NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Day 7 (26.05.18)

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Day 7 (26.05.18)

I am drowning in professional wrestling, and trying to keep up with BOSJ is a major contributor to that. Here is my latest desperate attempt to stay afloat.

Flip Gordon vs. Tiger Mask IV
Have you ever heard of Ospreay Syndrome? It’s when a talented high flyer is a clueless putz on Twitter, causing dizzying cognitive dissonance as you try and figure out when you like them or not. Despite being named after him, it’s not so bad with Will, who is one of the greatest wrestlers in the world and just a bit of an overexcited 15 year old on the social media. Flip Gordon though, man. Strongest case of Ospreay syndrome this guy’s ever seen. Anyway, this is a long winded way of saying, very very begrudgingly, that I think Gordon’s having a darn good tournament, and he made this match with Tiger Mask here. He bust out some cool stuff, a nifty springboard Slingblade, a graceful Falcon Arrow, and then some of his nice signatures like the rolling Samoan Drop/Shooting Star Press combo and the Springboard 450 off his knees, which got him the win here at 11:15. Tiger Mask contributed very little (he’s been no fun all tournament) but did at least pursue Flip’s arm tenaciously, which added a frisson of cat and mouse (or TIGER AND MOUSE HAHAHAHAHAAAAAA) to proceedings. OK match. ** ¾.

ACH vs. YOH
ACH continues to be an enjoyable presence in the tournament. I am delighted any time he rattles off that super cool leg sweep-double stomp-dropkick combination, and I also love that step up pendulum kick that he does, although he missed it on this occasion and flopped gracefully to the mat. He also dumped YOH with a great, emphatic Death Valley Driver. YOH had that great match with Ospreay last time out but looks just a step behind the top top wrestlers in his group, although that’s understandable considering his relatively youth. I liked his Swanton, even if it did meet knees this time out. There was some cursory shoulder work but as per ACH only really played up to it when he felt like it. He picked up the win with the Cradle DDT at 12:04 to stay just about alive in the group. ** ½.

Taiji Ishimori vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
WOOF. This was better than I was expecting. They put together an enjoyable story with Ishimori being clearly the better wrestler, but Kanemaru, on the night, just willing to be more of a jerk to win. A couple of moments of really petty cheating down the finishing stretch, and he stole the victory at 14:55 as Ishimori prepped for his dramatic Bloody Cross finisher with a cowardly Inside Cradle. It was a great way of making Kanemaru, to be brutally honest a C grade wrestler at this stage of his career, look a credible threat in an entirely unthreatening way. Some typical gorgeous Ishimori offense in this as well, love him scurrying around the ring apron to find the optimum position to hit his springboard senton, love his hit and run German suplex, and there was a gorgeous moonsault to the floor as well. Kanemaru pulled out some of his best stuff as well; there was a really well timed spot with him cutting an Ishimori handspring off with a basement dropkick, and a couple of his DDT variations looked bloody nasty. Genuinely, this was really good. Too slow in places, Kanemaru just isn’t that high level a wrestler anymore, but still is competent enough to contribute something worthwhile in the right circumstances, and these were the right circumstances. *** ½.

Will Ospreay vs. BUSHI
It took me a good while to get into this one, but I got there in the end. The main problem was with the booking more than the action; BUSHI, having lost three out of three, has little or no chance of doing anything in the tournament other than spoiling it for other people, and with fellow whipping boy Kanemaru having already upset Taiji Ishimori, the idea of him upsetting Ospreay lost some of its lustre. As it happened, BUSHI did indeed pick up the win, with the MX at 14:47, which rather made the night feel like a cynical attempt to put a spanner in the works in Group A. And it’s harder to look back kindly on the mundane BUSHI control segment with that in mind. However! Credit where credit’s due, Ospreay and BUSHI pulled a heck of a finishing stretch together which had the crowd going bananas. BUSHI busting out the black mist drew a particularly thrilled response, and his Destroyer to Ospreay was a great near fall. Another fine performance from Will as well, although he had less room to show off than in his previous tournament matches A decent effort and decent main event to end a decent show. ***.

Here’s how Group A is looking after a night of ASTONISHING UPSETS

Flip Gordon- M4, W3, D0, L1- PTS 6
Tiger Mask IV- M4, W3, D0, L1- PTS 6
ACH- M4, W2, D0, L2- PTS 4
Taiji Ishimori- M4, W2, D0, L2- PTS 4
Will Ospreay- M4, W2, D0, L2- PTS 4
Yoshinobu Kanemaru- M4, W2, D0, L2- PTS 4
BUSHI- M4, W1, D0, L3- PTS 2
YOH- M4, W1, D0, L3- PTS 2

As contrived as some of those results were, the group does undeniably look more open than at any point since the participants were announced. If the Ospreay-Ishimori two horse race is to develop, it’s going to be late in the game. Flip Gordon has a real chance of winning the block, and there’s even hope for ACH, which is wonderful. Surely Tiger Mask and Yoshinobu Kanemaru will fall away soon…

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