G1 Climax Review Night Three
16 July 2018
LIVE from the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center, Hokkaido
You can find my preview for the entire tournament here.
You can find my Night One review here.
You can find my Night Two review here.
Night Three brings the A Block back to the forefront, as Jay White pulled out the upset against Kazuchika Okada and Minoru Suzuki dominated Hiroshi Tanahashi before falling to the High Fly Flow! Today, our featured matches include the two major winners from Night One squaring off as Tanahashi meets White in a Wrestle Kingdom 12 rematch.
Your commentators are Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero.
Toa Henare and Shota Umino vs. Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa (Bullet Club/Guerrillas of Destiny)
KIWI STRONG STYLE! There’s a little bit of intrigue behind this opener because when the Tongans got together and formed the firing squad, it was thought that Henare might link up with them because of the Islander connection. No such initial luck, and Loa lays stiff shots into Henare. Henare tries some should blocks to no avail before eating a wicked Clothesline. Loa attempts to run into Henare in the corner, but Henare avoids the splash and finally hits a great tackle. Umino comes in, and there’s some nice double team offense including a low dropkick from Umino that was pretty sweet. Tonga comes in for a quick distraction, allowing Loa to go back on offense against Umino. Tama tags in and hits an impressive dropkick to Umino. Stinger Splash to Umino, followed by a lazy cover for two. Loa’s back in and hits a sky-high Leg Drop for two. Umino misses a dropkick after Tama saw it coming, but it’s a second attempt and tags in Henare! Flying Should Tackle on Tama! Henare then hits what looks like Forever Clotheslines as Rocky gives his approval over commentary. Shota tags back in, and the two alternate corner offensive moves against Loa. Umino up top with the Missile Dropkick! Tama sneaks in and does a Side Suplex to Henare, but then Umino hits the Delayed German on Tonga! A Tongan Driver from Loa finishes Umino off. The Guerrillas of Destiny def. Toa Henare and Shota Umino via pinfall. Man, Umino is going to be a star whenever he returns from excursion. Once again, he showed great fire and looked crisp in his moves, especially the German he hit on Tama near the end of the match. **1/2
Zack Sabre Jr and TAKA Michinoku (Suzuki-Gun) vs. Toru Yano and Jado (CHAOS)
TAKA: “Welcome to Zack Sabre Time!” Zacky One-Belt really needs to learn where the hard camera is during promos or he’s never gonna make it to the big time, pal. In bodybuilding news, Jado’s pecs are weird to look at. Didn’t notice that on Night One. Yano implores Jado to start the match, and it’s Jado and TAKA to begin. Jado gives TAKA a clean break and takes a kick to the stomach for his troubles. Repeated shoulder block attempts from TAKA before he just gives up and kicks Jado in the stomach. Jado gives him a shoulder tackle and starts Chop, Delay, WHOOOOOO. Jado eats a knee in a corner, and begins to hulk up, before Flair flopping to the floor. Sabre tags in and starts manipulating Jado’s arms against the ropes. Now TAKA comes back in and eats some gut punches from Jado. Still no Toru Yano in this match. Wait, I spoke too soon, as Yano and Sabre both tag in at the same time. Yano immediately goes for the turnbuckle and manages to get it off before backing into an Octopus Hold. He really can’t get rid of his old ways, can he? After breaking the hold, the two begin to slug against each other… yes, Kelly, that’s Yano’s version of fighting spirit. Arm drag from Yano, and a Fireman’s Carry attempt turns into a double wristlock from Sabre and I feel like I’m writing too much about a Yano prelim match. Jado saves Yano from a TAKA pinfall attempt. Sabre then locks an Octopus hold, but while he’s going that, Yano takes down TAKA and steals a three-count! Toru Yano and Jado def. Zack Sabre Jr and TAKA Michinoku via pinfall. Jado must have some pull with the bookers to get on these shows. Yano and Sabre barely touched each other but I think Sabre will find the means to put on an entertaining contest with the Sublime Master Thief on the 19th when the G1 picks up again. **
