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Nagata vs. Hashi
The match began with a forearm exchange where Nagata was less than impressed with HASHI’s output and bashed the young man to the ground after some kicks wherein he applied an armbar. After that, action spilled to the outside where HASHI took advantage after sending Nagata into the railings, then rolled the veteran back inside and went to work with kicks and strikes that downed Nagata. HASHI’s most innovative and impressive strike came after tying the veteran up on the top rope and hitting a running dropkick to his back. Nagata regained the advantage when his running knee lift caught HASHI off the rope; he then laid out HASHI with a series of snap kicks to the midsection and a high kick to the head.
Momentum again shifted when HASHI hit a float over neck breaker off the ropes and resumed his chopping attack on Nagata in the corner, then hitting an enzuigiri and DDT before being cut off by Nagata on the top rope. HASHI recovered, however, slipping under Nagata, who remained on the top turnbuckle; converted the position into a powerbomb for two. A front slam afterward led HASHI connecting with a top rope senton that got two.
From there it was an extended sequence of Nagata trying to break HASHI’s butterfly lock which he did by sliding to the bottom rope. Nagata then locked in Shirome (seated armbar) of which HASHI was able to break free and did noticeable damage to the already injured left arm of HASHI. HASHI continued fighting bravely, hitting a lariat and crescent kick but could not get more than two-count on Nagata, who eventually won after landing a spinning heel kick and a bridging side suplex.
EVIL vs Katsuhiko Nakajima
Winner: Katsuhiko Nakajima
Nakajima attempted to get the upper hand with his superior striking and karate skills but EVIL took the match to the outside where his, um, evil could prevail. Prevail it did as EVIL trapped the NOAH star’s head into a steel chair and then slammed into the ring post. Nakajima beat the count at thirteen but weakened from the outside attack and EVIL wasted no time capitalizing with strikes, chokes and a running senton.
EVIL dodged Nakajima’s attacks after that but did not take advanatage, arrogantly chokcing Nakajima with his boot but soon found himself on the short end after Nakajima hit a running drop kick to the knee and a running toe kick to EVIL’s face who was stunned in the corner. Nakajima followed that up with a top rope drop kick which got a two count. EVIL broke a wasit lock after that and landed two elbow smashes and a hard suplex that drew loud gasps from the crowd. Nakajima went on a bit of a tear after this landing about four very hard, deafening snap kicks that looked to take EVIL out.
EVIL rebounded though hitting a side suplex that sent both men to the mat for a nine count. The two battled back to their feet, striking each other to loud gasps and shouts from the crowd. The exchange was capped off by EVIL hitting a huge lariat and fireman’s carry sit-out slam that got a two count.EVIL then lifed the lifeless Nakajima up for the STO but was blocked into a full nelson. Nakajima landed a dropkick followed by a PK and brainsbuster for the three count.
Tetsuya Naito vs. Toru Yano
Winner: Toru—kidding! Tetsuya Naito
As with any Yano match, it was fun to watch, but boring to write or read about it. So I didn’t, and you won’t have to either.
Kenny Omega vs. Tomoaki Honma
Winner: Kenny Omega
Omega’s been “two-sweeting” the crowd and doing lots of handshakes on his way to the ring lately which isn’t exactly a face turn naturally, but it’s a departure from his rude and vulgar walks to the ring of only a few months ago. The match starts to cheers of “Honma! Honma!” to which The Cleaner replies, “Don’t give a shit!” God, I love this man.
We get two clean lock ups and breaks before Honma takes advantage with a spinning back elbow and powerslam and Omega retreats to the apron. Honma misses a headbutt on the apron to a possum-plaing Omega, and the two are outside after Honma ducks and baseball slide from Omega. Honma again attempts and again misses a headbutt on the floor, and Omega pulls up the protective padding, covering Honma with it before hitting his double stomp from the top rope.
