Tonight, it’s just past the halfway point as we have Night 5 of B Block! Hiroshi Tanahashi takes on KENTA in the main event, while Juice Robinson battles EVIL!
Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
A Block (Michael Fitzgerald):
B Block (Rick Poehling):
Tonight, we have:
Toru Yano vs Hirooki Goto
SANADA vs Zack Sabre Jr
Tetsuya Naito vs YOSHI-HASHI
EVIL vs Juice Robinson
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs KENTA
My wife bought a sofa (well, my wife GOT a sofa, yours truly bought it as an anniversary gift). It took 4 hours to put together. That’s right, put together. It was $200 cheaper than the other sofa she wanted, but it came in pieces to put together. I assumed that it would be akin to a jigsaw puzzle.
I was incorrect.
This may be a bit more compact than usual, friends.
Yota Tsuji vs Yuya Uemura
Usual Lion grappling to start, and watching these guys makes me all the more enraged that Yujiro is over stinking up A Block while these two are out here trying to turn a wristlock reversal into an epic miniseries. Tsuji hits a double stomp out of a Camel Clutch that I audibly winced at, as he came right down on Yuya. Uemura actually makes a go of trying to submit Tsuji on the mat with a side headlock and it looks GOOD. I’m serious, these guys are more than ready at this point. Yuya tries two cradles right as time expires, but he can’t keep Tsuji down and we’ve got another draw. Keep it coming, boys. (Draw, 15:00)
Toru Yano (6 Points) vs Hirooki Goto (2 Points) – B Block match
Yano is currently tied for the lead in the Block while Goto’s tournament has been a dumpster fire and that’s a sentence that is accurate in 2020.
Here’s another sentence that is accurate: this match goes a whopping 18 seconds, as Goto tosses away a shirt thrown at him by Yano and ties up his legs before sitting on him for the pin. (Hirooki Goto over Toru Yano, pinfall, 0:18)
THOUGHTS: *. I mean, what can I do here? The ‘match’ went 18 seconds. GEDO stacking all of Yano’s wins at the beginning of the tournament was really fun, and I can only assume that the reason he lost here was math, as it’s certainly not necessary to protect Goto these days. I think the party is over for Yano in this G-1, sadly.
SANADA (2 Points) vs Zack Sabre Jr (4 Points) – B Block match
SANADA is coming off his best match in awhile, having beaten Tetsuya Naito in our last B Block affair. With the title shot in his back pocket, one would think that he no longer needs to win the G-1, but he also has to be kept strongish. ZSJ is 2-2 and floundering in this G-1 a bit. These two normally have really good chemistry, so hopefully that continues here.
They do a nifty pinfall reversal sequence off a sunset flip to start the match off, then ZSJ grabs an Octopus. SANADA breaks with a hiptoss and we get another series of pinfall reversals with SANADA getting a VERY close two count. Back to the mat and ZSJ grabs a wristlock, SANADA breaks that. More reversal sequences, more stalemate. This is excellent so far, as both guys try to outdo the other and they can’t get anywhere with it.
More reversal sequences on the mat where they just try to outwrestle each other, and my stars and garters, this is just fantastic work. Wristlocks reversed, hammerlocks into headlocks, ZSJ escaping a headlock and going to the headscissors and then holding it…..they’re letting it hang out there. SANADA challenges ZSJ to a test of strength and Zack figures “I’ve got this”, so he promptly loses. ZSJ with a few uppercuts which, if I’m not mistaken, are the first strikes anyone has thrown in this match.
Zack charges SANADA, but gets dropkicked in the knee for his troubles. Dragon-screw from SANADA and ZSJ is hurtin’. He suckers SANADA into going for a figure-four and reverses that into a triangle. SANADA tries to power out of that so Sabre hooks a funky-looking rear naked choke, forcing SANADA to the ropes. SANADA tries Skull End, but that triggers yet another excellent pinfall reversal sequence.
