Gunma played host to the twelfth night of the Best of the Super Juniors tour, as all roads now head to Korakuen for the final nights!

Best of the Super Junior 25, Block B: El Desperado vs. Chris Sabin
Desperado rushed back to the stage from his entrance – and jumped Sabin in the aisle. Hey, it’s a different take, on things, I guess…

They go straight into the crowd as Sabin gets Brookes’d… but without a trolley, this just feels eh? Still, we find that someone’s taken the time to make a banner for YOSHI-HASHI of all people, which feels rather quaint.

When Sabin finally made it to the ring, he was taken down with a low dropkick, finally giving the referee a chance to… take his coat off of him? Uhh? Sabin tries to fight back, but his eyes get raked as we passed the five minute mark of absolute nothingness, which finally marked Sabin getting into it as he pulled Desperado into a superplex. Some criss crossing leads to a nice springboard tornado DDT from Sabin, who followed Despy to the outside with plancha.

Sabin keeps up with a PK off the apron, before turfing Desperado into the fourth row, and finishing with a nice cannonball off the apron to squash Despy in a chair. Back inside, a top rope ‘rana sends Desperado flying ahead of a missile dropkick to the back, but Sabin can only get a two count out of it, as he tries for Cradle Shock… but Desperado squirms out of it and hits a spear to give himself some breathing room.

Desperado tried for Pinche Loco, but had more success with Guitarra de Muerta, only for Sabin to kick out. Another crack at Cradle Shock led to another teased ref bump, allowing Sabin to superkick a chair into Despy’s face, before finally getting Cradle Shock for the win. This match was just there for me – it lacked a lot of the explosiveness that Desperado showed in earlier matches, and felt to be the epitome of those “just a match” bouts you get when the competitors have little to play for. **½

Best of the Super Junior 25, Block B: Marty Scurll vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
There’s plenty of shtick to begin with as Marty gets in a huff, before leaving the ring to Too Sweet a fan who came dressed as him.

When we got going, Marty trapped Taguchi in a wristlock… one that the Funky Weapon forgot how to escape, before Scurll broke into a World of Sport-ish series for a near-fall. Taguchi tries to repeat it… but no dice as Marty knows how to avoid it. They’re back and forth as Taguchi tries to steal Scurll’s spots, but still to no avail as Marty seemed to be at least a step ahead.

Scurll managed to rip off Taguchi’s own hip attacks too, before finally eating one… but that’s where Taguchi’s offence ended as Scurll avoids a plancha and comes back onto the outside with an apron superkick. Marty heads into the crowd to “borrow” a fan’s Taguchi sunglasses, and the offence continued back inside as Scurll began to wear away on Taguchi’s arms.

After getting caught with a back cracker, Taguchi gets back in with the hip attacks and a step-up plancha to the outside, before following up with a somersault plancha as Scurll tried to scurry away. Returning to the ring, Taguchi stuffed a “Just Kidding” superkick with a hip attack, before getting caught in Scurll’s attempt at a Romero special – which he blocks by dragging himself into the ropes.

He couldn’t block a superplex as Scurll picked up a near-fall to put himself back in the driver’s seat, but his attempt at an apron superkick ends when Taguchi catches the kick and drags him to the floor in an ankle lock. The distant hard camera misses what happened next, but Scurll’s back on top, working his way into a finger snap before Taguchi blocked a chicken wing with an enziguiri.

Taguchi tries to follow up with the Bummer-ye, but he’s caught with a chicken wing as they go back and forth, ending with a Ghostbuster 2.0 from Scurll for a, erm, two-count. From there, Scurll tries to use the umbrella, before he’e disarmed… and as he tries for a pumphandle something or other, Taguchi clamps his legs just as the referee turned around. Ah, the ol’ “make the ref think you’ve been low blowed” trick! Marty protests his innocence then shoves away the referee… who shoves back and almost caused him to lose via a roll-up!

Taguchi looked to capitalise with a Dodon that’s actually a Tiger suplex, but another Dodon ended with a ref bump as an ankle lock followed… and of course, nobody’s around to see Scurll tapping. That’s the cue for Marty to loosen his boot, and I’m already smiling at where this may be going. Scurll tries another chicken wing, but Taguchi escaped into an ankle lock… which Marty shoves out of a la Guerrero/Angle, and that’s our finish! A small package gets the win, and I’m never not going to love vintage Eddie Guerrero stuff. Pretty slow paced, but really enjoyable stuff as Scurll keeps himself alive going into the final day! ***

Best of the Super Junior 25, Block B: Hiromu Takahashi vs. SHO
They at least waited for the bell here as the pair charged into each other with clotheslines and a barrage of elbows to get us underway!

Hiromu tried to break the stream with a ‘rana, but SHO stops it before ultimately landing a clothesline to finally put the Ticking Time Bomb on the mat. Hiromu’s lifted onto the apron by SHO, who charges in with a low dropkick to send him outside before an apron superkick led to him joining Takahashi on the floor as the mobile camera was left on the sidelines.

Back inside, a trip from a wristlock took Hiromu to the mat as SHO looked for an armbar, but instead Hiromu rolled to the outside for a brief game of cat and mouse that looked to be pivotal, only for SHO to get caught off the apron with a powerbomb to the floor. SHO barely makes it back in in time, and remained on the defensive as Hiromu dragged him into the ropes for a Tarantula-ish submission hold.

