The B Block returns to Korakuen Hall for their second night of action. Today features one of the most intriguing matchups of the entire tournament in El Desperado vs. Hiromu Takahashi, as well as some other interesting sounding matches. Of note, Chris Jericho appeared in a video to further taunt Tetsuya Naito, saying he was going to fuck him up at Dominion.
Sabin won his first NJPW singles match by beating KUSHIDA for Alex Shelley’s love. SHO had a banger against Dragon Lee in a loss. There’s an interesting dynamic when you consider SHO and YOH. YOH has been made to look like he’s struggling as a singles guy. SHO has been on par with his opponents. In fact, it was SHO who seemed a step ahead here. He was just so much quicker than the 36 year old veteran. Sabin had to reach into his bag of tricks and turn back the clock a bit to keep up. That included taking to the skies like it was a decade earlier. The crowd was behind SHO and began biting on the near falls that came in the final five minutes, making for a much better atmosphere than Sabin’s match with KUSHIDA. Those late near falls made for some great drama down the stretch. SHO managed his first tournament win with the Shock Arrow in 15:09. Another banger for SHO, who is making an early case for the breakout star of the tournament. Lots of action in a smartly worked match.
Lee beat SHO on night two, while Taguchi lost to Desperado. They poked fun at Taguchi being in worse shape than Lee early. These guys teamed together in Taguchi Japan multi-man tags in the past. They continued the lighthearted nature of the match with some comical exchanges and the usual Taguchi antics. Lee was more than willing to play into it, which made for an enjoyable contest. Lee’s leg became a target, which was a perfect setup for Taguchi’s Ankle Lock. Taguchi applied it when he missed the diving double stomp. Lee survived and nailed a German, before adding a knee and Desnucadora for the win in 11:14. Another good outing for both guys. The comedy stuff worked, the action was good, and there was even some psychology thrown in with the leg work. My brother, not someone who watches NJPW, saw Dragon Lee and said he looked like a combination of Finn Balor and Kalisto. Anyway, B Block continues to deliver.
Both men lost on night two, with KUSHIDA dropping a match to Sabin, while Scurll lost the main event to Hiromu Takahashi. KUSHIDA holds a 2-0 lead over Marty outside of NJPW, with two very good ROH TV Title matches. Though this wasn’t the main event, it kind of felt like one. They were given enough time that they were allowed to utilize a slow build. Scurll targeted KUSHIDA’s limbs, making the babyface get creative for his comeback. I appreciated how KUSHIDA sold everything very well and not just when he felt like it. For example, as he tried for the Hoverboard Lock, he couldn’t fully grasp it because of the damage done to his fingers on a Scurll snap. Great stuff. When he couldn’t fully lock it in, he punted at Scurll’s arm and ended up hitting Back to the Future to get his first two points after 19:22. One hell of a match that was about on par with their previous outings. I appreciated the attention to the ground based stuff and the little nuances that made it stand out.
Desperado topped Taguchi, while Hiromu beat Scurll for his two points. One of my most anticipated tournament matches. They last met over six years ago when both were Young Lions together and they have the existing rivalry over the Jr. Tag Titles. In a different turn of events, Hiromu attacked the Suzuki-Gun guy before the bell. I appreciate that, as it shows he knows his opponent well. Unlike ACH/Flip, these guys brawling into the crowd made sense given their feud and characters. They hit each other with everything they possibly could have, from chokes to chairs. Some of those chair shots affected Hiromu’s back, which set the tone for Desperado’s focus. When that work eventually led to a Boston crab, it was great because that’s the Young Lion finisher, which worked as a callback for these two. Down the stretch, both guys continued to throw bombs at each other. Each guy came so close to pulling out the win. There were so many big spots, but none of it felt forced or out of place like in so many other big matches. Realizing he was in trouble, Desperado tried using his title as a weapon. That backfired, but he still used a low blow to set up El Guitarra de Angel. When that wasn’t enough, he added Pinche Loco for finally win in 22:48. Holy shit. That was incredible. It felt so different from everything else we’ve had in the tournament. They had great callbacks, ridiculous spots, and nail biting drama late. It felt like there was animosity from the start and like they were fighting for more than just two points. Awesome and the best BOTSJ match since O’Reilly/KUSHIDA in 2016.
Overall: I’m so happy NJPW went with Desperado/Hiromu as the main event. They could’ve gone with the bigger names in KUSHIDA/Scurll, but what we got worked so much better as a capper. The rest of the show delivered in spades, too. Taguchi/Lee was a fun match that was somehow the worst thing we got. SHO/Sabin ruled and Scurll/KUSHIDA was very good. One of the best BOTSJ block of matches I’ve ever seen.
|Taiji Ishimori||4 (2-0)||Dragon Lee||4 (2-0)|
|Tiger Mask IV||4 (2-0)||El Desperado||4 (2-0)|
|Will Ospreay||2 (1-1)||Hiromu Takahashi||2 (1-1)|
|ACH||2 (1-1)||SHO||2 (1-1)|
|Flip Gordon||2 (1-1)||Chris Sabin||2 (1-1)|
|YOH||2 (1-1)||KUSHIDA||2 (1-1)|
|BUSHI||0 (0-2)||Marty Scurll||0 (0-2)|
|Yoshinobu Kanemaru||0 (0-2)||Ryusuke Taguchi||0 (0-2)|