The B Block had their third night of action in front of 1,734 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!
Toru Yano (1-2) def. Kota Ibushi (2-1) @ 8:24 via Schoolboy – **1/2
No matter who you out him up against, Kota Ibushi will give an inspired performance. Yano attempted a couple of pins early on but bailed outside after taking a Hurricanrana. He detached all the turnbuckle pads from the outside before eating a top rope dive to the floor from Ibushi. They threw each other back and forth into the exposed turnbuckles and Yano pulled tape out from under his pants. He tied up Ibushi’s hands but Ibushi still managed to get some offense so Yano did what he does best by hitting a low blow and roll up to take his first win of the tournament. Really creative and short enough that it stayed enjoyable the entire way. Yano matches will never be something I’ll admit to look forward to but he’s been very enjoyable three matches into the tournament. Please don’t screenshot this to use against me when I claim to hate him later on in the G1.
SANADA (2-1) def. Zack Sabre Jr. (1-2) @ 10:46 via Japanese Leg Roll Clutch Hold – ***
A gutsy performance with Goto, overcoming the odds against Tama and now showcasing his technical ability alongside Sabre, there are big plans for SANADA in the near future. He went hold for hold with Sabre the entire time, both men countering each other into the exact hold they escaped from, this was the perfect way to elevate SANADA. You have Sabre win the New Japan Cup, establish him as this masterclass technical wrestling, the have SANADA beat him clean at his own game. They stayed inside the ring and went hold for hold until someone came out on top. Not only did he come off credible, SANADA defeated Sabre by using his own finisher. His next match is a main event against Kota Ibushi and SANADA has never looked more dangerous than he does right now.
Tetsuya Naito (2-1) def. Juice Robinson (0-3) @ 16:44 via Destino – ***1/4
Tough sledding to try and turn Korakuen against chanting for Naito. He did everything he could, ruthlessly attacking the broken hand the entire way through but at the end of the day, Naito is their guy. Still, Juice held his own and didn’t look like a chump in defeat. He came back by stopping Naito’s Satalite DDT and turning it to a Brainbuster, following by a second rope Fallaway Slam, Cannonball and stacked Naito with a Powerbomb. Naito put an end to his flurry by hitting a Poison Rana, went for Destino but Juice countered and set up for Pulp Friction only for Naito to transition into a German suplex and another attempted Destino. Once again, Juice fights out, this time with a Lariat but his Pulp Friction is countered into position for Destino, which is again countered. Naito avoids taking the double knee Gutbuster by finally landing the Destino and following with a proper Destino. Great finishing sequence, these two really brought it and Naito continues having standout performances.
Kenny Omega (3-0) def. Tama Tonga (1-2) @ 9:56 via Disqualification – ***
After defeating Cody for control of Bullet Club, now it’s Tama Tonga who is looking to take control. The Firing Squad jump Omega before the bell but Omega fights out of the Bad Luck Fall and gives Fale a V-Trigger before Page and Owens Lariat Fale over the top rope to make the save. Tama cones from behind with a Spear and beats down on Omega, jaw-jacking with him about Bullet Club history. They trade counters out of each other’s signature moves until Omega looks to put an end to the match with a V-Trigger. Tanga Loa grabs Omega’s leg but Omega fires back with a Hurricanrana from the apron to the floor. Tama uses this referee distraction to bring in a chair and set up for a Gun Stun. Omega fought out but was caught into Styles Clash position. The referee turns to see this, kicks the chair out of the ring. An enraged Tama, Gun Stuns the referee and gets disqualified. Firing Squad rush the ring to continue their attack on Omega but Ibushi, Page and Owens come out to mae the save. Tama bails but tells them that this isn’t over. Fun story and short enough to where it didn’t lose any steam. Guys getting disqualified for their antics is something New Japan doesn’t have a history of doing so this has been a fun turn of events. Now you no longer know if shenanigans will cost you a match while in the past, it’s been looked at with a blind eye.
Tomohiro Ishii (2-1) def. Hirooki Goto (1-2) @ 18:16 via Brainbuster – ****
Goto came into this match boasting a 3-0 record over Ishii in their previous G1 meetings. In fact, this was their thirteenth singles match overall and only Ishii’s third win. To say this was a statement win for Ishii would be selling this victory short. He may not be a guy you find on top of the card most of the year but New Japan knows what they have in Ishii. The G1 is Ishii’s time to shine and he’s delivered back-to-back stellar performances, as what’s become commonplace for him in this tournament over the last five years. Nothing fancy, just two guys colliding into each other until one can’t get up for three seconds. You cannot ask for anymore between these two. They traded shoulder tackles, forearms, chops and hit lariats that made spit fly into the third row. Both men yelled insults at each other while they were the ones collapsed on the mat. They’d take huge lariats, bounce right back up, hit a suplex and the other would bounce right back up. This is the Samurai style which drew me into New Japan in the first place. The finish stretch saw Goto turn an attempted Brainbuster into a Shoten Kai for two. His follow up GTR was blocked so he hit a headbutt instead but Ishii fired back with two headbutts, one upping Goto, followed by a sliding Lariat for a two count of his own and capitalized on his momentum by finishing Goto off with the Brainbuster. Excellent match. One of the year’s best. It’s hard to get better than when these two men collide. Post-match, Ishii has his fist raised but he opts to let his performance do all the talking and stumbles his way to the back, walking right by the interview station.
Wow, what a show. Great variety from each match. You had a little bit of everything, from comedy to technical to traditional Western and capped off with the fantastic Samurai style. SANADA is poised for the breakout. After three matches he’s raised his stock tremendously and has given a standout performance in each. The Firing Squad have been making a statement. Wins don’t matter to them, they want to dish out pain and embarrass their opponents. And then there’s the main event. Absolutely stellar match between Ishii and Goto. You could not have wanted any more than what we got from these two. Overall the show was very easy to consume. Every match during this three day Korakuen run stayed under twenty minutes and that’s for the better. Naito and Juice felt a little long but the closing stretch was a lot of fun so I’ll name it has a recommendation. The main event is a must-see match, one of the year’s best and arguably the best of the tournament.
Ishii vs Goto
Naito vs Juice
(3-0): Kenny Omega
(2-1): Tetsuya Naito, Tomohiro Ishii, Kota Ibushi, SANADA
(1-2): Hirooki Goto, Zack Sabre Jr., Tama Tonga, Toru Yano
(0-3): Juice Robinson
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