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NJPW: How Champions Fare in the G1 Climax

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We’re inching closer to the start of this year’s G1 Climax and although we’re still a couple of weeks away, people are already starting to make their predictions. My advice would be to wait until we know the results of the G1 Special in San Francisco because even though the odds of Kenny Omega losing to Cody are low, it’s entirely possible that Juice Robinson beats Jay White which would impact White’s G1 outlook. On the same token, if EVIL and SANADA regain the IWGP Tag Team Championships, that too would make a difference for how to project their tournament. Maybe some of you are scoffing at my mentioning of White, EVIL and SANADA but as we’ve covered, you shouldn’t be counting out some of these mid-tier wrestlers.

Since the Wrestle Kingdom briefcase was introduced in 2012, let’s again use the 2012 G1 Climax as our starting point. Before 2012, a G1 win didn’t mean a wrestler was guaranteed an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match at Wrestle Kingdom. I began this article harping about championships and that’s because a champion has yet to win the tournament so anyone holding a belt during the G1 doesn’t have the best odds. Let me break this down further for you.

2012
Heavyweight Champion – Tanahashi (5-3) – 2nd in A Block
IC Champion – Nakamura (4-4) – 8th in B Block
Tag Champion – Kojima & Tenzan (4-4/4-4) – 6th & 7th in Blocks
NEVER Champion – Didn’t Exist
US Champion – Didn’t Exist

2013
Heavyweight Champion – Okada (4-4-1) – 6th in A Block
IC Champion – Nakamura (5-4) – 5th in B Block
Tag Champions – Kojima & Tenzan (4-5/3-6) – 9th & 10th in Blocks
NEVER Champion – Masato Tanaka Didn’t Participate
US Champion – Didn’t Exist

2014
Heavyweight Champion – Styles (8-2) – 2nd in B Block
IC Champion – Fale (6-4) – 3rd in A Block
Tag Champions – Anderson & Gallows (5-5/4-6) 3rd & 9th in Blocks
NEVER Champion – Yujiro (4-6) – 7th in B Block
US Champion – Didn’t Exist

2015
Heavyweight Champion – Okada (7-2) – 2nd in B Block
IC Champion – Goto (6-3) – 4th in B Block
Tag Champions – Anderson & Gallows (6-3/3-6) – 3rd & 10th in Blocks
NEVER Champion – Makabe (4-5) – 8th in A Block
US Champion – Didn’t Exist

2016
Heavyweight Champion – Okada (5-3-1) – 2nd in A Block
IC Champion – Elgin (5-4) – 5th in B Block
Tag Champions – Briscoes Didn’t Participate
NEVER Champion – Shibata (5-4) – 6th in B Block
US Champion – Didn’t Exist

2017
Heavyweight Champion – Okada (6-2-1) – 2nd in B Block
IC Champion – Tanahashi (6-3) – 2nd in A Block
Tag Champions – War Machine Didn’t Participate
NEVER Champion – Suzuki (4-4-1) – 4th in B Block
US Champion – Omega (7-2) – 1st in B Block (Lost Finals)

So as you can see, holding a championship during the G1 season seems to be a determent to winning the tournament. Wait until after the G1 Special in San Francisco before making your picks and if you’re a fan of someone in a title match, root against them if you’re planning on picking them to win this year’s G1 Climax.

Along with providing show reviews from across Japan, Robert McCauley is also an editor for FightboothPW.

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