NJPW Best of the Super Juniors N5
May 24 2018
We’re in Shiga, Japan at the Prefectural Gymnasium. Tonight we focus on Block A of this year’s BOSJ. In case you missed it my PC basically exploded during the latest Windows update so this is the start of my massive scramble to catch back up.
BUSHI  vs. Tiger Mask IV 
BUSHI is off to a slow start with the veteran Tigs starting 2-0. Contrasting fortunes and BUSHI really needs a win here. This is a fairly low key bout with a sleepy crowd. BUSHI controls the pace, occasionally driving the match forward with wacky dives but more often than not slowing it down with mat based antics. If you’re cherry picking your way through the tournament there is no need to watch this. There’s no urgency to the work and it feels like a house show outing. This is fairly typical of Tiger Mask, who saves his best efforts for bigger shows. I do enjoy their top rope spot where both guys get crotched in turn. That’s fun but it’s a rarity, not the norm in an otherwise serviceable but dull match. Shockingly TMIV racks up yet another win by dominating BUSHI after the double crotching and he finishes with a Tiger Suplex.
Final Rating: **3/4
ACH  vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru 
Kanemaru’s presence in this tournament is becoming less welcome by the bout. He doesn’t seem interested and in a crowded division with tonnes of talent he has very little to offer. Just a few years back AJPW used Kanemaru as a fixer. Whenever they had a guy they thought wasn’t very good they’d send Kanemaru in there to improve him.
Now he’s an old dude in a bad stable who doesn’t give a fuck. The brawl heads into the crowd here and the camera crew are not prepared to follow so for some time we get a static shot of a ring with nothing in it. It’s not great TV. ACH does a good job selling his many injuries, most of which he walked into the BOSJ with. It doesn’t help that they follow a pedestrian bout with another slow paced encounter. ACH brings the few highlights, including a lovely backflip kick to prevent Kanemaru coming off the ropes. They do a decent job of making me buy into the false finishes but then Kanemaru wins with his diving DDT and that down ending kills any interest I had.
Final Rating: **1/4
Flip Gordon  vs. Taiji Ishimori 
Flip has looked good so far although his inability to buy chicken could mean he starves to death before the tournament finishes. Ishimori makes a point of limping all the way to the ring to sell his bad leg. Either that or he’s got haemorrhoids. Or his leather trousers are too tight. This is a better paced contest from the get go. Flip throwing out a bunch of, shockingly, flips. It settles down a bit with Ishimori working the neck. As with everywhere else on the tour Flip is highly impressive and borderline reckless. This is where I want my cruiserweights to exist! In the danger zone! Everything he does here looks edgy. It’s pretty great. If it wasn’t for Ospreay being Ospreay then Flip Gordon would be the MVP of the tournament so far. He causes a big upset here by catching Ishimori in a bridging roll up and inflicts The Boner’s first defeat! Quite the scalp and a showing of Gordon’s potential to be in the mix come the tournament’s finale. I believe he has an actual shot at winning this.
Final Rating: ***1/2
YOH  vs. Will Ospreay 
Ospreay’s average star rating is just over **** already and he’s not gotten into the meat of the tournament. He’s having a G1 level quality tournament.
Jack saw this before me and was raving about it. In all fairness though Ospreay 2k18 is a special attraction regardless of who he’s wrestling. Will’s control of the early sequences is tremendous. I’d like to see him work less experienced opponents more often because he’s becoming a real general. Will’s parity sequences are very tidy and make YOH look better than he is. YOH is at the stage where he concentrates hard on getting the moves right but he doesn’t make anything look like a struggle, which is where Ospreay comes in. Will, despite his penchant for “argh my neck” selling, does give the match a focal point; his injured neck. Where YOH does excel is in keeping up with Ospreay, pace wise, and adding in some lovely work with the ropes. Will incorporating this work into his incredible repertoire of counters and innovation. Some of the sequences are *chef kissing fingers*. Ospreay also does a killer sell job on the neck by going to the run the ropes and collapsing when he hits them, the impact jolting the bad neck. It’s somewhat lost on the crowd but I really appreciate it. There’s a case for complaining he does a bunch of flips and doesn’t sell it but the sheer speed of that impact with the ropes caused the pain. YOH is the one who cannot match Ospreay’s sheer range of skills, although in all fairness he’s still very young. He works too soft and doesn’t have the kind of range to threaten Will realistically and yet they play out a 50-50 match, based off Ospreay’s neck injury. Some of the moves look really weird with YOH just not able to get into position quickly enough and having to improvise something in mid-move. Although YOH is completely outclassed he manages to hang in there by the skin of his teeth and the mistakes end up looking cool in their own way. The fluidity of Ospreay flipping into picking YOH up for the Stormbreaker is astonishing. It’s so, so smooth that you might even miss it but it’s incredible. Ospreay winning makes perfect sense. Decent showing from YOH but this showed how much work he needs to do to get to the next level.
Final Rating: ****
Let’s have a look at the Block. Tiger Mask IV has leapt out in front to a 3-0 record. Do not expect him to stay there. BUSHI’s 0-3 record is somewhat of a surprise and he can’t afford any more slip ups. Will Ospreay remains the absolute stand-out performer here though, head and shoulders above everyone else. Flip Gordon has come a close second though and the final Block match between them remains the most intriguing bout BOSJ has lined up.
Tiger Mask IV 3-0 
Taiji Ishimori 2-1 
Flip Gordon 2-1 
Will Ospreay 2-1 
ACH 1-2 
YOH 1-2 
Yoshinobu Kanemaru 1-2 
BUSHI 0-3 
If you’re cherry picking you only really need Ospreay vs. YOH but hey, it’s Ospreay, every single match of his is unmissable at the moment. This was a nice glance into his future as a cultivator of younger talent. The way he held this together allowed YOH to shine even though he made a boat load of little mistakes. Will just covered them up. I honestly can’t wait until he moves up to heavyweight, where the real action is. Until then he continues to kill it in BOSJ.