By Big Red Machine
From July 25, 2017
TOGI MAKABE & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI vs. KOTA IBUSHI & SHOTA UMINO - 5.25/10
Good action for the time it got. Makabe vs. Ibushi tomorrow should be pretty great.
KATSUYA KITAMIYA & TOMOYUKI OKA vs. CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI) - 4.5/10
Try not to be shocked here, but the two guys in the G1 beat the two young-boys. One of the young-boys appeared to have vampire fangs. That's something you can be shocked about.
YUJI NAGATA & HIRAI KAWATO vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi) - 4.5/10
Nagata and Naito brawled after the match to build up to their G1 match tomorrow night.
SUZUKI-GUN (Tachi, El Desperado, & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs. BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale, & Yujiro Takahashi) - 3.75/10
Suzuki-Gun jump Bullet Club to start things off. The match was pretty dull, and the comedy spot with Taichi and Fale towards the end didn't help matters.
HIROSHI TANAHASHI & DAVID FINLAY JR. vs. CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & Jado) - 5.25/10
Finlay and Jado did some basic stuff, then transitioned into a comedy spot. Like me, Goto decided that he had had enough of this sh*t, but unlike me he was actually able to do something about it. He ran into the ring and knocked Finlay down, then charged over to Tanahashi and knocked him off the apron, the followed him to the outside, kicked him in the stomach, then started throwing him into any metal object he could find.
BLOCK B MATCH: Michael Elgin vs. Satoshi Kojima (w/Hiroyoshi Tenzan) - 7.5/10
This was one hell of a slugfest, with lots of big lariats. In addition to the lariats they also used some of their other big moves to work over the other guy's head (Kojima's Cozy Cozy Cutter, Elgin's powerbombs and enzugiri) with Elgin eventually picking up the win to finally get on the board.
BLOCK B MATCH: Tama Tonga vs. EVIL - 4/10
They shoved each other a bit before the bell. Then, when the bell rang, they decided to both go to the outside to start fighting instead of just doing in the ring. That was weird. Tonga threw EVIL into the guardrail and dragged him all the way to the back of the arena. They weren't counted out. Then Tonga hit EVIL with a stanchion but wasn't DQed. Then he shoved the referee into a wall and still wasn't DQed. Tonga and the referee both got back to the ring and Tonga demanded that the referee count EVIL out, so now the referee started to do so. When EVIL got up and started heading towards the ring Tonga ran up the aisle to meet him and knocked him down again, then got back to the ring... and the referee kept the count going the whole time even though Tonga going to the outside should have reset the count. It is really that hard to get basic sh*t like all of this right?
Later on, we got EVIL hitting Tonga with a chair right in front of the referee with no DQ. This time the count-out count starts right away rather than waiting three minutes first. EVIL then went back out of the ring to go get Tonga but once again the referee didn't reset the count, so at least they were being consistent with that, although consistency is not a virtue if the thing you are doing consistently is screwing up!
Then they ended the match with about three minutes of pure awesome, but came nowhere close to making up for the first two thirds of it, which were both boring and appallingly stupid.
BLOCK B MATCH: Juice Robinson vs. Minoru Suzuki (w/El Desperado) - 6/10
Suzuki jumps the bell on Juice, because we really need guys jumping the bell in every match. More chair use and interference happens right in front of the referee with no DQ. Cue the same "drag you into the crowd, hit you with a chair then do a count-out tease we get at least twice on every single New Japan show. Juice's leg got worked over, following up from the previous show. Suzuki won, and also attacked Juice and some ringside attendants after the match for no reason, just in case anyone hadn't figured out that he's the heel yet.
BLOCK B MATCH: Toru Yano vs. Kenny Omega - Fun/10
I don't think I've ever been at such a loss for how to rate a match. This was an excellent comedy match, but just calling it a comedy match feels like it would be taking away from the real stuff that they peppered throughout (in a way that totally made sense and flowed very well), some of which was extremely impressive when you consider the... um... let's say "physical limitations" they put on themselves. That's all I'll say because any spoilers I give out here might make the match slightly less funny for you when you watch it. I don't know if this was the funniest comedy match of all time, but I think it is by far the cleverest. All of that being said, I still wouldn't have done this in a tournament match.
BLOCK B MATCH: Sanada vs. Kazuchika Okada (w/Gedo) - 9/10
This match was one of those matches that gave me that special feeling right from the beginning, and kept it up for most of the next twenty minutes. Both guys worked the head and neck to set up for their big finishers and they had tons of wonderful reversal sequences, but the most impressive part of this is that they really made you think that Sanada could beat Okada here. And I don't mean in that phony "it's the G1 so upsets are going to have to happen somewhere, so why not have one happen here" kind of way. I mean in the real way. The "if this was a title match I would have completely bought the idea that Sanada was about to become the IWGP Heavyweight Champion" way.
One negative note, though: Sanada really needs to stop doing the nudo. It's just one big giant plot-hole. If he's got this thing that no one can escape from that leaves them so vulnerable and he doesn't even have to hold them in place, why does he always give them a dropkick to jar them free rather than go stomp on their head a bunch of times to try to get a stoppage, or try to tie them into it on the floor and then take the easy count-out win?
Another pretty great show from New Japan, especially if you just skip the undercard and only watch the important stuff.