Sunday, November 1, 2015
After a fantastic day four, it’s time to see if day five is going to continue that or be a bit of a night off. Speaking of night offs, Yuji Nagata and Togi Makabe are the two men resting today.
Tomohiro Ishii is not a small man, but he looks tiny compared to Doc Gallows. Gallows no sells early due to his size, proving to be a tough test for Ishii. Props to Gallows for just taking Ishii chops like they don’t hurt or something. Gallows is in firm control, with Ishii selling well. There are a few openings for Ishii, but Gallows stops them all. Ishii kicks out of the Gallows Pole after scoring two of his own on a LARIATOOOOO. Ishii delivers some headbutts and a seated lariat for two again. He struggles to hit the Brainbuster, but Gallows either being too big or countering each time. Finally, following a kick, he nails it and gets the two points.
Sometimes, Doc Gallows matches can be rough and sometimes he surprises me. This was the latter. These two complimented each other well. Gallows’ slow style worked with Ishii and the story of Ishii having to overcome his size disadvantage (similar to the opening tournament match with Fale) was good. It’s like he figured out what he needed to.
This starts with a strike war involving chops, forearm shots and Tenzan chops. Similar to the last show, Archer works as a very intense heel. He beats up Tenzan outside, threatening fans and officials along the way. Tenzan starts the rally and takes out Taka Michinoku at ringside. He puts on the Anaconda Vice but Archer gets free. He misses a moonsault, opening the door for a big Chokeslam. I’ve never gone out of my way to see Archer, but I do really like his Chokeslam. Tenzan kicks out of that, but not the Blackout finisher.
Standard fare from Lance Archer so far in the tournament. He plays the angry heel well and his opponent makes a solid comeback. This time, Archer weathered the storm and won though. Not a bad match, but nothing I would need to see again.
Neither guy is able to get in the driver’s seat through the first few minutes, trading offense. The biggest spot comes from Kojima hitting an apron DDT, though it came off looking ugly, similar to the one he did to Ishii. Each time I see Davey Boy Smith do a stalling suplex that damn nostalgia kicks in. I’m glad that’s the most I’ve seen him take from his dad though. Kojima comes back with his chops, which look like they murder Smith. Taka has to be the worst corner man ever as he is again instantly thwarted. Most of Kojima’s offense looks brutal throughout. Smith gets a really close near fall on a sweet bridging tiger suplex. Kojima looks for a lariat but Smith counters with a powerslam and then a powerbomb to win.
The finish to this match was pretty damn cool. Davey Boy Smith continues to put on solid performances each chance he’s given. He’s been one of the more consistent guys in this thing. Points to Kojima for beating the hell out of him, making this a bit more fun.
Taka Michinoku is getting all of his work in successively. Yujiro Takahashi attacks before the bell and throws Suzuki into the guardrail. A distraction from Taka allows Suzuki to use a chair and turn the tide. Suzuki just beats on Takahashi inside and outside of the ring. Even when the NEVER Champion tries to trade blows, he loses out. Yujiro hits some offense, but misses the Miami Shine and Suzuki gets him in saka otoshi for the submission victory.
I apologize if the write up for this match seems short but it was really mostly Minoru Suzuki kicking ass for the most part. That was fine since I’m not big on Takahashi. Enjoyable but nothing special.
Karl Anderson attacks before the bell and puts on Yano’s jacket before stealing his taunt and turning it into “Ma-Chine-Gun”, “Ya-No-Sucks” and “Bul-Let-Club”. It’s all pretty funny actually. They have some fun with Yano’s trademark corner spot and he scores two on a rollup that the fans buy since he’s already done it twice. Yano does some ear pulling, which is hilarious to see Anderson sell afterwards. Yano tries for the low blow but Anderson counters it multiple times until he finally gets hit. Yano then rolls him up to steal yet another one.
The best kind of Toru Yano match. It wasn’t long and it was really fun. From Karl Anderson stealing taunts, selling the ears and the fun finishing sequence involving the referee, this was a blast.
Through the first four nights, Shelton X Benjamin has been the surprise of the tournament, going undefeated. This seems like it will be his toughest test. They open with a feeling out process, both giving clean breaks on the ropes. Shelton goes for an early ankle lock but Shibata makes the ropes. They go to strikes, which is a fight Shelton will lose, so he catches a kick and hits a huge spinebuster. Outside, Shelton continues the assault, swinging Shibata into the guardrails. Shibata beats the count and is in trouble in the ring until busting out a running knee. Shibata goes to strikes and beats the fuck out of Shelton. Shelton does get two on the dragon whip though. Shibata wins a strike exchange with a huge spinning back hand that seems to knock Shelton out. In a fantastic counter, Shelton catches the Go to Sleep knee and turns it into an ankle lock. Shibata reaches the ropes and hits a German but misses the PK. Shelton goes into a series of big superkick like shots only for Shibata to dodge Paydirt and lock in the sleeper. He escapes, but ends up back in it and eats the PK for his first loss.
