POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: Final look at the G1 Climax

Photo Courtesy: NJPW

POST IT NOTES

**Rewind-A-SmackDown is LIVE tonight at 11:15 p.m. ET for all members of the POST Wrestling Café. Wai Ting and I will review Friday Night SmackDown and AEW Rampage and open the phone lines for the remainder of the show.

**We have a POST Show covering both WWE Crown Jewel and the G1 Climax Final from Budokan Hall, which was released on Thursday evening.

**John Siino will have coverage of tonight’s Bloodsport card as well as Bound for Glory on Saturday night. Siino will also be co-hosting the Bound for Glory POST Show alongside Davie Portman, which will be released Sunday.

**Eric Marcotte will be covering the UFC Fight Night and Bellator 269 cards on Saturday with reports for the site.

**Wai Ting and I will be releasing Rewind-A-Dynamite on Sunday night with a review of Saturday’s show and going through all the news from the weekend.

**This Saturday at 3 p.m. ET, I’ll be a guest on “Speak Now” with host Denise Salcedo that will be available on the Wrestling Observer website.

**I wanted to thank all of those that followed our G1 Climax coverage for another year. I am very proud of how much the coverage has grown and in addition to the podcasts with Wai Ting, we had two great writers in Mark Buckeldee and Bruce Lord with reports on each show throughout the tournament. Chris Engler was a massive help setting up the G1 Climax Contest and keeping the standings and points updated daily for us. I also want to thank Andrew Thompson for his additional work assisting with all the news as there is no way I could have completed all the G1 work without his help on the site. We thank all of you that hopped on board the POST Wrestling Café for the bonus shows throughout the tournament and stay tuned for some big announcements for Café members in the month of November.

THE CONCLUSION OF THE G1 CLIMAX

On Friday, New Japan Pro Wrestling issued an update on the status of Kota Ibushi confirming the performer sustained a separated shoulder that forced the G1 Climax Final with Kazuchika Okada to be called off. There is no timetable for Ibushi’s return with the immediate effect on the forthcoming tour that begins Sunday leading up to the Power Struggle card on 11/4 in Osaka. The storyline following Okada’s third G1 victory is that he has requested that instead of the G1 winner receiving a contract, that instead, it be treated as another championship and needs to beat Kota Ibushi.

Dave Meltzer reported in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that the original plan was for Ibushi to challenge Shingo Takagi at Power Struggle after putting up such a big fight against Okada in defeat, while also beating Takagi earlier in the tournament. At best, those plans are tenuous and will completely depend on the severity of the shoulder separation as it sounds extremely ambitious to expect Ibushi back in two weeks after the pain he exhibited and the way the match ended on Thursday. In their back pocket, is Zack Sabre Jr. who also beat Takagi in the G1, but they could have greater plans for ZSJ than simply the challenger for Osaka as a prelude to the big three shows in January that need big main events.

Based on Thursday’s card, it appears Kazuchika Okada vs. Tama Tonga for the G1 contract/championship and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. KENTA for the IWGP United States Championship are two clear directions. They have also set up the House of Torture (EVIL, SHO & Yujiro) as the next challengers for the NEVER Six-Man Tag Team Championship, although that could be used for a Korakuen Hall main event if not Osaka.

Over the 19 tournament shows, the G1 Climax drew 28,122 fans or 1,480 per show. The final night at Budokan Hall had an announced attendance of 3,861 and was the reality of a G1 that was hampered by several factors, but popularity was also down and it cannot simply be written off as the effects of COVID protocols.

The A Block shows averaged 1,537 and the B Block had 1,159 per show.

In a perfect world, New Japan should be in store for a major rebound of the G1 in 2022. The hope would be that the world is fully opened, and the promotion will have access to all its talent and an open door with AEW that could provide a few key additions to spice up its lineup. They also have the decision to make regarding whether the G1 remains a fall event for the third year in a row or reverts to the summer. Frankly, I don’t think it makes a large difference and while the attendance figures would scare some off running in the fall, the seasonal aspect wasn’t the key factor to attendance being down nor was WWE running WrestleMania in the city of Seattle the reason for a terrible pay-per-view number in 2003.

In terms of a G1 MVP, my vote was for Zack Sabre Jr., who appeared in four of my top ten matches of the tournament with Shingo Takagi, KENTA, Tomohiro Ishii, and Tetsuya Naito with his match against Kota Ibushi just outside of my top ten. He elevated his standing in a major way through his matches, his promos, and was then involved in one of the year’s best moments with Katsuyori Shibata on Thursday.

