NJPW: Best of the Super Juniors Stage 12 Review

It’s the last day of Block B and if you’ve been keeping up, I’m of the opinion that this block can do no wrong so let’s see if they can keep that opinion going. I’m Joe from SteelChair and this is the Best of the Super Juniors…

BOSJ Tournament Match: Chris Sabin vs El Desperado

Despy mixed up his pre-match attack game by attacking after Sabin was just out of the curtain before continuing the greatest feud in modern wrestling – Desperado vs Chairs. After the fun murder by chairs section, there was the perfunctory ‘Sabin makes the count. Just’ section and from there on, it was fine and got the crowd invested but by Block B standards, was rarely incredible. It might be because both men are out of contention for winning the block but something of this match lacked the necessary blood in their responses to make me believe the short-term aggression created. Of course, on a pure action front, it was very good because what else did you expect? I just wish they had pushed it a little further. Though with Sabin here picking up a win over one half of the current IWGP Junior Tag-Team Champions, hopefully, this might lead to a title shot for the Motor City Machine Guns in the near future. Sabin got the pin of the Cradle Shock fisherman’s driver.

Winner: Chris Sabin

BOSJ Tournament Match: Ryusuke Taguchi vs Marty Scurll

Viva la Raza everybody, it’s a good ol’ fashioned Eddie Guerrero tribute or considering this is New Japan Juniors, I should say Black Tiger. With the combination of Scurll and Taguchi, this was a good blend of grappling and hijinx with a lot of ass-play and Taguchi busting out some impressive dives including an impressive springboard triangle plancha. Oddly, considering I have previously criticised schtick wrestler Scurll and praised grapple-bastard Scurll, this match worked best for existing somewhere between the two of them though it did feel like it could have done with a little more heat behind Scurll’s control sections as you could almost feel less pressure being put on working the limbs what with the finish not coming down to a submission. The ending stretch was a lot of fun with Guerrero tribute after Guerrero tribute with Taguchi trying to get Scurll disqualified by hanging onto his arm and faking a low blow, a ref. bump leading to a missed tapout by Taguchi with the Ankle Lock but then the Funky Weapon reapplied the Ankle Lock only for Scurll to slide out of his boot and in the ensuing confusion, small package Taguchi for the pin. Lovely stuff with just a pinch more energy needed in the middle.

Winner: Marty Scurll

BOSJ Tournament Match: Sho vs Hiromu Takahashi

One day, Roppongi3K are going to implode, Sho and Yoh are going to face each other for the Jr. Heavyweight title at Wrestle Kingdom and it’s going to be the best. Not to be a broken record in singing Takahashi or Sho’s praises but these two are certified as good, this was no surprise to me coming into this tournament considering the Ticking Time Bomb has been the best Super Junior  since Wrestle Kingdom 11 but Sho and Yoh, two performers I never really gave that much interest to in their Tempura Boyz days have really blossomed as both tag and singles performers, here, much like his other five matches, Sho faced off against one of the best in the world and didn’t look a step behind him as a performer. I lovee a good hot start to a match, like this one with two running at each other and throwing out forearms like it was nobody’s business, but if you’re going to take that approach, you have to keep the intensity going throughout the match. Sadly, there were some early lulls in excitement as after a brief back-and-forth around the ring, things settled into a comfortable but not exactly thrilling groove briefly but luckily it picked up again and didn’t let up until the finish with Sho throwing out everything he had, apron Germans and triple powerbombs and all. The finish came as Takahashi managed to lock in his Triangle Choke for the tapout. With KUSHIDA, a mixed martial artist as well as a long-time rival of Takahashi’s, coming up in his final match of the block, it’s interesting that a lot of Takahashi’s tournament has been building his alternate submission finisher as now he has something to counteract both the Back to the Future package fisherman’s buster and the Hoverboard Lock. Expect those last stage matches to be something special.

Winner: Hiromu Takahashi

BOSJ Tournament Match: KUSHIDA vs Dragon Lee

Every so often, people just don’t quite nail it. It’s not the fault of either performer per se because even two of the best can have just a lack of exact chemistry, just look at Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns. Even then, I don’t know if there was a lack of chemistry in the case of Dragon Lee and KUSHIDA but something was missing with this match. It felt partially like maybe the problem was this was a really good match with about ten minutes extra where it didn’t feel like a lot was really happening but I think mostly it tried to almost do too much: they tried to fit in trading holds, striking sequences, lucha style displays, brawling around the ring, and honestly, all of it was good on its own but when strung together, it felt like this was a case of almost trying too hard to deliver a big match main event. The finish came as Lee picked up KUSHIDA after a reverse rana, probably to attempt to hit his own finisher but KUSHIDA turned it into a Back to the Future for the pin. Not great stuff, still good but not as good as it tried to be.

Winner: KUSHIDA

Summary

So, with only one more show to go before the finals, only three men can win Block B:

Hiromu Takahashi: Needs to beat KUSHIDA

KUSHIDA: Needs to beat Takahashi

Marty Scurll: Needs to beat Sho & for KUSHIDA-Takahashi to go to a Draw.

Let’s see if any of those things happen…