The tournament returns with B Block action. Can El Desperado remain unbeaten? Can BUSHI finally get a much-deserved win? Will KUSHIDA turn his win into a streak? Speaking of KUSHIDA, he and ACH are the big match today and they had an IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title match last year that made my year-end list.
Tiger Mask has performed better than expected in this tournament, while Kanemaru has been as bland as I expected. This had the expected early Suzuki-Gun attack, because screw creativity. It followed more Suzuki-Gun tropes with interference and cheap shots galore. As Tiger Mask fought back, he took out TAKA at ringside. Unfortunately, that meant the awful Taichi strolled out to replace him. His distraction and cheap shot set up Kanemaru’s victory in 8:42. Standard Suzuki-Gun BS. Lots of cheap tactics to try and gloss over how dull the match was. Disappointing because Tiger Mask was on such a good run.
NJPW tournaments are usually fun and filled with good wrestling, but there aren’t a ton of surprises. If a guy like Desperado starts undefeated, he’ll lose his next match or three. It happened with Kyle O’Reilly in last year’s BOTSJ and guys like Togi Makabe (2016), Shelton Benjamin (2014) and Yujiro Takahashi (2013) in previous G1 Climaxes. Anyway, Desperado continued to be the most interesting and entertaining member of Suzuki-Gun. I liked how they didn’t go the typical route. When Desperado tried using a chair, he was caught by the referee, leading to a great spot where Volador dove over the official and onto him. Desperado took a great bump on Voaldor’s spinning piledriver like move to lose at 8:03. Good work from both guys in a fun sprint. The result was the expected one, but either way, this was enjoyable.
Los Ingobernables de Japon vs. Taguchi Japan! It continues! That came into play instantly, as both men had counters ready for each other. The crowd was way into this, most likely because of how each guy is prominently featured in multi-man tags. Taguchi was the first to go high-risk, nailing a sweet dive to the outside. Unlike the Suzuki-Gun guys, BUSHI found a creative way to utilize underhanded tactics. He crawled under the ring and to the opposite side to blindside Taguchi. BUSHI countered Dodon and survived the ankle lock. The finish was anti-climactic, with BUSHI just hitting MX and getting his first points at 9:26. Another fun match. It’s good to see BUSHI get on the board and the chemistry between these two made for a smooth match.
I gave their match in ROH **** last year. This began with a feeling out process, with neither man trying to make a mistake. They had each other very well scouted, leading to some fun counters and blocks in the early stages. It was odd to see KUSHDIA go after the arm. He’s been struggling with that strategy for a while, so he changed up his game in the win over BUSHI, but reverted back in this one. His Hoverboard Lock attempts never quite threatened to fully put away ACH. They had strong exchanges down the stretch, highlighted by ACH fighting off the Small Package Driver and hitting a Michinoku Driver. I wonder if TAKA is mad or honored about that. ACH hit a lariat and the Midnight Driver to put the ROH TV Champion down at 14:44. There’s something funny about that considering ACH left ROH recently. By the way, he, like Cedric Alexander, Donovan Dijak and others, has shined since leaving them. This was the best match of the night, with great back and forth and it told a sensible story.
Overall: Outside of the opener, this is an easy watch. The other three matches are all fun and different. Guys like KUSHIDA, Desperado, ACH and Tiger Mask (sans this show) continue to do a good job and the B Block has been better than expected.
|Dragon Lee||6 (3-1)||El Desperado||6 (3-1)|
|Marty Scurll||6 (3-1)||Yoshinobu Kanemaru||6 (3-1)|
|Will Ospreay||6 (3-1)||Volador Jr.||4 (2-2)|
|Ricochet||4 (2-2)||Tiger Mask IV||4 (2-2)|
|Hiromu Takahashi||4 (2-2)||ACH||4 (2-2)|
|Taichi||4 (2-2)||Ryusuke Taguchi||4 (2-2)|
|TAKA Michinoku||2 (1-3)||KUSHIDA||2 (1-3)|
|Jushin Thunder Liger||0 (0-4)||BUSHI||2 (1-3)|