Ah, the G1 Climax. Whatever your preference of Professional Wrestling, no one can deny that the G1 regularly produces some of the best matches of the year. Last year, seven out of the Top 15 matches of 2019 happened in the G1, according to Cagematch. 8 G1 Matches in 2019 received a 5 Star Rating from Wrestling Observer. Whether or not you choose to regard those sources as legitimate, you cannot deny those statistics are impressive.
With that being said, in this current climate, the fate of the G1 Climax is unknown. Whilst we do know that it will start on 19th September and end on 18th October, we do not know who will be participating in the tournament due to the current pandemic, which likely makes this a superfluous task. However, I will attempt to give my perspective on who are the favourites to win this year’s G1, and give all of these wrestlers betting odds.
The No Hope-ers
Toru Yano – 500/1 (+50000)
A relief to some, a heartbreaking reality to others, Toru Yano will not be winning the G1 Climax anytime soon. Whilst Yano does produce some of the most memorable moments in the G1, and can realistically beat anyone on the New Japan roster, a comedy character will not headline Wrestle Kingdom. And that’s ok. Yano has a place in New Japan, and that does not involve major tournament victories.
Any of The Dads – 250/1 (+25000)
Included in this is Tenzan, Kojima, Honma, Makabe and Nagata. It’s doubtful that any of them would compete in the G1, let alone win it. Tenzan and Nagata both announced G1 retirement in 2016 and 2017 respectively, whilst Honma, Makabe and Kojima would struggle to put on 9 high profile matches in just 29 days. And if any of them were to win, they would have to headline the Tokyo Dome. If this was WWE, then I would be less assertive in this statement, but New Japan veterans have a very defined role, and headlining major shows isn’t one of their responsibilities.
Master Wato – 200/1 (+20000)
I mean, he isn’t. As much as people love Master Wato, he has been established as a Junior Heavyweight. His feuds with Suzuki-Gun members DOUKI and Yoshinobu Kanemaru, as well as his comments about current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi, firmly entrenched The Grandmaster in the Junior division. However, New Japan has been more openweight ever since the return, potentially opening the door for a G1 entry depending on the Gaijin situation.
Yujiro Takahashi – 150/1 (+15000)
In this post-lockdown New Japan, Yujiro has received a minor push. Having worked with Okada for the past few months, Yujiro is set to face Okada in the first round of KOPW 2020, meaning that a G1 Climax entry isn’t out of the question for the Tokyo Pimp. New Japan seems high on him right now, however, I highly doubt that he would win the whole thing. Throughout his feud with Okada, he hasn’t pinned The Rainmaker once. You’d think that if he was to win the most prestigious tournament in New Japan, he’d have beaten Okada, at least in a tag match.
YOSHI-HASHI – 100/1 (+10000)
YOSHI-HASHI has probably had the best fortnight in his entire career recently. He managed to convert lots of people into fans as his journey to the NEVER 6-Man Championships climaxed in Korakuen Hall with a win, earning him his first title in 8 years. A spot in the G1 isn’t out of the question, however, a win is very unlikely. These past few weeks cannot redeem 8 years of YOSHI being considered a jobber, and there are plenty of options ahead of YOSHI.
SHO – 80/1 (+8000)
YOH’s injury could be a blessing in disguise for SHO. Whilst Roppongi 3K is currently inactive as a tag team, SHO has been allowed a great opportunity to show his class as a singles competitor. Two classics against Shingo Takagi have exponentially improved SHO’s stock, to the point where a G1 Climax entry wouldn’t feel unearned. And whilst he probably wouldn’t win, victory against Shingo in the New Japan Cup proves you cannot rule anything out with SHO.
Minoru Suzuki – 75/1 (+7500)
As someone who seemingly never ages, Minoru Suzuki has had some bangers in 2020. Hard-hitting brawls with Jon Moxley and Yuji Nagata have proven that The King still has lots left in the tank, and despite missing out on last year’s G1 Climax, he’s more than capable of entering this year. A win is perhaps a step too far, however, Suzuki has headlined major shows in recent memory, most recently main eventing Royal Quest in London in a losing effort to Kazuchika Okada. Don’t count out The Lonely Warrior…
Hirooki Goto – 70/1 (+7000)
What to do with Hirooki Goto? It well and truly feels like New Japan has given up on Goto, which is a huge shame as prior to joining Chaos, Goto was one of the most consistently great members of the roster. However, since joining Chaos, Goto has seen his stock fall exponentially, falling behind Okada, Ishii, Ospreay and White at some point. His 2015 wars with Shinsuke Nakamura seem like a distant memory, and whilst we’ve seen glimpses of 2015 Goto, with him reaching the 2016 G1 Finals, he hasn’t risen to the top like some of his colleagues. Should New Japan decide to back Goto, this would be a great time, but it is unlikely that they would choose to do so.
