August 12th, 18:30 from Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo
B Block’s ninth and final round of competition will determine who goes on to face Tetsuya Naito in tomorrow’s tournament decider. Let’s get to it.
The story so far…
Here we go…
- TAKA Michinoku, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado defeated Hirai Kawato, Tiger Mask IV, Jushin Thunder Liger & KUSHIDA (Post-match, El Desperado clocked KUSHIDA with the title belt then left with it.)
- YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto defeated Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi & Tanga Loa
- Takashi Iizuka & Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Yuji Nagata & Togi Makabe
- Bad Luck Fale, Nick Jackson, Matt Jackson, Cody & Hangman Page defeated Katsuya Kitamura, Ricochet, Ryusuke Taguchi, Hanson & Raymond Rowe (Another very enjoyable match from this lot.) ***1/2
- David Finlay, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi defeated BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi & Tetsuya Naito
B Block – Round Nine
Michael Elgin vs. Juice Robinson
A sincere handshake to start. The opening exchange culminated in Juice hitting a back suplex and corner splash, but Elgin soon sent him to the floor where he flattened him with a cannonball from the apron and a back suplex onto the apron. Back in, elbow strikes floored Juice and he was placed on the top-rope, but he headbutted Elgin to the mat, and although the follow-up crossbody was countered, he hit the snap DDT for two. Enzuigiri from Elgin, but Juice ducked a charge and landed a full nelson slam for another two-count. Elgin blocked a powerbomb and hit strikes, both men ran at the other with clotheslines, then Elgin countered the crescent kick into a huge one-armed powerbomb and turned Juice inside-out with a lariat for two. Juice flipped out of the suplex attempt to hit a reverse DDT, then nailed a falling powerbomb out of the corner! One, two, no. Pulp Friction avoided, so Juice hit the fireman’s carry gut buster instead. Cannonball… countered to a powerbomb by Elgin, then the buckle bomb connected, but Juice countered to a jackknife pin for a near-fall! He slipped out of the Burning Hammer and nailed his haymaker, then smacked Elgin with it once more before planting him with Pulp Friction! One, two, three!
Elgin raised Juice’s arm before leaving the ring. What a strange tournament he’s had. Genuinely baffling. Juice, on the other hand, has had a clear direction throughout, and that direction is up. Genuinely impressive. Anyway, this picked up very nicely after a flat start and built to a fun finish. ***1/2
Tama Tonga vs. SANADA
A little friendly banter preceded an insincere handshake, and both men hit gut kicks before exchanging hurricanranas. Tama tried and failed to apply a Paradise Lock, so settled for stomp instead. Funny. An irritated Sanada took Tama to the floor and tied him up in the Paradise Lock, and Tanga Loa and Yujiro emerged to break him out of it, whereupon Tama leapt back in the ring at 19.999. He managed to clothesline Sanada to the floor, then took control in the ring, scoring a Stinger Splash and headbutt. Sanada dodged another splash, however, and nailed his gorgeous springboard dropkick followed by a plancha. Tanga Loa was on hand to clothesline Sanada out on the floor, and both men jumped back in at 19 to throw elbows. TKO from Sanada – two-count only. He got rid of the Bullet Club boys, missed the moonsault, then an extended rope-running and counter sequence concluded in a small package from Tama for a near-fall. Gun Stun from Sanada(!) – one, two, no. Tama hit the Tongan Twist, Sanada countered the Gun Stun to a backslide for a near-fall, then Tama finally nailed the Gun Stun for the win.
As good a match as Tama’s had this tournament. A little flat in Tama’s control portion, which is always the case, but the opening and closing sequences were great. Not an impressive finishing position for Sanada, who has shown flashes of brilliance, but still doesn’t look ready to make the step up on a consistent basis. Good stuff. ***1/4
Toru Yano vs. Minoru Suzuki (w/ Taichi)
Suzuki attacked before the bell and sent Yano into the guardrail before allowing Taichi to pick up the slack. Rinse and repeat. Back in, an eye rake allowed Yano to remove a turnbuckle pad, but Suzuki was back onto him with slaps and a sleeper. Yano tried to grab the referee to block a piledriver, so Suzuki threw him from the ring. Outside, Yano landed an inverted atomic drop, but in the process of trying to use the tape, he and the referee were kicked into the guardrail and it was Yano’s legs that were taped together. The handicapped Yano was soundly beaten by Suzuki, but the referee spotted the tape and while he and Suzuki were having words, Taichi ran in with a chair. Rocky Romero then left his post at the English commentary table and ‘rana’d Taichi from the ring! Yano recovered to smash Suzuki with a chair, then taped up his upper body, delivered a huge low block and rolled him up for the three-count!
