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 leader of the newly dubbed Golden Elite faction of the Bullet Club was finally able to capture the prestigious IWGP Heavyweight Championship on June 9th at Dominion, ending the historic reign of Kazuchika Okada. Doing so, Kenny Omega became only the second individual to ever win both the IWGP Junior Heavyweight and Heavyweight singles championships; Nobuhiko Takada being the other. The victory over Okada also made Omega the first Canadian performer to hold the Heavyweight crown.
Omega’s New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) resume reads similar to Booker T‘s decorated list of accomplishments in World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Kenny has been 2x Never Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion w/Young Bucks, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion w/Kota Ibushi, 2x IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, IWGP United States Champion, IWGP Intercontinental Champion, and became one of four to win the G1 Climax their first time, participating in 2016.
Masahiro Chono won the G1 on five separate occasions (record), earning him the ‘Mr. G1’ moniker. His wins include the first tournament in 1991, 1992, 1994, 2002, and 2005. Hirooki Goto was the second to win the tournament in his first attempt when he won the 2008 G1 Climax, Okada was able to accomplish the same in 2012.
With so much momentum behind Omega, it would seem unlikely that anything could keep him from making his third straight G1 final — even a stacked ‘B Block.’ However, Kenny faces a stiff V1 challenge when he takes on the man who defeated him on April 7th at the Ring Of Honor (ROH) Supercard Of Honor XII — Cody.
The outcome of the July 7th main event for the G1 Special in San Francisco could very well determine how well Omega performs in the G1. If Cody is able to snatch the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from him on his first defense, there is no doubting that Kenny will enter the tournament deflated.
Even a motivated Omega will have to dig deep into his resolve in order to come out on top of his block and move on to the finals. Below is a list of Omega’s G1 opponents, the date he wrestles them, and his G1 record against them:
Tetsuya Naito, July 15th, 1-1
Hirooki Goto, July 19th, 1-0
Tama Tonga, July 21st, 1-0
Juice Robinson, July 26th, 0-1
Sanada, July 28th, 1-0
Zack Sabre, Jr., August 1st, 0-0
Tomohiro Ishii, August 4th, 0-0
Toru Yano, August 8th, 2-0
Kota Ibushi, August 11th, 0-0
His opening match against Tetsuya Naito is a rematch of the G127 finals from last year [Naito 34:35] and could very well determine which of the two has a chance to make a finals appearance this year.
Juice Robinson will present an interesting challenge for Omega. Juice may be the IWGP United States Champion after July 7th, and his upset victory over Kenny last year in the G1[15:36] brings extra intrigue to the match. While Kenny defeated Zack Sabre, Jr (ZSJ) in their only singles match in 2013 (4FW), a focused ZSJ can submit anyone on the planet.
While never meeting in the G1, Tomohiro Ishii and Omega have a storied tournament history against one another. Ishii upset Omega in the opening round of the 2017 New Japan Cup, months later Omega avenged his loss at the July 2nd G1 Special show in the IWGP United States Championship tournament finals.
On the final day of block action, Omega must face his Golden Lovers tag team partner and best friend Kota Ibushi, in a match that fans have wanted to see since Ibushi returned to NJPW last year. The emotional encounter is one of the most anticipated matches of this year’s G1 tournament.
Omega has compiled the following impressive record during his two G1 appearances:
14 Total Wins (13 Total Block Wins)
6 Total Losses (5 Total Block Losses)
1-1 In G1 Finals
70.0 Winning Percentage
Omega is known for having mental lapses when he’s heavily favored to defeat an opponent. Does that leave the door open for Toru Yano to grab a surprise victory, or will SANADA take another step up the ladder and defeat Omega?
Then there’s Tama Tonga who is known as a loose cannon and could make his match against Omega extremely intriguing. If the ‘Bad Boy’ were to defeat Kenny, what would that mean for the leadership of the Bullet Club?
Omega has the opportunity to make further history and become the first ever to make three consecutive G1 tournament finals. In less than a month his journey towards immortality continues.