The most gruelling tournament in professional wrestling returns – slightly later than normal – this year with (let’s be honest) a surprisingly predictable line-up. We only see 3 changes from last year with Bad Luck Fale, Lance Archer and Jon Moxley out and NJPW stalwarts YOSHI-HASHI, Yujiro Takahashi and Minoru Suzuki all making their returns to the tournament.
Let’s look at each of the competitors, how they did last year, their chance of winning this year and where we expect them to finish once the whole thing is done.

Block A

Kota Ibushi

LAST YEAR – 7-2 Record (Tournament Winner)

Can The Golden Star go back to back and win two G1 Climax’s in row? It’s been done before – Hiroyoshi Tenzan won in both 2003 and 2004 (beating Jun Akiyama & Hiroshi Tanahashi respectively) and Mashahiro Chono won the first 2 ‘official’ G1 Climax Tournaments in 1991 and 1992. However, the tournament is a very different beast now and whilst it very much felt like “Kota’s time” last year, the same cannot be said about the 2020 tournament.

It’s felt like we’ve been heading towards an Ibushi vs Tanahashi contest at WrestleKingdom 2021 for a while so expect both men to have a strong showing in the tournament, but neither win their respective blocks as they’ve got other plans for the January finale. Given the odds are fairly long at 6/1 it suggests that an Ibushi repeat would be a real surprise.

Predicted Finish – 6-3 Record

Current Odds – 6/1 with 888 Sport

Jeff Cobb

Last Year – 4-5 Record

Jeff Cobb (from Guam) announced recently that he’d signed a new contract with *someone* just before coronavirus shut the world down. Given that he’s left ROH, clearly hasn’t gone to WWE and seems to have only done a quick appearance with AEW… has Cobb signed a longer term deal with NJPW? His appearances on New Japan Strong and a return to this year’s G1 suggest it may well be the case.

I think we’ll get a better showing from him in this year’s tournament too – Ospreay has a great record of getting good matches out of Jeffrey and I expect Ibushi will too. Plus, there’s a potential for some heavy hitting matches with Suzuki and Shingo. Everything is pointing to a solid mid-table performance from the former BOLA winner – possibly playing spoiler for someone higher up the table

Predicted Finish – 3-6 Record

Current Odds – 66/1 with 888 Sport

Kazuchika Okada

Last Year – 7-2 Record (Block Runner Up)

It’s a fool’s errand to bet against Kazuchika Okada and he is very understandably one of the tournament’s favourites. He may well win the block, he could well win the tournament, but the safest bet is that whoever does win either Block A and/or the G1 will do so over a career defining win over the longest reigning IWGP Champion of all time.

He’s currently at 3/1 to win the whole thing which could well be worth a bet. For me, the matches which will define Okada’s G1 will be the match against Yujiro Takahashi (which has Bullet Club ridden interference leading to a SPOILER victory for the Tokyo Pimp all over it) and a massive match against Will Ospreay who Okada is undefeated against.

Okada will go into the final day still in contention for the win – that’s for sure – so the fact his final match is against his English protégé in Ospreay is very telling for both men’s predicted tournaments. Personally, I don’t think it’s Okada’s year. But, as mentioned, you’d be mad to bet against it

Predicted Finish – 7-2 Record

Current Odds – 3/1 with 888 Sport

Tomohiro Ishii

Last Year – 4-5 Record

There’s few NJPW Fans who don’t go into every G1 hoping that this will be The Stone Pitbull’s year. Few hope he doesn’t just go “oh, bugger it” (or it’s Japanese equivalent) and go through the whole field murdering fools. We hope it every year but – sadly – there’s no signs that this year will be any different.

Ishii had an ok G1 last year (although most of the field finished 4-5 to be fair) and I think he’ll do similar this year. Currently his odds are 17/1 which is about fair as it would be a real shock for him to take the block; especially a block as packed full of talent as Block A is.

Keep the matches against Shingo and Suzuki in the diary. These two could get really violent, really rather quickly (if that’s your kinda thing).