Yano wisely ran away after celebrating briefly and Suzuki smashed every young lion in sight with a chair before storming off. Oh dear. This was most enjoyable. Call it: *** and/or ¯\_(ツ)_/¯1/4
Satoshi Kojima (w/ Hiroyoshi Tenzan) vs. EVIL
Kojima floored Evil with a shoulder block, but the placha missed the mark and Evil proceeded to use chair-on-chair-on head violence, only after which did referee Red Shoes raise objections. Back in, Evil hit the surfboard curb stomp, spinning back chop and senton for two, before grinding his elbow into Kojima head. Kojima fired up and downed Evil with Mongolian Chops to the crowd’s delight, and machine gun chops in the corner followed. And again! The corner elbow set up the diving elbow for two, then Evil used the ref-aided side kick in reply, only for Kojima to land the Koji Cutter. Evil stunnered Kojima over the top-rope to counter a suplex, but Kojima was able to block the follow-up and spike his opponent with a nasty DDT onto the apron. After throwing him back in the ring, Kojima set Evil up top and hit the super Koji Cutter! Two-count only. Evil ducked the attempted lariat, though, and a German suplex put both men down. Discus clothesline and a fisherman buster from Evil for two. Darkness Falls – one, two, no. The STO was signalled and blocked, then a pair of lariats from Evil dropped Kojima to the mat, but he popped up after a third to smash Evil to the mat! Kojima struggled to his feet and nailed a brainbuster! Two-count only! STO ducked and a lariat to the back of the head connected, but Evil landed a big headbutt and this time was able to nail the STO. One, two, three.
Kojima and Tenzan embraced before leaving. Like Nagata, Kojima’s points total doesn’t reflect the effort he’s given over the past few weeks. This was a real battle and another good match from Evil to end a strong tournament for him – No.3 behind Okada and Omega is not a bad place to be. ***3/4
Kazuchika Okada (w/ Gedo) vs. Kenny Omega (w/ The Young Bucks)
They started quick. Okada missed The Dropkick and Omega hit a Snapdragon suplex, but after a series of counters, Okada sent Omega to the floor with a dropkick in the corner, then kicked him out into the crowd and followed with a running crossbody over the guardrail. Back in, the diving elbow connected and the Rainmaker was signalled (three-minutes in), but Omega ran him to the floor and nailed a plancha. Omega’s missile dropkick to the back of the head connected for two, then he cinched in a neck vice, clubbed Okada with elbows and ripped off the taping on his neck and shoulders. Pendulum backbreaker for two followed by kicks and chops. Okada powered out of a chinlock and scored a big boot, but the senton hit the knees, then Omega failed to hit a piledriver, enabling Okada to hit the reverse neckbreaker out of the corner. Back elbows and a DDT, and despite being unable to kip up, Okada landed the leaping uppercut for two. Omega blocked the tombstone, clubbed and chopped Okada’s neck and sent him to the floor with a ‘rana. He couldn’t capitalise, however, and Okada ran back in to block the dive with a flapjack, then Omega’s attempted springboard was countered to a dropkick. Outside, Okada looked for a tombstone, but Omega spiked him with a reverse frankensteiner! Good lord.
A doctor and trainer were asked to check on Okada, but Omega pulled him away and dumped him with a Snapdragon suplex onto the apron! Cross-legged Ushigoroshi – two-count only. Omega pushed Red Shoes away and thumped Okada with two brutal knee strikes, then brushed off Okada’s weak elbows with knife edge chops. Another knee strike looked to set up the One-Winged Angel, but Okada countered to a tombstone to put both men down. Omega recovered first, and set Okada up top, but he was elbowed down and Okada nailed the shotgun dropkick. A running shotgun dropkick sent Omega into the turnbuckle, then he weathered another knee strike to hit The Dropkick.
A sequence of counters allowed Okada to land a German suplex, but Omega fired back with a huge Uranage that dumped Okada on his neck! Ouch. Rainmaker outta nowhere from Okada! He crawled to a cover, but it took too long and Omega weakly kicked out. Omega tried a couple of pinning combinations, but Okada smashed him with another Rainmaker, then picked him up and hit him with a (weaker) third! He screamed for another, but Omega ducked it and dumped Okada with a pair of Germans and a reverse frankensteiner for a near-fall. One-Winged Angel blocked, but turned into Croyt’s Wrath! One, two, NO! The Dropkick from Okada! Rainmaker ducked, Rainmaker knee strike from Omega followed by a double underhook piledriver! 2.9! Holy shit. A final V-Trigger connected and – at last – Omega was able to nail Okada with the One-Winged Angel! One, two, three!
Another stellar block decider. Not the sprint that I predicted – though it looked like it might be in the opening five-minutes – but this still passed by in a blur. Such a crazy pace throughout. The straightforward story of Omega targeting Okada’s neck was delivered in the most vicious manner possible and Okada simply could not survive in the end, although he had his chances and yet again his arrogance got the better of him. Fantastic. *****
Post-match promo from Omega (partly in Japanese) and we’re out.
B Block – Final Standings
- Omega – 14
- Okada – 13
- EVIL – 12
- Suzuki – 9
- Elgin – 8
- Robinson – 8
- SANADA – 8
- Tonga – 8
- Yano – 8
- Kojima – 2
Final thoughts: Not bad, like.
I’m back tomorrow for the final! See you then.
Eighteen down, one to go.