New Japan Pro Wrestling’s yearly G1 Climax is a godsend for those bored by Western pro wrestling’s idiosyncratic brand of over-wrought theatricality. Presented with both realism and coherent character development, NJPW has garnered a cult following amongst hardcore audiences seeking relief from the banality of WWE’s more plodding pacing. But as the infamous round-robin tournament enters its 29th year, many are finding it possible to keep up with the insurmountable amount of content produced by the prestigious federation.
The G1 Climax is a series of 90+ matches held over the course of several weeks. The brawlers are separated into an A Block and B Block, with every member of each block destined to fight each other for points until a champion on each side is chosen. Then, those two finalists face off for a title opportunity at Wrestle Kingdom, the brand’s version of Wrestlemania.
We’re deep in the doldrums of the G1 now and it’s becoming increasingly impossible to pay attention to every single bout. Only the most diehard enthusiasts have the attention span or energy to keep up—so we’ve curated a short selection of the most essential under-rated and can’t miss matches so far.