Best tournament match for Shelton Benjamin so far. Their styles managed to work well together, with Shelton controlling the mat and Shibata owning the striking. The closing stuff with them countering each other’s finishers was really well done. It also seemed like the crowd was completely ready to buy another Shelton win because he just kept pulling them out. Great stuff.
Similar to the last match, we get the guys trying to feel each other out as I believe this is a first time ever match. AJ is first to gain any sort of clear upper hand, with some shots in the corner and a nice suplex. AJ works a submission for a bit and, in a cool moment, reaches to grab Goto’s hand and pull it away from the ropes. Smart stuff. We get some more Styles stuff until Goto powers up and hits a rebound lariat. AJ stops that with a cool looking facebuster. They fight up top where Goto gets two on a sunset flip bomb. That seems to send this match into second gear as AJ then follows with a Pele after countering Goto’s finisher. AJ runs into a big neckbreaker like move but goes into a flurry with the Bloody Sunday and Styles Clash to win.
Despite his record being only 2-2, AJ Styles continues to deliver in this tournament. I feel like this started a bit slow, but they did a good job in building to the conclusion. Styles needed a win like this as his only one so far came over Yano. Really good match, just a shade off of being great.
Tanahashi makes an early mistake by trying to battle power with Fale, which is a clear mistake. Fale just dominates the early goings, stopping Tanahashi at every turn and abusing him. Of course, this is Hiroshi Tanahashi we’re talking about here so he finds openings and seemingly always attacks the leg. At one point, he reverse a powerslam into an inverted DDT. He goes all Shawn Michaels and skins the cat to pulls Fale over and to the outside in a cool spot. Not contest with that, Tanahashi leaps onto him with the HIGH FLY FLOW! Inside, he hits it again seemingly but Fale actually catches him by the throat. I don’t know if it looked as cool as they hoped it would. Tanahashi escapes the Bad Luck Fall once, but still ends up getting hit by it for the 1-2-3.
I was surprised by this result. I know that Fale would beat him the next year, but I didn’t know he did here too. Solid match with Tanahashi playing to Fale’s strengths and making for some entertaining wrestling. This was a smartly worked match.
The “Honma” chants start instantly as he continues to be a favorite during this tournament. Nakamura toys with the winless wonder and it backfires, though Honma of course misses the headbutt. Nakamura comes back and continues to kind of play with and taunt Honma. Each time that Honma looks like the comeback is coming, Nakamura has an answer. The fans, as always, bite on Honma near falls and pop when he goes up for the big headbutt. He’s Honma though, so he misses it. They go into a strike exchange that Nakamura wins but when he tries Boma Ye, Honma dodges and goes into a clever rollup for two. Nakamura nails Boma Ye for two but goes right into another that ends it.
A thrill ride of non-stop action from the start. The fans being 100% into Honma made this even better. They bite on everything Honma does and Nakamura was great at toying with him early, but getting more serious when he needed to.
As noted before, Tetsuya Naito won the G1 last year. At Wrestle Kingdom 8, Naito lost his shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Title to Okada, so this is the rematch. They start incredibly quickly, just bouncing off the ropes and each other. Okada dropkicks Naito from the top and to the floor. Okada takes over from there, and again, I have to point out how good he is when playing the cocky heel. Naito starts the rally but Okada is ready. He hits the elbow and signals for the RAINMAKA! Naito ducks it and hits a nice tornado DDT. Okada hits a dropkick to the back of the head though, as the back and forth continues. Okada hits a tombstone but again misses the Rainmaker, allowing Naito to hit a dragon suplex. Naito then again counters the Rainmaker into an arm drag, before getting his win back from the Tokyo Dome with the Stardust Press.
Everything that these two did looked crisp and they had the crowd in the palm of their hands. Okada is five times better than normal when he gets to play the heels role more and that was the case here. After a slow start, Naito has turned it up on the last two shows, delivering in a big main event performance here. The pace was fast, the counters were great and the match was exciting.
Overall: Hey look, the tournament delivered again. After two solid shows on nights two and three, we had an amazing night four. This show ranks around where night one did but below night four. There were three matches that I gave at least four stars to but most of the undercard is underwhelming. The second half of this show though, from Shibata/Shelton onwards, is absolute money.
Shelton X Benjamin 8
Shinsuke Nakamura 6
Hiroshi Tanahashi 6
Katsuyori Shibata 6
Bad Luck Fale 6
Tomohiro Ishii 6
Satoshi Kojima 4
Davey Boy Smith Jr. 4
Yuji Nagata 2
Doc Gallows 2
Tomoaki Honma 0
Tetsuya Naito 8
Kazuchika Okada 6
Hirooki Goto 6
Toru Yano 6
AJ Styles 4
Hiroyoshi Tenzan 4
Togi Makabe 4
Minoru Suzuki 4
Lance Archer 4
Karl Anderson 2
Yujiro Takahashi 2