The latest run of shows comes to a close as New Japan wrapped up their weekend with some B block action in the Best of the Super Junior tour.

After a day off, the tournament’s rolled into Yamagata for a pair of shows at the Yamagata Big Wing. We’ve still got Kevin Kelly and Caprice Coleman on the English call.

Jonathan Gresham, Shota Umino & Yuya Uemura vs. SHO, Titan & Yota Tsuji
On Twitter after his match yesterday, Gresham seemed extra unsure about whether he “deserved to be here”… so I guess pairing him with two Young Lions is really going to help!

Uemura and SHO start us off, but it’s SHO who wrestles down the Young Lion in a waistlock before a shoulder tackle sent him flying. There’s a receipt from Uemura, but he’s taken down again as Tsuji came in to slam him for a near-fall. Titan’s in to kick Uemura in the back before a modified Magistral cradle led to a two-count. Gresham tags in and lays out Titan (and SHO) with a Quebrada before the pair exchange palm strikes. Titan Matrix’s out of a clothesline before a leaping hook kick left Gresham loopy, as tags get us to Umino and Tsuji. Shota’s cracked with a dropkick from Tsuji instantly, before SHO assists with a back body drop for a near-fall.

After a Boston crab’s escaped, Umino and Tsuji exchange forearms before Umino finds his mark with a missile dropkick, as a Fisherman’s suplex got the win. Your standard undercard tag for this tour: the Young Lions brightened it up, but otherwise it was run of the mill. **¾

Tiger Mask & Juice Robinson vs. Dragon Lee & Toa Henare
Juice is still shaken up by *those* videos, but he’s not interrupted in the aisle today for a change. By the way, Time’s Up almost likely isn’t Chris Brookes: DDT played a video on their show today, heavily spoofing the New Japan videos, where they revealed that Brookes was going to debut for them on June 15.

Everyone shakes hands before the bell, as Tiger Mask and Dragon Lee start us off, with a tie-up that ends in the ropes. A tiltawhirl backbreaker has Lee down, only for the tables to turn as Tiger Mask’s taken into the corner for a Shibata-ish dropkick for a delayed near-fall.

In comes Henare, who cuts through Tiger Mask with a chop, with Dragon Lee helping him out by throwing him into the path of a Samoan drop for another two-count. A double-arm surfboard stretch forces Tiger Mask to flip kick free as Juice Robinson comes in… but Henare’s not shirking, as some early offence is stopped by Dusty punches. Henare comes back with a leaping shoulder tackle, then with a clothesline for a near-fall, before he ran into a spinebuster for a near-fall. Juice has him in the elevated Boston crab, but Dragon Lee dropkicks it away… only to get met with a Tiger Driver as Juice went back to Henare for Pulp Friction… which is shoved off.

The Left Hand of God helped to make sure third time was the charm as Juice got the win, before he stormed to the back. Yeah, he was interrupted by the not-Chris Brookes video. Maybe it’s a Dominator? **¾

Suzuki-gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru, TAKA Michinoku & Taichi) vs. Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori, Gedo & Jado)
Ooh, Suzuki-gun vs. Bullet Club. I expect shenanigans.

A jump start ensures that this match starts outside, with Taichi wandering Jado into the ring post while Kanemaru clawed away at Ishimori in the crowd. Gedo’s doing a Taichi and mauling TAKA with the bell hammer, before everyone returned to the ring, where Gedo stomped a mudhole in TAKA while Taichi wandered in to… I don’t know? Eventually TAKA comes back with a poke to the eye as it was Ishimori’s time to get beaten on in the corner. A low dropkick from Kanemaru gets a near-fall, but a double team move out of Ishimori gets him back in it. Running knees looked to weaken Kanemaru, ahead of a leaping knee before Kanemaru just comes back with a satellite DDT as tags took us to Taichi and Jado.

Jado goes wild with some clotheslines, but an eye rake from Taichi just led to him getting pulled into a crossface. Kanemaru breaks it up, only to take a handspring enziguiri as Ishimori brawled him him to the outside… and as Gedo looked for the brass knuckles, he distracts the ref as Jado vs. Taichi became a Kendo stick vs. mic stand duel. Taichi blocks the stick as Gedo misses a brass knuckles shot, and in the end neither bits of weaponry were needed as Taichi took down Jado with a buzzsaw kick. Off come the trousers, but Jado takes an age to get back to his feet, eventually staggering into a superkick for the win. This wasn’t great, but the shenanigans were kept to a minimum. There’s much, much worse tags with Taichi in that we could have been subjected to… **½

Villain Enterprises (Marty Scurll & Brody King) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito)
Commentary calls out a limp from Takagi, who’ll be grateful for the two days off as he’s been battered so far on this tour.

