Will Ospreay found out his opponent for Saturday’s Best of Super Junior final, as block B came to a crescendo in Nagoya.
Going into the final day, there were a brain-aching sixteen permutations in play… without taking into account the possibilities of time-limit draws and such-like.
Suzuki-gun (Taichi & TAKA Michinoku) vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Hirai Kawato
I wonder if Liger’ll still be mad at Taichi tearing his mask and bodysuit apart yesterday? Luckily, he had spares, so he wasn’t going to wrestle with his chin showing!
Liger slaps Kawato to rile him up… not that he needed it, as the Suzuki-gun pair again turned their backs on him at the start of the match. TAKA and Taichi toy with Kawato when they get going, with TAKA’s stomps more mocking than anything else as Taichi seemed to have calmed down a lot from his usual firecracker persona.
Of course, that just disappointed Liger, who came in and stomped on Kawato himself, before finally getting the tag in. Taichi takes a Romero special that fell apart before TAKA broke it up. All of this made Kawato return to his normal self, as he fired up for a tag in… and he promptly laid into TAKA with forearms for a near-fall. A missile dropkick and a Boston Crab just about completes Kawato’s moveset, and of course it’s not enough for the win as Taichi breaks it up and sets up for a Bully Choke from TAKA that gets the win. Pretty simplistic stuff, but I liked how Liger was able to inspire Kawato into action, even if it weren’t anywhere near enough to make a dent on the match. **
Juice Robinson, Dragon Lee & Ricochet vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi, EVIL & SANADA)
With no Naito around, it was down to EVIL and SANADA to try and cheapshot Juice early on… and they quickly failed as we went through the usual routine of swapping through tags, as Dragon Lee, Ricochet and Juice threw out a series of hip attacks to EVIL.
Taguchi Japan in spirit, I guess!
Just like Taguchi, Ricochet misses a flying hip attack and that was the cue for everyone to head outside for some brawling around ringside. Back inside, Ricochet kicked his way to freedom before launching into a neckbreaker as EVIL accidentally DDT’d SANADA. We get a glimpse of Dragon Lee and Hiromu once more, and yes, it was glorious as Lee flipped out of a ‘rana before being thrown into the corner with an overhead belly-to-belly.
SANADA almost got a taste of his own medicine as Dragon Lee tried to tie him in a ball, but it was Lee who was knotted up in the end as the ring filled up for a parade of kicks before SANADA countered a Dragon Lee German suplex by landing on his goddamned head. Still, SANADA recovered to hit a TKO for a near-fall as Dragon Lee forgot to kick out, before a Skull End forced the submission. That was weird… and just looked wrong. If a guy’s down, count it – don’t hold up the count so another finisher can be used! ***
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. War Machine (Raymond Rowe & Hanson) & David Finlay
We’ve had a lot of War Machine x Guerrillas of Destiny six-mans on this tour, and they’ve not really set my world on fire. Yet again Finlay started off against Fale, but this time he was wise and immediately tagged out to Rowe rather than risk anything.
Unfortunately for David, Fale got hold of him and twice threw him into the crowd as the obligatory brawling took place. When they returned to the ring, Rowe took a Tonga neckbreaker for a near-fall, before the Bullet Club trio cornered Rowe so that Fale could lay into him some more. Rowe finally got some breathing space when he low-bridged Fale to the outside, before tagging in Hanson as the match threatened to slow down to a pace that could best be labelled “pedestrian”.
Hanson changed that up with the corner-to-corner lariats, before cartwheeling away from Fale and bringing in Finlay to set up for a parade of bodyslams from War Machine. Fale recovered to tease a Grenade on Finlay, which he eventually hit for the win. A decent enough brawl, but this felt like the rest of these six mans – disjointed and all over the place. **½
Bullet Club (Kenny Omega, Marty Scurll & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay & Gedo
A decent blend of these personalities and the typical New Japan undercard formula saw pretty much everyone have a go at each other, starting with Gedo having his middle finger tweaked by Marty before his beard was used to restrain him.
