We’re back at Korakuen Hall as the fourth night of this year’s Best of the Super Juniors featured B block action – featuring a shockingly great main event with El Desperado!
Again, we’re without English commentary as Kevin Kelly’s still in the States, so we’re listening to the Japanese track here.
Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori & Chase Owens) vs. Flip Gordon & Tomoyuki Oka
Flip vs. Ishimori is the match they’re building to on the fifth night of the tour on Thursday, although I sense Flip teaming with Oka may not be good for his win/loss record.
We started with Gordon and Ishimori trading shoulder tackles, before some headscissors took the new Bone Soldier to the outside, as Flip faked out a dive. Tags take us to Owens and Oka, with the latter happily throwing forearms, before getting suckered by Ishimori… who was in turn taken outside by Flip, only for Gordon to crash and burn on a plancha as Chase saved his buddy.
With no Gordon, Oka was left on his own for a spell, as the Bullet Club tandem exchanged frequent tags designed to isolate the Young Lion. Eventually, Oka got some freedom with a big belly-to-belly suplex on Ishimori, and made the tag to Gordon who cleared house with a Finlay roll to Ishimori… only for his DDT to get turned into a double-team gutbuster by Owens. A backflip out of a double Irish whip looked to turn it around, as Gordon and Ishimori exchanged kicks before slumping to the mat, with Oka coming back in to try and capitalise.
A spinebuster charge into the corner is followed up with a Stinger splash and another belly-to-belly by Oka, as a STF, then a camel clutch looked to force a submission. Ishimori’s back in to break that up, but he’s taken outside as a plancha from Gordon put paid to that interference, as a short-arm lariat from Owens almost put away Oka in the ring. From there, the package piledriver seals the deal, as the Bullet Club’s crown jewel picked up another W. Decent stuff, but very slow paced considering who was involved. **½
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. ACH & Shota Umino
Guess what? Jump start!
Yoshinobu Kanemaru went after ACH’s taped-up shoulder, while poor Shota Umino was taken out by Suzuki and a chair. Hey, be careful MiSu, the kids’ got a UK tour next month! ACH gets thrown into a dividing wall by Kanemaru as Suzuki wrenched away on Umino’s wrist… and this could be a squash as Shota was trapped with nowhere to go!
Suzuki switches it into a single leg crab, then into a Fujiwara armbar, then a crossface as Shota just about squirmed to get to the bottom rope… but the respite was short-lived as Kanemaru’s tagged in and sends him flying with a back body drop. ACH almost got back to the apron, but gets knocked down with a baseball slide as Kanemaru gets a near-fall from a suplex on Umino, before snuffing out a comeback as Suzuki’s brought back in.
Poor Shota. He’s cracked with some elbows to the head as the motif continued… at least until he managed to take down Kanemaru with a dropkick as his five minutes of hell ended with a tag to ACH! Despite limping, ACH went for Suzuki, which was as smart as it sounded, before refocusing on Kanemaru with a low dropkick and a double stomp. Eventually ACH baits Suzuki into the ring and throws a chop… before getting receipts aimed at his taped-up shoulder. Told you it was a dumb idea. Minoru laughs it off and elbowed ACH to hell and back… which was the cue for Umino to tag back in and try and make a comeback from behind.
Umino lays into Suzuki with forearms on the apron, and gets elbowed for his troubles… but he fought back gamely, even dropkicking Suzuki to the outside before going back after Kanemaru with a missile dropkick. Eventually though, Kanemaru dumps Umino with a knee to the gut before he sidestepped another missile dropkick and almost got the win with a Final Cut. ACH made the save though, only to get choked out by Suzuki as Umino nearly snatched the upset with a small cradle… before Kanemaru kicked out and forced a submission with a Boston crab. Decent enough, but I do worry how hurt ACH is if he’s already doing bit parts this early in the tour. **½
Poor Yuya Uemura. He was wiped out by Suzuki afterwards as Minoru had clearly not battered enough Young Lions today.
YOH & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Will Ospreay & Gedo
CHAOS implodes… and they’re using YOSHI-HASHI’s music because…? I guess they really are still looking at SHO and YOH as Young Lions?
