Friday, August 14, 2015

A Block comes to an end with Styles vs. Tanahashi

With the non-tournament matches becoming more important with the influx of all the other wrestlers now arriving to work the weekend of events, it becomes pertinent to cover the entire card.

All images credited to NJPW.
The show opened with a Bullet Club win as the team of Karl Anderson, Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi beat the team of Satoshi Kojima, Tomoaki Honma and Mascara Dorada. The match featured a definite tease of the Kojima/Anderson match coming tomorrow night.

The second match of the night featured one B Block competitor but its implications were far more oriented towards Sunday's finale as IWGP Jr. Tag Team champions Nick and Matt Jackson, the Young Bucks, teamed with their Bullet Club stablemate Cody Hall to take on the ROH unit of Michael Elgin, Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish. The Bucks and ReDRagon will face off on Sunday for the titles and both units wanted to make a statement in their first night back in Japan.

Matt opened the match with a few sharp words for a former detractor, saying directly to the camera, "How's that Cornette. Pretty good for a couple Junior spot monkeys, huh?" The Bucks wear their heel status well, but it didn't save them from the brunt of an amazing dive by the now super-over Michael Elgin. Elgin & ReDRagon took solid control, even mocking the Bucks' signature pose. Elgin would get the win for his team with his brutal powerbomb on Cody Hall.

Elgin brutalized the Young Bucks in their match.
The next match of the night would have implications for the Jr. Heavyweight singles title as champ KUSHIDA teamed with Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi to take on Hirooki Goto, Captain New Japan and the returning Ricochet, the man he will defend the belt against on Sunday. While his Lucha Underground duties might keep his runs in NJPW short, his arrival in New Japan is nothing but a good move for the company, even if he may split his time between them and Dragon Gate still.

Nagata and Nakanishi teaming here is certainly a lead up to their NOAH trio with Maybach Taniguchi, but it didn't stop them from being manhandled by Hirooki Goto. After nearly ten minutes of action, Ricochet and KUSHIDA finally found their way into the ring together and the two high-fliers did not disappoint. But ultimately it came down to Nagata making the perpetually jobbing Captain tap.

The final match of the prelims was unique as the CHAOS unit of Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi teamed with Kazushi Sakuraba to take on another CHAOS unit of Kazuchika Okada and Gedo alongside their partners, the returning Matt Taven and Michael Bennett (with Maria Kanellis).

But the big story of this match even with limited time devoted to it was the animosity between Nakamura and Okada going into their match tomorrow. But in the end, it came down to Sakuraba and Gedo. Maria tried to distract Sakuraba, but her distraction wasn't enough to keep the veteran MMA fghter from making Gedo quickly tap.

In the opening tournament match, Doc Gallows took out Katsuyori Shibata in a brutal bout between both men. My hopes is that this will set up a title match on Sunday with Shibata and Sakuraba challenging Gallows & Anderson, but we will see.

Bad Luck Fale and Toru Yano battled next, and Fale predictably brutalized Yano. But Fale's brutality came back to haunt him as Yano escaped a powerbomb attempt on the outside, He dodged an attack by Tama Tonga, low-blowed both Bullet Club members and ran back to the ring to get the count out victory.

Tetsuya Naito and Hiroyoshi Tenzan battled next. Tenzan clearly wasn't happy with Naito's new attitude, but that didn't stop Naito from picking the older man apart in his new more meticulous style. But Tenzan wanted to make Naito tap. He hooked on the Anaconda Vice more than once, but ultimately Naito had no choice but to tap to the hold.

Naito learns to hate the Anaconda Vice.
Togi Makabe and Kota Ibushi met in the semi-main event. Not much of note for this one, but Ibushi did pick up the win and possibly a future NEVER title shot.

The main event pitted Hiroshi Tanahashi against AJ Styles once again. The two men brutalized one another, but ultimately it was Tanahashi that picked up the win and the trip to the G1 final. The aftermath proved particularly interesting, as Tanahashi showed tons of disrespect to Styles. Whether this is just his hatred for Bullet Club or a sign of a darker turn for Tanahashi remains to be seen.

Also, the most dangerous move in wrestling came into play.
A Block's close out did not disappoint. Night 18 should be equally interesting with both Jr. Heavyweight Tag title competitors facing off against the New Japan youngsters as well as a 8 man and 10 man match that should have implications for Sunday's full card. Plus the Kojima / Anderson match where Karl Anderson could play spoiler to what should be an amazing main event: Shinsuke Nakamura versus Kazuchika Okada.

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