Block B got underway in Sendai with a line-up that saw El Phantasmo make his singles debut in New Japan.

The tour stayed in Miyagi’s Sendai Sunplaza Hall for the start of block B. Kevin Kelly, Chris Charlton and Caprice Coleman remain on commentary for a reshuffled undercard.

Suzuki-gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru, TAKA Michinoku & Taichi) vs. Tiger Mask, Jonathan Gresham & Yota Tsuji
We’ve got some customary teases for Wednesday’s block matches, and we start with TAKA mocking Jonathan Gresham’s height. Well, it’s about the only time TAKA gets to do it…

Gresham catches TAKA in a hammerlock, before finding an easy escape as TAKA countered in kind. Some nice, fluid stuff early, before TAKA just poked Gresham in the eye… and that led to a spell of Suzuki-gun domination, with Gresham getting taken outside as his arm gets wrapped around the ring post. Back in the ring, Taichi continues to work over Gresham’s wrist, as does Kanemaru, as Suzuki-gun found a weakness… but Gresham finds a way back in with a Stunner and an enziguiri before bringing in Tiger Mask. There’s a crossbody off the top to Kanemaru as Tiger Mask’s early flurry led him into a crucifix roll through into an armbar… only for Taichi to break it up as the ring fills.

The ring empties as Tiger Mask hits a Tiger Driver… but he can’t make a cover, and tags take us to Tsuji and Taichi, with the latter having to fight out of a Boston crab. TAKA comes in to help double-team the Young Lion for a spell, before the Taichi trousers get ripped off. Tsuji ducks a buzzsaw kick and nearly snatches a win with a roll-up, but Taichi lands a buzzsaw kick at the second attempt before tapping out Tsuji to the Stretch Plum. A decent enough opener, as we establish a new weakness with Gresham, while Tiger Mask looked to have recovered sufficiently from his bad wheel. ***

After the match, Kanemaru rips off Tiger Mask’s mask.

SHO & Shota Umino vs. Dragon Lee & Juice Robinson
They use SHO’s new entrance music again, which we neglected to mention last night, is very video gamey. Think “not quite 8-bit”. For a change, we’re interrupted before the match by the Death Rider/Time’s Up video for Juice Robinson…

SHO and Dragon Lee start us off with a scramble on the mat, as SHO ends up transitioning into a cross armbreaker attempt on Dragon Lee. The IWGP junior champion stands up and out of the hold, only to take him down with a clothesline. Tags bring in Shota Umino and Juice Robinson, with Shota looking to score his first win by charging through the distracted Juice with a shoulder charge, before a Boston crab’s blocked in the ropes.

Juice manages to edge ahead with a clothesline and a cannonball in the corner, before a back suplex dumps Umino in the middle of the ring. A back senton’s good for a near-fall as SHO broke up the pin, and after some buffering, we’re in with SHO and Dragon Lee exchanging forearms. Way too many forearms. Dragon Lee tries to switch it up with a ‘rana, but it’s blocked as the pair exchange knees before a rebound German from Dragon Lee’s replied to with a simple clothesline.

Shota Umino and Juice Robinson are back in, with Shota getting his knees up to block a back senton. Juice hits back with some chops that sting Umino, only to end up taking a suplex for a near-fall. A flapjack drops Umino for a near-fall, as SHO and Dragon Lee get involved… and send each other to the outside, opening up Umino for a clothesline for yet another near-fall. From there, Juice goes to the finish with his elevated Boston crab, and that forces the submission. Juice is slowly establishing that as a weapon ahead of his match with Mystery Man, but the bigger story is SHO and Dragon Lee’s continued brawling after the bell. **¾

Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori & Gedo) vs. Villain Enterprises (Marty Scurll & Brody King)
Scurll vs. Ishimori is the match we’re getting tomorrow, and it’s the latest encounter between Marty and his former Bullet Club buddies.

There’s a jump start as Ishimori went after Scurll, while Gedo choked out Brody King with a towel. Probably his best shot. In the ring, Scurll sidesteps a handspring from Ishimori, before the pair attempt their finishers… only for Marty to land a back elbow as Ishimori was sent outside. An apron superkick cracks the Bone Soldier, before a double stomp off the top rope begins the focus on Ishimori’s hand… only for Gedo to choke Marty with a towel again. At least we now know those Switchblade towels are durable.

