NJPW’s G1 Climax 24: Who is Who in Block A

I’m back again to give you a preview of this year’s biggest ever G1 Climax. This is the 24th G1 and it will be setting several firsts. This will be the first time the G1 has had 22 participants (all of last year’s competitors except for Prince Devitt will be returning) and in a big departure from tradition the G1Finals will be held at the Seibu Dome instead of the Ryoguku Kokugikan where it has been hosted for all previous Finals. The Tournament this year will run from July 21st to August 10th.

This year I’ll be doing the preview a bit differently since I covered the vast majority of the participants before. I’ll fill you in on what they’ve been up to since last year and some other basic G1 related info as well as linking you to the article they were profiled in previously. For the newcomers I’ll be providing full bios just like in my previous articles.

So without further ado let’s get started on the G1 Climax A Block!

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BLOCK A:

Bad+Luck+Fale+
Fale is on a role headed into his first G1 but will his luck hold?

Bad Luck Fale

Previous G1 appearances: n/a
Success in G1: n/a
Previously profiled: n/a
Bio: Fale Simitaitoko had a background as a rugby union player before he decided to get into pro wrestling. His path to Japan actually began when he received a scholarship to play rugby at Japan’s Tokuyama University in 2001. After he finished school he played for the Japanese rugby union team, Fukuoaka Sanix Blues, until mid 2008. After leaving the team Fale began training at New Japan’s Dojo and made his debut for the company in April 2010 as “King Fale.” As is usual for a rookie (or Young Lion as they’re called in NJPW) Fale spent his first years taking a lot of pinfalls only earning very few victories such as a best of 3 match series against fellow Young Lion Hiromu Takahashi.

2011 saw Fale join his first stable when he was invited to join Yuji Nagata’s “Seigigun” (Blue Justice Army). He would participate as a member of Blue Justice’s team in the J Sports Crown 6 man Tournament 2011 but his team would be eliminated in the second round. Fale and Nagata would have no better luck at the end of 2011 when they teamed up for the G1 Tag League winning only one match. In February 2012 after losing a match to Nagata, Fale left on a 14 month learning excursion in the US.

Fale returned with a new look and attitude to New Japan on April 7th, 2013 at Invasion Attack as a member of the heel faction Bullet Club and bouncer for its leader Prince Devitt. Now known as “Bad Luck Fale” he started to receive a push from the start, using his size (6’4″ makes you particularly big in Japan) and interference from his stablemates to pick up wins. He began using a Crucifix Powerbomb throw as his finisher and started his first major feud with Togi Makabe which would only be settled at the January 2014 Tokyo Dome show where Makabe emerged victorious. Fale’s next big moment would come during the 2014 New Japan Cup when he made it all the way to the finals (beating Makabe along the way for a measure of revenge) before losing to Shinsuke Nakamura. After this loss, Fale would target Nakamura whom had regained the Intercontinental Title and the two met up at the June 21 Dominion PPV where Bad Luck Fale would win his first ever title in pro wrestling.

 

shelton benjamin
Can Shelton improve on his impressive NJ Cup performance?

Shelton “X” Benjamin
Previous G1 appearances: Two
Success in G1: In 2013 he finished with 5 wins and 10 points.
Previously profiled: Yes
Bio: Post G1 2013 Benjamin has mostly been used by New Japan for tournaments although he did receive a shot at Nakamura’s Intercontinental Title at the September 29th Destruction PPV. Shelton returned at the end of November to team with Minoru Suzuki for the World Tag League but the Suzuki-gun pair were eliminated from contention on the final day of the tournament. Benjamin had the most success in the 2014 New Japan Cup when he defeated one of the tournament favorites, Katsuyori Shibata to advance to the Semi-Finals before being eliminated by Bad Luck Fale.

 

 

 

 

Gallows
The current Tag Champ looks to make his mark in his first ever G1.

