Watch Jon Moxley, Shingo Takagi, And A Debuting KENTA Declare For NJPW’s G1 Climax Tournament


New Japan Pro Wrestling‘s June 9 Dominion show was stacked with championship matches, including Chris Jericho vs. Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and Will Ospreay vs. Dragon Lee for the Junior Heavyweight Championship. The event also featured some big developments outside of the title fights that will change up that will add new blood to this year’s upcoming G1 Climax tournament in the form of Jon Moxley (fka Dean Ambrose), KENTA (fka Hideo Itami), and possibly Shingo Takagi.

Moxley, who won the IWGP United States Championship on his first night in New Japan, opened Dominion with a singles match against standout dojo trainee Shota Umino. After defeating Umino, Moxley grabbed a microphone and declared that, “Jon Moxley, international purveyor of violence, gentleman, and all-around sick son of a bitch – Jon Moxley wants in the G1,” to a positive crowd reaction.

Coming off his loss of the Best of the Super Juniors final match and the end of his eight-month undefeated streak, Shingo Takagi had reiterated his desire not to be constrained to one weight class and asked for a match against a heavyweight at Dominion. On June 9 in Osaka, he went up against Satoshi Kojima and won. After the match, he also said he wants to be in the G1 to continue to (as translated by Chris Carlton on English-language commentary) “make waves against heavyweights,” and show that junior heavyweights and heavyweights are each strong in their own way.

By far the most surprising G1 announcement of the night, though, was that of KENTA. Katsuyori Shibata, the current head trainer at NJPW’s LA Dojo who has been out of action since sustaining a serious injury in 2017 and is rarely seen on NJPW programming these days, entered the arena. He dramatically pointed to the entrance way and out came KENTA, who the crowd was clearly shocked to see. Shibata introduced KENTA as his best friend. KENTA then introduced himself to NJPW fans, thanked Shibata for the opportunity, and announced he will be in the G1 Climax.

KENTA had only worked for NJPW before as a representative of his longtime home promotion, Pro Wrestling NOAH. His decision to return to the Japanese wrestling scene after the end of his time as WWE’s Hideo Itami to work for New Japan rather than NOAH disappointed some fans. The timing of it was also criticized by NOAH’s Naomichi Marufuji, who took issue with the fact that the announcement of Kenta’s move to New Japan happened on the same day as a memorial show marking the ten-year anniversary of the death of NOAH-founder Mitsuharu Misawa.

Moxley, Kenta, and most likely Takagi will fill openings in the G1 made by the departures of Michael Elgin, Kenny Omega, and Hangman Page. With Tama Tonga having publicly asked to not be in the tournament and having taken U.S. indie bookings during that time, there’s likely to be at least one more wrestler in G1 Climax 29 who wasn’t in G1 Climax 28.

Taichi, Jeff Cobb, and Will Ospreay — three men who have held the NEVER Openweight Championship this year — are all possibilities, with Cobb already announced for the G1 show in Dallas, though not for the tournament as a whole.