We’re down to the final week of the Best of Super Juniors action – and we’ve got the first of four full shows as we get to the business end… yes, we’re back to Korakuen Hall with a fantastic main event to send block B to the wire!
Monday’s block B action was simple: four guys with 3-2 records, and four guys with 2-3 records. Anyone picking up a fourth loss… was out of the tournament. Which left for the real prospect of a headache-inducing final round on Thursday as an eight-way tie wasn’t entirely out of the question!
Suzuki-gun (Taichi & TAKA Michinoku) vs. Dragon Lee & Shota Umino
Umino was visibly annoyed at how long the Suzuki-gun tandem were taking to get ready for the match, and eventually he just laid into them with forearms. That’ll rile them up! Problem is with these Young Lions, especially for someone at the stage in his career as Umino, he’s ripe for a right kicking as they still naively want to start matches… and believe they’ll win them with their very limited arsenal.
After taking a beating, Umino was able to tag in Dragon Lee, who knocked down Taichi with forearms in the corner ahead of a dropkick, before dispatching of TAKA en route to a tope con hilo to the pair on the outside! Somehow, Taichi recovered first and used Dragon Lee’s mask to pull him into the corner for some two-on-one beating. Umino tags back in and makes a hash out of a small package, before opting for a Boston crab on TAKA… that Taichi nonchalantly kicks away.
Dragon Lee makes the save and takes Taichi to the outside as Umino does a better inside cradle on the second attempt, only to get tripped into a Bully choke as TAKA scored the win. Basic, but decent – and whilst it’s easy to deride Umino for messing up a small package, it’s matches like that that all young talent need to get their mistakes out of the way… otherwise, how else do you learn? **½
Juice Robinson, Ricochet & Hirai Kawato vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi, EVIL & SANADA)
A variation on the usual LIJ tag, with Tetsuya Naito not in action… and we had our latest iteration of the overly enthusiastic Young Lion, with Kawato jumping Hiromu at the bell. These kids have death wishes, I tell ye!
Of course, Takahashi lit him up big time after that, and it was Kawato who took the lion’s share of the beating. Pun intended. Eventually, Kawato landed a dropkick and tagged in someone… we had to wait to see Ricochet in the ring as they aired a replay over the tag. Ricochet blitzed through the Ingobernables, scoring a near-fall over Takahashi with a standing shooting star press, before Juice was given a go…
EVIL cuts off those Dusty punches with a rake to the eyes before taking a spinebuster as Juice agonises over making the tag back out to Kawato, knowing full well what could happen. Impressively, Kawato flew into EVIL with dropkicks, but he’s quickly overwhelmed, and in spite of a lucky roll-up for a near-fall, the writing was always going to be on the wall. Especially when EVIL killed him with a lariat before locking in a trapped-arm chinlock for a rapid submission. Yep, that looked brutal, but eventually little Hirai will learn not to rush in! **½
Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi & Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)) vs. David Finlay & War Machine (Rowe & Hanson)
It’s like a broken record, but David Finlay really does seem like he’s in “creative has nothing for you” territory right now, being stuck as a third wheel in random tag matches after losing his part of the NEVER six man tag titles at WrestleKingdom. Heck, he wasn’t even up for consideration in the Best of Super Juniors tournament, after being involved in the last two years.
Somehow though, he was able to direct traffic, ordering War Machine to dive… as the Guerrillas of Destiny cut them off, continuing the trend of the Bullet Club trio staying in control. Eventually Finlay looked to work free and landed a dropkick to get him some breathing room, bringing Hanson in to clear house. They teased the corner-to-corner lariats, but instead he had to make do with a cartwheel away and a double clothesline as it was Rowe who unloaded on the Guerrillas.
Tama Tonga took a vicious knee to the face before easily booting away Finlay in the corner – who right now is back down there with the Young Lions in terms of his success rate. Tonga nearly won it with a standing frog splash on Rowe, only to get popped up into a bodyslam for the pin as Hanson took care of any potential interference with a massive tope to the outside. This was fine, but at times it sure did come across like War Machine had a handicap. ***
Bullet Club (Kenny Omega, Marty Scurll & Bad Luck Fale) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay & Gedo
Okada came out wearing a mask – I’m guessing it’s to do with the Tekken 7 tie-in that this tour has had – meanwhile Will Ospreay’s apparently gotten the nickname “Quick Silver”. Answers on a postcard…
This was the first time on this tour that Okada and Omega had been in action, as they built up to their rematch at Dominion next month. Ospreay and Scurll were a sort-of natural pairing, which just left poor Gedo. Ospreay’s see-saw kip ups see him mock Scurll in the opening moments, before he’s forced to throw Omega to the outside as he tried to interfere. Even Okada found time to mock Marty’s chicken dance, which is making me wonder… could that be a match down the road?
