We’re into the “tournament matches” only portion of this year’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament – and day four is no different as block A has a round in Shizuoka!
Best of the Super Junior 24, Block A: TAKA Michinoku vs. Will Ospreay
Both men start by going over the wrist as TAKA just invites Ospreay’s see-saw kip ups, before ending a series of forearms by just poking Will in the eye.
Our first… dive is teased, but Will just handsprings into his Assassin’s Creed pose, before missing a plancha and getting thrown into the ring post. TAKA takes him down the aisle as the mobile camera’s called into action, just about catching Ospreay in a Bully Choke – with TAKA leaving the hold on for long enough for Ospreay to have to sprint back to beat the count-out… and slide straight back into the same choke!
The pressure’s maintained with a step-up knee in the corner as TAKA gets in a guillotine, before resorting to some choking in the ropes. Ospreay gets audibly frustrated at the referee’s inability to do anything with the choking in the ropes, as Will took matters into his hands with some forearms, only to get poked in the eyes yet again.
Regardless, a partially-sighted Ospreay was able to connect with a handspring overhead kick before going for the diving dropkick in the corner. TAKA again tried to land an eye poke, but instead he kicked Ospreay’s knees as he yet again went for the Bully Choke, with TAKA wrenching back as Ospreay just about broke via the ropes. From there, Will rebounded with a springboard forearm, a Revolution kick and then an OsCutter as those three moves in a row earned him a second win. Not too bad, but this is a match that I expected a little more of, and will likely not remember too much of tomorrow. Aside from TAKA’s penchant for eye pokes… Will goes to 2-1, whilst TAKA has a flipped record after that, remaining on two points. **¾
Best of the Super Junior 24, Block A: Marty Scurll vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger
These two had a really fun match back in November at Rev Pro’s Global Wars show at York Hall, and it was a repeat performance here at the Kira Messe Numazu!
They start by going for the wrists, with Liger eventually getting tripped into a toehold, only for him to reverse back out and catch the Villain in a seated surfboard. Scurll clawed towards the ropes to avoid a Romero special, and started to go after Liger’s wrist, twisting it back on itself only for Liger to escape with some grounded headscissors. After clapping his legs to get the crowd going, Scurll escaped with a headstand, before Liger egged him on to a chicken taunt… only to throw him outside to tease a dive, and instead do the Hulk Hogan pose! Marty tries to intimidate the guy calling out the count-outs before returning to the ring to block a sunset flip and eventually turn it into a stomp on the hand!
Of course, Marty mocked the Liger pose, and got booed for it, as he slowly picked apart the veteran, only to run into a tiltawhirl backbreaker as Liger tried to keep his first win of the tournament within sight. A top rope ‘rana gets Liger a near-fall, before he falls for a “Just Kidding” superkick as a set-up for a chicken wing at the ten minute mark…
But Liger manages to break it via the ropes, and somehow managed to rebound with a superplex as he took down the Villain! A Shotei’s prepped, but Marty grabs the hand and snaps some fingers, before falling to an O’Connor roll… from the kick-out, he flipped Liger into a chicken wing, and there’s your tap out! Whereas the Rev Pro match was more comedic, this was a lot more sound as a wrestling match, and I enjoyed it a little bit more for it. Good work, and that puts Marty into a share of the lead in the block with a 2-1 record, whilst Liger’s still looking for his first win. A win that I fear may be a long time coming… ***½
Best of the Super Junior 24, Block A: Taichi vs. Dragon Lee
Taichi attacked Dragon Lee with his mic stand before the bell, and once he’d stopped, the referee just rang the bell like nothing had happened. Of course, Taichi threw Dragon Lee outside so Desperado could get some cheap shots in.
Once he returned, Dragon Lee built up some momentum, leading to a basement dropkick as Taichi decided to try and play some cat and mouse, which he found funny. Until he tasted a springboard missile dropkick. Desperado again gets involved to block a dive to the outside, but that just gave Taichi an opening to go out and get the bell hammer as he then used it on Dragon Lee as Despy had the referee distracted. He tries to loosen Dragon Lee’s mask, and almost pulls it off as everyone’s least liked member of Suzuki-gun proceeded to nonchalantly choke Dragon in the corners.
Eventually Dragon Lee overcame it and was able to go flying – taking out Taichi with a tope as Desperado ate a tope con hilo on the other side of the ring. Back inside, Taichi’s knocked down for a basement dropkick in the corner that gets Lee a near-fall, but Taichi pulls down the referee into an, erm, suggestive position to avoid a move off the top, eventually rolling the referee to the outside.
Taichi escapes a Desnucadora suplex/powerbomb and somehow grabs the referee again to avoid a German suplex, which allows Desperado to capitalise on another unsighted ref with a chairshot that helped score another near-fall. Undeterred, Dragon Lee hits a bicycle knee before taking a superkick for another near-fall, before the Taichi-shiki Last Ride scored a surprise win. I was NOT expecting Taichi to get the win here, and that result – complete with the usual Taichi bullcrap – puts both men into the lead with 2-1 records. ***
Best of the Super Junior 24, Block A: Ricochet vs. Hiromu Takahashi
Well, what did you expect this to be? Boring?! These two flew out of the gates, with Ricochet just about taking a superkick as he tried to springboard into the ring, before flipping out of a sunset bomb as he tope’d Takahashi into the guard railings.
Yep, this is going to be frantic!
Hiromu slows it down with some chops as he softened up Ricochet for his figure four variant, as it looked like Ricochet was on the path to another defeat against the IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion, especially when he was getting whipped into the corners. However, a roll-up into a dropkick got Ricochet back into the game, along with a 619 and a springboard back elbow, only for Takahashi to get his knees up to block a running shooting star press.
Takahashi powered back in with a huge pop-up sit-out powerbomb and a Falcon arrow for some near-falls, before falling into a Blue Thunder bomb and another running shooting star press that gets Ricochet a near-fall as the crowd bought into his comeback, which somehow featured both men colliding in mid-air with crossbodies to knock the wind out of each other. They recover to trade some forearms, before Takahashi ducks a head kick and decides to blast Ricochet with a pair of rolling Germans!
A Time Bomb gets Takahashi a near-fall, but Ricochet rebounds with a release German and the Galleria lifting reverse DDT as he almost got the win, before an axe kick and a lifting Flatliner did the job! That was quite fantastic – within the confines of a 12 minute match, this was much different from their title match a month ago, but still quite special. Frantic, without being too spotty, and guess what… it looks like Hiromu’s got yet another potential challenger now! Takahashi joins TAKA with a 1-2 record, whilst Ricochet goes above him with that 2-1 record after three bouts. ****
Your updated standings then:
Block A: Dragon Lee, Marty Scurll, Ricochet, Taichi, Will Ospreay (2-1; 4pts); Hiromu Takahashi, TAKA Michinoku (1-2; 2pts); Jushin “Thunder” Liger (0-3; 0pts)
Block B: El Desperado, Ryusuke Taguchi (2-0; 4pts); ACH, Tiger Mask, Volador Jr, Yoshinobu Kanemaru (1-1; 2pts); BUSHI, KUSHIDA (0-2; 0pts)
On paper, this didn’t have a chance of standing up to the consistency from first two rounds of block A action, but this was a good round with two great matches – particularly the “main event” – and two solid matches make this a worthy watch. Block B is in action next with a live show on Monday night (Japanese time/early morning in the US/mid-morning in the UK – or less than 12 hours time if you’re reading this as I post it) that’ll be on New Japan World, featuring a mix of prelim and block matches.