With a strong first night behind them, the D-Oh’s second show in Yokohama will have been hoping for a repeat performance. Let’s boogie on over to see what went down.
B Block: Yukio Sakaguchi (1-1) defeated Naomi Yoshimura (0-2)
Yoshimura attacked Sakaguchi while he was making his entrance, getting down to mauling the smaller man. It was a tactic that seemed to be working, as Yukio couldn’t even get his jacket off.
However, when he managed to escape Naomi’s clutches, the tone of the match quickly changed. Suddenly, those lethal kicks were flying, and Yoshimura was being pushed back. He’d gone from the aggressor to being powerless, and when the knockout blow came, he was out for the count.
This didn’t go very long, but it was alright while it lasted. Not a match that anyone is going to remember, but it got its story across with Yoshimura trying to blast through Sakaguchi only to fall foul of those strikes. A job well done.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
B Block: Soma Takao (1-1) defeated Bull James (1-1)
Okay, I know it’s only his second match, but I am ready to accept that Bull James is bad, very bad. I hadn’t seen anything of him post-WWE, but fuck me, was this dull. At one point, he pointed towards the turnbuckle, clearly expecting a reaction from the crowd at the idea of the big man going up top. Sadly, they gave him nothing because they were presumably bored shitless.
Some Soma trickery allowed him to roll James up with a Crucifix, and I was just glad this was over. If you like your wrestling slow and plodding, this is the match for you.
Verdict: Two Stars
A Block: Chihiro Hashimoto (2-0) defeated Yuki Ueno (1-1)
I kept waiting for this match to explode into something a little bit more, but it never quite reached it. Hashimoto and Ueno stayed in roughly the same gear the whole way through, and I was craving some speed.
Don’t get me wrong. I could see what they were trying to do. Ueno wanted to ground Hashimoto, taking those bursts of power out of the equation. Sadly, I think he ended up taking a bit too much of the offence, leaving Hashimoto to sell when I wanted to see her coming forward.
That’s all made me sound hyper-critical, but it was still a good showing, it just felt like they could have ripped the brakes off and been even better.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
A Block: Chris Brookes (0-1-1) and Tetsuya Endo (0-0-1) fought to a time limit draw
Coming off a match where my complaint, if you strip it down, was about the pacing, Chris Brookes and Tetsuya Endo came out and provided a masterclass in that particular skill. They wrestled for thirty minutes, and I was never bored.
It’s not like it was an all-action thirty minutes either. They paced themselves, working a lot of submissions as Brookes went after the knee and Endo the arm. However, when things began to slow, they read the room, adding something to bring the action up again. Whether it was playing with spit (including some freshly sourced from Referee Matsui’s mouth) or Brookes repeatedly driving Endo’s knee into the mat. The two of them had a sixth sense for when it was time for a bit of spice.
Plus, when they took off, it was fantastic. From Brookes hitting a Senton off the apron onto a crouching Endo to the frantic final seconds, the sloppiness of it adding to the feeling that they were desperately going for the win. At one point, Endo slipped climbing the ropes, and I’ve no idea if it was a botch or deliberate. But who gives a fuck? It worked, and this was a brilliant match.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
A Block: Keisuke Ishii (1-1) defeated Konosuke Takeshita (1-1)
I loved the dynamic of this as Takeshita swaggered into the ring, every bit the Ace. He then went on to dominate the opening, wrestling like a man who thought he had victory sewn up already. Sadly for him, Ishii had other plans.
For as great as Takeshita was as the dominant force, Ishii was just as impressive as the underdog. He was scrappy and determined, refusing to go down without a fight. Every chance he got he grasped desperately, hitting suplexes or Powerslamming Takeshita on the outside, anything to turn the match around.
And, in the end, it would take no-selling a Lariat to do the job, bouncing up from the pain to hit a Spinning Heel Kick. Even the way he made the pin was dramatic, clawing across the ring to cover Takeshita. This was damn good pro-wrestling and is worth going out of your way to see.
Verdict: Four And A Quarter Stars
B Block: Masato Tanaka (2-0) defeated Daisuke Sasaki (0-1)
It took a while for this to get going. Tanaka and Sasaki spent a lot of the early going brawling on the outside, which on a one cam show isn’t great for the at-home viewer. It wasn’t awful, but there wasn’t a lot to grab your attention.
Thankfully, they were saving that up for later in the match. Suddenly, these two ramped up a gear and started taking lumps out of each other. There were chair shots to the head (which is dumb, but the seats came away so it wasn’t too bad) and a beautiful Brainbuster from Tanaka. They’d gone from not having my attention to having all of it.
And it mainly comes from the fact that Tanaka carries himself like someone who is hard as fuck. Everything about the bastard screams don’t mess with me, and when he’s smashing people with Lariats and stiff forearms, you realise that he’s dangerous. I want to watch him beat people up, and that’s what this gave me.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
I suspect I’m going to be saying that a lot during this tournament, but aside from Bull James, that was a damn good showing. If you’re picking and choosing, Brookes vs Endo and Takeshita vs Ishii are the can’t miss options, but you won’t regret watching all the non-James matches.
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