The A Block had their second night of action in front of 6,489 fans at the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center Kitayell. Including the tags, there were ten matches on the show but all throughout the tournament I’ll only be discussing what happened in block action. Tonight the A Block featured five tournament matches. Let’s get into what happened!
Michael Elgin (2-0) def. Hangman Page (1-1) @ 17:17 via Elgin Bomb – ***1/4
Since he’s still relatively new to the company, the fans in Sapporo didn’t exactly know what to make of Page in the beginning but everyone became a fan by the end. after about seven minutes in they got the crowd invested by trading pin attempts back and forth. Soon after, everyone gasped as Page attempted a second rope Hurricanrana. Elgin puts the brakes on and goes for a Powerbomb but Page flips through, successfully landing the Rana. Elgin bailed to the opposite corner where he’s met with a huge running dropkick from Page which put the crowd into a screaming frenzy. They had the fans hooked at that point, trading big boy shots back and forth before Elgin put Page away with the Elgin Bomb. Tremendous atmosphere for the last seven minutes as these two destroyed each other in what one could argue was the show stealer.
EVIL (1-1) def. YOSH-HASHI (0-2) @ 12:37 via EVIL – **1/4
Y-H is out there looking to prove his toughness. His chops didn’t have the same pop as they did against Makabe which was unfortunate considering that was his highlight on night one. They worked hard, countering out of each other’s finishes and landing some nice shots throughout the match. Things got dicey on a botched Powerbomb that sent both men over the top rope. EVIL landed a beautiful Half & Half suplex before a nice, meaty lariat and finishing with EVIL. They could have a much better match than this and I really hope Y-H stops with the Butterfly Lock. No one believes he’ll win with that hold.
Togi Makabe (2-0) def. Minoru Suzuki (0-2) @ 14:58 via King Kong Knee Drop – **3/4
Blistering pace right off the bat as they traded forearms for the entire first two minutes of the match. Makabe forces Suzuki to retreat and rather than have Suzuki come back, Makabe chased him, which was dumb on his part. Suzuki nailed Makabe repeatedly with chair shots to the back and took it back to the ring where he disrespected Makabe even more. The crowd rallied around Makabe as he made his comebacks and they traded more forearms. Suzuki ducked a lariat and applied the Sleeper before positioning Makabe in the Gotch-style Piledriver. Makabe Samoan Drops his way out, takes Suzuki to the top, hammers his head into the ring post and lands the Spider Suplex but Suzuki pops up only to eat a flying knee. With Suzuki now grounded, Makabe is able to connect with the King Kong Knee Drop and come out with the win. Very fun, hard-hitting match as you’d expect from a match between these two. Makabe has delivered twice in a row and has EVIL next. Sign me up for that one.
Bad Luck Fale (1-1) def. Kazuchika Okada (0-2) @ 13:39 via Bad Luck Fall – **1/2
The strangeness of Okada continues to be as puzzling as it is entertaining. He starts off by slapping Fale on the top of his head and giggling before bailing to the outside. Fale chases and traps Okada between him and Tanga. Okada takes them both out and teases a top rope dive but decides against it, only enraging Fale even more. Fale grabs a chair as a distraction for Tanga to attack Okada from behind, evening the score. Okada dropkicks his way out an attempted Grenade and hits a Tope con Hilo when Fale bails. He lands two lariats on Fale and knocks Tanga off the apron before he could enter the ring but the time allows Fale to fight out of the Rainmaker. Okada dropkicks Fale into the referee, Tama comes from behind with a Gun Stun and Fale finishes with Bad Luck Fall. This is a completely different side of Okada that we’re seeing right now. The matches aren’t as epic but remain interesting in their own way. This Bullet Club interference stuff isn’t anything to write home about but at least it gives them more personality rather than only being seen as the undercard fall guys.
Jay White (2-0) def. Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-1) @ 24:04 via Blade Runner – ***1/2
More engaging start to finish than the Okada/White match for multiple reasons, one being that Tanahashi is one of the all time great babyfaces. The people rally behind Tanahashi much more than they do Okada because they card about him more. This creates a better dynamic for the Switchblade character. His brutalizing of Tanahashi resonated with the crowd on a much more personal level than the one with Okada. White was absolutely vicious against Tanahashi, repeatedly driving him into the rails and slamming his head into the turnbuckle pad over fifteen times in a row. This was the Jay White I saw in San Francisco. He didn’t apply any submissions for the sake of submissions. Instead, he took out Tanahashi’s knee by driving it into the mat over and over again before applying the holds. Tanahashi can sell like the best of them, he collapsed under his own weight but dug down deep, determined to overcome, only to be met with a chair to the face and a Blade Runner. This is the guy we need to see more of but I’m afraid that dynamic will only work with crowd favorites. Togi Makabe is about the only guy left in the block who gets that amount of sympathy from the crowds. His work against the heels will come off completely different than what he needs to be seen as a dastardly heel right now. Nevertheless, this was a great match and White received great negative reactions from the crowd. He tells them that heart, honor and fighting spirit aren’t what matters, it’s instead about wins. He claims (rightfully) that Okada is broken and that he will rebuild Chaos in his vision. Breathe with the Switchblade.
Better main event than on the opening day and a step above overall. Elgin and Page killed it to kick off the tournament matches, Suzuki and Makabe had a fun brawl which saw the babyface win to the crowd’s delight and Okada’s foundation continues to crumble around him. The main event was multiple steps beyond what we saw at Wrestle Kingdom between White and Tanahashi so overall I don’t have much to be down on here. After a strong opening night, Y-H slid back down my list and EVIL has yet to have a truly strong performance. His next match is against Makabe who has put together two back-to-back noteworthy performances so fingers crossed that continues against EVIL. This wasn’t as strong as night two but above night one without a doubt.
White vs Tanahashi
Elgin vs Page
(2-0): Jay White, Togi Makabe, Michael Elgin
(1-1): Hiroshi Tanahashi, Bad Luck Fale, Hangman Page, EVIL
(0-2): Minoru Suzuki, Kazuchika Okada, YOSHI-HASHI
Tama Tonga (1-0) vs SANADA (0-1)
Toru Yano (0-1) vs Zack Sabre Jr. (0-1)
Juice Robinson (0-1) vs Kota Ibushi (1-0)
Tomohiro Ishii (1-0) vs Tetsuya Naito (0-1)
Hirooki Goto (1-0) vs Kenny Omega (1-0)