Tuesday, May 10, 2016
After a good, solid first night of the tournament, we move to the second show in the historic Korakuen Hall.
Both guys obviously won their first matches. They start with an exchange of slaps and shoves. Anderson gets irritated and steps outside. Back in, the same thing happens and Anderson again goes outside. It’s like I’m watching a replay. The crowd gets a laugh when it happens for a third time, but Anderson goes on the offensive instead of exiting this time. They go back and forth for a bit until Benjamin hits the dragon whip kick. He follows with a high knee and signals for the finish. Shelton springboards in only to nearly get caught in the Gun Stun. He sends Anderson off the ropes and eats a backbreaker. Shelton gets two on a superkick/German combo before applying an ankle lock. Anderson gets out and nails a Gun Stun for the victory.
Solid opening contest here. They didn’t do anything crazy but managed to have a good match that the crowd seemed to enjoy. The early stuff they did was rather fun too. Nothing special though.
Takahashi’s arm candy is looking mighty fine tonight. These are honestly two guys that I don’t tend to enjoy for the most part, so my expectations are quite low. There is some early biting from Takahashi on the thumb of Tenzan. Tenzan starts to light him up, so he goes outside to get consoled by his lady friend. Takahashi goads him outside, where he jumps him. He takes control from there, getting a few near falls in the ring. Tenzan explodes out of the corner with a clothesline and turns the tide, laying into Takahashi. He hits a backdrop suplex like move and goes up top. Headbutt connects for two. He locks in the Anaconda Vice but Takahashi escapes. Tenzan doesn’t let that deter him and tries a moonsault but misses. Takahashi goes into some of his offense including a moonsault but he only gets one. He drops Tenzan when trying for Tokyo Pimps, so he decides to go back up and hit a second moonsault for the win.
Better than I expected. I would have given them less time, but I think they ended up doing rather well. This was fine for what it was.
It looks like we’re getting most of Block B out of the way early. Toru Yano attacks before the bell, but it quickly backfires and Yuji Nagata cause shim to nearly walk out. Nagata does his signature salute, so Yano does his shrug back at him. They start battling and Yano sends Nagata into an exposed corner. Nagata sells it pretty hilariously. Nagata comes back with a bunch of strikes before getting two on an exploder. Nagata is also ready for the typical Yano low blow spot, avoiding it and rolling him up. Yano rolls through, pinning Nagata for tow. Yano ends up hitting the low blow but his backslide only gets two. A few moments later, Nagata scores with the backdrop suplex to win.
Like the rest of the show so far, this was solid but unspectacular. Nothing about this match was great. Still, it was a fine little bout that kept the crowd involved throughout. Nothing wrong with that.
Fresh off of a major main event win against the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Prince Devitt faces the largest man in the tournament. The size factor quickly comes into play as the Jr. Heavyweight Champion is tossed around. Bad Luck Fale gets on the apron, coming face to face with Lance Archer and allowing Devitt to sneak in and go after the leg. Devitt continues to attack the knee. Archer get fed up with this and press slams Devitt onto Fale outside. Devitt tries using a chair, only to have it taken from him. A second one is thrown in but Archer punches it into him. Like your typical Bullet Club match, we get a ref bump. Archer misses the moonsault and Devitt comes of the top with a chair shot. He then hits the diving double stomp with a chair on Archer’s chest but that only gets two. Archer gets Devitt up for his finish but the Prince wriggles free and rolls up Archer for two. Devitt bumps hard on a Chokeslam and kicks out. Fale tries to get involved again, but Taka Michinoku holds his foot. Archer wipes him out, catches a flying Devitt and nails Blackout.
Well I enjoyed that more than Okada/Devitt from day one. It did a good job in portraying the fact that the Junior Heavyweight Champion is indeed out of his element a lot of time in this tournament. That made the interference spots sensible here. I’m used to Archer as the monster heel, but he was fine in the big babyface role here.
