NJPW Best of the Super Juniors N2
May 19 2018
We’re in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall for Night 2 of the 2018 Best of the Super Juniors. Block A kicked us off last night. Now it’s time for some Block B action.
I called Block A relatively successfully last night. I still have Ospreay winning the Block. Which means I’m sticking with my original call of Hiromu to win Block B. Which means he could well be defeated tonight by Marty Scurll. Scurll is a big player in this Block but he and Will have concluded their rivalry, for now anyway, and the same is true of KUSHIDA. If they hadn’t just run Ospreay/KUSHIDA I could see KUSHIDA winning a third BOSJ but instead I think Hiromu is the solid choice. The outside bet is Dragon Lee. Him versus Ospreay would be pretty fucking cool at a big show.
Sidenote: The pre-show of these BOSJ have previous winner highlights. I love watching Kakihara’s STO’s from 2003. What a time to be alive that was!
Shota Umino vs. Yota Tsuji
Ren Narita broke his nose yesterday so he’s out and Tsuji is in to replace him. It’s yet another in the production line of young lions. That NJPW Dojo is incredible. It’s a never ending stream of talent. There’s no training facility like it for producing young talent. Umino looks great here and Tsuji I’ve never even seen before but he’s got huge potential. They tell a genuinely good story here with Tsuji not wanting to quit to the Boston crab and fighting like mad in it. Umino really sits down on that son of a bitch but Tsuji fights and fights and fights and makes me really care about who’s going to win before he finally taps out. Oh, this was fucking awesome stuff. Tsuji escaping multiple Boston crabs was beautiful.
It made him feel like a big deal.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Will Ospreay, YOSHI-HASHI & YOH vs. Tiger Mask IV, ACH & Tomoyuki Oka
Ospreay vs. ACH is happening tomorrow in Shizuoka. Based on their interactions here it should be pretty fucking good. Tiger Mask vs. YOH is also happening tomorrow. I’m less enthralled. Will shows a degree of ruthlessness when dealing with Oka. He’s learning the ways of Japan! YOH looks out of his element against TMIV, which doesn’t bode well for his match tomorrow. “Fucking come on, YOH” encourages Ospreay. I notice his selling is less audible here. Instead opting for a pained expression. Maybe someone had a word? He’s still a bit obvious about it and I really prefer subtlety in selling. Look at ACH in this match. He has a bad shoulder but he’s not gurning or yelling about it. He’s thinking about the reality of the situation. What would you do if you were really hurt? YOSHI-HASHI stinks this match up with his very presence. The superkick on Oka is awful. It’s a pity because there’s a really good match happening around him. YH puts Oka away with the Butterfly Lock, for the second night running. This was all about Ospreay vs ACH tomorrow though. That’s going to be good.
Final Rating: ***
"ACH can fuck off to WWE once I'm done with him" – Will Ospreay pic.twitter.com/HlJD4C861K
— Arnold Furious (@ArnoldFurious) May 19, 2018
Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Flip Gordon & Toa Henare
Flip vs. Kanemaru is tomorrow. That will probably be Suzuki-gun bullshit. This is Henare’s second attempt at stepping up to MiSu. He’s slightly more successful. I wonder if they’re doing a singles match between these two soon? Flip is already getting over after his excellent match last night. He’s slotted so easily into this tournament. It looks effortless. He has many of the same issues that Ospreay had when he first went to Japan. His moves are cool but everything else is unpolished. Speaking of unpolished there’s a Toa spear on Kanemaru here that’s the very definition of unpolished. Then they repeat the spot. Hot take time: Toa Henare doesn’t do much for me. Anyone can get over by going after established talent but that fighting spirit will only get you so far. His offence is patchy and I don’t get what his character is supposed to be.
MiSu beats him up extensively and finishes with the Gotch Piledriver.
Final Rating: **1/4
SANADA & BUSHI vs. Chase Owens & Taiji Ishimori
BUSHI vs. Ishimori is happening tomorrow.
BUSHI has three tongues sticking out of various places on his mask now. It’s unsettling. How many tongues do you need? I suppose he has the benefit of tasting three different things at once. Like steak, ice cream and a fine wine. Damn, I kinda wish I had three tongues. Beyond that we get some factional warfare between Bullet Club and LIJ that feels tired. Chase’s mockery of BUSHI aside there’s not much to see. Having Ishimori in Bullet Club is an interesting move but now I want him to cut promos in English and I don’t know how strong his English is. Chris Charlton (@reasonjp) pointed out that Ishimori is imitating AJ Styles, which I hadn’t picked up on but as soon as I saw it typed I knew he was right. Exact same look.
Milano Collection AT is teaching Chase Owens the Paradise Lock in mid-match! pic.twitter.com/cjolEDdQu1
— Arnold Furious (@ArnoldFurious) May 19, 2018
The Paradise Lock stuff cheers up what was a mediocre contest. Also BUSHI almost kills himself on the tope. SANADA puts Chase away with the Skull End.
