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

 

Welcome to the second part of our G1 Climax Guide. Continuing from Part 1 let’s get right to the contenders of Block B!

 

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Block B

 

Karl Anderson

machinegun karl anderson
The Machine Gun has proven himself time and again. Could he be the first foreigner to win the G1?

Previous G1 appearances: 4

Success in G1: In 2012 Anderson won his block and went to the Finals (the first foreigner to do so since Ric Rude in 1992) before losing to Kazuchika Okada. Last year he failed to return to the Finals but still finished with 5 wins out of 9 matches including victories over form IWGP champions like Tenzan, Nagata and Nakamura.

Previously profiled: Yes

Bio: After the G1 Anderson targeted Okada and the IWGP Championship but was unable to make good on his opportunity at the belt in November at the Power Struggle event. Anderson didn’t miss a beat though and entered the World Tag League later that month with his new tag partner Doc Gallows. The Bullet Club duo defeated the legendary Tencozy (Tenzan and Kojima) in the Finals which marked Anderson’s third G1/World Tag League win. At the January 2014 Dome show Anderson and Gallows won the IWGP Tag Titles. On April 6th the leader of Bullet Club, Prince Devitt, left New Japan and Anderson took over as the faction’s new leader (also adding AJ Styles to their ranks at the same time). Since then he has helped to lead Bullet Club to new heights as they have completely dominated the title scene, currently holding 4 of the 6 belts in the company.

 

Lance Archer

ArcherSlam
A tag specialist in NJPW, Archer may make up in size what he lacks in singles experience.

Previous G1 appearances: 3

Success in G1: Archer has fared about the same in all 3 of his G1 appearances but the 2012 tournament was perhaps his best, as he went 4 for 8 in his matches. In 2013, he went 4 for 9, with his most notable victory being over his own tag partner Davey Boy Smith Jr., a win that cost Davey a spot in the Finals.

Previously profiled: Yes

Bio: Archer stuck to the tag ranks with his partner Davey Boy Smith Jr. after the G1. At Power Struggle in November, in a 2/3 falls 3-way match, they lost the NWA World Tag Titles before winning the IWGP titles in the second fall. The World Tag League started well for K.E.S. with them amassing a 5-1 record in the round robin portion but they were eliminated in the semi-finals by Tencozy. Archer and Smith’s struggles continued at the Tokyo Dome when they lost the IWGP Tag Titles to the Wold Tag League winners Gallows and Anderson. K.E.S. would continue to struggle the rest of the year and Archer would also have no luck as a singles competitor in the New Japan Cup being eliminated in the first round by Prince Devitt.

 

Hirooki Goto

Goto has won the G1 before but can he manage it again?

Previous G1 appearances: 5

Success in G1: Won the G1 in 2008 in his first ever tournament. Goto started out the 2013 G1 well with 4 wins (including a victory over IWGP Champ Okada) and 2 losses but was forced out of the tournament with a jaw fracture and would forfeit his remaining 3 matches.

Previously profiled: Yes

Bio: Goto returned from his jaw injury in December looking to settle his issue with Katsuyori Shibata once and for all. The two men met at the January 4th Dome show and Goto would not only emerge as the victor but he would end the rivalry with Shibata by forming a team with him. On February 11th Okada once more challenged for the IWGP Title (his seventh attempt) but failed to beat Okada. Goto and Shibata would pursue the Tag Titles for the rest of the year, but with no success.

 

Togi Makabe

Makabe’s dates go well until it’s time to settle who’s paying.

Previous G1 appearances: 10

Success in G1: Makabe went to the Finals in 2008 before returning the next year and winning in 2009. Makabe’s 2013 G1 saw him secure 5 wins.  This included victories over Satoshi Kojima and the IWGP Champion Okada.

Previously profiled: Yes

Bio: After Prince Devitt (with lots of Bullet Club interference) beat Makabe in his last G1 match, costing him a spot in the Finals, Makabe went to war with the faction. Makabe and his long-time partner Tomoaki Honma teamed up for the World Tag League but were eliminated by the Bullet Club’s team of Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson when Bad Luck Fale interfered. Fale and Makabe continued to feud with each other until the Tokyo Dome show in January where they had a “King of Destroyer” (last man standing) match where Makabe beat the Bullet Club big man. In March, Makabe would be eliminated in the first round of the NJ Cup before deciding to focus on the tag division with a new partner, Hiroshi Tanahashi (dubbing themselves “Ace to King”). The two men earned a title shot after beating Goto and Shibata in May but were unable to defeat Anderson and Gallows when they met at the Dominion event on June 21.