YOH and Ospreay get us underway, with YOH taking Ospreay into the ropes for the Okada-clean break, as the early teases seemed to be around whether YOH would break rank and go for the more senior of the two. There’s a nice propelled monkey flip on the ground from Ospreay as the pair built up to the usual duelling dropkick spot, which got Korakuen going.
Will swings and misses with a kick as both men ended up tagging out… with Gedo getting taken to the ropes before he poked YOSHI-HASHI in the eyes. Gedo suckered YOSHI-HASHI in with a charge, but a flying Ospreay interrupts that as all four men headed outside and into the crowd briefly. Ospreay returns to the ring to keep up on YOSHI-HASHI, but a chop looked to be the start of a fightback, despite Ospreay replying in kind with forearms, before the pair went back and forth with kicks as we were still without a clear leader.
YOH’s back in to take down Ospreay, then poke Gedo in the eye, before some wacky work around the ropes led to a dropkick on the apron. Ospreay blocks a suplex and instead gets a forearm for his troubles, before catching YOH in the corner with a Cheeky Nando’s kick. A reverse DDT’s reversed, but Ospreay countered into a Stundog Millionaire as we get two more tags out, this time with YOSHI-HASHI dumping Gedo with a running blockbuster ahead of some chops in the corner.
The Bunker Buster follows on Gedo for a near-fall, as Ospreay rushed in to save Gedo from Karma… and then hit YOH with a cheeky enziguiri en route to a dive to the floor, which misses as Will instead gets dropped on the apron. YOH’s just about back in in time to save a cover as Gedo rolled up YOSHI-HASHI for a near-fall, before a Gedo clutch was countered out into a Butterfly Lock for the submission. Solid, but massively unspectacular. Babyface matches usually struggle like this, but YOH is not a solid character as a singles act – which meant that we didn’t get anything like duelling chants and instead just general politeness towards all four. **½
Tiger Mask & Toa Henare vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI)
Our final prelim started with some stalling as BUSHI and Tiger Mask seemed reluctant to get going… once Tiger Hattori nudged them, we got underway though, with BUSHI quickly rolling to the outside for a breather.
A game of cat and mouse ended with Tiger Mask getting stomped on as BUSHI went for his mask, while Naito was distracting the referee… with Toa Henare offering little support from the apron. Interesting… Tiger returned the favour by yanking on the mask, but Henare talked him out of it, and instead got himself tagged in as the Respecter of Masks wanted in.
Naito was in too, and ran into a clothesline as Henare took the upper hand with a suplex for a near-fall, before BUSHI tripped Henare in the ropes as the Ingobernables turned things around. A chinlock using the top rope for extra leverage didn’t help Henare’s cause, as Naito looked to be targeting the Kiwi’s head and neck… something BUSHI kept up with as he used his t-shirt for some choking.
A spinebuster from Henare got him free as Tiger Mask came back in, but Naito breaks up a Tiger Driver attempt as some double-teaming followed… except Tiger escaped it and awkwardly throws BUSHI into Naito for… reasons. Seconds later, the Tiger Driver happened anyway, as Naito had to break up the pinning attempt, before returning to save BUSHI from a tombstone as the veteran Tiger Mask looked to be on top.
Tiger goes flying with an armdrag off the top to BUSHI before bringing Henare in… he’s charging at Naito again with forearms and shoulder tackles, before almost scoring an upset with a Samoan drop. Henare almost shocks Naito with a powerbomb out of the corner, but Naito slips out and sets up for the sunset flip into a low dropkick after BUSHI gave a hand. The Destino’s stopped when Tiger Mask interferes, allowing Henare to land a spear instead, but some more double-teaming swings the match right back towards LIJ, as Naito’s able to get the Destino in anyway for the win. Pretty much by the numbers, but solid enough to build to BUSHI/Tiger Mask on Thursday. Which I think will involve a lot more mask ripping, as BUSHI took Tiger’s hood after the match… **¾
Afterwards, we had a video from Chris Jericho to hype up his match with Naito at Dominion, laced with plenty of swears, along with shots at Naito’s take that he was “better than Jericho in every way bar name recognition.” Unsurprisingly, Jericho calling Japan “filthy” made the crowd even more pro-Naito, who called Jericho “rude” for trying to steal the spotlight from the tournament.
