New Japan Pro Wrestling's G1 Climax 28 kicks off with a blockbuster card highlighted by Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White and Minoru Suzuki this Saturday (14 July).
Almost a full month of world-class in-ring action will follow, as the promotion's signature round robin tournament sets the heavyweight roster's major players on their respective roads to Wrestle Kingdom (4 January). It's gruelling, both for the competitors and the viewers, but the sheer volume of four-star matches and concurrent storylines makes it wrestling deepest, most rewarding gauntlet.
20 wrestlers are split into two blocks, with each competitor wrestling everyone in their group once. Two points are assigned for a victory, one for a draw, and zero for a loss. The wrestler with the most points in each block then advances to the final, with the overall winner earning the right to challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom. Last year's winner, Kenny Omega, currently holds that very prize, and leads a star-studded 2018 field including Okada, Tetsuya Naito, Kota Ibushi, and Hiroshi Tanahashi.
That's the framework covered. Now, let's dive into the biggest stories heading into the G1 Climax, and how they'll change the landscape coming out of it...