 

Tetsuya Naito

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Naito is looking to be only the 2nd man to win back to back G1 tournaments.

Previous G1 appearances: 4

Success in G1: Naito went to the Finals in 2011 before being defeated by Nakamura.  In 2013, he defeated Tanahashi to win the tournament.

Previously profiled: Yes

Bio: Through winning the G1 tournament, Naito was granted a shot at the IWGP Title.  He still wanted a rematch with Masato Tanaka for the NEVER Openweight Championship beforehand. So on Sepetember 29th at the Destruction show, Naito beat Tanaka and won his first singles title in New Japan. Naito would next team up with CMLL star La Sombra for the World Tag League but the duo failed to advance from their block. More troubling for Naito was that he didn’t seem to have the fan support he once had.  A confrontation with Okada during this time period got an underwhelming reaction. New Japan decided to run an online poll to determine the main event for the January Dome show, either Okada/Naito or Tanahashi/Nakamura. In the end, the fans chose the Tanahashi/Nakamura match as the main event by a large margin.

The show must go on though and on January 4th 2014 Naito met Okada for the IWGP title but was unable to beat the Rainmaker. Things didn’t get much better for Naito as he next entered into a feud for his NEVER Title with Tomohiro Ishii, who defeated him for the belt on February 11th. Naito would attempt to regain the title, but failed and moved onto a feud with Bullet Club.

 

Kazuchika Okada

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If only more rich people did this at sporting events.

Previous G1 appearances: 2

Success in G1: In his first ever G1 tournament in 2012, Okada defeated Karl Anderson in the Finals and became the youngest ever (24) winner in tournament history. In 2013, Okada, now the reigning IWGP champion, had a less successful tournament, setting up several challengers. He finished with 4 wins and a draw (with Tanahashi).

Previously profiled: Yes

Bio: The first big moment for Okada post-G1 and perhaps one of the biggest in his career came on October 14th when he defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi to retain the IWGP Title in a match where Tanahashi had announced that if he lost he would no longer challenge for the title. After this win, New Japan declared that Okada had taken Tanahashi’s place as the “Ace” of New Japan (like the “Face of WWE” but a real concept in Japan and not just a storyline). Okada would continue his winning ways by successfully defending the IWGP Title against Karl Anderson, Naito and Hirooki Goto. Okada would also have the honour of becoming the first wrestler in 25 years to win back-to-back MVP awards from Tokyo Sports.

In April, Okada was attacked after a match by A.J. Styles, who trashed Okada and challenged him for the belt as well as declaring that he was the newest member of Bullet Club. Okada and Styles met on May 3rd and the Rainmaker was unable to add a ninth successful defense to his tally, losing to Styles after CHAOS member Yujiro turned on him and joined Bullet Club. Okada would attempt to regain the belt at the ROH War of The Worlds show when he competed in a three-way match with Styles and Michael Elgin but Styles was able to pin Elgin for the victory. Back in Japan, he recieved another opportunity on May 25 but was unable to get the win.

 

A.J. Styles

Will the Champ continue his winning ways in the G1?

Previous G1 appearances: n/a

Success in G1: n/a

Previously profiled: n/a

Bio: AJ Styles made his debut in 1998 after being trained by Rick Michaels for the Georgia based National Championship Wrestling company (which would merge with another company to become NWA Wildside at the end of 1999). AJ’s popularity and a hot feud with Air Paris caught the attention of WCW, which decided to hire both men and pair them as a tag team, dubbed Air Raid. Although the team impressed fans with their high-flying style they weren’t kept on when WWF bought WCW in March 2001 so Styles returned to NWA Wildside. In 2002, the WWF would make Styles a developmental offer but he decided to turn it down.

In April of 2002, AJ made his debut for Ring of Honor, where he made a failed bid for the ROH World Championship against Low Ki. In 2003, AJ went after the ROH Tag Titles and, after earning a title shot single-handedly (his original partner being unavailable), he chose The Amazing Red to team with him. AJ and Red went on to win the belts from Christopher Daniels and Xavier in March and held onto them until Red was put out with a knee injury in September, forcing them to vacate. AJ would next become the first ever ROH Pure Wrestling Champion by winning a tournament where he beat CM Punk in the finals. Unfortunately. problems with TNA, which AJ was contracted to, and ROH arose due to ROH’s then owner’s legal issues.  TNA to pulled its workers (it wouldn’t be the last time) from ROH and AJ vacated the title in April 2004.

