Hiromu Takahashi vs. Ace Austin – Block A match
This was probably the most anticipated match of the show. The wrestlers got off to a fairly intense start, which resulted in Hiromu going for the armbar, pulling a card from Ace’s sleeve and wanting to, in his opponent’s best tradition, slash his fingers with it, but the referee stopped the matter. Takahashi was puzzled, nobody’s forbidding cutting Austin’s fingers, but to be fair, referees usually don’t see it. Anyway, it was the same thing here: Ace had a dropkick, went to the armbar and told the referee to check if his opponent was giving up, and he pulled another card and cut Hirom’s fingers. After suffering work on his hand, Takahashi returned to the fight with a shotgun dropkick, but Austin found something to answer: he foiled a powerbomb sanset flip attempt, led a kick to the head with an apron, and a crowning Fosbury Flop. The back-and-forth continued, and Hiromu was able to find his own maneuver for almost every Ace attack. As a result, avoiding The Fold a couple of times, and reversing the last one into a slam, Hiromu did a superkick and Hiromu-chan Bomber. The Time Bomb didn’t take long, and Takahashi remained undefeated. The wrestlers shook hands after the match, and Hiromu once again made it clear that the X-Division championship is somewhat interesting to him.
A great match between two brilliant performers. Probably exactly the level I wanted to see from them in the pre-main of a show like this, though I won’t hide my confidence that they’re capable of more in a match against each other, and, imho, they didn’t give the maximum. Well, that leaves me even more eager to look forward to their title match. As for the result, I wouldn’t be disappointed if Ace won, but Hiromu’s triumph is probably predictable. It was clear from the beginning that he’d be getting a very strong booing in this tournament, so his win looks expected. Hopefully this fiasco won’t hurt Austin’s momentum and he’ll continue to consistently score points further in the tournament.