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SLAM! Wrestling: New Japan Pro Wrestling's G1 Climax
New Japan Pro Wrestling presents
G1 CLIMAX 2000

Starts: August 7, 2000 - Prefectural Gym, Osaka
Finals: August 13th, 2000 - Sumo Hall, Tokyo


As part of SLAM! Wrestling's growing commitment to provide in-depth coverage of international wrestling, we are proud to present a full preview of New Japan Pro Wrestling's G1 Climax 2000 tournament. The ultimate showcase for the best heavyweights in Japan and boasting a list of previous competitors such as Ric Flair, Steve Austin, Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Vader and Barry Windham, the annual tournament has a tremendous legacy of providing the best wrestling action in the world. Four 5-man divisions will compete in a round robin format, (two points for a win, one for a draw) with the winner of each division advancing to the semi-finals. Fans unfamiliar with this special event should check out our story on its history. In handicapping this year's event, we've focused on the top eight wrestlers in the tournament, examining what their chances are. And because this is such a special event, we've assembled a very special panel of international wrestling experts: SLAM!'s own John Molinaro and Live Audio Wrestling's Jeff Marek and Dan "The Mouth" Lovranski.

A LOOK AT THE FIELD -- BLOCK A


Yuji Nagata

Rising star of New Japan
Best Moves: Northern Lights Suplex, lethal stiff kicks
Tournament Experience: 1 appearance
Best Tournament Finish: Semi-finalist ('99).

Jushin "Thunder" Liger

Junior Heavyweight legend
Best Moves: Running Liger Bomb, Palm Blows
Tournament Experience: None.
Best Tournament Finish: This will be his first G1.


Tatsumi Fujinami, Takashi Iizuka, Tatsutoshi Goto round out BLOCK A


A LOOK AT THE FIELD -- BLOCK B


Kensuke Sasaki

IWGP Heavyweight Champion
Best Moves: Northern Lights Bomb, German suplex
Tournament Experience: 7 appearances
Best Tournament Finish: Winner ('97), Finalist ('94), Semi-finalist ('92)

Satoshi Kojima

Future of the promotion
Best Moves: Running lariat, Diamond-cutter
Tournament Experience: 4 appearances
Best Tournament Finish: Semi-finalist ('98).


Brian Johnston, Osamu Kidoh and Hiro Saito round out BLOCK B


A LOOK AT THE FIELD -- BLOCK C


Manabu Nakanishi

Last year's G1 Winner
Best Moves: Torture rack, spear
Tournament Experience: 3 appearances
Best Tournament Finish: Winner ('99).

Hiroyoshi Tenzan

Under-rated Heavyweight star
Best Moves: Diving head-butt
Tournament Experience: 5 appearances
Best Tournament Finish: Finalist ('97).


Osamu Nishimura, Kenzo Suzuki and Tadao Yasuda round out BLOCK C


A LOOK AT THE FIELD - BLOCK D


Masa Chono

Mr. August
Best Moves: STF, Yakuza kicks
Tournament Experience: 9 appearances
Best Tournament Finish: Winner ('91, '92 & '94), Finalist ('96), Semi-finalist ('93, '95 & '98).

Tatsuhito Takaiwa

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champ
Best Moves: Death-Valley Driver, Triple Power Bomb
Tournament Experience: None.
Best Tournament Finish: This will be his first G1.


Shiro Koshinaka, Yutaka Yoshie and Junji Hirata round out BLOCK D

G1 CLIMAX PREDICTIONS - BLOCK WINNERS

Full Tournament Schedule

  John Molinaro Jeff Marek Dan "The Mouth" Lovranski
BLOCK A WINNER Yuji Nagata Yuji Nagata Takashi Iizuka
BLOCK B WINNER Satoshi Kojima Kensuke Sasaki Satoshi Kojima
BLOCK C WINNER Manabu Nakanishi Hiroyoshi Tenzan Manabu Nakanishi
BLOCK D WINNER Masa Chono Masa Chono Tatsuhito Takaiwa


What the experts say

  • John Molinaro: Block A appears to be the strongest with Nagata, Liger and Iizuka. I'm interested in seeing how New Japan will book Liger and Takaiwa (the only two junior heavyweights in the tournament). I think they'll use IWGP Champ Kensuke Sasaki to put over Kojima, having him win the block. The loss won't hurt Sasaki and will help build towards a future program between the two. Block C is the toughest to call. Will they put over last year's winner Nakanishi? Will they go with the perennial mid-carder Tenzan? Or will they go out on limb and elevate Kenzo Suzuki? Block D is a no-brainer: Masa Chono. This is his tournament, even as banged up as he is, and there's no way he'll lose the block.

