The B Block had their eighth night of action in front of 4,952 fans at the Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium. 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!
Tomohiro Ishii (4-4) def. Juice Robinson (2-6) @ 12:25 via Brainbuster – ***1/4
The best opener of the entire tournament involves Ishii? That comes as no surprise. The G1 MVP (yes, I’m calling it now) had a killer opener with Juice. He asked Juice to remove his cast before the match so that they can have a fair fight but Juice waited until he was ready rather than letting Ishii dictate the match. Really intense back and forth the entire way through. They laid in some great chops and dropped each other on their heads numerous times. Ishii started feeling it around halfway point and began throwing some Juice jabs which lead to Juice firing off some headbutts in retaliation. The Ishii mind games get to Juice as he falls into wrestling Ishii’s match. Juice takes a German suplex but fires up with a Lariat that Ishii shrugs off before winding up a huge headbutt and Brainbuster to pick up the win. Very hard-hitting back and forth match. Ishii brings out the best in everyone he faces. Clearly this year’s MVP.
Zack Sabre Jr. (5-3) def. Hirooki Goto (3-5) @ 10:44 via European Clutch – ***
The third meeting between these two, the previous matches both won by Goto. Sabre looked to take it to Goto with strength rather than technique, trying to prove he can fit in the NEVER style. Goto quickly makes him rethink that idea as Sabre bails to the outside after taking a nasty suplex. Goto chased him out and throws Sabre into the rails a couple of times but Sabre is able to hold onto the wrist and transition into an armbar on the outside. Once Goto makes his way back in, Sabre continues focusing on the arm but Goto is still too powerful. Sabre is leveled with a Lariat, eats a spin kick, suplex and Brainbuster. Goto heads to the top for an elbow but Sabre captures the arm on the way down and transitions to another armbar. They run the ropes, jockeying for position until Sabre traps Goto into an abdominal stretch but he quickly manages to counter the hold to an Ushigoroshi and follows with a Reverse GTR. The crowd rallies behind Goto as he sets up for the standard GTR but just as he does, Sabre slides through and traps him in a European Clutch, stealing the win. Another smart win from Sabre as he found a way to use his technique to counter Goto’s power advantage. Sabre grabs the NEVER title and taunts Goto after the match.
Tama Tonga (3-5) def. Kota Ibushi (5-3) @ 14:19 via Gun Stun – ***
Making his way to the ring first, Tama is quick to hide behind the staging area so that he can jump Ibushi from behind before the bell. The plan is a success as he takes advantage of Ibushi, throwing him into the rails and grinding him down with a headlock in the ring. Ibushi is in the mat for a while but manages to find a way out and gets a flurry of offense, ending in a standing Moonsault. They both run the ropes, ducking each other’s offense before Tama lands a big dropkick followed by a Stinger Splash in the corner. He sets up for a Tongan Twist, Ibushi counters to a Lawn Dart but Tama gets back into Twist position before Ibushi settles for a Half & Half Suplex. Tama bails, cuts off the attempted Golden Triangle and takes Ibushi into the crowd. Before Tama could land any offense, Ibushi drops him with a high kick and climbs up the stairs, delivering a Moonsault off the balcony. They head back to the ring where Ibushi looks to finish but Tanga makes his way out, distracting Ibushi. He’s able to escape Tama’s Gun Stun but Fale then makes him way out, prompting an Omega run-in to even the score. With Ibushi distracted, he finds himself launched into the air by Tama and driven down for the Gun Stun and a Tama victory. Post-match the Tongans continue the beatdown, prompting Page and Owens to make the save and send them to the back. Omega is left laying and his match is up next.