Shingo and Marty get us underway, with Scurll forcing Takagi down with a knuckle lock early on, before he looked for an elbow stomp… only for Shingo to roll away. Takagi responds with a shoulder tackle before tagging in Naito… and moments later Brody King comes in to light up Naito with a chop. A one-handed body slam drops Naito ahead of a neck crank, before Shingo came in and took his part of a rope-assisted armdrag that took both LIJ members outside. Brody King’s steaming ahead here, dropping Naito with a backbreaker before squashing him with a big splash for a near-fall.

Scurll’s back to wrench away on Naito’s wrist, but a tag to Shingo helps to turn up the tempo again as a suplex gets him a near-fall on Marty. A forearm from Scurll stops him briefly, before Shingo punches him out… only to get dumped into the corner with a suplex in response. King’s back in with an avalanche clothesline in the corner before he teases a powerbomb… but Shingo back body drops free! Naito tags in to catch Brody with Combinacion Cabron, but King’s attempts to avoid a double-team were in vain as he ends up eating a Pumping Bomber from Shingo. Scurll saves King from Destino, while hitting a Just Kidding superkick to Shingo and a stomp to the hand, leaving Naito alone as he’s slingshotted into a punch from King, then a rude back senton over Marty’s knees. All that’s left is Naito to eat a piledriver, but he kicks out! Not quite the huge win for Brody!

King looks for a death valley driver, but Naito slips out into a Destino-like reverse DDT, before he landed the Destino proper for the win. Good effort from King, but let’s be frank – him beating Naito here would have been earth shattering for his third New Japan match proper. Even in defeat, that match has done a world of good for Brody King’s fledging New Japan career… ***

Best of the Super Junior 26, Block B: Ren Narita vs. Rocky Romero
Someone’s getting on the board here, after both these guys lost their first two matches.

They keep it simple early as Rocky and Ren fought for a wristlock, before Narita finally managed to get himself up for a headscissors takeover, keeping them locked on as he wrenches on Rocky’s head. Rocky replies with a bow and arrow hold, but Narita gets free, only to get taken down for a knee drop to the arm as Rocky began to show a little aggression.

Rocky keeps up on the arm as he drives it to the mat with a knee off the top rope, before a key lock forces Uemura into the ropes. A cobra clutch is next, which Rocky turned into a ripcord shoulder charge, before it’s repeated. Narita looks to hit back with his left arm before surprising Rocky with a slam. A tease of the overhead suplex leads to a more regular belly-to-belly for a two-count, before Rocky scuttled into the ropes to avoid the Boston crab. Narita starts to surprise Rocky with some flash pinning attempts, outsmarting Rocky’s counters on the way to a near-fall, before Ren turned a backslide into a Cloverleaf, rolling Rocky away from the ropes. Another rope break saves Rocky, who has to use a bell clapper to avoid an overhead belly-to-belly, before he ran into it. Again, Narita can’t bridge it, and only gets a near-fall as we cross the ten minute mark.

A jumping knee strike from Rocky looked to shut the door on Narita, before he was forced to kick out of a small package. Kicks have Narita fired up, as he paintbrushes Rocky back, but a rewind enziguiri led to a near-fall as Rocky turns into a cross armbreaker. Narita nearly rolled him up for the win, but Rocky keeps hold and forces the submission. Great stuff as Narita came achingly close to the win, but in the end Rocky gets on the board as Ren leaves with a familiar result. ***½

Best of the Super Junior 26, Block B: DOUKI vs. Bandido
Commentary tells a story of how Bandido helped DOUKI settle in Mexico years ago, but now DOUKI’s turned his aim on him… which led to Bandido getting unmasked yesterday.

DOUKI tries to jump Bandido, but the luchador’s wise to it as he took DOUKI outside for a tope suicida in the opening seconds. There’s a quick turn around as DOUKI posts Bandido, before taking him back inside for chops and stomps. A back elbow off the ropes drops Bandido, who’s met with a running double stomp as the Suzuki-gun intern continued to push ahead. Bandido makes a comeback with a sorta tornillo, then some headscissors to take DOUKI outside for a tope con giro into the aisle. Back in the ring, a springboard crossbody off the top rope takes DOUKI down ahead of an inverted suplex and a Shining Wizard, but it’s not enough to put him away.

