KUSHIDA and Will Ospreay battled it out to determine this year’s Best of Super Junior in yet-another match of the year contender!

Tokyo’s Yoyogi 2nd Gymnasium was the site for KUSHIDA’s latest chance at redemption, as he looked to add to his 2-0 record against Ospreay in “big matches” as Kevin Kelly termed it.

Manabu Nakanishi, Katsuya Kitamura & Tetsuhiro Yagi vs. Yuji Nagata, Tomoyuki Oka & Shota Umino
You know the drill with these matches: two Young Lions and their mentor against each other. Kitamura’s grown some hair since he was last on a stage like this, and it was he and Oka who started off trading shoulder blocks against each other.

Eventually Oka and his starter beard won out before tagging in Umino, who quickly got levelled by chops from the much larger Kitamura. Yagi tried to win with a Boston crab, but Oka broke it up as Nakanishi came in to have his shots at Yagi. A missed kneedrop from Nakanishi opened the door for Nagata to come in and go to work, landing a dropkick to Nakanishi’s knee.

A spear from Nakanishi gets him back in it, before hitting a clothesline for a near-fall, as we go back to Kitamura and Oka… with Kitamura pulling off a torture rack! Nakanishi throws one in as well, but Nagata helps to break that up before Oka’s belly-to-belly on Yagi helped pave the way to victory, as a Boston crab eventually forces Yagi to submit. Basic, but a perfect opener to help this new crop of youngsters in their development. **½

Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & Jado vs. Togi Makabe, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hirai Kawato
New Japan World forgot to pack their dubbing theme for Makabe, so we were treated to some rude silence for their entrance. Poor Hirai Kawato is going to take a pasting here isn’t he? Especially as he was back to his firecracker self, trying to get into everybody’s faces.

It’s straightforward to get us going, as Jado started off taking some Mongolian chops from Tenzan… only to recover as soon as Kawato hit the ring. He probably shouldn’t have poked the proverbial bear! Of course, Toru Yano removed the turnbuckle padding, meaning that Kawato took an Irish whip into the exposed corner, before he did something really really dumb.

Kawato tried to chop Tomohiro Ishii. Repeatedly. It ended as well as you’d expect.

Once Yano came in, Kawato hit a dropkick before bringing in Makabe, who went after Yano with the mounted punches in the corner. Makabe outlasted some triple-teaming, before bringing Kawato back into try his luck with Ishii again… this time landing a back elbow to get a surprising near-fall.

A springboard dropkick from Kawato gets him another near-fall after the ring had filled and cleared out, before coming even closer with a schoolboy. Ishii eventually had enough of being messed around with, and just decided to murder Kawato with a lariat, dumping the kid on his head for the win. **¾

Suzuki-gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado & TAKA Michinoku) vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask & Volador Jr.
Our final six-man tag sees Jushin “Thunder” Liger and friends take on Suzuki-gun… with Kanemaru’s expensive bottle of whiskey almost empty at this point. A tour will have that effect on you…

Volador and Desperado start by flipping all over the place until Volador landed La Mistica, before bringing in Liger for a Romero special. That’s broken up as Liger’s taken outside for some triple-teaming, before TAKA somehow found a way to poke through the mesh in Liger’s mask and get to the eyes.

Liger managed to make a comeback with a Shotei to Kanemaru, then a tiltawhirl backbreaker to Desperado as the tide shifted back and forth, with Kanemaru and Tiger Mask trading kicks. A Tiger Bomb gets a near-fall as Volador returns… and sees a pinfall attempt on him quickly broken up by Liger. Kanemaru and Desperado try to save TAKA from a superplex, but Volador succeeds with the belly-to-belly superplex anyway as the good guys get the win in a stupidly short outing. **

Bullet Club (Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa), Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe), ACH & David Finlay
Yujiro had his ladies with him again, but it was War Machine and the Guerrillas that started off flying fists towards each other, before everyone decided to take their shots at Fale.

