The awesome B Block is up tonight! The card looks mostly great, especially when compared to a night five that was the worst of the tournament so far. We’ve got a rematch of a Wrestling Toyonokuni banger last year, a Bullet Club battle with some heat after the San Francisco show, and a main even pitting two guys who usually deliver against each other.
SHO and YOSHI-HASHI def. Michael Elgin and Ren Narita in 6:40
Bad Luck Fale and Tanga Loa def. BUSHI and EVIL in 6:06
El Desperado and Minoru Suzuki def. Jay White and YOH in 6:00
Chase Owens and Hangman Page def. David Finlay and Hiroshi Tanahashi in 7:01
Toa Henare and Togi Makabe def. Gedo and Kazuchika Okada in 6:54
Yano has been one of the tournament MVPs so far. Of course, so has Ibushi. Yano has promised to wrestle a more traditional style, and while the matches have been so much fun, he sits at 0-2. In 2013, Ibushi beat Yano in the G1 (**¼), but in 2015, Yano evened the score with a win in 0:50. Yano went right into rollups and was back to being our favorite Sublime Master Thief. Kota proved to be a good opponent, willing to get involved with the turnbuckle and ringside tape spots. Another slight ref bump came towards the end to set up a low blow and chop block. Yano then used a rollup to get his first win in 8:25. OG Yano is back! It was cool to see him go back to what has worked for him in the past. Ibushi played his role perfectly, making for a fun, light opener. Variety is key in a tournament, folks.
Sabre made SANADA tap out during the New Japan Cup (***½). SANADA came in prepared. He was honestly outwrestling Sabre and winning the technical battle. It threw Zack way off his game. He’s not used to this. The Korakuen crowd reacted perfectly to each instance of SANADA outwrestling Sabre. Nearly every exchange featured some sort of cool moment. It would be crisp or SANADA would frustrate Sabre. The Sabre Driver into the Skull End into the European Clutch sequence was delightful. That was followed by another Skull End into rollup spot, only for SANADA to counter that into his own rollup and take the win in 10:52. Sabre was infuriated at being outwrestled. Tremendous storytelling and wrestling here. Sabre’s usually confident because he can best anyone on the mat. But, SANADA had his number after learning from the New Japan Cup.
Juice pinned Naito in a tag at Sakura Genesis last year, before losing an IC Title match to Naito at Wrestling Toyonokuni (****¼). Right off the bat, commentary did well to explain some of the history between these two. Naito honed in on Juice’s hand to the point where he got booed. Juice is such a great babyface that he got Naito booed. Naito brilliantly modified pieces of his offense to target the hand, like his corner dropkick. He worked this like a genius. When Juice fired up, Naito spat at him, trying to entice him to use the cast and get DQed. The things Naito did lit a fire under Juice, but his momentum would get stalled by Naito attacking the hand. Juice was prepared for Destino, countering into Pulp Friction, but Naito had an answer for that as well. In the end, Juice survived Destino, but couldn’t get up after a second, falling to 0-3 after 16:38. I loved that. The work on the hand made sense and was masterfully done. Naito was a vicious, arrogant bastard, while Juice continued to shine as an underdog babyface. The crowd was molten for this and it was better than their IC Title match last year. Outstanding.
Omega beat Tonga in last year’s G1 (***), but there’s more at stake here after the Firing Squad’s attack in San Francisco. Of course, the Firing Squad jumped Omega before the bell until Chase Owens and Hangman Page made the save and allowed this to be a one on one contest. Or so we thought. They had some back and forth until Tanga Loa returned to attack Kenny. Chairs got involved and Tama teased a Styles Clash on a chair. When Red Shoes moved the chair out of the way, Tama hit him with a Gun Stun for a DQ in 9:52. Hot garbage. It’s been three years and Tama still hasn’t stepped up in the G1. He’s just not that good. Throw in MORE shenanigans from the Firing Squad and I’m over this. They’re ruining shows and the Bullet Club story is a drag. I’m done with this shit.
As Larry Csonka pointed out today, 12 of the 29 G1 matches up to this point had some form of a run-in, low blow, interference, or a ref bump. “Genius Booker” Gedo is at it again.
They had a NEVER Title banger in 2014 (****½), a wild match in the G1 25 (****½), a good one in the G1 26 (***½), and a great one in the G1 27 (****). Ishii won the title match, but Goto won all three G1 meetings. This was just what you want from these two. They went to war. WE just got nearly twenty minutes of them beating the shit out of each other. Sometimes, that’s all you want. I’ve seen some call it a MOTY contender, though I wouldn’t go that far. Not that it wasn’t a banger, I just think their G1 25 and 2014 matches were better. Anyway, This was kind of a case of two guys trying to see who can dish out more punishment and who could take more. Lots of strong style here. The dueling headbutts spot near the end were great and the crowd popped for everything. Ishii finally got one over on his CHAOS stablemate with the Brainbuster in 18:20. Great match, providing us with one of the better HOSS battles you’ll see anywhere.
Overall: This had potential to be an all-time great G1 show. It had the variety you hope for. We had a fun Yano match, a technical battle, a hoss fight, a classic in Juice/Naito, and a shenanigan filled match in Omega/Tonga. However, the Tonga match was so bad, it brought the show down as a whole. I was probably the low man on it and was extra harsh, but I’m over it. Skip that match and watch the rest of the show.
|Jay White||6 (3-0)||Kenny Omega||6 (3-0)|
|Michael Elgin||4 (2-1)||Kota Ibushi||4 (2-1)|
|EVIL||4 (2-1)||Tetsuya Naito||4 (2-1)|
|Hiroshi Tanahashi||4 (2-1)||Tomohiro Ishii||4 (2-1)|
|Togi Makabe||4 (2-1)||SANADA||4 (2-1)|
|Hangman Page||2 (1-2)||Hirooki Goto||2 (1-2)|
|Bad Luck Fale||2 (1-2)||Zack Sabre Jr.||2 (1-2)|
|Kazuchika Okada||2 (1-2)||Toru Yano||2 (1-2)|
|Minoru Suzuki||2 (1-2)||Tama Tonga||2 (1-2)|
|YOSHI-HASHI||0 (0-3)||Juice Robinson||0 (0-3)|