The A Block has their fifth night of tournament action in the middle of a typhoon at the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium. The show sees several New Japan Cup rematches while featuring a first time ever match in main event between Kazuchika Okada and KENTA. Let’s get started!
Kota Ibushi (2-2) def. Lance Archer (2-2) @ 11:45 via Kamigoye – ***
The crowd chant for Ibushi. Archer pie faces Ibushi, no sells a kick, sends Ibushi to the apron, catches Ibushi’s springboard back in but gets headscissored to the outside. Ibushi looks to follow Archer out with a Golden Triangle moonsault, Archer pulls him off the turnbuckle and throws him into the crowd. He takes Ibushi back inside and drives his boots into Ibushi’s face followed by clubs to the chest. Ibushi blocks the EBD Claw but gets his leg swept out and eats a short-arm lariat. Archer stands on Ibushi’s chest for a two count and stomps his face into the mat. The crowd rally for Ibushi, he fires up and hops over a pounce, driving his knees to the back of Archer’s head. Ibushi’s flurry with strikes before landing a powerslam and second rope moonsault combination for a two count of his own.
Ibushi takes to the top rope where he’s introduced to a running knee lift from Archer who looks to superplex Ibushi but Ibushi slides through and drops Archer with a powerbomb for another two count. Archer slides to the apron, catches Ibushi running in with a boot following by a slingshot senton for two and stays on the attack with a chokeslam for another two. The crowd rally behind Ibushi as Archer locks in the EBD Claw but Ibushi finds the ropes. Ibushi rolls through Archer’s attack, lands a knee, looks to follow with a Kamigoye but Archer hits a knee of his own for a near fall. Archers take to top rope but comes up empty on a moonsault, Ibushi charges in, gets caught and slides out of the Blackout. Ibushi hits a head kick, lands Boma Ye, Kamigoye but Archer doesn’t go down so he follows with a second that finishes Archer off.
Will Ospreay (1-3) def. Bad Luck Fale (1-3) @ 9:08 via Disqualification – *
Owens pulls at Ospreay’s leg on the apron and Fale rushes in to send Ospreay to the floor. Fale distracts the referee while Jado and Owens go on the attack but Ospreay evades the cane, springboards back inside the ring with a forearm, hits the ropes and takes a cane across the back from Jado. Fale goes on to attack the neck, ripping at tape and hammering down elbows. Owens removes the tape while Fale distracts the referee. Fale applies a camel clutch, Ospreay bites at Fale abut takes a forearm to the back of the head for his troubles following by the Tongan Death Grip. Ospreay elbows his way free and connects with a handspring enzuigiri followed by forearms in the corner and a rope-assisted enzuigiri.
Standing shooting star press for two, Robinson Special and hits the ropes for an Oscutter but Fale shoves the referee into Ospreay, sending the both to the floor. Owens and Jado go on the attack, send Ospreay back in where he drops Ospreay with the Grenade but the referee is still down. Ospreay lands a hook kick, wants the Stormbreaker but can’t get Fale up, lands the Ocutter, Owens pulls the referee out at two. Jado rushes in with the cane that Ospreay blocks but Owens is quick to follow, cutting off an Ocutter with an attack via the cane. Owens drops Ospreay with the package piledriver, the referee is still out so a second runs in. Before the referee counts the three he flips off Fale and rings the bell calling for a disqualification and an Ospreay win.
EVIL (2-2) def. Zack Sabre Jr. (1-3) @ 16:01 via EVIL – ***1/4
EVIL teases a knuckle lock, gives a boot instead and takes the headlock, driving Sabre to the mat. Sabre fights back up and they trade wristlocks, EVIL avoids a kick but comes up empty on a senton and lariat for a stalemate. Sabre gets a punch to the gut and applies a headlock, gets sent off tries for a shoulder tackle but EVIL eats it and delievers one to Sabre that sends Sabre crashing to the mat. EVIL takes both arms, Sabre stands on the foot to try and reverse the move but EVIL keeps him secured until Sabre drops down, kicks free and neck cranks EVIL with his legs. He stand on EVIL’s knee to apply a hammerlock but EVIL gets to the ropes. Sabre pulls EVIL to his feet, lands an uppercut and secures a cravat which EVIL powers out of with a slam.
