3 shows to go and we’ve got a big one tonight in B Block, as Tetsuya Naito faces EVIL in the main event with huge implications for B Block!
Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
A Block (Michael Fitzgerald):
B Block (Rick Poehling):
Tonight, we’ve got the following:
Zack Sabre Jr vs YOSHI-HASHI
Toru Yano vs KENTA
SANADA vs Juice Robinson
Hirooki Goto vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
EVIL vs Tetsuya Naito
But first, the C Block action continues!
Gabriel Kidd vs Yota Tsuji
The Lions march on. Good grappling as we’ve come to expect, with Tsuji pulling out a Stump Puller~!, and that’s not something you see from most matches these days. Kidd hits a dropkick and a butterfly suplex to pick up the duke here. (Gabriel Kidd over Yota Tsuji, pinfall, 7:10)
Zack Sabre Jr (6 Points) vs YOSHI-HASHI (2 Points) – B Block match
ZSJ is still sort of in contention for the Block, in that he’s not mathematically eliminated yet, while YOSHI is dunzo at only 2 points. Even knowing that, Zack really isn’t that much of a contender at this point, as there really isn’t a storyline reason for him to make the Finals, so he’s likely to maybe win 1-2 more, but not the Block.
A bit of grappling to start and YOSHI gets a few knockdowns, then a ‘rana. He goes for a neckbreaker, but ZSJ counters that by grabbing the arm and snapping it with his leg, and now Sabre goes to work. Straightjacket on the mat into a hammerlock, and YOSHI goes to the ropes. Kicks from Zack lead to a double keylock using the legs, and it’s back to the ropes.
Armwringer and ZSJ takes him down to the mat, into a double wristlock and then a transition to attempt an armbar. This type of thing is why I enjoy watching Zack’s matches, as he calmly allows the opponent to step right into it while they still think they’re trying to escape. He manages to straighten the arm out right as YOSHI reaches the ropes. Kicks to the arm follow from ZSJ, but HASHI gets some space with a kick to drop Sabre. Strikes from YOSHI, he hangs Zack on the ropes and hits a pair of dropkicks for two. ZSJ fires back, but YOSHI puts a stop to it with a chop and a running powerbomb for two.
They trade Octopus stretches and YOSHI does a neat transition from his into the Butterfly Lock, and it would be super-dramatic if anyone ever submitted to the damn thing. But nope, even though he puts on the wristlock, ZSJ still makes the ropes. C’mon, he’s gotta submit SOMEONE with the move. Jeez. Penalty Kick from Sabre and they slug it out, and it’s YOSHI with a lariat and Meteora for two. YOSHI goes for Karma, but Zack is ready and smoothly takes him into the Omoplata. YOSHI tries to roll out, so Zack switches sides and goes into a triangle. YOSHI tries to power out, so Zack traps the arm from that position and rolls YOSHI back down, then traps the other arm underneath the leg after stepping on YOSHI’s face, and now YOSHI is stuck. (Zack Sabre Jr over YOSHI-HASHI, submission, 13:34)
THOUGHTS: ***. I liked this match because I love ZSJ and YOSHI has been so good in this tournament, but the fundamental problem with it was that YOSHI never felt like anything remotely resembling a threat to Zack. Unlike some of his other matches in the G-1, the arc of this match boiled down to “Zack is a better wrestler and he’s going to submit YOSHI” and, well, that’s what happened. YOSHI didn’t get enough strong nearfalls and since he never submits anyone with the Butterfly, there wasn’t much drama to be had here. Before this tournament, I wouldn’t have worried too much about YOSHI, but he’s worked his ass off and I’d like to see some possible reward for that, and actually having a finisher that, you know, wins a match doesn’t seem like too much to ask.
Toru Yano (6 Points) vs KENTA (4 Points) – B Block match
Yano is now officially in freefall after starting 3-0, having lost his last 3 matches. A loss here, while not officially eliminating him, will make the road much harder to travel, although not completely impossible. KENTA, on the other hand, is pretty much dead in the water with only 2 wins, as he would need so much to happen to even have a shot that it’s not worth talking about. Maybe he’ll just lay down to the sublime master thief?
Ref finds two rolls of tape in Yano’s tights before we get started, and KENTA refuses to relinquish the briefcase. So Yano gets his chair. No one wants to give up their weapon, but Yano finally tosses away the chair, yet KENTA keeps the case. Yano gets a buckle pad, and we do it again, KENTA keeps the case. This is stupid. Finally, everyone puts everything down…..and KENTA rolls out. Yano rolls out now and they yell across the ring at each other, and the ref starts counting. They both get back in…..and KENTA rolls out again. Oh, joy.