After a prolonged period of being on the back foot, Gedo tries for a sunset flip on Scurll… which is blocked with the help of his partners, only for the referee to kick it apart as that sunset flip finally paid off. Gedo finally tagged in Ospreay who launched into Omega and Scurll with the corner dropkick, only for an OsCutter to get blocked as Omega came in for his fun and games.
We get Okada/Omega again, because it’s the law, and it’s all Okada… at least until Omega hit the Kotaro Krusher for a near-fall. Once Yujiro’d been dropped with a flapjack by Okada, it seemed to be pretty elementary for Gedo… until he was surprised by Marty’s “Just Kidding” superkick as we had a parade of moves. The picture-perfect Okada dropkick should have won it, but a Gedo clutch ends with a finger snap from Marty as the match rolled on, allowing Yujiro to steal the win with the Pimp Juice DDT. Nothing memorable here, but just like yesterday, the focus of this show was never on these matches… ***
Best of the Super Junior 24, Block B: El Desperado vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
It’s pretty much win or die for everyone in block B today, as it’ll come down to head-hurting tie-breakers to decide who’s going to win. Desperado and Kanemaru were accompanied by TAKA and Taichi respectively for this battle of Suzuki-gun members.
Unlike their colleagues’ match in block A, they went straight for each other with tie-ups into the ropes, before Kanemaru sat down on a monkey flip attempt to get an early near-fall. Of course, there’s plentiful interference on the outside as it seemed that they couldn’t decide which horse to back amongst themselves. Once we had our obligatory crowd brawl, Desperado returned to the ring to get caught in a camel clutch, before escaping via the ropes and coming back with a death valley driver that ended when Kanemaru grabbed the referee’s hand to stop the count.
The predictable interference sees Taichi mess up and sprays whiskey in Kanemaru’s face, allowing for a near-fall before Despy flies, only for Kanemaru to return fire with a scooping reverse DDT on the outside. That ended up being the finish, as the referee started the count, and although Kanemaru made it back in, TAKA was “accidentally” knocked into Desperado off the apron as he was climbing in… so Kanemaru wins by count-out! A fun spin on the usual “we don’t want to fight” trope, but aside from that this was forgettable. **¾
Best of the Super Junior 24, Block B: ACH vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
After a rather odd posedown, ACH tries to break a tie-up in the corner by… groping Taguchi’s rear end. Fair enough!
Taguchi’s response was to kick ACH’s rear end, as the two swapped arse-based offence and counters. Things quickly switched up when ACH decided to go airborne with just the one tope, which almost ended things by count-out, but Taguchi pulled himself back in to save the day… and earn him some hip attacks from ACH.
ACH then goes full Taguchi-mocking-Nakamura before he crashed and burned with a hip attack in the corner, allowing Taguchi to tie him on the mat in a modified figure four until we got a rope break. Taguchi tries to ground him further by wearing down the knee, but ACH again escaped and delivered a low dropkick as a precursor for another dive attempt… with Taguchi this time cutting it off in the ropes.
Back in the ring, Taguchi’s again on the back foot by way of a death valley driver for a near-fall, before he blocks an attempt to chop him in the groin, trapping ACH’s hand and laying into him ahead of some more hip attacks. Taguchi goes to the ankle lock from there, and it seemed that the work on ACH’s legs were enough to stop him from at least running the ropes, as he crumpled from an Irish whip.
The pair exchange forearms for a spell, before ACH defied his bad wheel and leapt up to the top rope for a superplex that almost won out. After getting a near-fall from a Shining Wizard, Taguchi went for a Dodon… before counter upon counter upon counter led to some near-falls as the ever-reversing Victory roll got Taguchi the win. That’s ACH out of the tournament, and leaves Taguchi joint top… but he’ll need Tiger Mask and Volador to win to make it to the finals. ***½
Best of the Super Junior 24, Block B: BUSHI vs. Tiger Mask
Tiger Mask can be the spoiler here, as tie-breakers mean that he cannot make the finals… and he almost ruined things in the opening minute with a tombstone, then a chicken wing as he surprised BUSHI right out of the gate.
