Nagoya gets its second straight night of BOTSJ action. We’re back to the superior B Block for another round of interesting matchups.
The Bullet Club vs. Suzuki-Gun. Desperado attempted to jump Scurll before the bell, but the “Villain” was prepared. He avoided it and delivered his own attack. From there, these guys fought through the crowd, with both attempting to use underhanded tactics. As they got back to the ring, Desperado targeted the leg. It’s been his target most of the tournament to set up the Stretch Muffler. Along with the fighting in the crowd, other Gedo booking tropes were thrown in, including a ref bump. During the ref bump, Marty made Desperado tap to the CHICKEN WING and of course, nobody was there to see this. What is this, the Attitude Era? Desperado went for a low blow late, but Marty caught him. He snapped his fingers, which apparently legitimately broke one of Desperado’s fingers. He then tapped to the CHICKEN WING in 14:40. It went a bit long for what they were going for. I understand the heel/heel dynamic, but the shenanigans felt like too much and it bogged down some of the match.
Lee entered this one undefeated. Where the previous match was about two guys trying to out cheat each other, this was based around respect. They shook hands before the bell and kept things clean. It even opened with your standard good guy dueling dropkicks standoff. Like in his match against SHO, this saw Sabin have to dig deep and find a way to keep up with a younger, quicker opponent. It again worked as a good story for the veteran. It’s crazy to think I’ve been watching Sabin for over a decade. Sabin ate a German, double stomp, and a PK, but survived. He lit up Lee with a series of superkicks, before scoring with Cradle Shock for the win in 13:39. Though it’s an upset, it was an expected win considering Lee’s start. You watch enough Gedo booked tournaments and you get a sense for when and where the results are going. This was an improvement on the opener, giving us some rock solid action. It did lack some of the drama and intensity needed to go over the top.
SHO came into this understand who KUSHIDA was. He knew that he’s been the ace of this division for years and worked a tentative start because of it. It was very mat based to start, with both men attempting cross arm breakers. Due to the grappling nature, it was slower paced than most of the tournament and felt very different. That’s a good thing. Everything they did felt calculated. Though SHO is on a much lower level than KUSHIDA, he looked every bit his equal at certain points and showed no fear. I appreciated SHO showcasing his power by slamming KUSHIDA out of a submission. He also demanded KUSHIDA give him everything, wanting to prove himself in this environment. SHO also understood what was needed to counter the Hoverboard Lock on several occasions and even when KUSHIDA applied it, he found a way to slide to the ropes. With SHO having that so well scouted, KUSHIDA opted for Back to the Future to put him down at 19:24. Another performance by SHO that lets us know he is the breakout star of the tournament. They worked my kind of match and it was different enough to stand out. Everything was smart and well executed for one of the stronger tournament matches so far.
These two met in a great IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title match last year (****) built around Taguchi’s ankle lock. Right on cue, Taguchi went for it early and Hiromu frantically scrambled outside. With just one win each, both guys brought that level of desperation you want in a tournament like this. A loss could doom either one of them. From all their time spent in tags last year, they knew each other well. Taguchi had to find new ways to transition into the ankle lock, while Hiromu would catch his hip attacks into German suplexes. When Taguchi finally got a good grip on the ankle lock, the panic and desperation was clear in Hiromu and we didn’t even need a close up of his face to tell. Yes, he managed to sell the hell out of a move without screaming at the top of his lungs. Taguchi was clever throughout, forcing Hiromu to pull out his big moves to stop him. When his usual stuff failed, he pulled out a triangle choke to make Taguchi submit at 14:49. Another really strong match from Hiromu and the B Block. They played off their past and worked at a frantic pace fitting of their desperation.
Overall: This B Block is probably the strongest in any BOTSJ I’ve ever seen. We got another show filled with good matches. There was a solid heel/heel opener and a good old fashioned babyface battle second. Then, the last two matches picked up the level of quality and did so with two completely different matches. My kind of show.
|Flip Gordon||6 (3-1)||Dragon Lee||6 (3-1)|
|Tiger Mask IV||6 (3-1)||SHO||4 (2-2)|
|Yoshinobu Kanemaru||4 (2-2)||El Desperado||4 (2-2)|
|Taiji Ishimori||4 (2-2)||Hiromu Takahashi||4 (2-2)|
|Will Ospreay||4 (2-2)||Chris Sabin||4 (2-2)|
|YOH||4 (2-2)||KUSHIDA||4 (2-2)|
|ACH||2 (1-3)||Marty Scurll||4 (2-2)|
|BUSHI||2 (1-3)||Ryusuke Taguchi||2 (1-3)|