EVIL hits the ropes, gets caught in a guillotine but is easily able to turn that into a suplex followed by a bronco buster for a two count. Sabre elbows out of a German, EVIL lands a couple of elbows of his own to Sabre’s back followed by a backbreaker. He sets up for the Scorpion Deathlock which Sabre turns into a triangle choke but EVIL is able to powerbomb his way free. EVIL tries for the Scorpion Deathlock again, Sabre transitions the hold into one of his own, EVIL gets the ropes and bails outside. Sabre tries following him out with a PK from the apron but EVIL catches the kick and pulls Sabre to the floor with an apron-assisted Magic Killer. He rolls Sabre back inside, lands a corner lariat, looks for Darkness Falls but Sabre grabs a hold which EVIL catches and sends Sabre’s leg to the referee.
Sabre catches the boot and pulls EVIL into a heel hook which EVIL is able to transition into a Scorpion Deathlock. Sabre gets to the ropes, blocks a lariat with a kick and sweeps EVIL’s leg. EVIL catches a PK, eats an uppercut but plants Sabre with a lariat. The crowd rallies for EVIL as he signal for the finish. Sabre counters the STO into a European Clutch and they trade pin attempts. EVIL looks for a Fisherman’s Buster, Sabre escapes and connects with a kick followed by a PK for a two count. Sabre wants Zack Driver but EVIL powers down and lands a headbutt. He looks to follow with a lariat but Sabre turns it into an octopus hold which EVIL is able to transition into Darkness Falls. EVIL signals for the end again but Sabre turns the STO into another clutch pin for two. They scramble back to their feet where EVIL finally manages to catch Sabre with the STO for the win.
Hiroshi Tanahashi (2-2) def. SANADA (1-3) @ 18:08 via High Fly Flow – ***1/4
The crowd breaks into dueling chants whcih the referee surveys in SANADA’s favor. They lock up, Tanahashi takes the waistlock, SANADA rolls through and picks the ankle but Tanahashi reaches behind and grabs the headlock. SANADA stands on the back of the knee to apply the hold himself which Tanahashi powers out of and pulls SANADA into a wristlock. Tanahashi hip tosses SANADA but gets caught up in a headscissors and they stalemate. The crowd again breaks into dueling chants before SANADA takes the wrist and they trade wristlocks. The exchange breaks into forearms, they catch each other’s boots and agree to let them down at the same time but SANADA breaks his work and trips Tanahashi into a Paradise Lock.
Tanahashi boots him off, hits the ropes but gets still manages to get caught in the hold until he’s dropkicked free. SANADA pulls him back up and hammers that the back of Tanahashi’s neck followed by a corner back elbow and a vertical suplex for a two count. The crowd breaks into ‘Go Ace’ chants that help Tanahashi break free of the headlock but he misses a dropkick to the knee, still managing to avoid SANADA’s follow up standing moonsault. He changes in and connects with a flying forearm, scoop slams SANADA and climbs the second rope where he hits a somersault senton for a two count. SANADA catches Tanahashi charging in with a pair of boots but Tanahashi catches the third and connects with a dragon screw. Tanahashi hits the ropes looking for a slingblade, gets cut off with a dropkick to the nee followed by a dragon screw from SANADA.
Tanahashi sends SANADA to the corner where SANADA floats over and hits a springboard dropkick, Tanahashi bails and SANADA follows him out with a plancha. SANADA sends Tanahashi back in where he eats a series of forearms but fights back with his own and looks for Skull End but is turned into two twist & shouts before setting Tanahashi on the second rope for an assisted Magic Killer. Tanahashi fights off the TKO and spins SANADA into a slingblade, sets up on the top rope but comes up empty on a High Fly Flow. SANADA hits the top rope for a moonsault that he too misses on and the crowd break into dueling chants once more.
Tanahashi charges in, SANADA floats over and catches Tanahashi, sets up for Skull End but Tanahashi turns it into a small package for two and follows with a leg clutch for another two count. SANADA catches Tanahashi in Skull End, spins him and drops Tanahashi in the middle of the ring. Tanahashi floats through and applies the dragon sleeper himself which SANADA transitions back into but Tanahashi floats out and lands a slingblade on his way down. They fight back to their feet where they trade forearms, Tanahashi ducks an attack and turns it into a Dragon Suplex for two, hits a top rope crossbody, goes to the top again for a High Fly Flow to take the win.
Kazuchika Okada (4-0) def. KENTA (4-0) @ 26:54 via Rainmaker – ***3/4
The crowd breaks into heavy Okada chants to open the match. Both men stand in their corner looking unimpressed at the other. Okada goes for the leg, KENTA shoots through and takes the waistlock but Okada gets the wrist and the two trade holds. KENTA gets the hammerlock, Okada sweeps the leg and backs KENTA to the ropes where he gives a clean break. They knuckle lock, KENTA gets a takedown with a waistlock again, pulls Okada to the mat and applies a headlock but Okada backs to the ropes where he eats a slap across the face from KENTA. They trade forearms, Okada lands an uppercut, sets up for a dropkick but KENTA hangs onto the ropes and sends Okada over the top where he lands a series of kicks followed by a draping knee drop.
