Holy WOW, yesterday’s B block action was fantastic. SANADA vs Sabre and Goto vs Ishii were just amazing. Sadly, we haven’t really been able to say the same for A block.
Yes I’m aware this is the A block review, but when it’s just been alright matches and Firing Squad disqualifications, it’s hard to stay excited. B block is where the good stuff is at so far. Am I jealous? No….no…okay maybe.
So let’s see if anything surprises us or if it’s just the same thing it has been.
YOSHI-HASHI vs Michael Elgin
Elgin coming off his first loss of the tournament, and HASHI hasn’t been able even get close to a win yet. HASHI is already in a nearly dead zone since he’s sitting with 3 losses, but he could start playing spoiler. Not excited for this match, but who knows, something might happen.
There’s a story that they started telling after the Jay White match, that when Elgin goes to the outside, he loses his edge. However, most of this match is dominated by Elgin, but YOSHI shows the most heart he’s shown all G1. Pulling off a Tope con Hilo and a very sloppy counter to an Avalanche Splash Mountain, but it all showed a level of desperation for HASHI.
We do get the surprise in regard to expected outcomes. Elgin hits a Buckle Bomb, which usually leads to a Splash Mountain or Elgin Bomb, but HASHI counters with a Jacknife Cradle. Next we see a Superplex and Burning Hammer attempt from Elgin, but HASHI counters it, catches Elgin flush with a Thrust Kick and starts putting together some offense. A Fisherman Buster stun Elgin long enough for HASHI to go for Karma, and actually pick up his first 2 points.
With Okada and Tanahashi in HASHI’s near future, he really needed this or would’ve been staring down a very possible 0-9.
Winner: YOSHI-HASHI via Karma
Rating: ** 1/4
EVIL vs Bad Luck Fale
EVIL had a loss to Elgin early, but has been able to string some wins together. Fale on the other hand has been doing well in his matches, only to have things end in a DQ. So do we see more Firing Squad disqualification crap, or do we get a real match?
EVIL begins the match very intelligently. He shoves Fale into Loa, then goads Loa to hit him causing the referee to stop Loa, but gives EVIL a nice opening. The strategy continues when EVIL throws a chair to Loa, ala Eddie Guerrero, which gives EVIL the opening to wrap a chair around Fale’s head and ram him into the ring post.
Aside from EVIL proving he had a pretty good strategy, the match was hard hitting and fairly decent. EVIL slipped out of a Bad Luck Fall and Grenade, and Fale was just too big for most of EVIL’s offense. After a huge lariat that knocked down Fale, there was a ref bump, which caused all hell to break loose.
Loa comes in, BUSHI mists Loa, Tama hits a Tongan Twist on BUSHI, Naito slides in with an Enzuigiri on Tama, just to get wiped out from a big lariat by Fale. EVIL hits Everything is Evil, but when Marty Asami comes to, he sees all the carnage and refuses to count. He tells everyone to just leave the ring, but Tama Tonga being Tama Tonga, Gun Stuns EVIL right in front of the referee. So this prompts Marty Asami to disqualify Fale and I’m starting to wonder if there will ever be a real finish in a Firing Squad match.
Match went from pretty good, to a fun spotfest with all the run ins, and then ends flat with another DQ.
Winner: EVIL via DQ
Rating: ** 1/2
Minoru Suzuki vs Jay White
Suzuki, who’s looked dominant, just tends to get caught, going against the final undefeated wrestler in A block. White on the other hand, has been on a roll, utilizing underhanded tactics. However, it’s Suzuki. You think he cares about tricks he’s probably used in the past?
White starts off the match trying to irritate Minoru, he goes to the ropes, gets Red Shoes to back up Suzuki. Sadly for Jay, it doesn’t fire up Suzuki and just makes everything he does sting more. Suzuki lights up White’s chest, but White gets a small opening when he wraps Suzuki’s head in the apron banner.
Jay tries to get a quick pin, but Red Shoes tells him no, he’s not counting after that blatant crap. So, White tries to continue his offense, but Suzuki starts tearing him apart. Contorting different joints, and nearly breaking his arm in a Double Wristlock.