AJ was able to return to ROH in February 2005, where he began a feud with Jimmy Rave and The Embassy faction. Rave had formerly been AJ’s protege but after AJ left he had turned heel and stolen AJ’s finisher, claiming he had invented it. AJ would partner up with Generation Next during the feud and the two sides waged war for months. Finally, AJ was able to gain revenge on Rave and force him to stop using the Styles Clash at Glory by Honor IV.  With a second rope Styles Clash he beat “The Embassy’s Crown Jewel”. After this feud, Styles would attempt to win the ROH World Title from Bryan Danielson as well as the ROH World Tag Titles (teaming with Matt Sydal) but was unable to complete either. He began to appear less and less often for the company until finally leaving after one last match with Samoa Joe in August 2006. Since leaving TNA in 2013, he has once again returned to his old stomping grounds on several occasions.

Styles would start with TNA from its debut when the company was using a weekly PPV model in May 2002. He was given a big push right from the word “go”, being given both the X Division and the World Tag Titles (with Jerry Lynn) in the first month. During the first several years of his TNA run AJ would undergo a pattern where he would compete in the Heavyweight division before dropping back to the X Division for a while. Between 2002 and 2008 he won The X Title 6 times, The NWA World Heavyweight Title 3 times, The NWA World Tag Team Titles 2 times, and the TNA World Tag Team Titles 1 time. Some of his major feuds during these years were with Jerry Lynn, Jeff Jarrett, Abyss, Christopher Daniels, and Samoa Joe (the latter two especially). Daniels and Styles would also form a successful partnership but the two were destined to be better enemies than friends.

Now focused on the Heavyweight scene for good, AJ (who was currently a heel and a member of Kurt Angle’s faction) got involved in a major storyline when he accidentally “married” Karen Angle during a vow renewal ceremony (hijinks!) in early 2008 which of course led to a feud with Kurt Angle.  After a series of back and forth, matches AJ won the feud by beating Angle in a ladder match in August 2008. After this, Styles would be instrumental in forming an alliance of younger TNA talent called “The Frontline” when Angle, Booker T, Nash, Scott Steiner and Sting all formed the heel Main Event Mafia stable. AJ would lead the charge in the attempt to get the TNA World Title from Sting, but was unable to defeat the legend. Instead, he ended up in a feud with Booker T over the Legends Title, which he ended up winning after an I Quit match.

On September 29th, 2009, AJ won the TNA World title in a 5-way match. The next month, AJ beat Sting at Bound for Glory, ending Sting’s undefeated streak at that PPV. Styles became the longest ever reigning TNA Champion on March 29th 2010 when he broke Sting’s record of 189 days as champion. He was finally defeated on his 211 day as champion by Rob Van Dam. AJ would join Ric Flair’s TNA knockoff of the 4 Horsemen, which he dubbed Fortune, and after a great deal of conflict over his spot in the group was eventually able to win the Global (formerly Legends) Championship on July 22nd, which he then renamed the TV Championship. Styles would then get into a feud with TNA’s knockoff of the ECW reunion EV2.0, and then a hard fought war with Bully Ray before once again feuding with his old frenemy Christopher Daniels.

They attempted to settle this round of their never-ending conflict with an I Quit match in October 2010. Styles won but Daniels refused to let things lie by not only attacking AJ after the match, but trying to stab him with a screwdriver on the next TV episode. Their feud now extended to the tag ranks as Daniels allied himself with Kazarian and Styles partnered himself first with Mr. Anderson, and then Kurt Angle. It was with Angle that AJ was able to beat Kaz and Daniels (now called Bad Influence) for the TNA World Tag Titles on June 10, 2011. During all of this, Bad Influence were attempting to blackmail Styles with an alleged bastard child and to keep it mercifully short, AJ beat Daniels in a match for the right to a paternity test and it was eventually proven that AJ was not the father. In December, Styles lost to Daniels by his own finisher in what was called their final match. The following week, AJ announced he was done doing the right thing.

When AJ returned in March, he was dressed in black, attacking friend and foe and refusing to answer questions (add some face paint and we have ourselves a Sting). AJ would feud with Kurt Angle after refusing to choose sides between TNA and Aces & Eights (NWO knockoff). Mr. Anderson would announce AJ was a member of Aces but despite drinking a beer with the faction Sti…AJ turned on them. When Styles finally spoke, he made clear that he was now a “lone wolf” and would not choose any sides. AJ would go on to win the Bound for Glory Series and also claim his contract was finished and was now working as a free agent.

