Heading towards the home stretch here in the G-1, it’s time for Night 6 in the B Block! Tonight, in what is the biggest main event in B Block since Night 1, Hiroshi Tanahashi takes on EVIL!
Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
A Block (Michael Fitzgerald):
B Block (Rick Poehling):
Tonight, we’ve got the following:
YOSHI-HASHI vs Hirooki Goto
Zack Sabre Jr vs Toru Yano
SANADA vs KENTA
Tetsuya Naito vs Juice Robinson
EVIL vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
Gabriel Kidd vs Yuya Uemura
The Young Lions’ C-Cup battles continue. I am getting a bit fatigued here, if only because there’s really only so many times these guys can come up with different results and counters to their stuff, but they’re all such good workers that I only mind a bit. When I watch Uemura I wonder where he’ll end up on excursion – he may be the most introverted of the Lions, which suggests the USA or Mexico as a good excursion spot to work on that aspect, but he’s also a really good grappler and him refining that somewhere in the UK feds may help him develop that even stronger.
This one has some snug shots as they’re clearly getting more comfortable after working each other so much. Kidd, who tapped to the Boston Crab from Tsuji last night escapes it here, and a few moves later the double underhook finishes Uemura. Good stuff. (Gabriel Kidd over Yuya Uemura, pinfall, 8:46)
YOSHI-HASHI (2 Points) vs Hirooki Goto (4 Points) – B Block match
Pretty much do or die here for YOSHI, as a loss here all but knocks him out of the running barring some very complex scenarios. Almost a shame, because he’s been bringing it in this G-1. Not only are both guys here stablemates in CHAOS, but they also are co-holders of the NEVER 6-man tag titles, aka the belt that has seemingly revived YOSHI from a dark and extended slumber.
Grappling into some headlocks to start, with Goto gaining the edge with a hiptoss and a shoulderblock. Goto charges YOSHI with a clothesline but YOSHI kicks the arm and goes to work on it. He even busts out a short-arm scissors and be still my heart, I’m just flat-out becoming a YOSHI fan at this point. He really cranks on it too, forcing Goto to make the ropes to escape it. He avoids a YOSHI charge and hits a Saito suplex to put both guys down. Bulldog by Goto gets two.
Running neckbreaker puts YOSHI back on the offense. This is solid, good wrestling. Not earth-shattering, just solid. Ushigoroshi by Goto, but the shoulder is hurting on the follow-up. They run the ropes and we get a double clothesline, but both guys remain on their feet…..for a second, then YOSHI lariats Goto for two. Dragon suplex and a Meteora get two for YOSHI, and then it’s Butterfly Lock time. Goto struggles and struggles, even as YOSHI puts on the double wristlock variant. Goto gets close the ropes and YOSHI transitions to a sleeper, then a lungblower. Oy. You know, I don’t particularly care for the Butterfly Lock as a submission myself, but someone’s gotta eventually submit to it or YOSHI might as well stop using it.
Kumagoroshi by HASHI now for two. Karma attempt, but Goto counters to the GTW. They slug it out from their knees to their feet, really firing some stiff shots at each other, and YOSHI clobbers Goto with a lariat. Karma is countered into a GTR, YOSHI hits a headbutt to escape that, and Goto does the same to put HASHI back down. GTR finishes after a tremendous finishing sequence. (Hirooki Goto over YOSHI-HASHI, pinfall, 14:12)
THOUGHTS: ***1/2. Great finishing sequence and a very decent match that came right before it, this was good. They took a few minutes to get going in this one, but they really stiffed each other to amp things up and the last several strikes in the match were great. Overall, Goto continues to be exactly where he should be. YOSHI is never going to set the world on fire as a worker and doesn’t belong as a main-eventer, but this G-1 continues to prove that he can answer the call when he needs to – he’s earned every platitude that has been tossed his way.
