We’ve officially reached August and the double digit tournament days. Today, the B Block is back in action one of their least interesting cards. Don’t get me wrong, it still looks good on paper like all B Block shows, but my point still stands. After four shows, NOAH star Katsuhiko Nakajima leads the block, which is a nice surprise. Hopefully these guys all deliver because the middle of the tournament can provide some lackluster effort as we saw last year and on the A Block show yesterday. As always, I’ll just be reviewing the tournament matches.
As noted in my introduction, Nakajima leads the block. Both guys have been consistently strong performers so far. They spilled outside in the first few minutes where Nakajima wrenched YOSHI’s arm in the guardrail. I like that he didn’t go for the countout win, electing to roll YOSHI back in and finish him off there. YOSHI’s shoulder was taped up and Nakajima targeted it viciously. Side note, but I chuckle when I read that YOSHI’s pants say “LOOE EXPLOSION” on his ass. He began to rally, still selling the arm, until getting caught in a dragon suplex. After exchanging forearms, Nakajima kicked YOSHI, so he responded with a superkick. A powerbomb with a bridge got him two. Nakajima fired back with kicks, including a PK, but YOSHI avoided the Brainbuster. He scored with a lariat and Karma for the win. I didn’t write it all out, but the finishing sequence here was pretty great. Both guys have been on a roll in this tournament and deserve some love. YOSHI has been delivering really good openers each time out and Nakajima is possibly my favorite person to watch in the tournament so far.
Michael Elgin began the tournament 0-2, while Nagata started 3-0. Right from the bell they went at it and charged at each other. That was pretty much the layout of the match. Nagata and Elgin traded blows and offense for the entirety of it. Surprisingly though, the crowd didn’t seem too into it for about half of the match. Both guys are very over so I didn’t expect that. They fought up top where Nagata fired up despite getting nailed with forearms. He was able to score with an exploder off the second rope for two. Nagata’s armbar got a good pop but less than usual. Elgin came back with a Death Valley driver on the apron. Kudos to Nagata for taking bumps like that consistently. Elgin missed a big splash off the top but hit a big spinning back fist. The buckle bomb/Elgin Bomb combo did Nagata in. Solid match but something was missing to make it really good. I think the crowd had something to do with it as they weren’t as into it as I expected or hoped. I do enjoy some good hard hitting action which I got here. That’s three straight wins for Elgin.
Around this point last year, Shibata was leading A Block only to take a four minute loss to Yano that sent him into a tailspin of losses. Again, I don’t know where Shibata’s title has gone. A pissed off Shibata kicked Yano before the bell and beat his ass. Shibata slapped on the sleeper hold but Yano had removed the turnbuckle covers and sent him into it. He rolled him up after a low blow for two, but was persistent and won with another roll up. Too short to really rate. This kind of kills Shibata’s hopes of winning the Block to be honest. That may have always been the plan but I wonder if the match was made extra short to really give Shibata a night off to rest all of his injuries.
EVIL is another guy that has been performing at a relatively high level, though his record is pretty bad. Omega has been hit or miss in his four matches. Nothing outwardly bad, but he was much more enjoyable in his first two matches than the Honma and Elgin ones. Omega slapped EVIL a bunch at the start so Evil took to kicking him. Omega went for a dive outside but stopped and did a Naito post instead. If only he had Naito’s charisma. This led to the typical brawling around the ring stuff. It took a while and EVIL did his usual chair spot. Once back inside, Omega went after the knee a bit, but ended up taking a backdrop driver. EVIL blocked the One Winged Angel and head butted Omega in the back of the skull. EVIL signaled for the end but Omega avoided the STO and hit Boma Ye. You should know that move never wins it on the first try. Have you never watched a Nakamura match Kenny? EVIL then picked up several near falls but Omega continued to survive. Omega again blocked the STO and snapped off a reverse rana. He scored with a knee and impressive One Winged Angel to win. It picked up down the stretch and really got going, but the first half or so was really ho-hum. I’m sad that EVIL only has two points.
It was great to see Naito mostly healthy here since he was coughing up blood after the loss to Shibata two days ago. Since it’s the G1, the pattern of fighting outside for a while continued. Naito worked Honma’s leg while out there but surprisingly didn’t go for the countout win, looking to continue the punishment. He dropkicked Honma in the knee on the aisle and then nearly got the countout. Honma spent most of the match selling, which is his strong point. However, this went twenty minutes and you felt it. It wasn’t bad by any means, but I’ve always felt that Honma (Elgin too for that matter) is at his best when working the compact G1 style. Give him 10-15 minutes and it’s almost always better. The fans believed in some of Honma’s rally attempts but never as much as in some other matches. They knew Naito wasn’t going to lose this one. He finished off Honma with Destino. A good match, though it was slightly disappointing. They may have had to go long to make up for Shibata if his stuff was indeed cut due to injury. This would have probably been better served to go about fifteen.
Overall: An overall good show from the B Block. Like the previous A Block show, nothing on this would be a MOTY candidate but it doesn’t feel like everyone phoned it in. Outside of Shibata/Yano, everything got at least three stars and was an enjoyable watch even if some were disappointing. The B Block shows continue to be easy to sit through even when they aren’t at their best like tonight.
|Togi Makabe||8 (4-1)||Katsuhiko Nakajima||6 (3-2)|
|Kazuchika Okada||8 (4-1)||Tetsuya Naito||6 (3-2)|
|Naomichi Marufui||6 (3-2)||Michael Elgin||6 (3-2)|
|Hiroyoshi Tenzan||4 (2-3)||YOSHI-HASHI||6 (3-2)|
|Tomohiro Ishii||4 (2-3)||Kenny Omega||6 (3-2)|
|Tama Tonga||4 (2-3)||Yuji Nagata||6 (3-2)|
|Hiroshi Tanahashi||4 (2-3)||Toru Yano||4 (2-3)|
|Hirooki Goto||4 (2-3)||Tomoaki Honma||4 (2-3)|
|Bad Luck Fale||4 (2-3)||Katsuyori Shibata||4 (2-3)|
|SANADA||4 (2-3)||EVIL||2 (1-4)|