While his performances didn’t receive routine praise, I still felt Kazuchika Okada had an excellent G1 with his matches against Jeff Cobb, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and SANADA all finishing among my top ten and was on his way to having a fourth with Ibushi until the finish.

The match of the tournament for me came on the first night between Takagi and Ishii as they set the bar at a height I never felt was reached, although Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi came close on the second night as the G1 started off with two incredible matches. Here is my list of the top ten matches:

1) Shingo Takagi vs. Tomohiro Ishii (Day 1, Sept. 18 in Osaka)
2) Kota Ibushi vs. Shingo Takagi (Day 9, Oct. 3 in Nagoya)
3) Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (Day 2, Sept. 19 in Osaka)
4) Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Shingo Takagi (Day 3, Sept. 23 at Ota Ward Gymnasium)
5) Kazuchika Okada vs. Jeff Cobb (Day 18, Oct. 20 at Budokan Hall)
6) Kazuchika Okada vs. SANADA (Day 10, Oct. 4 at Korakuen Hall)
7) KENTA vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (Day 13, Oct. 9 in Osaka)
8) Tomohiro Ishii vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (Day 9, Oct. 3 in Nagoya)
9) Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tetsuya Naito (Day 1, Sept. 18 in Osaka)
10) Kota Ibushi vs. Tomohiro Ishii (Day 3, Sept. 23 at Ota Ward Gymnasium)

WRESTLING NEWS

**There will be some exhausted individuals on tonight’s edition of Friday Night SmackDown with several of the performers from Crown Jewel making the trek from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to Wichita, Kansas for tonight’s show including Roman Reigns. There was nothing announced ahead of time for tonight’s show beyond the draft moves going into effect beginning tonight. The most interesting part of tonight’s show will be an announcement regarding next week’s episode when SmackDown runs on FS1 again and if they opt to go head-to-head with Rampage in any form. Currently, the FS1 schedule is listing a one-hour edition of Talking Smack from 10-11 p.m. ET next Friday.

**AEW Rampage is a taped edition from last Saturday’s show in Miami, Florida at the James L. Knight Center. The match everyone is raving about is the rematch between Andrade El Idolo and PAC, which I was told from someone at the building was an incredible match. Below are the matches set to air tonight at 10 p.m. ET on TNT and TSN Direct in Canada:
*PAC vs. Andrade El Idolo
*Dr. Britt Baker vs. Anna Jay
*World Title Eliminator Tournament: Orange Cassidy vs. Powerhouse Hobbs

**AEW has a very busy weekend as they will return for a live Dynamite on Saturday night from the Addition Financial Arena in Orlando, Florida. As well, they are holding AEW Dark tapings on Sunday at Universal Studios with one session at 1 p.m. and another at 5:30 p.m. The promotion turns around and will run a live Dynamite this Wednesday from Boston as they return to their regular night of the week. Below are the matches listed for Saturday night’s show in Orlando airing at 8 p.m. ET on TNT and TSN 2 in Canada:
*World Title Eliminator Tournament: Bryan Danielson vs. Dustin Rhodes
* World Title Eliminator Tournament: Eddie Kingston vs. Lance Archer
*Malakai Black vs. Cody Rhodes

**The unexpected return of Katsuyori Shibata to a New Japan ring on Thursday’s G1 Climax Final was one of the feel-good moments of the year.

The 41-year old had not had a match since April 9, 2017, when a brutal skull-on-skill headbutt ended his career as Shibata underwent brain surgery where the outcome could have been far worse. Since then, he has become arguably the top trainer in the industry at the company’s L.A. Dojo that has spawned numerous talents with tremendous fundamentals and the ability to excel immediately.

There have been teases by Shibata keeping the door open to a potential return with the strongest occurring in 2019 and an angle with KENTA that was far more physical than one could have envisioned and were left with the belief that he had to be doing a match with KENTA.

Clearly, New Japan was confident enough to allow him to do the five-minute exhibition with Zack Sabre Jr. where head trauma and high risk are severely reduced in a controlled environment. Naturally, fans are going to want to see him have a proper match and his post-match promo indicated those are his intentions, but is New Japan comfortable enough taking that step?

It cannot be stressed how significant the head injury was that he sustained and yet, skull-on-skull head butts and unprotected chair shots still occur in New Japan, which is egregious when you consider the risk and reward being so unbalanced.

While the limitations placed on Shibata made for a unique exhibition, the promotion has stumbled on a compromise that could work very effectively in Shibata taking these types of exhibitions and having his unique portion of the card that exhibits that element. There is no shortage of wrestlers that can perform the style at a high level and there would be a long line forming for the chance to work with Shibata under those parameters.

