Tuesday, November 17, 2015
We’ve reached the second to last day of the tournament. After this show, we will figure out what the finals will be. Will AJ Styles make it as champion? Will it be Hiroshi Tanahashi? Can Shinsuke Nakamura make it in the midst of a great year? Will Kazuchika Okada manage to keep his lead? Hell, could Bad Luck Fale sneak in? Can Tomoaki Honma actually win a match? Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan have the night off.
Right from the start, Tomoaki Honma looks for a rollup, which makes sense given his score in this tournament. He also nearly gets a countout win after hitting a headbutt to the outside. In a relatively neat spot, Honma eats a back suplex onto the guardrail but manages to avoid the countout. Shelton continues to bully Honma, but can’t put the resilient man down. Honma fires up while they trade shots only to eat a dragon whip. As Shelton tries for Paydirt, Honma headbutts him in the chest. He then hits the falling headbutt ON THE FIRST TRY! The fans go nuts for this, sensing a win as he climbs up top. He misses the top rope Kokeshi but then comes very close on a rollup. He then runs into a superkick and Paydirt finishes him off.
A strong way to open the show. The fans absolutely bought into the possibility that Honma would finally get his win on the final night. It wasn’t in the cards though. Shelton played the bully role well and the close calls made this rather exhilarating.
Like a typical heel, Takahashi attacks while Yano is drinking water before the bell. Both guys try to cheat but it is Yano who gets his corner spot to work, only for it to end up backfiring. Some more typical Yano shenanigans as he hits a low blow but only gets two on it. Takahashi shoves him into the referee and hits some low blows of his own, which is enough to win. After the match, Takahashi reveals that he was wearing a cup.
I figured Takahashi would win here as the NEVER Champion shouldn’t have that bad of a record in this thing. I liked that they played off of him being ready for the low blow, since nobody else prepped for it. Short, effective, but not very entertaining.
Archer continues to impress as the imposing big man, overpowering Goto in the early stages. Goto busts out a plancha, which I don’t believe he has done all tournament. I’d like to point out that the “American Psycho” nickname for Archer is pretty rad. He takes control and really works over Goto for a while. As Archer looked for a Chokeslam of sorts, Goto used a headbutt to block. They fight up top where Goto gets back dropped off. Archer nails a big Chokeslam for two. He connects on his finish and puts Goto away.
Solid match here. Lance Archer impressed me throughout this, though he was still on the lesser half of performers throughout this. After an unbeaten start, Goto proceeded to go 1-6 the rest of the way. Decent, but nothing more.
Following his Bullet Club brother Takahashi earlier, Anderson attacks before the bell. He then powerbombs Naito onto the apron! Naito nearly gets counted out and when he breaks the count, Anderson sends him back out for a count of 19. Anderson goes to work inside, trying to keep the resilient Naito down, taunting him along the way. Naito goes into a flurry of offense, working at such a quick pace. He caps it with a missile dropkick, but his corner dropkick is blocked and turned into a TKO. Naito counters a powerbomb with a rana and hits the corner dropkick. He gets two on a bridging German as they are certainly working quickly. He goes for the Stardust Press but crashes and burns. Anderson wins an exchange of strikes and gets two on the Bernard driver. Their next exchange is as fast as the rest of the match and when Naito goes for his rebound attack, he is caught in a great Gun Stun that ends it.
An absolute blast of a sprint. They knew that had less than eight minutes to work with and made the best of it, fitting a ton into it without overdoing it. Naito bumped well throughout, Anderson was a total dick and the math was fun. The great finish was the capper.
They just go right at it, nailing each other with vicious forearms and kicks. Nagata’s kick give him an upper hand, while Ishii’s slaps and strikes do the same for him. The crowd comes unglued for a sequence of non-stop slaps. Nagata nails an exploder, tries for a Brainbuster, has that blocked and gets hit with a German. After a big suplex from Ishii, Nagata comes back with some of the hardest hitting shots I’ve heard all tourney. Nagata then catches Ishii’s busted shoulder and targets it, leading to some great selling on the part of Ishii. Ishii goes for a lariat on a seated Nagata, but it gets caught right into an armbar. Yuji wrenches back on it, which is made all the better by Ishii’s injury and facial expressions of pain. Ishii makes the ropes and their next series of strikes ends with a Yuji heel kick and Brainbuster for two. More strikes and a big headbutt to the chest by Ishii. A lariat gets him two. Ishii hits a second and then a Brainbuster to pull out the victory.
Well that certainly was some badass shit. Just excellent efforts from both men. Yuji Nagata going after the injured arm was fantastic and Ishii did a tremendous job of selling it and having to find a way to win with one arm. He has easily been in the upper echelon of performers in the tournament and Nagata has been damn good too. Stellar stuff.
I thought that Shibata had a shot at the finals, but looking at the standings, he can’t. Even if he wins and Tanahashi and Nakamura, the guys in front of him lose, that means Fale would have beaten Nakamura. Fale beat Shibata, giving him the tiebreaker. That sucks. Onto the match, despite being the smaller competitor, Shibata gives no fucks and aggressively attacks Gallows, even toying with him at times. Gallows takes advantage outside for a bit, but is locked in the sleeper inside. Shibata just lays into Gallows after that. The two men start trading blows and Gallows slips out of the GTS, hitting a pump handle slam. Gallows Pole is hit for two, and a second one keeps Shibata down.
The G1 Climax can be weird right? Shibata beats Nakamura and Tanahashi, but loses to Gallows. As with most of Gallows’ performances, this wasn’t great, but was really solid. I liked that he tried to go blow for blow with Shibata.
