NJPW: Best of the Super Juniors Stage 1 Review

Hello and Welcome to the reviews of the 25th Annual Best of the Super Juniors tournament, 16 of the world’s best junior heavyweights preparing to prove that they are in fact the best in the one way they know how – by outwrestling each other. Anyway, you don’t need to read this bit, you want to know what happened so let’s get this show on the road…

Results

Chris Sabin & Ren Narita def. KUSHIDA & Shota Umino // Pinfall

CHAOS (Sho & YOSHI-HASHI) def. Dragon Lee & Tomoyuki Oka // Submission

Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & Minoru Suzuki) def. Taguchi Japan (Ryusuke Taguchi & Toa Henare) // Pinfall

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & EVIL) def. Bullet Club (Marty Scurll & Chase Owens) // Submission

BOSJ Tournament Match: Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Tiger Mask IV

This was a good, solid opening encounter with the two veterans working a very fun, surprisingly energetic match with Kanemaru really doing his best to weaponise the young lions including throwing one at Tiger Mask. There’s not much to say about this one as it was a good match but it didn’t really do much more than getting the crowd excited (and how could they not be with Tiger Mask’s dope AF jacket), it did what it had to and it got out of there before the crowd got bored. Tiger Mask managed to win via Cradle pin. After the bell, Kanemaru beat him down, annoyed that he’d lost.

Winner: Tiger Mask

BOSJ Tournament Match: Flip Gordon vs ACH

Who is Flip Gordon? What is Flip Gordon? Why is Flip Gordon? I could ask and why should I care but it does seem the answer to all those things are also the first part of his name. So, if this is your introduction to Flip Gordon, you can get that he is very athletic and he struggles to get booked for the biggest super-indie summit this side of BOLA, All In and you know what, I don’t blame them. ACH brought some good consistency to this match, working predominantly upper body offence till hitting his hand off a ring post and then transitioning to more kicks and knees. While I’m critical of Flip here, he was better than normal and did at least seem to firmly wow the crowd and that’s important, he’s got a lot of good people to face over the next few weeks and I hope that he can learn a lot from them. ACH got the win with a lovely Package DDT, oh ACH, I do love you so.

Winner: ACH

BOSJ Tournament Match: Yoh vs BUSHI

This was fine or at least it would have been if Tiger Mask vs Kanemaru hadn’t happened just two matches ago which felt like much the same match in terms of layout. It wasn’t bad, it just felt very similar. What was quite nice was seeing two performers, frequently relegated to tag matches getting a chance to show what they could do in singles and neither man let the side down as they strung together some nice sequences with Yoh showcasing a strong fire even if it was confusing seeing BUSHI as the de-facto villain as it does seem the rest of LIJ are firmly good guys at the moment, especially BUSHI’s frequent tag mate Takahashi. The finish came after many slaps and superkicks, BUSHI went to hit a codebreaker but Yoh managed to leverage it into a pin. After the bell, BUSHI beat down Yoh. So it goes.

Winner: Yoh

BOSJ Tournament Match: Will Ospreay vs Taiji Ishimori

There’s not really much to say about this. That says everything, this was the big angle main event and much like last year’s BOSJ encounter between Ospreay and Marty Scurll, this was to get Bullet Club’s newest junior established/re-established to the audience both in the room and at home and much like that, it felt like both men were playing their hits but the problem was maybe they were holding back something in case they wanted to do another match down the road or maybe it was just a lack of connection but various spots felt mistimed and disjointed, major examples being a weird sell of a sliding snap German by Ospreay and a sloppy looking rope-hung shooting star press. I wanted to like this show a lot more than I did because I actually like liking things but on the basis of stage 1, it does seem that Block B might be the one to keep an eye on. Ishimori won with the Bloody Cross elevated suplex lungblower.

Winner: Taiji Ishimori