The towel chokes wear down Marty a little, while Gedo baited Brody King in… and that led us back to Scurll vs. Ishimori as Marty tried in vain to tag in. He manages to, but the ref’s distracted by Gedo, so we get the classic trope there as the Bullet Club continue to frustrate the big guy on the apron. Marty finally forces an opening, but Ishimori charges the ring to try and knock Brody King off the apron. It backfires as Brody comes in and lays into Gedo and Ishimori anyway, before he hit the ropes for a backflip double armdrag that wowed the Sendai crowd. He keeps up by charging into Gedo with a clothesline, allowing Scurll to follow up with a slingshot into a punch from King… who followed up with a back senton as Gedo was draped across Scurll’s knees. Oof.

All that’s left there is the Black Plague, and that’s plenty for Marty to get the W. A fun debut for Brody King, who I have a sneaky feeling may be an outside bet for the G1, particularly if this tour works well for him. ***

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & Shingo Takagi) vs. Titan & Toa Henare
Shingo had his right elbow heavily taped up after his war with SHO last night, which suggests that Titan may have a slight chance.

Shingo starts out with Titan, only to get dropkicked to the outside for an early dive attempt, as Titan ended up faking out. Tags take us to Henare and Naito, but Henare has to overcome some double-teaming… and eventually succumbs as Titan found himself thrown into the ring post. That leaves Henare on his own, with little help as a back senton from Shingo led to an easy two-count. Naito loses a neckbreaker as Henare blocks and countered with a suplex, before tags took us back to Shingo and Titan. A Matrix escape saves Titan from a clothesline as he built up a head of steam, crashing into Shingo with a crossbody off the top, only to go for a ‘rana that’s blocked and countered into a death valley driver.

Tags get us back to Henare and Naito, with the latter eating a leaping shoulder tackle, before Naito struck back with a Combinacion Cabron. Shingo’s in to throw Henare into a diving boot for a near-fall, before Shingo and Titan brawled outside to finish things off… Henare had to block a Destino, then a swinging DDT. In the end, a leaping forearm from Naito finds its mark as Destino quickly followed to put him away. After the bell, Shingo and Titan get into it again, as Shingo ended up backing off. ***

Best of the Super Junior 26, Block B: DOUKI vs. Ren Narita
DOUKI’s out with Taichi for back-up, as commentary stresses the correct pronunciation of his name.

Both these guys came in as replacements, as Ren Narita looked to join David Finlay in the very short list of Young Lions with a win in this tournament. The pair scramble to the mat from the off, as DOUKI backs into the ropes, then to the outside out of frustration. Narita continued to keep the upper hand, somewhat, before his charge into DOUKI sent him flying outside as DOUKI simply ducked.

Taichi distracts the ref as DOUKI whacked Narita with a chair, before he Brookes’d him into the crowd. Back in the ring, DOUKI chops Narita, then caught him with a back elbow for a near-fall, as the Suzuki-gun newcomer began to find his groove. More chops put Narita in the corner, but he began to fight back, trading elbows back-and-forth before he teased the overhead belly-to-belly suplex… but DOUKI blocks it and traps Narita in a twisted headscissor submission, dragging him down to the mat. Narita tries to drag himself to the ropes, and eventually gets a foot there to keep the match alive. A dropkick from Narita keeps him in it, as do some shoulder tackles, before a Scorpion deathlock surprises DOUKI… but he’s able to get to the ropes and force a break. Undeterred, Narita goes for that overhead suplex again, but DOUKI fights free before he ran into a release overhead belly-to-belly that almost won Narita the match!

DOUKI catches Narita with a clothesline, before a suplex de la Luna’s countered into a roll-up… then a small package for near-falls, as Narita kept going… but a springboard DDT into the ring took Narita down before that suplex de la Luna earned DOUKI the win. A solid outing, but I wouldn’t expect DOUKI to pick up too many wins in this field. **½

Post-match, DOUKI lays out Narita with the steel pipe he’d brought with him before he got into it with Jushin Thunder Liger on the Japanese commentary table.

Best of the Super Junior 26, Block B: Robbie Eagles vs. Rocky Romero
There’s some history here, at least in the canon that the commentary team peddle, as Rocky had been looking to bring Robbie Eagles into CHAOS, only for the Aussie to join Bullet Club instead.

Rocky drew first blood with a ‘rana to send Eagles outside, before a baseball slide dropkick misses a target as Eagles suffered a similar fate, with his dive getting cut off with a Rocky dropkick. Back inside, Rocky used an Octopus stretch to wear down Eagles, but the Aussie’s able to turn the tables, catching Romero with a clothesline to the back of the head for an early near-fall. Stretching Rocky in the ropes, Eagles continued to chip away at the former junior tag team champion, sending him into the corner for a thunderous running double knees that almost put Rocky away. Rocky begins a fight back out of the corner, eventually catching Eagles with a headscissor takedown into a cross armbar, forcing Eagles into the ropes.

