Every day leading up to the G1 Climax I’ll be making predictions and today we’re onto the A Block’s eighth night of the tournament, set to take place on August 7th in Hamamatsu. Like all block nights of the G1, there will be five tournament matches. Let’s get started!
SANADA (4-3) vs Lance Archer (2-5)
After getting the monkey off his back by finally defeating Okada, I have SANADA coming into this match emotionally spent. It’s a trend you can find in sports where you see someone achieve their goal and begin to slide to those they’d normally be able to handle. It may have taken him seven attempts, but SANADA has beat Okada. Archer can now get one thanks to the distraction.
Prediction: Lance Archer
Hiroshi Tanahashi (3-4) vs Bad Luck Fale (1-6)
From 2014 through 2016, Fale was a common foil for Tanahashi. He won three of their first four meetings, defeating Tanahashi in back-to-back G1 Climaxes in 2014 & 2015 as well as the 2016 New Japan Cup. Those days have come and gone. Since initial run, Tanahashi has a record of 5-0 over Fale and has won their last three G1 clashes. The days of Fale being a real threat to the top guys peaked in 2017 when he received a shot for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. There’s no reason to give Fale the big pushes anymore.
Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi
KENTA (5-2) vs Will Ospreay (3-4)
I have KENTA coming into this match on a 5-0 tear after starting his tournament at 0-2. Ospreay comes in with what may be considered a disappointing record of 3-4. The perception of his tournament can change in a moment with a victory over the surging KENTA and evening out his record heading into his final match up against Tanahashi. You have KENTA looking vulnerable for the first time in weeks and Ospreay goes into his match with Tanahashi feeling confident.
Prediction: Will Ospreay
Zack Sabre Jr. (5-2) vs Kota Ibushi (4-3)
The first clash between Sabre and Ibushi came in the 2017 G1. It was a match that saw Ibushi leave with the win but these two have traded victories ever since. This will be their sixth meeting and if the back and forth nature of their rivalry is to continue, chalk this one up for Sabre. Another note to be made is that every time they’ve met in the G1, the match has gone to Ibushi. This is the trend I see continuing and here’s my mad scientist explanation. Ibushi and Sabre will go into the final block night tied which means if Sabre wins his last match, Ibushi can take the block via tiebreaker if he also wins his match on the final night. This makes Sabre vulnerable in the showdown between Ibushi and Okada because he’s lost to both guys and would have to hope for a draw in order to advance to the final.
Prediction: Kota Ibushi
Kazuchika Okada (5-2) vs EVIL (3-4)
EVIL will come into this match having already been eliminated from possibly winning his block. His motivation for continuing will be that this is a match in his home prefecture and it’s a main event against the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. This is the third straight year these two have met in the G1. EVIL won in 2017, Okada in 2018 and there was a heavyweight title match that also went in Okada’s favor. A win for EVIL would lock up their series and give him the big win in his home territory while also locking Okada up on the top of the block. This was one of the matches I hoped to see in this year’s tournament. Okada and EVIL have great chemistry and the atmosphere for EVIL should be really special.
Kazuchika Okada (5-3)
Kota Ibushi (5-3)
Zack Sabre Jr. (5-3)
Will Ospreay (4-4)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (4-4)
Lance Archer (3-5)
Bad Luck Fale (1-7)