perfect antidote for whenever WWE does something ridiculously stupid, because of it's stricter focus on in-ring focus. G1 Climax 24 promises to be a showcase of puroresu greatness, and hopefully you're looking forward to it after reading all of this.

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