Can the A Block turn things around and put on a show near the quality of the B Block? Will Tiger Mask IV keep rolling or fall victim to the usual Gedo booking trope of a hot start and cold finish? Is ACH’s shoulder still going to be a problem? Will Flip Gordon finally impress? Can Will Ospreay show me why some folks think he’s a WOTY candidate? Will Kanemaru continue to suck? Let’s find out.
Tiger Mask IV is two decades older than Flip. LET’S GO OLD GUY! When you have a match with such an age disparity, the story to tell becomes simple. Tiger Mask grounded Flip and cut off his attempts to do his flashy offense. He was more aggressive than usual, almost coming across as a bully. Tiger Mask was all, “GET OFF MY LAWN” and I dug it. I’m always in the mood for a vet kicking the shit out of a young punk. Surprisingly, Tiger Mask hit the super butterfly suplex early, when it’s usually been part of his finishing stretch. Another mistake the veteran made was when he missed a flying headbutt, opening the door for Flip. He reeled off a flurry of offense, capped with the springboard 450 splash, to hand Tiger Mask his first loss in 11:15. A super predictable result, but one that surprisingly gave us the best Flip match so far. He wasn’t just doing stuff for the sake of it like against ACH, and they told a good story.
Good efforts from both guys so far in the tournament. YOH has been Naito-lite in some of his work, while ACH has sold the hell out of a bad shoulder. There was a very fast pace to this in the opening few minutes. ACH held serve at the start of the match, being the more experienced performer. He hit some of his signature stuff. However, YOH continued to show the determination that made him such a great Young Lion. He battled back and ACH’s shoulder came into play. Eventually, YOH managed to hit the cradle DDT to secure another two points after 12:04. It was a fine match, with what seemed to be all the right pieces for something good. It just lacked any real drama or sense of urgency. It basically felt like the definition of a house show match.
These two have wrestled quite a bit in NOAH. In fact, Kanemaru holds a ridiculous 10-0 record against the new Bone Soldier. This match was seemingly booked to be the Kanemaru special. Lots of brawling outside, some stalling, and multiple countout teases. It made it feel less like he knew how to handle Ishimori and more like they were out there to kill some time. A gripe I’ve had with NJPW stuff is that a lot of matches feel like they go longer than they need to. This was one of them, despite running just 14:55. It took forever to get to the finish, which all just led to a Kanemaru rollup win. This was shit and maybe I’m being harsh but I liked almost none of it. A few spots worked and their chemistry was fine when they wrestled. Too much of it was a lot of nothing and it was another terrible showing for Kanemaru.
BUSHI has no wins, which made the outcome here quite clear. Their only prior meeting was at RevPro Global Wars in 2016 (***¼). Like BUSHI’s last outing, there was a sense of desperation. He knew a loss would effectively eliminate him, so he dropkicked Will before the bell to gain an advantage. With BUSHI in control, there was a lot of yelling in pain from Will. He’s still not doing enough outside of screaming to be considered good in the selling department. The neck continued to be a target and he continued to land on it for a lot of his comeback stuff. It makes no sense and it’s as if he doesn’t get it. I mean, why should he if people are just going to constantly heap praise on him despite it. Anyway, it came down to a ref bump and I thought that would trigger the finish, especially after some BUSHI mist. Ospreay blocked MX with a kick and they continued on for a few more minutes. BUSHI did eventually nail MX to win in 14:47. This was the best match on the show, yet still suffered from some of Will’s usual issues. It’s like there’s a great wrestler inside just DYING to come out, but he just keeps getting in his own way. I liked how Will’s recklessness is beginning to cost him and it should be interesting going forward.
Overall: Another middle of the pack A Block night of action. The opener was a fun veteran vs. youngster match, while ACH/YOH was solid. The main event was good, though it never sniffed reaching that next level. Kanemaru/Ishimori sucked major ass and dragged down the show a bit further. For the A Block, mediocrity is the one consistent thing.
|Flip Gordon||6 (3-1)||Dragon Lee||6 (2-1)|
|Tiger Mask IV||6 (3-1)||SHO||4 (2-1)|
|Yoshinobu Kanemaru||4 (2-2)||El Desperado||4 (2-1)|
|Taiji Ishimori||4 (2-2)||Hiromu Takahashi||2 (1-2)|
|Will Ospreay||4 (2-2)||Chris Sabin||2 (1-2)|
|YOH||4 (2-2)||Ryusuke Taguchi||2 (1-2)|
|ACH||2 (1-3)||KUSHIDA||2 (1-2)|
|BUSHI||2 (1-3)||Marty Scurll||2 (1-2)|