There is no getting past the fact that A Block is the ugly stepchild of the 28th G1. While B delivers high-quality matches, A appears to be focused on telling stories, and some people are very against that. However, with Jay White doing his thing and sad Okada providing some intrigue, I’m still enjoying it. It makes up for the lack of stars by having Rocky getting beat around the head with a balloon.
Minoru Suzuki (3-2) defeated a piece of shit (3-2)
Verdict: Fuck Michael Elgin
EVIL (4-1) defeated Hangman Page (1-4)
Hangman Page’s G1 journey might be my favourite in the tournament. Not because he’s having the best matches or even the best storyline, but because you can actually see him finding his feet night to night. He’s openly growing in confidence as the Japanese fans embrace chanting his name.
EVIL’s a great opponent for him. They both love a physical battle, so we got plenty of that here. The barriers took a beating as both men were tossed into them repeatedly and there were some bigtime moves hit. In particular, EVIL hit a Super Saito Suplex which Page took a full backflip bump off, making it look vicious as hell.
It’s unlikely anyone will remember this at the end of the tournament. It was a decent if unspectacular effort. However, this run of performances is massive for Hangman Page. While it might not go down as his coming out party, it’s laying the groundwork for that to happen.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Bad Luck Fale (2-3) defeated Jay White (3-2)
If Jay White isn’t going to win the block, then he needed to lose some matches. It’s no surprise then that he would fall victim to the Firing Squad’s cheating ways.
He tried desperately to outdo them too. Before the bell rang, he snuck out of the ring, attacking Loa and looking to even up the odds. He didn’t hit him hard enough, though, as Tanga bounced up within minutes and the numbers game quickly bought Fale an advantage. White was trying everything (he managed to take the English commentary team out of commission by spearing Fale into the barricade next to them), but he might have regretted turning so many of his CHAOS teammates against him.
Eventually, Red Shoes took his now obligatory bump, and Tama made his way out too. For a second or two, it looked like Jay might fight them off. He smashed Loa with a chair and low-blowed Fale only for Tonga to strike with the Gun Stun, setting him for the Fall, and we know that no-one kicks out of that. It’s a rare win for The Firing Squad as the tactics we’ve come to associate with them paid off.
Despite that, I didn’t hate this. While I’ve been turned off by nearly everything these guys have done, there was some fun to be had here as White tried desperately to out cheat them. Plus, he employed one of my favourite tactics when he started throwing Young Lions at Fale. It still wasn’t good, it just wasn’t awful.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Hiroshi Tanahashi (4-1) defeated Togi Makabe (2-3)
There isn’t much to say about this one. It was Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Togi Makabe. If you’re anything like me, you’ll go in with low expectations and come out pleasantly surprised. They went precisely as long as they should have (aka not very long) and told a decent story as Togi dominated when he was able to bring his strength to the party while Tana came to the fore when he created some distance and use those bursts of pace that he still has. Not a classic, but fun. (That’s going to be the shortest review I do this tournament).
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Kazuchika Okada (3-2) defeated YOSHI-HASHI (1-4)
Kazuchika Okada and YOSHI-HASHI are on the same team, aren’t they? Because Okada wasn’t acting like it. There was a moment when he was launching chairs at YOSHI’s head, seemingly unworried whether he brained him or a member of the audience. Sad Okada is not a fan of health and safety.
And for a while, it looked like this lack of bother would see Okada walk to victory. He was dominating YOSHI and set up for the Rainmaker. However, Little Kazu couldn’t resist throwing a dig in there. In a throwback to their Wrestle Kingdom VI match he didn’t hit the Rainmaker we are all used to. Instead, he delivered the shitty sitdown version he used back then, presumably making the point that even the pathetic version of his finisher could get the job done.
Except, it didn’t. YOSHI-HASHI kicked out. Not only did he kick out, wee YOSHI seemed to fire up. Suddenly, Okada was on the backfoot as the Headhunter went for him. In a world where the Butterfly Lock was a decent finisher, he might have even won.
Of course, he didn’t, because he’s YOSHI-HASHI and YOSHI-HASHI isn’t beating Okada. However, he gave a fantastic account of himself. He’d eventually fall foul to a Discus Rainmaker before Okada finally stopped pissing about and hit the traditional one that we all adore. In the future, though, I reckon the former champ won’t be taking YOSHI-HASHI as lightly as he did here.
Verdict: Four And A Quarter Stars
A mediocre show from the A Block. We only got one match breaking the four-star barrier and, amazingly, it included YOSHI-HASHI. Outside of that, Page and EVIL took second place while Tanahashi and Makabe did alright and I didn’t utterly despise Fale vs White. If you’re in a rush, stick to the main event, but you shouldn’t be offended by anything.
Top Three Matches So Far
- Hirooki Goto vs Tomohiro Ishii – Four And Three Quarter Stars
- Tetsuya Naito vs Kenny Omega – Four And Three Quarter Stars
- Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr – Four And A Half Stars