War Machine prepared to press slam ACH onto Fale, but the Guerrillas made the save repeatedly, stopping ACH from going airborne as we had the obligatory outside-the-ring stuff. Tama Tonga had fun with a fan’s camera as ACH continued to get worn down with Fale standing on his back for the hell of it. There’s more double and triple teaming, but finally ACH gets the tag out to Rowe, who impressively took down just about everyone in sight.

Hanson comes in for his corner-to-corner clotheslines on the Guerrillas, eventually cut-off by Fale whose attempt at a big boot is cartwheeled away from… but that just opened things up for the Guerrillas to double-team Hanson some more. Finlay came in and thought he’d won it with a diving uppercut to Yujiro, before ACH finally landed his dive… nearly decapitating himself as he took down Fale on the outside.

Hanson then flipped off the top rope with a senton to the pile outside – Sha Samuels eat your heart out! – before Finlay returned to get squashed by Fale as the Pimp Juice DDT got Yujiro the win. A decent enough outing, but despite the quality of these guys, their multi-man tags on this tour just haven’t inspired me… hopefully the tag title match next week will change that! **¾

Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Taichi)
Of course this was a match of two-halves – Goto and Suzuki rekindling their rivalry, and Taichi just being an arse against YOSHI-HASHI. Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado were at ringside to throw in their two cents, just as Goto and Suzuki went deep into the crowd.

Goto gets choked with a chair in the crowd as the referee was hopelessly unable to keep control. Even more so when Taichi got the bell hammer and used it on YOSHI-HASHI so that he was down and ready for Suzuki to have his way, battering YOSHI-HASHI with kicks and chops. A reverse spin kick gets Suzuki into the ropes as Goto’s able to get the tag in, battering Suzuki with a spinning heel kick and a Saito suplex for a near-fall. Suzuki responded with a PK as he came close, before they decided to start leathering each other with forearm shots.

Goto tried to sneak in an ushigoroshi, but Suzuki turned it into a sleeperhold as a prelude to a Gotch piledriver… which Goto had to wriggle free of as he finally landed that ushigoroshi. We go back to Taichi and YOSHI-HASHI, with the latter landing a ‘rana… but the outside interference almost paid off as a chairshot from Desperado helped Taichi get another near-fall.

Taichi blocks a schoolboy by pulling the referee down… cue another Suzuki-gun mugging to YOSHI-HASHI, then to Goto which ended just as the referee returned to the ring. What were the odds of that?! Goto and Suzuki end up fighting in the crowd again as YOSHI-HASHI backdropped out of a Taichi piledriver, but there’s even more shenanigans as Kanemaru looked to spray whiskey… YOSHI-HASHI ducked, which meant that Taichi got the booze to the face as Karma got the win for the good guys. Take away the Suzuki-gun shenanigans, and this was a pretty good outing for all involved. I can’t wait til we see some more between Goto and Suzuki! ***¼

After the match, the mugging resumed, as Suzuki decided to do his best to eliminate some Young Lions…

Satoshi Kojima, Juice Robinson, Ryusuke Taguchi, Ricochet & Dragon Lee vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI)
During the entrances, Taguchi dove on the wreck that is the Intercontinental championship title – and yes, that belt is in pieces after Naito’s systematically tried to destroy it in recent weeks.

Naito started off by grabbing Robinson by his dreadlocks, but Juice quickly recovered from the two-on-one beating to drill SANADA with a cannonball in the corner, ready for Taguchi’s usual hip attack nonsense. Things swung the other way when the Ingobernables stormed the ring, leading to Taguchi getting covered whilst Kojima offered support… by just shouting at the “Funky Weapon”.

Takahashi blocks a hip attack by turning it into an inverted atomic drop several times, before going to the well once too often as Taguchi finally tagged out. We got a glimpse of Dragon Lee and Hiromu once again, which was as slick and tantalising as it always will be, ending when BUSHI flew in with a missile dropkick.

