By Joseph Currier for F4WOnline.com (updated on July 3rd)
The return of an ace and the debut of several key talents were the most notable takeaways from Monday morning’s announcement of the participants in New Japan Pro Wrestling’s 26th annual G1 Climax tournament, made during the promotion’s Kizuna Road show.
Hiroshi Tanahashi will make his return to the NJPW ring after a shoulder injury had kept him sidelined since May 21st. Tanahashi was written off in an angle with Kenny Omega and hoped that rest would allow his shoulder to heal in time for Dominion’s IWGP intercontinental championship ladder match. But after being replaced by Michael Elgin in that match, it became unclear whether he would be able to participate in this year’s tournament.
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After the losses of Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles, Kota Ibushi, Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows from NJPW, the rest of the field is full of fresh faces along with a veteran in Hiroyoshi Tenzan who is returning for his 21st tournament.
Kenny Omega headlines the six participants making their first G1 appearance in this year’s tournament. He is joined by Tama Tonga, Yoshi-Hashi, Seiya Sanada, Evil, and Pro Wrestling NOAH’s Katsuhiko Nakajima. Nakajima and NOAH stalwart Naomichi Marufuji are the only outsiders among the field.
– A Block: Togi Makabe, Tenzan, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, Seiya Sanada, Naomichi Marufuji, Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi
– B Block: Katsuyori Shibata, Yuji Nagata, Tomoaki Honma, Michael Elgin, Toru Yano, Tetsuya Naito, Evil, Kenny Omega, Yoshi-Hashi, Katsuhiko Nakajima
Here’s some of the key matches to watch per our NJPW reporter Bryan Rose:
7/18: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Sanada, Okada vs. Marufuji
7/22: Nagata vs. Naito, Shibata vs. Honma
7/23: Tanahashi vs. Makabe, Okada vs. Sanada
7/24: Nakajima vs. Shibata, Honma vs. Yoshi-Hashi
7/25: Makabe vs. Sanada, Okada vs. Goto
7/27: Yano vs. Naito, Shibata vs. Elgin
7/28: Ishii vs. Marufuji, Goto vs. Sanada
7/30: Omega vs. Elgin, Shibata vs. Naito
7/31: Makabe vs. Marufuji, Tanahashi vs. Goto
8/1: Yoshi Hashi vs. Nakajima, Honma vs. Naito
8/3: Tanahashi vs. Ishii, Makabe vs. Okada
8/4: Nakajima vs. Naito, Shibata vs. Omega
8/6: Tanahashi vs. Marufuji, Okada vs. Ishii
8/7: Omega vs. Nagata, Naito vs. Evil
8/8: Ishii vs. Sanada, Tanahashi vs. Tenzan
8/10: Honma vs. Elgin, Shibata vs. Nagata
8/12: Goto vs. Marufuji, Tanahashi vs. Okada
8/13: Shibata vs. Evil, Naito vs. Omega