Taichi – 60/1 (+6000)
Is there a more divisive wrestler in Japanese wrestling than The Holy Emperor? To some, he is one of the most improved wrestlers over the past few years, having great matches with the likes of Okada, Ishii, Naito and Ibushi. To others, he is still the same old Taichi, using interference and shenanigans to the detriment of the match quality. Whatever your opinions, you cannot deny that New Japan seem to be big fans, putting the NEVER Openweight Championship on him twice as well as crowning him one half of the IWGP Tag Team Champions. He comes into the tournament off of the back of an impressive New Japan Cup, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see Taichi go all the way.
Tomohiro Ishii – 50/1 (+5000)
The modern day Rowdy Roddy Piper, Tomohiro Ishii has never had the run at the top of the card that he likely would’ve gotten had he been five years younger. Whilst he has been a consistent IWGP Heavyweight Championship challenger against the likes of Kenny Omega and Tetsuya Naito, he has never reached the upper tier of talent. And this is unlikely to change. Ishii’s role in New Japan is almost set in stone, and he fits perfectly as the ultimate Upper Midcarder. Would it be nice to see The Stone Pitbull finally receive that main event push? Of course, but that is unlikely to happen. He could very easily pin the champion, setting up a title defense before Wrestle Kingdom, however it’s unlikely that Ishii will shock the system.
Any Outsider – 45/1 (+4500)
No, not Scott Hall or Kevin Nash, but people from different Japanese companies. Considering the comments made by people like Kaito Kiyomiya, quite a few people have been speculating that members of the Noah or All Japan roster could make an appearance in the G1. And whilst that could be a possibility, the companies would have to avoid the hurdle of scheduling. The G1 is running alongside both Champions Carnival and N-1, so it’s highly unlikely that anyone who competed in one tournament will compete in another. And it’s also unlikely that Noah and All Japan would agree to a top star appearing in another promotion at the expense of their own tournament. However, should any of them compete, they would have a decent chance of winning, which reflects their odds here.
Shingo Takagi – 40/1 (+4000)
One of the MVPs of 2020 NJPW, Shingo Takagi has put on some of the best matches of the year. His NEVER Openweight run has been stellar, managing to be an actual Openweight. His defenses against Desperado and SHO were both excellent, making both men look like stars. Whilst Shingo is a shoe-in to enter G1, he isn’t likely to win in, partially because of his faction. Should Shingo win, he would likely be facing EVIL at Wrestle Kingdom. However, Naito, SANADA and Hiromu all have more compelling links to EVIL, making Shingo an unlikely choice. Whilst his matches would be stellar, it is unlikely that Shingo will main event Wrestle Kingdom.
Zack Sabre Jr – 40/1 (+4000)
Since his NJPW debut in 2017, Zack has excelled in tournaments. A victory in the 2018 New Japan Cup shows that NJPW value ZSJ, and a future G1 win is plausible. However, in this current climate, a G1 victory for Zack is unlikely. As a current Tag Team Champion, Zack’s focus will be on the tag division, and whilst he could plausibly play spoiler like last year, I doubt he’ll go all the way. A block win could be a possibility, but I cannot see ZSJ headlining the Tokyo Dome this year.
EVIL – 30/1 (+3000)
As 2020’s ultimate wildcard, EVIL could very easily sweep the whole G1. Clearly Gedo believes in EVIL, and the chances of him winning the G1 drastically change based on his match at Jingu Stadium. Should he win, it’s highly unlikely he would take the G1 as well. Should he lose, however, there’s a very good chance he claims the trophy. Personally, I don’t feel like New Japan will go as hard as they did with Okada, having him beat Tanahashi and win the G1 in the same year, and I can’t see EVIL headlining Wrestle Kingdom. Sorry EVIL fans, but I don’t think he’s there yet.
