This day of action is…well…anyone’s guess. Matches could be super short, they could all be great, and we might finally get a real upset! I’m still sticking with Okada losing due to Bullet Club shenanigans, but who knows.
On the other side, we’ve got EVIL trying to finally establish himself; while SANADA and Taichi might just have a Zoolander style pose off. The broody and subdued demeanors will make for an interesting match dynamic.
What could end up stealing the show is the crazy Time Bomb taking on the Stone Pitbull. Ishii will either run him over, or Hiromu will be so crazy he figures out a way to not die.
Let’s find out!
- Tomohiro Ishii vs Hiromu Takahashi: Hiromu wins via Time Bomb #2 @19:15 – ****
- EVIL vs YOSHI-HASHI: EVIL wins via Scorpion Deathlock @2:00 – N/A
- Hirooki Goto, Yuya Uemura & SHO vs Shingo Takagi, BUSHI & Shingo Takagi: BUSHI wins via TKO Codebreaker @9:35 – ** ½
- Kazuchika Okada vs Taiji Ishimori: Okada wins via Cobra Clutch @16:50 – ***
- SANADA vs Taichi: SANADA wins via Japanese Leg Clutch @22:50 – *** ¾
Tomohiro Ishii vs Hiromu Takahashi
This match told a great story for Hiromu. His return and growth since he wants to face Naito, has been a great motivating tool. Ishii brought the hard hitting style that we all know and love, so Hiromu was forced to adjust.
We saw less athletic/daredevil spots and more direct striking. Hiromu leaned heavily on headbutts and kicks. Hiromu also broke out his submission hold, the Triangle Choke he calls The D (he claims he didn’t know what that meant, he just thought it sounded cool…and was going to adjust the name, but I haven’t heard a new name yet). Ishii turned Hiromu inside out multiple times with lariat variations, but couldn’t land his Vertical Drop Brainbuster.
Hiromu on the other hand, needed every trick in his book. Dynamite Plunger, The D, Time Bomb and Time Bomb #2, after he even hit Ishii with a Vertical Drop Brainbuster for the rub ins. You’ve got to wonder how much further Hiromu can go, if Ishii made him use all his moves already. Should be interesting to see if he gets Ishimori or Okada for the Semi-Finals.
EVIL vs YOSHI-HASHI
Hot Topics favorite Japanese son, against the Loose Explosion. Please EVIL, please murder him. In this case, EVIL better win…because good…is dumb.
100 STARS! EVIL beats HASHI with a chair, wraps one around his knee, tries to cripple him, but this is all before the bell. HASHI of course doesn’t want to forfeit, the match starts, EVIL kicks HASHI’s leg and then sits in the Scorpion Deathlock for a minute or so. GOOD! EVERYTHING-EVERYTHING IS EVIL!
TL:DR – YOSHI-HASHI is the drizzling shits.
Hirooki Goto, Yuya Uemura & SHO vs Shingo Takagi, BUSHI & Shingo Takagi
This match was really a big platform to further Shingo and SHO’s current feud. Every time there was an opportunity, they went after one another. Surprisingly, this also allowed for Goto to get a decent bit of time with Naito. Could be purely out of the match dynamic, or we could be seeing a preview for later. If Goto and Naito end up in the same block for the G1, I think we’ll know where that goes.
Either way, BUSHI picked up the win over the Young Lion, and this was fairly basic, only highlighted by Shingo and SHO’s interactions. Nothing offensive, but extremely skippable.
Kazuchika Okada vs Taiji Ishimori
So we got a decent amount of Gedo interference, but Okada overcame the shenanigans. The quality of this match, depends purely on your tolerance for heel tactics and referee bumps/distractions. When the match was just an athletic contest, Ishimori and Okada had a decent back and forth, which helped Ishimori seem a little more legitimate.
Ishimori hit most of his bigger moves, aside from his Bloody Cross finisher and we see Okada still using the Cobra Clutch. We did get a small preview of Hiromu and Okada in one of the early tag matches, so I’m not surprised it ends up this way…I just would’ve liked a big shenanigans filled upset. Now you have to wonder if Hiromu using everything against Ishii, but Okada still not needing to break out the Rainmaker, will be the difference in that match.
SANADA vs Taichi
This match starts off amusingly. Neither man is known to have an electric personality, so between SANADA’s stoic personality and Taichi’s lack of regard for anyone but himself…they kind of just stare at one another for the first minute or so.
Taichi uses some underhanded tactics to take fast control, but SANADA starts showing a little more of that athletic spark that people love about him. This was countered in short order by Taichi’s shortcuts and deadly kicks, but SANADA brought the energy level up at different points.
Not a surprise, but a different wrinkle, was Yoshinobu Kanemaru came out to help Taichi at different points. It was different since they were pushing Taichi and ZSJ’s tag team and chemistry, now we just branch out to the usual Suzuki-Gun interference guy.
All in all this was a solid match. SANADA set the pace for the hope spots and Taichi’s bigger moments, while still never feeling like anyone was completely outclassed. Taichi doing his own version of the Skull End and even an All Japan reference (since both he and SANADA are from the All Japan Dojo) when he hit the Jumbo Tsuruta Backdrop Hold. Taichi and SANADA both proved they can tell a story with interesting aspects, beyond just trying to be the coolest guy in the match. The finish was pretty solid as well; being a referee bump, low blows and Suzuki-Gun tactics, only to have the Gedo Clutch countered by SANADA hitting the Japanese Leg Clutch.
Overall Score: 5/10
While the in-ring was littered with a lot of heel interference in the second half, and the YOSHI-HASHI match wasn’t much of a match, I enjoyed it. Was it mostly because HASHI got destroyed? Yes…very yes. I would’ve preferred to see Okada lose because of all the outside help, but I suppose he’s the measuring stick, so you can’t even give him a protected loss before the Finals.
That being said, this day felt like a drag. Starting off with a great match, then a throw away match, a mediocre tag, and two matches with similar heel tactics had me watching the clock. This does allow us to get to Semi-Finals matches that shouldn’t have too much buggery about.
Hiromu Takahashi vs Kazuchika Okada – (Hiromu needs to take down the rainmaking Demi God if he wants a chance to challenge Naito for the Heavyweight title. Is it possible? Sure. Do I expect Okada to lose here? Nope.)
EVIL vs SANADA – (Both men being 1-1 in previous singles meetings makes this a bigger toss-up. Granted, EVIL having more of a ‘win by any means necessary’ mentality; and SANADA having no need to go back against Okada…that makes this logically a little simple. EVIL has better motivation and SANADA doesn’t need to lose Okada again, or hell, doesn’t need to face Okada again any time soon after 4 matches last year. Mr. Io Shirai should make a Finals appearance.)