I love when there’s a B Block show posted. All eight men seem determined to steal the entire tournament with each outing. This night features some interesting first time ever matches and the renewal of a rivalry in the main event.
These two met in the tournament last year, having a strong match (***½). This time around, it wasn’t quite as good, but delivered. Both men played to their strengths. Lee was the high octane, fast paced wrestler he’s known for, while Marty was cunning and opportunistic. The momentum shifted from time to time, before the final few minutes saw a shift in intensity. However, I think it relied too much on false finishes down the stretch. It’s kind of an issue that some recent Marty matches have suffered from. He managed to pull out the win with the CHICKEN WING in 16:01. They were on their way to something really good, but it got bogged down late. The final few minutes didn’t click with me, when that’s usually the time for a match to shift into the next gear.
There’s an interesting sort of backstory to this, as SHO was part of the team that dethroned Ryusuke Taguchi (and Ricochet) of the Jr. Tag Team Titles last year. You also had the case of Taguchi, who usually steps up for the tournament, coming in with just two points so far. YOH, SHO’s partner, has spent the tournament trying to keep up with his block, while SHO has shown that he’s on their level. That was the case here, as he controlled Taguchi for the most part. In fact, that seemed to awaken Taguchi, who rallied and brought out BIG MATCH TAGUCHI for the final stretch. He got free of an armbar and went into a series of moves, capped with a dragon suplex in 13:08 for the victory. I didn’t think I would, but I liked this more than the opener. It was clean, told a logical story, and continued SHO’s hot streak.
With everything so close in this block, a loss might eliminate either man. Off topic, but I’d be all for BUSHI and Hiromu against the Motor City Machine Guns. A theme of Sabin’s matches seems to see him fall behind early. He gets overwhelmed at the start and is forced to dig deep and find what made him so successful in his younger days. I can’t believe I’m talking about Sabin like this. I feel so old. What made this match work so well was how Hiromu also adjusted his game plan, remaining a step ahead of Sabin. It was the kind of chess match you don’t often get from a Hiromu match. The highlight was the finish, where Hiromu countered Hail Sabin into a triangle choke in 13:35. I love the addition of a submission to Hiromu’s repertoire. He is the best junior heavyweight on the planet and showed it again here. A creative match filled with action and smart spots.
Desperado beat KUSHIDA in the BOTSJ last year (***), but lost a title shot at KUSHIDA in September (***½). This was closer to the former and it fell victim to some of the same issues that other NJPW main events do. Though it lasted just 18:33 and nowhere near as egregiously long as some other top NJPW matches, this one clearly didn’t need to go that long. It felt longer. There was also a little too much of the usual Suzuki-Gun style antics. However, on the positive side, I dug the leg work. Desperado found some innovative ways to attack it. KUSHIDA sold it well at times, but it was inconsistent and hurt the match. Following a ref bump and visual win, KUSHIDA still picked up the win with Back to the Future. It was good, but was held back by lackluster selling and shenanigans.
Overall: Even with one of their lesser shows so far, the B Block remains consistently entertaining. Hiromu/Sabin was a strong, unique matchup, while Taguchi/SHO was strong. Scurll/Lee and KUSHIDA/Desperado both came across as disappointments, yet were still solid matches.
|Taiji Ishimori||6 (3-2)||KUSHIDA||6 (3-2)|
|Tiger Mask IV||6 (3-2)||Hiromu Takahashi||6 (3-2)|
|Will Ospreay||6 (3-2)||Marty Scurll||6 (3-2)|
|Flip Gordon||6 (3-2)||Dragon Lee||6 (3-2)|
|YOH||4 (2-3)||El Desperado||4 (2-3)|
|BUSHI||4 (2-3)||Chris Sabin||4 (2-3)|
|Yoshinobu Kanemaru||4 (2-3)||Ryusuke Taguchi||4 (2-3)|
|ACH||2 (1-4)||SHO||4 (2-3)|