Tanahashi and Ishii had a great match on night eleven but we are now back to the great B Block. One of my most anticipated matches happens here when Tetsuya Naito and Katsuhiko Nakajima go one on one. Also, Kenny Omega faces Katsuyori Shibata for the first time ever. Add in a rematch of last year’s surprisingly good match between Michael Elgin and YOSHI-HASHI and there’s no reason this show shouldn’t deliver. As always, I’ll just be reviewing the tournament matches.
These guys came in on opposite runs. Yano has won two straight after starting 0-3, while Nagata has dropped two in a row after a 3-0 start. Ever the agitator, Yano threw water at Nagata during his entrance. He did his usual BREAK stuff before stepping outside to avoid Nagata. Nagata went out and got him, kicking his ass in the ring. Things spilled back outside where Yano nailed a low blow. He then found tape and taped Nagata’s legs together. Yano beat the count inside and Nagata couldn’t. Pretty entertaining for what it was. You have to know what to expect when it comes to Yano and this was just that.
At the G1 Climax Finals last year, these two exceeded expectations and had a really good match. YOSHI seems to have more tape on his shoulder with each passing show. They began with early chops before fighting outside. Elgin missed a lariat and caught the ring post, which sounded gross. That allowed YOSHI to take over a bit until Elgin hit a slingshot splash. Elgin blocked a sunset flip bomb but still got hit with a regular powerbomb with a bridge for two. YOSHI went high risk and it backfired as he missed the swanton bomb. Elgin pounced with a corner DVD, only getting a near fall. YOSHI continued to show resilience, even nearly stealing it with a jackknife pin. He applied the butterfly lock but Elgin reached the ropes. They started to exchange big blows in the center of the ring. Elgin nearly decapitated him with a lariat for two but quickly got up and won with the buckle bomb/Elgin Bomb combo. Slightly better than their G1 match last year once it picked up. They beat each other up, made you believe YOSHI-HASHI had a chance and had some really good near fall sequences without overdoing it. I don’t know if it was his wife or what, but a woman in the crowd was crying hard.
EVIL’s standing in the tournament has been massively disappointing so far. Honma started hot, looking to get on the winning track. It’s Honma though, so of course he missed Kokeshi and it turned things around. EVIL took over a bit and we got a countout tease. Back inside, Honma started to rally. He actually connected on the Kokeshi but EVIL started bringing the heavy shots. He nailed a big German but Honma was quickly back up, only to get taken out again with a lariat. Honma blocked the STO and they traded headbutts. They continued to trade stuff until EVIL nailed a big time powerbomb like move and then the STO to win. Good match. EVIL has been consistently solid throughout and while Honma has mostly been the same, without his underdog story, his stuff has really lacked fire this year. None of the greatness from his past two G1 runs.
One of the more highly anticipated matches of the entire tournament. Omega’s game plan seemed to be to go after Shibata’s bad shoulder. Shibata responded by beating him down in the corner. Both guys threw each other in the guardrails. Omega then went to Shibata’s other injury, the knee, and dropped it on a table outside. It’s the G1, so of course this led to a countout tease. Omega went to a stretch muffler, continuing to work the knee, standing with it at one point to add pressure. He held serve until Shibata starting hitting big boots, selling the hurt leg the entire time. Just as Shibata seemed to gain a lot of momentum, Omega was back to attacking the leg to stop him. In an awesome moment, Shibata blocked the One Winged Angel and turned it into a submission. Omega reached the ropes and they began to kick away at each other, which worked since Shibata’s dominant arm is hurt but not the dominant leg. Omega won the exchange because of that and went for the One Winged Angel again. Shibata slipped free and locked in the sleeper. A PK later and he won. I came in just wanting Shibata to murder Omega but I really liked what we got too. Again, when Omega isn’t overly campy, his stuff is much more enjoyable. He was a smart villain, just going after hurt limbs and Shibata had to dig deep to beat him.
Though a lot of people were excited for Shibata/Omega, this was the one I was most looking forward to. Their early standoff ended when Naito avoided a kick and did his trademark laid back pose. Spoiler alert: Tetsuya Naito is cooler than your favorite wrestler. He started playing mind games, stalling on the outside. He also hilariously told a loud fan to keep it down in the calmest fashion. Back inside, Naito worked the leg, looking to set up for his new knee bar submission. Luckily for Nakajima, his left leg was the focus, freeing up his right to kick the shit out of Naito. Nakajima dropped Naito’s leg on the guardrail, giving him a taste of his own medicine. Naito attempted his rebound attack only to leap right into a stiff kick. I love Nakajima’s kicks. Nakajima slapped on an ankle lock that Naito eventually reversed into the knee bar before Nakajima made it to the ropes. Naito hit a super rana and tried Destino but Nakajima blocked and hit a big DVD. They began to trade vicious forearm shots. The finishing stretch saw both guys bust out kicks, including a PK from Nakajima. He went for the Brainbuster only for Naito to turn it into Destino in mid-air. He added a second for good measure to get the 1-2-3. Another smart, great match to cap the show. This never felt long at all, they built to a good finish and both guys came out of it looking great. I’m all for a rematch somewhere down the line.
Overall: Oh look at that. The B Block delivers yet again. As usual, Yano had a very Yano like match, but I give points to the creative finish. Honma/EVIL is good. Elgin/YOSHI was really good and continued YOSHI’s string of good matches in the G1. Then the two main events are both great. Omega/Shibata was kept to the right length and featured none of Omega’s terrible traits, while Nakajima/Naito lived up to my expectations.
|Kazuchika Okada||10 (5-1)||Tetsuya Naito||8 (4-2)|
|Togi Makabe||8 (4-2)||Michael Elgin||8 (4-2)|
|Naomichi Marufui||8 (4-2)||Katsuhiko Nakajima||6 (3-3)|
|Hiroshi Tanahashi||6 (3-3)||Katsuyori Shibata||6 (3-3)|
|Hirooki Goto||6 (3-3)||Kenny Omega||6 (3-3)|
|Bad Luck Fale||6 (3-3)||Toru Yano||6 (3-3)|
|Hiroyoshi Tenzan||4 (2-4)||YOSHI-HASHI||6 (3-3)|
|Tama Tonga||4 (2-4)||Yuji Nagata||6 (3-3)|
|Tomohiro Ishii||4 (2-4)||EVIL||4 (2-4)|
|SANADA||4 (2-4)||Tomoaki Honma||4 (2-4)|