Thursday, November 12, 2015
I honestly don’t even know what more to say about this tournament that I haven’t said yet. It’s been phenomenal. Tonight, Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano have the night off. It works out for Ishii, who injured his shoulder the previous night.
The fight spills outside pretty quickly. We get the guardrail spot but Smith chokes him with some wires, adding a nice twist to it. Smith wisely goes to wear down Honma and take the crowd out of it but they are, as always, way too into Honma for that to be effective. Honma sends Smith outside and does his headbutt to a standing Smith out there. He hits the headbutt inside, but Smith comes back with his dad’s stalling vertical for two. Honma rallies but adds to his streak of missed Hokeshis. One day he’ll nail it in a G1 match. His near fall on a rollup is COMPLETELY bought into by the fans. Smith ends his hopes with a sitout powerbomb.
Solid opening contest. Not on the level of Smith/Ishii, but still good. The crowd is always hot for Honma, which helped. This was fun but didn’t wow me. Honma has been a joy to watch during this thing and Smith doesn’t seem to have any bad matches.
Both guys haven’t had the best win/loss record but at least Archer has impressed and has the great match with Styles. Takahashi has been the worst performer in the tournament so far. Takahashi must have seen the AJ match as he goes right after the leg. It doesn’t work as well as Archer just tosses him. Takahashi does manage to get in control with leg work, it just isn’t as well executed as it was the night before. Archer rallies and nearly hits his finish, but Takahashi slips out. He shoves the official and nails two low blows, followed by a small package for the two points.
This was pretty much just there. It was two guys that I don’t love seeing and it played out that way. I appreciate the leg work from Takahashi since it would make sense given what happened the night before by Takahashi’s Bullet Club stablemate, but it wasn’t as interesting.
Yuji Nagata having the Pirates of the Caribbean theme is still tremendous. An early test of strength gives Gallows an advantage until Nagata just suplexes him over. Gallows turns the tide inside, clubbing away on Yuji. Gallows steals Yuji’s taunt, which the crowd reacts to as if he fucked Yuji’s mom or something. Nagata attacks the leg to rally, but it’s different from what AJ and Takahashi did in recent matches. This was more out of desperation than as a strategy. Nagata nails a nice German for two and then Gallows hits the Gallows Pole from out of nowhere, getting the three.
Similar to the last match, this wasn’t anything special, but I liked it more. Doc Gallows has been down there with the lesser performers but this was solid.
They start hot, just charging at each other with stiff shots. The fight spills outside and guess what? We get a countout tease spot. Someone has to lose quickly by countout for anyone to buy into these. Back inside, Makabe works over Tenzan with some of his rather stiff offense. Tenzan rallies, leading to a top rope headbutt for two. He applies the Anaconda Vice but Makabe breaks free. They exchange blows in the middle of the ring, with Tenzan taking him down with Mongolian chops. Makabe turns it around, hits a powerbomb and the King Kong Knee Drop that finishes things.
Solid match here but nothing special. I enjoyed their hard hitting exchanges but outside of that, I didn’t find much to it.
It begins in clean fashion, with Suzuki even giving a clean break. Then Taka Michinoku grabs Naito’s leg at ringside and Suzuki takes over. Suzuki is great as the dick heel, just choking Naito with his towel and kicking his ass outside. No countout tease here as Minoru rolls him inside. Naito no sells some vicious kicks to start a comeback. His offense is pretty fun but something just doesn’t click sometimes for me. Suzuki catches his corner dropkick and wraps it into a high angel half crab. The leg becomes Minoru’s focus. He works it so well. Naito tries to rally and goes up top, but Suzuki pulls him down in a masterfully executed armbar. Naito uses his quickness to get a rollup, but Suzuki kicks out into a sleeper. Naito breaks free and goes up for the Stardust Press, but it again proves to be too big a risk for him. Naito tries another rollup but gets caught in fantastic fashion with a headbutt and saka otoshi. Naito has to submit.
Best match of the night so far. Naito’s fast paced offense proved to be a great contrast with Suzuki’s style. The leg work was viciously done and Suzuki continues to impress.
The Under Boss attacks before the bell and just pounds away on Shibata. By the way, thanks to wins over Nakamura and Tanahashi, Shibata leads the entire Block A at this point. He begins to trade forearms with Fale, which proves to be tough given his size disadvantage. Fale looks for the Bad Luck Fall but Shibata counters and starts to pummel the big man in the corner. He then kicks Fale over and to the outside. Fale pulls Shibata outside and levels him. He gets in and when Shibata tries to beat the count, Fale clotheslines back down, resulting in our first countout finish.
Well that certainly was something. We got the countout finish that I knew was coming, I just didn’t think it would be in this match. I expected it to come for Yano or Gallows or someone who didn’t get many clean pinfall wins. The match itself was decent but they would have a better one in the G1 a year later.
Some back and forth chain grappling kicks this match off. It moves outside and the crowd actually bites on the countout tease, most likely due to the previous match. Kojima is in control until Nakamura turns the tide and does whatever the fuck he does in the corner. That foot choke like move where he violently shakes. Kojima hits a cutter and Nakamura hits a lung blower but neither is enough. Nakamura hits a Boma Ye for two and misses a second attempt. Kojima wallops him with a big lariat and both men are down. Kojima nails a Brainbuster but again only gets two. He turns Nakamura inside on a lariat for a near fall. Frustrated, he goes into a series of strikes but unfortunately runs into a huge running knee by Nakamura that finishes things.