After taking a snap German suplex, Dragon Lee tagged in Ricochet who cleared the ring of SANADA, before outlasting EVIL and Naito’s double-team attempt, eventually taking a near-fall from a standing shooting star press to BUSHI. Ricochet even threw in a shooting star press off of Juice Robinson’s back for another two-count as BUSHI was getting worn down some more, but the masked one hit back with a Codebreaker.

Next up was Kojima’s machine gun chops, but he’s unable to follow-up as SANADA kicked the ropes into him. A series of Dragon screws saw Kojima turn things back around, before his suplex attempt was countered as SANADA came in with a springboard dropkick… and then the Ingobernables flooded the ring again. Ricochet single-handledly thought he’d saved the day, but his kick to Takahashi just led to a parade of finishers… most of them were hit, including a Koji Cutter to Naito.

After taking a lariat from Kojima, Naito makes use of some interference from his partners, leaving him open to deliver a Destino as the Ingobernables picked up the win. These ten-man tags are usually fun, but this felt particularly rushed, particularly at the end. ***½

Once the dust had settled, Naito took the microphone… and this is where my lack of Japanese knowledge bites me in the backside. He’s quickly interrupted as Hiroshi Tanahashi made his way to ringside – and they pretty much reconfirmed the Naito/Tanahashi match at Dominion next weekend. Complete with the crowd pretty much unanimously behind Naito – regardless of how badly he abused that belt!

Bullet Club (Kenny Omega & Marty Scurll) vs. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo
You know how this goes, surely? Omega and Okada worked really well together, as Omega looked to end things early with a One Winged Angel as the pair instead blasted through some of their greatest hits in the opening moments.

Likewise, Gedo and Scurll had their moments too, with Scurll’s chicken taunts getting the crowd going… and earning him a superkick to the gut as Gedo had no time for his nonsense. A superkick knocked Gedo down on the floor though, and left him open for Omega to grab him by the beard for some slightly-cheaty moments.

The t-shirted Omega was looking to have fun here, and did so as he launched into an axehandle smash on Gedo’s arm. There’s a fun spot where Omega and Scurll hugged it out as they almost ran into each other, but that just opened the door for Gedo to try a sunset flip on the Villain… and of course, he blocked it, with the help of his umbrella!

Once the referee kicked it away, the sunset flip was completed as Gedo looked to pick up some pinning attempts, but his beard just gave the Bullet Club pair a way back… only for Omega to turn into a flatliner as both men were left laying. More buffoonery saw Omega and Scurl bonk into each other as Okada followed up with a flapjack, then an elbow drop and then… Rainmaker pose!

Speaking of, Omega kicked away a Rainmaker as the pair went toe-to-toe again, finishing with a Finlay roll and a moonsault for a near-fall. Scurll comes in to take a neckbreaker slam as a piledriver was reversed by Okada, before he recovered to deck Gedo with the “Just Kidding” superkick. Gedo replied in kind, but with a different utterance, only to get caught with a chicken wing that Okada barely broke up in time. Likewise, a Gedo clutch gets broken up as they continue to go back and forth, ending with Marty blocking a Rainmaker by… opening an umbrella. POETIC!

With the open umbrella left in the ring, Marty drilled Gedo with a piledriver for a near-fall, before a finger snap and a chicken wing forced the veteran to tap. A really solid semi-main event tag, and I’ll keep saying it… I want Scurll vs. Okada at some point this year! ***¾

Best of the Super Junior 24, Final: Will Ospreay vs. KUSHIDA
Well, this one went almost half an hour, and to say it was good would be an understatement. The defending champion vs. the 2015 winner… at the end of the day, someone would be a two-time winner.

KUSHIDA opened up by trying to work over Ospreay’s ankle, to take away that vertical base, as the pair grappled back and forth in search of an advantage. Ospreay’s lip got bloodied up in the opening minutes, before the pair just flipped around and left the crowd on their feet as their athletic abilities left us still in search of a clear leader.

