Block B completed their fifth round of matches in Fukushima, as the cream started to rise to the top in the Best of the Super Juniors…

Best of the Super Junior 25, Block B: Marty Scurll vs. Dragon Lee
Coming into this evening as the sole leader of the block, Dragon Lee was hoping to keep it that way with a win.

They start with some mat work, as Lee easily escaped a headlock takedown, before an armdrag exchange led to a stand-off, with Marty complaining of a non-existent hair pull. Scurll returned with an Octopus hold, but with his back to the hard camera we could only assume he was tweaking the fingers before rolling up Lee for a near-fall. The luchador hits back with a low dropkick, but quickly falls to the Just Kidding superkick as Marty keeps up with a backbreaker, sending Lee into the corner in the process. Some boots leave him down, but Marty wants him in the middle of the ring so he can stomp on the wrist, as he tied Lee to the bottom rope with his mask, leaving him helpless for some more boots.

After referee Marty Asami untied Lee, a suplex from Scurll gets a near-fall as Lee finally returned fire with a ‘rana to take Scurll to the outside, just in time for our first dive – a tope con giro! Returning to the ring, Marty’s cornered for a diving dropkick, getting Lee a near-fall, before hitting a double underhook backbreaker for another two-count.

Marty tried to return fire, but he gets lifted onto the apron for a gamengiri, before backing off of the ring-to-floor ‘rana as he instead clocks Dragon Lee with an apron superkick. Back inside, a wheelbarrow facebuster helps Marty into some knee stomps as he looked to work away on Lee, as his attempt at a superplex looked to go awry, only for him to come back with a spider belly-to-belly suplex.

From there, Scurll’s back up top, but his moonsault misses as the pair start to clubber each other with lariats, leading to Dragon flipping over into an armbar… which Marty tried to escape with a finger snap. Wise to it, Lee headbutts him in the gut and lands a DDT for a near-fall, before delivering a rebound German suplex that Scurll popped up from, returning fire with a lariat as both men crashed to the mat.

Lee takes Scurll back down with a sleeperhold ahead of a PK, but it’s not enough to get the win. He’s wise enough to avoid a chicken wing, rolling up Scurll for a near-fall before going back to the arm, only for another clothesline to put Lee down ahead of a Rainham Maker DDT/Destroyer combo. Marty only got a two-count from that, before another attempt at a superplex was stuffed – with Lee this time countering out into his double stomp.

From there, Lee tried for Desnucadora, but Marty countered into a DDT, following up with the Ghostbuster 2.0 for a near-fall. Lee tried another fightback, but he’s caught on the top rope and brought down with a reverse superplex, leaving him prone on the mat for a chicken wing for a rather quick tap. This was pretty fun – yeah, there was something of a clash of styles, but Marty’s more traditional style has been reaping rewards in this tour. The loss puts Lee and Scurll on level pegging, as that advantage has been wiped out. ***½

Best of the Super Junior 25, Block B: SHO vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
Taguchi’s propping up the block by himself, and a loss to SHO would result in the former tournament winner’s elimination.

SHO’s got no time for Taguchi’s messing around, as he squared up to the Funky Weapon at the bell. Taguchi still finds time to prat around as he looked to block a sunset flip, before his early hip attacks were kicked away by SHO… who then decided to play into Taguchi’s mindset by firing a load of imaginary arrows his way. One finally gets him in the arse, and we’re underway again!

After shrugging it off, Taguchi catches SHO with hip attacks before getting lifted onto the apron and dropkicked off of it. SHO lets him get back up, just so he could kick his hand off the apron, as it’s time for arm work on the floor, including SHO wrapping Taguchi’s arm around the ring post for good measure. Finally back in the ring, SHO busts out a bow and arrow hold (appropriate!), then an abdominal stretch, giving folks a chance to take some snaps before a roll-up drew a near-fall as the pace ground to a crawl. Sensing his chance, Taguchi began to fire back, but he’s quickly grounded in a rear naked choke, then a cross armbreaker, before he was forced into the ropes as SHO went for the legs.

