The Best of the Super Junior returned to Korakuen Hall for the final round of block matches – as both blocks took centre stage!
We’ve got English commentary for the live show, with Kevin Kelly flying to Japan for his first live appearance of the tour – he’s alongside Chase Owens who has a night off as this is an all-tournament show.
Best of the Super Junior 25, Block A: ACH vs. Tiger Mask
Both men are out of the tournament, so this is a dead rubber to get us underway… ACH wore a Tiger Mask mask to the ring, which prompted Chase to remark that he couldn’t tell them apart. Kevin Kelly went right to the line when he shot that down…
ACH is all flippy early on, but Tiger Mask trips him to the outside… but there’s no dive as ACH pulls him out and chops him. The ring post is next as Tiger ducks, and the hand of ACH is the target as Tiger Mask stands on it as soon as they returned to the ring. It’s all arm and hand work now, but ACH does manage a lariat… with the bad arm though, as he picks up a near-fall.
Tiger Mask backdrops out of his own move, but he can’t avoid it at the second time… as he’s forced to kick out at two. The real thing follows, but ACH kicks out at two as they resume with kicks and chops, before ACH gets dragged up top for a butterfly superplex… which also drew a near-fall. Tiger Mask again goes for the Tiger Driver, but it’s once too often, and ACH rolls him up for the win. That’s a cliff edge for Tiger Mask, whose hot run saw him lead after three matches, but failed to win since then… Decent enough as an opener, especially with nothing on the line. **¾
Best of the Super Junior 25, Block A: BUSHI vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
For a change, it was BUSHI who jumped Kanemaru before the bell, as we’re straight in with the shenanigans as BUSHI whipped Kanemaru with his own ring jacket.
A dropkick takes Kanemaru outside for a dive, but Kanemaru runs away and pulled Tomoyuki Oka into a tope suicida! That looked nasty! Some more of the Young Lions get slammed onto BUSHI, before he’s thrown into one of the dividing walls inside Korakuen, prompting the count-out to start. Of course, BUSHI makes it back in before 20, as Kanemaru’s right in with the camel clutch as we got a hint of mask-ripping. BUSHI’s dragged to the outside where he eats a DDT, as he again beat the count, and returned into some grounded headscissors from the junior tag champ.
Kanemaru takes off BUSHI’s t-shirt, but of course BUSHI regains it and uses it to choke down Kanemaru, as does some headscissors. An overhead kick in the corner leads to a missile dropkick as BUSHI was surging ahead, but Kanemaru instantly rebounds with an uppercut and a satellite DDT of sorts. A reverse DDT has more impact, but BUSHI returns with an enziguiri before a tope suicida caught Kanemaru as he clipped the ropes on the way down.
Back in the ring, BUSHI nails a swinging Fisherman’s suplex for a near-fall, and then we’re into shenanigans. Kanemaru shoves BUSHI into the ref, takes a swig of whisky… but BUSHI covers his mouth and sprays him with mist… only for the bridging backslide to get a near-fall. The MX led to Kanemaru spraying BUSHI with the whisky mist, as the Deep Impact DDT off the top earned the Suzuki-gun member the win. Entertaining stuff, including those shenanigans at the end, but ultimately this was as long as it needed to be. **¾
Best of the Super Junior 25, Block B: Chris Sabin vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
Our first taste of block B action today started with Sabin and Taguchi working a nice, basic match, with Sabin going for the arm of Taguchi in the early going.
Taguchi forgets how to escape a wristlock again, before his cavalcade of drop downs ended with him eating a low dropkick, then a punt off the apron as the former TNA champion was all over the Funky Weapon. A hammerlock version of an Octopus followed, as Sabin keeps up with some Garvin stomps, before a chinlock eventually forced Taguchi into the ropes.
Sabin goes back to the mat, with a version of EVIL’s Banshee Muzzle, before Taguchi’s attempt at a sunset flip backfired as he rolled into a kick. Second time was the charm as he rolls out of the sunset flip into a low dropkick, before we’re in with hip attacks and planchas as they headed back to the floor.
Sabin returns to the ring but gets thrown to the other side as Taguchi nailed a somersault plancha, as more hip attacks followed to get him further ahead. A Dodon’s attempted, but there’s plenty of roll-ups to counter it as Sabin gets a near-fall, before a litany of double-clotheslines finally saw both men crash to the mat. Some back-and-forth led to Sabin cornering Taguchi with a big boot, before a top rope ‘rana and a missile dropkick takes Taguchi down once more, but he’s still able to kick-out.
