NJPW “Best of Super Juniors” Night 1 Review

It’s officially that time again! BOSJ is upon us and night one for the A Block kicked off from Sendai Sunplaza Hall. The crowd was lukewarm but the matches were hot as two of the tournament matches saw continuations of some of the hottest feuds in the juniors/junior tag division. Not to mention we also got the tournament debut of “The Octopus” Jonathan Gresham and an in ring preview of DOUKI. Let’s get into it

Everyone hates Rocky Romero

Taichi & DOUKI defeated Yota Tsuji & Ren Narita via Suplex de La Luna on Tsuji

Jado, El Phantasmo & Robbie Eagles defeated Yuya Uemura, Rocky Romero & Bandido via Turbo Backpack to Uemura

Ryusuke Taguchi & Juice Robinson defeated Shota Umino & YOH via High Angle Boston Crab on Umino

BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito defeated Toa Henare & Will Ospreay via Destino on Henare

Big kick to the head of TAKA

Block A Match: Tiger Mask vs TAKA Michinoku

The first match of the tournament featured two legends of the junior division showcasing what they do best. TAKA was an absolute machine in targeting the injured knee of Tiger Mask and dominating the pace through dubious means whilst Tiger Mask made what can only be described as a super comeback to win the match. There was a bit of everything in this match as TAKA brawled, used ZSJ calibre submissions and even flew to try and put down Tiger Mask. There were a lot of throwbacks to how TAKA used to wrestle and the commentators continuously put over his legacy in the tournament and just how much of a pro he has been over the course of his career. In the end, it would take a Tiger Driver and bridging Tiger Suplex to put TAKA down and give Tiger Mask the first win of the tournament. It was a solid opener that used drama and storytelling to mask the slightly slower pace. TAKA is always a fun heel to watch and this match was no exception as he got his comeuppance from the persevering Tiger Mask. The big question is though, will the damage to the knee here derail future matches for Tiger match as the tournament progresses?

Block A Match: Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Titan

After fighting with his zipper, Titan was given a Suzuki Gun greeting as Kanemaru attacked before the bell and instantly went for his mask. The Heel Master continued to live up to his name as he would both master the timing of avoiding Titan’s offence and continued to act in a heelish manner as the match progressed. Titan would have a mountain to climb as a DDT to the outside early on in the match seem to knock him off base and made him pause whenever he went for something big. However, he would be the first junior to connect a dive in the tournament and managed to pick up the pace for a bit before his own showboating nearly cost him the match. Titan nearly shot himself in the foot on multiple occasions by taunting before moves only to get shot down and in one case take Deep Impact. Ultimately though Kanemaru would screw himself over by going for the Santori and pushing the referee instead of going for an athletic finish. The mist missed and Kanemaru was trapped in a Titan X pinfall to end the match. This was much faster and more fun than the last one as it reminded the audience just how good Kanemaru can be, even when he’s losing. Titan was able to showcase an “outta nowhere” finisher and we got a good showing from both men. Nothing to complain about at all.

Crossface Chicken Wing from Scurll

Block A Match: Marty Scurll (w/Brody King) vs Jonathan Gresham

And now for something completely different. This was the first properly technical masterclass of the tournament as two kings of hybrid catch wrestling came to blows. Gresham’s first match of the tournament saw him facing fellow technical marvel Marty Scurll. What ensued was a back and forth battle of minds and moves as both men wanted to use their technical acumen to get ahead in the fight. Gresham nearly won on several occasions with several roll-up attempts and quick reversals. Both men felt equally matched in both power and technique as they traded pin attempts, submissions, strikes, power moves and everything else in a battle to take control. We saw Scurll pay homage to both Liger, with the Romero Special and Rey Mysterio, with the 619. In the end, Scurll needed an advantage so stamped the hand and broke the fingers of Gresham before finishing Gresham with the Black Plague. It may have been a loss for Gresham but he certainly proved his worth and further ingratiated himself to the Japanese fans. His style has gone down well and now that his biggest equal has bested him, he has something to prove and plenty of matches to do that in. There’s also the fact that this match was the first time we’ve seen Brody King in NJPW. He was purely a bystander but will be by Scurll’s side for the rest of the tour.

Block A Match: Shingo Takagi vs SHO

Goddamn what a match. These two have been at one another since they first met. The two strongest juniors in the division and my god did this match show it. This was a 25-minute monster of a match that saw a newly black haired and video game themed entrance music SHO give his all against his biggest rival Shingo. There were tonnes of near falls through Powerbombs, Pumping Bombers, Lariats and Superplexes. Not to mention SHO brought his Brazilian Ju Jitsu training to the table to try and work over the strong arm of Shingo. This was nothing short of a war, full of drama, story and the potential of SHO finally overcoming Shingo. Unfortunately, this would not happen as after giving it his all SHO was put down with Shingo’s strongest tool, The Last of the Dragon. After the match, Shingo said something to SHO that no one caught. I hope it was a show of respect as despite not beating him, SHO may have found a way to finally bring down the final boss in his division. This is going to be a standout of the tournament and it happened on night one. Shingo continues his undefeated streak and continues to be the monster no one can put down. He is still a safe bet to be in the final of the tournament.

German Suplex from SHO

Block A Match: Dragon Lee vs Taiji Ishimori

I would not have liked to have been in the spot this match was in. It had to follow Shingo/SHO but did a good enough job of keeping the crowd going for one more match. There was plenty to enjoy as the Jr Heavyweight Title rivals clashed once again following their title match at Dontaku. The match started slow but soon sped up and we were getting flurries involving Destroyers and Reverse Ranas. Both men gave it everything but it would be Ishimori who came out on top as he hit Dragon Lee with the Tombstone Double Knees and finished him with the Bloody Cross. Ishimori has won his block both times he has taken part in this tournament, today’s show has started that road once again. Ishimori has avenged his loss to Lee and looks to be a serious competitor in the tournament once again. It was another excellent match but lacked some of the response of the previous match and seemed better suited as the penultimate match rather than the main event.

Tombstone Double Knees from Ishimori

So there you have it, the first night of BOSJ action is behind us. We got to see the first teasing of DOUKI in-ring ahead of his debut, the continuation of SHO vs Shingo that saw SHO take another unfortunate loss and Ishimori claim a win over the current champ. All in all it’s been an enjoyable show to watch, the crowd were a tad quiet at times but hopefully, that will pick up as the tournament goes on and the stakes get higher.

Current Standings

Tiger Mask – 2 (1-0-0)

Titan – 2 (1-0-0-0)

Marty Scurll – 2 (1-0-0)

Shingo Takagi – 2 (1-0-0)

Taiji Ishimori – 2 (1-0-0)

TAKA Michinoku – 0 (0-0-1)

Yoshinobu Kanemaru – 0 (0-0-1)

Jonathan Gresham – 0 (0-0-1)

SHO – 0 (0-0-1)

Dragon Lee – 0 (0-0-1)

(All images courtesy of njpw1972.com)

Comment