There isn’t a tournament that has a larger field or means more than the G1 Climax presented by New Japan Pro Wrestling. The round-robin style tournament makes for dramatic upsets and mid-card stars having a chance to defeat main event-level stars, something that doesn’t happen in American wrestling often. AEW would benefit from borrowing the practice.
The chance to cement middle-of-the-pack guys that are destined to rise to the top could be a strategy that is useful for creating new stars in AEW. Many tournaments have occurred in AEW, like the now annual Owen Hart Tournament or the trios’ tag team tournament to crown the inaugural champions, but those have all been single elimination. This leaves the booker handcuffed in a sense because you obviously want your biggest stars in the finals of a single elimination tournament and you cannot have them lose to get there.
The round-robin style tournament is a perfect way around that. AEW could have up-and-coming stars like Daniel Garcia pin main event level stars like ‘Hangman’ Adam Page, and have Page not be diminished by the booking decision. That is the beauty of the G1 Climax-style tournament. A mid-card wrestler like Taichi can defeat Will Ospreay, who won the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship from Kenny Omega a month ago, on the opening night of the tournament. It feels so unpredictable and that is why even at 7 AM my eyes are glued to the screen.
For a promotion like AEW, who are still establishing their homegrown stars, a G1 Climax style tournament would be a home run effort to make new wrestlers mainstay names in the industry. Tony Khan, President and CEO of AEW, has detailed in the past that he has at the very least considered this style of the tournament for his roster, “There are single-elimination tournaments in AEW. We’ve never done a round-robin tournament, and it’s something I am interested in,” said Khan via Fightful.
The G1 Climax has only had male competitors wrestle their way to the top spot in the tournament, but AEW could have the women on the roster be the stars of their round-robin tournament. The G1 Climax is made up of 32 wrestlers this year, which probably seems a few too many for the AEW women’s division to fill, but Khan could add wrestlers from Ring of Honor and STARDOM to fill out the field.
Women’s wrestling is a hot topic right now among fans, because a lot of fans, including myself, feel they should be given a greater opportunity to showcase their talents. There is no more perfect idea than to have a round-robin women’s tournament in AEW. New stars would be built by upsetting main event level talents, women’s wrestling would certainly be showcased more than a five-minute match in the 9:30 time slot, and tradition would be established. All the things fans have been begging for are delivered in this style of an AEW G1 tournament.
Whether it is the male division or female division, on a big scale or small, so many benefits can be had by having a round-robin style tournament, and it is time AEW pushes their chips into this style of tournament. The new format may take fans by surprise seeing their favorite main event star lose to “just another guy on the roster”, but that is how stars are made, and that is the beauty of the round-robin tournament.