NJPW Best of the Super Juniors N9
May 29 2018
We’re in Tochigi City at the Athletic Park Gymnasium. On paper this was one of the weakest BOSJ cards with Ospreay headlining against Kanemaru, arguably the least interesting person in his Block. Also on tap; Flip vs. YOH, ACH vs. BUSHI and Ishimori vs. Tiger Mask. Tochigi has a weird entrance, which is way over in the corner. This creates some interesting visuals from the cameraman when the wrestlers come out. Tochigi is just north of Tokyo and is into the rural area of Japan. It’s an area with a lot of natural beauty. Shame they can’t wrestle outside in a park somewhere.
Taiji Ishimori  vs. Tiger Mask IV 
Ishimori’s combination of weird Bone Soldier mask and rippling muscles creates the image of someone who doesn’t look real. There are two basic storyline strands here. Ishimori looking to unsettle TM with antics on the floor and TM in return aiming to get a submission. He targets the arm for this. Tiger Mask, when he’s not killing rookies, can be quite a drab wrestler and this is a prime example of a largely disinterested Tiger Mask going through the motions. Ishimori has to take a couple of enormous top rope bumps and TM in response takes next to nothing. At least his work on the arm is fairly consistent over the course of the match. I’m really not into it though. Ishimori hits a few moves and we’re done. Bloody Cross gets the pin.
Final Rating: **
BUSHI  v ACH 
BUSHI considers being lazy here but he just can’t do it. Instead of slapping on rest holds he transitions from one hold to the next, allowing ACH an assortment of reasons to be struggling before fighting into the ropes. This all ties in to ACH’s multiple taped body parts. He came into the tournament covered in tape, like it was day 9 so now his selling is tournament stage appropriate. He and BUSHI have a few misunderstandings, presumably where one or the other forgot a step in a sequence and it looks a bit awkward. ACH does a solid job of just getting on with it and not letting the issues affect him. There’s a nice fluidity to the match as one spot seems to lead logically to something else and the flashes of spectacular feel a part of this. BUSHI has enough in the tank to hit the diving MX and that puts him up to 2-3. This was a tidy little match.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Flip Gordon  vs. YOH 
Flip went top of the Block by beating Tiger Mask last round of Block A matches.
Nobody knows who Flip is out in the sticks and YOH probably doesn’t have much of a following yet either so they get over on doing parity near miss stuff. Interesting to note that Flip has the slight edge, working off YOH’s youth rather than Flip’s inexperience in Asia. Like how he must be starving because he can’t find any American restaurants to dine in. Both guys hit fatigue selling after a couple of minutes, which is the Ricky Steamboat standard of tired. This is what happens when your blood sugar runs low from not eating in foreign countries. There are a few timing issues and Flip looks more ragged here than in his previous bouts. There are too many instances of one guy waiting for the other to get into position. When they stop fucking around and resort to strike duels it’s much better. Flip’s flying in this feels very controlled, which is both a good and bad thing. It makes it feel safe, even when he’s popping off 450 Splashes but it’s so safe it feels sterile. YOH wins with a roll up and this match was very hit and miss.
Final Rating: **3/4
Will Ospreay  vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru 
This is the main event and the least inspiring Will Ospreay booking in quite some time. Kanemaru shouldn’t be main eventing a New Japan show in 2018.
You need only look at his dated offence at the start of this one to see that. He can bump like a champ, selling Ospreay’s high speed offence but his own control periods are bad.
At least he targets Will’s injured neck, something that’s been an easy out for every wrestler he’s faced since the Scurll match at Sakura Genesis. Ospreay sells his ass off here, trying desperately to make Kanemaru look important. Something that’s virtually impossible. When you’re a workhorse midcard grappler and you try to switch to a mega heel it means you’ve got nothing left in the tank. All of Kanemaru’s shtick is to cover for how little he has left. And yet his bumps do still have a load of snap on them. Maybe he’ll produce a great match again at some point, although on this evidence I doubt it. If you can’t have a good match with Will Ospreay then you’re fucked. And the booking doesn’t help. The ref bump in this is embarrassing. Red Shoes should be banned from officiating for a month. Ospreay’s cunning and last gasp counters just barely salvage the match and make no mistake about it everything Kanemaru does in this match sucks. Ospreay takes it with the Oscutter and I could really live without any more Kanemaru matches in this tournament.
Final Rating: **3/4
Let’s take a look at the Block before we leave. Flip, Taiji, Will and TMIV are all on six points and everyone else is on four. It’s a tight block and no mistake. Only two rounds left already. I fully expect Ospreay vs. Gordon to determine the Block winner.
Flip Gordon 3-2 
Taiji Ishimori 3-2 
Tiger Mask IV 3-2 
Will Ospreay 3-2 
ACH 2-3 
Yoshinobu Kanemaru 2-3 
YOH 2-3 
BUSHI 2-3 
Not a lot happening here. ACH and BUSHI had a fun match but aside from flashes of Ospreay at his best this show is an easy pass.