Best of the Super Junior 25, Block B: SHO vs. Chris Sabin
Both men had opposing fortunes in their first match of the tournament, and they started out pretty evenly as they exchanged shoulder tackles before Sabin’s low dropkick almost got him a win with a La Magistral cradle.
Sabin kept up on SHO’s leg, using a Dragon screw before a wheelbarrow roll-up allowed him to roll through and jar the knees onto the mat repeatedly. On the floor, SHO blocks an apron PK attempt and sweeps the leg, before teasing a Shock Arrow on the apron… Sabin blocked that, only to get his arm hung on the ropes as he’s dropkicked to the floor, where SHO followed up with some more arm work, wrapping the former TNA champion’s arm around the ring post.
They’re back inside pretty quickly as SHO tried to regain feeling in his knees, so he could stomp on Sabin… who eventually fought back with forearms before getting caught in a sleeperhold. An escape led to Sabin getting a pinning attempt in, before a knee bar from SHO quickly ends in the ropes, as Sabin began a resurgence, taking SHO outside for a PK and a cannonball off the apron.
Back inside, Sabin took SHO up for a superplex, which he eventually got after a leaping enziguiri, scoring a solid two-count in the process. SHO blocks a tornado DDT attempt and counters into a slam, as the pair quickly started to exchange fire – in the form of a back-and-forth battle of palm strikes and lariats. Another enziguiri drops SHO, but he’s back on his feet as a pair of lariats dropped him for another near-fall.
Sabin teases Cradle Shock, only for SHO to escape and land a leaping knee as some rolling German suplexes finally earned him a near-fall, before a Fujiwara armbar forced Sabin to hold on. An escape only got Sabin into a cross armbreaker instead, before a crucifix almost brought things to an end. Sabin’s right back up with superkicks, but another Cradle Shock’s countered into a back cracker as Sabin’s forced to counter a cross armbreaker, only to end up in a lumbar check for a near-fall as the momentum swung all over the place.
In the end, SHO upset Sabin with a Shock Arrow, claiming his first win of the tournament. A really good outing, and one that you’d think could help slowly solidify SHO as the star of the team if and when the time comes. ***½
Best of the Super Junior 25, Block B: Dragon Lee vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
There’s early commentary as Red Shoes (and Dragon Lee) poked fun at Taguchi’s belly… which was a stark contrast to the luchador’s chiseled physique.
Taguchi looks to confuse from a test of strength attempt, but Lee eventually catches him at his own game before the pair exchanged armdrags for a spell. Eventually Taguchi can’t escape, and he just ends up wringing his own arm… before rolling around afterwards in a bid to un-wring it. Comedy!
We’re back to the knuckle lock attempt, but Lee escapes and runs the ropes in a bid to confuse again… and it works as he suckered Taguchi into rope running, tiring out the Funky Weapon until he begged for mercy. Which wasn’t forthcoming, as Lee dropkicked him to the floor for a tope con giro! Back inside, Lee set up for a low dropkick into the corner for a near-fall, before the eventual Taguchi comeback started in earnest as they went back-and-forth with elbow shots. Taguchi powers through and fakes some muscles before an endless wheelbarrow roll led to them going into the ropes, ahead of a dropkick as Taguchi finally flew with a plancha!
A springboard flying knee cracked Lee in the face as Taguchi picked up a near-fall, ahead of some hip attacks in the ropes, before Taguchi just walked away from a dropkick effort. Lee finally gets in his low dropkick, getting Taguchi in the arse as he was pratting around, before countering the Dodon with a wheelbarrow for a near-fall.
The tempo quickens for a spell with dropdowns and the like, with Taguchi almost snatching the win with a La Magistral, before a wheelbarrow gets Lee a near-fall as the pair headed into opposite corners for a breather. A gamengiri from the apron looked to have Lee back in control, but he’s crotched on the top rope, before recovering to go for a flying stomp… Taguchi avoids it and slides into an ankle lock on the luchador.
Dragon Lee rolls through, but Taguchi keeps hold of the ankle until we got a rope break… and that was the cue for more back and forth as Lee counters some hip attacks, turning one into a German suplex before his Desnucadora was countered into a roll-up for a near-fall. Second time was the charm though, as the Desnucadora suplex/powerbomb combo got Lee the win to bring the contest to an end – a good match that never really threatened to click into a higher gear. ***¼
Best of the Super Junior 25, Block B: Marty Scurll vs. KUSHIDA
In straight-up singles matches, KUSHIDA has Scurll’s number, having won – and defended – the ROH TV title against him in their prior encounters.
