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.
It’s barely necessary to introduce “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada, he just broke every record for an individual IWGP Heavyweight Championship reign, along with setting the record for most combined days as champion. It took Kenny Omega over an hour [64:50] to wrestle the Championship away from him in a two out of three falls match.
Omega was able to win the match 2:1, however, that doesn’t tell the entire story of the fighting spirit and intensity each warrior put into the match. Since then Okada wrestled Minoru Suzuki to a 30-minute draw and lost to Zack Sabre Jr. (ZSJ) in surprising fashion at Strong Style Evolved UK.
While many may feel Okada is due to fall into a bit of a drought, they are forgetting how great he has been in G1 competition. In 2012 Okada became the third individual to win the G1 during his first entry. Masahiro Chono (1991) and Hirooki Goto (2008) accomplished the feet prior to Okada. In 2016 Omega was also able to accomplish the task.
Even with his incredible G1 track record, Okada will not have a cake walk during ‘A Block’ competition as he will have to defeat some of his more storied rivals and some fresh challenges. Below is a list of Okada’s G1 opponents, the date he wrestles them, and his G1 record against them:
Jay White, July 14th, 0-0
Bad Luck Fale, July 16th, 0-1
Hangman Page, July 20th, 0-0
Togi Makabe, July 22nd, 3-1
Yoshi-Hashi, July 27th, 0-0
Michael Elgin, July 30th, 2-0
Minoru Suzuki, August 2nd, 1-0-1
Evil, August 5th, 0-1
Hiroshi Tanahashi, August 10th, 0-0-2
The CHAOS vs CHAOS match on July 14th against Jay White has some intrigue around it. Okada’s July 16th match against Bad Luck Fale has some underline intrigue after Fale defeated Okada in the 2016 G1 [11:16] and was unsuccessful [21:47] in challenging Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestling Dontaku in May 2017.
His final three ‘A Block’ bracket matches against Minoru Suzuki, EVIL, and Hiroshi Tanahashi all have their own unique stories. Okada recently drew against Suzuki, similar to the 30-minute draw between the two at last year’s G1. EVIL defeated Okada in bracket competition last year, resulting in the elevation of EVIL in the eyes of many.
Okada is 5-4-2 all-time against Tanahashi. Okada defeated Tanahashi [34:36] at Wrestling Dontaku in May for his record-setting (Tanahashi held the previous record at 11 successful defenses) V12 defense of the championship. Their match on August 10th could determine who wins the ‘A Block’ and moves onto the G1 finals.
Okada has been in every G1 since 2012 and has put together the following amazing resume:
37 Total Wins (35 Bracket Wins)
16 Total Losses
3 Total Draws
2-0 In G1 Finals
66.1 Winning Percentage (Highest all Time G1 winning percentage, limit 30 total G1 matches)
Okada’s record G1 winning percentage should shock nobody when looking at his dominating 4 IWGP Heavyweight Championship reigns. For comparison Chono, who is known as ‘Mr. G1’ and won the tournament a record five times compiled a 57.5 winning percentage.
The Rainmaker is prime to put himself back in position to claim the IWGP Heavyweight Championship if he hasn’t lost his edge since losing the championship to Omega. Will Okada hoist his third G1 trophy or is there something more to his recent losses?