August 1st, 18:30 from Kagoshima Arena, Kagoshima
After a day off, we’re back with A Block for a show headlined by hometown boy Kota Ibushi vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi. Let’s get to it.
The story so far…
Here we go…
- Jushin Thunder Liger & Michael Elgin defeated Katsuya Kitamura & Syota Umino
- Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & El Desperado defeated Hirai Kawato, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
- BUSHI & SANADA defeated David Finlay & Juice Robinson
- Hiromu Takahashi & EVIL defeated Chase Owens & Kenny Omega
- Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano defeated Yujiro Takahashi & Tama Tonga
A Block – Round Six
YOSHI-HASHI vs. Bad Luck Fale
Yoshi threw himself at Fale, brushing off a shoulder block, but a second one kept him down, and Fale went outside to toss him into the rapidly emptied chairs. And once more for luck. Back in, Fale stood on top of his opponent, and a slam and seated senton earned two. Yoshi slipped free of another slam and threw elbows, and after Fale had initially swatted him away, a pair of low dropkicks and the running blockbuster turned the tide. A sunset flip failed, but another dropkick set up a diving blockbuster from the top-rope for two, then he half-applied the Butterfly Lock. Fale powered up, though, and dumped Yoshi on his neck with a clothesline. Grenade blocked, jumping lariat from Yoshi for two. Butterfly Lock applied, but Fale escaped again, crunching Yoshi with a splash for a near-fall. Bad Luck Fall… countered in mid-air to a sleeper! Nicely done. Fale faded to the mat and the double knee attack landed – two-count only. Butterfly Lock cinched in once more, then into a guillotine choke as Fale got to his feet, then finally into a small package for the three-count! Wow.
A huge upset with for Yoshi-Hashi here. Genuinely pleasing. A very solid match too, with Yoshi’s aggression and persistence paying off. He’s still in it – just about. Fully expected Fale to survive the plucky endeavour of his diminutive opponent before smashing him to the mat with a Grenade and/or Bad Luck Fall, but it never happened. ***
Togi Makabe vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (w/ El Desperado)
Sabre fronted-up to Makabe with European uppercuts, but it wasn’t long before Makabe dropped him to the mat, then whipped him into the guardrail outside. El Desperado’s interjection was ineffective, but it allowed Sabre to attack Makabe’s left leg. Back in the ring, Sabre manipulated Makabe’s ankle and applied an Indian Deathlock and modified STF until the rope-break was made, then Makabe managed to counter a charge into a clothesline for some respite. Mounted corner punches followed, and he nailed a lariat despite Sabre’s overhead kick to his arm. Sabre jumped onto him with a guillotine choke, which he countered into a Northern Lights suplex for two, but he was caught in the Octopus Hold and forced to roll to the ropes. They engaged in a battle of uppercuts and elbows back-and-forth, which intensified until Makabe flattened Sabre with a lariat. The King Kong Knee Drop missed the mark, however, enabling Sabre to roll-through into a heel hook from which Makabe tapped!
Well, well. Sabre Jr. is enough of an established danger that a win was possible, but I didn’t think we’d see Makabe tap out, let alone to a move that isn’t regarded as a finisher. Then again, that’s one of the fun part of watching Sabre Jr. wrestle. ***1/4
Yuji Nagata vs. Tomohiro Ishii
They began the match by exchanging elbows, then missed kicks from both men led to a stand off. Chops from Ishii, kicks from Nagata, with the latter’s causing the former to sink to the mat, where he kept the pressure on with a chinlock. Ishii soon tired of that and headbutted Nagata, sending him to the floor. Back in, Ishii pummelled Nagata in the corner, but slaps to the head reinvigorated the veteran, and he cracked Ishii with a series of elbows, only for Ishii to send him back down with one of his own. A charge was countered to a knee lift, and a furious Nagata peppered Ishii with kicks on the mat before slapping his bald head. Big boot and the Exploder for two, but Ishii countered the follow-up to a suplex, then a powerslam put both men down.
Corner clothesline from Ishii, followed by a superplex! Two-count only. Ishii’s lariat was blocked, and Nagata dragged him to the mat and applied the Shirome armbar, but the rope-break was made. After surviving a headbutt and elbows, Nagata’s cracked Ishii with an elbow strike, then smashed him with several more on the mat before scoring a big kick to the chest for two. Up top – super Exploder! One, two, no! German from Ishii, Exploder from Nagata, lariat from Ishii, high kick from Nagata, both men down! Justice Knee countered to a powerbomb by Ishii for a near-fall! Nagata stood firm to Ishii’s lariat, but a second put him down for two! Nagata blocked the brainbuster and hit one of his own! One, two, no! Strikes back-and-forth, sliding lariat from Ishii, two-count only. Brainbuster from Ishii! One, two, three!
