We’re here! The last show before the Final! Who will win B Block and attempt to deny Kota Ibushi back-to-back wins in the G-1? Only one way to find out!
Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
A Block (Michael Fitzgerald):
B Block (Rick Poehling):
Tonight, we’ve got the following:
YOSHI-HASHI vs Toru Yano
Hirooki Goto vs Juice Robinson
Zack Sabre Jr vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
Tetsuya Naito vs KENTA
SANADA vs EVIL
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
Here are the scenarios this evening:
- Zack Sabre Jr cannot win the Block outright – he can, however make the Final with a win, a Naito loss (or other zero point result) and EVIL and SANADA wrestling to either a double DQ or double countout, both of which would result in zero points. This would give ZSJ a 3-way tie with EVIL and Naito, necessitating a tiebreaker.
- Tetsuya Naito wins the Block with a win and an EVIL loss/draw.
- EVIL wins the Block with a win.
- SANADA wins the Block with a win and a Naito loss.
That’s it. Everyone else is playing out the string.
Match play-by-play will be severely truncated tonight. I had to work today, so in the interest of getting this recap up before the Final, I’ve made it much more succinct to read. I like to think that y’all enjoy the pBp to a certain extent, but I kid myself about a lot of things. So expect this to be shorter than normal.
Stop cheering over there.
Up first, for the last time, the C Block boys battle once more!
Yuya Uemura vs Gabriel Kidd
I will almost be sorry to see these guys lock up with anyone else at this point. It has been a rare treat to watch a match series go this long and not wear out its welcome, which these haven’t. They’re not great matches, but it’s been fun to watch the Lions grow in front of us. Yuya works the arm and Kidd works the legs, and eventually it’s Kidd with the Butterfly suplex to finish it. (Gabriel Kidd over Yuya Uemura, pinfall, 8:16)
YOSHI-HASHI (2 Points) vs Toru Yano (6 Points) – B Block match
YOSHI has been a wonderful surprise in this tournament, absolutely working far above his expected level. He was given a chance and knew he was going to be seeing the lights in most of his matches, but he didn’t let it get him down and turned in some standout performances night after night. Yano had a lot of fun as the early Block leader after winning his first three, and had legitimately good matches with both Zack Sabre and Tetsuya Naito. No one in this match needs to hang their heads at all.
Hiromu Takahashi is on commentary! I wonder if that’ll come back to matter a bit later…..
One of the wonderful things about a Yano match is that the crowd laughs, so you can hear the noise and figure out if something is working beyond the clapping. Yano allows YOSHI to search him and they only find most of the tape rolls, but Yano decides to play fair and toss another one of out of his tights. We do the first part of the match and they end up on the floor, and YOSHI decides to show that he’s the smart one in this match as he ends up putting Yano’s arm through the barricade and taping it to the bo-staff, which, you know. Genius. Yano does manage to get back in the ring by pulling the staff through the barricade and Rocky and Kevin are in their glory calling this.
Kevin: “He can’t use this now, can he?”
Rocky: “It’s a part of him now. He’s like a cyborg!”
Hee! I’ve enjoyed the Japanese commentary because they get so excited and it adds to things, but I freely admit that it’s nice to see these guys gelling together more and more as the weeks go on. Kevin Kelly is really good at this job and Rocky is starting to grow into it.
Anyway, we run through the usual Yano spots with the exposed buckle, the arm capture cradle, and the mule kick with the ref not looking, which YOSHI avoids. HASHI goes for a low blow, but the ref stops him, so Yano shoves him down and goes for a low blow of his own; YOSHI is ready for it and rolls Yano up for the pin. (YOSHI-HASHI over Toru Yano, pinfall, 6:11)
THOUGHTS: **. It was dumb, but fun. Yano actually had a really fun G-1 with only a few outright stinkers like the KENTA match, and I certainly did not dread his work at all. As for YOSHI, my hope is that he builds on this tournament performance a bit – I know that he’s probably unlikely to rise much beyond the 6-man titles, but I hope that he does a little. He really did give all he had.
