New Japan brings us the second day of B Block action, so there’s no really huge stories just yet. We do see a few 0-1 pairings, so someone will have to go 0-2; and that makes for slim odds to get to the finals. Most years X-3 is the where you can expect to have a reasonable shot at still making the finals. So a quick 0-2 would lead to nearly having to run the table. That’s a lot of pressure for so early in the tournament.
Who do we fall to the bottom? Who starts off with good momentum? Are there any early upsets?
Time to find out!
- SANADA vs Hirooki Goto: Goto wins via GTR @11:03 – *** ¼
- Toru Yano vs Hiroshi Tanahashi: Yano wins via Head & Leg Cradle @7:15 – ** ½
- Juice Robinson vs KENTA: Juice wins via Pulp Friction @17:01 – *** ¼
- YOSHI-HASHI vs EVIL: EVIL wins via Everything is Evil @17:21 – *** ¾
- Tetsuya Naito vs Zack Sabre Jr: Naito wins via Destino @28:28 – **** ½
SANADA vs Hirooki Goto
Both wrestlers have started off on the losing side of the game. SANADA got outsmarted by Yano and Goto was forced to tap out by KENTA. As we’ve seen in the past, 3 losses tends to be the bubble spot where some years that stays in contention for the Finals, and others it’s middle of the road. So a second loss isn’t a death blow, but it’s obviously not somewhere either of these men want to be at.
After a pretty even opening volley, they go outside and Goto hits the post when aiming for SANADA. So this serves to weaken a lot of Goto’s finishing moves, as well as, giving SANADA a target. Goto favors the arm, and SANADA goes after it occasionally but not nearly as much as one would expect. The match maintains the flow of both being fairly even and countering one another.
We see a quick spot of cradle attempts, Goto-Shiki, SANADA with a Crucifix Cradle, then a Double Leg Cradle from SANADA as he slips the GTR attempt. More frenetic pacing, of SANADA drops Goto with his own Ushigoroshi, attempts the Moonsault but misses, Goto goes into a few signature moves, a Rope Assisted Reverse GTR, GTW and then after a big Round Kick to the chest, GTR gives Goto a hard fought win.
SANADA, who was an early favorite from many, is struggling mightily.
Toru Yano vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
Tanahashi comes out with a hairstyle looking like he wants to speak to the manager…and Yano is yelling at Milano for reasons. Now since we all know Yano is the Sublime King of Thieves, he has a good number of singles wins over Tanahashi. So this isn’t a layup in any regard, but with Tanahashi with an early loss, Tana needs this match a lot more than Yano.
The match starts with Yano powdering and demanding Tanahashi come outside, Tanahashi says responds with demanding a return to the ring. Eventually the referee gets sick of this game and starts the Ring Out count. So Yano comes back begrudgingly.
After some shenanigans of using the turnbuckle pad like a guitar, Tananhashi Dragon Screw Leg Whips Yano to the outside, and we end up where Yano wanted in the first place. They go all the way to the stage and start slugging it out. At around 13, Yano rakes the eyes and runs to the ring, Tana gives chase and manages to get to the ring by 18 (it’s not a short distance).
Shenanigans, shenanigans, Tana takes the medical tape and wraps it around Yano’s eyes to blind him and try to get the Count Out win there, but Yano dawdles his way to the ring by 19. Tana goes for Sling Blade, Yano gropes for the referee, finds him, avoids the Sling Blade, has amazing blind accuracy on the kick to the Ding Ding on Tanahashi, and then gets him in a Head and Leg Cradle for the pinfall! The blind thief does it! The Ace is 0-2!
Juice Robinson vs KENTA
Since both men won their first matches, this is a momentum match; especially with Yano picking up his second win. With KENTA carrying around the rights briefcase for an IWGP US title shot, and Juice being a former 2 time IWGP US champion; it lends us to think we could see this again in the future.
This match helps the visual of a possible future match, since they come off fairly equal. KENTA tries to slow things down and powder, giving him the opening to do the Rope Hang Knee, but Juice is resilient. Juice puts a few moves together off a big Backdrop, which takes KENTA a second to gather himself from. A mocking clap to “rally” the crowd, and a few eye pokes allow for KENTA to keep general control in the match.
A desperation Flapjack and Leg Lariat give Juice a small reprieve. Corner Lariat exchange, until KENTA misses, slumps down and Juice hits the Cannonball for a 2 count. Juice rallies the crowd with the We Will Rock you stomp and clap, goes to the top, but KENTA stops that. Knocks down Juice, hits a Missile Dropkick and begins building a sequence to set him up well. As he goes for the Busaiku Kick, Juice side steps and hits a Full Nelson Slam.
There’s a nice stand up strike spot where Juice hits KENTA, and KENTA actually participates. After a few more forearms and a headbutt, KENTA responds with a forearm of his own and the Kobashi Spinning Back Chop. Juice Box, Pulp Friction attempt, Kenta gets out, Go 2 Sleep attempt, counter, Pulp Friction again, counter, Go 2 Sleep, Juice slips it and hits the Left Hand of God. Which rocks KENTA enough to finally hit the Pulp Friction.
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) September 24, 2020
Decent match, save for the slow and a little messy finish.
YOSHI-HASHI vs EVIL
It’s YOSHI-HASHI…I think we all know how I feel. If EVIL doesn’t send him to the Darkness World, I’m gonna be very disappointed. If anyone should be 0-2 in this tournament, it’s YOSHI-HASHI.
HASHI attacks EVIL before the bell with his Goku stick, I suppose this could be revenge for how EVIL dispatched him in the New Japan Cup. So admittedly, the aggression is nice to see from HASHI, but it’s like giving Elmo a machine gun. It’s cool for a second, but it’s still Elmo.