Toru Yano (6 Points) vs Zack Sabre Jr (4 Points) – B Block match
Yano is coming off the shortest match in the history of the G-1, losing to Goto in 18 seconds. He’s on a 2-match losing streak and needs a win to turn this thing around. ZSJ, on the other hand, is 2-3 and desperately needs to win to get to 6 points here.
ZSJ tosses the King of Pro-Wrestling trophy to the ground as he gets to the ring. What a dick. Yano promises a clean fight, even going so far as to pull 4 rolls of tape out of various parts of his tights. Well, I’m sure that’s all he had, then. After all, who’s more trustworthy than Yano? So in what is a first for this Yano G-1, a wrestling match breaks out. We get two straight lockups that go to the ropes, and a clean break on each one. Does Yano find a roll of athletic tape that he forgot about? Well, of course, but he’s fair play Yano tonight, so he tosses it away! I’m sure that’s it!
Grappling sequence ends in a stalemate (!), and Yano gets down on all fours and this is tremendous. I was losing my mind watching this live and even Zack can barely keep a straight face. He takes Yano into a headscissors, but it ends up in the ropes. ZSJ offers the all fours position now, so Yano…..goes to untie a buckle pad. ZSJ knew it and stops him, but Yano blocks the Octopus and ends up in the ropes. ZSJ sends him to the floor and joins him there, so Yano sends ZSJ to the barricade.
Yano gets a chair and, wonder of wonders, finds a roll of athletic tape under the ring. He puts ZSJ’s arm through the barricade and tapes it to the chair. Oh, you bastard. ZSJ yanks and yanks, then finally figures out he can just pass the chair through the barricade (or rip off the tape, but I’ll let that one go) and dives back in the ring at 19. In the funniest moment of the match, Yano, ever the paragon of the rules, grabs the ref and points at the chair taped to ZSJ’s arm, yelling “Chair! Chair! Chair!” This man is AMAZING. Meanwhile, ZSJ is screaming at the ref “Why would I do that to myself? That’s ridiculous!”
The ref helps ZSJ get the tape off and we resume hostilities. Yano apologizes profusely, but Zack demands he bow to prove it. Yano does so, even offering a deep bow and a handshake. ZSJ accepts the handshake and Yano promptly rakes his eyes and gets a fireman’s carry takeover, then a belly-to-belly suplex and I swear to all that is good and holy I’m giving this **** and if that ruins my credibility as a reviewer, I don’t give a flying fuck.
Yano tosses ZSJ and heads out to the floor again, where Sabre gets the upper hand and puts Yano in an anklelock. And then Sabre gets a bright idea and drags Yano, while in the anklelock, back towards the entrance as the count begins. He lets go and sprints back to the ring, with Yano hobbling after him. Yano makes it back in at 19, and Zack goes to work on the ankle. Yano fires at ZSJ, but Sabre rolls into the anklelock again, Yano makes the ropes. He sends ZSJ across the ring to buy some time, and off comes the turnbuckle pad.
Yano sweeps the leg with the buckle and rolls Sabre up for two, then hides behind the ref as we get the ten-minute call. ZSJ avoids the lowblow by catching it with his legs, but Yano turns a stretch into a cradle for two. Crucifix by Sabre gets two, but he runs into the exposed buckle as Yano moves, small package from Yano gets two. Yano runs him into the buckle and they trade switches, Yano goes for the low blow mule kick, but ZSJ was playing him, as Zack moves out of the way and grabs the exposed leg for the anklelock, then drops into the heel hook from that. Yano tries his hardest, even grabbing the pad, but every time he twists away Sabre puts another limb into an uncomfortable place, and finally Yano taps out. (Zack Sabre Jr over Toru Yano, submission, 12:21)
THOUGHTS: ****. What does it mean to ‘rate’ a wrestling match? Are we just talking about ringwork, or is it meant to encompass the entire narrative of the contest? And, more specifically, when talking about what happens in the squared circle in a critical way, one would assume that we must try to encompass the entire spectrum of the art form when assigning these reactions to fully show all that it is capable of, no? Comedy is simply one part of a duo that also includes drama, and whilst one may indeed produce a stronger emotional reaction, i.e. the dramatics of a rally in a sporting contest, it does not invalidate comedy as a very difficult and notable light side to drama’s dark, and to produce the reaction necessary to be a good comedy is no less strenuous than a drama; indeed, the tendency to slip into unintended self-parody or lazy cheapened laughs make it almost hard to safeguard against.
