July 30th, 16:30 from Gifu Industrial Hall, Gifu
The Juice is loose in the main event as he faces off against Okada. Let’s get to it.
Here we go…
- Yujiro Takahashi, Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens defeated Tetsuhiro Yagi, Katsuya Kitamura & David Finlay
- Zack Sabre Jr. & El Desperado defeated Syota Umino & Togi Makabe
- Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI defeated Tomoyuki Oka & Yuji Nagata
- Hiroshi Tanahashi & Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Hirai Kawato & Kota Ibushi
- Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi defeated Gedo & Hirooki Goto
B Block – Round Five
Toru Yano vs. EVIL
Evil attacked before the bell, but of course Yano managed to remove a turnbuckle pad anyhow. Evil landed the ref-assisted side kick, then signalled the STO, but was almost rolled-up for the three-count, then Yano catapulted him into the exposed turnbuckle and distracted the referee to hit a low blow. Evil countered the follow-up, however, and planted Yano with the STO for the win! Poor Yano’s tricks are failing him, but it’s great to see Evil pushing for the top of the block at this stage. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Minoru Suzuki (w/ El Desperado) vs. Tama Tonga
As you might’ve expected, these two began by brawling out into the crowd, and this continued for a good few minutes. And then it kept going. Suzuki choked Tama with a chair, Tama choked Suzuki with a mic cable, and finally they returned to the ring… but then went back to the floor. Tama attacked with the ringbell hammer, but Suzuki recovered and smashed Tama with a bunch of chairs before applying the kneebar on the ramp. The referee decided to start the count at this point and both men rushed into the ring at 19, where Suzuki hit the Penalty Kick for two. Tama landed a dropkick, but Suzuki manoeuvred the referee to get flattened by a Stinger Splash. They had what was effectively a swordfight with chairs, but moments later Tama nailed the Gun Stun. No referee, though, and Suzuki countered the attempted second into a sleeper and spiked Tama with the Gotch-Style Piledriver for the win.
Post-match, Suzuki attacked a young lion with a chair. Well, it was different and I certainly got the impression they hated one another, but this wasn’t my kind of match at all. **
Michael Elgin vs. SANADA
An even opening exchange concluded with Elgin’s shoulder block, and though he missed the slingshot splash, he dropkicked Sanada through the ropes then dropped him onto the apron with a back suplex for a two-count. Sanada recovered and low-bridged Elgin to the floor, then invited him back in through the ropes. Elgin declined and we were back to square one. Back in, Elgin scored an impressive delayed vertical suplex and invited Sanada back into the ring, but was caught with a stunner over the top-rope and then a plancha on the floor, then Sanada unsuccessfully tried to apply the Paradise Lock over the bottom-rope. A back-and-forth exchange ended with Elgin’s powerslam and both men were down. Elgin countered into an Electric Chair Drop and hit a German suplex for two, then set Sanada up top, but Sanada slipped out and scored a powerbomb at the third attempt. They threw elbows and chops, and Sanada’s back kick set up a backdrop, but the moonsault missed the mark. Sanada blocked Elgin’s lariat, though, and landed the impressive springboard dropkick. Both men countered moves, with Elgin earning a near-fall by reversing the leapfrog dropkick to a sit-out powerbomb, then they fought on the apron where Elgin dumped Sanada with a German suplex! Deadlift Super Falcon Arrow – two-count only! Another series of impressive counters allowed Sanada to apply the Dragon Sleeper and he relinquished the hold in order to hit the moonsault! One, two, three.
