NJPW Best of the Super Juniors N1
May 18 2018
We’re in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall. This is where BOSJ will wrap up too, with the Block Finals on June 3 and the BOSJ Final on June 4. As per usual I’ll be chipping in with my two cents as to who I think is winning this thing. Block A should be cut and dry. It’s basically Ospreay or Ishimori. However instead of them clashing at the end of the tournament, they’re clashing at the beginning. An interesting swerve from Gedo. Who wins tonight will be interesting. If Ospreay wins then Ishimori is winning the Block, no questions asked, as Ishimori is being tapped up as a challenger to Ospreay from the Bullet Club. The only way he’d earn that shot with an Ospreay defeat is by winning the whole thing. However I think it makes more sense to have Ishimori beat Ospreay in the Block but not win overall. Therefore setting up two challengers. Block B is very cut and dry as it’s KUSHIDA vs. Hiromu on the last day, winner takes all. I have Hiromu winning to face and defeat Ospreay in the final. However if Ospreay wins tonight, I will probably change that prediction to Ishimori over KUSHIDA. I’ll bring my official call after the show is over. As it stands it’s Hiromu Takahashi to beat Will Ospreay. Hiromu has never won it and I think he’s good value.
Today is an A Block night featuring Will Ospreay (2016), Flip Gordon, Tiger Mask IV (2004, 2005), ACH, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, BUSHI, YOH & “Bone Soldier” Taiji Ishimori.
Chris Sabin & Ren Narita vs. KUSHIDA & Shota Umino
Sabin vs. KUSHIDA is tomorrow and this is here to sell that match. Sabin has never competed in BOSJ despite prior appearances in New Japan dating back to 2009. KUSHIDA has won two of the last three tournaments. This is also a chance to get a look at Umino and Narita, part of the latest crop of baby lions. That production line is insane. Narita gets a badge of honour here, having his nose busted by KUSHIDA. Umino on the other hand gets all fired up and demands a tag so he can show his worth against Sabin.
Which inevitably ends in Sabin beating him with Cradle Shock. Umino had a good showing though.
Final Rating: **1/2
YOSHI-HASHI & SHO vs. Dragon Lee & Tomoyuki Oka
Dragon Lee vs. SHO is tomorrow. The obvious finish involves neither of them with Oka clearly here to take the pin. Unless Gedo fancies a huge upset and has Dragon Lee pin hapless midcarder YOSHI-HASHI. In the second tag match on a BOSJ show? Yeah, maybe not. Oka gets to look solid here, perhaps less dynamic than the two young lions in the first match. He’s much further along in his development and he’s going to be a heavyweight.
The crowd turn on Tacos when he batters SHO with a lovely lariat. Oka ends up tapping to the Butterfly Lock but hopefully this is building to a match where Oka beats YOSHI-HASHI soon. I’d totally buy into YOSHI-HASHI getting beaten by a young lion.
Final Rating: ***
Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Toa Henare
Taguchi has Despy tomorrow. Henare is here to eat the pin. Suzuki cutting off a Taguchi hip attack on the apron and stomping him mercilessly on the floor is a major highlight of this.
Suzuki has been effortlessly entertaining in 2018. He laughs off Taguchi before hitting the Gotch Style Piledriver on Henare for the easy win.
Final Rating: **
Marty Scurll & Chase Owens vs. EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi
Chase is here to eat the pin. Scurll is here to do whatever he does. Hiromu has a new book for BOSJ. Scurll is dubbed “Umbrella Man”.
Hiromu and Marty have a tendency to do ‘shtick’ matches revolving around posing and Daryl etc. Which is a pity because they’re both very technically good and when they do actual wrestling sequences in this it’s really good.
But it keeps stopping so Marty can sell merch. Despite big intentions the match never quite clicks and the Chase/EVIL interactions are particularly messy at the finish. EVIL wins. I don’t care.
Final Rating: **1/4
Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Tiger Mask IV
This is the first match of this year’s BOSJ. In terms of excitement it’s probably dead last on my list of matches from this block. I can’t think of a less appealing combination of guys. This is a holdover from when BOSJ was shit about 5 years ago. Kanemaru works a redundant style, all heel stuff and trying to pull the mask off. This creates the underdog vibe for TM4, which is not my preferred version of the wrestler. He’s so much better as a grumpy veteran. Kanemaru’s antics peak with throwing a young boy at TM to stop him getting back in on a count out. Tiger Mask ends up winning when he counters the pin on a superplex. I hate that spot.