So yeah, I laughed my ass off. ****.
Good luck following that…..oh, intermission time? Well, they’ve got NO shot.
SANADA (4 Points) vs KENTA (4 Points) – B Block match
Might as well leave the caps lock on here. SANADA has won two in a row and looks like he’s going to make a run here, while KENTA is on a losing streak. With both guys at 2-3, this is actually a big one, although both guys still can beat Naito, as SANADA already holds the break on him while KENTA has yet to face him.
KENTA tosses the briefcase at the ref and attacks SANADA with kicks, forcing SANADA to the floor, where KENTA sends him to the barricade. He beats on SANADA some more, then rolls him back in for two, hits a neckbreaker, gets two. KENTA with a sleeper, SANADA escapes, KENTA goes back to a hold with a figure-four headscissors. Elbow drops and knees to the neck of SANADA, then back to the chinlock. Uh-oh, doesn’t look like KENTA’s going to work all that hard in this one.
SANADA gets a dropkick to the knee of KENTA after escaping, then a belly-to-back suplex. KENTA escapes the Paradise lock, but after a few whips and reversals, gets caught and SANADA slaps it on. TKO attempt is countered by the old thumb to the eye from KENTA, who then powerslams SANADA to buy some time. Flying clothesline after the neck snap by KENTA, but SANADA tosses him. KENTA back in and he hits a draping DDT for two. Delayed dropkick by KENTA and he goes up, double stomp gets two.
GTS gets countered into Skull End, and they do a nice grappling reversal sequence off that and end up in the ropes as KENTA tries to get Game Over. Back up and KENTA charges right into a TKO from SANADA. Skull End, but KENTA shoves the SANADA into the ref and DDTs him. KENTA goes for the briefcase, but misses a wild swing and SANADA hits a briefcase Van Daminator. He goes up, but the moonsault hits knees and KENTA cradles for two. A few more cradles and counters, and SANADA rolls him through into a Clutch for the pin. (SANADA over KENTA, pinfall, 11:24)
THOUGHTS: ***. These guys were on cruise control in this match. I’m not sure that they’re really good fits for each other in the ring, as both guys have very deliberate, cerebral styles that may not mesh all that well for having an exciting match. Regardless, this was fine, but not much more. Nothing to set the world on fire.
Juice Robinson (6 Points) vs Tetsuya Naito (8 Points) – B Block match
Hoping for a big-time performance from Juice here. He’s got an outside shot at the upset, as Naito is probably losing at least one more over the course of this Block.
They work off an armbar to start after a fireman’s carry takeover by Juice, but Naito picks the leg to take Juice to the mat. They grapple to a stalemate and Naito with the Tranquilo pose, pounding his chest in time to ‘We Will Rock You’ to mock Juice. Naito RULES. They run the ropes and Juice gets a backbreaker/Side Russian Legsweep combo, then a senton. Naito rolls out, and Juice follows to send him to the barricade.
Naito back in and Juice attacks, but Naito comes back with an armdrag, then a kick and a ‘rana to send Juice outside. Naito is selling the hell out of him having wrestled so many long matches in this G-1, allowing it to affect his movements, speed, etc. He’s really letting the accumulated damage build up and if you watch his matches from Night 1 to now, you can see it happening in front of you. He is an excellent professional wrestler. Naito eventually rolls out and starts sending Juice from barricade to barricade. Back in the ring, Naito continues to beat on Juice with stomps and a sleeper.
