Day 7, May 25
Who’s ready for five straight days of wrestling?
First up was Yoshinobu Kanemaru v. Tiger Mask. Kanemaru got by with a little from his friends as first Taka Michinoku got involved, then Taichi wiped out Tiger with a whiskey bottle and Kanemaru finished it off with Deep Impact. Suzuki-gun’s shenanigans continued as El Desperado faced Volador Jr. Despy tapped out but not until he’d thrown the ref out of the way. His tactics backfired though as he had a chair superkicked into his face and Volador took the two points with the Volador Spiral. Bushi kept himself alive in the tournament with his first win, beating Ryusuke Taguchi. Kushida’s troubles continued though as he fell victim to ACH, who blocked Back to the Future, hit a Midnight Driver, a huge lariat and another Driver.
I think Kushida is buggered.
Day 8, May 26
It all started so well for Marty Scurll, but a loss to Taichi has left him on the brink. I’m really starting to resent Suzuki-gun’s methods, Marty is heading out on his own without the Bullet Club while Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi don’t need an escort from LIJ, but Suzuki-gun are always poking their nose in. Marty essentially wrestled a 3-on-1 handicap and succumbed to the damned numbers game as Michael Cole might put it. They almost made Marty look like a good guy until his post-match interview which consisted of screaming “bollocks” a lot, insisting he never cheats (The Villain?) and blaming the young boys for taking his brolly away.
Jushin Thunder Liger’s match with Ricochet played out a lot like his previous with Will Ospreay, as the younger, stronger, quicker man prevailed. Despite the losing streak, there’s so much respect for Liger from these crowds, he gets applauded to the back after every match and there’s a clamour to get a high-five or even a closer look. He might be out but they’re desperate to see him get a win.
Despite what I said about Suzuki-gun, Taka’s match with Hiromu was actually bullshit-free. Looks like they’ve put their eggs into Taichi’s basket with regards to Block A. Taka probably should have brought some help as Hiromu defeated him with a Timebomb. Defeat for Taka means he is now out.
The final match of the day was a cracker from Dragon Lee and Will Ospreay. There was such a high level of technique on display with every kind of flip, rana and ….dive you could think of. They mixed in some hard strikes too, I particularly liked Dragon dropkicking Ospreay in the face as he posed. Ospreay kicked out of Dragon’s best stuff and finished the job with his standard 540 kick and Oscutter. Without doubt, the best house show match so far.
Day 9, May 27
Block A may have started to trim the fat but Block B is now wide open.
El Desperado’s position is looking less secure after he suffered a second consecutive defeat, as Aceyaitchy got the win. Starting to see why Suzuki-gun cheat all the time. Bushi is picking up momentum though, as he got a win over Volador Jr. Taguchi and Tiger Mask provided some relief to proceedings. The Taguchi runs the ropes until he’s knackered spot makes me laugh every time, by the end Tiger didn’t even have to keep pushing him. Taguchi got a second wind and the two points as Tiger tapped to the ankle lock. The fist bump of mutual appreciation at the end just showed what a good football manager Taguchi is, he’s a respected motivator, give him the Sunderland job.
Kushida was fighting for his future but by jove, he pulled it out again. Despite Kanemaru doing Suzuki-gun’s favourite trick of tapping when the ref is indisposed, and interference from Taichi, and a whiskey bottle shot, Kushida went Back to the Future and lived to fight another day. The real hero though is the young boy who was so sick of Suzuki-gun’s crap that he just grabbed Taichi to stop him breaking up the pin.
With everyone in Block B sitting on four or six points, everyone still stands a chance of making the final with just two games to play.
Day 10, May 28
I remember a time before BOSJ took over my life. I think I’ve seen more of Taichi than I have of my family over the past ten days. *Rips off pants to a mild pop*
There was little resistance from the already-eliminated Liger & Taka as Dragon Lee & Ricochet picked up routine wins. The third match saw Taichi defeat Ospreay. Haha, what? To be fair, it took three guys to get the better of Ospreay and even then he nearly fought them off but Taichi denied the Oscutter with a superkick and won it with a powerbomb. While I’m fairly sure this amounts to a war crime in the wrestling world, Taichi beating Ospreay (LOL) opens it up at the top of Block A.
Another one has bitten the dust as Marty Scurll is out after losing to Hiromu. To Marty’s credit, he went down swinging, this was great. It believably looked like ending four times before Hiromu finally set off the Timebomb to put himself on top of the table alongside four others. This match had me thinking that Hiromu is actually an amazing babyface. In nearly every match, he takes a licking but keeps on ticking. How often is he dead on his feet at the end of a match? In this particular match, he ate four apron superkicks but just kept getting up and roaring as Marty lined up another. And above all, just look at his scrapbook. You try and tell me a man who carries a comically large scrapbook is evil.
So, heading into the final day Block A stands like this:
Hiromu Takahashi, Dragon Lee, Ricochet, Will Ospreay, Taichi (8 points)
Marty Scurll (6 points)
Taka Michinoku (2 points)
Jushin Thunder Liger (0 points)
Day 11, May 29
Back at Korakuen Hall for the penultimate day of Block B, and it’s live. Hello, camera angles and excitable commentators.
Two-time winner Tiger Mask rolled back the years to beat El Desperado and keep himself in contention. Despite having his knee worked over, old man Tiger inflicted a third straight loss on Desperado with a Tiger Suplex, even though his foot was thrown into the ropes. Tiger had his mask ripped during the match and nearly took Desperado’s in retaliation post-match but thought better of it. What a nice man.
Bushi continued his comeback, this time beating Kanemaru. Bushi was jumped during his entrance but swiftly got revenge with a diving crossbody in the crowd. Bushi fought through all the usual nonsense, blocked a whiskey spit and landed MX to get the win. Just to rub it in, he glugged Suzuki-gun’s whiskey and spat it in Kanemaru’s face. I think they had it coming. Volador joined the six points party, sweeping ACH aside, despite taking five consecutive tope suicidas mamma mia, which fired him into the bleachers.
The main event was the surprisingly good Kushida v. Taguchi. I expected jokes because Taguchi, and we still got them, but it was just a part of a long, superbly wrestled match. It also helped that today’s matches had commentary to amp up the excitement. My favourite is when they just shout “aaaaahhhhhhh!” I had no idea Taguchi had this sort of match in him but it was a thrilling watch and probably the second best match of the tournament (nothing’s beating Ospreay v. Ricochet). After swapping signatures, Kushida managed to apply the Hoverboard Lock and rolled into Back to the Futureaaaaaaahhhh.
Gedo actually did it, the mad old bastard. With one round left, everyone in Block B is tied on six points. Gedo’s definitely had his calculator out, Bushi & Kushida looked like toast but somehow everyone has won three and lost three. How much planning must it have taken to get all eight guys tied? Madness. Considering Block A too, 13 out of 16 guys stand a chance of winning with one round-robin game remaining.
Wednesday and Thursday are going to be tense.