KENTA sends Okada to the floor, follows him out with a stomp to the head off a apron, sends him to the rails and kicks Okada across the back before bringing him back inside for a one count. A reverse neckbreaker gets KENTA another one count and he drives a knee into Okada’s back before applying a headscissors. Okada rolls to the ropes but before he can make it to his feet KENTA begins laying in kicks whcih Okada eats and powers up. Just as Okada makes it back to his feet, KENTA sweeps the legs and takes a neck crank followed by an elbow drop to the back of the neck for a two count and back into a headlock. Okada fights back up, fires off back elbows to break free but quickly gets taken back down, takes a kick across the back, one to the head and KENTA does the Rainmaker pose.
Okada makes it back up, lands a couple of forearms, comes up empty on an elbow but drops KENTA with a suplex and a running back elbow following by one in the corner and a DDT for another two count. The crowd rally for Okada, he catches a kick and drops an elbow on the knee, hits the ropes but gets caught with a powerslam. He elbows his way out of KENTA’s control, eats a boot in the corner, KENTA swings Okada neck first over the top rope, lands a forearm off the top but gets caught in with a flapjack. They trade forearms, KENTA lands a kick and slaps Okada on the back of the head. Okada fires up and does the same to KENTA before they continue trading forearms. KENTA is caught running in and is set up on the top rope where he’s dropkicked off and to the floor.
Okada sends KENTA to the rails and boots him over, looks to bring him back over for the DDT but KENTA slides free, drapes Okada over and lands a series of kicks before hitting the apron for a draping double stomp to the floor. Okada makes it back in at eighteen where KENTA is waiting with a springboard dropkick followed by a corner boot and dropkick but misses the top rope stomp and is sent to the corner with a John Woo followed by a corner dropkick from Okada. KENTA is slammed to the mat, Okada wants an elbow drop off the top but KENTA cuts him off, lands a slap across the face and wants a superplex. Okada forearms KENTA off the top rope and crashing down to the mat. KENTA catches the top rope elbow drop into GAME OVER but Okada manages to find the ropes.
KENTA follows with a knee to the back of the head and one to the face, hits another that gets him a two count. A double stomp off the top scores KENTA another two. He fires up, sets up for G2S but Okada fights it off and sets up for a tombstone that KENTA fights back into a G2S which Okada catches and dropkicks KENTA from behind. Okada sends KENTA to the ropes for another dropkick, hits a tombstone and lets out a shriek. KENTA ducks the Rainmaker and lands a discuss lariat of his own. The crowd rallies for Okada as the two trade forearms on their knees and continue the attack up to their feet. Okada gets three forearms in a row, loads up for a fourth but eats a huge series of slaps across the face. He ducks KENTA’s kick, nails him with a dropkick, gets caught up in position for G2S but slides free and hits a spinning tombstone followed by the Rainmaker to take the win.
Okada offers his hand to KENTA after the match and KENTA accepts before making his way to the back.
Okada takes the mic and thanks the crowd for coming in the middle of a typhoon. He tells them to be safe and they’ll be back tomorrow.
This was some wild booking tonight. It’s not often where three guys are effectively eliminated this early. Common New Japan booking would’ve had as many as possible finish with a 2-3 record but as it sits, three are now on the bubble. Both Sabre and Fale can only finish at 5-4 at best and they already dropped their matches to Okada who is now 5-0. They would need Okada to lose out and force a three way tie on top of the block in order to stay alive. SANADA is in a similar position where he can finish at 5-4 at best so he needs Okada to lose out but he still has an opportunity to own a tiebreaker win over Okada.
Overall the show was good but I do believe the typhoon outside brought it down a bit. The crowd wasn’t quite as engaged as they normally are which is justified considering the situation. We still got three really good matches but nothing quite lived up to the hype. The ending moment of Okada shaking hands with KENTA ended what was a crazy night of booking from New Japan. The top three matches are the ones to watch, Ospreay versus Fale was an overbooked mess and should be avoided at all costs.
Okada vs KENTA
EVIL vs Sabre
Tanahashi vs SANADA
Kazuchika Okada (5-0)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (3-2)
Kota Ibushi (3-2)
Will Ospreay (2-3)
Lance Archer (2-3)
Zack Sabre Jr. (1-4)
Bad Luck Fale (1-4)