We’ve only got two nights left to decide B Block before the Final! Tonight, SANADA takes on Hiroshi Tanahashi in our main event!
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 Juice Robinson
YOSHI-HASHI vs KENTA
Tetsuya Naito vs Toru Yano
EVIL vs Hirooki Goto
SANADA vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
As usual, we must begin with the Young Lions of C Block!
Yuya Uemura vs Yota Tsuji
Only so many ways we can keep describing these matches, but just assume they’re worth checking out if you have a minute, without them being blow-off-the-doors fantastic. We do get a giant swing in this one, which is almost worth a * all by itself. Shorter than normal tonight, but good enough as Tsuji submits Yuya with the crab. (Yota Tsuji over Yuya Uemura, submission, 7:56)
YOSHI-HASHI (2 Points) vs KENTA (6 Points) B Block match
YOSHI has had, by his metric, a fantastic tournament as a worker. He hasn’t gotten any actual points for it, mind you, but his actual in-ring has been miles ahead of what was expected. KENTA has had a middle-of-the road event, and while he’s technically not eliminated, it would take a weird multi-way tie for him to even be in consideration for the Block at this point.
Lockup goes to the ropes and KENTA gives a clean break, as he’s playing with YOSHI to start us off. That doesn’t last as YOSHI fires back immediately, slaps him upside the head, then drops him with an elbow. KENTA bails and examines YOSHI’s staff (I could hear those thoughts, pervos), then posts YOSHI when YOSHI attempts to prevent further manhandling of his staff.
Okay, yeah. I heard it that time.
Anyway, more punishment ensues as KENTA works the shoulder, slapping on a double wristlock back in the ring. Armbars, kicks, snaps – he all but removes the arm from the shoulder and takes it home with him. YOSHI tries to come back, firing chops and a few dropkicks for two. KENTA stops that with a powerslam and both guys are down. Back and forth we go on the advantage, and KENTA hits a delayed dropkick onto YOSHI in the corner, and the double stomp follows for two.
YOSHI counters a roaring elbow with a kick, then a running powerbomb for two. Butterfly Lock time, but we all know that isn’t gonna finish this. Lungblower by YOSHI and he goes for Meteora, but KENTA moves and goes for Game Over, but YOSHI makes the ropes before KENTA can lock it in. YOSHI stands up to the kicks with FIGHTING SPIRIT and they slug it out, but KENTA drops him with two spinning backfists. GTS, but YOSHI counters into a DDT. Dragon suplex from YOSHI, then a lariat for two. Fisherman’s Buster from YOSHI gets two.
KENTA counters Karma by rolling through and locks in Game Over. YOSHI tries to fight it, tries, but KENTA rolls him back to the center the instant he gets near the ropes, and YOSHI has nowhere left to turn. (KENTA over YOSHI-HASHI, submission, 17:39)
THOUGHTS: ***1/2. I really liked this match, but I had a few problems. The shoulderwork in the beginning was really good, but YOSHI kind of ignored it after a certain point, and I think that they could have factored it into the match stronger. Second, even if it was a minor thing, I get the feeling this match would have been better with a few minutes shaved off, making it more concise. Regardless, I enjoyed it. The exchanges were tough, with KENTA sporting a red chest after some of the chops from HASHI, and they did a bunch of work to get YOSHI’s intensity over before KENTA finished it.
Zack Sabre Jr (8 Points) vs Juice Robinson (6 points) – B Block match
ZSJ is still hanging on here with 8 points, but needs a lot of help to make it. Juice is pretty dead, but still fighting for pride.
They work off a wristlock to start, and Juice hangs with ZSJ quite well. Even with Zack trying everything, Juice rolls through a snapmare to keep control, using the arm to play a little guitar. Zack finally frees himself with an uppercut and we reset. They run the ropes and Juice gets an inverted atomic drop and a side Russian legsweep. He goes for the senton but ZSJ is waiting for it and slaps on the armbar, forcing Juice to scramble for the ropes.
ZSJ goes to the arm now, cranking it and stomping on it. Modified Fujiwara armbar and he goes to twist the arm more, but misses the kick and Juice hits the senton. Slam and Juice fires jabs, then nails Sabre with a spinebuster when ZSJ goes for a flying triangle. More strikes and Juice puts Zack on the top rope, but ZSJ blocks the superplex with a wristlock, then leaps off into a facelock, then to a sleeper, then to tying up the limbs of Juice before they collapse into the ropes.