From there, Rocky goes for the Forever clotheslines, which Eagles instantly blocks, before the pair traded kicks to the legs. Rocky gets the upper hand back as he drove his knee into Eagles’ arm off the top rope, before finally uncorking those Forever lariats, only for his knee to give out as Eagles quickly snapped back with a low dropkick and a Trailer Hitch. A rope break saves Rocky, but Eagles continues to tear away on the leg, following up with a Shiranui off the ropes for a near-fall.

Eagles looks to snatch a win with a Backpack Driver, but Rocky rolls through and comes close with some roll-ups of his own, before he rolls through a backslide and caught Eagles with a running Asai DDT for another two-count. A rewind enziguiri from Rocky catches Eagles, who instantly replies with the Turbo Backpack for another two-count, following up with a superkick and a 450 splash to the injured knee as the Trailer Hitch forces the submission. Good stuff here from Eagles, who stuck to his guns and picked up the win, overcoming Romero’s craftiness. ***¼

Best of the Super Junior 26, Block B: El Phantasmo vs. Bandido
It’s a trial by fire for ELP’s singles debut here, but Phantasmo has a previous singles win against the luchador, having beaten him in the first round of Rev Pro’s British J Cup last year – a tournament Phantasmo won.

ELP blows off a handshake as he sidesteps some early handsprings from Bandido as the pair swing, miss and race to a double dropkick/staredown. Phantasmo has no time for Bandido’s finger gun, as he instead took him down in a knuckle lock, working up to a monkey flip… but they held on as they both bridge up… and get back to their feet as ELP heads to the ropes for a springboard ‘rana. Nice stuff early on! Bandido rolls outside but can’t avoid a tope as ELP finds his mark, following up as he began to target Bandido’s lower back on the outside. Back inside, Bandido’s taken into the corner before he caught a springboard crossbody, turning it into a press slam that ELP thought he’d escape… only to get caught with a big boot.

Some headscissors from Bandido send Phantasmo to the outside, where he’s met with a massive tope con giro that Bandido looked to catch the Canadian high with. They make it back to the ring as Bandido’s handstands confound ELP ahead of a superkick, before Bandido handspringed into a whirlibird neckbreaker for a near-fall. Phantasmo looked to go for the cross-armed Pedigree, but Bandido counters out with a nice satellite headscissor into a Destroyer. The pair get back to their feet and exchange strikes, with ELP landing a pump kick and an enziguiri to put himself back on top, following in with a clothesline before Bandido countered with a pop-up cutter for a near-fall. ELP got bloodied up with that exchange, as Bandido landed an inverted suplex, then a diving knee for a near-fall.

Bandido heads up top, only to get caught with a step-up enziguiri as ELP’s top rope ‘rana sent the luchador flying… following up with a big splash off the top for a near-fall. More rope walking from ELP sees him get applause for going for a lap of the ring, but Bandido cuts him off halfway, bringing him down with a moonsault/fallaway slam off the top to almost secure victory. With the ref unsighted, ELP pulls up Bandido’s mask to unsight him, as a superkick and the cross-armed Pedigree – dubbed Greetings From Chasewood Park – gets the win. An enjoyable singles debut for ELP, who you’d think is destined for something big in this tournament. ***¾

Best of the Super Junior 26, Block B: BUSHI vs. Will Ospreay
We had a storyline thread here from last year, as BUSHI’s upset win prevented Ospreay from making the finals.

The pair shoot out of the gates as Ospreay eventually met BUSHI with a monkey flip, taking him outside for a faked-out dive… prompting BUSHI to return with a low dropkick as he had Ospreay scouted. BUSHI followed Will again with a slingshot ‘rana to the floor, as Ospreay instantly grabs his neck… not that BUSHI cared, as he raked away on Ospreay’s eye and nose while on the outside.

Back inside, the pair exchange chops, but BUSHI stayed ahead, dragging Ospreay into a STF, forcing him to pull his way to the ropes for the break. Ospreay tries to fight back with forearms, but BUSHI’s clearly gotten him rattled… only for Ospreay to pull off BUSHI’s shirt for some chops. Problem was, Will didn’t get rid of the shirt, so BUSHI chokes him with it briefly, before Ospreay escaped and hit a handspring enziguiri to take him down. Ospreay looked for a lifting reverse DDT, but BUSHI gets free… only to run into a gamengiri and a springboard forearm as the tide looked to shift. BUSHI tries to cut it off with a missile dropkick, but instead he ends up losing a swinging Fisherman neckbreaker before landing it at the second attempt.

