The second round continues!
Akira Tozawa (Japan, technical) vs Jack Gallagher (England, technical): This matchup with everything I want out a tournament like this. Even though they are both listed as “technical” wrestlers, the styles of these two couldn’t be more different. Will the speed and power of Tozawa prevail, or the smoothness and creativity of Gallagher? Tozawa has an intensity to him that not many competitors match, while Gallagher is much more laid back and relaxed, another way these guys differ. Tozawa tries to put Gallagher in a couple different holds early, but the Englishman easily escapes each one, reclining casually as he wraps Tozawa’s legs in a grapevine.
Gallagher escapes a few more holds then, in an incredible maneuver, ties Tozawa’s limbs into a knot, leaving him curled into a ball facedown, his own leverage holding his hands and feet together, unable even move. I’ve never seen anything like that before. He’s stuck like that until Gallagher gives him a swift kick in the, ahem, buttocks region. But Tozawa is up, and pissed, and the match kicks straight into third gear, exchanging stiff elbows and European Uppercuts. Gallagher still escapes every hold Tozawa tries, but there’s a meanness to him now, no more messing around. He focuses on Tozawa’s leg with a variety of submissions. There’s some really sublime leg work here.
Tozawa gets a few strikes in, and goes for a brainbuster, and Gallagher escapes again, locking in a heel hook. Gallagher goes for a deathlock, but now Tozawa counters into a rollup, and hits Gallagher with a snap German Suplex! He goes for the second, but Gallagher grabs the leg, holding on for dear life, but he can’t hold on, and Tozawa nails him with the deadlift German Suplex for the win! This was such a fun match. Gallagher should be on TV every week. Tozawa will fight Gran Metalik in the quarterfinals. ****
Noam Dar (Scotland, technical) vs Hoho Lun (Hong King, China, high-flying): Both these guys were super unimpressive in their first round matches, so at least they’re against each other and can’t drag someone else down. But it also means one of them in going to the quarterfinals, so meh. Who knows, maybe the first round was a fluke for these guys, and they’re much better than they showed. Dar attacks the knee early, holding an advantage in the beginning stages of the match, including a reverse Indian Deathlock. Lun’s offense is simple, much like that in his last match, consisting of kicks and dropkicks and not much else.
Dar continues to focus on the knee. Lun is at least a decent seller. The knee damage renders the majority of Lun’s offense ineffective. Dar rolls into a nice kneebar for the win. This was inoffensive at least. **1/2
Brian Kendrick (United States, high-flying) vs Tony Nese (United States, technical): Kendrick’s first round match was not super impressive, so if he wants the Brian Kendrick Comeback Tour to get some steam, he needs to have a better showing here. It doesn’t start out well for him, as he runs directly into Nese’s kick to start the match. Nese is owning Kendrick early with a lot of strikes. Brian finally gets on the offense with a few dirty tricks, including trapping Nese’s hand in the turnbuckle pad, showing his experience.
Brian is trying every trick he knows to try and escape Nese’s onslaught. He pulls the beard, he uses the ropes. Bryan on commentary is unapologetic about it, openly rooting for his friend. Kendrick finally latches in an armbar, kicking Nese in the face while he tries to hyper-extend the elbow. Nese knocks Kendrick out of the ring, then high jumps over the rope, falling into Kendrick. Nese goes to the top rope, but Kendrick racks him up there, applying another armbar on the mat. Nese lifts out of it though, and hits a devastating Buckle Bomb. Nese hits a pump handle Michinoku Driver for one heck of a near fall. Kendrick avoids the 450 splash, and locks in a Bully Choke, and Nese taps immediately. Kendrick will fight Kota Ibushi in the quarterfinals. ***