Chops follow as SHO seemed to be all over Taguchi, but sure enough an elbow and a boot cuts off the offence as Taguchi then saw a him attack get turned into an atomic drop. More hip attacks were successful, taking SHO outside as a plancha, then a tope con giro followed, as the tide began to turn. Back inside, the two third of the Three Amigos came off as SHO counters with rolling German suplexes, before the pair just decided to trade off with strikes.

An enziguiri from Taguchi gives him a break, but SHO’s right back in it as he tries a deadlift German… only to get rolled into an ankle lock. The rope break forced Taguchi to change plans, only for his Bummer-ye to get caught and turned into another German suplex as SHO looked for another cross armbreaker. Again, Taguchi gets to the ropes, but he’s quickly met with a powerbomb/lumbar check for a near-fall, before he countered out of the Shock Arrow with a back body drop.

Another resurgence from Taguchi sees him try for the Dodon, before a release half-nelson suplex dumped SHO for more hip attacks. The pair go back and forth again, swapping ankle locks and cross armbreakers, before Taguchi hit another Dodon and finally a bridging half nelson suplex for the win. That’s Taguchi and SHO bunched up on four points now from two wins – and that wasn’t too bad a match. A little too slow-paced for my liking, but they continued to build out Roppongi 3K as singles guys here – which should make them more than the sum of their parts down the line. ***¼

Best of the Super Junior 25, Block B: Hiromu Takahashi vs. Chris Sabin
Going into this, both were tied on four points, and given how the field seems to be splitting into two, a loss here could all but end the tournament for either man here.

There’s a handshake beforehand, but Hiromu’s not too keen to let go, leading to the awkward “is this the custom?” moment that a lot of inexperienced travellers get. What wasn’t customary though, was the beatdown Hiromu laid on Sabin as he took him into the corner. The favour’s sort-of returned as Sabin took Hiromu outside with a monkey flip, before cannonballing off the apron with a senton as they returned to the ring.

An Octopus stretch pulls at Hiromu, with Sabin letting to and reapplying the hold so he could wrench at the arm before rolling him up for a two-count. They’re back outside again as Hiromu teases a sunset bomb, before instead opting to dump Sabin on the apron instead as he returned to the ring to slowly chop his way through the former TNA champion. A tarantula hold catches Sabin in the ropes, as Takahashi keeps up the pressure, dragging him outside into a wheelbarrow facebuster, following up with a dropkick off the apron for good measure. Back inside again, Hiromu’s flying back senton draws a two-count as the match broke down into a chop battle of sorts, before the pair’s insistence on avoiding the other’s moves led to a DDT from Sabin.

Sabin keeps up with a top rope ‘rana on Hiromu, before a springboarded tornado DDT helped to get him a near-fall as they’re back outside, this time for an apron PK from Sabin. Inside again, Hiromu turns it around with a sit-out powerbomb and a Falcon arrow, before launching Sabin into the corner with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. A Dynamite Plunger followed for a near-fall, only for Sabin to come back with a superkick and a nasty clothesline in a bid to put Hiromu away.

Another lariat from Hiromu left both men downed, as the pair resumed battling with forearms and elbows until Sabin countered a ‘rana with a folding powerbomb to almost nick the match. He measures up Takahashi for a thrust kick, then an enziguiri, before going for the Cradle Shock… actually hitting it for a near-fall as Takahashi was able to kick out. An inside cradle nearly gets Hiromu the win, before he takes down Sabin with a ‘rana, transitioning it to a triangle choke… and in a sentence I can’t believe I’m writing, Sabin tapped out after being given the D. Seriously. That’s the name Hiromu’s given the hold! This was another good match in a tournament that’s been full of matches that at worst have been average – and a tournament that has perhaps reignited Chris Sabin onto the scene. ***½

Best of the Super Junior 25, Block B: El Desperado vs. KUSHIDA
After holding off, Desperado jumped KUSHIDA before the bell. Colour me shocked.

KUSHIDA’s quickly responding though, taking Desperado to the outside with a dropkick before grabbing some chairs, putting Despy in one and using the other as a launching pad for a step-up cannonball! Returning to the ring, KUSHIDA aborts a dropkick and nearly runs into the ref… with Desperado using Red Shoes as a human shield so he could catch out KUSHIDA with a low dropkick.