Doc Gallows
Previous G1 appearances: n/a
Success in G1: n/a
Previously profiled: n/a
Bio: Drew “Doc Gallows” Hankinson started his career in wrestling in January 2005 working for independent companies in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland before being signed by the WWE to a developmental contract in April 2005. Drew was assigned by WWE to Deep South Wrestling where he trained until he was called up to feud with Kane as part of the promotion for Kane’s movie “See No Evil” in May 2006. Unfortunately, the storyline, which called for Hankinson to dress as a Fake Kane and feud with the original Kane, fell flat on arrival and was canceled quickly after a PPV match between the two left a crowd confused and silent. This also left Hankinson in limbo.

2007 would see Hankinson given another opportunity on the WWE main roster as part of a tag team with his “brother” Jesse. Hankinson would play “Festus,” a mentally challenged man who until the bell was rung was unresponsive but would afterwards become an angry and focused wrestler until the bell was rung again. As Festus he would actually remain undefeated until losing to the Undertaker in April 2008 by passing out in Taker’s Hell’s Gate submission. Used infrequently, he would be drafted from Smackdown to Raw in April 2009 but would actually end up returning to Smackdown three months later having undergone a gimmick change to become “Luke Gallows” and became a heel.

He had became a member of CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society and Punk claimed that Gallows was the true identity of Festus and he had previously been an alcoholic who Punk had cured. Gallows and Punk would team up in a failed attempt to win the Unified Tag Titles and afterwards Gallows would continue as a a loyal foot soldier for some time until the SES began to disintegrate in later 2010 (partly due to real life issues with some of the members.) In September Gallows would leave SES and announce he was his own man now. Despite a face turn and the backstage support of CM Punk, Hankinson was released on November 19th, 2010.

After leaving WWE, Hankinson worked for several indies as well as the Inoki Genome Federation in Japan before signing with TNA in September 2012 to be a member of the Aces & Eights stable as “D.O.C.” In November, in order to prove himself as a member of the stable, he viciously attacked Sting putting him through a table and beating him with a ball-peen hammer. He would meet Sting in a singles match in January 2013 at the Genesis and go down in defeat to the legend. Although he continued to compete for TNA until his contract expired in July he failed to win any titles during his stay.

In November 2013 New Japan announced that Hankinson would be participating in the World Tag League under the name “Doc Gallows” as the tag partner of Karl Anderson and the newest member of Bullet Club.  Gallows and Anderson would win the Tag League by defeating Tencozy in the Finals and thus earning the right to challenge for the IWGP Tag Titles. On January 4th, 2014 at the Tokyo Dome show Bullet Club would emerge victorious as the new IWGP Tag Champs. Since then they have defended their belts successfully against such teams as Tencozy, RoH’s Briscoe Brothers, and Hiroshi Tanahashi/Togi Makabe.

 

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Fresh off a title loss & a no-show for the BOSJ, Ibushi has a lot to prove this year.

Kota Ibushi
Previous G1 appearances: One
Success in G1: In his first tournament he won 4 matches and gained 8 points. His match with Nakamura (which he lost) was also voted Match of the Year by Tokyo Sports among others.
Previously profiled: Yes
Bio: In October 2013 Ibushi became the first wrestler to sign a dual contract with both his original home promotion DDT and with New Japan making both his official homes. At New Japan’s January Tokyo Dome show Ibushi defeated Prince Devitt to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title for the third time. Along with defending his Title Ibushi would pursue the NEVER Openweight Title held by Tomohiro Ishii but would come up short. Ibushi would be the first Junior Champ in 4 years not to take part in the Best of the Super Juniors Tournament which would be won by the outsider Ricochet. At the June Dominion PPV Ibushi would manage to defeat Ricochet when he received his title challenge as a reward for winning the BOSJ. However, Ibushi’s run would finally be brought to an end on July 4th when he lost to KUSHIDA.

 

ishii2014
Ishii is having his best year yet in 2014. He’ll be bringing his A game to the G1.

