Mopping up the stray final two shows from BOSJ so we can technically say we reviewed everything and I didn’t massively let the side down! Hooray! And in fairness there is a **** match to cover on this show…
Flip Gordon vs. BUSHI
This got good after a slow start. There was the usual stretch of the heel controlling things in a not especially interesting way, but Flip Gordon made a terrific comeback. He’s a really accomplished high flyer even with his lack of experience. He got GREAT height on a missile dropkick to begin his resurgence, then followed it up with a super nice tope. There was a very cool springboard spear in which even the way he leapt onto the ropes was graceful and interesting. He’s got a picture perfect moonsault as well which is basically the main attribute I want in a wrestler. BUSHI eventually got into the swing of things, ending a slick combo with like a mini MX facebreaker, and then finishing the match with the real thing at 11:58. Good match in the end. ***.
ACH vs. Taiji Ishimori
I liked this one a whole heck of a lot. You’d expect a match from these two to be slick and graceful and full of cool high flying and counters, and that’s exactly what we got. I think, as weird a compliment as this will sound, the feeling out process was the best feeling out process of the whole tournament, with the two of them battling to a stalemate through the medium of sublime acrobatics. Ishimori briefly took control and showed off some of his nice signature offense, and then we got a good, long stretch of back and forth, peppered with quality aerials. It really felt like these two knew each other well (they made the finals of the Junior Tag Tournament in 2016), and had answers for each other all the time, but Ishimori was able to catch A.C.H with his gutbuster in the final minutes and turned the tide irrevocably. A second one got a close two count, but left A.C.H vulnerable to the Bloody Cross, which was enough to secure the win at 11:57. ****.
Tiger Mask IV vs. Will Ospreay
This was also very good, Probably the best Tiger Mask match of the tournament, as they constructed a story that adeptly worked around his limitations. He was tasked to do a simple, methodical hit job on Will Ospreay’s arm, and he did it effectively. Ospreay of course sold by yelping and howling and squirming, which often is quite irritating but succeeds at adding a base level of drama to otherwise low stakes bouts like this one. The finishing stretch saw the arm work largely get ignored; Ospreay went for the old ‘hit all your moves as normal but wince and hold your injured body part after doing it’ tactic. I know this annoys some people, but I think it’s an OK workaround that allows you to nod to the story of the match while still throwing loads of cool shit into your final moments, and Ospreay pulled out some typically silky high flying and even Tiger Mask stepped up to the plate with his top rope butterfly suplex. In the end, Ospreay gutted out the discomfort and put the veteran away with the Storm Breaker at 12:05. *** ½;
YOH vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
This one got off to a promising start, with Kanemaru going right for YOH from the bell and putting him through the wringer on the floor. It soon settled down into the usual, blandly acceptable Kanemaru control segment though, and seemed to be coasting its way towards a conclusion. Good old YOH had other plans, however, and fought like a fucking beaver down the finishing stretch to turn the bout into something approaching special. His slippery offense worked really well in creating a cat and mouse vibe between him and wily old Kanemaru, even in the little things like him countering Kanemaru’s attempt to whip him into the ring post by just rolling back in the ring at the last second, forcing Yoshinobu to play by his rules. And Kanemaru stepped up his game as YOH did, busting off some of his spiky, impressive looking DDTs. It became increasingly clear that this wasn’t his nice though, and he was left resorting to desperate cheating in a doomed attempt to turn the tide. But YOH had an answer for almost everything, and the stuff he didn’t, he’d just kick out of the resulting pin attempts, and in the end he got Kanemaru with an (admittedly pretty awkward rolling prawn hold at 16:37! A very good match in the end, and another sparkling display from the increasingly impressive YOH. *** ¾.
And, for nothing more now than nostalgia, let’s look at how the standings stood going into the final round of matches…
Taiji Ishimori- M6, W4, D0, L2- PTS 8
Will Ospreay- M6, W4, D0, L2- PTS 8
BUSHI- M6, W3, D0, L3- PTS 6
Flip Gordon- M6, W3, D0, L3- PTS 6
Tiger Mask IV- M6, W3, D0, L3- PTS 6
YOH- M6, W3, D0, L3- PTS 6
ACH- M6, W2, D0, L4- PTS 4
Yoshinobu Kanemaru- M6, W2, D0, L4- PTS 4
So it looked like a question of whether Ishimori and Ospreay lost their nerve, and as we all know they both did and the group was won by Tiger Mask IV. Hey, if you haven’t, give ACH-Ishimori from this show a go!