I loved their match in the G1 24 a year later. Just like I wanted, this starts like an all-out war with both men just leveling each other. Shibata kicks his ass and sends him hurting to the mat. Shibata seems to be talking smack as if he’s putting Kojima in his place. Shibata applies a figure four, complete with some slaps, but Kojima reaches the ropes. Kojima starts reeling off his rapid fire chops only to be sent outside. The fight goes up by the entrance where Shibata suplexes Kojima. Once back inside, Kojima is already back on the offensive and nails a cutter. Shibata comes back with a backdrop driver of sorts. He hits a PK to the back but Kojima fires up and connects on a BRAINBUSTER! He removes the elbow pad and takes out Shibata with a lariat.
I rather enjoyed this. Shibata came off like an arrogant badass, while the veteran had to dig deep and pull this one out. Hard hitting match with a hot crowd and fine story.
They begin by exchanging boots until Makabe clotheslines him over the top. Outside, Smith sends Makabe over the guardrail. He shouts that he’s “taking the G1”. Somehow must not have told him his place on the card. Smith does stay in control inside, wearing down Makabe. Makabe fights back with some stiff shots and scores two on a lariat. At one point, Smith puts on a chinlock only to release it and cover. When will that ever actually win a match? Makabe fires off ten punches in the corner shortly after. Smith hits a powerslam and belly to belly for near falls. He’s looked like the more impressive wrestler so far. Makabe comes back with an overhand chop and goes up top but is greeted with a superplex. A battle of dueling forearms leads to Smith hitting a powerbomb for the upset.
This continues tonight’s trend of solid matches. Both guys worked hard and were pretty stiff. They didn’t try to reinvent the wheel or do anything fancy. They worked their styles and it made for a good match.
They start with some mat work which I like. They’re both major high flyers and incredibly athletic so I appreciate them going a different route early on. Hopefully they build to the bigger stuff. Right on cue they show off some athleticism with a quick burst of energy. Naito seems to be going after the leg, looking to take out Ibushi’s strong suit. Ibushi knocks Naito outside after escaping a submission and scores on a moonsault. Ibushi springboards in with a dropkick for two. Ibushi continues the trend, hitting a standing shooting star press for a near fall. Naito stops the flurry by going back to the leg. He comes off the top now with a missile dropkick to the knee. That’s pretty damn good. Figure four by Naito and Ibushi is in trouble. He reaches the ropes and it leads to a battle of slaps. Surprisingly, Naito seems to be hitting harder. It leads to each man hitting a big move and Naito coming very close on a rollup. Ibushi counters a victory roll and just levels Naito with a kick. Sitout powerbomb by Ibushi only gets two but the fans bought it. He goes up and nails the Phoenix splash for the 1-2-3.
Oh wow, that was fantastic. Two of the most athletically gifted wrestlers I can think of (especially Ibushi) just going at it. I liked Naito’s leg work and was okay with it not impacting Ibushi early because it wasn’t very pronounced. However, after Naito kept going to it, I wish Ibushi sold it more. He just hit his moves like it was nothing, which hurt the overall score. Still, my favorite tournament match so far.
I recently reviewed Dominion 2013, which saw these two going at it in a tag team match that was a blast. They work the mat, with Nakamura trying to lock in an armbar, but running into trouble. Once that’s over, Nakamura tries his trademark knee in the corner but is caught in an armbar over the ropes by Suzuki. Turnabout is fair play. Suzuki works him over outside and is in control back in the ring. Nakamura turns it around and goes to work with knees on the apron. He continues the assault with knee strikes in the corner. Nakamura looks for the armbar again but that damn Suzuki is too good at blocking. He gets it locked in for real, but Suzuki is too close to the ropes. They go through a back and forth exchange with Nakamura setting for the Boma Ye. Suzuki stops it with a dropkick. They just go nuts with furious slaps in the middle of the ring now. Suzuki goes to a sleeper and attempts a Gotch style piledriver but Shinsuke fights it off. Nakamura hits a second rope Boma Ye and then applies the armbar. Suzuki gets out and hits the Gotch style piledriver to take it.
Another really good match. These guys are two of the best out there. I enjoyed the emphasis on the arm as it hadn’t really been done on the show. I do wish Nakamura did more to damage it than just keep trying the armbar. In the end, he relied too heavily on it and it cost him a she’s now 0-2.