Kota Ibushi and Yujiro Takahashi vs. Juice Robinson and Dave Finlay
The FinJuice 2018 World Tour marches on to Hokkaido, as they face the still weird team of Yujiro and Ibushi in B Block preview action. Finlay comes straight after the gate but eats a boot from Takahashi. I really wish Yujiro had gained further success in New Japan sometimes. He had a fine career before joining Bullet Club, but he hasn’t really done much of late except accuse Kenny Omega of being “a fucking racist.” Takahashi quickly gets the upper hand and Kota runs in, hitting what starts with a somersault but ends with a 180-degree twist at the end. Kota goes for the cover before the referee reminds him that he’s not the legal man. Ibushi: “This one’s on me, man! My bad.” Yujiro with the Backbreaker for a two-count. Ibushi tags in and locks Finlay in a Head Scissors and starts slugging away after Finlay hits the ropes. European Uppercut from the German-born Irishman who resides in Hotlanta. Juice tags in and CLEARLY whacks Yujiro off the apron with the cast hand. Ibushi flips out of a German Suplex but Juice throws Ibushi into the corner and goes for the cannonball but misses! Ibushi Strikes is followed by a Juice chop and both men are down after Juice hits a Western Lariat. Yujiro’s in now and hits a Reverse DDT on Juice, but Finlay comes in and soon enough eats a Springboard Dropkick on Finlay. Juice hits the double knees on Yujiro before finishing it with Pulp Friction! Juice Robinson and Dave Finlay def. Kota Ibushi and Yujiro Takahashi via pinfall. The match started with the story of highlighting Ibushi and Yujiro’s obvious lack of chemistry since they don’t team together that often. Over time the match did a good job of continuing the story of Juice working around his broken hand and how that will play into his singles matches. The finish was kinda flat, as Finlay held Kota for FAR too long before Juice finished Yujiro, but hey, it’s a prelim match, so what can you do? **1/2
SANADA and Tetsuya Naito (Los Ingobernables de Japon) vs. SHO and Tomohiro Ishii (CHAOS)
This will set us up nicely for Naito vs. Ishii on Night Four. Way back in the day, I mean waaaay back, when Tetsuya Naito had a cup of coffee as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, his first and only successful defense was again Ishii at Wrestling Dontaku 2016. I rather liked that match. Naito pounds away at Ishii and ignores the clean break opportunity before spitting at Ishii WHY U GOTTA MAKE STONE PITBULL MAD 141? They trade off some excellent offense before SHO and SANADA tag their ways in. SHO attempts a German on SANADA before hitting a decent looking dropkick. In response, SANADA positions SHO over the middle rope before kicking it and sending the rope right into SHO’s penis. Ouch. Naito tags back in after whipping Ishii into the barricade. It just occurred to me as Naito started beating on SHO: I really hope that Naito has a CHAOS match against YOH during this tour, because back when he was a Young Lion, there were thoughts that Naito was encouraging Yohei Komatsu to join L.I.J. due to their interactions with each other. Oh, shit, a match, right. Ishii and Naito are going at it in the ring again, and I can already tell their singles match will be a tough one to cover. Powerslam by the Stone Pitbull! German Suplex attempt by Naito before he hits the Inverted Atomic Drop and an Enziguiri. SANADA and SHO head back inside and it’s SHO with a flurry of elbows and then a Spear onto SANADA. Deadlift German attempt fails, and Naito and Ishii manage to trip up their respective opponents as they’re running the ropes. SANADA drop kicks SHO as Naito does his leg sweep/dropkick combo in the corner. SHO almost steals the match with an Inside Cradle. SHO goes for a Powerbomb but SANADA fights out and locks in the Skull End! He swings SHO around with ease as he begins to fade. Tiger Hattori calls for the bell as SHO can’t respond to the referee. Tetsuya Naito and SANADA def. Tomohiro Ishii and SHO via submission. This was about as good as an undercard match as one can hope for during the G1 season. All four men put on inspired performances, and the Naito/Ishii interactions have me SUPER EXCITED for their G1 match on Thursday. SHO looked great as the underdog babyface, and people may scoff at his potential as a heavyweight, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility at all. ***3/4