The match threatened to start in the crowd as Marty tried to run to retrieve is shirt that KUSHIDA had thrown out… KUSHIDA chased after, then mocked Marty, before both men returned to the ring to get us underway. KUSHIDA started by working the arm of Scurll, but Marty’s quickly back to reverse it as we went to a knuckle lock, which KUSHIDA escaped with some headscissors as the pair kept things mat-based to start off with.
A butt bump gets Scurll out of a full nelson and eventually into a cradle pin, but KUSHIDA’s right back in with those headscissors, which Scurll headstands out of… only to get shoved right back in there! Scurll escaped again, this time grabbing a toe hold, as the pair continued to flow effortlessly from hold to hold, before a bow and arrow hold almost forced a pinning predicament, as the pair square off once more.
Another World of Sport-like sequence led us into some indyriffic pinning attempts, before a superkick from Scurll earned him a hiptoss and a cartwheel dropkick from the Timesplitter, as they fought onto the apron… where Scurll started to work the arm, before taking KUSHIDA to the floor for an apron superkick.
Scurll gestured towards Jushin “casual” Liger on commentary as he aped the Romero special on KUSHIDA, before lifting KUSHIDA by the arm in a Jim Breaks-like special. Another attempt at the Romero special ended with a rope break, as Scurll keeps up on the arm, lifting him to the top rope, before getting caught as a Hoverboard lock was used to send the Villain flying to the mat.
KUSHIDA returned fire with a hiptoss into a cross armbreaker, pulling back on Scurll as they rolled into the ropes… but now the target was on Marty’s arm. Something that was quickly shrugged off though, as Scurll rolled KUSHIDA around the ring with Romero specials, eventually pulling KUSHIDA back into a chinlock from that position too. An attempt at the finger snap got KUSHIDA free, but he quickly falls into a Just Kidding… kick to the thigh?
An overhead kick from KUSHIDA and a lariat from Scurll resets things though, as the Ghostbuster 2.0 (pumphandle Blackheart buster) gets him a near-fall, before he gets trapped in a cravat… which he escaped to dump KUSHIDA on his head in a reverse suplex for a near-fall. A small package nearly wins it for Scurll, who upped the ante with a reverse superplex… but KUSHIDA’s still kicking out, and manages to make a comeback with an Okada-like neckbreaker slam!
After the pair got back to their feet, we’ve got duelling elbows and kicks, as KUSHIDA rolls up into a DDT, and holds on to roll Scurll into a Hoverboard lock, which became a bit of a doe-see-doe, before they rolled each other up for near-falls. A cartwheel kick catches Ospreay on the top rope, but Scurll counters a Hoverboard lock with a finger snap, sending KUSHIDA to the mat in agony… only for KUSHIDA to rebound with a DDT off the top afterall!
KUSHIDA’s unable to hold on for the Hoverboard lock though as his hands were ruined, so he punts Scurll in the arm and nails Back to the Future instead for the win. This was absolutely fantastic wrestling from both men – keeping it grounded, logical and tactical, and perhaps the best match so far in the tournament. ****½
Best of the Super Junior 25, Block B: El Desperado vs. Hiromu Takahashi
I wonder what Hiromu’s used to describe Desperado in his book o’ rivals today? “Fake guitar player” – although there’s probably a lot more he can say, as these two have history going back to their days as Young Lions.
Takahashi turns the tables to get us underway, jumping Desperado and shoving down the referee as this battle got off to a hot start, with Desperado getting properly Brookes’d in the process. Hiromu’s in a surly mood too, as he dismantles the dividing wall and takes the match into the crowd, stomping Desperado around the seating decks before running the length of Korakuen Hall for a shotgun dropkick that folded Despy in half!
— LARIATOOOO!! (@MrLARIATO) May 22, 2018
Hiromu literally drags Despy back to the ring by his mask, which he then tried to pull off as we get some impromptu ground and pound, before Despy sent Hiromu to the outside for a wild tope con giro! Desperado sends Hiromu into that dividing wall with a loud thud as this seemed to be more personal than two tournament points, as seen by the subsequent Brookseing as Hiromu is becoming more familiar with the outside than the inside of the ring.
