The A Block’s second night, and the third overall for the Best of the Super Juniors 26, takes place in front of 1,293 fans at the Aomori Martial Arts Hall. Birthday boy, Dragon Lee, sees his second straight main event of the tournament as he takes on SHO. Both men lost their opening day matches and are still looking for their first win. Let’s get started!
Jonathan Gresham (0-1) def. TAKA Michinoku (0-1) @ 9:28 via Octopus Hold – **3/4
TAKA backs Gresham to the ropes, teases the eye poke but pats on the head instead. Gresham takes the wrist, TAKA counters and Gresham rolls through. TAKA cuts off Gresham’s forearms with an eye poke but gets caught covering up on a dropkick, Gresham waits for him to uncover and hits the dropkick. Gresham takes TAKA’s arm and pulls him into a pin attempt for two. He keeps control of the wrist and blocks one eye poke but can’t block a second. TAKA takes control with a headscissors that Gresham is able to handstand out of but TAKA is immediately on his hand, delivering a stomp.
Gresham fires off forearms, braces himself for the eye poke but TAKA lands a dropkick to the knee instead, followed by a running knee lift in the corner. TAKA armbars Gresham but he makes it to the ropes, lands a kick to TAKA’s arm and rolls him into La Magistral for two. TAKA is quick to the ropes on an attempted Octopus Hold and pulls Gresham into a crossface but Gresham too is quick to the ropes. He charges in after TAKA and is caught back into the crossface, pulled away from the ropes but eventually finds his way. They run the ropes, Gresham lands a springboard moonsault off the second, stomps the hand and ties TAKA up. TAKA slides out into a crossface but Gresham slides out before the hold can be applied and traps TAKA in the Octopus Hold to take the win.
Tiger Mask IV (1-0) def. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (0-1) @ 11:15 via Roll Up – ***1/4
Kanemaru comes out holding the mask he pulled off Tiger the night before. He throws the mask at Tiger as he’s making his entrance and the match is off. Tiger whips him with his ring jacket and takes the match outside. Kanemaru takes a series of kicks, manages to catch one and throws Tiger’s leg into the ring post. He stomps repeatedly on the knee, sends Tiger in, lands a dropkick directly to the knee and applies a half crab. Tiger makes it to the ropes, Kanemaru drives his knee into the mat but loses his focus by trying to unmask Tiger. Tiger lands a flurry of kicks but as he’s looking to hit the ropes, Kanemaru puts a boot to the back of his knee. He pulls Tiger to the corner and wrenches his knee over the post. Tiger cuts Kanemaru off on the top rope and armdrags him to the mat.
Tiger follows Kanemaru to the corner and delivers a kick before setting up for the Tiger Driver. Kanemaru fights free and stomps the knee. Tiger asks for more, Kanemaru hits the ropes and Tiger catches him with a tombstone piledriver followed by the Tiger Driver for two. He takes Kanemaru to the top looking for a butterfly suplex but Kanemaru shoves him off and catches Tiger with Deep Impact for a two count. Kanemaru lands a dropkick to the back of the knee and applies a figure four leg lock. Tiger struggles but finally manages to find the ropes. Kanemaru charges in with a corner lariat, heads to the top for a moonsault but comes up empty. Tiger catches him with a running knee, sets up for a Tiger suplex, Kanemaru back kicks him on the knee and looks for the figure four but Tiger rolls him up into a pin and picks up the win. Kanemaru unmasks Tiger before making his way to the back.
Shingo Takagi (1-0) def. Titán (1-0) @ 10:34 via Last of the Dragon – ***
The two meet forehead to forehead, Titán pokes Shingo on the chest, Shingo gives a boot, Titán sends him to the ropes, ducks a lariat and armdrags Shingo followed by a dropkick that sends him outside. Titán follows him out, ducks another lariat and lands a hurricanrana before sending Shingo back inside. He takes Shingo to the top, follows him up but is cut off, dropped over the top rope and is sent over with a lariat. Shingo follows him out and sends Titán into the post and apron before bringing him back in for a series of stomps followed by a vertical suplex for a two count. He hammers elbows to Titán’s neck and drops the knee before sending him to the corner.
