Puroresu Pulse, issue 200: G-1 Climax 2011 Preview

Section 1- Results

All Japan: Suwama, Muta & Kenzo, and Kai all retained on Sunday.

DDT: They claimed over 8600 for the big Sumo Hall show. KUDO beat Shuji Ishikawa to win the KOD title, Dino beat Sapp, and Ibushi retained over Devitt.

New Japan: Ibushi retained over Taguchi on the first night of the tour. Notable G-1 results include Takahashi over Naito, MVP over Nakamura, Kojima over Minoru Suzuki, Nagata over Tanahashi, Suzuki over MVP, Nakamura over Kojima, Tanahashi over Takayama

NOAH: Akiyama & Saito beat Shiozaki & Kobashi, with Akiyama pinning Kobashi. Attendance was under 5000, but that’s still the best NOAH has done in Osaka in years. Bernard & Anderson retained over Morishima & Yoshie. On the 30th, Kotaro Suzuki & Aoki beat KENTA& Kanemaru in the junior tag league final.

Section 2- News

All Japan: Kai defends against Hiroshi Yamato on the 13th. Sanada & Soya defend against Kondo & Hayashi on 21st.

Dragon Gate: Cyber Kong has challenged Mochizuki. The match would likely happen on the 21st.

DDT: They will have a 15th anniversary show next year at Nippon Budokan.

New Japan: Added to the G-1 tour is Devitt & Taguchi defending against Ibushi & Omega.

NOAH: KENTA & Kanemaru defend the junior tag titles against Kotaro & Aoki on the 24th. Kotaro defends against Nakajima on September 23rd. Kobashi is still on a limited schedule, like in early 2008.

Section 3- Champion Of Shillest K

Roundtable of August. (Coming Friday)

Section 4- G-1 predictions & analysis

20 men. 2 spots in the finals. Who’s in? To answer that we need to know who’s not…

People who don’t have a round-robin match on the final night (2): La Sombra & Wataru Inoue. Not that either of them had a chance anyway.

Midcarders with no past significant singles success (5): Yano, Lance Archer, Saito, Strong Man, Karl Anderson. I don’t think any of them require an explanation.

Upper-card wrestlers facing those midcarders on the last night (5): Bernard, Takayama, MVP, Goto, Nagata. Since the last night is about having a dramatic finish to the round-robin stage heading into the finals, the ones advancing will come from one of the biggest singles bouts of the night.

I give the field a 4% chance of generating a finalist and a 2% chance of generating the winner.

This leaves us with eight wrestlers, four from each block. Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up.

Tenzan & Kojima: Almost no chance. Tenzan is accomplished, but he’s a shell of his former self and is doubtful to be given enough big wins to be in contention on the final night. And since Kojima has zero momentum coming into the tournament, there’s even less chance that this match will mean anything. Odds of either reaching the finals: 2%. Odds of winning: 1%.

Yujiro Takahashi: He finished last year’s tournament with a big win over Nagata, and won his initial battle with Naito. He’s got an outside chance to reach the finals, but I just don’t think he’s shown the ability to put together a big match performance. Odds of Yujiro reaching the finals: 2%. Odds of winning: 1%.

Tanahashi: Normally he’s in the top three in terms of chances to win, but simple booking logic says that you don’t have the IWGP champion win the G-1 Climax unless there’s a big-name outsider lined up to beat him in the fall. In 1995 that was Takada; in 2000 that was Kawada. There are no more stars like that in other companies, so the G-1 is needed to create a challenger. But that doesn’t mean he’s an afterthought! Odds of reaching the finals: 12%. Odds of winning: 1%.

Minoru Suzuki: Last year I was POSITIVE that Kojima couldn’t win, and he did. He broke the seal on outsiders winning the G-1. However, Kojima was trained in New Japan, rose to stardom there, returned several times, and is now a de facto full-time New Japan wrestler. Well, Suzuki trained in New Japan, had several high-profile returns, and now is wrestling primarily in New Japan! So… I don’t think he’ll win. Suzuki is older than Kojima, and less suited to the kind of match New Japan wants in its G-1 finals. Odds of reaching the finals: 30%. Odds of winning: 2%.

Makabe: They’ve never done Tanahashi vs Makabe for the IWGP title, so it’s a fresh matchup. But Yujiro would be a rather weak opponent to set up his reaching the final, and Makabe hasn’t done much this year. Plus he just won two years ago and it wouldn’t accomplish much of anything if he won again. Odds of reaching the finals: 18%. Odds of winning: 12%.

Nakamura: He’s DUE. He’s SO DUE! 2005 was going to be his year, then 2007, then then then, and it’s never actually been the year. He only reached the finals in 2009. So in theory he should be the favorite… except that Tanahashi vs Nakamura is played out and they just did it in May. The main reason why I think he has a shot is that Nakamura/Suzuki seems like *the* big B-block match on the last day, and I don’t think Suzuki will be in the final. Odds of reaching the finals: 66%. Odds of winning: 30%.

Naito: “Go big or go home”. Well, I’m going ‘big’ on this one. Naito has a lot going for him despite his relative lack of success so far. He’s got Bernard on the penultimate night, and I can see him getting a big win there over the company’s giant. That sets up Tanahashi on the last night, and Tanahashi vs Naito was (somewhat quietly) one of New Japan’s big rivalries last year. They match up remarkably well, and Naito’s win over Tanahashi in last year’s NJ Cup was quite convincing. I don’t think he’d beat Tanahashi in September, but it would be much more interesting than Nakamura again, and then you’d still have guys like Makabe and Suzuki available for the last two defenses of the year. Naito winning the tournament would make him, and would give New Japan a much-needed addition to the title match rotation. Odds of reaching the finals: 66%. Odds of winning: 51%. CAVEAT: He lost his first two matches, and if he loses tomorrow against Makabe then it’ll be nearly impossible for him to win the block. In that case, Makabe and Tanahashi would vastly improve their odds of reaching the finals, and Nakamura would become my pick.

Overall thoughts: They’ve done a good job of spreading the high-profile matches across the tour. Even though I could really do without all the deadweight, they serve the purpose of helping to protect the large number of stars in the tournament. Plus, this way they can do more shows and milk extra revenue from the top tour of the year. And for all we know Strong Man vs Wataru Inoue will put Cena vs Punk to shame! Just don’t hold your breath on it.

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