Hirooki Goto and YOH (CHAOS) vs. Kenny Omega and Chase Owens (Bullet Club)
Well, shucks, looks like we’re getting Kenny’s high profile matches out of the way early, as he faces Hirooki Goto on Thursday in a rematch of the 2016 G1 Climax Finals. Omega and Owens tease over who’s gonna start, before Omega comes in to start against Goto. Owens sneaks in and we’re off! Goto tackles Owens and takes the boots to him before YOH goes to work on Owens. YOH flips into the ring and goes for a Rana, but Chase catches him and allows Kenny to attack his face from over the top rope. IS Kenny back to working heel for this match? Owens to Hattori: “Check my hair, he’s pulling my hair! *closed fist to YOH*”. Three Sweet Elbow Drop to YOH as Omega and Owens are doing frantic tags to YOH. Wishbone split to YOH, and they are tagging so much I can’t even keep up with it. They’ve probably done eight tags in the last 90 seconds. Goto looks mildly concerned from the far corner. YOH flips through a Side Suplex before delivering several elbows to help. Omega comes in and accidentally eats a boot from Owens! Goto is in and starts with the strikes and kicks to Owens. Spinning wheel kick in the corner to Owens! Saito Suplex! Omega comes back in and they have something planned for Goto. Goto initially avoids the onslaught before eating a Superkick, and YOH comes in with the knee before Kenny can hit the V-Trigger! Hard elbow from Owens to Goto followed by an Enziguiri. Package Piledriver attempt by Owens, but Goto fights out and hits the Ushigoroshi, followed by the G-T-R for the victory. Hirooki Goto and YOH def Kenny Omega and Chase Owens. This flew by and served as an adequate preview for Goto vs. Omega. They didn’t really interact much at all during this match, but I’m excited for Thursday having re-watched the G1 26 Finals a couple of days ago. YOH and Owens both looked really good, and, hey, YOH got a win and I don’t see that happening a lot over the month. ***
G1 Climax A Block Match: Hangman Page (Bullet Club) vs. Michael Elgin
Kelly revealed during Hangman’s entrance that none other than the great Masahiro Chono picked Page to win the tournament. I don’t blame him for that sentiment, as I also get tired of watching wrestling on a daily basis. Apparently, Page and Elgin were both in the same ROH tryout camp, which is a cool little tidbit for this upcoming match. Elgin’s undefeated against Hangman in ROH singles action, but this is obviously their first meeting in New Japan. A shoulder tackle from Page gets him a sick chop in return. Page counters with a ripping forearm, before a dropkick connects by Elgin. Elgin with the Planche over the top rope! These two clearly aren’t messing around for this match. Page dodges a headbutt and delivers a neckbreaker through the ropes. Apron Shooting Star Press! Another standing SSP in the ring gets a two-count. Low dropkick from Page to Elgin before he hits the Catapult below the bottom rope for two. Hangman slows things down with some rest holds in the middle of the ring as Elgin casually reaches for the ropes. A series of false offensive moves between the two of them leads to a MASSIVE POWERSLAM FROM ELGIN! Randy Orton’s got nothing on that move. Elgin hits a shoulder tackle and starts to fire up. Page manages to whip Elgin into the ropes before walking into a Sitout Powerbomb. Not smart, Hangman. Ridiculous forearms from Elgin followed by a Superkick/Bridging German pin attempt by Page! That looked pretty cool. A brief stalemate as Page pushed Elgin into the corner before falling to an Overhead Throw from Big Mike. Heavy clotheslines in the corner from Elgin, as Page is taking some serious abuse during this match. Page goes up top and avoids Elgin by jumping to the apron, and yet Elgin manages to hit a Cutter over the ropes! A Stormbreaker modifier gets two, and I had to rewind for a second because I thought Elgin got the three there. I