Referee Marty Asami wasn’t having a good day of it, getting shoved away as Hiromu’s shoved into a bench that was propped onto the stage, before a series of chair shots rang around Korakuen. I’ve seen guys disqualified for less… in New Japan! Back in the ring, Desperado removes the turnbuckle padding a la Toru Yano as he waited for Hiromu to return… just so he could whip him into the exposed corner.
After getting a one count, Desperado wrenches back on Hiromu with an Arabian clutch, before we headed outside again. A scooping reverse DDT dumps Takahashi on the floor as Desperado grabbed Hiromu’s ring jacket and wiped his backside with it. Finally Hiromu mounts a comeback, kicking the rope into Desperado’s throat ahead of a running ‘rana as the Time Bomb picked up a near-fall.
Chops followed against the ropes as Hiromu continued his fight back, catching Desperado with a tarantula like headscissor in the ropes, before dragging him outside for a wheelbarrow facebuster on the floor, following up with a running knee off the apron, sending Despy crashing into the commentary desk. This is intense and I absolutely LOVE this!
A back senton off the top rope crashes into Desperado as Hiromu picks up a near-fall… and a bad back in the process… something Despy made worse with a spinebuster before rolling over into a Boston crab. Just like the old days, eh? Hiromu’s able to make it to the ropes, as things start to get a little scrappy between the two, with Despy eventually pulling off a brainbuster for another two-count.
From a Gory special, Hiromu sits up and counters the move into a reverse ‘rana, but it’s Despy who’s up first to spark some back-and-forth elbow strikes, before landing some headbutts to sink Takahashi to his knees. There’s a tease for Guitarra de la Muerta, but Hiromu goes limp and slips out, before he’s pulled up into the move… and counters it with a back body drop. A charge into the corner followed, but Desperado just gets tossed into the turnbuckles with an overhead belly-to-belly instead, before the Dynamite Plunger (fireman’s carry into a slam) earned a near-fall for the Time Bomb.
Speaking of, Desperado slips out of a Time Bomb, but gets drilled with a death valley driver in the corner after an attempt to mule kick Hiromu failed… Desperado tries to counter out of a Time Bomb, but Hiromu sits down on him and followed in with a bridging German for another pair of near-falls, before the referee bumped again following another Time Bomb attempt. Despy uses that to try and cheat, grabbing his title belt… but Hiromu just superkicks it into his face for a near-fall!
Desperado has hold of his belt still, and as the referee gets rid of it, we get a low blow and a Guitarra de Angel from Despy for a near-fall, before Pinche Loco finally puts away Hiromu! MY GOD IN HEAVEN, this blew my mind. Having slotted Desperado as “that comedy luchador in Suzuki-gun”, this shattered every preconceived idea I had of him. Going in, Chris Charlton on Twitter had noted that this match was either going to tear down the joint or stink it out. Lucky, it was very much in the former, and could well have taken the mantle of “match of the tournament” that Scurll and KUSHIDA had just won! Starting out heated and intense, they kept the pace for most of the match, rather than fall away badly – which led to one of the most unique matches in the tournament so far. Go out of your way to see this one! ****½
Taiji Ishimori, Tiger Mask (2-0)
ACH, Flip Gordon, Will Ospreay, YOH (1-1)
BUSHI, Yoshinobu Kanemaru (0-2)
Dragon Lee (2-0)
El Desperado, Chris Sabin, KUSHIDA, SHO, Hiromu Takahashi (1-1)
Marty Scurll, Ryusuke Taguchi (0-2)
So, we’ve a clear leader at the top of block B after two matches, but let’s be honest, that’s not the takeaway from today – the top two matches today were complete show stealers. If you liked the grounded style of wrestling, KUSHIDA/Scurll is for you… if you liked balls-to-the-wall madness, then the main event will be your bag. The crew have Wednesday off – so their next stop is on Thursday in Shiga, with the tournament matches dropping late on Thursday night/early on Friday on NJPW World. The main event there will be Ospreay vs. YOH, while you can probably guess the rest of the matches from how the match-ups went today!