It’s time for the eliminations to start coming, and I don’t mean eliminating everything from my social life to finish this damn tournament. A Block already has a few eliminations. SANADA, Tenzan, and Tama Tonga have been mathematically eliminated. Goto and Ishii also face elimination this show. B Block is… confusing, and I don’t have the mental faculties right now to figure out if people are facing elimination or not. This night should help clear things up. Or I could have done all my math wrong in the haze of a wrestling-induced coma.
SANADA (2-4) vs Tama Tonga (2-4): Both these guys have been eliminated from winning, so the only real thing going on here is a potential Los Ingobernables/Bullet Club feud. So, um, yeah. At the very least, these two should match up well and have a good match to keep out of last place.
They both do some heelish moves early, eye poking, hair pulling, and the like. These guys definitely had some great chemistry, two young guys with a lot to prove. They didn’t go all out, which makes me think the Bullet Club and LIJ will probably go head to head sooner rather then later. Tonga got the win with a Gun Stun in a good quality match. ***1/2
Togi Makabe (4-2) vs Bad Luck Fale (3-3): Though Makabe is ahead in points, I feel like he has lost all momentum after a fast start. Meanwhile, Fale is looking dominant in his last two matches, and it wouldn’t surprise me for him to keep winning.
This is the brawl that we expected from these two. Fale is dominant, using his superior size, with Makabe refusing to stay down. Knowing the Bad Luck Fall spells doom even for him, Makabe does his best to avoid it. The Grenade keeps him down though, continuing Fale’s momentum. This was better than expected. ***
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2-4) vs Hirooki Goto (3-3): Poor Tenzan. His buddy Kojima gave him his spot in the G1, and after two wins to give him hope, Tenzan has lost 4 in a row. His loss to Okada ensured that he can’t win enough to advance to the finals. So there’s not much more point to Tenzan in this tournament. Goto is in a tough place too. He needs a win to avoid elimination, but an Okada win will also eliminate Goto.
I appreciate Tenzan not going down without a fight. These two knock into each other, as they are want to do, several times. Tenzan’s Mongolian Chops are an interesting strike. At the beginning of the match, they look pretty silly and ineffective. But as the match goes on, it’s like they get more and more force, looking more and more devastating. It’s interesting. Goto staves off elimination with the GTR, and Tenzan takes this loss particularly hard. ***1/2
Kazuchika Okada (5-1) vs Tomohiro Ishii (2-4): I’ve done my best to avoid spoilers for these matches I’m behind on, but people went crazy about this match, a potential five star match, so I’m really looking forward to it. An Okada win eliminates not only Ishii, but also Goto. Ever since Nakamura left NJPW, Okada has been the undisputed leader of CHAOS. I’ve always wondered that rubs Ishii the wrong way. Neither guy is one to go easy on the other.
Holy crap, these guys go for the big moves early. Ishii knocks Okada loopy with a sliding clothesline, and Okada avoids the brainbuster but misses a Rainmaker. Things settle down after that. Okada hits a DDT on the floor, but rolls Ishii into the ring, not wanting to end the match with a count out. Okada does the Rainmaker pose, but Ishii is up and chops him right in the throat. These guys are throwing out everything they have, it’s incredible. The look on Okada’s face each time Ishii clotheslines the shit out of him is awesome. Okada goes for the Rainmaker, but Ishii spins it into a headbutt! Ishii counters a Tombstone into a piledriver of his own, followed by a brainbuster for the win! I don’t know if I go the full five stars, but that was great, especially the end. ****1/2
Hiroshi Tanahashi (3-3) vs Naomichi Marufuji (4-2): Tanahashi continues to move up, but Marufuji has been very impressive this tournament. He holds a win over Okada, and would love one over Tanahashi too. Both of these guys really need wins as they chase Okada, so I expect both of them to go all out. Should be pretty great.
These guys are extremely evenly matched throughout this match. Eventually Marufuji nails a piledriver on the apron, which looked like it really sucked to receive. Marufuji is super impressive, knocking Tanahashi outside the ring with a springboard dropkick, then hitting another one as Tanahashi crawls into the ring. Tanahashi is hitting his stuff too, it’s just that I’ve seen those a hundred times. They try to outman each out, trading chops to the chest until Tanahashi’s chest is literally black and blue. Tanahashi has to win this match for the story this tourney is telling, but Marufuji is making me doubt, which is the whole point. Marufuji counters a High Fly Flow with a jumping knee, but a few minutes later Tanahashi finishes him with two High Fly flows. ****1/2
Michael Elgin (4-2) vs Toru Yano (3-3): Elgin is tied for lead after emerging from the clusterfuck of B Block. It’s been a huge year for Elgin, and it could be even bigger. Yano should be a pushover for the Intercontinental Champion, but by now I hope everyone knows he can never be counted out of any match. Elgin should be looking to pull further ahead though, and will probably not put up with many shenanigans.