We almost had a finish with Cradle Shock, but Taguchi slips out as they’re all about the wacky pinning attempts, with Taguchi blocking a La Magistral for a near-fall, before going to the ankle lock. Sabin wheelbarrows out, but he finds himself back in the ankle lock, before pulling him up into Dodon for another near-fall! We’re back to the ankle though, and as soon as Taguchi scissored it, we have a tap! Really good stuff for a dead rubber – serious Taguchi showed himself here, at the cost of Sabin, whose good showing hopefully earned him some future dates here. ***¼
Best of the Super Junior 25, Block B: El Desperado vs. Dragon Lee
Having lost on Saturday, Dragon Lee is out of contention – so he’s got a match against a “Rogue Luchador” with little to play for other than pride… and seemingly the love of Katsuyori Shibata, as Dragon Lee came out in a t-shirt emblazoned with THE WRESTLER.
This had a hot start too, with Lee taking Desperado outside for a massive tope suicida, prompting Despy to grab a chair in frustration… which doesn’t help as a huge tope con giro got Korakuen to their feet! Desperado plays chicken, running away from Dragon Lee, but he’s again caught when they got back to the ring, when Desperado having his mask torn away at by Dragon Lee. Turnaround being fair play, eh?
A low bridge takes Dragon to the outside, but he returns with a big boot as Desperado was forced to avoid a dive… and we’re all about the flips here! Finally Despy returns to form as he grabs a chair and uses it on Lee, who then gets Brookes’d all the way to the bleachers! The chairs get used again, this time on Dragon’s taped-up knees, as the luchador’s forced to hobble in to beat the count-out… and gets taken back outside again for some chops from Desperado.
Desperado wraps Dragon’s legs around the ring post a la Bret Hart, before he takes him to the top rope in a big to unmask the Dragon. The pace slows a little before the pair exchange corner clothesline, then elbows before a knee from Lee earned a lariat from Desperado… who then gets rebounded off the ropes into a German suplex!
The Shibata-ish dropkick clocks Desperado, as does a double underhook backbreaker… and we’re back to the mask ripping as the crowd booed the threat of seeing the man underneath Desperado. They head back up top as Dragon Lee set up for the double stomp while Despy was trying to hold his mask together, but he’s able to score a spider belly-to-belly, only to be left hanging for another Shibata-ish dropkick.
Dragon heads back up top to try again, eventually stomping the mask off of Desperado as he gets a near-fall, before Desperado avoids Desnucadora and returned with a spinebuster for a near-fall. The Numero Dos (stretch muffler) is next, targeting Dragon Lee’s knee… but the mask of Desperado stopped him from applying it fully as we got a rope break instead. Guitarra de la Muerta followed for a near-fall, before Dragon Lee grabs a sleeper hold to try and force Desperado to quit, turning it into a sleeper suplex. A roll-up from Despy nearly does it, but he manages to steal the win with a low blow and a roll-up as the referee missed yet another one. This was insanely hot, thanks to the mask ripping stuff… and after the match, Desperado takes Dragon Lee’s hood… so I guess we’ll have a mask vs. mask match down the line? ****
After the match, there was a surprise appearance from Tomoaki Honma – a full fifteen months after suffering what could have been a career ending neck injury. The crowd loved his return, and he came bearing some news: June 23 – he’s returning to the ring, on a Kizuna Road show in his home prefecture of Yamagata! As of now, it’s not being streamed, so… expect clips to float around somewhere.
Best of the Super Junior 25, Block A: Flip Gordon vs. Will Ospreay
Ospreay needs to win to have a chance of winning the block – but with his opening night loss to Taiji Ishimori, he’s going to be relying on other results here. Gordon had an outside chance, but he’s not really being taken seriously.
Gordon had a loud section cheering for him, as we started with a tie-up and an early rope break. Ospreay heeled it up as he cheapshotted Gordon, before the pair exchanged kip-ups as Ospreay nicked in with a headlock, only for Flip to escape into his dancing handstand. Headscissors take Ospreay to the floor… but there’s no dive as Flip did his best Ricochet impression from NXT, before a missed Sasuke special led both men into a staredown!