Prediction – 5-4 Record

Current Odds – 17/1 with 888 Sport

Will Ospreay

Last Year – 4-5 Record

Let’s deal with the simple stuff first; I’m expecting Will Ospreay (current British Heavyweight Champion) to have a fantastic G1. He’s got a lot to prove to a lot of people, and regardless of what you think about Will Ospreay the man, he is one of the greatest wrestler’s on the planet “bell to bell”. Overall had a fairly innocuous tournament last year – finishing 4-5 including a rather surprising early loss to Lance Archer on Day 1 and it’s impossible to think he won’t have a better run this year.

Can he win it? Absolutely. He’s facing Okada on the final day and I’ll be very surprised if both men are out at that stage; in fact, I expect that match to be a “winner takes all” for Block A so expect Ospreay to rack up some big wins over the likes of Suzuki, White and Ibushi. He’s never beaten Okada though and it’ll be very interesting to see if this is the time to do it.

And here’s the other thing: I don’t think that anything Ospreay has been linked with this summer through the #speakingout movement or it’s associated backlash with a large number of fans (especially in the UK) will have any barring on the result at al. However you feel about it is perfectly valid and I think that NJPW & Revolution Pro have made their thoughts well known too. Because of this fact, I think the 5/1 odds for an Ospreay win – a first British win (and only second Gaijin win following the now departed from the company Kenny Omega) are *well* worth a bet.

Prediction – 7-2 Record

Current Odds – 5/1 with 888 Sport

Shingo Takagi

Last Year – 4-5 Record

Of all the “outside bets” for this year’s G1, Shingo is the one I don’t want to give up on yet. The bookies have him at 10/1 which aren’t *massive* odds for someone who doesn’t have a clear path to G1 Glory, but stranger things have happened. Plus “The Dragon” is 37 – 5 years older than Okada, 10 years older than Will Ospreay & Jay White. If Shingo is going to win a G1, then he needs to win it sooner rather than later.

Off the back of an excellent BOSJ earlier in the year, Shingo had a (like most people) fairly average 2019 G1 Climax – ending the tournament on respectable 4-5 record. But this year, he’s not had the Best of the Super Juniors. In theory, he should be fresher. He should know the field better. The more I type this, the more I’m convincing myself we could get an upset from Takagi.
However – an upset it would be. Block A is stacked and I think Shingo will do well but ultimately end up in a similar position to last year. Maybe next year for him?

Prediction – 4-5 Record

Current Odds – 10/1 with 888 Sport

Minoru Suzuki

Last Year – Did Not Compete

Minoru Suzuki was arguably the biggest name missing from last year’s G1 and it’s pleasant to see him back. However, there were those who questioned whether “The King” can still do a tournament as gruelling as the G1 at the ripe old age of 52. He’s now back in one of the toughest blocks in recent memory so let’s see how he gets on.

There’s no doubt that – on his day – Suzuki can still *go*. His recent match with Shingo in the Baseball stadium was arguably match of the night and his absolute classic against Kazuchika Okada at Royal Quest is still possibly my favourite match I’ve ever seen live. But it’s a big, big ask to do that nine matches on the bounce.

I think we’ll get a fairly steady performance from Suzuki in Block A and is an excellent “spoiler” for the Block as he could very well realistically better / batter anyone in the block. As the new NEVER Openweight Champion, he also will potentially be setting up (possibly multiple) challengers to come. He won’t win but he’ll have fun trying.

Prediction – 2-7 Record

Current Odds – 66/1 with 888 Sport


Last Year – 4-5 Record

Between Suzuki and Taichi I think we’re going to be a lot of Suzuki-Gun related shenanigans this year. Nothing to on the level of Tama Tonga dickishness from the year previous, but Taichi is another person I expect to pull an upset.

He – also – finished last year on a 4-5 record and will very likely finish similar here. One half of the reigning Tag Champs, his match against Kota Ibushi will have some eyes on it for the continuation of the Ibushu / Tanahashi storyline and he’s another wrestler well backed by NJPW management where he could beat anyone in the block (including the favourites)

Hopefully he keeps the steel fingers to a minimum but his odds of 50/1 are completely correct (they might actually be a little harsh, but seem about right if his boss Minoru is 66/1).