More nifty counter into counter stuff results in Sabre getting a dragon sleeper of his own on SANADA. Sabre tries to put the hooks in, but that allows SANADA to escape and counter into a rope-assisted cutter. SANADA goes up, moonsault hits! 1,2,3! (SANADA over Zack Sabre Jr, pinfall, 14:31)
THOUGHTS: ***3/4. I thought this was a better wrestling match than the Naito match, to be honest, but it lacked the epic scope and feel of SANADA beating Naito, plus the finish kind of just…..happened. But still, the counters in this match! They fired sequence after sequence at each other with the idea that they would show their strengths as mat workers and boy, did it work for me. If you’re not really into a mat-based match style, then this one is not for you. Me? Give it 5 more minutes and it’s probably up there with the best of the G-1 this year, seriously. SANADA brought the goods tonight and I would think that his showdown with Hiroshi Tanahashi on Night 16 is now going to be absolutely pivotal in deciding the Block. ZSJ needs something as a singles guy, but if his future is staying in tags for the time being, him having a mediocre G-1 isn’t the end of the world.
Intermission time! Clean that ring! BOSJ and World Tag League at the same time?!? I mean, I’m going to do the BOSJ. World Tag League may be up for grabs. I do have to sleep at some point in life.
I mean, I’ll still WATCH World Tag League. I’m not a complete Philistine.
EVIL (w/Dick Togo) (4 Points) vs Juice Robinson (6 Points) – B Block match
This little mini-push of Juice’s is something I can get behind. I said in the preview and I meant it, he needs like 10-12 points and to be just outside the Block leaders. He doesn’t need to win to win, he just needs to be in the mix. EVIL, on the other hand, was a Block favorite and probably can’t take a loss here if he wants to be there at the end. Interesting.
EVIL attacks before the bell. His name is EVIL, do the math. Juice manages to fire back, but gets tripped by Togo, so EVIL sends him outside to get hit by Togo. I have forgotten how unbelievably great Dick Togo’s punches are. He lays those suckers in there. EVIL joins them outside and pulls out some chairs, and while Togo and the ref go off to have a discussion about the whereabouts of Miho Abe and Pieter, EVIL suplexes Juice onto the chair pile. Hey, at least they distracted the ref. Was it in the most lazy fashion possible? Indeed it was, but still, points for effort.
Back in and EVIL tosses Juice to an exposed buckle. A few snap suplexes by EVIL lead to a half-crab. Juice makes the ropes and fires lefts to fight back, so EVIL goes to the eyes for his insolence. Cross-corner whip to the exposed buckle, but Juice catches EVIL with a leg lariat to put both guys down. Spinebuster by Juice, then he takes out Togo with a plancha. Crossbody gets two for Juice. EVIL goes to the hair and catches him with a kick.
EVIL misses a senton but Juice doesn’t. He puts EVIL on the top rope and, and this is important, at least to me, tries to fire up the crowd by doing the stomp/clap for ‘We Will Rock You’, but he only has to do it ONCE, and they get it and start it up. Maybe they’ve seen their fair share of Emi Sakura matches, I dunno, but Juice managing to get them going that fast means they’re paying attention to him, and that bodes well. Superplex by Juice, he pops the hips, Jackhammer! 1, 2, no! I’m not ashamed to say I almost bought that one.
Ref gets distracted (shocker!) and Togo hits EVIL with a chair, then follows that with a lariat for two. Darkness Falls….hits! 1, 2, NO! Everything is EVIL gets blocked, Juice goes for Pulp Friction, EVIL escapes and comes out of the corner, Juice flattens EVIL with a lariat! The tank top straps are DOWN! EVIL gets sent into Togo, double knee gutbuster gets two for Juice. EVIL charges Juice in the corner but eats an elbow, Hand of God hits for Juice! He goes for another one, but Togo has taken the ref (3rd time in this match) and EVIL gets the Greco-Roman ballshot behind him. Everything is Evil finishes. Fuck this shit. (EVIL over Juice Robinson, pinfall, 15:36)
THOUGHTS: ***1/4. Man, I’m really, really getting tired of this nonsense. Look, I have zero problems with cheating by heels, I just want them to have to work a bit for it. Ref got distracted or taken so many times in this match, he may as well have not been there. And it’s turning into go-away heat from me, where I’m starting to not look forward to EVIL matches because I know that we’re going to have to deal with all of this shit. The match itself? Wonderful. Started off looking like EVIL was going to squash him, Juice built up the narrative for the comeback and we got several neato false finishes. I was thinking this could flirt with the 4 snowflake range after they really got amped up, but they needed 5 more minutes and they just crapped all over it with that finish that they’ve done a thousand fucking times. Whatever. I’m sure it’s brilliant heel heat and them making me not want to watch EVIL’s matches is great for some reason.