There’s so much impressive stuff here as Gordon edged ahead, taking Ospreay down with a punt before a one-legged standing moonsault drew a near-fall. Ospreay’s right back in with it as he charges into the corner with a back elbow before he does his own Shibata-ish dropkick, as we’re into some chops as Ospreay tried to wear down the Montana native.
Ospreay moves to the arm, bridging back a double armbar into a pinning attempt for a near-fall on Flip, before the pace shot up with a teased German suplex from Ospreay seeing Gordon land on his feet… and take down the IWGP junior champ with a Downward Spiral for a brief respite. Flip followed up with a springboard missile dropkick for a near-fall, then a springboard spear, only for Ospreay to come back with an over-the-top 619… before he’s caught on the top rope with a gamengiri!
Gordon tries to capitalise with Ospreay on the outside, but Will quickly responds with a springboard forearm for a near-fall, as Gordon asked for a series of kicks to the chest. Yeah, it gave commentary an easy shot to dunk on Flip for being “dumb”. Will helps that out with a punch to the head, before he teased a Storm Breaker… but Gordon escapes and hits a leaping knee as another rapid-fire series ends with a Spanish Fly as this is too quick to follow!
Elbows come next as they tried to knock each other loopy, but Gordon escapes and hits a reverse Finlay roll, then a standing shooting star press, before getting caught in the corner with a Cheeky Nando’s. Will tries to follow up, but he’s knocked from the inside-out of the ring with a leaping kick from Flip, whose double-jump cannonball senton to the floor puts him right in the driving seat. A springboard corkscrew moonsault barely gets a near-fall as Flip lived up to his name, before more kicks took us to a Stundog Millionaire from Ospreay as the champion had a little left in him.
We get a standing ten count, but both men are back to their feet, only for Ospreay to nail a lifting reverse DDT and a Robinson special kick, before his OsCutter’s swatted out of the air with a superkick! Flip looks to capitalise, but his springboard’s booted away, catching him in the ropes for a shooting star press, then an Essex Destroyer DDT… but somehow Gordon’s able to kick out!
Ospreay tries to finish him off with what looked like the tease for a Splash Mountain, but instead it’s an avalanche Storm Breaker… which Gordon elbows free of, before a headbutt left Will loopy… but he shrugs that off to catch a springboarding Gordon with an OsCutter ahead of the Storm Breaker… and that’s Ospreay having done his bit. He’s still relying on other results, but this was a sublime outing from both men, who put on one of the better matches of what has been one of the best tournaments in recent memory. ****¼
Best of the Super Junior 25, Block A: Taiji Ishimori vs. YOH
Ishimori wins, he’s in Monday’s final. It’s as simple as that.
We’ve a fairly cagey start too, with the pair circling each other before bursting into life, as Ishimori’s sent outside for a tope con giro. Nobody bought that would be an early finish though, and Ishimori’s quickly back with his wacky rope stuff before the springboard seated senton, as Ospreay was shown watching from ringside. Ishimori quickly notices him, as Will takes a chair – coinciding with the pace slowing down as Ishimori was being rather more deliberate with his stuff here.
A snapmare and a neck twist keeps YOH down, but he’s able to throw in a Dragon screw as he mounted a comeback with a gamengiri off the apron and a springboard stomp en route to a backbreaker/neckbreaker combo for another near-fall. YOH pulls Ishimori up by his belt, but he can’t get off a suplex and instead gets sent flying with headscissors ahead of a Golden Triangle moonsault.
A rolling death valley driver and a knee gets Ishimori back in for a near-fall, as he tries to follow up with a crossface with Ospreay trying to gee up his CHAOS stablemate. Ishimori goes for the Bloody Cross, but YOH stops it and runs into a dropkick… where he skins the cat, before a handspring enziguiri puts him down again for a two-count… with YOH bridging up and landing a superkick. More back-and-forth strikes ended when Ishimori raged with a barrage of elbows to send YOH into the ropes.
