The B Block had their second night of action in front of 1,730 fans at Korakuen Hall. 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 B Block featured five tournament matches. Let’s get into what happened!
SANADA (1-1) def. Tama Tonga (1-1) @ 10:47 via Rolling Back Clutch – **1/2
One of my favorite matches from last year’s tournament but I had reservations how it’d go this year with Tama Tonga’s new found attitude and outside shenanigans. Rest assured, they still were able to treat us to a fun match. There were the Bullet Club shenanigans sprinkled throughout but both guys are super athletic and fun to watch as they try to out shine one another. Tanga was caught interfering with SANADA and was sent to the back, only to return later on when Tama countered the Skull End by shoving SANADA into the referee. Both Tanga and Fale come out in support of Tama but the plan backfires as SANADA sees Tanga on the apron and shoves Tama into his brother, holds onto Tama and rolls him up for the win. Not the match you’d want between these two but SANADA overcoming the numbers was a great moment. That’s two matches in a row where he’s come away with crowd approval.
Zack Sabre Jr. (1-1) def. Toru Yano (0-2) @ 10:34 via Modified European Clutch – **3/4
Leave it to Yano to produce some of the most suspenseful matches of the tournamet. You never know when he’s going to sneak one by on his opponent. He’s claimed to be done with the tricks but that didn’t stop him from going after the turnbuckle pads a couple of times so his word is on shaky ground at the moment. Yano caught Sabre into an abdominal stretch and a belly-to-belly suplex before resorting to an attempted low blow but was caught. In desperation, Yano ran for another pad but Sabre rolled him for the win up before Yano could think twice about using the pad against Sabre. Really great suspense throughout the match. There were several nearfalls by Yano before he ultimately fell.
Kota Ibushi (2-0) def. Juice Robinson (0-2) @ 13:02 via Kamigoye – ***
Leave it to Ibushi to try and steal the show with his crazy spots. He hit a Moonsault off the ring post to the outside. The things that must race in that man’s head. Several insane spots here with Juice landing a Cannonball off the apron as well as Ibushi launching Juice off the apron with a Hurricanrana. Juice evaded both Golden Triangle attempts, turning one into a Superplex off the top. He also made his way out of two Kamigoyes but Ibushi had counters of his own. Ibushi fought out of the Pulp Friction, transitioning to a Straightjacket suplex and keeping wrist control to finish Juice with the Kamigoye. The two embraced after the match. Really fun match featuring a couple of insane spots in typical, but always surprising, Ibushi fashion.
Tetsuya Naito (1-1) def. Tomohiro Ishii (1-1) @ 19:13 via Destino – ***3/4
No matter how often I see this match, they never fail to hook me. When you see a card featuring a singles match between these two you’re guarenteed for a treat. Ishii was having none of Naito’s mind games before the bell. He allowed Naito to take his time, didn’t engage in the fake out lock up. He knows Naito’s games well at this point. Naito manages to eventually find his way under Ishii’s skin though with a comedic slap to the top of his head, a blatant sign of disrespect. This fired Ishii up and brought him into the mindset Naito wanted. Ishii laid in with over half a dozen chops to the delight of Naito, who smiled at him. They went to the top where Ishii looked for a Brainbuster but Naito floats over and delivers a Powerbomb from the top. Ishii’s headbutt is met with a slap and his Brainbuster is countered to a DDT before Naito attempts a Destino. Two Destinos are countered by a Lariat but a third Brainbuster is turned into a Destino and is followed by a proper Destino for the win. Excellent match. Naito and Ishii have great chemistry and always produce show-stealing matches every time they meet. Although Naito is the most popular wrestler in New Japan, Ishii never fails to wind up winning the crowd over with his fighting spirit.
Kenny Omega (2-0) def. Hirooki Goto (1-1) @ 19:30 via One-Winged Angel – ***1/4
Omega looked to end this one early, attempting the One-Winged Angel less than two minutes into the match. Goto fought out but ate a Hurricanrana and bailed to the outside, managing to cut off Omega’s dive with a forearm. Omega drove Goto over the guardrail and went for the Springboard Placha but took a chair to the face for his troubles. Goto delivered a reverse GTR on the outside and took Omega to the bleachers. Omega fights out of a Brainbuster, slams Goto on the bleachers and follows with a Moonsault off the handrails. They exchange chops back in the ring and Omega comes out on top but his Springboard is caught and pays for it with an Ushigoroshi. After a battle o the top, Omega is pushed off but runs back up with a V-Trigger. He tries for a Brainbuster off the top, eats a headbutt instead and is driven to the mat by ways of the Kaiten. Omega ducks a forearms and delivers a snap Dragon Suplex but his V-Trigger is met by a Lariat. Goto lands another reverse GTR, sets up for the finishing GTR, Omega fights out but Goto hangs on and dishes out the Shouten Kai. Omega rolls up the follow up GTR and lands a V-Trigger before finishing with the One-Winged Angel. Great main event. These guys battle hard every time they face each other. They have very good chemistry and Goto came out of this looking like a formidable opponent in defeat. My favorite move in all of wrestling may very well be the Kaiten and I love when Goto pulls it out in these big matches. Post-match, Omega compares himself to Tiger Woods, Larry Bird and Michael Jackson…you know what he means. He ends the interview with a callout to Tama Tonga, telling him to prove that his way of Bullet Club is superior.
Strong show overall. Everything was a hit but Naito and Ishii stole the show from Omega and Goto. I love when Goto digs down deep and delivers the Kaiten so the main event still gets a thumbs up from me. Both Ibushi and Omega had an insane Moonsault and those will probably be the most gif’d moments of the show but as far as best match goes, Naito and Ishii tore it down. The B Block’s next main event is Goto against Ishii and if we see another Kaiten I’ll have no problem pegging Goto as an early G1 MVP. Overall, everything here was a lot of fun and either met or exceeded expectations. I’d love to see a longer match between Ibushi and Juice so hopefully the US title is something Ibushi wants and we’re treated to the rematch later in the year. Thumbs up show, nothing was too long or overstayed its welcome. Very easily digestible show from the B Block.
Naito vs Ishii
Omega vs Goto
(2-0): Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi
(1-1): Tetsuya Naito, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Zack Sabre Jr., SANADA, Tama Tonga
(0-2): Juice Robinson, Toru Yano
Kazuchika Okada (0-2) vs Hangman Page (1-1)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-1) vs Bad Luck Fale (1-1)
Togi Makabe (2-0) vs EVIL (1-1)
Minoru Suzuki (0-2) vs YOSHI-HASHI (0-2)
Jay White (2-0) vs Michael Elgin (2-0)