can’t have been the only one to think that. Hard elbows from Elgin, and a Sunset Flip gets two, then they quickly trade multiple pin attempts. Page flips out of a German Suplex and hits a Dudebuster for two! Because that’s only Trent Beretta’s finisher. Makes sense. Elgin takes a powder outside as Page climbs up to the top rope, but now Elgin is back on the other side of the top rope, and Elgin throws Page back into the ring in an INCREDIBLY DISAPPOINTING SEQUENCE. Page is back up for what looks like a Rana, but Mike catches up for a bomb, but Page hits the snap Rana anyways and the crowd is alive for Page! Both men struggle on the ground for a spell, as the crowd begins the Hangman chants. Page goes for the Rite of Passage but Elgin escapes by grabbing the ropes. An Enziguiri follows a series of kicks from Big Mike and I can’t believe he lost as much weight as he did. He looks great. They beat the standing 10-count and starting trading blows with each other. Page spits on Elgin and the movement of Page’s saliva made me laugh. Maybe G1 fatigue is already setting in. German from Mike! German from Page! We’re past fifteen minutes, by the way. RELEASE TIGER SUPLEX FROM ELGIN! Buckshot lariat from Page fails! Splash Mountain Bomb from Elgin only gets a two! Buckle Bomb connects, but Page manages to go for the Rite of Passage! Tiger Bomb followed by the Elgin gets the three for Big Mike. Michael Elgin def. Hangman Page via pinfall. They lost me for a little bit there, especially when they both went to the top rope and all Big Mike could manage to do was shove Page off to the mat, but that ending sequence was put together very well, and Hangman just flat out looked awesome. I don’t care if Page doesn’t win a single match for the rest of the tournament, he’s looking like a man who clearly belongs in the G1. ***1/2
G1 Climax A Block Match: EVIL (Los Ingobernables de Japon) vs. YOSHI-HASHI (CHAOS)
The Man They Call Tacos needs to rebound after losing his opener to Togi Makabe. EVIL also lost his opening match to the now undefeated Michael Elgin, so someone’s gotta get some points in this encounter. They’ve only had one match against each other, when YOSHI-HASHI defeated EVIL during the 2016 G1 Climax. YOSHI takes control early with a kick to the gut, followed by a side headlock. IT’s trading shoulder blocks until YOSHI knocks EVIL down. Kelly noted that YOSHI might have over relied on the Butterfly Lock during his match with Makabe as both men spill outside. EVIL stretches YOSHI over the barricade as he looks to swing for the fences, with chairs instead of baseball bats. He connects! The referee begins the 20-count as YOSHI writhes in pain outside of the ring. He makes it back in at 15, while EVIL immediately goes for the pin before going for the armbar after YOSHI kicks out. EVIL toys with YOSHI, but YOSHI comes back with a flurry of strikes. EVIL gets his opponent down but misses the Senton! Ouchies. YOSHI manages to hit the Head Hunter, before going in for a corner chop. YOSHI drapes the King of Darkness over the top rope before a leaping dropkick to bring EVIL back into the ring. The commentators begin to discuss YOSHI-HASHI’s taped up arm, and RIGHT ON CUE EVIL clubs away at his bum shoulder. YOSHI goes for the sleeper but succumbs to Darkness Falls for two! EVIL poses with YOSHI for the cameras before going for Everything Is Evil and fails! Backcracker from YOSHI-HASHI as the crowd could not be more silent if they tried. Matching lariats sees YOSHI go down as the crowd FINALLY begins to make some noise. YOSHI rips off his shoulder tape and unloads on EVIL with chops before hitting the Western Lariat on EVIL! YOSHI goes for a Powerbomb but overspins EVIL and both men fly over the top rope, to a rather tepid response. Man, these two are struggling to get anything sustained from the crowd. YOSHI rolls EVIL in and Powerbombs for two. Butterfly Lock, as YOSHI uses his strength to bring him back to the center of the ring. EVIL manages to squirm his way to the ropes. Ten minutes past, and YOSHI hits a Swanton on EVIL but only manages to get the two. EVIL potatoes to the mat, and YOSHI manages to get him up for Kharma, but the two trade