  • Jeff Marek: I really like the Block A for competition and match quality. It will be interesting to see how the company handles former IWGP Jr. Champion Jushin Liger (considering he now claims that he will compete full time as a heavyweight). And to compliment that point, it will be interesting to see if Takaiwa gets anything at all in the tournament since New Japan's philosophy has been to destroy the Jrs. who try to get involved in the heavyweight mix. Last year New Japan went into the tournament with the desire to try and elevate someone and create a new star since guys like Muto and Chono are getting too banged up which is the right idea and this is what tournaments like this are supposed to do but they made the wrong decision going with Manabu Nakanishi. I think this year they'll try the same thing but with a different wrestler (either Tenzan, Nagata or Kojima).

  • Dan "The Mouth" Lovranski: In Block A, you have three of the best workers in the promotion in Yuji Nagata, Takashi Iizuka and Jushin Liger. I think it's too early for Liger to win it but I could definitely see a final involving Yuji Nagata taking on Takashi Iizuka. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict Iizuka winning the block. In Block B, there really seems to be only two choices for a final-Kensuke Sasaki taking on Satoshi Kojima. I predict Kojima going over because it would make him a strong contender for Sasaki's IWGP title and Sasaki can take the loss because it's in a tournament rather than a title defence. Kojima is more than ready to run with the ball as he is an excellent worker. In Block C, I figure that it will be Manabu Nakanashi taking on Hiroyoshi Tenzan since they are the two most high profile guys in the block, with Nakanashi getting the win. Block D reeks of a Masa Chono final with Tatsuhito Takaiwa, since it would really put over Takaiwa as a big player. He just won the IWGP Jr title and a victory over Chono would really elevate him to the next level. I pick Takaiwa to win this block.


    G1 CLIMAX PREDICTIONS - FINALS

      John Molinaro Jeff Marek Dan "The Mouth" Lovranski
    SEMI-FINAL A WINNER Kojima over Nagata Nagata over Sasaki Kojima over Iizuka
    SEMI-FINAL B WINNER Chono over Nakanishi Chono over Tenzan Nakanishi over Takaiwa
    G1 FINAL WINNER Kojima over Chono Nagata over Chono Kojima over Nakanishi


    What the experts say

  • John Molinaro: This tournament is usually, but not always, about elevating somebody to the next level. The G1 has helped to create mid-card guys in the past like Keiji Mutoh, Masa Chono and Shinya Hashimoto into the company's top stars. Last year's choice for elevation, Nakanishi, has been a miserable failure. There's no way New Japan will make a bad choice two years in a row. Kojima will win his block and face Nagata in one semi-final. Nagata is one year away from a major push, which is why I say Kojima goes over. Nagata will still be semi-elevated by a strong showing in the semi-final before putting Kojima over. And to really elevate Kojima he needs to score a win in the finals over an established star. And who better than Chono? True, he's banged up. But he is still the one star so closely identified with this tournament that a loss to Kojima would be a symbolic passing of the torch and would help elevate him to the next level of New Japan's hierarchy. Of course, all of this goes out the window should New Japan decide to throw Shinya Hashimoto into the G1 at the last minute. If so, look for Hashimoto to totally dominate and win the G1, setting himself up for a major comeback in the second half of this year, the continuation of his feud with Naoya Ogawa and another run as IWGP Heavyweight champion.

  • Jeff Marek: The big question mark is whether Shinya Hashimoto will be involved in the event (the company is running an angle where Tatsumi Fujinami is instructing Hashimoto to return and take part in the G1). If he does come back, I see him winning the entire thing to help rebuild him after taking the beatings he did from Naoya Ogawa for the last year and a half and establish him as a threat to IWGP champion Kensuke Sasaki. If not, it'll be Nagata over Chono in the finals. Like last year (when Nakanishi beat Muto) I see the company putting the younger guy over the established star to get the rub and cement the reputation. If the way I see the tournament is correct Nagata will have defeated the IWGP champion and arguably the company's number one star. The question with Chono going to the final is, obviously, match quality, which (unless Nagata performs a miracle) will be poor.

  • Dan "The Mouth" Lovranski: The finals for Block A and Block B have the potential to be one of the hottest matches of the year with Kojima taking on Iizuka. It's so hard to pick a winner, as both Iizuka and Kojima have worked so hard and paid their dues. Kojima really deserves it and you definitely could have an Iizuka/Kojima feud that would bring in some big money. And knowing the New Japan style and their love of the slow burn, I see Kojima winning this semi final. In the Block C and D final, I see Nakanashi going over Tatsuhito Takaiwa, even though Takaiwa is the IWGP Jr champ. Nakanashi could win this block and seeing Takaiwa do the job here could some extra fire to his character and storyline. I pick Nakanashi to win here. In the finals, we have Nakanashi taking on Kojima, which should be good match. Kojima will emerge as the champion of this year's G1 Climax Tournament.

    More on the G1 Climax:

    History of the G1 Climax
    SLAM! International Wrestling




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