After making the ropes, BUSHI rolled outside to recollect himself, then pulled Tiger Mask out with him to start elbowing his knee. The t-shirt choking happens too, and that gives BUSHI something to aim for when they returned to the ring, as he stomped and wore down on Tiger Mask’s dodgy wheel. Despite that, Tiger Mask recovered to catch BUSHI up top and bring him down with an armdrag, before landing a Tiger Driver that nearly saw him end BUSHI’s dreams of a “come from behind” path to the tournament finals. BUSHI replied with a Codebreaker after trapping Tiger’s leg in the ropes, getting a near-fall, only to get caught in a guillotine…
BUSHI made the ropes, before getting taken up top for a super Tiger Driver, but he was able to escape a Tiger Suplex by kicking at the knee… then shoving Tiger Mask into the referee. More knee dropkicks followed as BUSHI went for a chair-assisted Codebreaker, but a delay in getting the referee back meant that it was only good for a two-count, before the MX secured the win. It’s down to BUSHI and KUSHIDA now – and if KUSHIDA wins, he’s through to Saturday’s final. Another decent, albeit unspectacular outing, with BUSHI wearing away at Tiger Mask’s knee to help him through. ***½
Best of the Super Junior 24, Block B: Volador Jr. vs. KUSHIDA
The equation’s simple at this point: KUSHIDA wins, or BUSHI’s facing Will Ospreay on Saturday.
KUSHIDA opens out by spinning on the back of Volador, who’s still got his hood on as we have an early stand-off. Heck, KUSHIDA’s feeling very flippy as he counters out of a lot that’s being thrown his way, before the tempo was cranked up as some headscissors sent Volador to the outside… from where he quickly recovered to slingshot back into the ring and eventually take KUSHIDA out for a tope con hilo!
Volador tried to set up for another dive, only to get caught in the ropes with an armbreaker as KUSHIDA returned the favour, before landing a moonsault to collect a near-fall. A staggered backcracker turned things back around for Volador, who went airborne again, only to springboard into an armbar. Another rope break frees up Volador to eventually land an Asai moonsault after KUSHIDA’d baseball slid to the floor, but once again both men beat the count to return to the ring.
After landing a handstand kick, KUSHIDA tried to fly again, but this time Volador caught him up top, only for that to get reversed into a top rope ‘rana as KUSHIDA came agonisingly close to the final. Volador tries again and this time lands the top rope ‘rana as the pair opted to stop flying and start throwing… forearms, that is.
Volador busts out a reverse ‘rana for a near-fall, before another handspring attempt’s turned into an armbar, only for the luchador to reverse into some La Magistral cradles for near-falls. KUSHIDA one-ups him with La Mistica, before rolling Volador into the middle of the ring with a Hoverboard lock. Just as Volador looked to have reached for the ropes, KUSHIDA quickly switches tack… rolling back into the middle of the ring, and up into the Back to the Future as that small package driver booked KUSHIDA his ticket to Saturday’s final! ****
Block A Final: Will Ospreay (5-2; 10pts); Dragon Lee, Marty Scurll, Ricochet, Taichi, Hiromu Takahashi (4-3, 8pts); TAKA Michinoku (2-5, 4pts); Jushin “Thunder” Liger (1-6, 2pts)
Block B Final: KUSHIDA (4-3, 8pts – wins via tie-breakers); BUSHI, Ryusuke Taguchi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (4-3, 8pts; 2nd place via tie-breakers); ACH, El Desperado, Tiger Mask, Volador Jr (3-4, 6pts)
So, a rather conservative finish to block B sees plenty of strong matches, with nothing in particular standing out in the pack. After 56 matches, we’re down to just one, with either Will Ospreay or KUSHIDA looking to win the tournament outright and get a shot at Hiromu Takahashi… one’s looking to overcome the one-sided brutal loss, whilst the other is hoping to repeat his block victory and get a first IWGP Junior Heavyweight title.