Yano goes out again and we finally get actual contact after 4 FULL MINUTES of stalling. Jesus Christ. They fight a bit and Yano sprays him in the eyes with disinfectant, then rolls back in and tosses one of the buckle pads out at KENTA. KENTA rolls back in at 19 and hits a bad DDT on Yano as this is just not good all around. They do some tussling over the disinfectant bottle and KENTA empties it into Yano’s eyes and rolls him up for two. They roll out and now the ref gets the bottle tossed into HIS eyes.
Yeah, remember how Yano had a **** match last time out? This ain’t it.
KENTA grabs the briefcase and Yano, dragging him towards the entrance. They get into it briefly at the top of the ramp, and KENTA smashes him with the briefcase, which flies open and sends rolls of tape flying everywhere. Sure, why not? KENTA tapes Yano to the entrance gate, waves goodbye, then sprints back towards the ring and beats the count to end this. (KENTA over Toru Yano, countout, 8:55)
THOUGHTS: *1/2. This sucked. 4 minutes of zero contact, the wrestling wasn’t good, both guys looked bad…..and, most importantly, I didn’t laugh once. And that is a legit criticism for a Yano match. Regardless, Yano matches are hit and miss, and this one was a miss.
Intermission. We could use it.
Juice Robinson (6 Points) vs SANADA (6 Points) – B Block match
I would say that this is a pivotal match for both guys and it certainly is, but the outcome really isn’t in doubt here especially considering the remaining schedule, so I’m just hoping for a good match. SANADA has won 3 in a row after an 0-3 start, with one of his wins coming against the reigning champ, Tetsuya Naito. Meanwhile, Juice is coming off his best match of the tournament, an excellent bout against Naito.
Wristlocks abound to start us off, and we get a really fun series of reversals between the two that ends in a stalemate, so it’s Juice with a kick as a result. SANADA comes back with a dropkick to the knee. More strikes and Juice comes back with a spinebuster, sending SANADA to the floor to regroup.
Back in and Juice hits a backbreaker and a senton for two. Juice stays on him, aggressively choking him in the corner. Corner clothesline, but SANADA moves when Juice goes for the cannonball. SANADA hits the plancha to the floor on Juice and rolls him back in, Juice avoids the TKO but another SANADA counter later, it’s Paradise Lock time for SANADA. Dropkick from that gets two for SANADA. He goes for a moonsault, but Juice moves and hits a full-nelson slam.
Cannonball in the corner hits for Juice and he puts SANADA on top. Superplex hits! Juice pops the hips, and hoists SANADA up, Jackhammer! 1, 2, no! SANADA tries a ‘rana, but gets powerbombed by Juice for two. Juice sends SANADA off the ropes, but SANADA goes into a tilt-a-whirl and comes out with Skull End on Juice! Juice walks the ropes to escape in a slick move and ends up going for Pulp Friction, but SANADA stays on his feet and Juice crashes to the mat.
SANADA goes up, moonsault, Juice moves, SANADA lands on his feet! Juice charges, SANADA gets a fireman’s carry back into the Skull End! Juice reverses to Pulp Friction, SANADA reverses back to the Skull End, Juice reverses to his own Skull End and goes for Pulp Friction from that, SANADA escapes and dropkicks Juice. Neato keen sequence there. SANADA gets the sleeper again, but Juice small packages him for two, SANADA back to Skull End. He gets it in the center, waits until Juice is almost completely out, then goes up for the moonsault to finish it. (SANADA over Juice Robinson, pinfall, 15:06)
THOUGHTS: ***1/2. I thought this was really fun, actually. I didn’t know if these guys’ styles would mesh that well and there was definitely a bit much of ‘reverse your reversal’ cuteness, but they worked hard and the match never stagnated or got boring. It never really hit the next level as a great match, but it was a good one. Juice’s G-1 also basically comes to an end here, as both points and his storyline don’t really give him a path to the Final, but he never really had a big shot anyway – overall, him just having a good tournament was the goal here, and he succeeded in that. Let’s hope he finishes strong.
Hirooki Goto (6 Points) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (6 Points) – B Block match
Tanahashi basically had his heart ripped out by EVIL at our last show, while Goto has clawed his way to a .500 record. While neither guy can realistically win the tournament anymore, there’s still hope for my Ibushi/Tanahashi final!