Prediction – 3-6 Record

Current Odds – 50/1 with 888 Sport

Jay White

Last Year – 6-3 Record (Block Winner)

His absence from NJPW in recent months (being stuck outside the country) has co-incided with the turn of EVIL and the usurping of Bullet Club by EVIL and Dick Togo. To quote one Cody Rhodes; Jay White has made it clear that “Bullet Club is fine” but will still be very interesting to see how the story plays out for him during the G1. With Yujiro being the only BC vs BC match in Block A, I don’t think we’ll get any major plot points, but certainly things will start to ‘simmer’

White had an excellent G1 fortunes-wise last year; winning Block B before falling to Kota Ibushi in a great final. “The Switchblade” remains a man very much at the top of the card in NJPW so I’m predicting him to have a very good G1 this year as well.

But – even with odds at 5/1 – I don’t think he’ll be going one better this year. He may well come down to the last day, but I don’t predict he’ll be in his second final in a row. He went 6-3 last year and he may do the same – but 6-3 won’t be good enough this time.

Prediction – 6-3 Record

Current Odds – 5/1 with 888 Sport

Yujiro Takahashi

Last Year – Did Not Complete

Yujiro Takahashi did not compete in last year’s G1 and everyone spent the whole tournament asking where he was. Sorry, I mean… Yujiro Takahashi did not compete in last year’s G1 and literally no-one asked where he was.

Yujiro is a solid hand an established character but The Tokyo Pimp is the only person in Block A who I’m confident has *zero* chance of winning the Block. Even another massive outsider like Jeff Cobb has the slight potential of (maybe) being a new signee; it would be interesting to see if Yujiro would have made the cut were it not for coronavirus limitations on the booking.

You know what? I think he would. I don’t think he’ll win much, but when he does win in this block, it’ll be important… and his mini-feud with Okada over the summer may be foreshadowing something nonsense.

Prediction – 2-7

Current Odds – 66/1 with 888 Sport

Block B

Hiroshi Tanahashi

Last Year – 4-5 Record

It’s hard to comprehend that Hiroshi Tanahashi went from winning the G1 in 2018 to having a fairly mediocre record last year (for the once in a generation talent) of 4-5 in the G1. But he’s Hiroshi Tanahashi and (with the possibly exception of Minoru Suzuki) is the most “bullet proof” of everyone in the tournament. He doesn’t need to win. His record isn’t important. He’s Hiroshi Tanahashi either way.

That said, I do think he’ll improve on last year’s run. The bookies have him currently at 8/1 which feels about right and we’ve got him to finish with a 5-3 record. Ideally, Tana needs to come out of the tournament strong to be in a good position to continue his narrative before an eventual (presumed) clash with Kota Ibushi.

I think Tanahashi will fall just short and be eliminated on the penultimate day so keep your money away from Hiroshi and his glorious hair, but regardless, the former 3 time winner should have a good showing throughout

Prediction – 5-4 Record

Current Odds – 8/1 with 888 Sport

Juice Robinson

Last Year  – 4-5 Record

Juice Robinson is one of the most natural babyfaces in the world and has a character that fits so well into the NJPW upper/mid card. It still feels like the G1 will be a learning experience for him (which is a positive thing) and hopefully he’ll do similar to last year where he finished with a 4-5 record, but with no obvious direction post tournament my gut says repeating last year is about as much as he can hope for.

His natural plucky babyface performances make for a great story in the later stages of a tournament like this as Robinson (and everyone else) struggles with the effects of 9 hard matches, so I’m looking forward to his matches against wrong ‘uns like EVIL, KENTA, ZSJ and anyone else who has left the caps lock on.
He’s also one of the best promos (for an English speaking audience) as well so don’t turn the feed off until the end!

