The SmarK Rant for New Japan on AXS – 11.02.17
Hosted by Jim Ross & Josh Barnett
Apparently I get the Fight Network on some kind of free preview deal with Sasktel, so when I saw this pop up on the guide, you knew I was all over it. On this show, it’s matches from the 2015 G1 tournament. No idea when the original airdate of this show on AXS was, since it doesn’t seem to adhere to any kind of schedule for Fight Network up here.
Toru Yano v. Bad Luck Fale
Fale beats on Yano in the corner to start and Yano quickly runs away, resulting in him getting beaten with his own DVD. That’s the worst thing that can happen to you here in the modern era. They do the countout tease spot that was all the rage at the time, but Yano sneaks in at 19 and undoes a turnbuckle. Back to the floor for more abuse from the Bullet Club, as Tama Tonga beats on him, but Yano hits both Bullet Clubbers with low blows, and beats the count at 3:44. JR busts out “bowling shoe ugly” for this one. ½*
AJ Styles v. Hiroshi Tanahashi
This is the finals of the A-block for 2015. AJ works a headlock while Josh notes that you never know when the Bullet Club is going to run in, even if they’re not there at ringside. Why, one of them could be on the toilet during AJ entrance, just waiting for his chance! Tanahashi powers him into a wristlock and goes to his own headlock, but they try a gymnastic exchange and get nowhere against each other. Tanahashi works the arm and whips AJ around the ring, then wraps the knee around the post and goes to work on it as we take a break. Back with AJ trying to throw him out of the ring, but Tanahashi skins the cat and AJ just throws him out again. Back in, AJ works out the knee issue and hits Tanahashi with a corner clothesline and the dropkick. AJ goes to work on Tanahashi’s knee to get revenge and they slug it out in the corner, but AJ misses a charge and Tanahashi fires back with a flying forearm. Elbow and senton get two. He goes up and misses a senton off the middle, and AJ tries the springboard forearm, so Tanahashi shoves him to the floor and follows with a High Fly Flow to the floor and we take another break. Back with both guys pulling themselves back in the ring while they keep overusing the countout tease, but AJ necksnaps him on the way back in. Back in with the springboard inverted DDT, which sets up the forearm, but he lands on Tanahashi’s shoulders. Tanahashi turns it into a german suplex with both arms trapped, for two. Cool point: Tanahashi’s neck is hurt and he made a point about how he couldn’t bridge properly before the match, which then pays off here as he can’t hold the bridge for the pin. Tanahashi holds him off with a dragon screw leg whip, but Red Shoes gets bumped and AJ goes low. Tanahashi returns the favor (“What’s good for the goose is good for his junk, apparently,” notes Josh.) and both guys are clutching their nuts and selling. They slug it out and Tanahashi goes to the knee like a dick, so AJ fires back with the strike combo and they’re both rocked. AJ rolls him into the Calf Crusher, but Tanahashi makes the ropes after a dramatic struggle. Red Shoes pulls AJ off him, so AJ decks the poor ref and goes back to Tanahashi, who hits AJ with a spinning neckbreaker. AJ catches him with the sitout facebuster for two. And we take a break and return with AJ hitting the Phenomenal Forearm for two. AJ tries the Styles Clash, but Tanahashi goes dead weight on him and counters out with a Sling blade, which sets up his own Styles Clash! AJ counters to an anklelock, but Tanahashi reverses him into the turnbuckle to escape, then pulls him out with the Styles Clash, which gets two. AJ is still down, so the High Fly Flow follows, but AJ gets the knees up to block. AJ with his own frog splash, which gets two. AJ has had enough, so it’s Bloody Sunday DDT to set up the Clash, but Tanahashi hits him in the knee again to block. AJ tries the Pele, but Tanahashi catches the leg in mid-air and whips him down, then goes up with the bodypress, which sets up the High Fly Flow to finish at 27:56 and send Tanahashi to the finals. That was just ridiculously great, with the last 10 minutes being unreal. ****3/4
Tanahashi gives the babyface-of-all-babyface promos to wrap up the show, promising to win the tournament, which of course he did. Hopefully they show the B Block final next week, with Okada v. Nakamura.