Tetsuya Naito out of G1 Climax 31

NJPW, Tetsuya Naito (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
NJPW, Tetsuya Naito (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /

The struggles of New Japan Pro Wrestling continue as NJPW have officially declared Tetsuya Naito out of the remainder of the ongoing G1 Climax 31 tournament with a damaged left meniscus and MCL.

The leader of Los Ingobranables de Japon saw his knee as the target of Zack Sabre Jr. during his defeat to the “Submission Master” on opening night in Osaka. Perhaps it is a work but Naito’s knees have always been problematic and his withdrawal from the G1 Climax means NJPW are without yet another major name for their biggest tournament of the year.

Jay White (Bullet Club), Will Ospreay (United Empire), and Minoru Suzuki (Suzuki-gun) are all in the United States working for NJPW Strong and New Japan’s American partner organizations such as All Elite Wrestling and Impact Wrestling. With Naito’s absence, this means that Kazuchika Okada (CHAOS) is the only leader of a major NJPW faction still alive in the tournament assuming Bullet Club’s new sub-group, the House of Torture, and its leader, EVIL, aren’t counted.

Naito’s remaining opponents will still be in action each of the remaining nights with Yuji Nagata, BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi, and Satoshi Kojima brought in to face off against them in non-tournament matches.

New Japan has suffered more than most with injuries this past year. Will Ospreay had to vacate his newly won IWGP World Heavyweight Championship after only one defense due to a neck injury. Shingo Takagi won the vacant title only to come down with Covid-19 and missed several shows. Kota Ibushi had to battle pneumonia during the summer. If NJPW didn’t have bad luck then they would have no luck at all.

His injury also puts pay to several big-time matches with Naito set to face old rival, Kota Ibushi, and stablemate, Shingo Takagi, in Block A in what were two of highest-profile matches of the tournament.

Hopefully, Naito will be back as soon as possible and we wish him a speedy recovery.