**On a similar note, Game Changer Wrestling presents Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport 7 tonight from the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The concept show that originated in 2018 with Matt Riddle’s name on the marquee has grown into one of the standout shows of the year for GCW. GCW is running back-to-back nights at the venue with ‘War Ready’ taking place on Saturday. Minoru Suzuki is working both nights with his rematch against Chris Dickinson from last weekend’s NJPW Strong tapings, and then, against Nick Gage on Saturday. The card will be streaming at 11 p.m. ET on Fite TV with Lenny Leonard and Rocky Romero on commentary. Below is the card:
*Minoru Suzuki vs. Chris Dickinson
*Josh Barnett vs. Tiger Ruas (the former Arturo Ruas in NXT)
*Tom Lawlor vs. Alex Coughlin
*Erik Hammer vs. Bad Dude Tito
*Calvin Tankman vs. JR Kratos
*Royce Isaacs vs. Clark Connors
*Davey Richards vs. Yuya Uemura
*Yoya vs. Starboy Charlie
*Zeda Zhang vs. KZT
*Marina Shafir vs. Masha Slamovich

**IMPACT Wrestling will hold its biggest show of the year on Saturday night with Bound for Glory. The go-home episode was very strong involving the segments with Christian Cage and Josh Alexander.

Early in the show, they had a lengthy video feature on Alexander containing early independent footage from his career and his struggles growing up overweight without a lot of money and finding pro wrestling as his chosen outlet. This was a remarkable piece that not only showcased Alexander but put over the X Division Championship more than it’s been emphasized in a long time as Alexander recalled watching the NWA TNA pay-per-views and his friends always excited for the X Division title match because it would be the best match on the show.

The final segment on IMPACT was an in-ring promo by Alexander where he was confronted by Cage and they had a fantastic exchange before a pull-apart brawl. This promotion of the match has been great, and Alexander feels like the first true star that this regime of IMPACT has built, and the timing seems right to put the championship on him with a big win against Cage.

**Below are the matches listed for tonight’s edition of 205 Live at 10 p.m. ET on the WWE Network:
*Xyon Quinn vs. Jeet Rama
*Amari Miller & Valentina Feroz vs. Katrina Cortez & Yulisa Leon (Ulises Cantu Gutierrez making her debut)
*Duke Hudson vs. Malik Blade

**The Chris Jericho Rock ‘N Rager at Sea cruise began on Thursday as they will be sailing throughout the weekend meaning several AEW talents won’t be available for Saturday’s show in Orlando. Besides Jericho, other AEW talent and personnel on the cruise include Frankie Kazarian, Christopher Daniels, Colt Cabana, Brian Cage, Anna Jay, Abadon, Ricky Starks, Chaos Project, Powerhouse Hobbs, Orange Cassidy, Peter Avalon, Cesar Bononi, Matt Sydal, Marko Stunt, Dasha Gonzalez, JD Drake, Jamie Hayter, Isiah Kassidy, Wheeler Yuta, Sonny Kiss, Kris Statlander, Angelico, Chuck Taylor, The Gunn Club, Aubrey Edwards, Ryan Nemeth, Rebel, Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, Dean Malenko, and Dr. Britt Baker.

**On the first night of the Jericho cruise, it was announced that the next one will take place March 14-18, 2022, and will be billed as “Four Leaf Clover” sailing from Miami to the Bahamas. They have announced that there will be three Fozzy shows, wrestling from AEW, and several Talk is Jericho recordings among next year’s lineup with the pre-sale already open.

**Those attending next Wednesday’s episode of Dynamite at the Agganis Arena in Boston will need to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID test conducted within 72 hours of the show. This applies to those aged 12 and over attending the event.

**Brandi Rhodes spoke with SELF about the birth of their child Liberty (who she noted was named after Liberty Square at Disney’s Magic Kingdom) and her battles with postpartum anxiety after the birth.

**DEFY Wrestling has announced that Jeff Cobb will face Jacob Fatu on Friday, October 29th at Washington Hall in Seattle. It will be Cobb’s first match after the G1 Climax, where he went 8-1 and lost the block to Kazuchika Okada.

**Beyond Wrestling has booked Ruby Soho for her first independent date since leaving WWE. The promotion will welcome Soho on their card set for Providence, Rhode Island on Saturday, December 5th. Beyond has not listed an opponent yet for Soho. Tickets for the event go on sale Friday, November 5th.

