HIROYOSHI TENZAN & SATOSHI KOJIMA vs. MICHAEL ELGIN & KATSUYA KITAMIYA - 4/10
The match was good for how short it was. Kitamiya's muscles seem to make the veterans more comfortable treating him like he's a bit more than a young-boy.
JUICE ROBINSON, HIRAI KAWATO, & DAVID FINLAY JR. vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado, & Taichi) - 5.25/10
Suzuki worked over Juice's knee. He had him in a knee bar but Hirai Kawato broke it up by stomping on Suzuki. Listen, kid: I know that all of the other young-boys have been the ones getting all of the lavish praise and that's probably really depressing and disheartening, but if you want to end it all, there are many, many options that are going to be less painful than "suicide by Suzuki."
After some really good stuff from Suzuki torturing Juice (including a chair shot that actually seemed to be behind the referee's back for once), he tags in Taichi, who engages in his usual use of the ring-bell hammer. Not only this is annoying because how repetitive it is, but I cannot watch it without screaming because he always hits them with the bottom of the handle of the hammer instead of THE PART OF THE HAMMER DESIGNED FOR HITTING THINGS! Does he just actually not know to do use a hammer? When he goes to hang up a painting in his house does he use the handle of the hammer to drive the nail into the wall? You'd think he would have seen a f*cking home improvement show at some point in his life, right? Or that someone he knows would have taught him the right way to use it at some point. And while where on the subject of Taichi and the misuse of hammers, if this guy goes over and steals the ring-bell hammer to use as a weapon in every f*cking match, why hasn't New Japan used some sort of chain or something to TIE THE HAMMER TO THE BELL?
Juice was a great babyface in peril. He eventually made the hot tag to Finlay, who ran wild for a bit. Then Hirai Kawato, made his first appearance since taking about two strikes from Minoru Suzuki over five minutes ago. And when I say "his first appearance" I don't mean that this was the first time he was involved in the match; I mean this was the literally the first time we saw him since then. He had been lying on the outside, selling, for over five whole minutes, because he, like every other human being on Earth who isn't named Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, Kazuchika Okada, Tetsuya Naito, Bobby Lashley, or The Undertaker, he lives in mortal fear of Minoru Suzuki. If you look really closely at all of Nikki Bella's gear, right under where it says "FEARLESS" there is extremely small font that says "(except for Minoru Suzuki)". And yes, I left people like Okada, Ishii, Nakamura, and Goto off of that list. Let's just say that I think there is a reason that most of those men don't wear light-colored tights when they have to face Suzuki. (Others, like Riddle, Thatcher, Lee, and Tahanashi, probably have a healthy fear of the man but won't show it. Now that I think about it, Scott Steiner probably isn't afraid of Minoru Suzuki, either, but that's because he doesn't know any better. Wow. This joke was not worth the tangent I just went on.)
Anyway, Kawato actually started to take it to El Desperado, but then Suzuki showed up and knocked him loopy with about three strikes (not all of which were even to the head) and then let El Desperado finish him off. Suzuki continued to work over Juice's leg after the match, to the point where Juice needed to be helped to the back. Fortunately for Juice, he will have a day off to recover before he faces Suzuki one-on-one in the tournament.
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Hiromu Takahashi & EVIL) vs. BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens & Tama Tonga) - 2.75/10
LIJ jump the bell to start things off in what I assume is an attempt at getting revenge for Darryl (Tama Tonga and Bad Luck Fale are not only stablemates but also cousins. I'm also assuming that Hiromu or one of his friends had a chance to go back and watch the tape so Hiromu now knows that it was Fale that killed Darryl and not Owens) . Tonga and EVIL brawled into the crowd while Hiromu and Owens fought t ringside and then wound up back in the ring. Owens pounded on Hiromu a bit then I thought I heard him shout something about "your cat," which fired Hiromu up, but Owens quickly cut him off again. Tonga got tagged in and he also taunted Hiromu about Darryl, which again fired Hiromu up, this time enough that he was able to make the hot tag. EVIL eventually got the win over Owens with his new submission, which Wikipedia says is called the Banshee Muzzle. After the match, Tonga tried to hit EVIL with the Gun Stun but EVIL countered it.