Another low dropkick takes SHO back outside, where another dropkick knocked him off of the padded mats. Hiromu’s almost being methodical here, taking SHO back inside to get the pin, but things turned around with a slam before SHO peppered Takahashi with a series of kicks for a nice near-fall. A back cracker ensues, but SHO’s offence is quickly thwarted with a pop-up powerbomb as Hiromu swings it back around, as a series of German suplexes from both sides broke out, ending with SHO’s rolling Germans and a bridging German for just ra one-count.

Hiromu has a few more one-counts as SHO returns with a lariat, before the two ended up on the apron, ending with SHO dragging Hiromu in to try the Shock Arrow… but that’s the cue for the fight back as Hiromu nails a Dynamite Plunger for a near-fall. Another one’s escaped out of as SHO eventually runs into an overhead belly-to-belly, before catching Hiromu out of nowhere with a cross armbreaker.

That’s almost countered into a roll-up, but Hiromu holds on before making it to the ropes, as he staggered back into some more kicks from SHO. A superkick stops those, but Hiromu’s ‘rana gets countered into some rolling powerbombs and a lumbar check that dumped him on his head for a near-fall. Out of nowhere, a jack-knife cradle from Hiromu gets a near-fall, before he rushes in with the D… something that SHO resists before eventually succumbing to it. A fantastic match between two of the best “up and comers” (if you can call Hiromu that after his initial push)… SHO has had a hell of a tournament, in spite of his win/loss record, and could well be a regular fixture at the top of the division for years to come. ****¼

Best of the Super Junior 25, Block B: Dragon Lee vs. KUSHIDA
The winner stays in the hunt – the loser is pretty much done, so there’s a lot at stake in this main event.

We start with the pair jockeying for position on the mat, as KUSHIDA looked to work the arm… but wasn’t exactly finding it easy going as the luchador was snuffing out pretty much every attempt going. A ‘rana from KUSHIDA’s countered with a cartwheel as Dragon Lee looked to take him outside for a dive, but KUSHIDA scarpers well out of range! Unless Dragon Lee wanted to wipe out the crowd with a dive, that is…

Back inside, KUSHIDA worked his way quickly into a cross armbreaker, but that’s broken up as Dragon Lee rolled to the ropes… so he’s treated to an Octopus in the ropes instead! Returning inside the ropes, KUSHIDA looks for the cross armbreaker, but gives it up so he can try and wear down the arm further. That plan changes as a dropkick from Dragon Lee took him outside for a dive, before a roll-up dropkick back inside left the luchador firmly on the offensive.

Elbows in the corner down KUSHIDA, leaving him in place for a hanging dropkick, ahead of an eventual ushigoroshi… but KUSHIDA’s right back in, or so he thought, as his roll-up just got him a bridging armbar instead. A rope break gets KUSHIDA free, and into position for a cartwheel kick as Lee’s now on the outside for a senton off the top that almost ended as an inadvertent piledriver onto KUSHIDA!

Back inside again, KUSHIDA gives out a backbreaker before his top rope moonsault gets him nothing but knees, although he is wise to the ‘rana off the apron, only for Lee’s knee to take both men down to the floor instead. Some back-and-forth on the floor stops when they realise they’re both getting counted out, before KUSHIDA springs back into the ring with a Dragonrana of sorts for a near-fall. From there, KUSHIDA goes back to the arm, sort-of, as he’s forced to roll out of a headlock before grabbing a Hoverboard lock as Lee finally got into the ropes. A rebound German suplex gets Lee back in the chase though as he goes back to the sleeperhold, mounting KUSHIDA as a surfboard stretch ends when KUSHIDA bites the ropes!

Sensing victory, Lee works up into a PK, but KUSHIDA blocks it and comes back with a PK before both men punched each other out at the same time. This time Lee lands his PK, but it’s only good for a two-count as both men looked spent, with Lee looking to set up KUSHIDA for the double stomp out of the corner… shrugging off a Hoverboard Lock attempt to get it off for another two-count.

KUSHIDA countered out of a Phoenixplex attempt with a Hoverboard Lock though, then switches it into a DDT as we’re into countering territory! Back to the Future? No! Small package! A bicycle knee and a reverse ‘rana rudely dumps KUSHIDA on his head, but he’s able to pop up and counter Desnucadora with Back to the Future, and that him still in the hunt on the final day! This was a phenomenal outing for my money – part of me would rather have had Dragon Lee win so we had someone different in the hunt, but I’ll happily watch these two go at it again and again! ****¼

Block A:
Taiji Ishimori, Will Ospreay (4-2)
BUSHI, Flip Gordon, Tiger Mask, YOH (3-3)
ACH, Yoshinobu Kanemaru (2-4)

Block B:
KUSHIDA, Marty Scurll, Hiromu Takahashi (4-2)
Dragon Lee, Chris Sabin (3-3)
El Desperado, SHO, Ryusuke Taguchi (2-4)

So, the final day of block action has already happened – so if you’re ahead of us, you’ll know who’s in Monday’s final. That being said, we’ve a two-way race in block A and a three-way race in block B, which means there’s a lot to play for as New Japan return to Korakuen for two days in a row.

Our delayed coverage of the final few days of this year’s Best of the Super Juniors will continue – hopefully wrapping up long before the end of next week as Dominion approaches!