Day #2 (7/22/16 – Block B):

Manabu Nakanishi & TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) defeated Captain New Japan, David Finlay, & Juice Robinson

The saga of not tagging in Captain New Japan continues. This is way more fun than it has any right to be. More, please!

CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii) & Naomichi Marufuji defeated the Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, & Yujiro Takahashi)

Goto and Ishii have to fight each other in the next day’s tournament match (stablemates never fight each other in NJPW except for tournament matches), and Marufuji faces Fale. This match promoted both of those.

Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA, & Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask, & Togi Makabe

KUSHIDA just looked happy to be on a team that did not include Captain New Japan. Happy KUSHIDA is awesome KUSHIDA. Taguchi and his butt-based offense do not entertain me in the slightest, but this is clearly a minority viewpoint. Tanahashi and Makabe square off in the next round, so they went at it during this match.


Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & SANADA) defeated CHAOS (Gedo & Kazuchika Okada)

SANADA faces Okada in the next round, so getting under his skin is the order of the day. If SANADA beats Okada after beating Tanahashi, then the sky is truly the limit for him. A good match, with Gedo as the main target. LIdJ know that to anger Okada, you target Gedo, and it worked like a charm this time.

Katsuhiko Nakajima defeated Toru Yano

Nakajima was expected to make a strong showing in his first tournament match, and kind of didn’t. The match wasn’t terrible, but something was missing. The superior athlete beat the comedy cheater, so it all worked out. Nakajima needs to step up his game. He’s a favorite in NOAH, but NJPW fans need a reason to care.

YOSHI-HASHI defeated Kenny Omega

Another major upset! The redemption story of YOSHI-HASHI continues into his first tournament match, where he scored a clean win over the leader of the Bullet Club. A genuine feel-good moment. He carries himself with a little more swagger and confidence now. It doesn’t hurt that YOSHI has apparently been allowed to carry on his buddy Nakamura’s legacy by using several of his moves. Even the most cynical viewer can see that this means a great deal to him. You go, YOSHI.

EVIL defeated Michael Elgin

Surprise. Elgin is the current IWGP Intercontinental champion, and the champions are usually pretty protected. Yeah, Okada lost his match, but he has enough status to absorb a shock loss, and Elgin may not. The match was two big, stocky guys beating the daylights out of each other. Not Tomohiro Ishii levels of hoss, but in that direction. EVIL just hasn’t clicked. The first of Naito’s recruits into LIdJ, EVIL started out as an embarrassingly bad Halloween costume, with a Renaissance festival hooded robe and a giant plastic scythe. And the finger lasers. Don’t forget about the finger lasers. Other writers have praised his improvement after an awkward start, but I haven’t seen it. He’s definitely been the weak link in LIdJ, but embracing a ridiculous quasi-supernatural gimmick, making it your own, and supporting it with your ring work has been known to work before.

Yuji Nagata defeated Tetsuya Naito

At first, this seemed a poor decision. Ultimately, though, Naito’s focus on antics and annoying Nagata cost him the match, which completely made sense. Naito really likes to do Nagata’s hand gesture, apparently. Like any Nagata match, this was pretty good, and opening with a loss doesn’t mean that Naito still can’t rebound and win the whole thing.


Tomoaki Honma defeated Katsuyori Shibata

Katsuyori Shibata is my favorite wrestler, and he should win everything. All the time. Including the American presidential race. Every year since 2013 was supposed to be his year, and every year NJPW pulls back on him in some way. This year just feels different. Aside from losing the five guys mentioned earlier to WWE (and having both the spots to fill and the reasons to push him), he has a signed contract with NJPW now instead of freelancing, and holds the NEVER Openweight title after a feud with a group of legends (Kojima, Tenzan, and Nagata). That feud ended with Nagata saying that Shibata was the one and only heir to Nakamura’s role as the King of Strong Style. That’s a major endorsement. Naito and Shibata are heavy favorites to win Block B.

On the flip side, the Honma love is incomprehensible. The lovable underdog, who misses his finishing move more often than he hits it, and loses most of his matches, is a great concept. Honma in that role doesn’t work for me. He’s a Japanese Hardcore Holly lookalike with Hogan-esque lower body movements. Not exactly the sort to dominate G-1.

Honma beat Shibata. Outrage ensued. This should never happen. Seriously though, Honma’s schtick only works if he loses. Beating someone this high up on the food chain may actually hurt him down the road.

Cheers,

Drowgoddess

Night 1
Night 2
Night 3
Night 4
Night 5
The Big Picture of Week #1

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