On July 1st and 2nd New Japan Pro Wrestling decided to hit the North American market and was a huge success with the G1 In USA shows. NJPW announced they would be back in 2018 after offering up some of the best stars from Japan such as Tomohiro Ishii and Tetsuya Naito. Now with the annual Summer G1 Climax tournament in full swing after starting on July 16th, the press conference for G1 has people talking. Tama Tonga showed his disdain for wrestling against aging veterans and asked what would a G1 in America look like? The idea is something that New Japan very well could do in the future now that a market in America has been established in Long Beach, California.
There have always been fans of NJPW all around the world not just because of the lengthy acclaimed matches but the sports approach to the company in general. When 2 competitors have a tournament match it is usually just a match but the way the G1 climax tournament is set up, the wrestlers must compete against all 9 other wrestlers in their Block and defeat the winner of the other Block in the finals. It is a test of endurance and to really show who can match up with the rest of the opponents styles. The winner gets a shot at the IWGP heavyweight championship at Wrestle Kingdom in January but an American G1 tournament could do the same for the new IWGP US championship.
When NJPW returns to America for a set of shows they can extend it and make it a memorable first-time-ever G1 Climax tournament in America. It would really add prestige to the IWGP US title to have 20 established stars from around the world dying to get a shot. This would give many the chance of their careers and impress NJPW officials in the meantime. Mainstays like Hirooki Goto can stick to the New Japan G1 Climax and hungry wrestlers from Ring Of Honor and other companies can be involved in the American G1 Climax. Japanese talents could very well be involved like the IWGP US title tournament but the idea should be all-American and international. Tag teams like The Killer Elite Squad-(Davey Boy Smith Jr and Vance Archer) and War Machine (Raymond Rowe and Hanson) could easily be put into this is single stars as well but let’s think outside the box shall we.
Here are the 20 chosen wrestlers that should be in the Inaugural American G1 Climax.
The American Junior heavyweight may be the best high-flyer in the entire world and it is amazing he has never been the IWGP Jr heavyweight champion. A former winner of New Japan’s Best Of The Super Juniors could easily take the route of Kenny Omega and recently Trent Baretta, and transition to the heavyweight division. This would be an ideal way to do it and the thought of Kenny Omega or Jay Lethal against Ricochet is just terrific.
#2. Michael Elgin.
The Canadian powerhouse has reached great success in New Japan, becoming IWGP Intercontinental champion last year but he could achieve much more. Elgin has had classics in the NJPW G1 Climax against Tomohiro Ishii, this could be a chance for “Big Mike” to win the IWGP US title. Elgin may be a big man but he meshes well with any style in the ring and is capable of beating anyone.
#3. Kenny Omega.
If the American G1 Climax were to have the same format and have the champion compete, Omega would be perfect for that role. Omega is a made man from the Okada matches for the IWGP heavyweight title this year and Omega is now one of New Japan’s Most Valuable Players. It would be great to see Omega get several fresh matches from different world renowned wrestlers. Omega had fantastic matches with Jay Lethal and Michael Elgin in the IWGP US title tournament.
#4. Matt Riddle.
Not only is “The King Of Bro’s” the face of WWN Live in Evolve but he is making his name known all over the world in 2017. A former UFC fighter that has made the transition to pro wrestling better than maybe anyone since Ken Shamrock, this would be a massive opportunity for Riddle and one he could win. Riddle also has experience against some NJPW talent, Riddle lost to Katsuyori Shibata and Tomohiro Ishii in Revolution Pro Wrestling in the UK. It is not out of the realm of possibility for NJPW to come calling Riddle’s phone, Evolve wrestler ACH was in NJPW Best Of The Super Juniors tournament this year
#5. Zack Sabre Jr.
The idea would probably be that wrestlers would only be in one tournament per year and this would be the one for Sabre, taking on American and British wrestlers of his age. Sabre would be more likely to win the American G1 Climax and have some of the best matches. “The Technical Wizard” can take down anyone from people twice his size or outwrestle his equals.
Kazarian’s partner Christopher Daniels from ROH could easiy be in this tournament as well but rumours are Daniels may be hanging up the boots soon. Kazarian is 39 years old himself but res assured, he has waited his whole life for something like this. The “Heavy Metal Rebel” will have to go back to his “Future” days to put away some of the brightest of today and you can’t put it past him to do so. With 19 years of experience, Kazarian would be at his very best of his career.
#7. Juice Robinson.
The former WWE NXT star has developed into one of NJPW’s best young stars and it wasn’t overnight, Juice worked overtime to get where he is. Juice was no king of the independents but he is well-known by American fans and he would not only be popular but he would be a favorite. It may only be a matter of time before we see Juice get a shot at Kenny Omega’s IWGP US title.
#8. Silas Young.
“The Last Real Man” has been one of Ring Of Honor’s most entertaining wrestlers inside and outside of the ring. A very underrated competitor, has yet to taste major gold outside of AAW. Young can get it done in the ring with knee strikes and a moonsault that someone his size and age should not be able to do. Very capable of having great matches and being the dirty heel of the pack, winning any way he feels fit.
#9. Dalton Castle.
“The Party Peacock” is rising in Ring Of Honor to the point where he almost won the ROH World title this year against Christopher Daniels. It is very possible Castle could be “the spoiler”-think Toru Yano-in the tournament but he is also a masterful amateur wrestler as well. Castle is most entertaining in Japan, the crowd loves his antics with “The Boys” and Castle has an alliance with Ryusuke Taguchi he can always rely on.