Final Rating: **
Flip Gordon vs. ACH
Flip is over considering he’s never been in Japan before and he’s an idiot who believes the world is flat. His kip up spots are over too. It positively enrages ACH that someone else is getting over at his expense. ACH does the basics really well and he makes a point of grounding Flip and laying in the chops. Flip gets himself over throughout this match, much like Ospreay did on his debut. It’s a high flying extravaganza.
His double springboard senton is magical and the crowd just bite on everything he does. ACH again brings the basics. He came in with a taped up shoulder and sells that throughout. He’s the sensible grounded one that allows Flip to look so exciting by comparison. Flip even comes off the balcony over the entrance. A spot normally reserved for big title matches. ACH is almost as impressive countering some of Flip’s more ambitious moves. The Pele Kick to take him off the top rope is all kinds of great. ACH’s selling is top notch too. His failure to lift Flip with both arms results in him switching to one and successfully deadlifting him with a German. That’s some tidy psychology. The ending is slightly flat, with ACH overcoming his injury to hit an elevated DDT (The Big Bang Attack) but this was quite the match up. Two in and already BOSJ has a classic bout.
Final Rating: ****
BUSHI vs. YOH
BUSHI is looking stylish. He comes out here in a full suit.
Flip Gordon is a tough act to follow but YOH tries through sheer enthusiasm. He can’t replicate the difficulty of Flip’s spots but sometimes that energy and hustle is enough. The atmosphere is slightly flat but the big spots get the crowd revved up again. YOH battles hard but BUSHI is keen to stamp his authority on a younger opponent.
YOH hasn’t had a big singles match for a while and it seems to take him a while to get adjusted. He was a huge prospect as a young lion but doesn’t seem to have progressed that much. BUSHI wakes me from my mid-match slumber with a sick tope. He’s so fast through the ropes and it’s like watching someone get shot out of a cannon. Once they start kicking each other the match improves and then they throw in a Canadian Destroyer for no reason. YOH then wins with a roll up. This was a tonal mess but the crowd got into it so it’s a partial win.
Final Rating: **1/2
Taiji Ishimori vs. Will Ospreay
This could easily have closed Block A and I’m very excited to see how it pans out. Ishimori is incredibly gifted and can match Ospreay on a lot of his crazy spots. Ospreay delivers in spades. He dives onto the stage and then turns around and dives right back off again. The timing and the difficulty and the natural flow of Ospreay’s work blows me away. Ishimori does a lot of very good stuff with the ropes and I’m thrilled that he has this chance to prove himself.
— LARIATOOOO!! (@MrLARIATO) May 18, 2018
Ishimori knows about Ospreay’s well publicised neck problems and targets that area. Which leads to a lot of “ARRRRRGH my neck” from Will. The match feels like a dick measuring contest at times. Oh, you can do that flip? Well, here’s the same flip but faster/with more rotations/backwards.
Ishimori looks really good in his transitions, although he sometimes moves into an odd position to start them. His intent of going after the neck, usually after a pinfall attempt puts Will in a constant battle against the odds. Will’s strikes have gotten so much better since he came to Japan and they look grand in this. The weird part is that Will just does crazy shit so matter of fact that it almost comes off as normal. Like an SSP onto the ropes! Just another spot. Him doing a fucking standing Spanish Fly so soon after fucking his neck doing one off the apron is insane. Ishimori wins here with the Bloody Cross, because he has to, and that sets him up as a challenger down the line. Which keeps my pick right. Very good match with a very high difficulty level. It might have come up a little short, in terms of length and epicness but nevertheless we start the BOSJ strong.
Final Rating: ****
Let’s take a look at the first Block standing. Obviously there’s a long way to go but Flip’s performance only strengthens my Block A final prediction. Ospreay vs. Flip is what everyone is now looking forward to. Ishimori pretty much won himself a title shot without needing to win the tournament.
Tiger Mask IV 1-0 
ACH 1-0 
YOH 1-0 
Taiji Ishimori 1-0 
Will Ospreay 0-1 
Flip Gordon 0-1 
Yoshinobu Kanemaru 0-1 
BUSHI 0-1 
Great start to BOSJ 2018. Don’t expect full show reviews all through the tournament. I just happened to be home when this aired. Great start to the tournament. Two **** bouts and nothing that aggravated me. Kanemaru/TMIV is probably the worst match on the entire tour so the baseline for BOSJ should be pretty high. Everything should be **1/2-***+. There’s no Taichi to ruin every match for example.