Friday, June 24, 2016
For the first time so far, we’re having a big change in the tournament. Due to injuries, both Hirooki Goto and Hiroyoshi Tenzan have to forfeit their remaining matches. That means that the card has to be shuffled a bit and Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Shinsuke Nakamura both get forfeit wins tonight.
It’s the first tag team match of the tournament shows so far. The heels attack quickly, beating up Captain New Japan in the crowd, though he beats the countout and makes it back to the ring. CNJ looks very much like a power ranger. Iizuka and Honma brawl through the crowd. CNJ takes a beating for a while until Honma returns to the mild tag. Honma is nowhere near the level of popularity he would attain a year later in the G1. He does go a bit wild with headbutts before missing the top rope one. The heels continue to just do stuff and the faces take a beating. Iizuka brings his iron glove to into play, leveling the Captain. YOSHI-HASHI gets the pin.
Normally, I would question why this went nearly ten minutes but I know there is time to be made up for the two lost tournament matches. The work here was uninspired, the crowd was mostly dead and it screamed filler.
Takahashi gets on the mic before the match, as does one of valets. I really wonder what they’re saying. Kota is shown as having eight points, since he will get a forfeit win over Tenzan, but I’m not counting it just yet. Ibushi overwhelms Yujiro with his superior athleticism until he gets caught in a powerslam. Takahashi starts going through some of his offense. Ibushi snaps off a rana, sending him outside, and follows with his signature moonsault. Inside, Ibushi gets two on a standing corkscrew moonsault. Takahashi hits a big time lariat that I didn’t know he had in him. Ibushi counters a powerbomb with a backflip kick and German for two. Takahashi also hits a German for two before Tokyo Pimps keeps Ibushi down.
Usually, I’m not a fan of Yujiro Takahashi. However, Kota Ibushi is having one hell of a tournament and he got the best match out of Takahashi so far. It was a fun back and forth battle with both guys playing to their strengths.
I still love Nagata’s Pirates of the Caribbean theme opening. When the bell rings, the lights go out. It’s just a glitch though Anderson is quick to say “I didn’t do it.” They go back and forth in the early stages before moving the fight into the crowd. Anderson wraps Nagata’s arm around the guardrail and kicks. Once back inside, Anderson talks smack to Nagata and even steals his salute taunt, adding a flip of the bird. Nagata doesn’t take kindly, retaliating with a knee. They do the classic Nagata spot where he powers up after shots up top and hits a big suplex. They go into a back and forth of counters, ending when Anderson counters an exploder into the Gun Stun.
I found this to be a fun match but something didn’t click to make it great for me. I found myself disinterested at times. Still, the work was strong and Anderson continues to shine as a dick heel.
Here is another match that I was very intrigued by after seeing the blocks. Prince Devitt has boxing gloves with him and Bad Luck Fale puts them on him before the bell. The referee takes one away, so Devitt just throws the other at Shibata. Then Devitt goes into this typical heel antics. He runs around the ring, uses a chair and allows Fale to get involved. When the match moves back to them fighting fair, Shibata shrugs off a lot of what Devitt does and fires back with shots of his own, overwhelming the Jr. Heavyweight Champion. They get into a forearm exchange that Shibata easily wins. He lights Devitt up with kicks before Devitt ducks one and hits a spinning kick. Shibata locks him in the sleeper but Fale whacks him with a chair in the back. Bloody Sunday connects but Shibata gets a shoulder up. The comeback begins as Shibata takes out Fale. He hits the PK on Devitt and follows with the GTS for the 1-2-3.
Short, but mostly sweet. They did the interference stuff but since the match was so short, I don’t think it was overdone. Devitt and the gloves was fun, while Shibata kicking the shit out of him and giving him what he deserved was cool.
Right from the start, this is an Ishii style fight, as they lay into each other with forearms. Hopefully this follows a similar pattern to the Shibata/Okada match from the night before. Ishii kicks his ass outside for a bit and still holds serve inside. In a fight, Ishii is going to have the upper hand every single time. Wisely, Okada changes the pace and moves away from the strikes, opting for his trademark offense. Okada hits the elbow and does the Rainmaker pose. Ishii wants none of that though, scoring on a second rope suplex for two. Both guys continue with the big offense, trading near falls. Ishii blocks a tombstone with elbow and connects with a big lariat for two. Back to the forearm shots before Okada nails that picture perfect dropkick. Ishii counters the Rainmaker with a lariat and hits another but it still isn’t enough. Rainmaker is blocked again and Ishii hits a headbutt. He comes off the ropes but runs into a tombstone. The third time is the charm for the Rainmaker, putting Ishii down.
It wasn’t as much of an Okada ass kicking as the Shibata match was, but that’s okay. Ishii was still not a made man at this point but some of those near falls were so close. When you remember that he beat Tanahashi earlier in the tournament and the fact that he fought tooth and nail here, you could buy into it. Both guys did a great job.
