TOMOHIRO ISHII, TOMOAKI HONA, & YUYA UEMURA vs. YOTA TSUJI & CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, & Hirooki Goto) - 5/10
JON MOXLEY & SHOTA UMINO vs. REN NARITA & TORU YANO - 0.25/10
I'll save the ranting for later because I actually do want to talk about something Kevin Kelly said here. Kevin Kelly's new thing is to push how short Yano's matches have been when compared to everyone else's. The problem with this is as follows: Wear and tear has not been and is rarely made into a storyline in these tournaments. Even if we are nice and say allow that it could turn into a storyline in Block B later on, the facts on the ground at the moment don't even hint at this. Yano is in a big tie for the bottom of the block right now, and the guy who has logged the most time- Ishii- is actually ahead of Yano. And Yano's two wins so far came within the first three nights of Block B competition, when this supposed advantage of Yano's was either non-existent (as it was on night one), or much less extreme than it would be on later nights in the tournament, where Yano has lost. And in none of Yano's wins was the story that Yano outlasted his opponent. They were both Yano cheating to win.
Basically, Kevin Kelly is saying things that are demonstrably irrelevant and passing them off as if they have had some sort of effect even though they don't even pass the sniff test. Kevin Kelly is like a baseball announcer telling me that a manager is making a mistake by leaving his starter in to throw the entire game because the more times hitters see a pitcher, the better their chance of learning his pitches and thus getting a hit. While this might be true under most circumstances, if the manager has been doing this every time this pitcher starts and the pitcher's ERA is still under 2 in the beginning of August, your argument that this strategy is doomed to failure is clearly at odds with the preponderance of the evidence, and thus likely flawed.
As for the match itself, it was the expected dumb comedy, plus Moxley and Shota hitting Yano with a Hart Attack that looked atrocious. Shota and Narita's little bit is really what saved this from being a dud. Yano wins by cheating yet again. Also, they started off the match with a bit where Yano offered to sell Moxley one of his DVDs for 5,000 Yen, which Moxley ordered Umino to borrow from the ring announcer. Once the deal was done, Moxley rolled Yano up for a nearfall. At the end of the match, we saw Yano leaving with both the money and the DVD. I don't care if Moxley bought the DVD in an attempt to lull Yano into a false sense of security to set up a nearfall, Moxley still paid for the DVD. If Yano had left the money and took the DVD back maybe there could be an argument that he had a right to do that, but walking away with both of them is clearly f*cking theft. Why is this man treated like a babyface by the fans and the announcers? Why is he even tolerated?
SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, & Taichi) vs. BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi, & Jay White) (w/Gedo) - DUD!
The usual bullsh*t, but without even any babyfaces to root for.
JEFF COBB, JUICE ROBINSON, & TOA HENARE vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, & BUSHI) - 6.75/10
Great for a G1 undercard match. Naito attacked Juice after the match and worked over his injured hand to get an advantage in their match in two days.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Kota Ibushi vs. Bad Luck Fale (w/Chase Owens & Jado) - 4.75/10
Fale jumps the bell on Ibushi and tosses him to the outside. Cue Bullet Club interference, followed by them fighting on the outside without being counted out until it became time to set up the Count-Out Tease That No One Ever Buys(TM). Fale worked on Ibushi's back by stepping on it and clobbering it. Then we got a completely pointless spot where Fale completely manhandled the referee and with clear intent to prevent him from doing his job, just so we could get an undetected shot with the cane. YOU HAVE TWO GUYS ON THE OUTSIDE! THERE IS NO REASON TO DO THIS WHEN YOU COULD JUST HAVE ONE GUY DISTRACT THE REFEREE WHILE THE OTHER USES THE WEAPON!
Ibushi started a comeback but got cut off again when he got into a protracted argument with Chase Owens, who hopped up onto the apron, allowing Fale to squish him into the corner. This would have been fine if the referee hadn't just stood there while someone hopped up onto the apron in a clear attempt to get the attention of one of the competitors.
Another attempt at Bullet Club interference warranted the ref's intervention immediately, to show us that the referee only does his job properly when the spot calls for him to get involved and kick the heels' hands away to lead to Ibushi getting a crucifix roll-up on Fale. Then Ibushi hit two Kamagoyes and got the win.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Will Ospreay - 9.25/10
Yeah, let's just give Ospreay Wrestler of the Year right now. These two have a magical chemistry together, and Ospreay's selling of his neck was out of this world.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Lance Archer vs. Kazuchika Okada - 6.75/10
Archer jumped the bell on Okada, and we quickly spilled to the floor where Archer beat Okada up for what felt like several minutes without getting counted out. And it technically was several because "several" means more than one and two is more than one. But it felt like a lot longer, and Red Shoes not counting them out was ridiculous. During this he made a young boy cry, then punched a young-boy in the face. That hyphen sure makes a lot of difference.
After Archer hit his rope-walk into a moonsault press (it's not as bad El Phantasmo's, but he's still up there for too long to not believably get shoved off) and went for a pin which Okada kicked out of, Red Shoes randomly started to walk away from the ring.
Once the refereeing problems were done, things started to get good. The story of the match was Okada countering Archer's size advantage while doing his best to avoid all of Archer's signature stuff. Okada hit the Rainmaker for the win, which disappointed me a bit, as I really would like to see these two in a high-stakes main event, even if the outcome would almost certainly be obvious.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Sanada vs. KENTA - 7.5/10
G-d damn it. Now even the non-Suzuki-Gun or Bullet Club matches are starting with someone attacking someone in an unsporting manner, then spilling to the outside to fight there forever with no count-out. The match was great. Sanada picked up the win, which I think is the wrong move, just to keep KENTA feeling like someone with a chance of winning the block.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. EVIL - 7/10
No DQs for chairshots in this one, apparently. If we're not going to have DQs for all of this illegal stuff in 99% of these matches then why was there a DQ against Bullet Club in the Ospreay vs. Fale match? The heels are the ones getting fairly screwed by the referee in this tournament.
And why does Tanahashi doing a High Fly Flow to the outside and hurting his knee on it not start a count-out, but the next move someone hit- EVIL doing the Magic Killer to Tanahashi on the outside- does trigger one. I know this sounds like more of me picking on Red Shoes, but it's not. It's me calling out bad storytelling. The reason one triggered a count-out and the other didn't was because the purpose of the first was to highlight the "Tanahashi's knee is injured" story while the purpose of the latter was to do a big count-out tease. A well-told story does not have its internal logic bend to service it, but rather fits within the framework of the internal logic that guides its universe.
They did a decent job with some of their storytelling but the internal consistency problems took me out of it every time I started to really get into it. Also, EVIL did an AWESOME Goto-style headbutt to the chest to cut the opponent off, but it feels like everyone in the company is going that spot now. They should limit it to just Goto and EVIL.
This was a relatively disappointing show from New Japan given the card, but that Zack vs. Ospreay match pretty much makes up for it on its own. And it's not like most of the other stuff was bad; it just wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be, or as good as we have come to expect from the G1.