DOUKI blocks the 21-plex – the rebound German – and counters a springboard crossbody with a dropkick in mid-air. A pop-up cutter’s blocked by DOUKI, who then trades dropkicks with Bandido before the neck-tie submission looked to force Bandido to give up. Instead, Bandido inches his way to the rope, but couldn’t keep his foot there at first as the break was eventually forced. A springboard DDT from DOUKI’s blocked, but Bandido can’t counter it, instead spinning DOUKI into a knee strike before more wonky headscissors led to a cross armbreaker. There’s another rope break, as DOUKI again blocks the 21-plex, then springboards in with a DDT for a near-fall, before Bandido countered Suplex de la Luna with a spiking wheelbarrow driver.

The end comes when DOUKI runs into an inverted torture rack knee, as that 21-plex finally followed for the win. My God, we have to stop with the DOUKI puns now, because this was really good – I’d almost say it was one of the better matches of the tour, had it gone a little longer… ***¾

Best of the Super Junior 26, Block B: Robbie Eagles vs. El Phantasmo
Who’s the preferred child of the Bullet Club then?

ELP and Eagles don’t exactly shoot out of the blocks, instead shaking hands before a tie-up in the ropes led to a nervy break from Eagles. The pair look to too sweet each other, but Phantasmo cheapshots the Aussie with a knee to the gut before he tried to whip him off the ropes. Eagles holds on… so gets chopped before he rebounded off the ropes with an armdrag ahead of a ‘rana and a dropkick, taking ELP outside for a faked out dive. Phantasmo goes after Kevin Kelly on commentary, prompting Eagles to try and cool him down… which just gets the Aussie thrown into the ring post before the Canadian began to chop Eagles back in the ring. A roll-up from Eagles nearly ends it, before ELP’s booted into the corner for some more chops, but Phantasmo grounds him with a side headlock, which Eagles broke with a chinbreaker.

Phantasmo blocks a Shiranui, instead hanging up Eagles in a Tree of Woe so he could stand on his balls. Eagles manages to make a save with a Spider German suplex, before going up for a flying ‘rana and a 619 to catch ELP unawares. A springboard elbow to the back of the neck is next, before another Shiranui attempt was blocked, with ELP landing some enziguiri ahead of a whirlibird neckbreaker. Eagles gets up at two from that, before he countered CR2 with a variety of pinning attempts that almost ended with a stacked-up backslide from ELP. More kicks from Eagles drop Phantasmo for a near-fall, only to get up top with a step-up enziguiri from Phantasmo, who tried to bring him down, only for Eagles to spike him with a reverse ‘rana. A Shiranui off the ropes nearly gets the win for Eagles, as does a 450 splash, but kickouts keep ELP in it as he blocks a Turbo Backpack before landing a superkick and a CR2 for the win. This was real good, with ELP establishing himself, at least in the Bullet Club pecking order, as he heads into a match with Will Ospreay next on Wednesday. ***½

Best of the Super Junior 26, Block B: YOH vs. Will Ospreay
These two met at a similar stage in last year’s tournament, with Ospreay coming out on top in the intra-CHAOS match.

We’ve a measured start here as YOH and Ospreay exchange snapmares and headlocks early on, before Ospreay counted headscissors into a leg spreader, keeping YOH in a compromised position. YOH blasts back with an armdrag and a dropkick, before a monkey flip took out YOH as Ospreay faked out his dive. A plancha followed as Ospreay flew, before a chop stung YOH by ringside. More chops follow back inside, as does a leaping knee drop which gets Ospreay a near-fall, before be stung YOH with kicks to the front and back. YOH tries to fight back with forearms, but instead he has to make do with a Dragon screw. Ospreay hit back with an uppercut, then an enziguiri before YOH catches an over-the-top 619 and Dragon screws Ospreay, crotching him on the top rope.

YOH follows him outside with a tope con giro, before YOH dropped him back inside, jarring the knee ahead of a Figure Four. Ospreay gets free and tries to chop his way back, but instead has more luck with a handspring enziguiri as he tries to walk out the knee problem. It didn’t seem to work as he hobbled corner-to-corner for a Shibata-ish dropkick on YOH, ahead of a lifting reverse DDT for a near-fall. From there, Ospreay teases Storm Breaker, but YOH puts on the brakes as he ended up taking some kicks before he went back after Ospreay’s knee. A backflip dropkick from Ospreay only aggravates his knee as YOH rolls him into a calf slicer, but it’s right by the ropes as we had a fortuitous break for Ospreay. YOH looks to haul Ospreay into a Dragon suplex, but Ospreay escapes and heads to the top rope for a springboard forearm.