**NJPW is back immediately with the start of the Road to Power Struggle tour beginning Sunday with three consecutive nights at Korakuen Hall. They have not released any lineups for the tour yet.

**Renee Paquette was interviewed by Ariel Helwani on his YouTube channel and shared Chapter 5,193 on Vince McMahon “the producer” and losing it when Renee referred to Tyson Fury as “The Gypsy King” (his actual nickname) rather than “The Lineal Heavyweight Championship”. Thankfully, WWE recovered from this blunder:

**Kenny Omega and Adam Cole took some time out to send their best wishes to 8-year old Skye, who is battling cancer and we want to send her our best as well:

MMA NEWS

**The career of Fedor Emelianenko continues Saturday with Bellator 269 taking place from the VTB Arena in Moscow, Russia, and airing Saturday afternoon on Showtime in the U.S.

The 45-year old, who is regarded by some as the greatest heavyweight of all time (although that naturally opens a lot of debate as any cross-generational comparisons will) has not been fighting at an elite level for the past decade.

However, his win-loss record has hardly been embarrassing, and did get legitimate wins against Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen in fights that show the matchmaking strategy of Scott Coker and how best to utilize Fedor in the modern era. This is why the decision to put Timothy Johnson against Fedor is puzzling. Johnson is a more than capable heavyweight and should be favored to win this fight, so it’s not a function of giving Fedor a safe opponent in his home country.

On the flip side, no one sees Johnson as a world-beater or someone that at 36 years of age is going to go much further than his current position. If you’re in the business of making fights for Fedor in 2021 they should have some marquee value and this one seems like a tough opponent with a small name in Johnson that has minimal upside.

If Fedor wins, it probably extends his career by at least one more fight, but a loss will circle discussions back to the reality that it’s a young person’s sport and even at heavyweight, there is a time to call it a career.

Below are the main card fights airing at 3 p.m. ET on Showtime:
*Fedor Emelianenko vs. Timothy Johnson
*Vitaly Minakov vs. Said Sowma
*Usman Nurmagomedov vs. Patrik Pietila
*Anatoly Tokov vs. Sharaf Davlatmurodov

**The main event for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card has been nothing short of a circus this week based on Paulo Costa’s inability to make the contracted weight of 185 pounds for his middleweight fight with Marvin Vettori.

On Wednesday, Costa announced he was 211 pounds and it led to the change that the two would meet at 195-pounds with Costa allowed a reprieve from an arduous and dangerous weight cut to make the 186-pound limit while forfeiting 20 percent of his purse. On Thursday, Sherdog reported through Costa’s manager Wallid Ismail that the fight will now be contested at 205 pounds, which was confirmed by UFC executive Hunter Campbell to Yahoo! Sports.

This is the second time over the past month we’ve had a situation where one fight has requested a higher weight limit with the other opponent holding minimal leverage to turn it down. Last month, the scheduled welterweight fight between Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler was changed to middleweight at the request of Diaz at the start of the fight week with Lawler agreeing to the change.

It’s one thing if both fighters are making the request but when one fighter is given the option of moving up a weight class or losing out on the fight and therefore, being paid, it’s so unfair to the fighter that built his camp around making a certain weight and having that thrown out the window and having to adjust.

Both main event fighters made weight on Friday for the new light heavyweight contest. Below is the full card and weigh-in results:

MAIN CARD (4 p.m. ET on ESPN+)
*Paulo Costa (204.5) vs. Marvin Vettori (204)
*Ricky Glenn (155.5) vs. Grant Dawson (156)
*Jessica Rose-Clark (135.5) vs. Joselyne Edwards (134.5)
*Alex Caceres (146) vs. Seungwoo Choi (145.5)
*Dwight Grant (170) vs. Francisco Trinaldo (169.5)
*Nicolae Negumereanu (204.5) vs. Ike Villanueva (205)

PRELIMINARY CARD (1 p.m. on ESPN+)
*Gregory Rodrigues (185.5) vs. Jun Yong Park (185.5)
*Mason Jones (156) vs. David Onama (153.5)
*Tabatha Ricci (115) vs. Maria Oliveira (115)
*Jamie Pickett (184.5) vs. Laureano Starpoli (185.5)
*Khama Worthy (155) vs. Jai Herbert (155)
*Daniel da Silva (125) vs. Jeff Molina (125)
*Livinha Souza (115) vs. Randa Markos (115)
*Zviad Lazishvili (135) vs. Jonathan Martinez (135)

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About John Pollock 5608 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.