Hirooki Goto (8 Points) vs Juice Robinson (6 Points) – B Block match
I am, of course, not the genius booker that GEDO is (no sarcasm intended, seriously), but for the life of me, I can’t understand the weirdness of Goto’s tournament, where he beat Tanahashi like he did without ever really being a serious threat to win the Block. I would have rather seen Juice in that role – Juice still has some upside potential for the future, whereas I kind of feel like Goto has seen his ceiling, especially at 41. Juice is ten years younger and needs to be beating guys like Tanahashi at some point to get some upward trajectory.
So the beginning of the match is all power moves and strikes, as each guy works as the alpha for a bit with big shoulderblocks, forearms and the like. Juice goes for the first bit of psychology by snapping the taped arm of Goto on the top rope. Lots of arm work follows. Goto mounts a brief comeback and hits a bulldog, but Juice avoids the Ushigoroshi and hits the senton. He hits the superplex, but Goto blocks the Jackhammer and hits a neckbreaker. Ushigoroshi by Goto and both guys are down. Back up and we go back and forth escaping each other’s finishers with some neat counters until Juice finally pops Goto with the Left Hand of God, then does it again and hits a Pulp Friction for the pin. (Juice Robinson over Hirooki Goto, pinfall, 12:08)
THOUGHTS: ***. It was a good match that made it above average with Juice’s enthusiasm and Goto’s stellar work selling. There isn’t much here that was earth-shattering (frankly, there wasn’t anything), but both guys worked hard out there. While I like Goto just fine, he’s mid-upper card at this point and Juice still has a chance to be solid uppercard, and I hope that they realize that for the future.
Intermission – scrub that ring!
Zack Sabre Jr (10 Points) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (6 Points) – B Block match
ZSJ’s ridiculously slim hopes vanish if he loses here. Tanahashi, on the other hand, wants to finish up strong. Tana’s story would seem to eventually lead to Ibushi at some point, what with the break of their team, but with Kota winning his Block and having a chance to go back-to-back with G-1 wins, perhaps that’s aways down the trail? In an interesting situation, Ibushi defeated Taichi last night and now, Tana has the chance to defeat the other Dangerous Tekker in this bout; if he does, it could give us an interesting situation for the tag straps.
Mat work as usual to start with these two, and ZSJ is the one frustrating Tana to start with reversals and bridging cradles that force Tana to take a break. Tana tries to take control with power, but Zack takes him down again and works a headscissors, continually going back to it and stretching it. None of Tana’s escapes are working as Zack puts him in a cravat and rolls through it to prevent him slipping out. The Tana story of him having lost a step is in full effect here, as Tana goes for a cradle and gets caught in a triangle. These two are magic together, seriously. Tana tries to escape into a cloverleaf, but ZSJ just puts him back in the triangle. That allows Tana to step through into what looks like a Scorpion Deathlock putting his head through the legs of ZSJ and shifting his weight. THIS MAN. I’ve never seen that as a counter before!
Reversals galore ensue as Zack just keeps countering shit until Tana dropkicks the knee. Zack just keeps putting him in holds to wear him down with a front guillotine, which Tana escapes with the Twist and Shout. He hits a Sling Blade and goes up, ZSJ sees it coming and rolls through with the splash, but Tana rolls him over and puts his weight over ZSJ’s legs, getting the pin to end Zack’s G-1 for sure. (Hiroshi Tanahashi over Zack Sabre Jr, pinfall, 12:01)
THOUGHTS: ****. I don’t think these two are capable of having a bad match with each other, and I mean that with the utmost sincerity. I’m serious – they could go out there and intend to have a terrible match and a good one would probably break out anyway. They match up so well together as workers, with ZSJ being the cerebral technician and Tana being the crazy great seller. Take Tana, who is a master at pacing out a match and selling in context, and put him against ZSJ and he can scream like crazy in the holds, and because of Zack’s slighter stature, Tana’s big moves look better when performed on ZSJ and gives them more weight as a result. Both guys truly benefit from being in the ring with each other to mine different stories – look at this match just as an example. Zack countered everything that Tana was doing, but more to the point, he was doing it with ease, as Tana looked slow and behind Sabre as a wrestler, with Hiroshi going to cradles and barely escaping Zack’s holds. So when ZSJ went back to a different hold, it presented a different puzzle for Tanahashi to escape, but because of Tana’s weakened state (and not just in the match itself, but from the tournament as a whole), it had added gravitas that maybe this was the one he didn’t get past. And even the pin, where one of Tanahashi’s big moves got countered, was done in a way where you could absolutely take the argument that ZSJ was ready for him and outwrestled him in the sequence, Tana managed to catch JUST enough of the pin to win.
