Block A has been my jam during the G1 this year. I think Block B has the benefit of the real superstars, but Block A is deeper. Looking at the Group of 8 a-top Block A you’ve got four guys who could win both the Block and the tournament (sorry Fale). I’d also say you’re nuts to think that Ibushi isn’t a threat to win the whole thing either as he’s had nothing but great matches throughout the tournament. Heading into Day 13 I really don’t know what to expect.
Bad Luck Fale (4-2, 8 Pts) v. Kota Ibushi (3-3, 6 Pts) [Block A]: I have never watched a match where I felt like nothing that I was seeing made sense. This match was a fever dream. Ibushi kind of looked like garbage. His offense looked pretty awful because in fairness Ibushi slapping Fale isn’t going to ever look like it’s hurting Fale. Plus, Fale is so immobile that when Ibushi goes for a rana Fale has to like, transition to a knee, then slowly roll — it is just all bad. This match was such a disappointment that even the Bad Luck Fall, the one thing that Fale does that is awesome, looked like shit. I might just be biased because I love Ibushi and can’t stand Fale, and Fale wins here but either way, not how I wanted to start Day 13’s tournament action.
Toru Yano (2-4, 4 Pts) v. Tetsuya Naito (4-2, 8 Pts) [Block A]: It’s kind of hilarious but Yano is the perfect foil for Naito right now. Naito’s attitude is that he just doesn’t care, until he’s confronted with someone who genuinely doesn’t care — as Yano is clowning on Naito, Naito is getting frustrated. It’s perfect. Naito laying down on his side leads to Yano laying down on the ring apron. Naito keeping his entrance clothes on, leads to Yano putting his entrance robe back on and laughing at Naito. All of this leads to Naito being more vicious in his attack. That’s the little trick to Naito’s whole character, and it’s a great wrinkle that came out in this match. Naito doesn’t care, except that he does — and when he’s faced with someone who just laughs at him, he can’t really handle that so he snaps. That’s why after Naito hits the Destino and pins Yano he doesn’t let up, he keeps the assault going. Yano continues to be a revelation during this tournament and Naito continues to be one of the MVP’s of the entire Block process.
AJ Styles (4-2, 8 Pts) v. Hiroyoshi Tenzan (1-5, 2 Pts) [Block A]: I’ve said before that these Tenzan matches can be good, if he’s paired up with someone who is willing and able to do all of the work. Tenzan is basically a motionless headbutt and mongolian chop machine. He needs someone who will do all the running around, all of the motion in the match, and he’ll stand back and occasionally headbutt you and concave your chest. Fortunately Styles is one of those guys that is willing and able to do the heavy lifting and still create a really good match. This was really good. Much better than a match with Hiroyoshi Tenzan had any right to be, and once again I give a ton of credit to Styles for that because he did a lot of work here to make this thing come off right. In the end, Tenzan taps to the Calf Killer and AJ Styles joins the group at 10.
Doc Gallows (1-5, 2 Pts) v. Togi Makabe (3-2, 6 Pts) [Block A]: Whether it’s fair or not I hated this match. My hatred of this match came not during this match, or even during the entrance. I’ve hated this match since it was announced. There are just certain pairings that I have no desire to see, and this is one of them. It really wasn’t a bad match. It was certainly better than what I expected, but I expected a bag of garbage. Makabe wins with the King Kong Knee and let’s just leave it at that and get to the reason we’re all here.
Katsuyori Shibata (4-2, 8 Pts) v. Hiroshi Tanahashi (4-2, 8 Pts) [Block A]: This wasn’t my favorite match in the G1 this year, but I’d argue it’s probably the most “complete”. By that I mean, it starts off very technical, they took a long time to set everything up and to build towards the violence, and the brutal striking, than the quick paced exchange of big moves all transitioning to the sprint to the finish. It was as complete a match as I can remember watching during the G1 this year. Shibata has been excellent during the G1 this year but I think the clock may have struck midnight on his run. Tanahashi continues to put on fantastic performances and this was no different. I feel a little lousy for Shibata who has lost back to back matches on a quick roll up. He’s basically the WWE Diva’s Division of G1 competitors. Losing to Yano on a roll up is one thing, Tanahashi rolling you up is a different animal. As I said, I might’ve liked Shibata/Ibushi or Styles/Ibushi more, but I don’t think any of those matches were as complete as this one.
Final Thoughts: As great as this G1 has been — and it’s been very good, if Block A winds up coming down to Tanahashi and Fale I might have to consider canceling my New Japan World subscription.
Block A Standings (Through Day 13)
Bad Luck Fale (10 pts)
Tetsuya Naito (10 pts)
AJ Styles (10 pts)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (10 pts)
Katsuyori Shibata (8 pts)
Togi Makabe (8 pts)
Kota Ibushi (6 pts)
Toru Yano (4 pts)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2 pts)
Doc Gallows (2 pts)