G1 Climax Night 16 at a glance 【G129】

The G1 Climax arrives in Yokohama for night 16 of action. As is tradition, in memory of a famous Tatsumi Fujinami and Antonio Inoki draw in the building, August 8 sees matches from Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium.

Tomohiro Ishii (4-3) vs Shingo Takagi (2-5)

First singles meeting.

KEYS TO GLORY: Shingo Takagi has been eliminated from the tournament. Ishii must win or draw to stand any chance.

Yokohama’s main event sees a first time meeting between two aggressive bulls that many have had circled on their calendars for weeks now. 

Ishii and Takagi may be going into their first singles match together, but have a lot in common, beyond their straightforward, hard hitting styles in ring. Both entered New Japan after some years in other promotions as junior heavyweights, and in their pre-NJPW careers, both had significant influence from past legends. 

Tomohiro Ishii got his start in pro wrestling under Genichiro Tenryu in WAR. With his diminutive stature combined with a lack of weight at the time, he was actually fired at one point before using his exclusion from the group as motivation in his career going forward. Ishii would learn a lot from Tenryu, as well as Riki Choshu, who took Ishii under his wing during his time in W-J, Ishii eventually following Choshu to New Japan when he returned to the promotion in 2005. 

Takagi’s link to Choshu may not be direct, but it is undoubtedly present. Shingo’s initial training in amateur great Animal Hamaguchi’s gym is well documented, and Hamaguchi’s ties to Choshu were very much concrete. In the mid 1980s, the two would run wild in NJPW in the trailblazing Ishingun stable. Takagi would also learn much from Tenryu while the legend had a role in Dragon Gate, making The Dragon a modern wrestler with an old soul. 

Expect to see an 80’s style ‘Showa spirit’, with all the passion and outright violence that implies, in Yokohama on August 8!

Juice Robinson (3-4) vs Jay White (4-3)

Overall singles record: 2-0 Robinson.

First G1 meeting.

KEYS TO GLORY: White has a key win over Moxley, but potentially damaging losses to Ishii and Goto. He must stay within two points of Moxley. Robinson needs to beat White and Moxley and have Moxley lose to Goto to stand a chance.  

Emerging from a slow 0-3 start to now have a positive record, Jay White is on the hottest of streaks, with the added momentum boost of becoming the first to pin Jon Moxley in NJPW. Before his match with Moxley, White promised to ‘expose’ the American star, and while he will argue that’s exactly what he did, Gedo’s involvement (along with a set of brass knux) definitely played its part. 

White may want to exercise caution when it comes to keeping up the theme of ‘exposing’ top talents and showing that they can’t get the job done opposite him. After all, this is his third meeting with Juice Robinson, and he’s lost both their prior matches. 

In 2015, both were forming what seemed like a solid friendship when they had a friendly, competitive match in Tochigi. Both were training together in the New Japan Dojo, and Juice’s win seemed to open the door for a positive, friendly rivalry later in their careers.

When White returned from his US excursion in 2017 however, he was a changed man, and rather than his ‘Dojo Boy’ running buddy, it was the surly and sinister Switchblade that Juice would wrestle in San Francisco’s Cow Palace last July for the IWGP United States Championship.

White would punish Juice’s injured hand, an injury he himself had caused on the prior tour. A roll-up counter to Bladerunner would give Robinson his first championship win, however, and made White’s claim of superiority over Juice hard to back up.

Despite a loss and regaining of the US title from Cody, Robinson would  have a close association with the title for close to a year before he lost the belt to Jon Moxley. Ever since, Robinson has been largely silent, resolute and much more aggressive in the ring, as he seeks to get his revenge on Mox. White has done what Juice couldn’t do: is Robinson focused on keeping his G1 chances alive, or is he looking past the Switchblade to the Budokan and Moxley on three days later? That may be the key to this match.


Hirooki Goto (4-3) vs Jon Moxley (5-2)

First singles meeting.

KEYS TO GLORY: Moxley leads the group. Goto has key wins over White and Ishii, with a potentially damaging loss to Robinson. Goto must win to stand a chance.

Much like Jay White, who he beat on the opening night of B block, Hirooki Goto has also emerged from a difficult three match losing streak to be at 4-3. While concern and disappointment loomed over Goto  at the midway point of the tournament, he has effectively bounced back, evoking memories of G1 26, where he recovered from a three match losing streak to reach the finals. 

Can Goto maintain his current focus to defeat Moxley? How is Moxley faring mentally after being counted out against Yano and dropping his first pinfall to White? All will become clear in Yokohama. 

Jeff Cobb (3-4) vs Tetsuya Naito (4-3)

First singles meeting.

KEYS TO GLORY: Cobb has an outside chance at the final. He must win this match, with Moxley losing, to stand a chance. 

Naito has key wins over Ishii and Goto, and a damaging loss against Moxley. He must stay within two points of the lead to stand a chance. 

Naito spoke before the G1 about his excitement to face Jeff Cobb for the first time in singles competition. His combination of speed and power appealed to El Ingobernable, a style Naito said was reminiscent of Michael Elgin’s. ‘I can probably have a similar kind of match with Cobb,’ Naito mused, a set of circumstances that would work well for him; across their five meetings, Elgin never beat Naito. 

Cobb must set himself apart from his former World Tag League partner if he’s to have a chance against Naito, and to have a chance at staying in alive in the tournament. 


Toru Yano (3-4) vs Taichi (3-4)

Overall singles record: 1-0 Yano

First G1 meeting.

KEYS TO GLORY: Both must win, with Moxley losing to stand a chance.

Yano’s three wins, against Naito, Jay White and Jon Moxley, couldn’t have come against better opponents. While he is effectively eliminated from proceedings at this point, even in the event of convoluted ties at the top of the block, he has doubtless lived up to the role of master spoiler in B block. His last spoiling act could be to eliminate Taichi from the G1 running.

Although the Holy Emperor’s chances aren’t particularly great either, he does have potentially significant wins himself, over Naito and Goto, with rival Ishii coming up at the Budokan. Maths aside, this could be a fascinating clash of two of NJPW’s sharpest, well, ‘tactical’ minds. Their one meeting came some five years ago, Yano picking up the victory on Taichi’s home TAKA/Taichi Produce turf in December 2014. Can Taichi exact revenge on Yano in Yokohama?