CLARK CONNORS, KARL FREDERICKS, & KENTA vs. BULLET CLUB (Yujiro Takahashi, Chase Owens, & Bad Luck Fale) - 4/10
Bullet club jump the bell on their opponents, leading to the usual BS on the outside.
SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Lance Archer & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) - DUD!
Lawless bullsh*t, with member of the same stable trying to murder each other in a meaningless match.
HIROSHI TANAHASHI, REN NARITA, & SHOTA UMINO vs. KOTA IBUSHI, TOA HENARE, & TOMOAKI HONMA - 5.75/10
This succeeded in reminding me how great Tanahashi vs. Ibushi can be, so that's mission accomplished for this match.
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Sanada, EVIL, & BUSHI) vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, YOSHI-HASHI, & Will Ospreay) - 5/10
BLOCK B MATCH:
Shingo Takagi vs. Jeff Cobb - 6.75/10
This was a solid "hard-hitting plus some suplexes" match, but at this point I feel like I've seen a million of those already, especially with Cobb and with Shingo. At this point you're going to have to do a really great job with that story for me to find it particularly engaging. Again, this wasn't bad... but wasn't really interesting or exciting, either.
BLOCK B MATCH:
Toru Yano vs. Jon Moxley (w/Shota Umino) - DUD!
The referee barely even touched Yano while checking him for hidden weapons. I call bullsh*t on this whole match. Yano the sprayed a bottle of water in Moxley's face, and Kevin Kelly told us that "you can see the steam literally coming out of the ears of Moxley," which then figuratively caused steam to come out of my ears that people think Kevin Kelly is good at his job.
Well... at least Yano tried to make up for his literally criminal actions on the last show and offered to give Moxley not just the DVD that Moxley paid for but also twice as much money in restitution. I didn't think Yano had it in him to not be a total piece of sh*t, but I have no problem admitting when I'm wrong.
But I'm also very happy to tell you when I'm right, and one of the many things I'm right about is the quality of Kevin Kelly's announcing. When Yano was first about o use a roll of tape on Moxley, Kevin Kelly said that the referee "didn't get to check Yano" before the match. Not only is this not true (as I documented above), but you could also clearly see the point during the match (which was not very old at that point) where Yano grabbed the tape from under the ring and slid it into his tights. He also said that Moxley and Yano having a duel with the turnbuckle pads was "a first," which it very much was not.
Based on my observations, the New Japan rule book appears to have a rule in it that says that if one wrestler begins taping the other to the guardrail, you have to start the count-out, because that seems to be the only situation in which the referee consistently starts the count with both wrestlers outside the ring.
I was actually mostly fine with this match until they went for the turnbuckle pads. Everything they had done before felt like both guys were trying to win the match, and just happened to be doing things that were comedic. But the moment they both run to take the turnbuckle pads off of the posts- an illegal action- right in front of the referee, for the purposes of trying hit the opponent with a pad (yes, it's big and bulky, but it's also soft, and will hurt the opponent a lot less than simply hitting him with your fist), it ceases to feel like they're trying to win and starts to feel like trying to do Yano shtick.
The referee finally decided to step in once only Moxley had a pad, leading to a Yano low blow for a nearfall. Moxley beat him up on the outside for a while, including slamming his head into a table, while the referee did nothing. Moxley eventually pulled a young-boy into Moxley's way, then not only hit Moxley with a low blow, but the young-boy as well. Meanwhile the referee decided to start counting. Yano tied Moxley and the young-boy's legs together and won by count-out.
I know people think these Yano matches are clever because of the different ways they set up the count-outs and the low blows and stuff, but they're not, and the reason for that is the inconsistency in the rules. Rules are, inherently, limitations. A clever solution is one that achieves the goal while still working within those given limitations. A clever solution can certainly find a way to twist those limitations on their heads a bit, but it is still within those limitations. The inconsistency of the rules is merely removing (and sometimes then re-adding) those limitations as suits your needs at that moment, and a solution that you reach by deciding that you can ignore the rules whenever it's convenient for you to do so is not clever; it's contrived. That's what these finishes are. And contrived solutions are not fun to watch, and don't have artistic merit to them because you're ignoring the premise of the world as you see fit.