They work off a wristlock, then a trip by Tana as he takes the legs of Goto. I realize that when I recap Tana’s matches, it doesn’t always get across WHY he’s such a great professional wrestler, because he really doesn’t do a ton of moves; it’s the spaces between the moves where he absolutely excels, and those are the places where most wrestlers don’t. The selling, the stumbling, the facials, all the little bits that he adds to the match are mostly not really put across by me recounting numerous dragon-screw legwhips.
They trade off headlocks, and Goto controls with a hiptoss and a shoulderblock. Tana comes back with a kneebreaker to start the legwork portion here. Stomps to the knee and an elbow as Tana goes into an anklelock on the mat. That goes to a deathlock variant and Goto is forced to go to the ropes. Tana with a corner charge, but Goto avoids it and hits a suplex.
Bulldog out of the corner gets two for Goto. Tana elbows out of the Fireman’s Carry, and we get our first dragon-screw of the match as Tana wrenches the knee. Second one hits. He goes to the apron, grabs Goto’s leg, and does it again. Cloverleaf attempt, but Goto makes the ropes before Tana can turn it over. Dropkick and Tana comes off, but gets caught and Goto hits the Ushigoroshi, but it’s on the bad knee and he can’t cover.
They slug it out in the center of the ring, good slugfest, too. Goto finally lariats Tana to win that one, they jockey for position and it’s Tana who wins that with a Twist and Shout. Sling Blade gets two for Tanahashi. Hiroshi goes up, but Goto cuts him off. They battle on the top rope, Goto with a super Ushigoroshi on the bad knee!! Both guys are in some pain, but Goto manages to crawl over for two. Goto goes for the GTR, Tana tries to reverse, Goto stops it and hits a reverse GTR! He sets up for the GTR proper again, Tana tries to roll out, but Goto catches him, hits the GTR, and pretty much finishes Tanahashi’s G-1 in the middle of the ring in what has to be an upset. (Hirooki Goto over Hiroshi Tanahashi, pinfall, 13:38)
THOUGHTS: ***1/2. Good match with an excellent finish. What I liked about that finish more than anything was that it was structured in a way as to show that the overarching story of Tana this year, that he just isn’t his old self, is still very much in play. He had not one but TWO good attempts to get away from Goto’s finisher, and neither one worked, whereas I believe that the Tanahashi of old could have pulled it off. The story of Tana has to lead to Ibushi at some point, which is my main reason I’m starting to lean away from Ibushi winning the whole thing; their destinies are intertwined when it comes to Wrestle Kingdom. The match outside of the finishing sequence was really good selling and some good offense from both guys, although it felt like there was more match somewhere in there, one of the few times I wish a match had been longer.
EVIL (w/Dick Togo) (8 Points) vs Tetsuya Naito (10 Points) – B Block match
Oh boy, here we go. Let’s not have a repeat of the Tanahashi match, please? Pretty please? Just a small bit of interference?
EVIL with a shoulderblock to start, but Naito wants none of that and hits an armdrag, then ‘ranas EVIL to the floor before hitting the tranquilo pose. EVIL tries to sneak attack Naito back in, but Naito is ready with a kick and now a chinlock, then a headscissors as he taunts Togo on the outside before EVIL makes the ropes. Irish whip, but EVIL reverses and takes the ref (#1) so Togo can yank Naito to the floor and whup his ass.
EVIL finally comes out and grabs some chairs from under the ring as Togo takes the ref (#2) so EVIL can try for the suplex onto them; Naito escapes, but EVIL goes to a drop toehold on the chairs instead. EVIL wraps the chair around Naito’s head and uses another to swing for the fences as Red Shoes is still occupied. EVIL back in the ring and takes off one of the buckle pads, then hits a neckbreaker on Naito for two, then a chinlock with a knee to the back.
Back up and EVIL sends Naito to the exposed buckle, then goes for a Fisherman’s Buster. Naito escapes and EVIL misses a senton, and Naito drops him coming off the ropes and hits a seated dropkick. Legsweep/dropkick combo in the corner from Naito, then one through the ropes for Togo. Neckbreaker gets two for Naito. EVIL blocks another one with a kick to the gut, then stomps Naito down in the corner. Naito breaks out of another Fisherman’s Buster and puts on a modified Koji Clutch.
