It’s time for the D-Oh block finals, with A, unsurprisingly, doing the honours first. Coming into this show, Iino, Brookes, Takeshita, Ishii and Endo all had a smidgen of a chance of coming top. The only one in complete control of his destiny, though, was Ishii. Who made it? Read on to find out.
A Block: Chihiro Hashimoto (3-3) defeated Yuki Iino (3-3)
There aren’t many people who can overpower Hashimoto, but then Yuki Iino is a big old fucker, isn’t he? Chihiro struggled to come to terms with his brute strength as even simple moves like a chop would send her crumbling to the floor.
It was a mismatch that dominated the middle portion of the match as it looked like Iino was going to stroll to victory. That was until Hashimoto slapped the mat and said fuck it, if I’m going down, I’m going down fighting. After eating a huge Lariat, she popped straight back up, charging into Iino and eventually taking him off his feet with one of her own.
The three Spear attempts that followed couldn’t rock the big man, but the German did, and Spear number four crashed home. Even more impressively, the Bridging German that got the three was a thing of beauty, Hashimoto holding that giant man like he was a joshi half her size and ending any chance he had of winning this. What a wrestler!
Verdict: Four Stars
A Block: Chris Brookes (3-2-1) defeated Konosuke Takeshita (3-3)
From the second the bell rang in this match, Brookes was a man with a plan. He went after the arm of Takeshita, using a rope break as an excuse to wrap it around the steel cables, causing even more damage. He seemed to have a counter to every move, continually finding a way to control the action.
However, as time went on, it began to feel like he couldn’t get the job down. The Praying Mantis Bomb connected, but Takeshita grabbed the bottom rope. Brookes tied him up in a Sabre-esque submission, but still, Takeshita somehow escaped. Plus, he was starting to get some offence of his own in. A second rope German followed by the Last Ride came agonisingly close.
In the end, though, those Chris Brookes smarts came through. As Takeshita set up for the Walls, Brookes spotted an opening and slipped straight into a flash pin, bundling his shoulders to the mat for the three. He kept his hopes alive and produced yet another fantastic match to add to his DDT resume.
Verdict: Four And A Quarter Stars
A Block: Tetsuya Endo (3-2-1) defeated Keisuke Ishii (3-3)
Keisuke Ishii might not have much in common with his namesake Tomohiro, but he has a smidgen of that same fighting spirit. Early on, Endo had him on the ropes, but Ishii came roaring back, coming ridiculously close to getting the win himself.
And this was a match built on those moments. If Ishii won, he’d reach the final, and he was within inches of doing so. At one point, Endo avoided the Spinning Heel Kick by seemingly just falling over, although the fact he transitioned straight into a flash pin hinted that it was at least slightly deliberate.
In the end, Ishii would fall victim to those flash pins, although it was Endo’s ability to move from them into the Modified Yurikamome that was truly decisive. Ishii ended-up all tied up with nowhere to go and had no choice except to tap. Therefore, because Endo and Brookes went to a draw, we weren’t done yet. It was time for a tiebreaker.
Verdict: Four Stars
A Block Tiebreaker: Tetsuya Endo defeated Chris Brookes
Brookes and Endo had the match of the tournament so far (or at least I think it was, I might have forgotten something), but this was always going to be very different. They were coming in having already wrestled two pretty gruelling encounters, so there was no settling in period. Both men were going hard, fast, hoping to get this over and done with quickly.
And they did an excellent job of convincing you that one big move would end it. To the extent that when Brookes hit the Praying Mantis Bomb, I’d already clicked out of full-screen mode, assuming the match was over, and it was time to start writing this. It was action built around bursts of offence followed by a period of selling, both men throwing themselves into it.
In the end, it would come down to a battle between flash pins and the Modified Yurikamome. As they rolled around, swapping between pinning positions and the hold, every single shift felt like that could be it. Eventually, though, Endo found himself crouched over Brookes, wrenching back on his arms and forcing Chris to tap. Christ, that was exciting.
Verdict: Four Stars
I know I’m a very generous marker, but every match coming in at four stars above is still a sign of quality, right? That was a hell of an end to the A Block and even had an exciting tiebreaker thrown in! The guys over in B will have a tough time trying to top that.
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