YOH did try to fight back with a powerbomb out of the corner, but that’s stopped as he instead went in search of a superplex, which came off… as he then rolled through into a Falcon arrow for a near-fall! Another knee from Ishimori cuts off YOH, as does a tombstone gutbuster, but YOH’s able to kick out, before he flips out of a Bloody Cross and almost wins with a backslide! A crucifix almost does it for Ishimori as we’re into the oh-so-near-falls, before Ishimori says “to hell with this” and catches YOH in a crossface, rolling him into the middle of the ring for the eventual submission. That one tap puts Ospreay out of the tournament, as Ishimori wins on tie-breakers – and that was a nice slice of anticipation right there. Ospreay looked on dejected, perhaps fearing Ishimori would win the tournament outright – and will face a man who’s already beaten him, but this time with the title on the line. Despite loss, YOH capped off his star-building tournament here, showing his versatility and capability for down the line. ****
Best of the Super Junior 25, Block B: Marty Scurll vs. SHO
The only way Marty can win the block is if he beats SHO, and the main event ends in a time limit draw because of tie-breakers.
Marty’s coming into this with a heavily taped-up thigh, as he tries to take the match to the ground in the early stages, but that seemed to play into YOH’s hands… then back into Marty’s as the old school British game came into play. Scurll looked for a monkey flip, but YOH turns it into a cross armbreaker as the pair eventually hit stalemate… before Scurll responds to an “arrow being shot” by laying a beating into the Roppongi 3K man.
An apron superkick followed as Scurll went outside with him for some chops, then a back suplex on the apron as we saw Marty give a side-eye to Jushin Thunder Liger on commentary. The Romero special’s teased but not delivered as Marty just drives the knees in before using a rather different choke in the ropes. A modified Sharpshooter comes next as SHO’s restrained, ahead of a superplex as Scurll was being rather methodical in his pace here.
Scurll decked SHO with a right hand, before running into a spear as a series of clotheslines took the Villain from corner to corner, before a trip onto the apron and a low dropkick takes us right back outside. A punt to the arm has Marty reeling, as does a back cracker into a cross armbreaker, which Marty tries to escape with a roll-up… but SHO keeps hold of the arm!
After getting free, Marty throws an elbow, then an uppercut, then a Just Kidding superkick before dumping SHO with a sheer drop brainbuster for a near-fall. Marty spends a while playing to the crowd rather than keep up on SHO, as he eventually wandered over for a slap, before embarking on a series of back-and-forth elbows that the crowd chanted along to… until we got to clotheslines! Duelling lariats eventually brought both men to their knees, then to their backs.
They continued on, with Scurll wheelbarrowing up SHO from a German suplex attempt for a near-fall… but SHO popped up with a lariat before teasing Shock Arrow. Scurll tries to block it, and does successfully, before dishing out some finger snaps and a knee to the head. Stomps to the head are next as Scurll tried to knock out SHO, before he weirdly went for his umbrella.
The sure DQ’s blocked as SHO catches it, then throws it away en route to the Lumbar Check, getting a near-fall in the process, before Shock Arrow becomes a struggle. SHO can’t lift Marty up because of the damaged fingers, and almost pays as an inside cradle draws a near-fall as we’re back to the tit-for-tat stuff. Marty goes for the chicken wing, but SHO rolls back on landing to nearly pin him, as a rear naked choke tried to force a submission.
SHO keeps up with a bridging German for a near-fall, then another rear naked choke… Marty tries to escape with finger manipulation, only for SHO to leap onto his back. Marty tries to break it by climbing the ropes and squishing him with a back bump… and it works! The crowd’s pretty quiet as Marty tries to edge ahead with the chicken wing, stopping to throw in some Daniel Bryan elbows for good measure as referee Red Shoes looked to stop the match… but Marty stops first and tries to pull SHO up.
Another chicken wing followed, but SHO slides down and almost escaped the move unintentionally, before powering up as he suddenly switches it into the Shock Arrow, dumping Marty with the cross-armed piledriver for what has to be the upset! A monumental effort from SHO, who has showed a new side of himself in this tournament – outlasting Marty’s generally nasty game before yanking victory from the jaws of defeat. Wonderful stuff from SHO, and surprise surprise, it all comes down to this… ****
Best of the Super Junior 25, Block B: Hiromu Takahashi vs. KUSHIDA
The crowd were massively behind Hiromu here – which surprised me a little, but I guess KUSHIDA’s currently in that “stumbling down” stage of his career right now, with other acts on the scene.
