So, yeah, I knew I would fall behind, but this is a little ridiculous. But hey, I got married! And my buddy Jack got us (okay, me) the coolest gift.
So I guess getting married was worth falling behind on my tournament updates. But no longer! It’ll be double updates on the G1 and the Cruiserweight Classic until I’m caught up. Amazingly, I have remained mostly spoiler free, as I was too busy the last few weeks to even bother looking up show information.
Tomohiro Ishii (0-2) vs Bad Luck Fale (1-1): Ishii is off to a slow start, and has the Underboss to contend with if he’s going to get any points. Fale excels at defeating main eventers, and Ishii did main event a smaller show this year against Naito, so he may be in some danger of going 0-3.
Fale had no defense against the strong style offense of Ishii. Chops and clotheslines to the throat stopped almost all momentum from Fale every time. Ishii kicked out of the Grenade, and knocked Fale silly with a headbutt to neck, followed by an impressive brainbuster. It was a tad short, but Ishii looked damned impressive. ***1/2
Togi Makabe (2-0) vs SANADA (1-1): SANADA’s upset of Tanahashi on Night 1 still stands as the biggest upset of the tournament so far. Can he do it again against Makabe? Makabe has started strong, but hasn’t really show much this year that makes me think he’s going to keep it up.
This was slow and plodding for the most part, so about par for a Makabe match. They exchanged strikes, then rest holds, then strikes again. Makabe landed with a series of hard hitting slams but SANADA kicked out of each one until he fell to the Spider Suplex and King Kong Knee Drop. **1/2
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2-0) vs Naomichi Marufuji (1-1): The Tenzan retirement train is going strong, as he’s only one of two wrestlers in A Block to be undefeated so far. He not only has won, but has looked very good doing so. Marufuji will be his hardest test yet though. The hard-kicking Ace of NOAH only needs one good shot to ruins Tenzan’s chance at one last bit of glory.
Marufuji kept injuring his elbows and hands when he would strike Tenzan’s head, which I thought was a nice touch. He also chopped the ever-loving crap out of Tenzan’s chest, turning it bright red, even opening cuts on his chest. Tenzan would counter with Mongolian Chops and headbutts. Tenzan headbutted a goddamn knee strike, bringing Marufuji down. Marufuji eventually hit a series of kicks, ending in a Shiranui. This was a fun, really hard hitting affair. ***1/2
Hiroshi Tanahashi (0-2) vs Tama Tonga (0-2): In the biggest surprise of the tournament, Tanahashi has yet to pick up a win. Tama Tonga is also winless, but that was somewhat more expected. Tanahashi will be looking to get back on track with a win here, but one wonders if his previous injury is catching up to him. And the Bad Boy of the Bullet Club will be looking to impress, having had a lackluster tournament so far.
This was Tonga’s best match in the tournament so far. He stood toe to toe with Tanahashi and didn’t really look out of place. He hit a lot of crisp, high-impact offense that really made you think he had a chance at winning. And then… he won? He blocked the High Fly Flow and took Tanahashi down with a Gun Stun. This was an unremarkable match except for who won. **1/2
Kazuchika Okada (1-1) vs Hirooki Goto (2-0): These two fought earlier this year for the IWGP title, and despite a new training regime, Goto fell rather easily to the Rainmaker. Goto later joined CHAOS, and the two have yet to fight as stablemates. Goto beat fellow stablemate Ishii in going undefeated so far, and a win vs Okada would definitely call into question the value of Okada as leader of the faction.
This match is about on par with their match back in February. I didn’t really like their match in February. A relatively slow back and forth followed by an exciting ending sequence. Perhaps people more invested in Goto’s character like these matches more, but I find Goto to be not very interesting. But Okada is the best at creative counters, and had a few for Goto’s new finisher. The finishing sequence, as always, gives this match a bump. ***1/2
Yuji Nagata (2-0) vs YOSHI-HASHI (1-1): Nagata seems to find himself in feuds with wrestlers from the younger generations, and YOSHI would fit the bill. Even though he’s a member of CHAOS, YOSHI rarely displays the same arrogant streak that many members have. He might have to tap into that though, in order to pick up more wins in the tournament.