Shingo catches a boot, delivers a lariat, Titán follows with one of his own followed by a slingshot corner dropkick, an overhead kick that sends Shingo to the outside and a tope suicida. He brings Shingo in and gets a two count, hits the ropes, ducks a lariat, lands a kick followed by a springboard splash for two. Shingo puts the brakes on a hurricanrana, muscles Titán to his shoulder, lands a DVD, looks for Noshegami but gets caught in a sunset flip followed by La Mistica and a leg clutch cradle for two. Titán catches Shingo with two thrust kicks, Shingo responds with two punches but his kick is turned into a dragon screw followed by an armbar. Shingo rolls through, pulls Titán up for Noshegami, gets a two count, lands a Pumping Bomber and finishes Titán with Last of the Dragon.
Taiji Ishimori (1-0) def. Marty Scurll (1-0) @ 22:22 via Bloody Cross – **
They start with a knuckle lock, Ishimori takes the wrist, Scurll floats through twice but finds himself back in the hold. He breaks free a third time, takes Ishimori’s wrist, Ishimori floats through and they trade finisher teases. Ishimori takes both wrists, drives Scurll to the mat, Scurll delivers a series of upkicks to break free and stomps the arm of Ishimori. He calls out for the chickenwing, Ishimori floats through and looks for the crossface but Scurll finds the ropes. Scurll counters the neck twist, applies the Gory Special and takes Ishimori to the top for a vertical suplex. Ishimori bails, Scurll looks to follow but Ishimori is quickly back in and dropkicks Scurll to the floor. Ishimori follows him out with a moonsault to the floor and brings Scurll back in for a two count. He gets a one with a neck twist but is quickly back on Scurll with a chinlock. Ishimori hammers elbows to the back of Scurll’s head and the two trade chops, Ishimori catches a corner boot, swings Scurlls legs over the ropes and lands the draping German suplex.
Ishimori applies a double armbar and lands a forearm to the back of Scurll’s head. Scurll asks for more and slaps Ishimori. Ishimori drops Scurll in the corner and stomps him into the mat. Scurll catches him in the corner and lands a statelite DDT. The two trade forearms, Scurll begins to flurry and stomps Ishimori into the corner. Ishimori bails and Scurll follows him out with an apron superkick, sends Ishimori back in and stomps on the arm off the second rope. Ishimori escapes a powerbomb, looks for the handspring enziguri but Scurll catches it in a half and half suplex followed by a powerbomb. The two trade pin attempts, Scurll catches Ishimori with a boot, heads to the top but Ishimori scales the ropes for a suplex followed by a John Woo. Scurll uppercuts a springboard attempt but gets caught with the handspring enziguri and both are down. They make it to their knees and trade strikes.
Scurll drops the elbow over his shoulder and catches Ishimori coming in for position for a tombstone. Ishimori counters into position for his own tombstone but collapses. They trade strikes again before Ishimori lands Cipher UTAKI. He looks for Bloody Cross but Scurll drops him into the chickenwing. Ishimori rolls him up but Scurll is right back into the chickenwing. Scurll transitions into the Gedo Clutch, Ishimori kicks out and catches Scurll with La Mistica into the crossface. Scurll escapes into a crossface of his own and picks Ishimori up for a half and half suplex followed up by a lariat that turns Ishimori inside out for two. Quickly, Scurll lands a package piledriver for two. He sets up for Black Plague, Ishimori escapes and hits a knee followed by a lariat for two. Immediately, Ishimori drops Scurll with Bloody Cross to pick up the win.