Hot damn, what a match. They cranked through the gears here and this was both men’s best match so far. I kept thinking Ishii would cut off Nagata any moment and put him away, but Nagata just kept fighting. Sadly, it’s another loss for him in his final tournament, but goodness me what a tournament he’s having! ****1/2
Hirooki Goto vs. Tetsuya Naito
Naito went straight for Goto, launching a spitwad before Goto hit back with a hip toss and stomps in the corner, but Naito managed to clothesline him over the top-rope, then whipped him into the guardrail. A neckbreaker onto the apron put Naito firmly in control. A modified chinlock and another neckbreaker got two, but despite cutting off the initial fightback, he was kicked to the mat, and Goto followed with the spinning heel kick and backdrop. A low dropkick and the slingshot corner dropkick put Naito back on top, but the swinging DDT was blocked, and Goto’s lariat counter preceded both men fighting from the knees with elbow. Enzuigiri from Naito, but a lariat turned him inside-out. Ushigoroshi countered to a DDT – both men down.
Naito hit the rope-hung over-the-knee drop and quickly capitalised with a super frankensteiner for two, but Goto blocked Destino and countered into the Ushigoroshi! The sleeper was cinched in, and a headbutt set up in the inverted GTR, but the GTR proper was blocked. German suplex and a Koppu kick from Naito! The leaping elbow connected too, but Destino was again blocked and another Ushigoroshi landed. GTR blocked again, and Naito hit the running Destino! Two-count only! Destino! One, two, three.
Another solid match with a fun closing stretch, though it was lacking a little in the story-telling department. Still, a decent effort, particularly sandwiched in between the last match and the main event . ***1/4
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi
As expected, Ibushi got a big reaction in his hometown, although Tanahashi had plenty of support too, and duelling chants accompanied the even opening exchange. Tanahashi twice slapped Ibushi on a rope-break, drawing boos, so Ibushi kipped up after a shoulder block and kicked him to the mat. Tanahashi caught Ibushi’s leg, however, and tested the referee and crowd’s patience by stretching it over the ropes, then sarcastically applauded before scoring a shinbreaker and applying a submission hold. Ibushi landed a dropkick at the second attempt, and fired back with kicks, a strike flurry, and the standing moonsault for two, then he sent Tanahashi to the floor with a frankensteiner and followed with the Golden Triangle moonsault!
They fought over the apron, with Ibushi’s threatening the deadlift German, but Tanahashi blocked it and hit a Dragon Screw over the middle-rope. With Ibushi on the outside, Tanahashi scaled to the top-rope and landed the High Fly Flow crossbody! Ibushi was back in at 19, but Tanahashi continued to punish his leg with Dragon Screws before applying the Texas Cloverleaf. He sat deep, but Ibushi eventually clawed himself to a rope-break. A snap German from Ibushi was replied to in kind, but Tanahashi’s attempted low dropkick was countered to a double stomp to the chest! Main Event Elbow Battle time, with Ibushi’s strikes doing the most damage, but the attempt to make Tanahashi a human javelin was reversed to a Sling Blade! After fighting on the top-rope, Ibushi scored an overhead kick and this time spiked Tanahashi like a lawn dart into the bottom turnbuckle! Deadlift German in from the apron! One, two, no! The follow-up powerbomb was blocked and Tanahashi’s swinging neckbreaker put both men down. Arm-trapped German from Tanahashi for two! Sling Blade for two! The High Fly Flow crossbody connected and the High Fly Flow… hit the knees! Tanahashi blocked the knee lift, but took a high kick straight to the jaw. Sit-out Last Ride! 2.999! Ibushi fired up and smashed Tanahashi with the arm-trapped knee lift. One, two, three.
Spectacular. Tanahashi’s powerbomb kick-out was so late that it almost took me out of the match, but the knee strike was a satisfyingly brutal way for Ibushi to earn the win, especially given Tanahashi’s arrogance during the match. Ibushi does what he couldn’t do in 2015 by beating Tanahashi, likely earning a shot at the Intercontinental title, and keeps himself in the hunt for the G1. Job done. Watch this match. ****3/4
We get an ultra-rare post-match promo from Ibushi and we’re out.
A Block standings after Round Six
- Ishii – 8
- Naito – 8
- Sabre Jr. – 8
- Tanahashi – 8
- Fale – 6
- Goto – 6
- Ibushi – 6
- Makabe – 6
- YOSHI-HASHI – 4
- Nagata – 0
Final thoughts: Excellent show today. Everyone matched up well, we got a couple of surprising results and were treated to two tremendous matches in the main event and Nagata/Ishii. This, my friends, was the good shit.
I’m back with B Block tomorrow for Round Six. See you then.
Eleven down, eight to go.