The biggest wrestling tournament in the world kicks off this weekend. 20 wrestlers competing in nine matches each to determine two block winners. Those two will then go head to head in what is often a match of the year candidate match to find out who will earn a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship on January 4 in the Tokyo Dome. That’s right, it is the G1 Climax 28!!
This year’s field is stacked from top to bottom with past, current, and future champions, from Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada to Zack Sabre Jr and Jay White. So as we stand on the cusp of the four-week tournament, which of these 20 should win the who thing? Why, Kota Ibushi of course.
The unique talent
Kota Ibushi is, for want of a better phrase, completely nuts. While he is one of the most athletically capable and gifted wrestlers in the world, he is also totally crazy. Moonsaulting off balconies and taking more neck bumps than is ever healthy is one thing, but has his time away from New Japan showed, he isn’t averse to having matches on building sites in Japan or shooting fireworks at his own chest before leaping off cars. For every great match the Golden Star has had in New Japan or WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic, he has had an equally weird one in DDTPro or some other obscure promotion.
All of this is to say that Ibushi is the most unique personality in wrestling today, while also being one of the most well-traveled and diverse performers in the industry. On sheer talent alone, I don't think there is a single more deserving winner in 2018 than Kota Ibushi.
The match the world wants to see
The winner of the G1 Climax receives a match for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 13 on January 4. The current champion just happens to be Kenny Omega, Ibushi's best friend.
The reunion of the Golden Lovers was on everyone's mind when Ibushi returned to New Japan this time last year, but New Japan didn't pull the trigger until early 2018, when Ibushi saved Omega from an assault by Cody. The two have since put on some sensational tag team matches and become the hottest commodity in wrestling. Since they had a brutal match with The Young Bucks, the match everyone has wanted to see in Ibushi Vs. Omega.
We will actually get that match in the final day of Block B when they go face to face in Budokan Hall, the sight of their one, ridiculously brilliant, singles match to date. I suspect that match will go to a friendly time limit draw, but what we really want to see is a bitter, hard-fought, title match between two of the best athletes and best storytellers in wrestling today. The whole world wants this match, and the best stage for it is clearly the Tokyo Dome main event. That is why Kota Ibushi should win the G1 Climax 28.