After those fun and games, Fale goes all Fale, throwing Ospreay into the crowd whilst Omega decided to bash Gedo around with a bucket. Well, it’s certainly novel. Fale then decided to use himself to beat up Gedo, lifting him off the ground in a choke, before missing an avalanche in the corner. That’s the set-up for a comeback, at least until Ospreay landed in a Grenade attempt, before dropkicking Fale into the corner.
We get another go around on Omega and Okada, featuring a blistering chop from Omega, before a neckbreaker slam onto Omega somehow got us to Scurll and Gedo. A poke to the eyes looked to get Gedo in front, but he decided to flip the bird – which then got snapped by Marty – before the ring filled to block everyone’s finishers. Ospreay walked up Omega to stop a V-Trigger knee, before flying to knock down Fale with a Sasuke special… leaving Gedo in the ring helpless to take a chicken wing as the veteran tapped out. A fun six-man tag, with plenty of good stuff in here to make this not your everyday undercard match. I’m now really hoping that we have seen the past, present and future of Okada’s challengers on this team… I wonder if that could be slotted in on a certain UK tour in August? ***½
Best of the Super Junior 24, Block B: El Desperado vs. Tiger Mask
It’s win or bust for Tiger Mask, as he’s one of those coming into today with a 2-3 record. Desperado jumps him before he can even enter the ring, as we start with brawling on the outside… except this time it’s with a mobile camera crew!
Desperado whacks Tiger Mask in the knee with a chair and then we get the count-out going as a doctor massages the joint. Tiger Mask beats the count, only to get thrown outside and into chairs again, and it’s clear that Desperado is trying to force the veteran into a wheelchair. Still, Tiger got himself back in the ring so Despy could go after the knee some more, and a shot at unmasking him.
Tiger hit back with a tiltawhirl backbreaker that seemed to really take it out of Despy, before a crucifix nearly won it. An armbar nearly had the same result, with only a rope break curtailing things, before Desperado shoved Tiger into the referee… giving him a chance for shenanigans. By which I meant “ripping at Tiger Mask’s mask, before going for a Guitarra de la Muerta that looked more like an Angle Slam… and Tiger kicked out at two! The tables turned decisively though, with a Tiger Driver nearly winning it, before getting the win with a Tiger Suplex that looked to have Desperado in the ropes. So… Tiger Mask’s done his bit, and remains alive after a decent match that saw Desperado try and cheat his way to a win, and fail. ***
After the match, Tiger Mask pulled Desperado back into the ring and threatened to unmask him, but the good guy’s conscience won out, as he had second thoughts in the end.
Best of the Super Junior 24, Block B: BUSHI vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
BUSHI’s in the “win or die” boat, and it’s clear he wasn’t watching the preceding match, as Kanemaru ran out during the entrance and jumped BUSHI before he could take off his suit jacket.
They immediately head into the stands, where Kanemaru throws BUSHI into the arena wall as it becomes obvious that he’s got TAKA Michinoku in tow. BUSHI avoids a suplex by an entry way and then heads up to dive off of it, knocking down Kanemaru with a crossbody! Even more impressive when you’re dressed to deliver a best man’s speech at a wedding rather than wrestle!
Back in the ring, it was all BUSHI for the opening spell, but he was knocked to the outside for a DDT on the floor as things shifted drastically, allowing for Kanemaru to choke away at BUSHI using his own shirt. Payback? Yep, BUSHI briefly got that before landing a DDT as the pair went back and forth, and should have ended when Kanemaru’s scooped reverse DDT got a near-fall, thanks to BUSHI grabbing the ref’s arm to stop the three-count from physically being made.
BUSHI rebounded, but was shoved into the ref as he went for a Codebreaker, before taking out TAKA with a tope on the floor. Kanemaru then looked to get the win by way of his expensive bottle of whiskey, but BUSHI forced him to swallow it before delivering the sit-out jawbreaker for a near-fall. The MX followed, and that was enough for BUSHI to get the win he needed to bring a satisfying match to a close. I think we can probably guess how these other two matches are going to go… ***½
After the match, BUSHI sprayed Kanemaru with his own whiskey, and that stuff stings!
Best of the Super Junior 24, Block B: ACH vs. Volador Jr.