Tomohiro Ishii
Previous G1 appearances: One
Success in G1: Ishii finished with 3 wins (one by forefit) and 6 points in 2013. Despite this disappointing record one of his wins was over top dawg Tanahashi.
Previously profiled: Yes
Bio: Ishii was sent on his first ever tour of Mexico after the 2013 G1, perhaps showing how much he had risen in New Japan’s eyes. After he returned, his first major storyline would come in January 2014 when he began a feud with Tetsuya Naito over Naito’s NEVER Openweight Title. The two would square off on February 11th and Ishii would emerge as the 3rd ever NEVER Champ and winning his first ever New Japan belt. Ishii’s title defenses against Naito, Tomoaki Honma, and Kota Ibushi among others were highlights of the year as he continued to cement his reputation as one of the best wrestlers in the world. After his fellow CHAOS member Yujiro Takahashi turned and joined Bullet Club he went after Ishii and the two met on June 29th where thanks to the usual Bullet Club outside interference Yujiro was able to defeat Ishii in his fifth defense and claim the Title.

 

kojimalariat
One of the most decorated men in the G1 Kojima is still a force to be reckoned with.

Satoshi Kojima
Previous G1 appearances: 12
Success in G1: Reached the Finals for the first time in 2006 before finally winning the tournament in 2010. Last year he won 4 of his 9 matches including big wins over Okada and Tanahashi.
Previously profiled: Yes
Bio: Although his G1 performance wasn’t good enough to advance to the Finals, thanks to his defeat of the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Okada during the tournament he was given a shot at the belt. The two faced off in late September at the Destruction PPV and Okada held onto the Title. Kojima would be put on the shelf with a shoulder injury and not return until November when he and Tenzan lost the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Titles to Killer Elite Squad. Tencozy would get a measure of revenge on K.E.S. by defeating them in the 2013 World Tag League Semi-Finals but lost to the Bullet Club duo of Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows in the Finals.

Kojima would once again earn a title shot thanks to a tournament win but this time it would be a shot at the NWA World Heavyweight Title after pinning its holder Rob Conway during the Tag League. Kojima won the NWA World Title at the January 2014 Tokyo Dome. In April at the Invasion Attack event Tencozy would add the NWA World Tag Team Championships to their long list of accolades when they defeated Conway and Jax Dane. Kojima would make a total of six successful defenses of the NWA World Title before dropping it back to Conway on a tour of the US in June.

nagatadance
Nagata has all the right moves in the ring and on the dance floor.

Yuji Nagata
Previous G1 appearances: 15
Success in G1: Victorious in 2001 and reached the Finals again in 2007 before going down in defeat to Tanahashi. In 2013 he won 5 of his 9 matches including his old rival Minoru Suzuki.
Previously profiled: Yes
Bio: Nagata’s big moments post-G1 came as an outsider working in Pro Wrestling NOAH rather than in NJPW. In October/November he won NOAH’s Global League tournament by defeating Takeshi Morishima in the Finals making him the first man to win NOAH’s Global League, New Japan’s G1 Climax, and All Japan’s Champion Carnival tournaments. Although he lost his first bid for NOAH’s top singles title in December against the then Champ KENTA, he would win a second match against new Champion Morishima and become the new GHC Heavyweight Champion. Nagata would successfully defend the Title five times before finally being defeated by Naomichi Marufuji, ending his dancing reign of terror.

 

 

paintednakamura
Nakamura may have lost his belt but he’s still got his swagger and he’ll be looking to send a message.

Shinsuke Nakamura
Previous G1 appearances: 10
Success in G1: Nakamura reached the Finals for the first time in 2009 but didn’t pick up his first (and so far only) G1 victory until 2011 when he beat Tetsuya Naito to win.
Previously profiled: Yes
Bio: After the G1 Nakamura started his second Intercontinental Champion strong defeating Shelton Benjamin, Naomichi Marufuji, and Minoru Suzuki in his first three defenses before choosing as his next opponent his long time rival Hiroshi Tanahashi for what would be their first match in 2 years. The fans were so hyped for this match that they voted online to make it the main event of the January Tokyo Dome show instead of the Okada Vs Naito IWGP Heavyweight Title match. At the Dome, Nakamura would pay for calling out his enemy and lose the title. In a re-match in February he would also fail to regain the belt from Tanahashi but that wasn’t the end of his quest to prove himself against Tanahashi. In March, Nakamura entered the New Japan Cup tournament and after defeating Bad Luck Fale in the Finals choose to challenge Tanahashi for the IC title one more time rather than pursue the IWGP Heavyweight title. On April 6th at Invasion Attack Nakamura would finally get his win over Tanahashi and win the IC Title for the third time. Sadly for Nakamura he would only hold it until the June Dominion show when he fell victim to Bad Luck Fale.