In short, this Hiroshi Tanahashi may, in fact, have a future in this business.
Post-match, we get some fun as Tana lays on Sabre, holding him down for several seconds after the pin despite Sabre driving his legs against him. And there’s a ton there too, with Tana really feeling relief at winning the match, to remembering what he and Ibushi went through against Suzuki-Gun over the tag titles AND possibly feeling like that was the start of his downward spiral so this win meant even more and he wanted to savor it. I LOVE THESE WRESTLERS SO MUCH.
KENTA (8 Points) vs Tetsuya Naito (12 Points) – B Block match
KENTA is out, but he’s wrestling the champ. Beat him, and he probably gets a shot at the straps. Meanwhile, this is do-or-die for Naito. He lost to both EVIL and SANADA, so there’s no tiebreaks to save him if he loses – he has to win and EVIL has to lose. Otherwise, Naito is finished in this thing. I was not fond of their previous match against each other, but let’s see what we get here.
Stalling to start. I’m as shocked as you are. Then KENTA grabs him and rolls him up for two and for a really, really brief moment, I thought they were going to pay off Naito going 20+ minutes in almost all of his matches and being so exhausted, that they were going to KUSHIDA him. But they don’t and we keep going, and Naito ends up hitting a ‘rana to send KENTA to the floor. Back in for a cravat, and KENTA escapes and heads out for a break…..and his briefcase.
Naito won’t let him back in, kicking away at him on the floor. Ref comes over to stop Naito, who shoves the ref down, allowing KENTA to SMASH Naito with the briefcase. Like, no kidding, he swung for fences on that one. Back in and KENTA goes to work, kicking away and putting the legs around the neck of Naito. Naito manages to escape, so KENTA goes to the chinlock. Naito escapes and it’s the legsweep and dropkick combo in the corner for two, then a headscissors on the mat ’round the shoulders. KENTA escapes, snaps the neck and hits a top rope clothesline for two.
More abuse from KENTA as he stands Naito on his head with a DDT for two. Double foot stomp from the top, Naito tries to come back with the tornado DDT, KENTA counters that to a Falcon Arrow for two. GTS attempt is countered to a reverse ‘rana from Naito, and he fires elbows. ‘Rana off the top, then Gloria for two. Naito is in control. Not for long, as Destino is blocked and a charging Naito is caught with a draping DDT for two. KENTA with a running knee for two. GTS is countered, so KENTA bitchslaps him and goes for it again, Naito reverses to the inverted DDT.
KENTA nails Naito with spinning backfists, but Naito hits an enzuigiri and then Valentia. He looks to finish it with Destino, but KENTA slips through it and an inside cradle holds Naito down for the 1, 2, 3 and an end to his G-1. (KENTA over Tetsuya Naito, pinfall, 21:07)
THOUGHTS: ***1/2. I’m kind of torn here because I didn’t think much of the first ten minutes, but I thought that the last 10 were superb. Good strikes, good counters…..but it took awhile to get there. I dunno, I think it was better than their first one, but I can’t imagine I’ll even remember it in a week, and that doesn’t seem like a great match to me. It was very good.
KENTA taunts Hiromu as he leaves, while Naito is devastated.
EVIL (w/Dick Togo) (12 Points) vs SANADA (10 Points) – B Block match
And now the stakes are clear. EVIL wins the Block with a win, a draw, or any type of no-contest; SANADA must win. No other result secures the Block for SANADA.
