The A Block had their eighth night of action in front of 5,480 fans at EDION Arena Osaka. 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!
YOSHI-HASHI (2-6) def. Bad Luck Fale (3-5) @ 8:33 via Disqualification
This G1 has done a really solid job of getting Y-H over as a gutsy babyface performer. In year’s past he’s lost his steam halfway through this tournament but he’s been stringing together solid performance after solid performance. He took it to Fale, tried his best to combat the numbers game of the Tongans but couldn’t manage to get the job done. The fire was great from start to finish. Y-H delivered several really meaty and intense Lariat, flying through the air and connecting big time with the audience. He hooked in a Cross Armbreaker that Fale was actually unable to escape. Tama Tonga came out to make the save and rushed into the crowd post-match, threatening to hit fans with a chair. Y-H charged after Tama but was beaten down once again. Great intensity from everyone involved.
Hangman Page (3-5) def. Minoru Suzuki (4-4) @ 12:05 via Rite of Passage
The intensity didn’t let up after Tama made his way to the back. Page wasted no time getting in Suzuki face, even attacking him before the bell. This was no sneak attack, Page laid right into Suzuki and the two immediately began brawling into the crowd. Suzuki though got the best of Page and after a while brought it back in the ring where he looked to put Page in his place. Page fought back hard though, landing a series of forearms before sending Suzuki crashing into the corner with a Dropkick. He hoisted Suzuki over his head with a deadlift suplex which sent Suzuki over the edge. He was pissed that Page was able to showcase his strength on him and they began trading vicious strikes back and forth. Suzuki ducked the Buckshot Lariat and applied a Sleeper but Page escaped the Gotch, landed the Buckshot but Rite of Passage was turned into another Sleeper. Page faded, only coming to when Suzuki tried for the Gotch again. Page turned Gotch into a Rite of Passage and wasted no time in going for the pin, getting a surprise win out of nowhere. Great intensity from both guys.
Jay White (6-2) def. Togi Makabe (2-6) @ 10:22 via Blade Runner – **3/4
The heat didn’t stop there as for a third match in a row they got off to a hot start. Makabe charged White as the bell sounded but White managed to duck the Lariat and caved in Makabe’s chest with several huge chops. They brawl to the outside where White ducks yet another Lariat and begins slamming Makabe into everything he can, from the post to the rails and ring apron. He takes Makabe back in and taunts the veteran but Makabe isn’t impressed. He tells White to bring it which he does but Makabe refuses to fall to White’s Lariats. Again, Makabe’s Lariat is avoided and White turns it into a Flatliner + German suplex combo. Desperate, Makabe charges and send White into the corner, takes him to the top rope and throws him with a Belly-to-Belly crashing down to the mat. Makabe is unable to follow up with the King Kong Knee Drop and White bails to the outside for a chair. The chair finds White’s face as Makabe Lariats it back at White but the referee stops Makabe from swinging it overhead and White uses the opportunity to shove Makabe into the referee. With the ref down, White throws the chair at Makabe and finishes him with Blade Runner. Both guys have sneakily put together a solid tournament and their match here was another good outing from both.
Hiroshi Tanahashi (7-1) def. Michael Elgin (3-5) @ 16:04 via Cradle – ***1/2
We take a break from the ultra intense for a second to have a match between two friends. They start off by sharing a clean break apiece before finally settling in. Tanahashi wants to showcase his strength compared to Elgin but doesn’t go as well as he anticipated. Elgin powered his way through Tanahashi, forcing Tanahashi to target the knee in order to keep him down. They went to the top rope where Tanahashi slid through and captured Elgin’s leg, landing a Dragon Screw off the top and sending Elgin crashing down to the mat. Elgin cut off the High Fly Flow by meeting Tanahashi on top and driving him down with a Superplex but on the ensuing Buckle Bomb, Tanahashi bounced off the buckle and landed a Slingblade. Although he was able to use his strength to land a huge Lariat and gain control once more, Tanahashi slid his way through and Elgin Bomb and cradled Elgin for the win. The finish was a little sloppy but this was a classic New Japan style Tanahashi match. He overcame the strength of the giant foreigner and squeaked his way to a victory. Vintage Tanahashi. Elgin is a big student of 90s Japanese wrestling and you could easily see that here. Both men had a great throwback match that was executed nearly perfect until an unfortunate ending.
Kazuchika Okada (6-2) def. EVIL (4-4) @ 18:27 via Rainmaker – ****1/4
The rematch of last year’s shocker where EVIL scored a surprise pin over Okada and secured himself a big time title match at King of Pro-Wrestling. EVIL could smell blood in the water with this new version of Okada. Tonight, EVIL lived up to his name. He was absolutely vicious, taking it to Okada with almost zero wasted motion. EVIL stomped Okada’s face into the mat early on and followed up by driving his face from the apron into the guardrail. He then dragged Okada up the ramp where he looked for Darkness Falls but Okada escaped, hit a DDT and followed by landing a huge John Woo Dropkick that sent EVIL tumbling back to the ring. Okada wasted no time sending EVIL back inside and delivering another John Woo, catapulting EVIL into the turnbuckle. In order to stop Okada from running away with the match, EVIL used the referee as a buffer between the two and hoisted Okada up on the referee’s shoulders to assist him in hitting a Magic Killer. The crowd was conflicted on whether to boo or applaud EVIL for his ingenuity. In desperation to end the match while he can, Okada prematurely attempted a Rainmaker. Not only did EVIL duck, he insulted Okada by hitting the Rainmaker himself so Okada fires back by hitting EVIL with EVIL. Both are only good for a two count but the message has been received. They trade attempts at their own respective finishers before Okada lands the Discuss Rainmaker and finishes EVIL with the standard Rainmaker. Extremely intense match with practically zero wasted motion. They kept the match short and to the point and sent everyone home happy with an Okada speech. He’s now won six in a row after a shaky start but requires a Jay White loss to EVIL on the next night in order for any chance to win the block.
Without a doubt, the premiere show for the A Block. If the Suzuki/Page and Makabe/White matches were swapped, this would have been a perfectly escalating show. As it was, there were three great matches, the main event being not only the A Block’s best but one of the tournament’s best. I loved that Okada and EVIL kept the match contained, not wasting any time for the sake of making the match longer. Eighteen minutes was the perfect amount of time they needed and couldn’t have wanted anything more. Tanahashi/Elgin was a classic 2007 era Tanahashi match. The finish could have been better but overall I’m happy with it as I am with the entire show. Osaka got two back to back great shows as we’re picking up some steam heading into the final stages of the tournament. Tanahashi, White and Okada are the sole members of the block who have a chance at winning. Everyone else is fighting for pride and aside from Fale, each of them have shown to be very prideful wrestlers in this tournament. Enough can’t be said about Page’s G1. The guy has taken the wrestling world be storm with his consistency night after night. The G1 has made yet another star. Really strong night on this tour and the A Block’s best without a doubt.
Okada vs EVIL
Tanahashi vs Elgin
Page vs Suzuki
(7-1): Hiroshi Tanahashi
(6-2): Jay White, Kazuchika Okada
(4-4): Minoru Suzuki, EVIL
(3-5): Michael Elgin, Hangman Page, Bad Luck Fale
(2-6): Togi Makabe, YOSHI-HASHI
Tetsuya Naito (5-2) vs SANADA (4-3)
Kenny Omega (6-1) vs Toru Yano (1-6)
Kota Ibushi (5-2) vs Tama Tonga (2-5)
Zack Sabre Jr. (4-3) vs Hirooki Goto (3-4)
Tomohiro Ishii (3-4) vs Juice Robinson (2-5)
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