We’re finally there, the end of Block A. It’s been quite the ride, we’ve seen Shingo do his thingo, Dragon Lee cement his legacy among the great luchadores to work on New Japan, we’ve seen Gresham how that he can put on a good match with literally everyone. I bet he could even get a good match out of modern-day Jado. Let’s see if they could clear the last hurdle:
Taguchi Japan (Yota Tsuji, Shota Umino, Bandido & Ryusuke Taguchi) def. Yuya Uemura, CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Rocky Romero & Will Ospreay) // Umino pinned Uemura with a bridging Fisherman’s Suplex
CHAOSuchi Japan (Juice Robinson & YOH) def. Bullet Club (Robbie Eagles & Jado) // Robinson pinned Jado off Pulp Friction
Suzuki-Gun (Taichi & DOUKI) def. Bullet Club (Gedo & El Phantasmo // Taichi pinned Gedo off Holy Emperor’s Crucifix Tomb
Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito) def. Toa Henare & Ren Narita // Naito pinned Henare off Destino
BOSJ Tournament Block A Match: Tiger Mask v Titán
A good and fun way to open the tournament section of the show, both men have put in solid if unspectacular tournament performances but honestly, not every match has to be a MOTY epic. This was just pure clean action with some ‘grumpy dad Tiger gets pissed off by the flips so kicks him half to death’ action thrown in for good measure. Before they have to go home, I’d love to see the three lucha lads get a shot at the NEVER trios titles which I don’t know if anyone here remembers, still exist. Titán won with the Majestral pin.
BOSJ Tournament Block A Match: SHO v Jonathan Gresham
This is what tournament storytelling is all about. Maybe had we seen this match earlier in the tournament it might have been a more technically-minded affair but the psychology of watching Block A’s two most battered individual throw their last gasps into battle was spectacular. SHO with his ruptured ear and weakening legs taking on Gresham with his near-broken ribs, they threw everything they could into eleven minutes of pure action. Of course, eventually the SHO-stealer won because he, as a full-time New Japan talent, had more to gain from a big win here, taking it with his Shock Arrow package piledriver. Hopefully though, Gresham is back soon after this tour because if it’s not clear, I love the shit out of him.
BOSJ Tournament Block A Match: Marty Scurll w/Brody King v Dragon Lee
This was every Marty Scurll match on this tour: it was technically proficient and started hot but quickly petered out as it got into the traditional ‘heat’ section. The problem with every one of these matches is that there’s a great, sadistic bastard in Scurll but he doesn’t seem to be invested in sustained control sections. He shines in back-and-forth but as soon as the match gets into the face-in-peril section, it just drags. I really wanted to like this a lot more than I did and not just because Dragon Lee has had one hell of a run but once again here, this should’ve been a lot better. Lee won with his Descunadora finish.
Winner: Dragon Lee
BOSJ Tournament Block A Match: Shingo Takagi v Taiji Ishimori
This was good, not quite the barnstormer you might have expected but good. Shingo has been having a near-peerless tournament, not just being made to look like a resilient future champion but essentially making his undefeated streak matter as much as the Junior title. That said, Ishimori is clearly working through some injuries here and for that reason, I’m not going to be too harsh on him because frankly, if I was even faintly hurt, I’d probably just sit at home and eat soup let alone go twenty minutes with Shingo Takagi. Still, there was a hesitance to go full-pelt here, never quite hitting the fever pitch of Ishimori’s masterpiece against Hiromu Takahashi last year.
Still, there was a firm tension to this one as Ishimori’s attacking of the legs, that have been a problem all tournament for Takagi, made me wonder if this might be one-too-many for the Dragon. Ultimately it was not as a pumping bomber or two and the Last of the Dragon later and Shingo had punched his ticket to the final. This was still a very entertaining match, it just felt like maybe not quite the climactic block finale it could’ve been.
Winner: Shingo Takagi
Overall, another good day in what has been overall a very strong tournament. Not by any means the strongest day so far but then it had no DOUKI so very far from the worst. Anyway, if pressed for time, just watch Gresham v SHO. Or skip straight to the inevitable Ospreay v Takagi final. I mean let’s face it, we don’t deserve Taguchi as Jr Heavyweight Champion again. Plus he has to defend those NEVER trios titles that once again, do still exist.
Block B Final Standings:
WINNER! – Shingo Takagi – 18 (8-0-0) – WINNER!
Taiji Ishimori – 14 (7-0-2)
Dragon Lee – 14 (7-0-2)
SHO – 10 (5-0-4)
Marty Scurll – 10 (5-0-5)
Jonathan Gresham – 8 (4-0-5)
Titán – 6 (3-0-6)
Yoshinobu Kanemaru – 6 (3-0-6)
Tiger Mask – 6 (3-0-6)
TAKA Michinoku – 0 (0-0-9)