When I did the first rebuild, I cleaned the holes in the block and the threads on the new bolts really well. I tested them by spinning them into the block by hand - no problems, no binding. I believe the failed head gasket was just Chinese junk.
Trapped air... I'd be very surprised if those studs could trap air, but if that were true, then after seating the stud at the bottom of the hole, the air would be compressed out, right? So then I should be able spin the stud out with little to no resistance, BUT they came out as hard as I torqued them in.
I did suspect that the ARP lubricant was an issue, so I cleaned it off and just sprayed the threads on the stud with silicone spray. Still got bind.