Shibatacrab
After a disappointing NJ Cup will Shibata get a chance to break out at the G1 or will he just break people?

 

Katsuyori Shibata

Previous G1 appearances: 3
Success in G1: In 2004 the G1 still had Semi-Finals and Shibata reached the Semis after finishing in first place. However he failed to advance to the Finals after losing to Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Last year Shibata won 5 of his 9 matches although one of the most anticipated of his matches in the tournament (with Hirooki Goto) he won by forfeit.
Previously profiled: Yes
Bio: At the January Dome show Shibata would settle his feud with Hirooki Goto who was returning after a 5 month long injury. Goto would defeat Shibata in the match but afterwards they decided to form a tag team together having earned each others respect. Although they were able to beat the IWGP Tag Champs in a non-title match in March they have came up short in their efforts to win tag gold. Shibata would also set his eyes on the IWGP Heavyweight title but was told by the then Champ Okada that he would have to win the New Japan Cup first. Shibata despite being one of the favorites in the tournament would be eliminated in the second round by Shelton Benjamin.

 

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He’s not just a pretty face you know.

Davey Boy Smith Jr
Previous G1 appearances: 1
Success in G1: In his G1 debut last year Smith won 5 of his matches (in fact he went on a 5 match win streak) with wins over past G1 winners like Satoshi Kojima and Togi Makabe.
Previously profiled: Yes
Bio: Smith stuck mostly to the tag ranks with his partner Lance Archer after the G1 last year. In November, the Killer Elite Squad were in a 2 out of 3 falls Triple Threat match and in the first fall lost the NWA Tag Titles but in the second fall they came back to defeat Tencozy for the IWGP Tag Titles. K.E.S. took part in the World Tag League but were defeated in the Semis by Tencozy. K.E.S. would lose the IWGP Tag belts at the January Dome show to the World Tag League winners, Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows. Despite receiving several shots at both the NWA and IWGP Tag belts K.E.S. has been unable to regain gold this year.

 

 

 

TanahashiMascot
Not the seventh inning stretch he was expecting.

Hiroshi Tanahashi
Previous G1 appearances: 12
Success in G1: Won the tournament in 2007. He’s reached the Finals but lost in 2004, 2010, and 2013. Last year Tanahashi had 5 wins and went to a draw with Kazuchika Okada which left him with enough points to allow him to advance to the Finals where he was defeated by Tetsuya Naito.
Previously profiled: Yes
Bio: Tanahashi left to work for CMLL in Mexico after the G1 as part of the New Japan/CMLL inter-promotional relationship. He took part in CMLL’s 2013 Universal Champion tournament and emerged as the tournament’s victor after defeating Rush in the Finals. When Tanahashi returned to NJPW in September he and Liger would lose the CMLL World Tag Titles to the Bullet Club team of Rey Bucanero and Tama Tonga which lead to Tanahashi’s feud with the Bullet Club’s leader Prince Devitt intensifying. The two faced each other in a Lumberjack Death-Match at the September Destruction event and Tanahashi defeated Devitt. With Devitt behind him, Tanahashi decided to challenge Okada once more for the IWGP Heavyweight Title and said that if he failed to win the match he would not challenge again. Okada would indeed beat Tanahashi on October 14th.

No longer fighting for the IWGP Title, Tanahashi would move on to the Intercontinental belt after being called out by Nakamura. Tanahashi would hold the IC Championship from January 4th until April 6th when Nakamura defeated him on his second defense. Tanahashi would next team up with Togi Makabe in an effort to win the IWGP Tag Titles but they would come up short at the June Dominion event.

That’s all for Part 1, make sure to join me later for Part 2 as we take a look at Block B!

Written by David Forrister

I'm an Admin on our messageboard http://culturecrossfire.com/forums and I help organize/edit for the site. So blame me.

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