You’d think I’d be quite good at writing introductions to these reviews by now. I do enough of them. But no, I still come up blank. I struggle to think of what to say before we get down to the vital shit of reviewing some wrestling. Oh well, I guess I could just get on with it.
B Block: Soma Takao (2-3) defeated Naomi Yoshimura (0-5)
Takao had no intention of making this easy for Yoshimura. He spent the early portion of the match stalling, slipping to the outside and then booting the middle-rope into Naomi’s balls when he gave chase. Why let the big man throw you around when you don’t have to?
Unfortunately for him, the throwing did eventually commence, as Yoshimura got his hands on Takao and turned this into a slugfest. Not that Soma was totally useless. The DAMNATION man couldn’t match Yoshimura for power, but he was able to stand his ground. It was a revelation which added something extra to the earlier shenanigans, as it suggests it wasn’t that he couldn’t put up a fight, but that he didn’t want to.
The finish was fantastic, as Takao came crashing in with a Running Elbow before diving into the cover. The impact was so fast that Yoshimura didn’t have a chance, and while his legs wriggled, the count was made before he could kick out. He even sold it by popping straight back up, dazed but desperate to continue the fight before taking his anger out on everyone at ringside. If he’s going to get mean, that could be the sharpened edge of his character that makes all the difference.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
A Block: Yuki Iino (3-2) defeated Yuki Ueno (2-4)
The battle of the Yukis saw Ueno go with the only course of action that makes sense, grounding the big man. He got on the mat, wrenching on submissions and stomping on Iino as he tried to avoid that shock wave offence. While it was a solid performance from him (there was one dodgy looking Avalance Rana), it would prove to be nowhere near enough.
Because it feels like DDT is beginning to put some faith in Yuki Iino, and making sure he comes out of these matches looking like a big deal. He managed to power through Ueno’s offence, at one point rising to his feet with Ueno on his shoulders, despite being in a Chin Lock. At the start of this tournament, I complained that he didn’t use his size effectively, but he’s got better at it as we’ve gone along, and in moments like that, he’s a monster. That’s all I wanted to see.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
A Block: Chris Brookes (2-2-1) defeated Keisuke Ishii (3-2)
Damn, this was one hell of a match! Brookes and Ishii turned out to have effortless chemistry, flowing between moves and building insane sequences. There was one in the middle (it ended with a Northern Lights Brainbuster from Ishii) where I ended up rewinding the VOD, desperate to see it again.
It also continued the more aggressive version of Brookes that we saw against Ueno. He went after Ishii’s arm, at one point dragging him into the crowd to lock the Octopus on out there in the hope he could get the countout. It opens him up to be a bit of a prick, and for a guy who is famously decent, he’s brilliant at that.
Not that it was a one-man show. Ishii was great out there too, taking Brookes’ beating and coming back with one of his own. He’s ridiculously light on his feet and played a huge role in making those sequences as good as they were. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop him being dropped on his head with the Praying Mantis Bomb.
Verdict: Four And A Quarter Stars
B Block: HARASHIMA (4-1) defeated Bull James (2-4)
You know what, for a thirteen-minute match that was grappling heavy and featured Bull James, this wasn’t too bad. I mean, it still wasn’t good, but when wrestled under those parameters, not too bad is impressive. They told the story of both men’s legs being worked over, which ultimately proved decisive when Bull James attempted to climb the ropes and couldn’t manage it, opening HARASHIMA up to hit the Somato. I don’t think much more needs to be said. It was what it was.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
A Block: Konosuke Takeshita (3-2) defeated Chihiro Hashimoto (2-3)
There is an almost constant debate going on about intergender wrestling and its place in the world. For what it’s worth, I think the way DDT do it, is the perfect way to present it. Hashimoto has wrestled this tournament and, outside of the occasional mentions in promos, her gender has been irrelevant. She’s gone head to head with DDT’s best, and it’s never once felt like an issue.
And this was the perfect example of that. Hashimoto and Takeshita murdered each other in this match, going back and forth in an excellent encounter. As you’d expect with Take, they started on the mat. What you might not expect, was for Hashimoto to get the better of it, driving him to the outside in frustration. He’d then drag Hashimoto down with him, Big Booting her into the ringside seating.
It was a moment that escalated things, as this quickly got violent. These two were charging into each other, exchanging Lariats and Germans like there was no tomorrow. Hashimoto even hit one on the apron, Takeshita coming down with a sickening thud. We got two outstanding wrestlers, throwing everything they had at each other and proving to be masters of their craft.
And, in the end, Takeshita proved to have just a bit too much, beating Hashimoto at her own game with a Bridging German for the three. I think that removes any opportunity she has of winning this thing, but after a tournament that good, I don’t think she should worry too much.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
The obvious match aside, that was a great show. I watched this the day the election results came out in the UK, so I was not in the best of moods. Thankfully, wrestling laid its healing hand on my cheek, and while it didn’t fix the world, it gave me somewhere to hide for a bit.
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