NJPW’s End of G1 Climax 29 Awards
Breakout Star: Lance Archer
It feels odd calling a 19-year veteran of the spot a breakout star but this year’s tournament, after taking a 5-year absence, has really been Archer’s year to shine. He’s put on stellar matches with everyone up and down the card, even though his matches haven’t made my top 30, which is surprising, to say the least, he remained one of the most talked about players on the board. It will be interesting to see where this momentum takes him in the coming year. Is a shot at the United States Championship on the cards in the near future?
MVP A Block: Zack Sabre Jr & SANADA
SANADA has had a fantastic year getting to the finals of the New Japan Cup and facing Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Okada won it back at the start of April at the G1 Supercard in Madison Square Garden over Wrestlemania weekend. Being in a tough block this year and facing stable mate EVIL early on made his G1 possibly one of the most interesting this year. From losing to EVIL, Hiroshi Tanahashi and eventual G1 winner Kota Ibushi to getting big wins over the likes of Zack Sabre Jr, KENTA and IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, at one point he had as a loud crowd reaction, if not louder at times, as Okada during that match.
Zack Sabre Jr is one of the best wrestlers to come out of the UK in the past decade. He is always a joy to watch during the G1, be it in tournament competition or tag matches with Minoru Suzuki & the rest of Suzuki-gun. His big wins have come against larger opponents, Bad Luck Fale and stable mate Lance Archer, along with KENTA, a fellow alumnus of Pro Wrestling Noah, and Will Ospreay, which was a first-time singles match between the two in New Japan.
Along with putting on top-quality performances of submission and catch style wrestling one of the biggest highlights of his tournament has been watching him slowly descend into madness at his lack of wins early on and blaming it on the UK’s new Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In fact, I believe that is a very valid excuse as to why he was distracted and not picking up wins at first.
MVP B Block: Tomohiro Ishii & Shingo Takagi
Tomohiro Ishii has been the MVP of the G1 for a very long time, always scoring highly but never quite making it to the final or even winning. Every match he has been in this year has been elevated by his very presence and if you didn’t like or get his style before, the G1 is the perfect time to watch him at his best and start including him in your list of the greatest of all time.
Shingo Takagi at this point in time may be one of the greatest wrestlers in New Japan, no scratch that the world. I spent my whole G1 and Best Of The Super Juniors just saying out loud, this Shingo guy is another level isn’t he? I was aware of who he was before he made his debut in New Japan, but his run in the last two tournaments has catapulted him into the mind of its views and become one of the most vital competitors in the heavyweight division.
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