Toru Yano (2-6) def. Kenny Omega (6-2) @ 9:06 via Tama Tonga Gun Stun – **3/4
With Omega still down, the officials announce the next match. Yano makes his way to the ring and the fans tell him to hurry. The bell rings with Omega still on his back so Yano makes the pin but Omega kicks out at two. Yano unties the pads which he attempts to throw Omega into but Page and Owens help Omega from taking further punishment. The referee admonishes them so they back up from further help. Yano lays all the pads on the mat and hits Omega with a suplex onto them but this doesn’t phase Omega. What a beast. They battle with the pads until Yano whips Omega to the floor and tapes him with young lion, Narita. Omega runs in with Narita still attached to him and uses the young lion to help even the score with a double lariat. He thanks Narita for his help as they untie themselves but Yano takes the opportunity to roll Omega up for a two count. Omega goes to take Yano over with a suplex but Yano grabs the referee, goes behind and low blows both the ref and Omega. Tama comes racing out and Gun Stuns them both before dragging Yano’s body on top of Omega as the referee rolls back in the ring and counts three. Fun one-two punch. We got an Ibushi Moonsault off the balcony and a creative Yano match with a forced appearance by Ren Narita. Nothing huge but all things considered this was a fun and creative way for Omega to take another fall without losing outright to Yano.
Tetsuya Naito (6-2) def. SANADA (4-4) @ 19:52 via Destino – ***1/2
The first time ever singles match between these two LIJ stablemates. Naito asks for the fist bump before they start and SANADA obliges but is immediately made a fool of as Naito captures the arm and sends SANADA to the outside. Naito goes for his fake out dive but SANAA trips him and they settle back in the ring. They go back and forth trading holds until Naito flips through and poses but SANADA dropkicks him in the face for his cockiness. Naito cuts off the Moonsault and turns it into a neckbreaker before taking SANADA to the outside and continuing to focus on the neck. They head back in the ring where Naito begins disrespecting SANADA with some boots and a spit to the face. SANADA spits right back and flurries with the double jump dropkick + Plancha combination. Naito catches SANADA into an inverted Atomic Drop, hits the Springboard Dropkick in the corner but Gloria is countered and SANADA hits a Springboard Dropkick of his own. Naito once again catches SANADA running in, hits a German and takes SANADA to the top for a Hurricanrana and Gloria combination. SANADA turns the follow up Destino to Skull End and a Tiger Suplex for a two count. SANADA misses the Moonsault and the crowd begin a dueling chant as they trade forearms. Naito slaps SANADA, hits a flying forearm but again Destino is blocked. SANADA rolls through but Naito sends him into the corner and hits a German suplex. SANADA pops up but Naito is too quick with the Destino and win. Really fun back and forth. On a bigger stage this match will be nuts. They were clearly holding back here and that’s completely fine. What we got was a lot of fun. Post-match, BUSHI and EVIL come out to support their LIJ brothers. EVIL comes carrying Hiromu’s jacket. There is a Hiromu chant as they all do the fist bump and Naito make sure to fist bump the jacket. That’s how we end the show.
The show started strong with a great encounter between Ishii and Juice that I hope gets a rematch and ended with a nice teaser of Naito and SANADA. What they gave us was great but with a bigger platform, they’d go way beyond what they gave us tonight. Ending with a shoutout to their buddy Hiromu was a really nice touch that was appreciated by all the fans. The middle of the show was good, featuring a smart match between Sabre and Goto. Both Juice and Goto are taking a whole lot of losses which isn’t a good look for either title and has been a standout head scratcher throughout the tournament. As far as match quality goes though, this was all good. Tama has been the weakest part of B Block shows but we got an Ibushi Moonsault off a balcony and a creative Yano match so all things considered this show receives a thumbs up. This loss to Tama means that Naito must lose to Sabre on the final night or else Ibushi doesn’t stand a chance at winning the B Block. Sabre could wind up playing major spoiler to Naito once again, repeating the New Japan Cup upset over Naito. Interesting and puzzling results up and down the leaderboard as we’re now officially onto the block finals.
Naito vs SANADA
Ishii vs Juice
(6-2): Kenny Omega, Tetsuya Naito
(5-3): Kota Ibushi, Zack Sabre Jr.
(4-4): SANADA, Tomohiro Ishii
(3-5): Hirooki Goto, Tama Tonga
(2-6): Juice Robinson, Toru Yano
Hiroshi Tanahashi (7-1) vs Kazuchika Okada (6-2)
Jay White (6-2) vs EVIL (4-4)
Minoru Suzuki (4-4) vs Bad Luck Fale (3-5)
Michael Elgin (3-5) vs Togi Makabe (2-6)
Hangman Page (3-5) vs YOSHI-HASHI (2-6)
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