And there we go, EVIL distracts the referee and Dick Togo picks the ankle and tosses HASHI into the guardrail. So there we have it, second over. EVIL hits a Snap Suplex on a pile of chairs, and my inner hatred for YOSHI-HASHI giggles. EVIL dominates the flow of the match with heel tactics, removing the turnbuckle pad and just pushing his weight on HASHI.
HASHI does get a fire spot, and the best part from that is how EVIL sells the Head Hunter. The camera catches EVIL’s face and it looks like the meme of having Vietnam Flashbacks. Thankfully the flashbacks end for EVIL to crotch HASHI on the top rope and then hit a Superplex. A few more uses of the exposed turnbuckle and EVIL tries Everything is Evil, HASHI back elbows to get out, drives EVIL’s head into the exposed turnbuckle twice and hits a Superkick for a rest spot.
EVIL tries to slow HASHI’s momentum with his change of direction tackle, but HASHI lands a big Axe Bomber, and Fisherman Buster, but only 2. Dick Togo tries to get involved, it backfires and HAHSI locks in the Butterfly Lock. EVIL tries to stand up, but HASHI rides him back down. EVIL is in the move for a LONG time, but keeps fighting, HASHI even tries to add a Hammerlock, but EVIL gets to the ropes.
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) September 24, 2020
Running Meteora and a Swanton still only get YOSHI-HASHI a near fall. So he finally attempts Karma, but EVIL grabs the ref and Dick Togo uses a chair and the garrote. HASHI fights off Togo, and has a burst of energy to knock down EVIL, but it’s only 2. EVIL avoids Karma again, takes advantage of a poorly positioned Red Shoes, low blow, Everything is EVIL, and EVIL WINS!
A better match than expected, but at least the good guys win.
Tetsuya Naito vs Zack Sabre Jr
Things start off slowly between these two. A lot of mat wrestling, counter rolls, positioning and ring awareness. ZSJ gets a little cheeky by mocking the LIJ fist, Naito makes him pay, but ZSJ takes advantage of the Tranquilo pose and goes into locomotion cradle variations for very close near falls.
ZSJ keeps the pressure up focusing attacks on Naito’s neck. The neck twist with his feet, and even a hanging Front Neck Lock in the ropes. When Zack collects Naito back into the ring, he slaps on a few Neck Triangle variations before Naito can find the ropes. ZSJ keeps control for quite a bit, working on the neck until Naito can find a small reversal into a Neck Breaker, which gives him a spot for a comeback attempt.
Quick strikes, an Irish Whip and Combinacion Carbon start building some steam for Naito. ZSJ swings wildly, and Naito takes him down to the mat with a Double Arm Triangle of his own. ZSJ puts the breaks on Naito’s Tornado DDT and does his own where he launches off the turnbuckles, catches the head and hits the DDT in a smooth motion. Shortly after hitting a Frakensteiner, but holding the triangle as he tries to choke out Naito with the Triangle Choke. After Zack starts looking for ways to keep Naito down, Naito catches a Front Kick, sweeps the leg, roll to apron and does a Hanging Neckbreaker on ZSJ from apron to floor.
Not really a fiery comeback spot, but Naito finally has space to breathe and work out a plan. Naito gets Zack into a spot to try the Destino, ZSJ stops him with an elbow, Tornado DDT from Naito stalls Zack and then Naito sinks in Puma Blanca. ZSJ struggles a little to find an exit before just rolling to the ropes. Zack counters Gloria with an Overhead Kick, Naito Enzuigirs him for good measure, goes for the Flying Forearm, but ZSJ dodges and locks in the Octopus Hold. Rides it down as a Grounded Octopus and starts going to work on Naito’s limbs. Naito does manage to find the ropes, but he’s not moving much after the rope break.
A bunch of nice quick counters set in, leading to Naito hitting the Running Destino, but when he goes for the arm wringer version, ZSJ counters with the Zack Driver. Zack with a Front Neck Lock, which he transitions to the Prawn Hold that beat EVIL, Naito kicks out, European Leg Clutch, Naito barely kicks, and we’re left at a bit of a stalemate. ZSJ tries a Zack Driver again, but Naito now counters with Destino, for 2. Arm Wringer Destino, and Naito scrapes by.
Overall Score: 7.25/10
Now the main event was pretty fantastic with both men applying aspects of their skillset we don’t see often. YOSHI-HASHI did bring a bigger fight than expected, but the other three matches were just kind of there in the grand scheme of the G1 tournament. This could be high expectations, or my coverage of the N-1 Victory just giving the G1 a lot to keep up with. But whatever the reason may be, this day was a little underwhelming.
Sure nothing was terrible, but the trip to the main event seemed much less easy and enjoyable than Day 2, or even A Block shows. With Naito, Yano and Juice being 2-0; it bears to reason that we will see that change rather quickly. So let’s see the current standings, and look forward to Day 6 when B Block can hopefully turn the heat up a little.
B Block Standings:
- Tetsuya Naito: (2-0) – 4 Points
- Toru Yano: (2-0) – 4 Points
- Juice Robinson: (2-0) – 4 Points
- KENTA: (1-1) – 2 Points
- Zack Sabre Jr: (1-1) – 2 Points
- EVIL: (1-1) – 2 Points
- Hirooki Goto: (1-1) – 2 Points
- Hiroshi Tanahashi: (0-2) – 0 Points
- SANADA: (0-2) – 0 Points
- YOSHI-HASHI: (0-2) – 0 Points