A rewind enziguiri from BUSHI snuffs out a comeback from Ospreay… or so he thought, as a lungblower got countered into a sit-out powerbomb from Ospreay for a near-fall. The OsCutter’s called, but BUSHI ducks and lands the lungblower for a two-count. BUSHI’s search for an MX is stopped by Ospreay, who then lifted him onto the top rope in an Electric Chair position… only for BUSHI to counter with a ‘rana… that Ospreay flips out of and lands on his feet!

A one-man Spanish Fly led to an instant near-fall for Ospreay, who then went for Storm Breaker… but BUSHI escaped and suckered him towards the ring apron as a DDT through-the-ropes onto the edge of the ring spiked Ospreay badly. Still, he’s just about able to beat the count-out, only to get caught with a back cracker in the ropes as BUSHI pushed the issue. An OsCutter attempt gets blocked as Ospreay forces his way back in, before he blocked BUSHI’s mist and kicked it out of him… a lifting reverse DDT leaves BUSHI down for a near-fall, before the Hidden Blade forearm and a Storm Breaker finally got the win. BUSHI got a lot more in this than I expected, but in the end the result went the way that most predicted – but at what cost for Ospreay? ***½

Best of the Super Junior 26, Block B: YOH vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
You know, after Rocky Romero and SHO got new music, YOH sure does feel like the forgotten man here.

There’s some history here too, with YOH beating Taguchi via count-out in last year’s British J Cup after he, erm, worked Taguchi’s rear. The pair start on the mat as YOH and Taguchi scrambled at each other, before Taguchi suckered YOH into missing with a low dropkick. Our first hip attack sends YOH down, before a second one’s countered with an atomic drop… which sent Taguchi to the outside… as he ended up crotching himself while he tried to skin the cat.

With Taguchi caught in the ropes, YOH tied him up with a Paradise Lock before a dropkick took Taguchi to the floor for a cannonball off the apron. Hey, throwbacks to Japanese commentators Milano Collection AT and Jushin Thunder Liger! Back in the ring, some stomps get YOH a bunch of two-counts, as Taguchi began to fight back with forearms… only for YOH to reply with some uppercuts. Taguchi tries to put the brakes on as YOH has a leg lock, but instead he has to scoot to the ropes for the break. From there, Taguchi takes YOH outside for a springboard plancha, before a springboard hip attack off the apron leaves YOH down between commentary row. Back in the ring, Taguchi sizes up for a springboard hip attack, which he aborts and instead goes for the Three Amigos, which YOH countered with a small package for a near-fall.

YOH turns the tables with a backbreaker/Flatliner combo, before an attempted full nelson’s stopped as he instead made do with an enziguiri. A deadlift German suplex is next for a near-fall from YOH, before Taguchi fought him off of the top rope… following in with a flying hip attack for good measure. A Gourdbuster from Taguchi leaves YOH laying as he looked to follow up with Bummer-ye, but YOH rolls him through into a half crab as Taguchi spent too long playing around in the set up. Taguchi tries to roll out, but YOH just drops elbows on his knees ahead of a Figure Four leglock. The hold’s rolled over by Taguchi, who manages to roll further into the ropes to force a break.

The pair look to snatch a win with a roll-up, but instead Taguchi sneaks in behind YOH for a Dodon… which gets rolled through into more pinning attempts, before a diving hip attack forces YOH to bridge up out of the lateral press. A desperation superkick leaves both men down, but still YOH pushes forward, only to run into Oh My Garankle as he tried to skin the cat. Taguchi clings onto the ankle, then pulls YOH up into a Tiger suplex out of a Dodon for a near-fall. The Dodon follows for another near-fall as YOH clung on…before Taguchi hit a Dodon To The Throne – a Dodon out of a torture rack – and that is enough for the W. A fine main event here – I doubt anyone has YOH or Taguchi winning the block, but for a block-opening main event, this is well worth your time. ***¾

Block A Standings:
Taiji Ishimori, Marty Scurll, Shingo Takagi, Tiger Mask, Titan (1-0; 2pts)
Jonathan Gresham, Dragon Lee, SHO, TAKA Michinoku, Yoshinobu Kanemaru (0-1; 0pts)

Block B Standings:
DOUKI, Robbie Eagles, Will Ospreay, El Phantasmo, Ryusuke Taguchi (1-0; 2pts)
Bandido, BUSHI, Ren Narita, Rocky Romero, YOH (0-1; 0pts)

On the whole, this was a more sprightly show that Monday’s tournament opener – helped by an undercard that never really began to drag. Sure, DOUKI/Narita was a wash compared to what we were originally meant to get, but the remainder of the block matches were solid at worst – but it’s still early days, and there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge. The tour moves to Aomori for a pair of shows there – with Dragon Lee vs. SHO headlining on Wednesday’s block A card, while Thursday’s block B line-up is topped by Taguchi vs. DOUKI…