Prediction – 3-6 Record

Current Odds – 33/1 with 888 Sport

Hirooki Goto

Last Year – 5-3 Record (Block Runner Up)

Goto was a bit of surprise package last year and – what felt by almost a mathematical fluke – ended Block B in second place ahead of Jon Moxley and Tetsuya Naito (who all finished on 10 points).
Goto is also a former G1 Winner in his own right; winning the 2008 trophy – finishing ahead of one Shinsuke Nakamura in the block before beating (now New Japan “Dad”) Togi Makabe in the final. He’s not a flashy performer by any statement, but I feel Goto is one of the most under-rated (if not under appreciated) wrestlers in the world. Also – and this is important – his music is an absolute BANGER.

All things are pointing to a weaker G1 this year for Goto but he’s another potential spoiler and I think his match with KENTA could be a sleeper hit if both men are “on it” during the match. He’s 25/1 to win, which feels a little short (he ain’t winning it and I’d have most others ahead of him). We’re predicting a fairly forgettable G1 for Hirooki in 2020

Prediction – 3-6 Record

Current Odds – 25/1 with 888 Sport

Toru Yano

Last Year – 4-5 Record

Is there a harder man to predict for the G1 than the reigning “King of Pro Wrestling” – The Master Thief – Toru Yano. He beat Moxley last year, he’s beaten Suzuki multiple times, he shit-housed his way on the last PPV with a pinfall win over Okada.

He’s another one where there’s no chance he’ll win the whole thing (in fact, bookies have him at the joint longest odds overall at 100/1 which feels a little unfair) but he finished last year on 4-5 and I think we’ll get similar this year.

The joy in a G1 is Yano winning the occasional match and with numerous grumpy bastards in this block, potential wins over EVIL, KENTA, ZSJ and Hirooki Goto these could be considerably “coupon busters”. We also should get the first challenger for the KOPW Title too…

Prediction – 3-6 Record

Current Odds – 100/1 with 888 Sport


Last Year – Did Not Compete

YOSHI-HASHI who New Japan management didn’t feel made the cut for last year’s G1 finally won his first ever belt with the company since joining in 2012. And it wasn’t a singles belt, but a six man title. And he didn’t even get to make the pin.

Somehow this was still a feel good moment and I also think it’s set YOSHI-HASHI to have a very sympathetic run in this year’s G1. By “sympathetic” I mean, get battered by almost everyone before *finally* getting a win.

Looking down the list, he’s facing KENTA very late in the tournament which could be a great match where YOSHI-HASHI picks up a rare win AND knocks “ultra bastard” KENTA out. I think that’s the most that 1/3 of the reigning NEVER Tag Champs can hope for

Prediction – 2-7 Record

Current Odds – 100/1 with 888 Sport

Tetsuya Naito

Last Year – 5-4 Record

Naito goes into the G1 this year not only as double IWGP and IC Champion, but looking to get his third G1 win (having won in 2013 and 2017). It’s hard to imagine that The Champ won’t have a great G1; World Champions usually do – if only because establishing multiple challengers post tournament would be a nightmare. But it’s rarer for them to win the whole thing as – well – we need a challenger afterwards.

Naito finished last year’s tournament with a 5-4 record and THANKFULLY they’ve kept him and Kota Ibushi away from each other (those two boys always bring out the worst in each other) and I think he’ll finish this year’s G1 with a slightly better result, 6-3 and missing out due to “maths”. He finishes the tournament against KENTA which is a match screaming “spoiler” for a KENTA win and World Title challenge and his matches against ZSJ are usually great fun.

He doesn’t win the tournament here but he’ll be a “king maker” that’s for sure

Prediction – 6-3 Record

Current Odds – 6/1 with 888 Sport


Last Year – 4-5 Record

SANADA has long been NJPW’s predicted “next big thing” but this is a title that one can only realistically hold for so long before it becomes self-denying. You can’t the be the “next big thing” for 10 years – eventually you’re just under-performing. That’s a sign post which SANADA is rapidly approaching. He’s not there yet, but if he’s going to be a top tier talent in New Japan then he needs a big win quick.

