After a strange three day hiatus following night one, night two comes to us from Korakuen Hall. There will be several shows over the next few days. This is our first B Block show and I’ve gone on record saying that the B Block sounds WAY more interesting than the A Block. A Block started hot with a show featuring two ****+ matches, though I find myself intrigued by the entire B Block side tonight (and most nights). The Korakuen crowd should only help this. Also, this show is available for free to anyone, even non-NJPW World subscribers.
You know what to expect from Toru Yano. Katsuhiko Nakajima is the wild card in the B Block. Dude is awesome, but it will be interesting to see if he is booked that way. He brought Kaito Kitomiya with him as a young boy. It is also Nakajima’s first G1 Climax. Yano threw his water bottle at Nakajima before the bell, causing Nakajima to attack. Yano nearly stole it by pinning Nakajima while choking him and also by tying him up outside. Nakajima beat the count back in of course. Inside, they had some more fun and Yano picked up a few near falls. Nakajima got tired of his shit though and planted him with a Brainbuster to pick up his first G1 win. They kept this short and sweet. I was entertained and that’s all that matters sometimes.
It might just be me, but I feel like Kenny Omega needs to have a really strong tournament run to make up for some of the momentum he lost after the start of the year. I did like him telling the camera “I hate this schedule, I hate this tournament, just give me the title and the money.” YOSHI-HASHI has been on quite the roll in recent months and certainly earned his spot here. It is the G1 debut for both men. Omega was very cocky in the early stages and toyed with YOSHI. He threw the mats outside over YOSHI and nailed a springboard stomp onto him, looking for the countout following that interesting offense. YOSHI started to rally but was cut off by a superkick and a pair of dragon suplexes. Omega hit an awesome sitout powerbomb for two. Omega got his knees up on the swanton bomb, while YOSHI countered the One Winged Angel twice! Omega then kicked out of the swanton bomb, so YOSHI put him in a submission. Omega sold the desperation to reach the ropes expertly and did. YOSHI nailed a lariat and then Nakamura’s Boma Ye (which Omega has been using since he beat Shinsuke in January) for a seriously close near fall. Finally, YOSHI scored the upset with Karma. This blew away my expectations. They told a great story of the overconfident Omega running into trouble because YOSHI-HASHI is no longer a doormat. YOSHI using the Boma Ye was a great cherry on top and their finishing sequence was dramatic, while not being overkill.
EVIL’s finger light gimmick still looks stupid, but everything else seems to mostly work. Anyway, it’s a HOSS FIGHT! I love these (check out Matanza/Cage and EVIL/Ishii from earlier this year). EVIL did the throat cut signal and looked for the win within a minute but Elgin instead nailed a stalling vertical suplex. As expected, most of the shots these two threw at each other were big blows. Seriously, some of the elbows and forearms sounded nasty. Elgin got two on a pretty big lariat. He pulled out a top rope splash, seemingly as a tribute to his tag partner Hiroshi Tanahashi. Commentary did say something about HIGH FLY FLOW. Near the end, they stared across the ring at one another and just charged forward with heavy shots. EVIL won out by hitting his STO (oddly also called EVIL) to pick up the win over the Intercontinental Champion. Not quite the show stealer I was hoping for. It was a bit slow at points. When it was going though, it was damn good. We got a good old fashioned hoss fight like I expected. Hopefully, this win means that EVIL gets a shot at the title at one of the September shows because given another chance, these two seem capable of more.
Tetsuya Naito’s popularity at this point is through the roof. Despite that, the crowd seemed behind their ageless veteran wonder Yuji Nagata. My friend Bobby compared this to a disappointed father against a rebellious son. Naito was quick to mock Nagata’s trademark salute pose because he’s just such a dick. He continued to do so throughout the match, whether at random times or while applying a figure four on Nagata. Nagata fired back with some of his badass kicks. Naito just nailed every mannerism as always. His sly smirks at the right times were just great. Nagata slapped on the armbar but Naito made it to the ropes. He also blocked Destino and scored on a Brainbuster for a near fall. Nagata blocked it again, slapped Naito and hit a backdrop driver, getting a close two count. Once up, Nagata got in a spin kick and won via second backdrop driver. The crowd ate this up. While this wasn’t match of the night, it was really damn good. Just a great job of Naito being an ass and Nagata doing his best to teach him a lesson. I can’t say enough about Nagata’s skills at his age and Naito’s character work. Both were top notch, as was the crowd throughout. Naito even had a smile as he was limping to the back. Nagata responded by doing Naito’s eye taunt towards him, causing another smirk from Naito.
These two had a spectacular match in the G1 two years ago before having a really good one at Kizuna Road a few weeks back. Here they were again with the Korakuen main event. Shibata wore a towel around his neck to the ring, but didn’t bring his title with him. Just like I want from a match involving these two, they attacked each other right from the opening bell. Honma laid in the chops, which Shibata took like a man. I loved Shibata using a backdrop driver after earning the respect of the New Japan Dads. It just felt right. Like Elgin/EVIL earlier, I kind of felt each shot from these two, who just love to hit hard. Watching Honma fire up as he was just getting leveled was great. Honma proceeded to drop Shibata on his head with three different moves before going up top and scoring with Kokeshi for the shocking upset victory. This didn’t get to the levels of their 2014 classic but I still enjoyed it. They knew they weren’t going long, so they fit a lot into the time and went balls to the wall. The winning moment was really cool too since nobody expected it. After the match, they came face to face and slapped each other before Honma dumped him outside in a great turnaround from Shibata doing that to him at Kizuna Road.
Overall: While A Block’s night one had a higher ceiling (two four star matches and Tenzan/Ishii is still the best of the tournament so far), this was about as enjoyable. You get a short fun match between Nakajima and Yano to start off. Omega and YOSHI-HASHI then went out and had a way better match than expected. The final three matches all hovered around the same score from me and were all easy watches. Not the excellent first B Block showing I was hoping for but consistently good stuff from everyone involved.
|Hirooki Goto||2 (1-0)||EVIL||2 (1-0)|
|Hiroyoshi Tenzan||2 (1-0)||Katsuhiko Nakajima||2 (1-0)|
|Naomichi Marufuji||2 (1-0)||Tomoaki Honma||2 (1-0)|
|SANADA||2 (1-0)||Yuji Nagata||2 (1-0)|
|Togi Makabe||2 (1-0)||YOSHI-HASHI||2 (1-0)|
|Bad Luck Fale||0 (0-1)||Katsuyori Shibata||0 (0-1)|
|Hiroshi Tanahashi||0 (0-1)||Kenny Omega||0 (0-1)|
|Kazuchika Okada||0 (0-1)||Michael Elgin||0 (0-1)|
|Tama Tonga||0 (0-1)||Tetsuya Naito||0 (0-1)|
|Tomohiro Ishii||0 (0-1)||Toru Yano||0 (0-1)|