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    Tuesday, August 11, 2020

    #CafePuro: Why This Year's G1 Climax Should Stay In One Place

    After much speculation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it looks like this year's G1 Climax tournament is pushing through. Is it the right move though?

    Before I begin talking about the G1 Climax, congratulations YOSHI-HASHI! You finally did it! After several years of being the lovable loser and almost winning a title, you finally won the NEVER Six-Man belts with Ishii and Goto.

    Some people may say he's boring, but I beg to differ. YOSHI-HASHI's attitude of always getting back up and persisting got you here and now you are a champion. Anyways, let's move on to this year's G1 Climax.

    What is the G1 Climax?

    For those unfamiliar, the G1 Climax is a month-long round-robin tournament split into two blocks. The winners of those two blocks face each other to earn the right to face the IWGP Heavyweight Champion or Intercontinental Champion in the following Wrestle Kingdom event. Inspired by All Japan Pro-Wrestling's Champion Carnival in the spring, NJPW holds its annual tournament in the summer. Due to the now-postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, this year's G1 was moved to September instead of its usual July schedule.

    The Schedule

    The announcement of this year's G1 Climax was a surprise to me and many other fans. You see the number of COVID-19 cases in Japan is actually rising and the government isn't really doing that much to control the situation. Now that the numbers are going up when they should be falling, I'm worried that the G1 Climax will not push through as planned.

    Here's what the current schedule of the tournament looks like based on the NJPW English website:

    Saturday, September 18・Osaka・Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium (EDION Arena Osaka)

    Sunday, September 19・Osaka・Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium (EDION Arena Osaka)

    Wednesday, September 23・Hokkaido・Hokkai Kita Yell

    Thursday, September 24・Hokkaido・Hokkai Kita Yell

    Sunday, September 27・Hyogo・Kobe World Hall

    Tuesday, September 29・Tokyo・Korakuen Hall

    Wednesday, September 30・Tokyo・Korakuen Hall

    Thursday, October 1・Niigata・Aore Nagaoka

    Monday, October 5・Tagawa・Takamatsu City Gymnasium

    Tuesday, October 6・Hiroshima・Hiroshima Sun Plaza Hall

    Wednesday, October 7・Hiroshima・Hiroshima Sun Plaza Hall

    Thursday, October 8・Okayama・ZIP Arena Okayama

    Saturday, October 1o・Osaka・Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium (EDION Arena Osaka)

    Sunday, October 11・Aichi・Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium (Dolphins Arena)

    Tuesday, October 13・Shizuoka・Hamamatsu Arena

    Wednesday, October 14・Kanagawa・Yokohama Budokan

    Friday, October 16・Tokyo・Ryogoku Sumo Hall 

    Saturday, October 17・Tokyo・Ryogoku Sumo Hall 

    Sunday, October 18・Tokyo・Ryogoku Sumo Hall 

    Rising Cases

    As of this writing, the number of Japan's COVID cases is rising. NJPW talent aren't immune to possibly being exposed to the virus either. Hiroshi Tanahashi recently did a TV appearance where an actor on the show tested positive—luckily, Tanahashi's tests all came out negative. Prior to Tanahashi's scare, we also had a case where Tsuji Yota and Tomoaki Honma were removed from the Sengoku Lord event as a preventive measure because they made a TV appearance with a talent who tested positive as well. Running the G1 like normal this year wouldn't make sense if the talent are at risk of getting exposed to COVID while promoting the shows.

    Lack of Foreign Talent & Loopholes

    I haven't even mentioned the fact that many of the foreign talents can't enter Japan due to travel restrictions. It's just not realistic to hold the G1 like normal this year. The only foreign wrestler who has any realistic chance of returning to Japan is Jay White. 

    Many fans already mentioned that Jay lives in Florida, but there is a possible loophole he could use to get back to Japan in time for the Jingu Stadium show. Jay White can fly home to New Zealand and quarantine there. When he completes his quarantine in his home country, he can stay home for a while before flying to Japan and quarantine there before making his grand return on August 29.

    However, Jay White's return will mean that we only have two major foreign talents in Japan with White and ZSJ. The G1 Climax would still be missing a few key pieces. I truly believe the tournament won't feel the same. New Japan can still hold a full tournament with new faces like Master Wato and Douki in the G1, but I don't think that can compare to the likes of Jon Moxley and Jeff Cobb being there. 

    What's the plan?

    What if one of the wrestlers suddenly tested positive for COVID during the tournament? Will they continue with the event? I feel like NJPW should be cautious about going all over the country and exposing their talent. 

    If the company truly wants to continue the tournament, I think it's best to concentrate the tournament in one area for now and postpone the normal traveling format to next year. However, with the schedule already set, we will have to wait and see how New Japan will adjust the tournament in case the COVID cases continue to grow.

    What do you think of this year's G1 Climax announcement?  Share your thoughts below!

    Photo from NJPW

    *****

    Steven Maxwell Tan is a data encoder by day and podcaster by night for The Geeky Juans, a geek culture podcast that covers anime, cosplay, video games, wrestling and much more. You can find him ranting about the NHL or raving over comics on his Twitter account @steviesaidyup.

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    Item Reviewed: #CafePuro: Why This Year's G1 Climax Should Stay In One Place Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Steven Maxwell Tan
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