The bookies are calling that this will the year that he does it. He’s currently ranked at 3/1 with the shortest odds overall (along with EVIL & Okada). They’re not “too short” (it’s still 3/1) so could well be worth a bet. My initial reaction was “SANADA is favourite? Really?” but then I thought about it…

If Tetsuya doesn’t win the block, it’s likely that he’ll be playing a role in stopping someone else doing so (or helping them to). The final matches on the last day for Block B sees SANADA vs EVIL and KENTA vs Naito. I think the block finishes with KENTA stopping Naito winning (but not winning himself) and then SANADA sends everyone home happy stopping EVIL.

This then gives us a SANADA final vs. (presumably) either Okada or Ospreay. In this scenario, I think SANADA is probably favourite against an Okada (who doesn’t need it) and an Ospreay where New Japan rarely give G1 wins to people not from Japan. With odds of 3/1, there could be some serious money going on the man with the silly hair.

Prediction – 6-3 Record

Current Odds – 3/1 with 888 Sport

Zack Sabre Junior

Last Year – 4-5 Record

Is there a greater tournament wrestler in the world than Zack Sabre Junior? New Japan Cup? Won. BOLA? Done it. 16 Carat? Gewonnen. SSS16? Completed it mate. King of the Ring? He’s an anti-Royalist, doesn’t want it.

ZSJ is an incredibly talented pro wrestler and his style lends itself to these sort of tournaments. He’s had some great matches against the likes of Naito and SANADA previously plus there’s some comic potential against Toru Yano and his match against KENTA is something I’m really looking forward to (they’re 1-1 in career matches, including last year’s G1)

However, Sabre is nowhere near the winner’s podium – and his final match is against Hiroshi Tanahashi which I think will be more for pride for both men. He finished last year’s tournament with a 4-5 record and I think it will be a very similar result this time round.

Prediction – 5-4 Record

Current Odds – 33/1 with 888 Sport


Last Year – 4-5 Record

KENTA is fresh off the back of an inaugural New Japan US Cup win and is now on course for a match – presumably – against AEW World Champion Jon Moxley. It’s hard to see when this match is going to happen (if it does at all) but it also gives KENTA a direction away from the IWGP title picture.

KENTA made his big ‘debut’ with his G1 appearances in 2019 and started off incredibly strong with a number of wins, before quickly falling off. Sadly – as much as I like KENTA – I think we’ll get a similar showing here. A grumpy KENTA – off the back of losses to the likes of Toru Yano and/or YOSHI-HASHI – could go into the final day against Tetsuya Naito not with a title to win, but with a point to prove.

He’s currently got odds of 8/1 which are about right because if he *does* do well then he’s certainly the sort of wrestler who could win *a* G1 and – much like Shingo Takagi – he’s got to do it sooner rather than later if he’s going to. But not everyone gets to win and this isn’t KENTA’s year

Prediction – 3-6 Record

Odds – 8/1 with 888 Sport


Last Year – 4-5 Record

Of everyone in the tournament, it’s EVIL who goes into the G1 Climax 2020 in the most different place than he went into the G1 2019. He’s turned heel, switched from LIJ to Bullet Club, acquired a manager, new hair, new music, won the New Japan Cup and – most importantly – won the IWGP Title

With this mind, it’s hardly surprisingly that EVIL is the joint favourite to win the G1 with odds of 3/1. And he may well win. There’s clearly a big push to establish EVIL at the top of the card and he’s a good wrestler with a great look. Having won the IWGP title recently, there’s no-one in the block (including the World Champion) who EVIL won’t be a threat to.

Facing SANADA on the final day feels like a match with big odds at stake. The only downside – and this is where I think EVIL may struggle – is that he’s not shown the “big match quality” in the same way that the Naitos, Ibushis and Okadas have done. Does this mean that he maybe misses out on the *the* Big Match – the G1 final? Especially with a number of others who *can* do those big matches. Maybe EVIL can? Let’s find out.

Prediction – 5-4 Record

Odds – 3/1 with 888 Sport

Those are our predictions and odds, what are yours? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below!