July 27th, 18:30 from Ao-re Nagaoka, Niigata
We’re back with B Block today for Round Four, headlined by Omega vs. Elgin and Kojima vs. Okada. Let’s get to it.
The story so far…
Here we go…
- Zack Sabre Jr. & El Desperado defeated Ren Narito & Syota Umino
- Togi Makabe & Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Hirai Kawato & Yuji Nagata
- Yujiro Takahashi, Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens defeated Tomoyuki Oka, Katsuya Kitamura & Kota Ibushi ***
- Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI defeated Gedo & Tomohiro Ishii ***
- YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto defeated David Finlay & Hiroshi Tanahashi ***
B Block – Round Four
Juice Robinson vs. Tama Tonga
After exchanging hammer and headlocks on the mat, Tama scored a nice over-the-shoulder legbreaker in the corner to take control. Forearms, headbutts and a Stinger Splash kept him on top, but Juice caught an attempted second and turned it into a full nelson slam. Right hands, chops and a reverse DDT earned two. A grounded cobra clutch had Tama scrambling to the ropes, but he blocked Juice’s follow-up and chop blocked his way back into the match. With Juice in the tree-of-woe, Tama ripped at the taping around his left knee and landed a pair of Stinger Splashes and the Tongan Twist for a two-count. Juice hit back with a huge lariat, then fired up, failing with the powerbomb, but twice blocking the Gun Stun. Tama countered Pulp Friction, however, and nailed the Headshrinker DDT for a near-fall. A desperation roll-up from Juice didn’t get the job done, and Tama hit the Gun Stun for the win. This was focused, told a story, and never left the ring. A very good wrestling match. ***1/2
Toru Yano vs. SANADA
Sanada attacked before the bell, but Yano rolled him up with his jacket for a two-count, then after Sanada threw water in his face, Yano spat it back at him and got another near-fall. Sanada neatly counteracted Yano’s “Break!” schtick, stretching him with a sort of self-supporting Tarantula, then after a brief sojourn outside, the LIJ man landed the double-leapfrog dropkick. The moonsault missed and the attempted Dragon Sleeper was countered, again for a two-count, then Yano went to the floor and tried to tape Sanada’s feet together, but he was kicked away and Sanada landed a plancha! Sanada took Yano to the ramp where he applied the Paradise Lock with tape and casually returned to the ring as Yano was counted out! Brilliant!
Even Milano on commentary (the man from whom Sanada adopted/stole the move) approved of that. This was fun and benefitted from a lively crowd reaction. **1/2
Minoru Suzuki vs. EVIL
They charged at each other and spilled to the floor, then out into the crowd, where Suzuki smashed three chairs on Evil’s back. Evil crawled back to the ring, breaking the count at 19, but got stabbed in head with a pen while the referee was distracted. An eye poke helped turn the tide, and he was able to connect with his signature chair-on-chair-on-head violence before returning to the ring. He signalled the STO, but Suzuki grabbed a finger and viciously wrenched at it until Evil made the ropes. Evil hit the side kick, but the referee was soon bumped thanks to Suzuki and all hell broke loose. Bushi ran down to take care of El Desperado, Taichi ran in and smashed Evil with a chair, then Hiromu interjected and got rid of Taichi! Referee Red Shoes recovered to block more chair use, so Suzuki looked to finish things with a sleeper, only for Evil to spin-out and nail the STO! One, two, three!
A shenanigan-filled brawl with lots of aggression and spite. I expected no less. A big win for Evil, too. ***
Satoshi Kojima vs. Kazuchika Okada
Kojima started well, knocking Okada down with a shoulder block and ducking an early Rainmaker attempt, but Okada dropkicked him to the floor where he spiked him with a barrier-hung DDT. Okada looked to start something with Tenzan, but thought better of it, and Kojima rolled back into the ring to break the count. Seated dropkick for two, then Okada floored his opponent with a European uppercut and went for an arrogant cover. Kojima’s weary elbow strikes had little effect, but the Mongolian Chops did, and the neckbreaker followed to bring some respite. Machine gun chops from Kojima, and despite Okada’s efforts, he was spiked with a DDT.
