NJPW: Best of the Super Juniors Stage 5 Review

Another day, another static-cam, no tag matches, just tournament action show from the Best of the Super Juniors Block A. Luckily for all of us, it makes this all quite easy to digest so let’s get into the meal in question as we look at the meat of the action…

BOSJ Tournament Match: Tiger Mask vs BUSHI

BDOC of the Juniors, Tiger Mask pulled off another belter here, showing more motivation and flair than men half his age but also more intelligence in match layout. BUSHI, as a tag performer, is superb but has often struggled with his singles work often feeling like a formless series of spots with little connection but Tiger Mask brought out something more here, adding a technical structuring the match that allowed the crowd to get behind the grumpy old man of the Junior division. It was a match that, like many in the series, lacked something from the faintly throwaway nature of these house show tournament matches where it feels like everyone’s holding back to wait for a bigger show. Tiger Mask got the pin off a bridging Tiger Suplex. Solid stuff but not unmissable.

Winner: Tiger Mask

BOSJ Tournament Match: ACH vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru

ACH rallied early on, Kanemaru used his wily veteran means to take control, the heat section of the match went on too long, ACH showed fire in his comeback, Kanemaru spat whisky at him and hit the Deep Impact DDT for the pin. And so it goes.

Winner: Yoshinobu Kanemaru

BOSJ Tournament Match: Flip Gordon vs Taiji Ishimori

Fuck Flip Gordon. I know I normally reserve the  ‘Fuck…’ opening for Mike Elgin but I’m only three matches into the tournament and I’m done with Flip. Now, Flip has his fans and the crowds love him because he rips off his trousers mid-backflip and he does his constant kip-ups but honestly, he feels exactly like what people seem to think Will Ospreay is or more exactly, what Ospreay was. Ishimori is a fascinating performer because he works different to any other junior but he’s still yet to have a really compelling performance to cement his position in the division. One thing I really enjoyed about this match was Ishimori’s varied and effective methods to keep Gordon out of the sky, forcing him to try and play by Ishimori’s rules, an approach that worked to his favour as he managed to turn a Bloody Cross double knee gutbuster into a cradle pin for the surprise victory. I want to like Flip more than I do but being athletic is not equivalent to generating sympathy, he’s got the flips down, now we need more Gordon.

Winner: Flip Gordon

BOSJ Tournament Match: Will Ospreay vs YOH

The start to the tournament has been a bit Rocky (and I don’t mean Romero) for the Jr. Heavyweight champ with ok but imminently forgettable encounters against Ishimori and ACH, so it was nice to see Ospreay at least work with some more energy here, possibly springing from the lack of animosity with his CHAOS groupmate being across the ring but they instead of going for blood just tried to outdo one another. Yoh worked hard here and it showed as the Roppongi3k boys have been the surprise hits of this tournament for me, showing a compelling knowledge of singles match structure but also, just having a lot of cool shit they can bust out when they need to, Ospreay, of course, is also in many ways the physical embodiment of cool shit. The problem with matches like this is that they throw so much in, none of it is retained but for what it’s worth, it’s an enjoyable, little match. Ospreay got the pin off his Stormbreaker twisting Jackhammer-facebuster thing.

Winner: Will Ospreay

Block A is really struggling in comparison to Block B and I can’t tell if that’s everyone saving something for the big matches or just a lack of excitement around much of the contests but I’m hopeful that we’ll get something more down the line. Let’s see what happens…