Sabre fires strikes and dares Juice to fire back, then avoids the double knees and hits a Penalty kick. Second one, then a swinging DDT and he goes for the armbar again. Triangle from Sabre and Juice goes to powerbomb out of it, but he accidentally drops him while Sabre has his head extended and Sabre lands on his FACE. I was sure that Zack broke his neck for a second. Juice tries again and does manage to powerbomb out this time, and ZSJ is in never-never land.
Cannonball by Juice as I really hope Zack is okay in there. Double knees by Juice gets two. Left hand of God misses, but the Right hand of God doesn’t. Pulp Friction attempt but ZSJ with the rollup, Juice reverses, Zack reverses again to the Clutch this time, and that’s enough to hold Juice down for three. (Zack Sabre Jr over Juice Robinson, pinfall, 14:31)
THOUGHTS: ***3/4. This was great before ZSJ almost died. Good story as Juice controlled some of the brutal strength portions, but in the end, Sabre got him with a wrestling move because he was just better. I like when heels who are arrogant occasionally back it up without cheating, and that was what I got here. No filler, match moved well, everyone looked good. That will officially do it for Juice, though.
Tetsuya Naito (10 Points) vs Toru Yano (6 Points) – B Block match
Naito has had a hell of a tournament here, with his only losses being to EVIL and SANADA so far, both of whom face *gasp* each other on the last night of the G-1! I’m starting to wonder if this is on the up and up, this wrestling thing. So, with that in mind, Naito has to win out and he needs SANADA to beat EVIL; he’s already got ZSJ covered on the tiebreak. A Naito win here eliminates Yano, KENTA, Tanahashi, and all but eliminates Goto as well, so this is a big one. Yano, of course, started 3-0 but has lost 4 in a row; can he turn it around here?
Naito takes his sweet time getting ready for this one, playing some mind games with Yano, which I have to question, since Yano hasn’t really demonstrated having a mind to play games with in quite some time. Anyway, after the Undertaker-like entrance finally ends, we begin. Sort of. Naito decides that he’s going to play Yano’s game here, stalling along with him and refusing to lock up, and this is like the opposite of the KENTA match because it’s funny. Naito is willing to play along here and that’s the difference.
Naito gets the first move, a rollup for two that is so devastating, Yano bails to the floor to recover. He rolls back in at 19, and gets stomped by Naito for it, then Naito goes to a cravat. Yano dumps him out and runs the ropes, but alas, the tease of LUCHA YANO~! is once again just a tease, as Yano rolls through into his own pose to taunt Naito. But Naito has taken this opportunity to hide on the outside, only sneaking back into the ring when Yano turns his back. Hee!
Naito tries to quietly untie the pad, but Yano turns and catches him. Cross-corner whip is reversed so Yano goes to untie that pad while Naito goes back to the one he was already working on. But you’re not going to beat Yano when it comes to untying a pad, and he frees his first and whacks Naito with it. The ref takes that one away, so Yano picks up the other one and whacks Naito with it. Naito rolls out and here comes Yano with the tape. He fights Naito off and sprays him in the eyes with the disinfectant, then does the same to Tsuji! Why would you harm a Lion, Yano? Suzuki is in the other Block, this is supposed to be their night off!
Yano, taking a page from the ZSJ match, tapes Naito to Tsuji on opposite sides of the barricade. Yet Tsuji somehow slips through the barricade, and they beat the count back in at 20! They double clothesline Yano and Tsuji frees himself from Naito. And Naito is so grateful, he offers the LIJ fistbump and the crowd oooohhhs and the LOOK ON TSUJI’S FACE is the greatest thing ever and WRESTLING IS FUN, DAMNIT! So Tsuji goes for the fistbump and Naito kicks him in the gut and slams him on Yano. Of course.
Naito goes to slam the ref on top of Yano because, hey, why not? What is the ref going to do, DQ him? This is New Japan! But the ref gets Naito to put him down, allowing Yano to hit a low blow and roll Naito up, but Naito rolls through that and pops Yano up, and Naito PUNTS Yano in the nuts with the ref facing the other way, and a quick rollup and Naito is on 12 points. This was tremendous. (Tetsuya Naito over Toru Yano, pinfall, 8:04)
THOUGHTS: ***1/2. Not quite as good as the ZSJ match without the surprising grappling, this was just so much FUN and I’ll kick anyone in the nuts and roll them up if they say otherwise. Naito looked like he was having the time of his life out there and, more importantly, he played along with Yano’s match and beat him at it. The Tsuji stuff was gold and I laughed my ass off at it. This match illustrated the difference between going with a match flow for comedy rather than fighting against it with your own version (the KENTA match, to me, was a prime example of the latter). Truly fun stuff and Yano has had some very fun moments in the G-1 this year.