Seemed like both men were struggling out there. The heat perhaps, or maybe the tournament is starting to take its toll. Either way, despite the noticeably flat opening minutes of the match, they worked really hard and eventually pulled it together for a good second half. There was lots in here to suggest they could have a great match, but this didn’t quite get there. ***1/4
Satoshi Kojima (w/ Hiroyoshi Tenzan) vs. Kenny Omega
Omega was in his multi-coloured tights and a t-shirt, rather suggesting that, like Okada, he wasn’t taking Kojima seriously. Kojima promptly floored him with a shoulder block, but Omega casually walked away from a plancha and slammed the veteran over the apron. Back in, Omega stayed in control with an elbow drop for two, then he slapped Kojima to the mat and scored the Finlay Roll/moonsault combo for another two-count, but Kojima fired back with elbows. Omega decided to take out Tenzan with a plancha, but Kojima took advantage of the respite to hit a Koji Cutter after ducking Omega’s springboard. Omega initially brushed off strikes, so Kojima used Mongolian Chops, ripped off Omega’s t-shirt and hammered him with machine gun chops. Kojima was caught up top, however, and Omega brought him down to the mat with a very nice cross-legged superplex for near-fall. The cross-legged Ushigoroshi landed, as did the V-Trigger knee, but the One-Winged Angel was countered to a DDT. Elbow strikes back-and-forth, jumping knee from Omega, One-Winged Angle countered to a brainbuster by Kojima! Two-count only. Superkick from Omega, back-of-the-head lariat from Kojima. V-Trigger from Omega, counter lariat from Kojima! Emerald Flowsion! Two-count only! Omega ducked the running lariat and hit a knee strike and Snapdragon suplex, then nailed a Boma Ye-style knee for two. One-Winged Angel! One, two, three.
From the moment Kojima ripped off Omega’s t-shirt this was great, but like the previous match it felt flat for the first half. Pull your weight, Gifu! Sadly, the result means that Kojima – like his contemporary, Nagata – is mathematically eliminated from the running. Boo! ***1/4
Juice Robinson vs. Kazuchika Okada (w/ Gedo)
Okada controlled early with a headlock, but a pair of armdrags and clothesline sent him to the floor. Juice was casually dropped into the crowd, and Okada stood on a chair to gloat, then Juice took a face full of said chair via a drop toehold. Back in, Okada landed a tope atomico, then quelled Juice’s fight back with a neckbreaker before applying a chinlock. He missed to follow-up senton and back elbow, and Juice’s facebuster turned the tide. Leg sweep, senton and a splash for two, and a spinebuster connected after Okada had taken some shots at his leg. Cannonball, and another two-count, but the gutbuster was countered into a modified figure-four from which Juice screamed and scrambled to the ropes. He ducked a big boot and the snap reverse DDT enabled a series of right hands, but Okada ducked the big left.
Juice received a back body drop onto the apron after attempting a piledriver, then leapt in at 19 to break the count, only for Okada to punish him further with a diving elbow. Rainmaker signalled, but ducked, and Juice scored a full nelson slam. He hit a dropkick, then Okada hit The Dropkick, but Juice recovered and nailed a lariat for two. Fireman’s carry gutbuster for two. Pulp Friction blocked and turned into a tombstone – both men down. Okada kicked at Juice and peppered him with insults, elbows and forearms, but Juice fired up and landed the crescent kick, then followed with a powerbomb by countering the reverse neckbreaker. Two-count only. Pulp Friction countered to the Rainmaker! Okada picked up Juice and turned him inside-out with a second! Juice ducked an attempted third, landing his big left-hand haymaker, but the Pulp Friction was beautifully countered mid-jump to a German suplex and Okada smashed him with a final Rainmaker for the three-count.
Great main event and a top performance by Juice, who looked comfortable in ring with the champion. Okada was demonstrably superior throughout, but Juice was impressive in his resilience and fighting spirit. And that German suplex counter at the end – swoon. They had to work hard to engage the crowd, but kept at it, and were rewarded with a heated closing stretch. To my surprise, Juice has only won one of his five matches thus far, but it says a lot that his matches have an impression beyond the results. The guy is really making the most of this opportunity. ****
B Block standings after Round Five
- Okada – 10
- EVIL – 8
- Omega – 8
- SANADA – 6
- Suzuki – 6
- Elgin – 4
- Tonga – 4
- Robinson – 2
- Yano – 2
- Kojima – 0
Final thoughts: Tough crowd tonight. They were slow to react and generally quiet until the last few minutes of a match. As a result of that, as well as the understandable fatigue from it being the very middle show of the tournament, there’s not a huge amount to recommend here, but the main event is definitely worth your time. Go Juice!
I’m back on Tuesday with A Block, featuring Ibushi vs. Tanahashi. See you then.
Ten down, nine to go. We’re on the home stretch!