EVIL stalls to start (I’m blown away by this development), but SANADA won’t bite and stays in the ring, waiting. They finally get started, and Togo almost immediately yanks SANADA to the floor while EVIL takes the ref. Togo takes the ref next, as is the custom, so EVIL can suplex SANADA onto the chairs. Back in, and EVIL is in control.
He beats on SANADA awhile, then tosses him to allow Togo to beat him down on the floor while the ref is distracted by EVIL. Back in and it’s a single-leg crab by EVIL, forcing SANADA to make the ropes. More beatings ensue until SANADA finally makes a comeback, dropkicking EVIL to the floor and hitting a plancha onto him there. He tosses Togo in and puts him in the Paradise Lock, then does the same to EVIL. He goes for the TKO, EVIL goes to the eyes to block that.
They run the ropes in a neato-keen sequence, and SANADA takes him out with a springboard dropkick. Tiger suplex gets two for SANADA. Skull End time and SANADA goes for the moonsault, but EVIL moves and SANADA wipes out. They make their way to their feet and EVIL hits a backbreaker. Superplex by EVIL! Scorpion Deathlock applied by EVIL! He cranks on it good, but SANADA finally makes the ropes to get the break. Darkness Falls by EVIL gets two.
Everything is Evil is countered into a TKO by SANADA and we’re under ten minutes to go. They stagger to their feet and after a few reversals back and forth, SANADA hooks Skull End, dropping to the mat with the legs around the torso. EVIL fights it, but he’s got nowhere to go. He finally manages to free his head, so SANADA goes up, moonsault hits! He turns EVIL over, goes up, second moonsault hits! 1, 2, Togo pulls the ref out! Togo hits the ring with a chair to the ribs of SANADA, then some fists to the face.
EVIL and Togo hit the Magic Killer on SANADA, and Hiromu can’t stand it any more and hits the ring and, in the coolest thing ever, superkicks Dick Togo; but as Togo is the baddest mofo on the planet apparently, his sunglasses stay on his face! Those sunglasses are far more hardcore than Orange Cassidy’s, that’s for sure. Or maybe they just don’t know how to work. Regardless, EVIL drops Hiromu from behind with a low blow right after, then a Magic Killer for Takahashi.
Togo tosses the ref back in and EVIL demands that he count….so SANADA rolls him up for two! Ha! EVIL no-likey and drops SANADA with a lariat, Everything is Evil, SANADA counters to Skull End! EVIL grabs the ref (you can imagine how hard my eyes are rolling right now) and Togo jumps on the apron to choke SANADA out with the garotte. But wait! Hiromu rises from the dead! He’s up on the apron, superkick to Togo! EVIL charges, SANADA sidesteps him and EVIL runs into Togo, SANADA with the rollup into the bridge! 1, 2, 3!!! SANADA wins the B Block! (SANDA over EVIL, pinfall, 27:01)
THOUGHTS: ***1/4. They were threatening to go full-on stupid at the end with all of the interference, but the presence of Hiromu saved it, as there was a nice ending to the story as the babyfaces stuck together and overcame. I can live with that. As for the match, there was a lot of laying around on double KOs and selling, and some of it worked, some of it didn’t. This was probably a very good 15-20 minute match, but not a 27 minute one. Regardless, it wasn’t embarrassing, and now we at least will probably, PROBABLY, have an interference-free G-1 Final. I can live with that.
Post-match, SANADA asks that the lights be turned down so he can see the lights from the crowd. He thanks them and tells them that he’ll see them tomorrow.
FINAL THOUGHTS: A good, but not great, show seems like the perfect way to end B Block, and that’s what we got. A good ZSJ/Tana match, everything else above average, and overall a good winner. I think SANADA probably loses to Ibushi, but him winning B Block and beating Naito is more than enough for him as good elevation.
Up next: the Final! Myself and Mike will both be reviewing it, so stay tuned – you’ll get both perspectives if you’ve been following both Blocks here on the BoD. Can’t wait!
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
@MrSoze on Twitter