EVIL (10 Points) vs Hirooki Goto (8 Points) – B Block match
EVIL controls the block at this point, but needs a win to keep pace with Naito now. If he loses, Naito regains the edge. The Naito victory took a lot of the wind from the sails of Goto, who loses the head to head tiebreak to Naito and now can only make the Final by winning here and getting some very complicated math to work at the end for tiebreaks.
They work off a headlock to start, and Goto drops EVIL with a shoulder. We’ve been wrestling for over a minute, so EVIL takes the ref and Togo drags Goto to the floor and sends him to the barricade (#1). Goto fights him off, but that allows EVIL to attack from behind. He beats on Goto for a bit so Togo takes the ref (#2) and EVIL does the home run with the chairs while Togo has him occupied.
Back in and EVIL takes off a turnbuckle pad and sends Togo into it. Slam gets two a few times for EVIL. Blind charge from EVIL hits the exposed buckles, and Goto hits a Saito Suplex to get a breather. Bulldog gets two for Goto, but EVIL goes to the eyes and kicks Goto in the gut. Fisherman’s Buster gets two for EVIL. They run the ropes, Ushigoroshi by Goto! He goes up, but Togo stalls him long enough for EVIL to slam him off the top. Lariat from EVIL gets two.
Darkness Falls from EVIL for two. Goto escapes Everything is Evil with a neckbreaker. They slug it out and Goto clotheslines EVIL to the floor, and then we get a Goto PLANCHA, which almost automatically adds at least one * to this match. Don’t see that one all that often. Goto Mysterio Jr tosses EVIL back in and goes up, flying elbow gets two! EVIL catches Goto with a boot on a blind charge, and they fire clotheslines at each other until EVIL gets bored with this wrestling shit and takes the ref (#3) so Togo can come in with the garotte and choke him out, but that doesn’t work as Goto fights him off with an Ushigoroshi.
Headbutt from Goto, then the reverse GTR! 1, 2, no! Goto goes for the regular GTR, EVIL reverses, they trade off that and EVIL pushes Goto off, then catches him coming back in with Everything is Evil for the almost clean pin to end Goto’s tournament. (EVIL over Hirooki Goto, pinfall, 15:33)
THOUGHTS: ***. Bland, but a perfectly cromulent wrestling match. Less interference with Togo in this one led to a better finish, and the work in it was fine, even if Goto was a bit off and on with the shoulder. Overall, this was fine. Nothing to set the world on fire, more what you would expect from an EVIL/Goto match.
SANADA (8 Points) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (6 Points) – B Block match
Tanahashi is done and fighting for pride at this point. SANADA needs to win to stay alive, as he holds the break over Naito and ZSJ, and he faces EVIL on the final night, so no matter what math you do, he needs to keep winning but also needs certain things to break his way to win this thing. With his tiebreaker control, that means that there’s a much better likelihood of that happening.
They work off a waistlock into a wristlock, reversing off each other there. They trade armdrags into a stalemate and we’re back up and back to the wristlock from there. More tradeoffs and we hit the stalemate again. Side headlock takeover by Tana and we hit the mat, where SANADA clamps on a headscissors. He cranks it good, resisting Tanahashi escape attempts for awhile, but eventually Tana gets to grapevine the legs to escape.
SANADA goes for the Paradise Lock, but Hiroshi counters to a rollup and a dropkick to the knee. He works the leg for bit now, dropping his weight on it and putting on an anklelock. He transitions that into a bridging cloverleaf, forcing SANADA to make the ropes. Forearms by Tana, but SANADA catches him on a whip and hits a dragon-screw legwhip. SANADA does his double leapfrog into a dropkick before sending Tana outside and hitting a plancha and apparently Tanahashi didn’t just spend 2-3 minutes working the leg, I suppose.
