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.
“Cold Skull” Sanada has become a 3x Never Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion and IWGP Tag Team Champion during his brief time with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) as part of Los Ingobernables de Japon (LIJ). In February of this year at New Beginning In Osaka, he lost to Kazuchika Okada [32:12] in his first attempt at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
There is no doubt that Sanada is on the cusp of breaking out into a headliner for NJPW. He and Tama Tonga have everything playing in their favor to break out during the G1 and solidify themselves as a major threat to singles championship.
Sanada made it to the semi-finals of the New Japan Cup this year prior to falling to eventual winner Zack Sabre, Jr. (ZSJ) [26:35]. In combination with his eye-opening G1 performance last year, he is a dark horse to make a lot of noise in the ‘B Block.’
Sanada has been a G1 entry every year since 2016. Below is a list of his opponents, when he wrestles them, and his G1 record against them:
Hirooki Goto, July 15th, 1-0
Tama Tonga, July 19th, 0-2
Zack Sabre Jr., July 21st, 0-0
Kota Ibushi, July 26th, 0-0
Kenny Omega, July 28th, 0-1
Juice Robinson, August 1st, 1-0
Toru Yano, August 4th, 1-0
Tetsuya Naito, August 8th, 0-0
Tomohiro Ishii, August 11th, 1-0
His July 19th match against Tama Tonga will be important for Sanada if he wants any chance at winning the ‘B Block.’ His July 21st New Japan Cup rematch against ZSJ will likely be a match which fans will love, regardless of the result.
Sanada has opportunities to make statements on July 28th when he faces current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kenny Omega in what should be an amazing encounter. On August 8th, his match against the leader of LIJ will draw a lot of attention. Tetsuya Naito and Sanada have already shown some tension towards one another, bringing a healthy storyline into a late bracket match. On June 18th during the Kizuna Road tour, Sanada refused to do the trademark LIJ salute with Naito — minutes after the blocks were announced for this years G1.
Sanada has compiled the following record during his two G1 entries:
8 Total Wins
8 Total Losses
50.0 Winning Percentage
His biggest G1 victory came in 2016 when he defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi [19:30], it was after that match when the buzz surrounding Sanada began to increase. In 2018 he has the opportunity to elevate himself over other rising talents like Jay White, Juice Robinson, Evil, and Tama Tonga.
His path may be difficult, but it will definitely be interesting for both fans and critics to watch.