Naito with a headscissors, mocking Juice’s hand movements while he does it, and that ends up in a standing cravat. To the corner and Naito throws elbows, they fight over a neckbreaker and Juice finally gets a spinebuster. Naito ducks the Left Hand of God from Juice, but Robinson was faking it and DDTs Naito for two. We almost get some LUCHA JUICE~!, as he goes up, but Naito avoids that and hits a seated dropkick soon after. Two neckbreakers from Naito, then a modified Koji Clutch on Juice, who rolls through to make the ropes.
Naito mocks Juice and whips him, but Juice reverses it and hits a full-nelson slam. They’re doing great out there and the match is compelling as a result. Cannonball by Juice in the corner as we’re 15 minutes in. Superplex by Juice hits, then a Jackhammer! 1, 2, NO! Naito escapes Pulp Friction, but runs into a giant forearm from Juice and the straps are down! Juice goes for the double knees, Naito reverses into a reverse ‘rana!! Both guys down!
Naito back up with more back elbows, he puts Juice on top, ‘rana off the top from Naito! Destino is blocked as Juice yells “Eat Shit!” at Naito before taking him down with a leg lariat…..and collapsing right after. Tornado DDT attempt from Naito is blocked by Juice, he looks for another Jackhammer, Naito reverses to an inverted DDT! 1, 2, NO! Naito goes for Destino, Juice reverses it, powerbomb by Juice! This match is awesome. They slug it out from their knees, which degenerates into a slap fight as they mock each other’s poses before they get to their feet and really start to throw hands and Naito’s facial expressions are just out of this world great.
Enzuigiri by Naito after he ducks the left hand, but Juice nails him with a lariat anyway for a very close two. Pulp Friction is escaped, but Naito turns around, Left Hand of God kills Naito dead! Pulp Friction attempt, Naito hops to escape, Destino hits! 1, 2, NO!! Naito isn’t deterred, as he follows that up with another Destino and Juice isn’t getting up. (Tetsuya Naito over Juice Robinson, pinfall, 25:02)
THOUGHTS: ****1/4. THIS was the match that Juice needed to have, and he had it. Naito gave him a lot and he was there for it, with great pacing to the match, great selling from both guys, and overall a match that will only help Juice despite the loss. I really, really enjoyed this match a lot and hope that Juice builds on it from here.
EVIL (w/Dick Togo) (6 Points) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (6 Points) – B Block match
EVIL hasn’t wrestled Naito yet, but Hiroshi has and he lost, so one would think that with Naito now at 10 points, he’s really got to win this. If he loses and is down 2 wins with 3 matches to go AND he loses the head-to-head break…..that’s a pretty long road to hoe. EVIL, on the other hand, could really use this win to get to 8 points and get set to take on Naito in a few days. In short, this is a very, very big match in the Block for sure.
To the mat with a headlock goes Tana, and he cranks on it good. Some mutually assured hair-pulling brings them to the ropes, and Tana fires forearms. Irish whip is reversed and EVIL takes the ref so Togo can drag Tana outside and send him to the barricade. EVIL gets out the chairs and puts one around Tana’s neck, then smashes it off with a chair. Tsuji tries to alert the ref as he’s been taken by Togo (because this is what EVIL does every time now), but EVIL takes exception to this Young Lion interfering in his business and suplexes him onto the chairs.
Back in and it’s a snap suplex, but the ref won’t count, so EVIL goes to the knee instead. Tana makes the ropes for the break, but gets whipped to an exposed turnbuckle right after. EVIL grabs the leg of Tana and hands it to the ref, but Tana blocks the kick from EVIL and gets his first dragon-screw. Slam and somersault senton get two for Hiroshi. EVIL avoids a Sling Blade and tosses Tana, but Tana skins the cat back into the ring….right into a release German suplex from EVIL.