It’s Volador’s turn to escape the bubble here, and he starts with a dangerously low kick to ACH as he looked to avoid the chop to the groin. They go tit-for-tat with some added flips, before Volador hits the first successful dive of the match, a tope con hilo into the front row!
ACH barely beat the count-out, and sprung back into action with a double stomp and a low dropkick, as he then flies with FOUR topes to Volador on the outside. Those last two knocked Volador into the bleachers, before he finished off the job with a lowpe… but it didn’t look like those dives were anything more than an inconvenience as Volador came back with a superkick and a back cracker for a near-fall.
ACH rebounds by turning a handspring into a German suplex as he came close to a win, then again with a superplex after leaping to the top rope to stop Volador from flying. Second time was the charm as Volador hit a top rope ‘rana that ACH didn’t flip out of… and that was enough to give him a share of the lead (for now!). This was fine, but I wasn’t that big a fan of the long chain of dives quickly being nullified by Volador, but it was what it was. ***
Best of the Super Junior 24, Block B: KUSHIDA vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
The longest match of the tournament so far, pushing 23 minutes long (of the 30 minute time limits all block matches have!) – and yes, KUSHIDA was last up to make sure he added to the log-jam on Thursday. Of course, if Taguchi won, he’d be the clear leader and make things a lot more straightforward!
KUSHIDA started slowly, looking to ground Taguchi rather than try and win this in short order, before turning the tempo up with a series of headlock takedowns that forced Taguchi into the ropes. There’s an entertaining spell of mirroring as Taguchi and KUSHIDA went for duelling hip attacks, then clotheslines, to no avail, before Taguchi sort-of cheap shotted KUSHIDA en route to a hip attack, only to get caught in an armbar as he flew off the apron with another ass attack.
It’s more of the same back inside, as KUSHIDA tries to force a submission, only for Taguchi to get out of a mounted Kimura with some suplexes… the impact of which seemed to tweak KUSHIDA’s knee as he hobbled on landing. That gave Taguchi something to aim at, and so we got a long spell of him working over the knee, grapevining the leg and contorting the leg, softening up the “Time Splitter” for random cracks at an ankle lock. KUSHIDA escapes a Dodon, then hits one of his own after countering a hip attack as both these guys looked to have the other really well scouted.
Taguchi went back to the hip attacks, before handing an enziguiri from the floor and springboarding into yet another armbar… but he escapes as the pair traded ankle locks… then armbars. Holy crap this is good! KUSHIDA even busts out a figure four, with Taguchi eventually grabbing the ropes for the break. Unfortunately for the “Funky Weapon” he took too long holding the rope to get back up, so KUSHIDA dropkicks it to send him down, before they resort to slapping the heck out of each other.
A drop toe hold sent Taguchi into the turnbuckles, allowing KUSHIDA to roll him back up into an attempt at the Back To The Future small package driver, but Taguchi busts out… a Hoverboard Lock? The alternate universe quickly ended as KUSHIDA rolled to the ropes, but Taguchi kept on at the arm, as did KUSHIDA, as the match looked to enter its finishing straight, with Taguchi coming close with a Dodon, a Bomaye and an ankle lock. KUSHIDA held firm though, before countering a Dodon that too got countered into a mini Victory roll for a near-fall.
More back and forth leads Taguchi to put himself in harms way for another Hoverboard lock, which KUSHIDA finally switched into the Back To The Future for the win! Oh my word, that was a war of epic proportions. So much back-and-forth, borrowing pages from the other’s book, before KUSHIDA’s newest move earned him the win. Glorious! ****½
Updated standings (without the headache of tie-breakers!):
Block A: Dragon Lee, Will Ospreay, Ricochet, Taichi, Hiromu Takahashi (4-2, 8pts); Marty Scurll (3-3, 6pts); TAKA Michinoku (1-5, 2pts); Jushin “Thunder” Liger (0-6, 0pts). Eliminated: Scurll, TAKA, Liger.
Block B: ACH, BUSHI, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, KUSHIDA, Tiger Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi, Volador Jr. (3-3, 6pts)
Block B’s final round on Thursday could be won by anyone, with a brain-aching 16 different permutations based on Thursday’s results and tiebreakers… assuming nothing goes to a time limit draw, but then those would likely only directly eliminate wrestlers, unless we have two hours of BOSJ matches… or Gedo decides to break the habit of a lifetime and have double countouts! My head hurts…
Maybe I should just go back and re-watch Taguchi/KUSHIDA? You should too…