Final Rating: **3/4
Dragon Lee vs. SHO
Dragon Lee was muted in his tag match yesterday but that’s not true in this match where he starts out full bore. He’s anxious to make a mark on the tournament and break through the luchadore glass ceiling in New Japan. SHO is keen to prove he can go in singles, especially with YOH winning yesterday. SHO has wrestled in Mexico, which works in his favour. Anyone with lucha experience tends to find it easier to slip back into these matches. It’s an intense brawl for the most part with them almost getting counted out scrapping on the floor and then continuing the throwing of forearms in the ring. SHO bases his offence around suplexes and submissions, while Dragon Lee is more about strikes and flying. With everyone in wrestling being good at everything it’s tough to get a ‘clash of styles’ match but that’s what they go for. Dragon Lee shows flashes of the exciting style that will be a natural highlight of this tournament. SHO, at times, is merely preventing the big spots from happening and in doing so weakening Lee’s arm. Aiming to get the submission victory. Dragon Lee has too much in the tank though and overcomes SHO’s assaults to get the pinfall.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Ryusuke Taguchi vs. El Desperado
Taguchi, mostly a daft comedy wrestler, does occasionally turn up at BOSJ to kill it. This isn’t one of those matches. This is pure comedy. They do some good spots. The butt attack fake out that they used in the tag yesterday is good. The rope crotch to block the 619 is better. The murderous chair shot to the nuts is even better. If the match ended on a count-out because of that I would have been fine with it. Despy makes a point of aiming low and working over the ass, to limit Taguchi’s attacks and the balls, to limit Taguchi’s children. Both perfectly acceptable reasons.
A secondary line of assault is Taguchi’s leg, which is what Despy goes for when he needs an actual legal shot. Kinassa doesn’t get the job done for Taguchi, which is a crying shame because the match built perfectly to finish on that. Despy positions the ref, hits another low blow and gets a roll up for the win. This was fine and quite heated. I appreciate Desperado working the groin as a body part.
Final Rating: ***1/2
KUSHIDA vs. Chris Sabin
It’s hard to believe Sabin has never been in BOSJ before. He’s an obvious choice. I guess the insistence of putting KUSHIDA with Alex Shelley denied Motor City Machine Guns a run here. That said, Time Splitters were really good. So this is a battle for the love of Alex Shelley. There can be only one.
KUSHIDA is the best technician in the tournament. Sabin is no slouch in that department and makes this a mat battle. It’s completely different to the previous two matches and Best of the Super Juniors has been doing a good job of throwing out different styles, which isn’t easy in this Hybrid Era. The technical stuff is decent but Sabin is clearly feeding to KUSHIDA and not doing so particularly quickly. He’s simply not on KUSHIDA’s level. There’s no denying Sabin’s talent or influence down the years but let’s face it, he’s an also-ran in this tournament. KUSHIDA throws himself into Sabin’s spots and genuinely wrecks himself to put over his mate’s mate. Sabin gets the win in order to establish himself as a threat.
This was really good but, like I said earlier, Sabin isn’t on KUSHIDA’s level and this was clearly an attempt to make him look credible to a fanbase that isn’t overly familiar with his work.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Marty Scurll vs. Hiromu Takahashi
These two have wrestled a few times. It’s usually a mixture of shtick and slick. I prefer it when they lean toward the latter. Marty has the common sense to let the match breathe and he goes after the back to slow Hiromu down. They’re over anyway so there’s no need to kill themselves. This is a recent trend from Scurll where he goes for ‘less is more’ and seems to be as over as ever. There is a minor issue with Hiromu and that’s his total lack of selling and insistence at evening focusing on back-based assaults, making a mockery of Scurll’s tactics. Rather than dwell on this they move on into the slick back and forth I knew they were capable of before we started. Hiromu has always been capable of taking sick bumps and coming back. It’s what he built his reputation around in Mexico. Being sturdy and insane. I literally just realised we have Hiromu vs. Dragon Lee again on this tour!
One thing Scurll does absolutely excel at is villainous faces. If only he took himself more seriously more often. Scurll, by the nature of his character, has become very jokey. Hiromu finishes out of the blue here with a triangle. Here was me expecting a Timebomb and it was just over! It’s also contrary to what I expected; Hiromu losing here and having to fight the odds to make the final. Instead he’s started strong with a very good Block B main event.
Final Rating: ****
Hiromu Takahashi 1-0 
Marty Scurll 0-1 
Chris Sabin 1-0 
El Desperado 1-0 
KUSHIDA 0-1 
Ryusuke Taguchi 0-1 
Dragon Lee 1-0 
SHO 0-1 
Another strong night of action from the juniors. ACH/Flip is my outstanding match from the first round of bouts. It was good to see a consistent performance from everyone in Block B. I get the feeling Block A will have the best matches but Block B will never disappoint.