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Hiroshi Tanahashi Winning G1 Climax Makes Sense

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History was made as former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Kota Ibushi to win the 2018 G1 Climax Tournament. The win over the Golden Star earned Tanahashi a “Tokyo Dome IWGP Heavyweight Championship Challenge Rights Certificate.” 

In addition to earning a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight title in the main event of January’s Wrestle Kingdom 13 event, Tanahashi became the third man in history to three G1 tournaments – former world champions Masahiro Chono and Hiroyoshi Tenzan have also accomplished this feat. 

The finals between Tanahashi and Ibushi capped off what was an exciting tournament. Their match had drama, action and tension that left fans on the edge of their seats. One of the biggest heart-racing moments prior to the match had to have been the appearance of Katsuyori Shibata cornering Tanahashi while Omega was in Ibushi’s corner. This was a year after the 2017 G1 finals where  Shibata, who had been injured months prior announced to the crowd that he “was alive.”

With another G1 tournament victory under his belt, Tanahashi is set to compete in his 10th Jan. 4 Tokyo Dome show.

While some fans might have prefered Omega defend the IWGP Heavyweight title against Ibushi at WK, it would sense for The Best Bout Machine to face the Ace of New Japan at the company’s biggest show of the year.

One reason comes down to Tanahashi’s status as an established superstar for New Japan. Ibushi is on the verge of becoming a superstar in NJPW, but Tanahashi is on another level in terms of popularity and credibility with the fans, and has been for years. Ibushi has been a heavyweight for a few years, and he’s had some great moments like challenging Shinsuke Nakamura for the Intercontinental title at Wrestle Kingdom 10 and winning the 2015 New Japan Cup. When he turned to NJPW under his real name, he has not done a lot on his own – most of his success in the last year has been tied to Omega, including the reunion of the Golden Lovers and their five-star match with the Young Bucks. His Wrestle Kingdom 12 win over Cody could be seen as just a catalyst to launch the American Nightmare’s feud with Omega.

That’s not to say Ibushi won’t ever taste the IWGP Heavyweight title, his time will come. Next year could be an amazing one for Ibushi, and losing to Tanahashi also gives him motivation going forward.

While Ibushi has spent a few years as a heavyweight, NJPW’s Heavyweight division has been Tanahashi’s stomping ground for over 10 years. He is an established veteran the company can rely on to deliver a big performance at the Tokyo Dome.

Tanahashi has been in almost every Jan. 4 Tokyo Dome Show, with the exception of the 2003 event. Japanese fans will come to see him compete and possibly win his eighth IWGP Heavyweight title. While fans from other countries flock to Japan for the Wrestle Kingdom event, it’s primarily the Japanese fanbase who are going to buy the tickets and fill the seats at the Dome.

Tanahashi challenging for the IWGP Heavyweight title on Jan. 4 also works from a booking standpoint for Omega. If NJPW wants to build him as a long-term champion, it would make sense to have him defeat established stars like Tanahashi. Omega has only had one title defense since he defeated Kazuchika Okada to win the title in June, and that was against Cody at the G1 Special in San Francisco. If NJPW sticks to the same format as last year’s post-G1 events, Omega will defend the title against Tomohiro Ishii and/or Toru Yano, but those will be successful defenses.

If history repeats itself at the Tokyo Dome, it’s likely Omega will retain the title against Tanahashi.

In 2012, NJPW began the situation of the G1 Tournament winner receiving an IWGP Heavyweight title shot. Since NJPW made the rule, not one of the tournament winners have successfully captured the IWGP Heavyweight title. Omega has won the certificate once while Okada, Tanahashi and Tetsuya Naito have two each, but all of them failed to capture the IWGP Heavyweight title on Jan. 4. The last time the IWGP Heavyweight title changed hands at a Jan. 4 Tokyo Dome show was at Wrestle Kingdom V when Tanahashi defeated Satoshi Kojima to win the belt.

On one hand, history may be on Tanahashi’s side, yet he is also one of the company’s most decorated stars. NJPW could very well have Tanahashi brake the streak and take home his eighth IWGP Heavyweight title.  

There were other developments from the G1 Finals such as the Guerillas of Destiny and recent Bullet Club member Taiji Ishimori defeating the Young Bucks and Marty Scurll for the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team titles. The Tonga Brothers and Ishimori comprise the stable’s OG or Bullet Club Elite subfaction.

In other Bullet Club news, Cody challenged Juice Robinson for the IWGP United States title.

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Tetsuya Naito Posts Video Aimed at Chris Jericho

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With Chris Jericho set to defend his IWGP Intercontinental Championship against Tetsuya Naito at Wrestle Kingdom 13, the trash talk has started.

Naito posted the following video, via New Japan Pro Wrestling’s official YouTube channel, where he mocks the future WWE Hall of Famer.

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WWE Reportedly Interested In KUSHIDA

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IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion KUSHIDA is reportedly drawing interest from WWE, according to a report from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

KUSHIDA, 35, has been the cornerstone of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s light heavyweight division and one of their most recognized stars, globally.

The report indicates that NXT is the destination if WWE were to lure KUSHIDA from New Japan.

With NXT globalizing, an NXT Japan seems like a natural progression for the brand and KUSHIDA could be in those potential plans moving forward.

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Kenny Omega Talks How Wrestling AJ Styles Made Him Continue Wrestling

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The Elite’s Kenny Omega, who is set to become one of the hottest free agents in professional wrestling over the next few months, recently appeared on Chris Jericho’s ‘Talk is Jericho’ podcast and talked about how he almost quit wrestling.

Then, Omega stepped into the ring with A.J. Styles.

“I found that my in-ring performance was suffering because you know there’s an aesthetic look you have to maintain in professional wrestling” Omega stated when describing his mindset back in 2006. “If I’m cutting 20 pounds for a tournament or a fight and then I have to go to the ring I’m going to look like I came out of a dryer and it just didn’t jive. So if I was going to concentrate on one, the other was going to suffer.”

Omega then described how he approached an upcoming match with Styles, the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

“[It was] after that AJ match when I thought, ‘Oh my goodness there’s this guy who’s so much better than me but we have this chemistry together.’ It kind of showed me my true potential and maybe something that I could grasp and something I could achieve that I hadn’t seen yet.”

“It really made me look in the mirror and say to myself: ‘Jeez, even when I do these all-time jiu-jitsu tournaments I’m always going for a finish, I’m always trying to have that exciting match when really you should just be concentrating on getting that gold medal or whatever. So I found that I was actually and entertainer, I was a performer. So I was going to give this wrestling thing one more shot.”

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