G1 Climax - Tournament History

Tournament History

New Japan had an annual tournament since 1974 under various names: the World League (1974–77, based on the World League tournament from the old Japanese Wrestling Association); the MSG League (1978–82); the International Wrestling Grand Prix (IWGP) League (1983–87; although the first winner, Hulk Hogan was awarded a championship belt, this is not the beginning of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship). Most of these tournaments were dominated by New Japan's founding top star, Antonio Inoki. In 1987, all tournaments in the company were suspended, although in 1989 there was a World Cup Tournament which also included wrestlers from the then-Soviet Union and also a tournament for the vacant IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

With Inoki's dominance over New Japan gone, the promotion established the G1 Climax tournament in 1991 as a platform to showcase the company's top heavyweights and have them compete in round robin matches where the winners of the two divisions would then square off in the tournament finals. The first G1 was held from August 7 to August 11, 1991 at Tokyo's Sumo Hall.

The G1 Climax tournament has often been used as a platform for New Japan to push their rising stars. Wins by young up-and-comers over Japanese legends would usually take their respective careers to new heights. Past winners include Masahiro Chono, Keiji Mutoh, Shinya Hashimoto, Yuji Nagata and others who have gone on to become wrestling superstars.

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