attempting their finishers for a few cycles before YOSHI hits doubles knees for two! YOSHI tries Kharma again, but EVIL blocks and delivers a big boot to YOSHI before a half-and-half fires him up! EVIL’s back from the dead and hits Everything Is Evil for the pinfall. EVIL def. YOSHI-HASHI via pinfall. The modern definition of a Perfectly Fine Match that the crowd could not give a shit about. YOSHI’s trying hard, but he’s not getting the reactions he should be. Meanwhile, EVIL played dead for the last five minutes or so before he managed to hit his finisher once and score the pinfall. I dunno, I wasn’t quite feeling this one. **1/2
G1 Climax A Block Match: Togi Makabe vs. Minoru Suzuki (Suzuki-Gun)
Big thumbs up for Suzuki’s new theme music, by the way. This is a rematch from the NJPW 46th Anniversary Show, where Suzuki defeated Makabe to retain the Intercontinental Title. I wasn’t too crazy about their tag match from the night prior, but I’ll remain optimistic. One of these days, New Japan has to pony up the millions of yen it would probably cost to get Makabe’s real theme to play during a Wrestle Kingdom show or something. FAST START as them immediately begin trading forearms. Suzuki calls for the slugging, and I’ve already more hyped for this match than I was 60 seconds ago. Suzuki eventually lays into Makabe and laughs in his face whenever Makabe gives the receipt. Makabe eventually goes down to one knee while Suzuki lays into him in the corner. Makabe reverses, and now there are pretty much 50-50 again. Makabe finally gets the better of the forearm exchange with Suzuki, as Suzuki eventually has to bail out of the ring. They brawl outside for a while, as Marty Asani gets shoved out of the way. Both men separately grab chairs and start to duel! They’re back in the ring with no referee and Despy slides a chair to Minoru for the big thwack. Another across his back as Asani finally makes it back into the ring. He gets shoved down again for what’s at least the third time. Makabe dines on a guardrail, as we’re five minutes past. Minoru is destroying Makabe with chairs, and guess what, the referee gets shoved down again. The commentary goes silent for a while as they’re fighting right behind the desk. The referee begins the 20-count but Makabe rises up and makes the count at 14. Suzuki stomps away at the back of Makabe’s neck, but Makabe makes it up and delivers the Hope Punches. He’s quickly flattened by Suzuki. Kelly: “Let them fight! Let Makabe get up and kick Suzuki’s ass!” Biased much? Makabe whips Suzuki into the corner for the 10-punch HA HA HA spot. Suzuki snaps Makabe over before hitting the PK, still one of my favorite moves in all of wrestling. Makabe hits the powerslam and both men are down. Ten minutes past. Suzuki and Makabe yell at each other for a bit and continue to trade blows. Togi begins the comeback but Suzuki effortlessly knock him to the ground. Makabe looks dazed, as the commentators wonder if the referee will call for the submission. Read naked choke from Suzuki, and Makabe goes down to his knees. Suzuki goes for the Gotch-Style Powerbomb… whoops, I mean Piledriver, but Makabe holds on for dear life. Any normal man would be dead by now. Makabe blocks another GSP attempt and hits the Death Valley Driver! Haven’t seen that in a while. The Western Lariat barely catches Suzuki over the back of the head, but Makabe soon hits a Western Lariat to send him to the mat! Makabe sets up for the Spider German, but Suzuki tries to fight out of it! Spider German! SUZUKI STANDS UP! MAKABE HITS THE KING KONG KNEE DROP TO A STANDING SUZUKI! A second Knee Drop over a prone Suzuki puts him away. Togi Makabe def. Minoru Suzuki via pinfall. This was a match that told an interesting tale about how the oldest member of the G1 Climax was schooling the second-oldest member of the G1 Climax and treating him like a rookie in the process. The brawls outside looked nasty, and the finish of the match left me wanting one more Makabe/Suzuki match before they are done wrestling. If they tighten up their structure a little bit, they can surpass four stars together, no problem. ***1/2
G1 Climax A Block Match: Kazuchika Okada (CHAOS) vs. Bad Luck Fale (Bullet Club/Firing Squad)