Watching this match, two things really struck me:
1. Hiromu did not look strong at all. EVIL did basically all of the work for his team with Hiromu really only getting in two spots (a superkick and then dive), right at the end.
2. The timing of this whole Darryl thing is extremely weird. Tama Tonga felt like he had this big moment last night (and it was big moment for Bullet Club as a whole, too) when he criticized Omega, and yet now all of a sudden he is back to being a dick heel who is a bit player in someone else's story.
BULLET CLUB (Kenny Omega & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. CHAOS (Toru Yano & Jado) - 2/10
After being scolded by Tama Tonga for wearing Elite tights instead of Bullet Club tights last night, Kenny is now wearing what appears to be a pair of the Young Bucks' tights, as well as what is definitely one of their t-shirts. While we're on the subject of attire, Yujiro's kneepads have an extremely CM Punk-ish design on them.
Jado and Yujiro start off doing mid-2000s Colt Cabana comedy spots. Now Kenny Omega is in with Jado and his acting like an over the top buffoon. Yujiro gets tagged back in for a short stretch of actual professional wrestling before both guys tag out and Omega and Yano go right back to doing comedy. At least some of it is actually funny this time. Basically the way this worked was that after that first sequence whenever Yujiro and/or Jado were in it was serious and whenever Omega was in with Yano it was comedy. Omega and Jado were never in at the same time, and Yano only had one or two spots with Yujiro, which were both serious, so basically the rule of thumb was that the two guys in the tournament were acting like jokes while the two guys not in the tournament were taking things seriously. That sounds kind of backwards to me.
CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Gedo) vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Sanada & BUSHI) - 4.5/10
The match was fine. Not much else to say.
BLOCK A MATCH: YOSHI-HASHI vs. ZACK SABRE JR. (w/El Desperado) - 6.75/10
They had a very good match because Zack worked over his opponent's arm while YOSHI-HASHI was a great sympathetic babyface. Shocking, I know.
BLOCK A MATCH: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Yuji Nagata - 6.5/10
They started off really well, with Tanahashi working on Nagata's knee for a while until Nagata was able to make a comeback and start the expected working over of Tanahashi's knee. Then they dropped all of that and finished the match with a bunch of strike exchanges (including a slap-fight that left Nagata bleeding from somewhere around his eye) and a pair of High Fly Flows. They really should have just stuck to their original story.
BLOCK A MATCH: Tetsuya Naito vs. Bad Luck Fale - 6.5/10
The story here was Fale working over Naito's back. Unfortunately they set this up by having Naito do his pose on the apron and just let Fale roll out of the ring, walk up behind him, and throw him into the guardrail back-first, which made Naito look like an idiot and not someone I would want to get behind. This was doubly frustrating, as they had a built-in story for Naito to be a sympathetic babyface here that they could have used by portraying Naito as trying to get some vengeance for Daryl, who was literally ripped to shreds by Fale last night, causing unknowable amounts of emotional trauma to Naito's stablemate Hiromu Takahashi.
BLOCK A MATCH: Kota Ibushi vs. Tomohiro Ishii - 8/10
Ibushi worked over Ishii's head. You'd think that by now these guys would have gotten smart and tried to go for his leg or something. Then again, I probably shouldn't be questioning Ibushi's strategy here because he did win the match. The match was awesome, but there were a few spots that I think were supposed to come off a lot bigger than they wound up coming off to me.
BLOCK A MATCH: Togi Makabe vs. Hirooki Goto - 7.5/10
Makabe did some of the irksome Ishii/Shibata "I'll just let you hit me" stuff but at least he sold it a bit. I did laugh my ass of when it was finally Makabe's "turn" to throw a strike and Goto just ducked hit and started hitting Makabe in the face again. Goto continued to work over Makabe's head but Makabe made his comeback, hitting both his flying knee drop and the Spider Suplex (both of which I am a huge mark for) and picked up the win for his first win in the tournament, and keeping Goto even with... well... pretty much everyone at four points.
A perfectly fine show from New Japan. I just wish Tanahashi vs. Nagata could have been better. Hell, I would have given them twenty minutes and let them be the main event.