The way the announcers treat Yano is essentially another layer of this. In this case, though, rather than the rules of the fictional universe being bent to serve Yano's needs, the very laws of morality are rearranged so that he can do no wrong while the announcers yell and scream when heels do the same thing. And all of this makes his matches completely intolerable to me. They're a guy who we know has zero chance of winning the tournament having matches with great wrestlers that we all know going in are going to be worse than the matches that pretty much anyone else on the roster would have with these same wrestlers- and even sometimes beating them- and all while being hailed as some sort of f*cing hero when he is doing the very same things that we hear these same announcers rightly condemn others for doing. And I find that infuriating.
BLOCK B MATCH:
Juice Robinson vs. Tetsuya Naito - 7.25/10
After the conclusion of their match on Tuesday, Naito attacked Juice's already injured hand in a completely unsporting manner, so of course this match starts off with... Juice doing stupid comedy. Sh*t like this makes sitting through those damn undercard matches even more frustrating, as it shows that on the rare occasion that something that seems meaningful happens, it won't be followed up on properly anyway. The announcers would later push that Juice has had a "new attitude" in this tournament, but that's pretty darn hard for me to believe when he goes back to doing stupid goofy crap on a regular basis and I haven't seen much of a new attitude out of him during his other matches so much as just a new haircut.
They "get in each other's head" by doing the other guy's signature pose. F*ck that lazy sh*t. The other guy did your pose. So the f*ck what? That shouldn't affect a wrestler at all unless there has been some build around it or some deeper personal meaning to the pose or a story being told. A viewer should be able to understand why a wrestler doing an opponent's pose bothers the opponent so much without rely on this stupid shorthand everyone just goes with it because of years of established convention.
They did some good stuff early on, but unfortunately a good chunk of it took place on the outside while Red Shoes made no effort to count them out... until Naito got back into the ring and then Red Shoes started his count because it was time for the count-out spot and other reason. I'm sorry to keep bringing this sort of thing up, but there was absolutely no reason that Red Shoes couldn't have been counting the whole time and Naito would periodically just go back and quickly roll in and then roll back out again to restart the count. It would only have taken two of these at most, and I'd find that to be a much more useful thing for Naito to while Juice sold than to just wander around doing nothing.
Other than the stuff I mentioned, this was a very enjoyable back and forth match, with a lot of exciting and clever reversals. Unfortunately, the injury to Juice's hand did not come into play in any way, which, again, I found frustrating.
BLOCK B MATCH:
Jay White (w/Gedo) vs. Taichi (w/Miho Abe & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) - 6.75/10
Lots of stalling early on. Eventually they were both on the outside and both started fighting each other and Red Shoes wanted them to get back in the ring so he started to count them out, and lo and behold they both made sure to get back into the ring before he got to twenty. How much do you want to bet he'll forget that particular trick the next time they go to the floor?
They finally did some stuff in the ring, but were soon distracted by Gedo grabbing Miho Abe by the hair, which distracted Taichi, allowing White to get the advantage. Kevin Kelly is outraged that Gedo would grab a woman by the hair. That's fine if that's how you want to play it, but I really wish he would show that sort of outrage when Moxley or Yano, or any LIJ member cheats, like he does for Bullet Club and Suzuki-Gun. Also, it's really hard for me to care about possible harm coming to Miho Abe when she is a willing participant in Taichi's cheating every damn match. You can't switch someone babyface just for one match and then turn them back, especially with no actual turning going on.
This time when they're on the outside and White is beating Taichi up, Red Shoes doesn't start counting until White gets back into the ring. And in previous matches this tournament we've seen Red Shoes refuse to count someone out or count a pin after Gedo caused a distraction for White's benefit, so why is he counting this time? Why is distracting a dude by grabbing his girlfriend any better than distracting him by jumping up onto the apron?
Shockingly, from that point on, I have no objection to anything in the match. There was a lot of interference and other shenanigans, but they did that stuff all while the referee was bumped or otherwise distracted. That's all I'm asking for! Why can't they do it this was in every match?!
BLOCK B MATCH:
Hirooki Goto vs. Tomohiro Ishii - 8.5/10
Both guys do their thing and work the head. This was easily the match of the night.
This was an extremely disappointing show by G1 standards. Block B just plain isn't delivering, and the booking isn't helping, either. I can't wait for Block A shows, but when it's a Block B show I just groan.