Togo gets on the apron, so Naito goes to deal with that, then steps out of the way as a charging EVIL wipes Togo out. Pop-up Spinebuster by Naito gets two, and from there it’s back into the Clutch. EVIL rolls through it and makes the ropes to break. Swinging DDT by Naito is blocked into a Fisherman’s Buster by EVIL. Huge corner clothesline and EVIL puts Naito on top, superplex! Good one, too. 1, 2, no! Scorpion Deathlock by EVIL now and see how much better the match is when EVIL is just, you know, wrestling? Naito makes the ropes to break, regardless.
Lariat is blocked and Naito gets Gloria for two. He goes for Destino, EVIL tries a low kick with the ref’s back turned, Naito avoids it, EVIL takes him down and gets a senton. Naito tries to rush the corner, but EVIL moves and sends Naito into the exposed buckles, then a half and half suplex and a lariat for two. Darkness Falls, Naito counters that into an inverted DDT. He doesn’t counter it a second time, and EVIL gets two off it.
Naito blocks Everything is Evil with elbows and he’s got control…..and Dick Togo just runs into the ring. No pretense, nothing. Just runs in and Naito clobbers him while the ref is simply appalled! He’s not going to DO anything about it, but he looks super upset! The ref goes to make sure Togo leaves the ring (#3) and Naito goes back over to EVIL, who promptly low blows Naito. Well, of course he does. Togo slides a chair into the ring while both guys are down and puts one in EVIL’s corner as well. EVIL goes to use it but the ref catches him, so while the ref is distracted with THAT (#4), Togo chokes Naito out with the garotte. Jesus Christ.
Naito manages to escape that and sweep the legs of Togo to send him to the floor. He hits an enzuigiri and a flying tackle on EVIL, Everything is Evil attempt is blocked, Destino! 1, 2, NO! He goes for it again, but EVIL reverses it mid-rotation and Everything is Evil hits for the pin. (EVIL over Tetsuya Naito, pinfall, 23:58)
THOUGHTS: ***. Well, it wasn’t as bad as the Tanahashi match, as we only had FOUR different ref distractions long enough for various beatdowns to take place. I actually think they worked okay when the nonsense wasn’t overwhelming the match, but that happened enough that I can’t go very high on it. I had the Tanahashi match rated higher solely based on Tanahashi being Tanahashi, but I think if I ever force myself to watch it again it will probably end up below this one, because at least there was a kind of solid base underneath this match that wasn’t completely undone by the interference.
EVIL gives his speech to wrap us up.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was probably the worst of the B Block shows, with a bunch of above-average matches and nothing **** or higher at all, plus the worst Yano match of the tournament. There isn’t much to go out of your way to see, but there isn’t anything terribly offensive like the EVIL/Tana match from the other night, either. It was just a decent wrestling show.
With 2 shows left, I think we can kind of clearly see where we’re going, to wit:
EVIL and Naito being tied on top of the Block means that in the leadup to the last day, one would expect that they will maintain parity with each other on points. SANADA being at 8 points is the other factor to consider, as he’s clearly the ‘started off terrible, on the comeback trail’ guy for this Block. The next show has:
I can see Naito losing to Yano, honestly. Would not shock me – if they present it as Naito is exhausted and Yano catches him, that type of thing. I would think that SANADA is almost certain to beat Tanahashi. Let’s face the facts here – unless we’re really reading this wrong, SANADA/EVIL on the last night is going to decide the Block. Both are holding the break over Naito. So you could do a situation where you have EVIL lose to Goto to put both guys on 10, have SANADA get to 10 by beating Tanahashi, and then have Naito lose to Yano, keeping him at 10. In doing so, you create a 4-way tie at 10 points, have Naito win on the last day, have Goto lose on the last day, putting Naito at 12 and forcing a decisive result in the SANADA/EVIL match, since they would then be the only ones that he could lose to. You can even keep ZSJ in the mix by having him beat Juice on the next show and having him lose to Tanahashi on the final day.
That’s just one I can think of. I’m sure there’s a million others and y’all can create them in the comments section. Point is, I think this whole thing is going to somehow come down to the SANADA/EVIL match, and Goto, ZSJ, and Naito are all smokescreens at this point. We’ve got two shows left to see if I’m right.
B BLOCK STANDINGS AFTER NIGHT 7:
EVIL – 10 Points
Tetsuya Naito – 10 Points
Hirooki Goto – 8 Points
SANADA – 8 Points
Zack Sabre Jr – 8 Points
Toru Yano – 6 Points
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 6 Points
KENTA – 6 Points
Juice Robinson – 6 Points
YOSHI-HASHI – 2 Points – ELIMINATED
See you in a few days! 2 nights left to go!
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
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