I’m not sure what the point of that is, wouldn’t the padding give your opponent protection? Is Omega secretly out for the benefit and well being of his enemies? The chainsaw elbow and giant wad of spit would say no, though the fact that Omega used the spit to shine Honma’s head would say yes. Afterall, that was a promise he made before the match. The two then trade sequences of hitting most of their signature spots, including a collision of Omega’s running knee lift and Honma’s flying headbutt, and Omega won with the One-Winged Angel.
Michael Elgin vs. Shibata
Winner: Michael Elgin
Interesting to see who fans would cheer for and early on they’re mostly behind Shibata with a smattering of support voice for Elgin. It’s hard out there for a gaijin. Shibata starts in with an overhead wrist lock and works Elgin down to the mat and does that thing where he sets a guy’s harm underneath their head and kicks their tricep. I can’t find a name for it but damn does it look like it hurts.
He followed that attack up with an armbar which Elgin powered out of and set The Wrestler on a nearby top turnbuckle. The two then decided to recreate the Shibata/Ishii Wrestle Kingdom 10 match and tee off on one another with their hardest strikes possible. The crowd ate this up, gasping and shouting along with each blow. I generally don’t like when this spot happens early on in a match but it was a fairly short sequence and honestly, I rather enjoyed it. Look who’s changing and growing.
Elgin got the upperhand after sending Shibata into the railing, and stomping his injured left arm into the ground and stayed on the offensive back inside the ring with Shibata screaming at him; demanding to be hit harder and harder. Elgin obliged until Shibata had had enough and sent the big man into the corner with a stinging forearm elbow smash and followed that up with a corner splash.
Mike battled out of an abdominable stretch to hit a corner enzugiri, but Shibata countered with a guiloutine choke. Elgin attempted to power out, and needed two tries to break the hold with a thunderous suplex. The two battled back to their feet with foremarm smashes, but this time it was Elgin with the advantage, hitting two big lariats in the corner, and a suplex for two followd by more strikes. Shibata went for another corner splash but was caught by Elgin who threw him to the ground but then missed with his subsequent over the top rope splash from the apron.
Shibata started in with kicks from here, but his momentum was shortlived as Elgin landed a crashing lariat sending himself to the mat and Shibata to the outside floor where and incredible power spot took place. Elgin power bombed Shibata into the ringpost not once but twice then a third time back inside the ring after which Shibata shocklingly kicked out at two and locked in a triangle armbar.
Elgin’s power would not be denied though as he lifted the hanging Shibata up for a fourth power bomb this time into the corner turnbuckle padding. Shibata fought back, locking in a sleeper punctuated with a thunderous roundhouse kick to Elgin’s chest when Michael broke the hold after which Shibata reapplied the submission then hit a giant half nelson suplex. Elgin kicked out fo the pin attempt at two and Shibata began throwing kicks at half speed to a downed Elgin, both men apparently exhausted.
Elgin then landed two lariats, one to the back of Shibata’s head and one to his chest before hitting yet two more power bombs, one into the corner and getting the win with a pinfall victory. After the match, Elgin vowed to win the remainder of his tournament matches. Given New Japan’s support of the Canadian all year long I would not be surprised to see that happen.
I’ve noticed other sites giving grades to matches so this week I’ve decided to add my review system to the column. I devised this rating system after pouring over countless hours of the most exalted and important puro matches. It is a very detail-oriented system which I expect you to respect and take very seriously. Very, very seriously.
Match Most Likely To Make Me Respect Old Man Strength: Yuji Nagata vs. YOSHI-HASHI
Match Most Likely Two Require Extensive Dental Treatment: EVIL vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima
Match Most Likely To Be Enjoyed By An Eight-Year-Old: Tetsuya Naito vs. Toru Yano
Match Most Likely To Be Enjoyed By Someone Who Appreciates Karate Kid References: Kenny Omega vs. Tomoaki Honma
Match Most Likely To Make Me Keep Bugging My Wife To Pay Attention: Katsuyori Shibata vs Michael Elgin