It’s almost unfair to judge Yano matches on a normal star ranking scale. Yano has the best 2-star matches of anyone ever. Even if they’re not good, they’re very entertaining. And to his credit, he’s one of the few wrestlers not taped up and covered in bruises, so he’s doing something right. Yano somehow managed to get a rope break to be on of the most over spots in the company. Yano’s normal hair pull doesn’t work on Elgin, because he’s bald obviously, so he pulls the beard instead. Yano avoids the Elgin Bomb into the exposed turnbuckle and rolls up Elgin after a low blow for the win. Yano and Elgin are **
Katsuyori Shibata (3-3) vs YOSHI-HASHI (3-3): Shibata is probably disappointed by his record so far, but YOSHI has got to be pretty happy to be going into this match with the same number of points as the NEVER champion. A win would be huge for YOSHI, and maybe give him a NEVER title shot, along with the points to keep him in contention for winning the block.
Shibata really dominates this match early on before YOSHI is able to make his comeback. Like, I wouldn’t have been too surprised if Shibata got an easy win. But YOSHI hit his usual spots. He even got the Swanton Bomb from the top rope, but Shibata kicked out. Shibata avoids the Karma, and wins with the PK. This was fine. **1/2
Katsuhiko Nakajima (3-3) vs Tomoaki Honma (2-4): Honma’s tournament still has to be considered a success, even if he doesn’t win another match. He’s doubled his win count from last year, so bully for him. Nakajima has been excellent this tournament, but has yet to face a guy with a head as hard as Honma’s.
This was highlighted late by Nakajima avoiding every clothesline Honma threw, kicking him out of each own, until Honma finally hit one. Nakajima wins with the brainbuster, and I’m running out of ways to describe matches that are pretty good but unremarkable. They show each other respect after the match, which is nice to see. ***
Yuji Nagata (3-3) vs Kenny Omega (3-3): You have to think Omega is going to use this match get out of the 6 point logjam everyone in B Block is in. There’s no doubt he’s just better than Nagata at this point in their careers, but Nagata isn’t going to go down without a fight.
Omega is really good at making others also look really good. Nagata looks great here as he suplexes Omega around the ring. And outside the ring as well. Omega won with the One-Winged Angel, but made an aging Nagata look like a million bucks first. ***
Tetsuya Naito (4-2) vs EVIL (2-4): Los Ingobernable de Japon collide! Naito should get a win easily enough, but the real drama here is how the two will interact. LIJ has yet to have a showdown between members like this. While LIJ are certainly the most stylish faction in wrestling today, and have excelled in working together in tag teams, they have never been tested this way. EVIL was Naito’s first recruit into Los Ingobernables, so there’s a bit of Mentor/Pupil story going on as well.
A lot of stalling early on here, with a lot of EVIL stroking his beard. At least they didn’t do the dumb “pretend to lay down” that the Bullet Club always does. EVIL holds nothing back early, getting in his chair shots. Naito targets the leg, as he has been doing most of the tournament, with mixed results. His leg submissions rarely pay off. These guys are really laying into each other, and now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure this is EVIL’s first main event. Naito eventually won with Destino, but not before a really good match. With this win, Naito takes sole possession over first place. They fist bump after the match, showing that Los Ingobernables remains strong. ****
Night 13 was phenomenal. Probably the best night of the tournament so far. Two matches that went at least 4 1/2 stars, and two more that were close behind. Okada has the lead with 10 points, but there are 5 guys behind him with 8 points. Out of those 5, with two matches left, Okada has wins over Goto and Makabe, still has to fight Fale and Tanahashi, and has a loss against Marufuji. Everyone else is out of it I think, except maybe Ishii. Math is hard.
In Block B, we finally have a leader. Naito has 10 points. Like in A Block, there are five men behind him with 8 points. Naito still faces Omega in the final night, and has beaten Nakajima, Yano, and Elgin, and a loss against Shibata. There are only two matches left for each men, so there’s still time for something crazy to happen.