YOSHI has yet to look out of place in these matches against more established wrestlers, and that’s great. I’m not a huge fan of some of is moveset, but we’ll let it slide for now. He’s obviously ready for his spot, and has impressed much more then his fellow G1 newcomer Tama Tonga. His butterfly lock-eques submission is over with the crowd, which is great. Nagata attacked the shoulder of YOSHI, which was injured from his last match against Honma. Nagata eventually won with a backdrop driver. ***
Katsuhiko Nakajima (1-1) vs EVIL (1-1): This should be a fun match, but there’s not a lot of story here. Nakajima should throw the kicks, and EVIL should throw the punches and suplex’s, and it should be a solid, if unspectacular match.
Nakajima showed off his kicks early and often, as expected. EVIL threw him around with slams and suplex’s, also as expected. Some of the kicks from Nakajima to EVIL’s face were just sick, but EVIL would recover enough to catch a leg and throw him in a suplex. It wasn’t enough though, as Nakajima would win this pretty good match. ***
Toru Yano (0-2) vs Tetsuya Naito (1-1): Naito got a hard-fought win over Michael Elgin in his last match, and needs another win against relative lightweight Yano to keep up his momentum. Yano’s whole goal is to play spoiler though, so we’ll see if he can spoiler Naito’s tournament again.
This is amazing. Naito is completely no-selling all of Yano’s typical exploits, even going so far as to steal a few of them. They ping pong the referee around until Naito kicks Yano in the junk and hits Destino for the quick win. Too short to be anything good, but I still love Yano matches. **
Tomoaki Honma (2-0) vs Kenny Omega (1-1): Other then Tanahashi going winless, Honma scoring legitimate wins in the tournament is the biggest surprise. Honma spent the last few years as a lovable loser, but now actually lands some of his hardest-hitting moves. Omega had a fun match against Toru Yano, but lost to YOSHI-HASHI. Putting Honma in his place might be what he needs to get on track for a successful tournament.
Honma didn’t go for an obvious kokeshi and miss! It took him years, but he finally stopped trying to hit a kokeshi at every opportunity! He learned that sometimes you can not go for you biggest move right away and… In the time it took me to type that, Honma missed two kokeshi headbutts, one on the ring apron and one on the floor. So nevermind all that. This was a really good match that played off their contrasting styles really well. Omega couldn’t quite match up with Honma’s strong style, but finally beat him with the One-Winged Angel. ****
Katsuyori Shibata (1-1) vs Michael Elgin (0-2): This is a champion vs champion match, with Elgin as the Intercontinental champion and Shibata as the NEVER champion. Elgin was on the losing end against Naito in his last match, but put on the performance of the tournament so far. Shibata is another great opponent for him, so I expect another really good match here.
They do the “who has the bigger balls” spot where they take turns kneeling down then getting kicked and chopped in the chest. Elgin used his overwhelming power, while Sibata attacked with speed and precision. Outside the ring, Elgin powerbombed Shibata into the turnbuckle, twice, but Shibata countered another powerbomb into a triangle choke, which Elgin powered into another powerbomb! Elgin’s face is turning beet purple from the number of times Shibata has gotten him in a choke hold. Elgin eventually won the stiff fight with the Elgin Bomb. ****
Elgin got to give the show ending promo, which might be the first time he has done so. It’s nice hearing these in English sometimes.
So, Night 5 was unspectacular quality wise, but Night 6 had two really good matches that made it worth watching. In Block A, Tanahashi is still winless, the only one with no points, while Makabe has pulled ahead with 6 points. I assume that will not last, for either man. The B Block is similar, as Nagata has quietly pulled ahead with 6 points. Naito and Omega and others are right on his heels though,