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 25/1 (+2500)
If there’s something I’ve learned from my six years of New Japan fandom, it’s never count out the Ace. Time and time again, Tanahashi has defied the odds and come from behind to win. We saw it at Wrestle Kingdom 9, G1 2018 and Wrestle Kingdom 13. And whilst he isn’t at the level he was five years ago anymore, he’s more than capable of winning any G1. He has a ready-made feud with Naito prepared, and can be counted on to deliver a classic in the Main Event of Wrestle Kingdom. Whilst you might be tempted to, don’t count out The Ace just yet.
Tetsuya Naito – 15/1 (+1500)
Much like EVIL, Naito’s G1 chances rest on the result of the Naito/EVIL match at Jingu Stadium. Should Naito win that match, he almost certainly won’t win the G1. Should he lose, he almost certainly would win the G1. The reason his odds are this far is because I believe he’ll win at Jingu, and thus won’t need a G1 Win. However, should he lose, these odds would be slashed dramatically and he would automatically become the favourite. Naito has won the G1 twice, in 2013 and 2017, meaning he is familiar with G1 success. If he walks into the G1 without the Heavyweight Championship, he is my pick to win.
Hiromu Takahashi – 10/1 (+1000)
What to do with Hiromu Takahashi? That is the question on many New Japan fans’ lips. Should he remain a junior heavyweight and elevate the division, or move up to heavyweight to become a star? There’s no doubt that Hiromu is good enough to main event Wrestle Kingdom, but what would be more beneficial? Either way, Hiromu will enter the G1. We’ve seen many juniors enter the G1, from Ospreay in 2019, Devitt in 2013 and even Jushin Liger three times. And with Hiromu recently challenging EVIL for the Heavyweight Championship at Sengoku Lord, a win isn’t out of the question. A match with Naito has been teased for ages, with it only being prevented by the pandemic. Could it happen at the biggest show of the year?
SANADA – 8/1 (+800)
Most people’s favourite for this year’s New Japan Cup, SANADA would have an interesting story set up with either Naito or EVIL should he win the G1. With Naito, SANADA is out to prove that he can beat the leader of his faction. Not to depose him but to prove he can be a top guy. With EVIL, SANADA was his tag partner for years. After a low blow cost him in the New Japan Cup, SANADA would want revenge against Bullet Club, and particularly EVIL. And with New Japan giving SANADA a huge spotlight in 2019, he could well win this year’s G1.
Jay White – 7/2 (+350)
Let’s be clear here, had Jay White stayed in Japan, he would be a clear favourite for this year’s G1. But, as it stands, the status of Jay White is unknown, meaning he is only 3rd favourite as it stands. He has a feud with Naito that’s been on the backburner since August 2019, and I’m sure Naito would want revenge against the man who presumably recruited EVIL to Bullet Club. Jay is so cunning, however, that we don’t even know if he’ll be in the G1. With his return being rumoured for weeks, it’s more likely he will be in than out, which reflects his odds. Will Jay finally win the G1, after falling at the last hurdle last year? If he’s in the country, then yes.
Kota Ibushi – 7/4 (+175)
As last year’s G1 Winner, Kota Ibushi comes into this tournament with not much to show for it. At Wrestle Kingdom, he lost both matches against Okada and Jay respectively, and hasn’t done much since. His tag team run with Tanahashi lead to zero successful defences, and Ibushi has been questioning whether he’s above Tanahashi. Clearly, something is about to happen between the Golden Aces, and whether it will come to a head in the G1 remains to be seen. What we do know, is that Ibushi and Naito always have great matches, and I could easily see that match headlining the Tokyo Dome on 4th January.
Kazuchika Okada – 4/5 (-125)
Ah, old reliable. Whilst many will groan at the idea, as it stands Okada is the odds on favourite to win the G1 this year. Whilst Okada has introduced KOPW 2020, does anyone really believe he’ll be in a gimmick match on 4th January? Okada has ready-made stories ready with both Naito and EVIL, and Okada can always be relied upon to deliver on the big stage. Whilst he hasn’t been up to par recently, this has been in front of empty arenas and silent crowds. I’m sure that in front of 50,000 people, Okada would bring it again. He surely is looking for revenge against EVIL after he cost him the New Japan Cup. Or perhaps he wants to assert his dominance over Naito again? Whoever walks out of Jingu with the belt, Okada is currently bookies favourites for their Wrestle Kingdom opponents.
Who do you think is favourite for the G1 this year? Who would you put a bet on if these odds were real? Leave a comment below.