Fale wastes no time in terrorizing the ring announcer, not allowing him to get even one word out before chasing him out of the ring. Cameras manage to find the cutest little girl in the audience wearing a Rainmaker robe. Okada almost looks like he’s on drugs during his entrance, especially with his Sex Pistols-inspired shirt and his bouncing saunter to the ring. These two have obviously fought many times, and they have great chemistry in a “big man, slightly smaller big man” capacity. By the way, if you haven’t seen the VTR for their Wrestling Dontaku 2017 match, please do so, it’s a treat and almost makes Fale an out-and-out babyface. Okada quickly finds himself on the outside between Fale and Loa, but manages to knock Loa to a table position, then jumps off Loa into Fale! He then teases jumping over the corner before relenting and beckoning Fale inside. Fale responds by grabbing a chair. Fale: “I’m gonna fuck him up in there!” Well, shit. While he’s distracting the ref, Loa slams Okada on the outside of the ring. Fale proceeds to slam Okada into the barricade in front of the Japanese commentators, then in front of the English commentators. Fale then sends Okada into the fourth row of seats, then stomping on him as the referee begins the count. Okada’s up and in at 14, walking right into Fale putting all of his weight on him. COME ON RAINMAKER! Five minutes past. Fale drags Okada into the center of the ring and slaps on the Accolade, as it’s apparently Rusev Day on the other side of the Date Line. Okada attempts to slam Fale but fails, because apparently despite losing all of that weight, Fale’s still a fat piece of shit. Fale charges into the corner, and Okada gets the bodyslam! He’s in obvious lower back pain, however. DDT gets two for Okada. Fale sets up for the Grenade but eats a Dropkick and then a Clothesline all the way to the floor. TOPE CON HILO FOR OKADA! Haven’t seen that in a while. The 20-count begins again as Okada rolls Fale into the ring. Elbow drop from the top rope, Rainmaker Pose, Okada goes for the Rainmaker but eats a Samoan Drop instead. Big splash from Fale gets two. The Bad Luck Fall fails to connect as Okada sneaks out. We are ten minutes past. Okada takes a monster clothesline but escapes before the three. Fale climbs up top but Okada manages to stop him. Okada teases a Superplex, Fale fights out, but Okada hits a dropkick. He sends Fale to the mat and quickly hits a dropkick! There’s no way he can possibly hit a Tombstone, right? Nope, and Fale gets him up for the Bad Luck Fall! Okada escapes! Rainmaker! Second Rainmaker! Another dropkick and Okada attempts a third Rainmaker, but Fale bumps the ref! TAMA TONGA WITH THE GUN STUN OUTTA NOWHERE! BAD LUCK FALL!!! Fale pulls off the win against Okada. Bad Luck Fale def. Kazuchika Okada via pinfall. I really enjoy Okada/Fale matches. They tell such a great story of Okada, despite being the Ace, being unable to handle the monster Fale due to his sheer size and underhanded BC tactics. Okada looked like he was gonna persevere, but now he potentially has a new threat in Tama Tonga waiting for him after the tournament. Suzuki and Okada both sit at zero points and we’re not even into the grueling part of the Climax yet. ***3/4
G1 Climax A Block Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. “Switchblade” Jay White (CHAOS)
It’ll say a lot for the CHAOS hierarchy for storyline purposes if Jay White makes it to four points while Okada sits at zero after two days of block action. This is a rematch of the Wrestle Kingdom Intercontinental Title, and Jay White has grown by leaps and bounds since that fateful night in January. Whoa, check out the state of Tana’s abs. Tana starts with controlling White to the floor via his arm, and as White tries to rise up, Tana maintains control. White starts to take control via the completely legal and not at all dangerous tactic of grabbing Tanahashi’s luscious and beautiful hair, forcing him into a corner. A copy from White leads into a shoulder tackle from Tanahashi as these two are pretty even as we start off. Dropkick from Tanahashi in the corner puts White down. Tana whips White in the