Inside G128 is an in-depth look at the 20 participants of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s 2018 version of the G1 Climax tournament. The G1 is considered to be the most prestigious tournament in wrestling. Every individual in the field has their own unique story, as they prepare to make their claim as the best endurance wrestler in the world.
The often underappreciated Hirooki Goto may not have the international love as some of his fellow New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) roster members, yet his list of accomplishments is quite long. In January at Wrestle Kingdom 12 Goto was able to defeat Minoru Suzuki [18:04] for the NEVER Openweight Championship.
After Michael Elgin pinned Taichi in a three-way match at Dominion in June, Goto was quickly able to win the championship eight days later. At the G1 Special Show in San Francisco, the 3x NEVER Openweight Champion will defend the championship against Jeff Cobb.
The ‘B Block’ G1 entry is also a 3x winner of the New Japan Cup (2009, 2010, and 2012), proving him to be a formidable tournament competitor. In 2008, Goto would become the second individual to win the G1 in his first entry. Masahiro Chono was the first to do so after winning the inaugural G1 in 1991 (also won in 1992, 1994, 2002, and 2005).
Since his accomplishment Kazuchika Okada (2012) and Kenny Omega (2016) would also win the G1 in their first entry. Omega would defeat Goto in the finals. Below is a list of Goto’s G1 opponents, the date he wrestles them, and his G1 record against them:
Sanada, July 15th, 0-1
Kenny Omega, July 19th, 0-1
Tomohiro Ishii, July 21st, 3-1
Toru Yano, July 26th, 1-1
Tetsuya Naito, July 28th, 2-1
Kota Ibushi, August 1st, 1-0
Tama Tonga, August 4th, 0-0
Juice Robinson, August 11th, 0-0
Goto has a tough first three matches in the tournament which will eventually prove to dictate how well the veteran finishes in block competition. His July 21st match against Tomohiro Ishii is a storyline within itself. Goto’s one G1 loss was by forfeit in 2013 (not counted as an earned victory for Ishii for InsideG128 purposes), and Goto is 10-2 against Ishii all-time in singles matches.
The match between those two will be an absolute war of ‘fighting spirit’ which could be one of the best matches of the entire G1 tournament. Despite not having a glowing all-time G1 record, Goto has never been easy to defeat. He has appeared in every G1 since 2009 and has compiled the following record:
36 Total Wins (35 Total Block Wins)
35 Total Losses (34 Total Block Losses)
1-1 in G1 Finals
50.7 Winning Percentage
While Goto is not a favorite to win the ‘B Block’ it shouldn’t shock anyone if he does have a strong ranking at the end of bracket competition. If anything fans of Goto should pay close attention to his match against Ishii on the 21st, it’s likely both will bring everything they have despite their mutual Chaos affiliation.
Goto is a great tournament competitor having also won the World Tag League 2x (2012 and 2015), Young Lion Cup (2005), and the Samurai! TV Openweight Tag Tournament (2005).
Goto has also been an IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, IWGP Tag Team Champion, and 2x IWGP Intercontinental Champion. A G1 victory in 2018 would bring him one step closer to the one NJPW crown which he has been unable to win, the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.