Archer wants a test of strength. Tanahashi is like “no dude, you’re too big for that shit” and hits him in the gut. I already see that we’re going to get the big man vs. little man dynamic here. Archer plays right into it, beating the hell out of Tanahashi for a while, both in and out of the ring. He hits the Bossman slam but decides to weirdly yell before covering. He probably wouldn’t have gotten the three anyway, but he should be more focused against someone like Tanahashi. Tanahashi starts to rally a bit after but Archer big boots him outside as he tries to skin the car. More people needed to do that to Shawn Michaels in his day. Tanahashi is bumping like a madman, really helping Archer look like a complete beast. Of course though, he has to do the official babyface comeback. It’s shorter than usual here and finishes things with two High Fly Flows.
Lance Archer went from a guy that I pretty much never saw have a good match in TNA or WWECW, to cranking out almost nothing but three star matches in the G1. He’s been consistent. Tanahashi was his usual really good self, bumping well for Archer. The monster angle works since Tanahashi is such a good seller.
Since its Toru Yano, he attacks before the bell. Naito turns it around on him momentarily, but still ends up down in the crowd to give us that good old countout tease. We get some classic Yano stuff in the ring as he works over Naito. Naito hits his sweet corner dropkick, stopping Yano in his tracks. Naito decides to nut up and start slapping Yano. He slingshots him into the exposed buckle and hits a powerbomb for two. I almost never buy Yao winning with an actual move. Naito gets in a series of moves, including a bridging German for two. He goes up but misses the Stardust Press. A few crazy rollups see each man get ear falls until Yano uses a low blow to steal it.
A long match by Yano standards. This was decent. Something seems to be missing from pretty much each match on the show but I can’t put my finger on it. About what you would expect from these two.
Both of these guys are members of the Suzuki-Gun stable. They work at a slower pace than pretty much everything else on the show so far. That’s fine as it adds some diversity to the card. They fight in and out of the ring for a while. Benjamin is in control and it’s as if Suzuki is daring Shelton to hit him harder. I like that dynamic from the leader of the stable to one of his followers. Shelton hits the dragon whip kick and corner splash but Suzuki blocks the German. He ends up putting Shelton in the ankle lock, only for Shelton to reverse into one of his own. Suzuki fights out and Shelton nails a big blockbuster for two. Minoru doesn’t stay down for long and wins with the Gotch style piledriver.
These are two guys that I usually enjoy. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case here. Something didn’t work right and the crowd being pretty much silent throughout didn’t help. Very disappointing.
After the match, Minoru Suzuki throws the young lions out of the ring and shouts at Shelton to get up. They show respect to each other, showing that the stable is still strong.
Oh yeah, these two should go to war. The sounds they make while wailing away on each other with forearms are actually quite disturbing. Makabe gets in the driver’s seat first. When things spill outside, Kojima is able to turn things around, sending Makabe into the guardrail. Once back inside, they go back to beating the fuck out of each other with forearms. After a bit of back and forth, they move to the outside and brawl there. Kojima gets two on an elbow and the crowd is pretty into this. It’s the opposite of the last outing. Instead of forearms, they trade chops now. Kojima starts laying in the lariats, including one to the back that knocks Makabe down. He goes for another but Makabe blocks. Makabe tries one only for Kojima to stop it with his own arm. Kojima tries now and Makabe counters with a dragon suplex. Great stuff. Kojima finally hits one and falls to the outside. He almost doesn’t make it back in, sliding in at 19. Makabe hits a powerbomb but Kojima kicks out at one. Spider German and King Kong Knee Drop are finally enough to keep Kojima down.
I thought this was great. These two just went to war, hitting each other with everything they’ve got. They targeted the injuries that both of them have and the lariat battle near the end was spectacular. A great capper on this show.
Overall: Outside of the weird tag team match, this was a solid show. There were two standout matches in Okada/Ishii and Makabe/Kojima. Those, coupled with the other good, fun matches made for a show that kind of sums up this tournament. A lot of good things happening, but some things keeping it from being great. The show felt a bit off at times due to the weird ordering and injuries though.
Hiroshi Tanahashi 8 points
Togi Makabe 8 points
Hirooki Goto 8 points
Prince Devitt 8 points
Kazuchika Okada 8 points
Katsuyori Shibata 8 points
Davey Boy Smith Jr. 8 points
Satoshi Kojima 6 points
Lance Archer 4 points
Tomohiro Ishii 4 points
Shinsuke Nakamura 10 points
Minoru Suzuki 8 points
Yujiro Takahashi 8 points
Karl Anderson 8 points
Yuji Nagata 6 points
Shelton X Benjamin 6 points
Hiroyoshi Tenzan 6 points
Kota Ibushi 6 points
Toru Yano 6 points
Tetsuya Naito 6 points