Here is where things get interesting. If Nakamura and Tanahashi win tonight, Tanahashi gets into the finals. If Tanahashi loses later, whoever wins this is in. There is also the fact that Fale took the IC Title from Nakamura so a lot is on the line here. The fight spills outside early, where Fale whips Nakamura with a belt until the referee takes it from him. Fale now plays the dominant big man, pounding away on Nakamura. A big running knee turns thing around for Nakamura. He seems to go into his offense but runs into a Samoan drop. Fale hits a series of moves and a splash gets him a near fall. Both men block some key moves by the other and Shinsuke misses the Boma Ye. Fale connects with the Samoan Spike for a near fall that the fans ate up. Nakamura hits a superplex and goes for Boma Ye again, but is met with a spear. When Fale sets for the Bad Luck Fall, the fans fear the end but Nakamura slips free. He takes a page out of Shibata’s book, using a sleeper hold to wear the big man down. Fale breaks it but takes a knee to the back of the head. He again avoids Boma Ye and tries the Samoan Spike. Nakamura dodges and hits a kick to the head. It takes two Boma Ye strikes but he’s finally able to get the three count.
That was better than I thought it would be. It started a bit slow, but they built to a very good finish. Nakamura seems to know how to make things work with Fale and they delivered. They had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands and this really felt like a big fight. The close calls and false finishes in the end were expertly done in the best Fale match I’ve ever seen.
Another important match here as a loss by AJ Styles gives Kazuchika Okada the Block B win. He needs to win and have Okada lose. We get a feeling out process to start. AJ learns that he can’t overpower Makabe. As has been the case with a lot of matches, they go outside and AJ springboards off the guardrail with a forearm. Some ladies in the front row seems to love AJ, but he badmouths them because he’s become such a good heel. AJ works him over inside, until Makabe rallies with some of his hard hitting offense. He counters Bloody Sunday with a Northern lights suplex that earns two before taking out AJ with a lariat. AJ comes back and tries the Styles Clash but it is blocked and he gets powerbombed for two. Makabe nails the spider German and it looks like Styles is hurt, but AJ wisely rolls to the other side of the ring, avoiding the King Kong knee drop. Makabe slams him and tries it again but AJ avoids it. When they both get up, AJ hits two Pele kicks and the Styles Clash to stay alive.
Another really solid match by AJ Styles who went the entire tournament without having one that I gave less than three stars. I liked that the heel Styles was the aggressor but would then get overwhelmed by how powerful Makabe was.
With Nakamura’s win earlier, Tanahashi must win this one to win their block. Right from the bell, Smith overpowers Tanahashi. Tanahashi tries to wear down Smith but misses a cross body and gets gutwrench suplexed for it. The miss looked weird so maybe it was a botch but if so, they covered it well. When Tanahashi is able to send Smith outside, he looks for High Fly Flow but Davey walks away. Tanahashi greets him with a baseball and plancha. Smith takes him out with a big powerslam on the outside, but surprisingly there is no countout tease. Things pick up now, with both guys hitting big moves and scoring near falls, highlighted by an impressive exploder from Smith. Tanahashi comes very close on a sunset flip and goes for a rana, but Davey blocks it and picks him back up into a sitout powerbomb to end Tanahashi’s hopes.
This was surprising to say the least. I mean, not only was the result an upset, but the fact that Smith was allowed to pretty much dominate. I think it was a better match for that as Tanahashi is good as the babyface selling and Smith played the powerhouse well.
Like the last few matches, there’s a lot on the line. Okada needs to win here to win the block. If he loses or goes to a draw, AJ Styles wins. Okada gives an early clean break, so Suzuki just puts him in multiple armbar variations. Suzuki spends the next few minutes twisting Okada’s arm in some messed up ways. When the fight moves outside, Okada uses a big boot and guardrail DDT to slightly turn the tide. He hits an elbow inside and does the Rainmaker pose, but Suzuki is up and kicks him in the arm. I’ve come to realize just how smart a wrestler Suzuki is. Everything that he does to the arm looks brutal and makes sense. He works an armbar for an extended period of time until Okada reaches the ropes with his foot. Just when it seems like Okada is going for his signature dropkick, Suzuki hits him with one of his own before going right back to the arm. He goes to a sleeper and tries a piledriver but Okada counters it. Both men trade shots, with Okada screaming to get himself on Suzuki’s level of aggression. He wins out with a dropkick to the back. Okada catches him in the tombstone. Suzuki won’t stay down though so it takes another dropkick and the Rainmaker to finish him off.
Awesome capper to the block competition. Minoru Suzuki came in with a plan and worked it to perfection. At times, Okada sold the arm well but at other times, he left something to be desired. I wish that he would have gone the route that AJ Styles did when Suzuki worked his arm and struck with the other one. I also wish he found a different way to win than the Rainmaker. That keeps this from being upper echelon, but it’s still a fantastic match.
Overall: Another great show during this classic tournament. The first half of the show was solid as most guys worked hard despite those matches not having an impact on the standings, especially Nagata/Ishii, which was great. The second half was even better, with the final four matches feeling very important and the drama coming down to the wire. Great performances all around and I’m ready for the finals.
Final Block A Standings
Shinsuke Nakamura 16 points
Hiroshi Tanahashi 14 points
Bad Luck Fale 12 points
Katsuyori Shibata 12 points
Satoshi Kojima 10 points
Shelton X Benjamin 10 points
Tomohiro Ishii 10 points
Davey Boy Smith Jr. 10 points
Doc Gallows 8 points
Yuji Nagata 8 points
Tomoaki Honma 0 points
Kazuchika Okada 16 points
AJ Styles 16 points
Karl Anderson 10 points
Minoru Suzuki 10 points
Tetsuya Naito 10 points
Hiroyoshi Tenzan 8 points
Yujiro Takahashi 8 points
Toru Yano 8 points
Lance Archer 8 points
Hirooki Goto 8 points
Togi Makabe 8 points