#10. Jeff Cobb.
The Hawaiian is a former Olympian and the powerhouse style would be excellent for NJPW rings. Cobb can toss around 300 pound athletes with ease, it would certainly make for some very interesting matches. “The Tour Of The Islands” is one of wrestling’s most feared finishers, Cobb would be a massive addition to NJPW in general in the future. Jeff Cobb vs Michael Elgin would be a must-see match for any wrestling fan.
#11. Jay Briscoe.
While Jay Briscoe may be a tag team wrestler in NJPW with his brother Mark, NJPW is very familiar with Jay’s ROH World title reigns due to the NJPW and Ring Of Honor relationship. Jay Briscoe has defeated the likes of Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens in his career, Briscoe is a brawler but he can wrestle with the best of them. Jay Briscoe would be a man on the hunt for Kenny Omega as much as anyone, The Bullet Club has defeated The Briscoe’s many times in the past.
#12. Adam Page.
“Hangman” Page has gotten better every year he has wrestled and recently has been having the best matches of his career. Page was in the IWGP US title tournament and even though he is still young, he gave Jay Lethal a beating. Armed with The Bullet Club and his noose rope, Page is a dangerous man. Even though Page doesn’t win as much as he likes in Ring Of Honor, this could make his a bigger star. NJPW would love to have a new Bullet Club member improving and waiting in the wings.
#13. Cody Rhodes.
While he is just Cody in Japan, he has some of his best matches of his career in NJPW. Took IWGP heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada to the limit in the G1 In USA main event but failed to capture the championship. The fact that Cody is wrestling the best of the best says something, the Ring Of Honor world champion has a huge future. This would be a great way to have Cody win and challenge fellow Bullet Club member, the IWGP US champion Kenny Omega. Cody vs Omega seems to have money written all over it after Cody tried to throw the towel in during Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega in a one-hour draw.
#14. Jay White.
Incredible Jay White was just a Young Lion in NJPW 2 years ago and now he has become a name wrestling in the UK and Ring Of Honor. It is clear White will be a star in NJPWwhen he returns from his excursion to America, even more than his fellow Young Lion friend David Finlay Jr. The New Zealand athlete is showing the world how much he has improved this year, having one of the best matches of the year against Will Ospreay at ROH War Of The Worlds this year in May.
#15. Brian Cage.
Cage would be be the ultimate favorite or instant dark horse depending on your point of view. Cage has been a long-time tag team partner of Michael Elgin in The Unbreakable F’N Machines and that would be an incredible one-on-one clash. A man of huge stature that probably puts in more gym time than some have ring time. It would be quite the site to see Cage in an NJPW ring and he deserves to take on the best, Cage has wrestled in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and other promotions for years. Moves like The Steiner Screwdriver are classic NJPW match enders, the Japanese audience would eat up “The Machine.”
#16. Jonathan Gresham.
Recently signed to Ring Of Honor but has a history of great matches against Zack Sabre Jr in Beyond Wrestling. The technical wrestling of Grisham is similar to Sabre in that there really are none better. A wrist-clutch O’Connor roll and it could be all over or a sudden submission. Gresham is impressive in almost all aspects of the game and could use the extra set of eyes on him in a tournament like this, the next couple years are his to explore and us to enjoy.
#17. Punishment Martinez.
Trained at The Monster Factory, Martinez is 6”7 and capable of diving over the top rope to the floor. Ring Of Honor was smart to sign Martinez and NJPW would be wise to use him more in the future. It isn’t only the size of Martinez that makes him stand out, it’s his intensity and drive in the ring. Martinez has stood toe-to-toe with Hirooki Goto already and looked very good. “The South Of Heaven” Chokeslam could put anyone down for the count, only wrestling since 2014 and could go far in the American G1 Climax.
#18. Matt Taven.
The leader of ROH’s new Kingdom, Taven is loaded with charisma. Injuries are the only thing that have slowed Taven’s career down, ironically like his fellow Kingdom member TK O’Ryan. A former IWGP heavyweight tag team champion with WWE’s Mike Bennett, Taven knows what success in Japan is like. An underrated arsenal and future, Taven could be much better as a singles star and he is one of the best heels in wrestling. Was not the second longest ROH TV champion for nothing, it would be a shame if Taven was not in an American G1 Climax.
#19. Timothy Thatcher.
The Evolve wrestler is one of the finest technical marvel’s in wrestling, tapping out everyone from WWE’s Drew Gulak to the current WWN Live champion Matt Riddle. It is a wonder NJPW has not wanted Thatcher but that could happen at any time. Japan is known for legendary strong style matches with men like Kenta Kobashi, Thatcher tries to keep it old-school like a sport as well. Nobody employs a more methodical approach than Thatcher and that would make matches unpredictable, Thatcher could be surprised or even outdone at what he does best. The possibility of Thatcher in Japan could lead to the German faction Ringkamf coming with current Progress Atlas champion Walter as well.
#20. Donovan Dijak.
The hottest free-agent in wrestling has recently had show-stealers in AAW, ROH and PROGRESS. This would be another accolade in the young career of Dijak and one he would look to bring fire to every match. Dijak is one of the most charismatic today but also one of the most hot-heated, the strike combo’s from Dijak are unlike anyone else. It would be fitting for Dijak to be in NJPW taking on Omega and a rematch with Elgin. “Feast Your Eyes” is one of the most remarkable finishing moves anywhere, a Burning Hammer into Go To Sleep.