Yujiro Takahashi and his G1 Climax are quite different from the rest of the blocks. Everyone is competing for a shot at the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. Takahashi, on the other hand, is competing for hope and redemption. Takahashi was a constant fixture in the tournament from 2010 to 2015. “The Tokyo Pimp” always had a pretty solid score at the conclusion of each tournament. His lowest ever was four points with constant six and eight point outings afterward. Takahashi even went in as NEVER Openweight Champion in a year. However, as new faces emerged in NJPW, he was seemingly forced out. He admitted in an interview upon his return to the tournament last year that not hearing his name in 2016 really hurt.
A Redemption Story for Yujiro Takahashi
Yujiro Takahashi understood that NJPW needed to make way for new faces like EVIL, Kenny Omega, YOSHI-HASHI, and SANADA — who all made their G1 Climax debuts. It still affected him and as a result, he drank a lot that summer, which he told in an interview with NJPW’s website. The reality was hard because that NO LIMIT team of him and Tetsuya Naito were touted as the future of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Yet that wasn’t the case once Naito returned to Mexico. Two men destined to be generational rivals, now on completely different sides of the food chain. Naito rose to stardom and Yujiro got comfortable in the role of being the undercard tag guy.
Then 2020 happened. The start of the pandemic brought new opportunities with the absence of many of the foreign talent that NJPW had become accustomed to leaning on. Takahashi saw this as a window to be a competitor in the G1 once again and he got his wish. His excitement was through the roof. Takahashi had a fine tournament. Nothing newsworthy as his only win came on the final day against Jeff Cobb. That didn’t matter. What Takahashi cared about was the fact he was in the spotlight. Once 2021 arrived, his stock only continued to rise. Many foreigners decided not to return to Japan for the time being. Add in that he would become a member of the new House of Torture sub-faction in Bullet Club, joining EVIL, SHO, and Dick Togo. All of a sudden, he had a purpose.
Yujiro Takahashi "Big Juice"
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) September 18, 2021
Heading into this G1, Takahashi was finally going to get a match he had been lusting for. Another match with Tetsuya Naito. Their last one saw Yujiro win and Naito send off to Mexico. As we know now, that will no longer be happening with the injury to Naito. In his first match, Takahashi had an eye-opening match to kick off the tournament with Kota Ibushi. It got that much better for Takahashi as he managed to win the match over the back-to-back G1 Climax winner. He followed that with his singles match against fellow Bullet Club member, KENTA. They went to war for 15 minutes and showed their appreciation for one another. Times are still tough in Japan and the injury to Naito certainly didn’t help. So Yujiro has decided to pour his heart out for the native fans.
Redeeming himself for not realizing that potential he once had. The best way he could do that was by giving the fans his heart and soul. Takahashi has learned now that no spot is certain and you must work hard to keep on receiving opportunities. While the Naito match is off, there’s hope he can still get that one day. After the love letter to his friendship with KENTA, he has more big chances in this tournament. Unfinished business with Tomohiro Ishii and a chance to spoil the IWGP World Champion Shingo Takagi on the final night of block action. The remainder of the G1 Climax for him won’t necessarily contain a high work rate throughout, but what matters is that it will contain hope.
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