corner, this is reversed and White chop blocks the right knee of Tana to send him down to the mat. God, White just looks like an unpleasant booger. I love it. White suckers Tana with a punch before assaulting his knee. White snaps the knee capsule back and earned a two for his troubles. Switchblade hammers an elbow on Tana before slamming his bum knee multiple times on the apron, then off the ring post. He then goes for a pin, which Red Shoes refuses to count because White used the ring post in his attack. I haven’t seen that in a while. The two wrestlers exchange punches and uppercuts before Tana collapses into the corner due to his bad knee. White comes in, but Tanahashi tries to manage the pain and deliver multiple strikers to White. Big Flying Forearm to White as Tana tries to get more blood into his knee. White’s staggering, and I can already tell this is a Much Better Match than their WK match. Somersault Senton gets two. Thrust kick attempt from White sets him up to eat a Dragon Screw for Tanahashi. Tana attempts a Cloverleaf but Jay White quickly reaches the ropes, and we are ten minutes past. Tana catches White with a Dragon Screw through the ropes! Jay looks like he’s hurting. Sling Blade attempts turns into a Blade Runner attempt before White drives Tana’s head into the mat and the hits the Deadlift German Suplex! White has the biggest shit-eating grin as he chops at Tanahashi’s chest, but the Mad Lad calls for more! White promptly drives Tana’s knee into the mat and he looks particularly vicious at the moment. Tana fights out of another Blade Runner attempt before running into a big Lariat! White drives Tanahashi into the corner MULTIPLE TIMES and where was this bastard at Wrestle Kingdom? SNAP SAITO SUPLEX ON THE FLOOR! Jee-zus. Fifteen minutes past. White MUTILATES Tanahashi with multiple drives into the guardrail. Rocky: “I gotta say, this is where Jay White is at his most dangerous! On the outside!” Tanahashi has gone limp in the ring. Double Underhook Suplex and Tana isn’t looking all that great, y’all. White goes for a second and then a third but Tana collapses as Red Shoes considers calling for the bell. Twisting Vertical Suplex gets two. White meekly wanders out of the ring and grabs a chair to a smattering of boos. Swing and a miss! Sling Blade! Tana dips outside to grab a chair of his own as we are twenty minutes past. We’re back to a chair-less stalemate as White shoves Tanahashi into Red Shoes right before a Low Blow! He goes for the chair again but Tanahashi hits a Low Blow on White! Twist and Shout as Tanahashi feels much more confident. A series of counters follow before Tana hits a Bridging German for two. A High Fly Flow attempt sees Tana introduce the ropes to his nether regions. White grabs his chair and throws it directly into Tana’s face! Blade Runner and we are done. Jay White def. Hiroshi Tanahashi via pinfall. Gotta say, this was loads better than their Wrestle Kingdom match (I had it at an even ***). There, Jay White looked like a deer in the headlights and failed to come off as a star compared to the Ace. Now, his mannerisms and character work are leagues better and he comes off as a credible dark horse to compete for the top of A Block. Wouldn’t have believed that if you said that a week ago. ***3/4
Final Thoughts: It’s possible we might have been setting our expectations a bit too high at the beginning of the tournament. However, all of the matches have been entertaining at worst, and some competitors, like Jay White and YOSHI-YASHI, look like completely different wrestlers than from six months prior. We’ve got a few days off until Night Four (and thank God for that), where the action picks up from Korakuen Hall with Ishii vs. Naito and Goto vs. Omega. See you then.
Standings (A Block):
Jay White, Togi Makabe, Michael Elgin – 4 pts
Adam Page, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Bad Luck Fale, EVIL – 2 pts
Kazuchika Okada, YOSHI-HASHI, Minoru Suzuki – 0 pts
Standings (B Block):
Kenny Omega, Hirooki Goto, Kota Ibushi, Tama Tonga, Tomohiro Ishii – 2 pts
Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, Zack Sabre Jr, Juice Robinson, Toru Yano – 0 pts
Three down, sixteen to go.