Fisherman’s suplex gets two for EVIL. Scorpion Deathlock attempt from EVIL, reversed into a Cloverleaf attempt from Tana, EVIL blocks that by grabbing the ear of Tanahashi. EVIL with the Irish whip, Tanahashi turns that into a baseball slide onto Togo, then catches EVIL coming in with a dragon-screw. Another one. He goes for the Cloverleaf and he gets it this time, turning it into a Cloverleaf/Liontamer as EVIL screams in pain. EVIL finally stretches out the hold enough to make the ropes.
Tana tries a cross-corner whip, but it gets reversed and Tana gets sent to the exposed buckles and even with all of EVIL’s bullshit, Tanahashi is drawing me into this match against my own judgement. He’s just SO good at building sympathy in there. Lariat from EVIL gets two. Tana avoids Everything is Evil, but can’t avoid Darkness Falls…..but he can with a Sling Blade! Tana goes up and Tsuji takes Togo! Get ’em, Ace! Crossbody hits! Back to the Cloverleaf in the center of the ring! Then, in one of the dumber pieces of ref bullshit I’ve seen in awhile, EVIL grabs the ref by the hair while the ref is checking on him and Dick Togo just walks into the ring and chokes Tana out with the garotte to break the hold. This is so fucking stupid on so many levels.
Anyway, Tana breaks the choke with his own hands and nails Togo, then hits EVIL with a Twist and Shout. Sling Blade gets two. Tana goes up, High Fly Flow hits! He goes up for another one but Togo throws a chair at him from the floor IN FULL VIEW OF THE REF, who is very, very upset. Tana hands the ref the chair, but it takes the ref so goddamned long to get rid of it, it allows Togo to run up on the apron AGAIN to crotch Tana on the top. I SWEAR TO GOD, FUCK THIS.
EVIL gets a superplex for two. Darkness Falls for two. Everything is Evil gets the pin. (EVIL over Hiroshi Tanahashi, pinfall, 19:58)
THOUGHTS: ***1/2. I want to go something like -***** because I’m just done with this EVIL nonsense, but the work was very good, especially from Tana, up to the point that absolute absurdity kicked in. Look, I don’t ask for much when it comes to heels cheating, but can’t they work for it a little? Can’t we even pretend for a brief second that the ref isn’t going to not only be blind but also distracted by the laziest possible things? Like, seriously, hit a low blow out of position, etc. I can live with it. Hell, Jay White is rapidly becoming my favorite wrestler in the galaxy and he does this shit all the time, but he does it in a very specific way. Dick Togo didn’t even TRY to distract the ref and just THREW A FUCKING CHAIR AT EVIL’S OPPONENT AND NOTHING WAS DONE. Can’t we at least BUMP the ref or something? This was bottom of the barrel.
Anyway, whatever. Another EVIL match with an ending that blows. It is what it is.
EVIL taunts Tana and we’re done.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Man, that main event left a bad taste in my mouth, but this was a really fun show with Juice’s best match in the tournament so far and a killer Yano/ZSJ match, so I certainly think there’s stuff to recommend here.
As for where we are in B Block, I see 3 possible winners, ranked in the following order, based on the matches they have left:
- Tetsuya Naito
EVIL/SANADA on the final night will, as we all suspected from the start, probably end up deciding the Block. Naito could pull it off, but I suspect that his ring time is going to catch up to him in the end – I think he’s losing to Yano and he’s losing to EVIL almost for sure. SANADA/Tanahashi is also going to be a big one, as Tana is technically hanging on by his fingers to his Block hopes.
B BLOCK STANDINGS AFTER NIGHT 6:
Tetsuya Naito – 10 Points
EVIL – 8 Points
Toru Yano – 6 Points
Juice Robinson – 6 Points
SANADA – 6 Points
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 6 Points
Zack Sabre Jr – 6 Points
Hirooki Goto – 6 Points
KENTA – 4 Points
YOSHI-HASHI – 2 Points
That’s it from me today. See you all in a few days for Night 7! Three B Block shows to go!
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
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