Dragon Lee (0-1) def. SHO (0-1) @ 27:10 via Desnucadora – ***1/2
They charge at each other with shoulder tackles and begin trading forearms. SHO backs Lee into the corner, Lee switches position and they trade more forearms until SHO collapses and Lee follows with a corner dropkick. SHO powers up, lands an elbow followed by a PK for one. They trade more forearms and again SHO collapses. Lee invites him back up and they continue the exchange. SHO sends Lee over the top, dishes out a series of shoulder breakers and dropkicks Lee off the apron followed by a PK from the apron. He charges in for a lariat but Lee ducks and SHO collides with the ring post. Lee kicks the arm and drives it into the post before climbing the apron in hopes for a hurricanrana but SHO puts the brakes on and powerbombs Lee into the apron. SHO traps Lee’s arm over the turnbuckle before sending him back in and continuing to target the arm.
SHO traps Lee’s arm behind his back, sends him arm first into the mat and applies an armbar but Lee makes it to the ropes. Lee catches SHO running in with a hurricanrana, SHO bails and Lee follows him out with a tope suicida. He brings SHO back in, both men clutching their arms, and drops SHO with a double underhook backbreaker before locking in an armbar. SHO makes it to the ropes but Lee continues on the arm. SHO reverses an Irish whip and lands a dropkick to afford him time. Both guys make it to their feet and begin trading forearms using their damaged arms and selling the effect. A lariat dumps them back over the top and the referee begins the count. They charge at each other with lariats and forearms but eventually both slide in at the count of nineteen and continue trading forearms. Lee cracks and decides on a kick. SHO catches him with a lariat and follows with a bridging German suplex for two and another two Germans.
SHO hits the ropes where Lee catches him in an armbar but manages to find the ropes. Lee takes him over, kicks SHO on the back and heads to the top. SHO cuts him off on top and looks for a German but Lee fights him off and lands a draping double stomp. He sets up for Desnucadora but SHO slides through and applies a cross armbreaker. Lee finds the ropes, SHO immediately looks Shock Arrow, Lee escapes and they trade wrist control before SHO wins the struggle and hits a double wrist clutch piledriver for two. Lee avoids a lariat, lands a German, follows with a poison rana but SHO is right back with a lariat that turns Lee inside out and both are down. They get to their knees and trade forearms before making it to their feet and continuing the exchange. Lee starts in with chops and SHO asks for more. He blocks the chop and tees off with combination forearms, charges in with a lariat that drops Lee and continues with a powerbomb on the knees for a two count. Lee fights out of Shock Arrow, connects with a PK, looks for Desnucadora but SHO counters into an armbar. He pulls Lee from the ropes, transitions into a triangle, Lee powerbombs free and follows with a pair of knees strikes for a two count. Lee quickly gets back on the attack and finishes SHO with Desnucadora. They shake hands and embrace after the match before SHO leaves to the back.
Fans wish Lee a happy birthday and he celebrates with them by shaking hands and giving high fives on his way to the back.
The dip in the semi-main event made for an uneven show overall and the main event was exhausting but this was another performance highlighting SHO’s accession up the ranks as a singles wrestler. He’s had the two longest matches of the tournament so far and both were up against arguably the two strongest wrestlers in the division, Shingo Takagi and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. The pace they kept was impressive and helped keep the match engaging despite the length they went. Unfortunately in the semi-main event there were a couple of occasions where Ishimori slipped up and lost the momentum of the match which caused an otherwise solid match to drag. Shingo and Titán has a short but sweet match that showcased more of Titán’s speed and technical ability. Tiger and Kanemaru told a simple but effective story. Kanemaru really focused in on the knee and made everything revolve around the limb before ultimately being rolled up when going for the finishing submission. TAKA and Gresham meshed well which made for a fun opener. Outside of the Ishimori match, everything here was fun. I don’t think these shows have quite lived up to their billing yet but they’ve been easy watches and the majority of the matches have been a good time.
Lee vs SHO
Tiger vs Kanemaru
Shingo Takagi (2-0)
Tiger Mask IV (2-0)
Taiji Ishimori (2-0)
Dragon Lee (1-1)
Marty Scurll (1-1)
Jonathan Gresham (1-1)
Yoshinobu Kanemaru (0-2)
TAKA Michinoku (0-2)