By this point, Jay sees that the match is slipping away so pushes the ref and finds ways to hit him to try and open things up for the patented Jay White finish. As he goes for the low blow, Suzuki catches his wrist and smiles devilishly as he knock Jay White’s teeth into next week with a stiff forearm shot. After the shot, Minoru pulls off the Gotch Piledriver and A block is now wide open.
Winner: Suzuki via Gotch Piledriver
Rating: *** 1/4
Hangman Page vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
The mystical Handsome Battle. Will Hangman get his first real, non DQ win, or does the Ace continue to look like a contender this year?
So we start off by both men playing to the women in the opposite sides of the ring, then after a little offense Tanahashi plays the Air Guitar and throws it to Page for a solo. Page doesn’t feel like playing along so he breaks the Air Guitar, which then leads to a double leg catch spot. The good ole ” You put it down! No you! Okay, same time!”, turns into Tanahashi taking the short cut and Dragon Screw Leg Whipping Page after his leg is put down.
Page focused on Tanahashi’s left leg, but could never really put much together. An impressive Deadlift Wristclutch Exploder Hold, and a well timed Buckshot Lariat, merely delayed the inevitable. The Ace of the Universe proved to still have more than enough left in the tank after a few back and forth strikes, a short arm Slingblade, followed by 2 High Fly Flows, gives Tanahashi the win.
Winner: Tanahashi via High Fly Flow
Rating: *** 1/4
Togi Makabe vs Kazuchika Okada
So the Balloonmaker finally got 2 points last A block night, and Makabe saw his undefeated start broken. These two have a little history in the G1, but nothing extremely significant to build off of. Can vacation mode Okada still beat the veteran Unchained Gorilla?
After pegging Rocky Romero in the head with a ballon, Okada starts the match off quickly taking Makabe to the corner and mocks him by doing Makabe’s standing head strikes in the corner. So that pisses off Makabe and the match starts to pick up. It eventually spills out and we see Okada try and grab Makabe’s chain, but Togi grabs it instead and as he’s wrapping it around his arm, Okada hits him with a DDT.
From this point we see a focused yet still very cocky Okada. Nonchalant covers, demands for Makabe to hit him and laughing when he gets the best of the exchange. Makabe does hit a saturation point of being insulted after he hits Death Valley Driver. This gives him an opportunity to land his laughing head strikes and attempt the Spider German Suplex. Kazuchika manages to fight off the German, but Makabe only drops down in a Tree of Woe. So when Okada repositions himself, Makabe pulls himself back up quickly and Overhead Throws Okada from the top turnbuckle.
Okada gets up, and Makabe goes for the Flying Knee, but eats a Dropkick for his troubles. Another Dropkick follows that up and we start seeing the writing on the wall from here. A small flurry from Makabe gets stuffed when Okada hits a Discus Lariat, and then a Rainmaker for the pinfall.
Winner: Okada via Rainmaker
Rating: *** 3/4
A Block Standings:
Jay White: 3-1 (6 Points)
Hiroshi Tanahashi: 3-1 (6 Points)
EVIL: 3-1 (6 Points)
Kazuchika Okada: 2-2 ( 4 Points)
Togi Makabe: 2-2 (4 Points)
Michael Elgin: 2-2 (4 Points)
Minoru Suzuki: 2-2 (4 Points)
Bad Luck Fale: 1-3 (2 Points)
Hangman Page: 1-3 (2 Points)
YOSHI-HASHI: 1-3 (2 Points)
Well everyone is on the board with points now, and there’s no one undefeated, so that should make things more compelling. And as we’ve been over before, this block definitely needs something. This was the least impressive day so far (and I think I said that about the previous A Block day, so that’s saying something).
For as interesting as the Firing Squad not caring about points was to begin with, it’s lost it’s luster. Just wrestle a damn match to a non DQ finish, don’t be like ANTIAS from Dragon Gate. Okada finally has a little momentum, and even in his victory promo said something to the effect of he’ll still bring balloons, but he’s gonna make it rain again. So maybe he’s snapping out of, whatever mode this is. Tanahashi is sitting towards the top also, to no one’s surprise, but I’m just happy since he’s my pick for the block.