Back outside again, and Desperado goes under the ring for some chairs, which of course he uses on KUSHIDA, before grabbing a trolley from under the ring as he took Brookes’ing to a whole new level – by driving the trolley (and KUSHIDA) all the way to the back of the room! In the crowd, the Numero Dos was used to wear down KUSHIDA’s knee, before he’s put back on the trolley as Desperado launched in into even more chairs! KUSHIDA barely beats the count back to the ring, and rolls back onto the apron as he tried to recover… but of course Desperado wasn’t about to let him do that.

While we were all focused on KUSHIDA crawling, Desperado had removed the turnbuckle padding – allowing him to whip KUSHIDA into the exposed corner before working over his knee in the ropes. A low dropkick downs the Time Splitter for a single-leg crab, as Desperado stayed on top of him even after the rope break, before a hiptoss into a low dropkick took Despy outside for a tope con giro!

Returning to the ring, KUSHIDA kicks away at Desperado’s knee, then scores a handspring back elbow before a knee breaker put a stop to all that as it’s back to the Numero Dos! KUSHIDA tried to escape the stretch muffler with a Hoverboard lock, but Desperado cinches it in as it took a rope break to get some freedom. With KUSHIDA recovering again, Desperado heads outside to rip up the protective mats on the floor, as he looked for a devastating superplex to the unprotected floor… but KUSHIDA fights out and drops Despy’s arm across the turnbuckles instead. More pressure was added as KUSHIDA goes back up top with Desperado and drags him down in a cross armbreaker, but they’re too close to the ropes and a break is called for. The pair exchange kicks, then forearms, as they fought back to their feet, but it’s Despy who steps ahead with an attempt at Guitarra de Muerta, before rolling through the Victory roll counter into a near-fall.

KUSHIDA mounts a fightback from there as he looks for the Hoverboard lock, but Desperado blocks it and intentionally backed into the referee… which means there’s nobody to see him tapping. Eventually KUSHIDA realises what’s happened and goes to check on the ref, before he ducks a chair shot… only to take a drop toe hold into the furniture. Despy finally lands that chairshot, before cracking KUSHIDA with Guitarra de Muerta for a near-fall as Red Shoes was still a little groggy.

Desperado tries to follow up with Pinche Loco, but KUSHIDA escaped and eventually drags him into the exposed corner with a Flatliner, before a flying ‘rana almost put Desperado away. A kick to the arm helps as KUSHIDA doesn’t stay on the arm, instead going for Back to the Future as the Time Splitter took home the win. I’ve enjoyed Desperado’s matches in this tournament – sure, he’s come up short a lot, but this match, and of course the one against Hiromu, have been different, and as such… have stood out. The loss completes the divide as the two blocks mirror each other with everyone within a win of each other. ****

Block A:
Flip Gordon, Taiji Ishimori, Tiger Mask, Will Ospreay (3-2)
ACH, BUSHI, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, YOH (2-3)

Block B:
Dragon Lee, KUSHIDA, Marty Scurll, Hiromu Takahashi (3-2)
El Desperado, Chris Sabin, SHO, Ryusuke Taguchi (2-3)

Yet again, block B delivered. From the excellent main event, to the continued renaissance of Chris Sabin, and the growth of SHO. My only negative here, is that both blocks are getting the same treatment – and although technically it’s all to play for with two matches left, I’d have liked some eliminations so we could have folks playing spoiler in the final rounds. Block A is back in action today for their penultimate round of matches, headlining with YOH vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru, while block B returns on Saturday in Gunma, topping off with KUSHIDA vs. Dragon Lee, ahead of the final round of block action on Sunday in Korakuen Hall.

Just a quick head’s up – we’ll be in Ireland this weekend to catch one of the final OTT shows at the Tivoli theatre, so our coverage of the final few days of the Best of the Super Juniors tournament will be delayed… all being well, we should have Thursday’s matches reviewed before we head to the airport!