Really good match between two really good wrestlers. It was stiff and there were some really good near falls in there. Both guys delivered in a match that could be argued as the best of the show so far.
The Bullet Club buddies go to start and Anderson lays down for AJ, but chooses to roll him up for a quick two. Their reactions after are absolutely priceless. AJ tries a rollup as well before they get into the actual wrestling. Some of the stuff they do is pretty funny, which is welcome on a show with no Toru Yano. In a great spot that I haven’t seen yet, AJ suplexes Anderson into the guardrail outside. Inside, AJ stays in control with a dropkick and the Indian deathlock. Anderson comes back with a spinebuster and loudly calls for a BRAINBUSTER but AJ blocks it. You probably shouldn’t call for it like that then Karl. He does get two on a leaping neckbreaker. He only yelled “AJ” on that one. AJ came back with his backflip reverse DDT for another near fall. They fight up top, where Anderson nails a massive second rope Gun Stun but can’t put down the champ. They trade blows in the middle of the ring, which AJ wins with a Pele. Anderson is quickly up and tries the Gun Stu but that gets blocked and they do a double clothesline like this is the 80’s or something. When they get up, Anderson tries a powerbomb but it is nearly countered into a Styles Clash. Anderson was ready for it and blocks it, but ends up in the Calf Cutter. He tries to elbow out of it, but AJ yanks harder, so he has to go to the ropes. Anderson hits a Rikishi Driver like sitout piledriver for two. He goes for the Gun Stun but AJ shoves him off and connects on Bloody Sunday. The Styles Clash hits for the 1-2-3.
There goes another great AJ Styles match that felt different than any of his other matches in the tournament so far. They started with some fun stuff but the match progressed into a really good back and forth encounter between friends trying to prove who is better. Overall, that made it a very enjoyable contest.
The two Bullet Club members embrace after the match and Karl Anderson, holding an ice pack to his neck, allows AJ to celebrate alone.
After starting 4-0, Shelton X Benjamin is 0-4. They go through a feeling out process early, with neither man gaining a clear advantage. As they spill outside, Shelton press slams Tanahashi onto the guardrail and looks for the countout win. Inside, Shelton applies an abdominal stretch and mocks Tanahashi’s air guitar stuff on his ribcage, which is pretty cool. Shelton wisely continues to target the midsection, which Tanahashi does a good job of selling. Tanahashi skins the cat back in the ring and Shelton charges, only to do the same right back. He hits the dragon whip kick for two. He applies the ankle lock but Tanahashi gets free. He counters the slingblade into a German for another near fall. Tanahashi knocks Shelton off the top, but misses the High Fly Flow. Shelton goes for the ankle lock but Tanahashi counters into a rollup for two. He hits slingblade this time and then two High Fly Flows to score the win.
Fun match here but nothing spectacular. They found a body part and worked it, though I wish that Tanahashi found another way to win to avoid hurting his ribs more. I liked Shelton as the dick heel mocking Tanahashi at least.
Some fast paced back and forth starts things and Goto clotheslines Okada to the outside. Out there, Okada hits a DDT that brings a 19 count, which the fans buy into. I guess that countout finish earlier did the job. Okada stays in control until Goto busts out a big lariat. From there, they continue to go back and forth. Okada nails the diving elbow and poses for the Rainmaker. Goto counters twice, leading to a frantic series of counters, ending with him hitting a neckbreaker. Okada does try for the tombstone but Goto is able to block. They continue to just have an answer for each thing that each guy does. They stand across the ring from each other and Goto charges, but gets gently placed up top. Goto tries something up there but is back dropped and then dropkicked in the back of the head. Okada hits the tombstone and calls for the Rainmaker again. Goto is ready again and hits a big headbutt. He tries Shouten Kai but Okada reverses into a German for two. He holds the bridge, gets to his feet and scores with the Rainmaker.
A fitting main event tonight. The constant countering of each other’s offense made for some really exciting work from both men. As usual with Okada matches, the finishing stretch was magnificent, but here, I actually enjoyed the opening stuff as well, making for a well-rounded great match.
Overall: This was on the lesser half of shows in this tournament, but there is nothing wrong with that. The bar has been set so high that when you see a good show like this, it kind of feels like a letdown. Some of the matches on this show certainly disappointed, but some were great. As usual, the second half of the show was superior.
Block A Standings
Shinsuke Nakamura 12
Hiroshi Tanahashi 12
Bad Luck Fale 10
Katsuyori Shibata 10
Satoshi Kojima 8
Yuji Nagata 8
Shelton X Benjamin 8
Tomohiro Ishii 8
Davey Boy Smith Jr. 8
Doc Gallows 6
Tomoaki Honma 0
Block B Standings
Kazuchika Okada 12
AJ Styles 12
Minoru Suzuki 10
Hirooki Goto 8
Togi Makabe 8
Tetsuya Naito 8
Hiroyoshi Tenzan 8
Toru Yano 6
Karl Anderson 6
Yujiro Takahashi 6
Lance Archer 6