MICHAEL ELGIN & SHOTA UMINO vs. BULLET CLUB FIRING SQUAD (Bad Luck Fale & Tanga Loa) - 3.75/10
Fale vs. Elgin is a match I would be into if I wasn't certain it was going to be full of ref bumps and other such bullsh*t.
TOA HENARE & TOGI MAKABE vs. BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens & Adam Page) - 4/10
CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI & Sho) vs. CHAOS (Jay White & Yoh) - 4.5/10
White lies down and invites YOSHI-HASHI to pin him but YOSHI-HASHI isn't dumb enough to fall for it. He is, however, dumb enough to turn his back on White, who gets up and attacks him from behind. White's other major bit of heelishness in this match was trying to get Yoh to double-team Sho with him but Yoh refused. Their arguing gave Sho the time he needed to recover, at which point he dropkicked White from behind, sending White knocking into Yoh and allowing Sho to make the hot tag. That was a really great spot. The finish saw YOSHI-HASHI get Yoh in the butterfly lock and instead of save him, White started to yell at him for not listening, and Yoh eventually tapped out. That, too, was a great spot.
DAVID FINLAY JR. & HIROSHI TANAHASHI vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (EVIL & BUSHI) - 5.25/10
EVIL and Finlay worked well together. EVIL and Tanahashi had a stare-down after the match.
SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Gedo) - 4.25/10
Suzuki-Gun jumped the bell on their opponents. They were on the outside forever, the usual Suzuki-Gun stuff happened, with DQs and count-outs magically ceasing to apply until count-outs randomly do start to apply again.
Stuff happened. Gedo and El Desperado did some good stuff together. El Desperado pinned Gedo while Suzuki choked Okada out. He kept choking him out after the match then tried to hit him with the Gotch-style Piledriver but instead just settled for hitting hit on one of the young-boys who came in and saved Okada.
BLOCK B MATCH:
Tomohiro Ishii(4) vs. Tama Tonga(2) (w/Tanga Loa) - 5/10
For those of you who were hoping for something new to happen in Firing Squad matches, you got your wish: now we get a kick-out of the first big interference segment, followed by a second ref bump and even more interference. Poor Ishii. If only he were part of some sort of faction so that he could have people to watch his back when someone tries to interfere in his matches. Say, why is it that Ishii never got a shot at Okada's title during Okada's big giant title reign despite being the second person to pin him after he won the title (back in the 2016 G1)?
BLOCK B MATCH:
Juice Robinson(2) vs. Sanada(6) - 8.25/10
Early on they did a spot where they brawled on the outside and the referee immediately started to count them out, and lo and behold when he got to nineteen, both guys rolled back into the ring! What a novel concept. Maybe if you just started counting them out the moment they left the ring, you'd stop them from brawling on the outside for so long.
Of course, later in this very same match, the referee just let them brawl on the outside forever without trying to count them out.
I'm not usually a mark for guys hitting their opponent with the opponent's finisher, but I popped huge when Juice got Sanada in the Skull End. I'm not even sure why, but I did. Then I became infuriated when he did the stupid "give up a perfectly good submission hold to go for a different move" spot, and, of course, he missed the moonsault and wound up looking like an idiot.
Aside from the above frustrations, I thought these guys had a really great "epic struggle to win" match with lots of excellent reversals and cool athletic spots. I was flabbergasted to learn that this match only went twelve and a half minutes. It felt like twice that, but in a good way.
BLOCK B MATCH:
Toru Yano(2) vs. Tetsuya Naito(8) - 3/10
They wound up on the outside and Yano tried to tape Naito to the guardrail but Naito turned the tables on him. Yano almost got counted out but managed to rip the barricade apart and drag his piece of guardrail into the ring with him. That was a fun and clever spot, but it would have been better if he didn't have me terrified that he was going to accidentally smash a fan's face in with the guardrail while he was trying to get it free.
They wound up right back on the outside and Naito hit Yano with his DVD case right in front of the referee but this was not a DQ. I guess the Firing Squad are the only ones we're enforcing the rules on this tournament. Because it's not like LIJ, Suzuki-Gun, Toru Yano, and several other members of Bullet Club have a long history of cheating. Also, there has been a chair sitting in the corner of the ring forever and the referee has made no effort to remove this dangerous weapon from the ring. More goofiness happened, interspersing some good Yano spot teases with TWO ref bumps, then Naito hit Destino for the win.
BLOCK B MATCH:
Kenny Omega(10) vs. Zack Sabre Jr.(6) (w/TAKA Michinoku) - 8.25/10
They were on the outside FOREVER without getting counted out. Meanwhile, the referee kept yelling at Zack to release the hold he had on the outside. Zack eventually listened after a good thirty seconds or so. Kevin Kelly then complemented the referee (Red Shoes) for "not letting Zack lock that hold in near TAKA." I'm sorry... since when is "no submissions near TAKA Michinoku" a rule?
This stupid sh*t on the outside drags the whole product down. In makes the matches worse, it makes the referees look incompetent to the point where either it is emersion-breaking because they're not even trying to enforce the rules or it's emersion-breaking because they enforce the rules in a such a ridiculously arbitrary manner, and it forces the announcers to say idiotic things like this to try to cover up for them.
Zack worked on Kenny's knee and Kenny sold it well at first but then kind of lost it. There were some really great reversals and submission struggles, but this match felt like it ended ten minutes before it should have. Kenny remains undefeated, which baffles me because he's the champion and Zack is a fresh challenger and could headline a major show in the US, Japan, or the UK for the best against Kenny so why not let Zack get the win here and actually set up a title match?
BLOCK B MATCH:
Hirooki Goto(4) vs. Kota Ibushi(6) - 7.75/10
I found this match rather underwhelming. They checked all of the boxes for a main event, but nothing here felt particularly special. It was fine for its spot on the card, but considering the tournament these two have been having, it was disappointing.
Another disappointing G1 show, all things considered. The ref bumps continue to drag things down, and when the matches without ref bumps don't deliver to an extremely high level, the show leaves you feeling empty. Okada vs. Zack was particularly disappointing to me, as they have been two of my top three wrestlers in the world over the past few years (Okada is the other) and this was their first major meeting so I was hoping for something epic out of it and instead had to settle for merely awesome... which I know sounds ridiculous when I phrase it that way, but it's Zack vs. Omega in the freakin' G1!