Day 12 is upon us and nothing is really settled at this point. Block B has been coming on strong lately after having some pretty poor showings at the beginning of the tournament (in my opinion). My MVP of the block so far has been Michael Elgin who has been great, and Kazuchika Okada who is always great. All I know is this — Block B will get back in the ring on Day 14 in Korakuen Hall and sooner or later these guys are going to have to separate themselves from one another in the standings.
Michael Elgin (3-2, 6 Pts) v. Yuji Nagata (1-4, 2 Pts) [Block B]: At this point there is no use denying that Michael Elgin is taking New Japan by storm. A clean pinfall win over Yuji Nagata and suddenly Elgin finds himself with 8 points. The crowd is loving him, and he’s having good to very good matches every time out. There is an Elgin/Tomohiro Ishii match coming down the road that should be amazing. This was a tough, hard hitting match and Elgin took as well as he gave. Nagata has been really good during this G1, better than I remember him from last year and he continues to prove that he’s ageless. The crowd still loves the deadlift superplex-falcon arrow spot, and the buckle bomb, blue thunder bomb combo to finish the match for Elgin gets people charged up as well. I expect Elgin might not get to 10 points, but he’s made a very strong case to not have this G1 appearance be the last time he shows up in New Japan.
Karl Anderson (3-2, 6 Pts) v. Tomoaki Honma (0-5, 0 Pts) [Block B]: I have to give credit where credit is due, this match felt like it was SO S-L-O-W, but the end totally flipped me on it. Honma is great at getting a crowd fully invested in what they’re watching. Dude simply does not win G1 matches but that never stops the crowd from fully committing to the bit, and just getting wrapped up in his offense to the point where you think this might finally be the time. Honma goes for the top rope Kokeshi and because Anderson isn’t dumb, he just jumps to his feet, catches Honma on the way down and drops him in the Gun Stun. Now, admittedly the impact to Honma is basically the same whether that happened, or he hit the Kokeshi so the match being an automatic kill doesn’t make much sense, but it was innovative and a fun way to end the match. Anderson joins the group at 8 points.
Satoshi Kojima (2-3, 4 Pts) v. Hirooki Goto (3-2, 6 Pts) [Block B]: This was such a good match that it caused me to go back and re-evaluate my feelings on Kojima. Dude has been on point during the G1 this year. He had a good match with Takahashi (almost impossible) and this match was better than good, it was entertaining as hell. Goto has kind of developed into this guy who takes a ton of damage but keeps coming back, keeps charging up and then ultimately overcomes you in the end. That character type is tough sometimes because if your opponent can’t carry the offensive load, the match can slow down to a brutal degree. Kojima did a great job of carrying the action here, and this match never felt slow (compared to the previous match especially). Ultimately Goto wins with the Shouten Kai and my pre-tournament prediction lives on as Goto joins the group with 8 points.
Yujiro Takahashi (2-3, 4 Pts) v. Shinsuke Nakamura (3-2, 6 Pts) [Block B]: This is why Nakamura is the best. Takahashi comes out alone — apparently he’s so lousy that he can’t even pay women to come out and dance for him. But Nakamura is no dummy, so when he comes out the minute he gets into the ring he motions to Takahashi asking where the dancing girl is, it’s hilarious because that is absolutely the only thing that Takahashi has going for him, and if he isn’t going to have the girl with him, there is almost no reason to care about Takahashi, even when you’re wrestling him in a must win G1 tournament match. Other than the opening twenty seconds, the rest of this match certainly happened. Nakamura wins, because of course he does and suddenly there is a huge logjam at 8 points, and Nakamura, after injury, is coming.
Tomohiro Ishii (4-1, 8 Pts) v. Kazuchika Okada (4-1, 8 Pts) [Block B]: The best way I can describe this match would be — at one point Okada is throwing forearms, Ishii isn’t avoiding them, he’s diving his head into Okada’s forearm, and Okada is smiling and laughing. It was like Okada couldn’t really process why this tiny, ball of rage, wouldn’t stop coming forward. That exchange ended with Ishii decking Okada. I didn’t love the early phase of this match because it took place outside the ring and on a single camera show that never translates well. However, once things went inside the ring, it was *so* good. Ishii is kind of the perfect opponent for Okada because he’s brutally tough, his offense looks great, but Okada can also toss him around like a rag doll. The finish saw Okada with a gorgeous german suplex dropping Ishii on his head, right into a rainmaker lariat and the three count. Day 12 ends with Kazuchika Okada a-top Block B with 10 points.
Final Thoughts: Day 12 was a strong day from the B Block. Elgin/Nagata, Kojima/Goto and Okada/Ishii were all really good matches that deserve to be checked out. Each member of the Block has three matches remaining. Now that Okada has 10 points, you can effectively write off Takahashi, Kojima, Nagata and Honma (not that any of them had a chance to win anyway). We’re going to separate most of the other pretenders on Day 14 when this Block comes back. The next day we see Block B will be at Korakuen with Goto/Ishii in the main event, so that should be pretty awesome.
Standings (Through Day 12)
Kazuchika Okada (10 pts)
Tomohiro Ishii (8 pts)
Michael Elgin (8 pts)
Karl Anderson (8 pts)
Hirooki Goto (8 pts)
Shinsuke Nakamura (8 pts)
Yujiro Takahashi (4 pts)
Satoshi Kojima (4 pts)
Yuji Nagata (2 pts)
Tomoaki Honma (0 pts)