YOSHI-HASHI (2 points) vs Tetsuya Naito (6 Points)
YOSHI has been the shocker of the tournament so far, and I’ve rained more snowflakes down upon him than I ever thought possible as a result. He hasn’t had a ‘great’ match (although you could certainly argue that the one with Tanahashi qualifies), but compared with his normal output, he’s been off-the-charts. He is trying to have the tournament of his life. Naito is coming off his first loss, so we’ll see how he responds to that.
We grapple to the mat and Naito controls with a headscissors there. Back up into a Naito armbar, reversed by YOSHI. He fires off a few moves and ‘ranas Naito to the floor as I contemplate what the hell is happening in 2020. Back in and YOSHI is still in control, but he charges Naito in the corner and eats boot as a result. Naito gets a hiptoss and a neckbreaker for two. Another neckbreaker and he puts YOSHI in a headscissors, YOSHI makes the ropes.
Naito clowns YOSHI a bit and slaps him on the head, so YOSHI reverses Naito’s DDT into a neckbreaker. Serves Naito right. Chops from YOSHI and another neckbreaker, then a dropkick sends Naito to the floor again. YOSHI sizes him up, tope con hilo from YOSHI! Back in, YOSHI comes off the top with a neckbreaker for two. Naito gets some breathing room with a ‘rana to counter a powerbomb, then the legsweep/dropkick corner combo.
Naito goes up, but YOSHI gets underneath him and this time the powerbomb hits. Butterfly Lock now as Naito is in trouble. He gets back to his feet and escapes with a tornado DDT to put both guys down. Naito with Gloria for two as he’s starting to change his mannerisms a bit here, because he knows he’s been out there way too long with a guy like YOSHI. Spinebuster, but Destino is blocked by YOSHI with a lariat. They slug it out and that’s won by Naito with a crazy palm strike at the end, but YOSHI reverses a whip and nails Naito with a shoulderbreaker, then back to the Butterfly Lock!
Naito almost makes the ropes, so YOSHI transitions to a sleeper, then a lungblower and back to the Butterfly closer to the center of the ring. Naito is in it for a LONG time, as YOSHI keeps moving him to cut off the ropes, until finally one last gasp from Naito gets to the bottom. Fisherman’s Buster attempt is blocked by Naito firing elbows, but Naito leaves an opening and YOSHI ducks, then hits a headbutt, palm strike, and Dragon suplex in a row. YOSHI off the ropes, lariat! 1, 2, no! Another Fisherman’s Buster attempt is reversed to Destino by Naito.
2nd Destino attempt by Naito is reversed into a crazy brainbuster from YOSHI for two. Karma attempt from YOSHI is blocked by Naito, who desperately wants to finish this match as he hits a rolling kick, then Valentia for two. Destino finally finishes off a very game YOSHI-HASHI. (Tetsuya Naito over YOSHI-HASHI, pinfall, 24:43)
THOUGHTS: ***3/4. Just a shade under the Tanahashi match for me, this rocked. YOSHI continues to make the most out of this tournament to the point where it’s going to be news if he has a bad match, not if he has a good one. Naito’s going to get absolutely murdered by someone here soon, one would think – all of his matches have gone at least 20 minutes, and that’s going to catch up with him, methinks. Overall, the pacing on this one was spectacular, both guys put the other guy over huge, and if it hadn’t kind of just devolved into them doing moves to each other until one guy one, they may have eclipsed the YOSHI/Tana match. Keep feeding me this YOSHI-HASHI and I’ll be a happy recapper.
Naito puts his foot on the throat of YOSHI after the match ends. He’s faced both KENTA and EVIL recently, so maybe Juice? I’m pretty sure he’s losing at least one more. I wonder…..with SANADA/EVIL being on the last night, does EVIL beat him so both guys hold the break over Naito? Interesting.