Ospreay invited some shots from KUSHIDA as the pair exchanged strikes – whilst Ospreay’s potty mouth was on show for all to see – but KUSHIDA quickly took him to the outside for a senton from the top to the floor. Back inside, KUSHIDA flapjack’s Ospreay onto his knees as he looked to wear him down some more, using a figure four to try and force Will into submission.

After getting to the ropes, Ospreay tried to kick his way into the match, landing a Shibata-esque dropkick in the corner before snapping into a floatover suplex for a near-fall. KUSHIDA staggered to the ropes to break an Octopus hold, before connecting with an enziguiri to crotch Ospreay on the top rope ahead of a Hoverboard Lock that turned into a shoulder breaker off the top rope!

KUSHIDA built up momentum from there, only to get caught with a Space Flying Tiger Drop on the outside as Ospreay nursed a sore shoulder from that earlier move. After taking KUSHIDA back inside, he set up for a springboard forearm, only to miss a Revolution kick and follow up instead with a standing Spanish Fly! A corkscrew moonsault’s blocked by the knees of KUSHIDA, who tried for the Back to the Future as the pair went back and forth until a Dragon suplex got KUSHIDA another two-count.

Ospreay tries to stop KUSHIDA by grabbing his arm, but Will just sees his arm stomped on before he recovered to kick KUSHIDA off the top rope. Things cranked up from excellent to insane as Ospreay drilled KUSHIDA with a shooting star press as he was hung on the top rope, before planting a reverse ‘rana on the apron. Yes, this is insane and I love it!

KUSHIDA beat the count-out after Ryusuke Taguchi – one of many tournament entrants who was at ringside for the match – fanned him back to life… but Ospreay quickly hit the Essex Destroyer for another near-fall! However, an OsCutter out of the corner’s caught in mid-air as KUSHIDA switched it into an armbar on landing… an armbar that Ospreay was willed out of, but somehow he managed to turn it into a triangle armbar instead as he eventually bucklebomb’d himself free!

KUSHIDA tries to leap in off the middle rope, but Ospreay turned that into an OsCutter for a near-fall, before succeeding with the Revolution kick as he went for a more regular OsCutter… but it’s avoided and KUSHIDA hits one of his own! After getting back to his feet, KUSHIDA grabs a Hoverboard lock, but Ospreay stood up and fought free as he then chopped KUSHIDA in the mouth and went full-on Shibata! Those rapid-fire kicks are returned as the pair slugged it out, trading vicious right hands to knock each other to the mat!

Somehow KUSHIDA got back to his feet first, and opted to rapidly stomp on Ospreay for a spell, who flipped him off and earned himself another Hoverboard Lock. KUSHIDA rolled him into the middle of the ring as he was inches away from the ropes, before picking up Ospreay into a Back to the Future attempt… which Will handily countered into a Stundog Millionaire!

An imploding 450 splash gets a near-fall as KUSHIDA barely kicked out in time! Ospreay followed up by giving him a repeated series of Cheeky Nando’s, before looking to finish him off of the top rope… but KUSHIDA lands a Back to the Future off the top… then a regular one to secure the win. Oh my God, that was fantastic! From the early moments where Ospreay looked like losing from a simple figure four and all the selling throughout, to the reverse ‘rana on the apron and KUSHIDA outlasting multiple Cheeky Nando’s to land the Back to the Future… this was sublime. In what has already been an awesome year for wrestling, this is yet another example… and now KUSHIDA’s got Hiromu Takahashi next weekend for the title! *****

The Best of Super Junior Finals were pretty much a one-match show – granted, not all of the undercard was forgettable, but with Dominion rapidly approaching, you’ll be able to get away with skipping the first half of this show.

As for the rest of the card: if you have New Japan World, you have no excuse not to see the tournament finals. KUSHIDA and Will Ospreay were always going to have a great match, and in what’s already been a good year for wrestling, we’ve got yet another top notch outing to add to the record books. Although the KUSHIDA/Takahashi is perhaps going to be telegraphed – as I refuse to see any other result other than a KUSHIDA win given the way storylines traditionally go – those two never have a bad match. Not even in squash form!