Back in and SANADA gets two. He counters a sunset flip by Tana into the Paradise Lock. He hits the dropkick, then ties him up again using the bottom rope, and that ends up getting two. SANADA comes off the ropes, but gets dropkicked in the knee by Tana, and it’s a dragon-screw to follow. SANADA rolls out and Tana goes up, High Fly Flow to SANADA on the floor! He catches SANADA coming back in between the ropes, dragon-screw! Dropkick to the knee! Dragon-screw!
Tana slaps on the Cloverleaf in the middle of the ring, SANADA scratches and claws, finally making the ropes. TKO is countered by Tana into the Twist and Shout, then another one. SANADA counters back with a slingshot neckbreaker. TKO gets two for SANADA. Missile dropkick by SANADA and he goes for the moonsault, but Tana avoids that and gets a Sling Blade for two. Tanahashi’s work is simply off the charts, the pacing, the selling, it’s just exquisite.
Straightjacket suplex by Tana and he goes up and this match has absolutely turned the corner into firmly awesome territory. SANADA gets the knees up on the High Fly Flow, hurting both guys as Tana takes the knees to the midsection, while SANADA got a bunch of weight dropped on his already hurt knees. SANADA is up first and he gets Skull End after taking a crazy great palm strike from Tana to try to fight him off. Tana escapes Skull End by grapevining the leg to push against the knee, but SANADA swats that away and puts him back in Skull End.
Tana is almost out so SANADA goes up to finish with the moonsault, but Tana gets his knees up because letting go of a submission hold to win by pin is STUPID unless you’re Minoru Suzuki, in which case it’s brilliant and please don’t kill me. Inverted dragon-screw from Tanahashi, then one of the mat. Tana goes to the cloverleaf, SANADA fights him off and goes for a ‘rana, Tana catches him and the cloverleaf is on now, with SANADA in trouble. SANADA stretches, stretches, finally makes the ropes as we’re at less than 5 minutes to go before the draw.
Roll up by Tana and they go into a crazy reversal sequence where each guy goes for the dragon sleeper and Tana slams his way out of it. Sling blade by Tana hits! Tana goes up for the High Fly Flow, SANADA picks him out of midair with a cutter for two! SANADA goes up, moonsault hits! He goes up again, second moonsault hits! 1, 2, 3!! (SANADA over Hiroshi Tanahashi, pinfall, 28:26)
THOUGHTS: ****1/2. Sweet merciful crap, this was just excellent on every level, with Tanahashi deciding that he was going to show everyone why he’s the best overall professional wrestler in the world by absolutely making SANADA. The pacing (just watch Tanahashi in the middle of the match versus where he ended up and how he allowed his breathing to become more labored and his movements more spaced out; the man just excels at every little bit!), the selling, the fact that SANADA took so much and still won…..this was my favorite SANADA match ever, beating out the match where he beat Okada with seconds to spare in the G-1 and the Naito match earlier in this G-1. He has brought it in all the matches that he’s had against the top guys in this thing, and if he’s destined to win the Block, so be it. I’m fine with it.
SANADA does a quick speech and we’re done.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Perhaps this was the best night of B Block since the first night? A legitimate contender for B Block match of the tournament in the main event, two other matches at ***1/2 or higher, a fun Yano match, and a less offensive EVIL match than normal? I think it might have been.
Let’s take a look at our standings:
B BLOCK STANDINGS AFTER NIGHT 8:
EVIL – 12 Points
Tetsuya Naito – 12 Points
SANADA – 10 Points
Zack Sabre Jr – 10 Points
Hirooki Goto – 8 Points – ELIMINATED
KENTA – 8 Points – ELIMINATED
Toru Yano – 6 Points – ELIMINATED
Hiroshi Tanahashi – 6 Points – ELIMINATED
Juice Robinson – 6 Points – ELIMINATED
YOSHI-HASHI – 2 Points – ELIMINATED
ZSJ basically has no hope. The scenarios are:
Naito needs to win and have EVIL lose to SANADA, or any finish that results in zero points for EVIL.
EVIL wins the Block if he wins.
SANADA wins the Block if he wins and Naito loses.
That’s it. I would assume that if Jay White wins A Block, SANADA and Naito become the prohibitive favorites to win B Block, since I think that GEDO is going to wait to pull the Bullet Club Civil War trigger a bit. IF Ibushi or Okada win A Block, EVIL would probably be the likely winner of B Block.
We’ll find out in a few days! One show to go!
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
@MrSoze on Twitter
[email protected] for email