The Top 10 G1 Wrestlers Ever

Updated: Sep 19, 2021

It's that time of the year. Well, not quite. For the second consecutive year the G1 Climax will take place in September thanks to the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo which was supposed to take place in 2020 but was delayed a year to 2021 thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has seen many potential names that could have taken part end up be missing from the 31st edition of the G1 prompting many takes that this might be the weakest field in G1 history.

So instead of a preview of the tournament, I thought I would look back at the last 30 years of the G1 and rank the greatest competitors in the history of New Japan's annual heavyweight tournament.

I will be classifying the wrestlers by the various criteria in a kayfabe setting:

  • Overall Win-Loss record

  • Win-Loss record in the following four age groups (20's, 30-34, 35-39 and 40's) with competitors needing to wrestle more than one G1 in an age group to be classified in that particular age group.

  • Win-Loss record against major promotion world champions (IWGP, WWE, GHC in the 2000's and Triple Crown in the 90's) and former G1 winners

  • Victories over the IWGP Heavyweight Champion during their reign.

  • Time of victories and defeat

Also, I'm not including any records from the summer tournaments that were predecessors to the first tournament using the G1 name. The main reasons being that it's difficult to compare the criteria of matches involving IWGP Heavyweight Champions pre-1991 and post-1991 when the championship as a lineal trophy was started in 1987 and also, the thought of writing anything complementary to Antonio Inoki might force me to throw my laptop out of my office window and I spent enough money on my laptop that I really don't want to do that.

1- Masahiro Chono

There's a reason why they call him Mr. August. Masa's five G1 wins should be the obvious reason as to why the former leader of the NWO Japan faction is the greatest G1 wrestler of all time but his stats over the 16 appearances that he made in the G1 see Chono on his own island in G1 history.

With a 66% win-loss record only bettered by Keiji Mutoh (68%) and Kazuchika Okada (67%), Masa's W-L record spanning the four age groups puts him in the top seven in all four groups, the only wrestler to achieve this.

W-L 20's

W-L 30-34

W-L 35-39

W-L 40's

Masa Chono

10-1-1 83% (1st)

15-6 71% (2nd)

16-10-1 59% (8th)

13-8-1 59% (2nd)

Keiji Mutoh

5-2 71% (2nd)

12-7 63% (8th)

10-5 66% (4th)

Kazuchika Okada

37-16-3 66% (3rd)

19-7-1 70% (3rd)

Shinsuke Nakamura

26-13-3 61% (4th)

28-15 65% (5th)

Hiroshi Tanahashi

14-10-1 56% (5th)

19-14-3 52%

30-15-2 63% (8th)

22-14-1 59% (2nd)

Tetsuya Naito

19-7-1 52% (6th)

26-20 56% (10th)

25-12 67% (3rd)

Hiroyoshi Tenzan

11-10 52% (7th)

20-11-1 62% (8th)

11-12 47% (12th)

20-34 37%

Kensuke Sasaki

6-5-1 50% (8th)

15-4-1 75% (1st)

7-5-1 53% (10th)

Shinya Hashimoto

5-3-5 38%

12-9 57% (9th)