Hiroshi Tanahashi (4 Points) vs KENTA (4 Points) – B Block match
Both guys are at 2 wins and 2 losses, so this is a big one here.
Normal slow start with a KENTA match, as he stalls a bunch. So he finally does it one too many times rolling to the floor, and Tana sends him to the barricade while his back is turned with a baseball slide. KENTA turns that around with a chop block and stomps away on the knee of Hiroshi. Leg to the post by KENTA, and now Tana gets to do what he does best: sell his ass off.
Kneebar by KENTA ends up in the ropes, so KENTA stands Tana up and kicks him in the leg 3 times to put him back down. Figure-four, but Tana makes the ropes quickly. More abuse as KENTA apparently wants to take Tana’s leg home and mount it on his wall. Tana tries to fight back, so KENTA kicks him to the corner by the knee, but gets caught on a charge and Tana hits a dragon-screw. Tana with a somersault senton for two.
Tana walks into a KENTA powerslam, and now KENTA regains control, snapping the neck of Tanahashi on the top rope after kicking his hurt knee some more. Flying clothesline gets two for KENTA, back to the figure-four. Tana fights back and they end up on the apron, and KENTA dragon-screws Tana to the floor. Ouchie. Tana barely makes it back in and immediately gets hit with a kick and the delayed dropkick in the corner. Double foot stomp gets two for KENTA. Another dragon-screw and we’re back to the figure-four again.
Tana slugs his way free and catches a charging KENTA with a sling blade. They slug it out to a stalemate, and Tana manages to hit a dragon-screw using the middle rope to regain control. Another one and it’s Cloverleaf time, but KENTA makes the ropes. Delayed dropkick from Tana, but KENTA avoids the sling blade and the ref gets bumped. But this is actually good one, as they make it look completely natural. KENTA takes advantage, splashing both Tana and the ref on the mat.
DDT by KENTA and he goes for his briefcase. He wallops Tana with it, then hits a Penalty Kick, then a running knee…..for two. I dunno, they may be going a bit far with some of these kickouts. KENTA knees Tana in the face and goes for the GTS, but Tana escapes into the Twist and Shout. Again! 3rd time! Sling Blade by Tana, 1, 2, no! He goes up, High Fly Flow! Tana…..doesn’t go up again? No, instead, he puts KENTA in the Cloverleaf and gets the submission! (Hiroshi Tanahashi over KENTA, submission, 23:42)
THOUGHTS: ***3/4. I really wanted to like this more, but I had some real issues with how far they went on the kickouts and on Tana’s selling/not selling the leg when it came to his movement in the ring, etc. I can buy into the adrenaline argument for a sequence or two, but Tana just ignored the first part of the match, something he doesn’t normally do. Also, he took everything one can take from KENTA without the GTS and kicked out of all of it, even beyond the point it made any type of sense to me – that briefcase/PK/running knee sequence should have finished. Overall, I really think these two have a great match in them, but I don’t think this was it. It was still very good, no doubt, but I think my expectations may have been too high, because I wanted a classic.
Tanahashi sends us home.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was a really wonderful show, actually. ZSJ/SANADA, YOSHI/Naito, and KENTA/Tanahahsi are all worth checking out. As things begin to tighten, I really have the Tanahashi/SANADA match circled on my calendar as the pivotal match of the B Block; for Tana to win this thing, Naito has to either lose two more or lose one more and draw one. It’s possible, but I’m not willing to bet the farm on it, and one would think that the EVIL/SANADA match on the last day is going to play one hell of a role in determining our winner.
B BLOCK STANDINGS AFTER NIGHT 5:
Tetsuya Naito – 8 Points
Toru Yano – 6 Points
Juice Robinson – 6 Points
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 6 Points
EVIL – 6 Points
Zack Sabre Jr – 4 Points
KENTA – 4 Points
Hirooki Goto – 4 Points
SANADA – 4 Points
YOSHI-HASHI – 2 Points
That’s it from me today. See you all in a few days for Night 6!
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
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