There’s a lot of pacing around to start, as we have a rather cagey start… and why wouldn’t we? KUSHIDA has very vivid memories of Sakura Genesis last year, when he was completely swept aside in under two minutes! They spent more than two minutes in a lock-up as KUSHIDA took Hiromu to his knees, before eventually rolling around in the ropes… and right back into it!
So many breaks, and instant re-applications, it’s right from that list of “making something out of nothing” as they struggled for supremacy in the most basic of holds, before finally we have a break… and some quicker ones as the simple collar and elbow tie-up took us past the five minute mark!
Finally they break, but Hiromu teases a sunset bomb early on, before he’s knocked off the apron with a cartwheel kick and crashed into with a cannonball senton – and that’s the definition of going from 0-100! KUSHIDA gets a look at Hiromu’s scrapbook, and gives it a thumbs up (apparently Hiromu’s comment was along the lines of “he’s very talented”)… Back in the ring, KUSHIDA begins to work over the arm, throwing in suplexes and the like amid the arm work, before a handspring elbow off the ropes was neatly countered into a German suplex.
KUSHIDA rolls to the outside, but eats a shotgun dropkick that sent him careering into a photographer, before they return to the ring so KUSHIDA could be snapmared into a low dropkick for a near-fall. Some nonchalant stomps earn Hiromu some chops as KUSHIDA tried to fire back, only to get suckered into a Tarantula in the ropes. Hiromu’s waiting on the turnbuckle, and pounces with a flying back senton for a near-fall, before grounding KUSHIDA with a simple chinlock.
Back to his feet, KUSHIDA tries to fire back with a cartwheel dropkick, then a gamengiiri off the apron before a Downward Spiral took Hiromu into the turnbuckles. The back-and-forth continued as KUSHIDA floated over into a Hoverboard Lock, only for Hiromu to escape and ‘rana KUSHIDA as he tried to give him the D. It’s quickly escaped as a cross armbreaker forces Hiromu into the ropes as we passed the fifteen minute mark.
A sit-out powerbomb comes as Hiromu managed to turn the tide again, only to get caught with a Pele kick… then return fire with a belly-to-belly into the turnbuckles! Hiromu lifts KUSHIDA up to the top rope, but the wheelbarrow driver’s stuffed as KUSHIDA tried for another Hoverboard lock, before instead letting Hiromu down… and countering with a Hoverboard Lock takedown when Takahashi tried to come back for seconds.
The Hoverboard Lock again followed in the middle of the ring, with KUSHIDA rolling to keep it on, before Hiromu used the momentum to lift him up into the Dynamite Plunger! Hiromu tried to drape an arm on KUSHIDA, but he misses as the pair instead fought back to their feet, exchanging more shots before again KUSHIDA was baited in as he had to fight to escape the D. Hiromu’s clinging onto the triangle armbar as the referee keeps checking on KUSHIDA, who eventually makes it into the ropes… only to get spiked with a Praying Mantis Bomb before going back to the D as KUSHIDA taps out! Hiromu makes it to the finals after another classic with KUSHIDA, and now we’ve a mouth-watering match to decide who gets Ospreay at Dominion on Saturday! ****½
The show-closing promo was basically Hiromu kicking around on the mat like a baby screaming “I did it!”, until Taiji Ishimori came out and threatened to stomp Hiromu off the top… he rolled away and sent Ishimori packing as we have to wait for that one!
Taiji Ishimori, Will Ospreay (5-2) * Ishimori wins on tie-breakers
ACH, BUSHI, Flip Gordon, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Tiger Mask, YOH (3-4)
Hiromu Takahashi (5-2)
KUSHIDA, Marty Scurll (4-3)
El Desperado, Dragon Lee, Chris Sabin, SHO, Ryusuke Taguchi (3-4)
Shows like this, where the final round plays out in one night can be a bit of a slog – especially when you mix in those dead rubber matches. That being said, this was as close to a home run show as you’ll get without the ball leaving the ground. Ah, that’s a horrible baseball reference for a Brit… but you get the point. Sure, those opening matches were nothing special, but they set the table well, with over half of the show going four snowflakes-or-above. Now the stage is set for Monday’s first-time meeting between Ishimori and Hiromu, with the winner surely getting Will Ospreay at Dominion on Saturday.
Our coverage of that one will be up in the coming days, as we’ll be in the air during the tournament finals!