Styles would win his second TNA World Title on October 20, 2013 by beating Bully Ray in a No DQ match. AJ would be offered a new storyline contract (his real contact was really coming up at the end of the year. Foreshadowing!) but he refused to sign and walked out with the belt. TNA announced the championship was vacant and created an interim title.

AJ would defend “his” TNA World Title in Japan for Wrestle-1 before returning in December to confront the new TNA-approved champion, Magnus. The two faced each other in a unification match that aired on January 9th (a month after it was taped) and Styles lost after interference from 9 other wrestlers (8 for Magnus and 1 for him). This would truly end up being AJ’s last match with TNA as his real contract expired without the two sides reaching a new deal and he became a free agent on December 17th.

New Japan announced that it had signed AJ on March 27, 2014. He wasted no time in making his debut showing up at the very next major event on April 6th and attacking the IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada who he trashed as being still the same “young boy” who once worked for TNA. AJ then challenged him to a match and announced he was joining Bullet Club. On May 3rd, Styled made good on his challenge and defeated Okada (with a big assist from new Bullet Club member Yujiro) to win the IWGP Title and become only the sixth non-Japanese champion in its 27 year history. Since winning the belt, AJ has fended off Okada’s attempt to regain it as well as defending it during the cross-promotional tour with ROH.

 

Minoru Suzuki

“Why yes these are new shoes thanks for noticing FINALLY”

 

Previous G1 appearances: 4

Success in G1: In 2011 Suzuki won 6 of his 10 matches with wins over the likes of Karl Anderson, Hirooki Goto, and Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Last year saw Suzuki finish out of contention for the Finals again, but with a respectable 5 wins and 4 losses. Karl Anderson, Kota Ibushi, and Shinsuke Nakamura were all among those who fell to Suzuki in 2013.

Previously profiled: Yes

Bio: Suzuki has been engaged in a long-running feud with Toru Yano ever since Yano beat Suzuki in the final round-robin match of the G1, costing Suzuki a spot in the finals (it’s a common way to start a feud). On September 29th, Suzuki tried to gain revenge but Yano out-smarted him by handcuffing him to the guardrails for the countout win. Suzuki would team with Shelton Benjamin in the World Tag League but would be eliminated from contention on the final day after losing to Takashi Iizuka and (who else) Yano. Suzuki would make another attempt to gain revenge at the Tokyo Dome show by challenging Yano to find a partner to face him and Benjamin, but Yano would top him again by bringing none other than The Great Muta and once again winning. Things went a bit better for Suzuki in the New Japan Cup as he made it to the semi-finals before being eliminated by Nakamura. He also finally got one over on Yano when he convinced Yano’s long-time friend and stablemate Iizuka to turn on him and join Suzukigun. Suzuki would team up with Iizuka in June to beat Yano and Kazushi Sakuraba.

 

Yujiro Takahashi

Yujiro & crew in his moment of triumph.
Yujiro & crew in his moment of triumph.

 

Previous G1 appearances: 4

Success in G1: Yujiro has finished at or near the bottom of his block in all of his G1 tournaments, but last year was probably his best showing as he managed to win 4 of his matches, which included a win over his former tag partner and eventual tournament winner, Tetsuya Naito.

Previously profiled: Yes

Bio: After being left off several major cards, including the Tokyo Dome show, as well as losing in the first round of the New Japan Cup, Yujiro started having problems with his CHAOS stable to the point where he actually walked out on them during a match in late April. So it perhaps shouldn’t have came as a complete shock when Yujiro turned on CHAOS during the Okada vs AJ Styles IWGP Heavyweight Title match to help Styles become the new Champion and become the first Japanese member of Bullet Club. After joining Bullet Club, Yujiro set his sights on the NEVER Openweight Championship held by his former stablemate Tomohiro Ishii. When the two met on June 29th, Yujiro would walk out with his first singles title in New Japan.

 

Hiroyoshi Tenzan

tenzanlivedoor
Looking for redemption after a poor performance last year.

 

Previous G1 appearances: 18 (a record)

Success in G1: Tenzan has won the G1 in 2003, 2004, and 2006. There have only been two other multiple time winners since the inception of the G1 in 1991, Masahiro Chono (a 5 time winner) and Kensuke Sasaki (a 2 time winner). Sadly, Tenzan has been badly plagued by injuries in recent years and the 2013 G1 was no exception. After picking up 3 wins, (including one over eventual winner Naito) Tenzan was forced to forfeit the rest of the tournament due to a rib fracture.

