The final night of the B Block looks like an excellent card, with a much anticipated Kota Ibushi vs Kenny Omega headlining. I’ve been looking forward to this match all tournament, so I’m hoping it lives up to the hype….
One of the reasons I thought this night would be good is due to Tama Tonga and Toru Yano facing each other, therefore not dragging anyone else down. This was barely a match, just a big angle where the Firing Squad interfered and were ejected from the building. A pointless end to what felt like a pointless angle throughout the tournament….I didn’t think this was worth a rating to be honest. At least it was short.
Juice Robinson vs Hirooki Goto was what you would expect from these two (3/5) A decent brawl with the story of Goto’s arm injury being the main focus, but not benefiting the action. Goto is an his best when he’s going all out, so being limited by selling an arm injury doesn’t help him. I liked this, but it wasn’t essential viewing.
Sanada vs Tomohiro Ishii was one I was looking forward to and I wasn’t disappointed (4/5) There was some great wrestling in this one and I was guessing all the way to the finish to see who was going to win. I can’t compare this match to Ishii v Omega or Ishii vs Ibushi – I think Sanada, for all his wrestling skill, lacks intensity and that really hurts his matches. Sometimes I just want to see him step it up a gear and really get aggressive in ring. It’s the one thing holding Sanada back in my opinion…I always think wrestlers need to have that fire to take matches to the next level and Sanada doesn’t have that yet in my opinion.
Tetsuya Naito vs Zack Sabre Jr was another match I was looking forward to. This felt like a grudge match, with the commentary team really getting over Sabre Jr and Naito’s enmity and there was a good intensity here. I also thought this match saw some great chemistry – Sabre Jr’s technical wrestling really meshes with Naito’s speed and aerial tactics. The finish was excellent too, with Sabre Jr countering a second Destino attempt into the Zack Driver, (the Michinoku Driver, given to him by his cornerman Taka Michinoku) to win this match. A really fun match and a sneaky 4.5/5 for me, I’d love to see a rematch.
So…could Ibushi vs Omega live up to my expectations? The short answer was yes – given both men’s history and in ring execution, this match couldn’t fail to be amazing. I loved the story here – two friends with a rivalry finally meeting in a New Japan ring after reconciling and taking each other to the limit. Some of the moves here were insane – a top rope Tiger Driver, an Ibushi double stomp to Omega, who was seated on the top rope and an Omega seated inverted piledriver to Ibushi on the ring apron come to mind. The offence was really crisp with no wasted motion – I can’t recall a match where every strike felt like a knockout shot and every big move felt like the winning move. You really got the feeling this match meant a great deal to both men and it was a pleasure to watch it. An easy 5/5 for me.
Overall – a great night of wrestling. The last three matches were great and I would highly recommend them. An overall rating of 4.12/5.00 and easily the best night of the tournament.