SHOTA UMINO & REN NARITA vs. TOA HENARE & YUYA UEMURA - 4.5/10
I was shocked that Henare wasn't given the win here. All of the Young Lions looked good.
SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer, & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Sanada, EVIL, & BUSHI) - 4.5/10
Suzuki-Gun jumped the bell on their opponents, leading to the usual bullsh*t on the outside. Zack and Suzuki worked over Sanada with double submissions for a bit before Archer took over for the usual big bully heel stuff. Eventually Suzuki pinned BUSHI after the Gotch-style Piledriver.
HIROSHI TANAHASHI, KOTA IBUSHI, & TOMOAKI HONMA vs. BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi, & Bad Luck Fale) (w/Jado) - 4.5/10
Bullet Club jumped the bell on the babyfaces. Stuff happened and we wound up on the outside for the usual bullsh*t. More stuff happened. Someone won. These matches don't matter, anyway.
CLARK CONNORS, KARL FREDERICKS, & KENTA vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, YOSHI-HASHI, & Will Ospreay) - 7/10
See? Why can't all of these undercard matches be this good? Or even close to it?
BLOCK B MATCH:
Toru Yano vs. Tomohiro Ishii - 7/10
We started off with Stupid Yano Tricks. Eventually Yano goes to stall on the outside and refuses to get into the ring, and rather than allowing him to do this and forcing Ishii to go after him like Yano wants, a referee FINALLY does his damn job right n adjust starts to count Yano out.
Yano had to run back to the ring to avoid being counted out, and from there Tomohiro Ishii turned Toru Yano in a respectable professional wrestler for one night... and it was great! If you take out the attempts at low blows, THIS is what a babyface Yano should be. A guy who is a bit goofy to put you off your game, but wins with his amateur skills and his smarts, in a completely legal manner.
BLOCK B MATCH:
Juice Robinson vs. Taichi (w/Miho Abe & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) - 5.75/10
Suzuki-Gun set a dastardly trap for Juice, with Taichi and then Miho distracting the referee while Kanemaru jumped Juice during his entrance. Juice overcame this to get an advantage, but then we got the spot where Taichi uses Miho Abe as a human shield and his opponent is always too dumb to just try to go the other direction to get at him, so the opponent stands there telling Miho to move no matter how many times she makes clear that she won't, allowing Taichi to run all the way around the ring and attack the idiot opponent from behind. Why do we have to make the babyfaces look like idiots every time?
This also started our usual bullsh*t on the outside. Chair shot without a DQ, count-outs don't apply until it's time for the count-out tease spot, etc. Juice it back to the ring and Taichi immediately started to choke him in the corner. The referee began counting but just stopped at four even though Taichi hadn't relinquished the hold. Which moron came up with this spot, anyway? Counting is what you do after the wrestler has resisted breaking an illegal hold. It's the final warning before you disqualify him. If the referee is going to try to pull the wrestler off, he should do it before he begins counting, not afterwards. If you count and stop at four before physically trying to break the hold, all you're doing is giving the offending wrestler an extra four seconds to apply the illegal hold!
Now we've got Taichi choking Juice on the ropes until four. And how he's choking him again and won't break after four so the ref jumps in and tries to pull him off but he still won't stop so the ref just starts counting again. This is f*cking ridiculous. This company has totally forgotten that the referee is supposed to be the official of the match, not someone whose primary purpose is to indicate to the fans when the heel is cheating.
Anyway, it's every Taichi match ever, with what feels like several minutes of him just choking or raking eyes before we get the spot where he gets cocky during a strike exchange, allowing the babyface to make a comeback. After that it got good for a bit, but then we got a way overbooked finish, including Taichi getting away with physical abuse of the referee and several instances where he was clearly purposefully attempting to obstruct the referee from doing his job properly and the referee inexplicably doesn't DQ him, and Taichi gets the win. Could you imagine a second baseman grabbing the umpire and throwing him at an oncoming baserunner in an attempt to obstruct the runner and buy his fielders more time to get the ball to him? HELL NO! And if it did happen, there would be an ejection and a HUGE fine and suspension. But f*cking Taichi can grab the referee and use him as a human shield when Juice winds up for a big punch? F*CK OFF. "King of Sport" my ass.
BLOCK B MATCH:
Jeff Cobb vs. Hirooki Goto - 7.5/10
BLOCK B MATCH:
Jay White (w/Gedo) vs. Jon Moxley (w/Shota Umino) - 6.75/10
Given the talent involved, Jay White's comeback story, and the stakes of this match ("If Moxley wins tonight, everyone remaining at six is done"), this really should have been the main event.
Moxley charged right at White to start things off. From there we quickly spilled to the outside, where they stayed for a good minute and a half without ever being counted out. During this, Moxley set a table up but Gedo picked it up and ran away with it. They would later brawl all the way to the back of the crowd, just for Moxley to put White in a front facelock and drag him back to the ring (and, of course, they weren't being counted out during any of this). We also once again got the "count to break an illegal hold but just stop counting if the offending wrestler doesn't break the hold in time."
Ambrose worked on the knees a bit and they both did their usual DDTs and stuff. We got a bad-looking ref bump and Ambrose got low-blowed and the punched with brass knuckles but still kicked out. They went back and forth for another minute or two before Jay White won with the Blade Runner.
At one point Red Shoes went down to count the pin by kneeling down with his hands on his hips, and he started doing this odd thing where he would point before going down to make the count, like he had to let everyone know that he had just spotted this pinfall. This is not what a referee should be doing.
BLOCK B MATCH:
Tetsuya Naito vs. Shingo Takagi - 8/10
Shingo through a chair into the ring that hit Naito in the head. This was not a DQ. We also got the spot where they got to the outside to whip each other into the barricades, as even buddies in New Japan's most closely-knit stable must do this spot to each other. Stuff like this makes these rare intra-stable matches feel so much less special because they feel just like every other match. Once they got back into the ring they had an excellent match, although the result felt inevitable. At this point I'm left wondering why they put Ospreay and Shingo into the tournament if they were going to have them do so poorly. All it does is hurt the junior heavyweight division by making its top guys look worse when compared to the heavyweights.
Another disappointing night from Block B. One of the damn undercard matches was better than three of the tournament matches. Can we just skip the remaining Block B shows and repeat some Block A match-ups instead?