Monday, June 6, 2016
Here we are. The last night of the tournament before the finals. Which guy with 8 points will win A Block? Kyle O’Reilly, Ryusuke Taguchi, KUSHIDA and Matt Sydal are all alive. Over in B Block, who takes it? Ricochet, Will Ospreay or Volador Jr.? Let’s find out.
Beretta entered in the midst of a four match losing streak after starting 2-0. He used his quickness to his advantage, scoring on a dive outside, as well as a tornado DDT. He also went for a top rope rana, but Liger rolled through into a pinning combination for a near fall. After another dive outside, Beretta countered a Liger Bomb and nailed the Dudebuster to end his streak. It was short, inoffensive and I appreciated that it really felt like Beretta tried to work quick and pull out the stops to avoid losing five straight.
I was hoping that the guy that beat Tomohiro Ishii for the ROH Television Title would have been booked a bit stronger in this tournament. He went 5-2 last year and should have ended around the same this time. I guess it’s not too far off though. Anyway, these two had some pretty good back and forth. There was nothing particularly wrong with what they did, it just wasn’t very engaging. Tiger Mask hit the big top rope tiger suplex for two and went right into a submission, giving Fish a taste of his own medicine. Fish survived and, though it took two Fish Hook attempts, made Tiger Mask tap. Like the previous match, this was fine. I’m glad both were short since neither match had anything on the line.
Ricochet needed to win and have Volador Jr. lose to win B Block. Ricochet’s athletic ability and speed was way too much for Owens in the early goings and it showed. Owens had an ace up his sleeve though, as Yujiro Takahashi made sure to get in cheap shots outside to help turn the tide. In a really cool moment, Ricochet ducked an Owens clothesline and in one fell swoop, dove out onto Takahashi. Owens attempted to pull tights and bring a chair into play, but Ricochet was resilient and still connected with the Benadryller. He wasn’t able to instantly pin though, opening the door. Thanks to another distraction from Takahashi, Ricochet missed a Phoenix Splash. Owens rolled him up and used Yujiro for leverage to steal it and cost Ricochet the block. Better than I expected as they played into the drama of Ricochet winning the block. You felt robbed because the dastardly Owens cheated non-stop to steal it. Ricochet did a good job of selling how much the loss hurt.
Volador Jr. would win B Block if he won this. Thanks to his win over Ricochet and Ricochet’s loss earlier, Ospreay would take the block with a victory as well. Volador’s attire was pretty cool tonight, though he removed his mask at the start. This was one of my most anticipated matches of the tournament. Their exchange here looked a million times better than the awful one they had in a six man at Korakuen a few days prior and ended with an Ospreay shooting star press off of the apron. Volador was ready for a lot of Ospreay’s high flying stuff and answered with his own offense. Volador had a sloppy slipup when trying to flip over the ropes at one point. Ospreay hit a sick moonsault DDT but saved the best for last. Volador attempted the Spanish Fly off the top, but Ospreay landed on his damn feet! He hit the springboard cutter to come from way behind and win B Block, despite losing three of his first four matches. Best match of the night so far as, while it didn’t feel as urgent or dramatic as the previous match, it was a really good athletic showcase between two of the better tournament performers.
Will Ospreay celebrated like this was a big deal, which is appreciated.
The rumored Dominion card sees YOSHI-HASHI vs. SANADA, which sounds intriguing. Both guys have been racking up wins for their teams on the undercards of these shows. Chaos, tired of always getting their asses kicked post-match, decided to attack before the bell. These are becoming harder and harder to fairly judge. They are infinitely more entertaining than those old Chaos/Bullet Club matches, but we’ve seen them a lot in a very short span. There’s only so much these guys can do together. It was another really fun match between them though. I’ve liked the focus being on SANADA and YOSHI-HASHI. It came down to them as SANADA won with a moonsault. Worth a look.
Kyle O’Reilly came in needing a lot of help and a win of his own to win the block. We got a surprising show of respect in a fist bump after their first exchange. The guys know each other well from their tag team matches so this was mostly smooth. Kyle made the first big mistake when he missed a kick outside and connected with the ring post. Despite this, I was surprised to see Rocky place his focus on Kyle’s arm. The final few minutes of this were great and saw O’Reilly fight for his life to get his submission locked in. When he finally did though, Romero reached the ropes. They got into a battle of strikes, where Romero hit a stiff knee and clothesline that knocked the mouthpiece out of Kyle. Another big running knee ended O’Reilly’s hopes of winning A Block. Good match here, though it never quite got to great levels. Disappointing to see O’Reilly finish just 4-3 as I wanted him to win the entire tournament. However, the news after the show that he wants to bulk up and move to heavyweight status is all sorts of fantastic. A G1 run by O’Reilly would add a ton to that tournament.
Finlay’s long hair and beard look is a good one for him. He was looking to play spoiler from the start as he blocked a rana and went right into attempting the stretch muffler. Sydal survived, but Finlay found his target. Finlay also came close on some pinning combinations and I liked that they were doing their best to make you buy into the possibility to him pulling off the upset. While Sydal missed his first Shooting Sydal Press attempt, he scored on the second and took over the lead in A Block. As usual, Finlay delivered another strong performance and was one of the best surprises of the tournament. This entire thing was much better with him than it would have been with either of the Young Bucks. Sydal has been very good too.
Taguchi showed up with a bandana covering his eyes as a way to mock Gedo. Gedo didn’t take too kindly to this, attacking Taguchi during his entrance and getting his trusty ring bell hammer to help. He also removed the turnbuckle pad and made sure to talk a bunch of trash. Taguchi came back and it was time for ass based offense. Oh, joy. Gedo kept trying to cheat, including a low blow that led him to a rollup attempt. Taguchi countered it into his own rollup to win and take over the lead in A Block. Now, KUSHIDA has to win for us to not be subjected to Taguchi in the finals. Anyway, this was standard stuff for these two. Some fun moments, but mostly just there.
KUSHIDA has to win to win the block, but BUSHI was out for revenge after losing to KUSHIDA at the New Beginning in Osaka earlier this year. That was clear as BUSHI dropkicked KUSHIDA during his entrance and beat him up on the outside for a while. That led to a countout tease but of course, KUSHIDA beat it. KUSHIDA went after the arm, which BUSHI did a very good of selling. It was great to see KUSHIDA just viciously attack it. He aimed his kicks and strikes at the arm, adding a little something to his offense. It was smart and set up the Hoverboard Lock perfectly. When he finally locked it in, BUSHI fought with everything he had to escape it. He finally did after shoving the referee away and spitting mist at KUSHIDA. The diving Codebreaker connected but only got two. BUSHI had to hit it a second time to win his fourth straight and cost KUSHIDA the block. Not quite as great as their New Beginning match but one of the stronger tournament matches. Almost always good to see BUSHI win, though this one led to Taguchi winning the block, which sucks.
BUSHI picked up the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title after the match and held it high in the air, before cutting a promo.
Overall: Well, there you have it. The final night of block matches turns out to be like most of the rest of the tournament. It was good but not great. The matches have mostly been good, with a few being great, but the booking is strange. I liked Ospreay coming from behind to win his block but Taguchi is a head scratcher. You had a chance to put Ospreay against KUSHIDA (though I get not doing that since they already met and if Ospreay wins the tournament, he gets another shot), O’Reilly or BUSHI and you go with Taguchi. Come on Gedo, you’re better than that.