Previously profiled: Yes

Bio: The rib fracture Tenzan suffered during the G1 kept him out of action until October and when he came back it was just in time for his partner Kojima to go down with a (luckily short-term) injury of his own. Tencozy wasn’t able to get back together until a month later. Unfortunately for Tencozy, that return ended with them losing their IWGP Tag Titles to K.E.S. in a 3-way match (Rob Conway & Jax Dane were also involved). Tencozy would make a bid to win the World Tag League but would lose in the finals to Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson. However, they would have more success when they got a chance at the NWA World Tag Titles of Jax Dane and Rob Conway, beating the two men for the belts on April 6th.

 

Toru Yano

Is this the year of Yano? Probably not.
Is this the year of Yano? Probably not.

 

Previous G1 appearances: 8

Success in G1: Yano may never have won a G1 but he’s done alright for himself, all things considered. In 2011, Yano had his best G1 by not only going 5 for 10 in his matches, but by picking up a couple of big upsets when he defeated both Yuji Nagata and, even more surprisingly, Hiroshi Tanahashi. In 2013, Yano once again showed that he shouldn’t be underestimated by beating the likes of Naito, Karl Anderson, and Minoru Suzuki.

Previously profiled: Yes

Bio: Yano has spent nearly all of his time since the G1 feuding with Minoru Suzuki (see Suzuki’s profile above for more), recruiting such seemingly unlikely allies as The Great Muta and Kazushi Sakuraba to aid him. Despite seeming overmatched by Suzuki, Yano continually outwitted him until Suzuki managed to convince Yano’s friend and tag partner Iizuka to turn on Yano and join Suzukigun.

 

If you’re wanting to watch the G1 (and you really should!) then there is great news because it was just announced a few days ago that UStream will be carrying all of the shows. You can order them on an individual basis or in a package (and for what you’re getting it’s worth it for any purohead) @  http://www.ustream.tv/njpw

 

That’s all for this time and I hope you enjoyed the guide and I’ll leave you with a match listing for the G1. Thanks for reading!

 

***Kota Ibushi has been forced to withdraw due to injury.  Just before we published it was announced he was being replaced by Tomoaki Honma.***

7/21/2014 [Mon]
B BLOCK: AJ Styles vs Kazuchika Okada
A BLOCK: Kota Ibushi vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
A BLOCK: Katsuyori Shibata vs Shinsuke Nakamura

7/23/2014 [Wed]
A BLOCK: Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs Shinsuke Nakamura
B BLOCK: Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan
A BLOCK: Kota Ibushi vs Yuji Nagata

7/25/2014 [Fri]
A BLOCK: Bad Luck Fale vs Yuji Nagata
A BLOCK: Satoshi Kojima vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
B BLOCK: Kazuchika Okada vs Togi Makabe

7/26/2014 [Sat]
A BLOCK: Tomohiro Ishii vs Kota Ibushi
B BLOCK: AJ Styles vs Tetsuya Naito
A BLOCK: Katsuyori Shibata vs.Hiroshi Tanahashi

7/28/2014 [Mon]
B BLOCK: AJ Styles vs Hirooki Goto
A BLOCK: Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kota Ibushi
B BLOCK: Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito

7/31/2014 [Thu]
B BLOCK: AJ Styles vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan
B BLOCK: Toru Yano vs Kazuchika Okada
A BLOCK: Tomohiro Ishii vs Hiroshi Tanahashi

8/1/2014 [Fri]
B BLOCK: AJ Styles vs Minoru Suzuki
A BLOCK: Katsuyori Shibata vs Yuji Nagata
A BLOCK: Tomohiro Ishii vs Shinsuke Nakamura

8/3/2014 [Sun]
B BLOCK: Lance Archer vs AJ Styles
A BLOCK: Katsuyori Shibata vs Kota Ibushi
A BLOCK: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Shinsuke Nakamura

8/4/2014 [Mon]
BLOCK: Shelton “X” Benjamin vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
B BLOCK: Karl Anderson vs AJ Styles
B BLOCK: Kazuchika Okada vs. Hirooki Goto

8/6/2014 [Wed]
A BLOCK: Doc Gallows vs Shinsuke Nakamura
A BLOCK: Yuji Nagata vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
A BLOCK: Katsuyori Shibata vs Tomohiro Ishii

8/8/2014 [Fri]
A BLOCK: Tomohiro Ishii vs Yuji Nagata
B BLOCK: AJ Styles vs Togi Makabe
B BLOCK: Minoru Suzuki vs Kazuchika Okada

8/10/2014 [Sun]
FINAL: A BLOCK #1 vs B BLOCK #1
Special Single Match: A BLOCK #2 vs B BLOCK #2

 

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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