A charge was countered, enabling Okada to land a reverse neckbreaker out of the corner, then the diving elbow hit the mark and the Rainmaker was signalled (to boos). Kojima backed Okada into the corner and sent him to the floor with a lariat, then failed to suplex him back in from the apron, but did succeed in flooring him with an elbow strike. More machine gun chops in the corner, and the big running elbow set up the diving elbow, which Okada blocked, but Kojima persisted and was able to hit the Koji Cutter from the middle-rope! Brainbuster – two-count only! Lariat ducked, German suplex from Okada, lariat to the back of the head from Kojima! Okada ducked a charge, but the Rainmaker was countered to a lariat! Two-count only. Okada again avoided the running lariat and hit The Dropkick! Kojima’s rolling elbow proved to be final attack, because the follow-up was countered to a tombstone by Okada and the Rainmaker smashed him to the mat for the three-count.
I had convinced myself that Kojima would get the win here, and really thought it would happen in the closing stages. This was Okada in young punk mode, and touches like clapping along with the crowd’s “Kojima!” chants and being a dick to Tenzan added some depth what was a very good match. It flowed back-and-forth, with neither man able to establish a rhythm, but in the end the younger man outlasted the veteran and it was nice to see a single Rainmaker get the job done. Maybe it’s not so ineffective after all. ****1/4
Michael Elgin vs. Kenny Omega
Elgin powered his way to an early advantage, tossing Omega around the ring and hitting a delayed vertical suplex and slingshot back elbow. A big boot sent Omega to the floor, and despite his attempt to use the guardrail as a springboard, Elgin caught him and hit a belly-to-belly to stay in control. Elgin unwisely scaled to the top-rope and was shut down by Omega, with Kenny avoiding the sunset flip powerbomb and scoring the leapfrog bulldog. Driving knees and a chinlock kept Omega on top, and Big Mike’s slingshot splash missed the mark, but then Omega missed the middle-rope moonsault and Elgin smashed him with a back elbow, and a powerslam put both men down.
A German suplex dumped Omega, then Elgin followed with running clotheslines and caught Omega’s attempted springboard, planting him with a swinging sidebuster. Elgin blocked the Snapdragon suplex, but a ‘rana sent him to the floor. He ran back into the ring, but this time Kenny successfully Dragon suplexed him back outside and landed a big tope con hilo! Back in, Omega’s missile dropkick to the back of Elgin’s head got two. Elgin’s elbows were met with a knee lift and the cross-legged Ushigoroshi set up the V-Trigger, but Elgin blocked the One-Winged Angel with a huge lariat! Both men threw elbows, then chops, then elbows again, with Elgin’s spinning back chop flooring Omega! Lariat from Elgin – two-count only! Buckle bomb, Elgin Bomb blocked, One-Winged Angel countered to a reverse frankensteiner! Sit-out crucifix bomb from Elgin! One, two, no!
Out on the apron, Omega smashed Elgin with a V-Trigger knee, then removed the mats from the floor, but ended up powerbombed onto the apron himself! Back in and up top, Elgin went for a super crucifix bomb, but Omega countered to a frankensteiner – two-count only. Two Boma Ye-style knees from Omega for two, then a double underhook piledriver! One, two, NO! Omega pummelled Elgin with knees, landing a jumping knee before hitting a reverse frankensteiner of his own for two. Pop-up powerbomb from Elgin, buckle bomb, Elgin Bomb! 2.9! Crazy bananas. Elgin lifted Omega to the top-rope and looked for the Burning Hammer, from which Omega slipped out, but Elgin nailed a pair a disgustingly high-angle backdrops for a near-fall. Burning Hammer! One, two, three.
Well, this was just madness. A huge result in the context of the tournament, of course, with Elgin avenging his recent loss in the US title tournament, but it took everything to put Omega away. I can see people hating this, because of the number of kick-outs and the high level of risk taken, and I would agree that they hit the point of diminishing returns at least five-minutes before the end, but while (like Ibushi/Naito on Day One) it exceeded my threshold for dangerous spots, it was an incredible effort from both men and a fitting final chapter to their series of matches stretching back to last year. ****1/2
B Block standings after Round Four
- Okada – 8
- Omega – 6
- EVIL – 6
- Elgin – 4
- SANADA – 4
- Suzuki – 4
- Tonga – 4
- Robinson – 2
- Yano – 2
- Kojima – 0
Final thoughts: Great show today. It flowed nicely and built to two excellent matches. An easy recommendation.
I’m back on Saturday for the next A Block show. See you then.
Eight down, eleven to go.