In the early stages of this outing, Hirooki Goto gains the upper hand. Surprisingly, Goto’s offense it directed towards Okada’s leg. Okada shrugs it off to hit a basement dropkick but at least has the smart idea of limping after. If you’re going to use the body part that was worked on, at least sell it somewhat still. Kudos to him. He continues to limp as he gets in some shots in the corner. He does so some more on the outside, but it still able to hit his guardrail hung DDT. Okada gets in the driver’s seat for a while, but Goto fires back with aggressive kicks and a back suplex gets two. A strike exchange is won by Goto, which the fans seem to love. Okada still hits the usual stuff, including the diving elbow and calls for the Rainmaker. Goto counters but ends up in Red Ink. He escapes, only to eat Okada’s gorgeous dropkick. Another exchange, this time of counters, sees Goto block the Rainmaker with a headbutt to the chest. Goto nails a massive top rope neckbreaker for two, but finishes off the champion with Shouten Kai.
A damn great match with a surprising result. I didn’t expect the champion to lose two straight to start the tournament but it happened. I liked that Goto was more aggressive than usual, knowing that he had to pull out the stops to beat the top guy. He had a game plan and stuck to it early but I wish the leg work paid off somehow in the end.
Wisely, Tanahashi takes Ishii to the ground game. Ishii is a guy who likes to hit fast and hard, so this is a great strategy. Ishii turns things around though, playing to his strength. He takes the action outside, where he just beats up on Tanahashi for a bit. They continue to go back and forth until Tanahashi sends Ishii outside this time. He skins the cat back in, paying homage to his favorite wrestler, and then does a plancha onto Ishii. Interestingly, Tanahashi just gets into a forearm exchange, keeping up with the hard hitting Ishii. That is until Ishii just murders him with a slap. He follows with a powerbomb for a near fall. Tanahashi answers with slingblade and a German for two. They just trade big blows, with Ishii scoring a second rope Brainbuster. Tanahashi continues to prove to be a tough guy to keep down. Ishii smells blood though, pouring it on and hitting a big headbutt and lariat. Tanahashi still somehow kicks out and hits a dragon suplex. Slingblade follows but Ishii gets a shoulder up. Tanahashi goes up for High Fly Flow but misses. Ishii rolls Tanahashi into a pinning combination for a near fall that the fans completely bite on. They go back to a strike exchange that Tanahashi nearly wins this time. Ishii hits the Brainbuster for two and the fans have pretty much lost their minds at this point. Realizing the Brainbuster isn’t enough, he goes all Scott Steiner and hits a goddamn screwdriver to win.
Just a tremendous main event. Tanahashi knows how to step up in the big matches and this was the biggest win in Ishii’s career. The crowd and commentator gets tons of credit from me for being insanely excited about this. The near falls and frantic final few minutes were insane. Seeing Ishii have to hit the screwdriver was nuts. Easily the match of the tournament so far.
Overall: A big step up from a solid first night. There are three fantastic matches, including a main event that is among the best G1 matches I’ve seen so far. Nothing on the show is bad and even the lesser stuff all manages to stay relatively short. It’s also really cool to see Okada, Nakamura and Tanahashi get off to rough starts as it opens the field early on. Great stuff and I look forward to what’s next.
Satoshi Kojima 4 points
Lance Archer 4 points
Tomohiro Ishii 2 points
Hirooki Goto 2 points
Davey Boy Smith Jr. 2 points
Prince Devitt 2 points
Katsuyori Shibata 2 points
Togi Makabe 2 points
Hiroshi Tanahashi 0 points
Kazuchika Okada 0 points
Karl Anderson 4 points
Kota Ibushi 4 points
Yuji Nagata 4 points
Yujiro Takahashi 4 points
Shelton X Benjamin 2 points
Minoru Suzuki 2 points
Shinsuke Nakamura 0 points
Tetsuya Naito 0 points
Toru Yano 0 points
Hiroyoshi Tenzan 0 points