Ah, after a rough day of A Block action, it’s great to see the B Block again. Even more so, this show is main evented by one of the best rivalries in all of wrestling, Dragon Lee vs. Hiromu Takahashi. However, this is the B Block’s first single camera VOD show, which always feels less important.
What is this, ROH? There was a nice light hearted sense to this match. They opened with a few comedic spots that the crowd seemed to enjoy. While trying things like that don’t always fit in a tournament, it’s understandable for guys to have nights like this. One thing Scurll has always been great at is getting the fans involved. He taunts, talks trash, and motions towards them to keep them engaged. It’s a good addition on this no commentary shows. The pace and intensity picked up down the stretch, as the two points were getting closer. Sabin hit a somersault to the outside, while Marty kept screaming, “FUCK YOU” before moves. You could clearly hear him without commentary. The finish felt a little abrupt, as Marty won with a reverse suplex in 13:58. It was a good opener, with the crowd having fun and the match picking up late. With a better finish, more selling late, and some desperation shown by an 0-2 Marty, it would’ve ranked higher. Still good, though.
Last year, KUSHIDA won a very good match over Taguchi (***¾), while their BOTSJ match in 2016 was also strong (***½). These guys are Taguchi Japan buddies. They traded some friendly stuff to start, including stereo ass attacks. KUSHIDA caught one into an armbar but Taguchi countered into a pin. KUSHIDA tried for a leaping DDT, only for Taguchi to pull him into a small package to steal it in 1:34. I liked that. You need these matches in this kind of tournament. It’s a bit disappointing to not get another good Taguchi/KUSHIDA outing, but it worked to sell the possibility of this kind of thing happening at any time. Plus, they entertained me for those 94 seconds.
There’s history here as Desperado’s team beat SHO’s for the Jr. Tag Titles. Both men have been great so far. Desperado attacked before the bell because, Suzuki-Gun. The fight moved into the crowd for a bit. I always get a kick out of the NJPW announcer panicking when people fight outside. He sounds funny. Desperado attacked SHO’s knee, taking away his speed and setting up for a potential Stretch Muffler. SHO made the expected babyface comeback, but pulled a Will Ospreay by neglecting to sell the leg work during it. I understand that sometimes it’s your adrenaline that gets you through stuff, but that only takes you so far. A frustrated Desperado went for a low blow, but SHO avoided it and connected on the Shock Arrow to hand Desperado his first tournament loss in 12:48. A very good match that could’ve bordered on great with a bit more selling from SHO. I did really like how it was paced and Desperado working the knee like a jerk. He’s a low key tourney MVP candidate so far.
The audacity of Gedo to put this on a single camera show. I love the matches these guys have. Their last three were at Fantastica Mania in 2016 (****½), New Beginning in Osaka 2017 (****½), and last year’s BOTSJ (****¼). I think it might have been lost on some of the crowd, but Lee came out wearing Hiromu’s old mask from his days as Kamaitachi. Incredible. A shotgun dropkick from Lee at the bell got us started and as usual, these two didn’t let up once. It was trading vicious strikes, busting out daredevil aerial offense, and having counters ready due to their knowledge of one another. It’s interesting to see them attack things from a new perspective, knowing the other man has probably seen it all already. They threw their best stuff at each other, leading to some big moments late. Hiromu kicked out of Desnucadora, which I believe nobody else in NJPW has done. Dragon Lee had to dig deep and use a double stomp to the back of the head, as well as the Dragon Driver, to put him away after 20:48. These guys continue to deliver. Another absolute banger from the best in-ring rivalry not named Shibata/Ishii. It never just feels like they’re giving us the “greatest hits,” as they always do things to keep the rivalry fresh and engaging. Another excellent match from these two. Hiromu is the best junior heavyweight on the planet.
Overall: Oh, look. The B Block had another great showing and furthers the gap between itself and the A Block. A solid opener gets followed by one of the more interesting and entertaining flash finishes in any NJPW tournament. Desperado/SHO bordered on great. Then, you have the main event, which delivered in spades. Why is Hiromu not the face of the division?
|Tiger Mask IV||6 (3-0)||Dragon Lee||6 (2-1)|
|Flip Gordon||4 (2-1)||SHO||4 (2-1)|
|Taiji Ishimori||4 (2-1)||El Desperado||4 (2-1)|
|Will Ospreay||4 (1-2)||Hiromu Takahashi||2 (1-2)|
|YOH||2 (1-2)||Chris Sabin||2 (1-2)|
|Yoshinobu Kanemaru||2 (1-2)||Ryusuke Taguchi||2 (1-2)|
|ACH||2 (1-2)||KUSHIDA||2 (1-2)|
|BUSHI||0 (0-3)||Marty Scurll||2 (1-2)|