Still hobbling, Ospreay lands a shooting star press… only for YOH to bridge up out of the pin before he’s stacked up in a Liger bomb for a near-fall. YOH pulls back Ospreay to stop an OsCutter, before he lifted Ospreay into an elevated reverse DDT, using the ropes for extra height. Looking to follow up, YOH takes Ospreay up top, but he’s fought down to the mat ahead of a superplex effort… but Ospreay desperately slips out and lands a Cheeky Nando’s instead. With YOH down, Ospreay heads up top again, but he aborts a shooting star press as his knee buckled, allowing YOH to roll him back into a calf slicer, dragging him into the middle of the ring as he torqued away on the bad wheel before Ospreay finally got his body to the rope. An amazing struggle there.

YOH tries to drag Ospreay back in as we pass the 20 minute mark, trading forearm sas both men were increasingly running on fumes. A kick to the knee was YOH’s secret weapon though, before Ospreay rebounded with Kawada-style kicks… but YOH grabs on and went for a Dragon screw. Somehow, Ospreay stops and turns it into a stomp, again aggravating his own knee, before an OsCutter’s blocked and countered into a bridging German for a near-fall! YOH tries to follow it up with a Dragon suplex, but Ospreay switches out and lands a head kick, only for YOH to skin the cat and hit one of his own. Another low dropkick to the back of the knee weakens Ospreay for a release Dragon suplex into the corner as time began to ran out… another Dragon suplex is flipped out of as Ospreay throws some more kicks, before a one-man Spanish Fly dropped YOH for an ultra-near fall. From there, Ospreay goes for the Storm Breaker, and that’s all folks. Holy hell, that was good. As long as the Rocky match was, this was right up there, except I was fully invested in YOH getting the upset… but alas, it was not to be. Right now, this is neck-and-neck with SHO/Shingo for my match of the tournament thus far. ****½

Best of the Super Junior 26, Block B: BUSHI vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
Poor Taguchi, having to follow THAT.

Like Taguchi’s cardio, as he’s tricked into rope running by BUSHI, who just trips him… but Taguchi suckered him in and hit a Kokeshi (?!), taking BUSHI outside before a hip attack led to a smacked arse in the ropes. BUSHI uses a chair on the outside as the Bishop Brennan offence continued, before he uses a t-shirt to choke Taguchi back in the ring. A STF forces Taguchi to scoot to the ropes for the break, with BUSHI following up with an atomic drop as Taguchi wasn’t learning. More hip attacks are countered before Taguchi finally hits one, with the same hit rate as Honma’s Kokeshi, as the former tournament winner manages to follow through with Oh My Garankle… but BUSHI crawls to the ropes, where he’s met with another hip attack.

A drop toe hold takes Taguchi into the ropes through, but he gets free for another hip attack, only to miss a plancha as BUSHI went to the outside. BUSHI manages to land the next blow with a tope suicida, before returning to the ring as a missile dropkick sends Taguchi flying across the ring. Taguchi looked to hit a reply with Three Amigos, but BUSHI slips out and lands a dropkick as he finally spiked him on the apron with a leaping DDT. BUSHI looked to cap it off with a MX, but a leaping hip attack stops that in mid-air, before a series of counters led to BUSHI getting caught back in Oh My Garankle. Eventually BUSHI rolls Taguchi through, sending him into the ref, and there’s the cue for a (delayed) misting from BUSHI. A rewind enziguiri drops Taguchi, whose face and arms were blackened… but he’s able to duck a MX, only to have a hip attack countered with a bridging backslide as BUSHI nearly stole the win.

Another running lungblower’s tried by BUSHI, but Taguchi again catches and countered into Oh My Garankle, eventually pulling BUSHI back into the middle of the ring for a snap Dodon for a near-fall… then it’s back to the ankle, which is dropped onto as BUSHI finally taps. A pretty good match, just massively overshadowed by what came before it. It’s a bit of a pattern on this tour, eh? ***½

Just, wow. Will Ospreay does it again in this tournament, topping out a series of matches that were good-to-great. The two days off will do everyone a favour, but then it’s time to raise the stakes as three days in Korakuen will up everybody’s expectations.

Block A Standings:
Taiji Ishimori, Shingo Takagi (3-0; 6pts)
Dragon Lee, Tiger Mask, Marty Scurll (2-1; 4pts)
Jonathan Gresham, SHO, Titan (1-2; 2pts)
Yoshinobu Kanemaru, TAKA Michinoku (0-3; 0pts)

Block B Standings:
Will Ospreay, El Phantasmo, Ryusuke Taguchi (3-0; 6pts)
Robbie Eagles (2-1; 4pts)
Bandido, DOUKI, Rocky Romero, YOH (1-2; 2pts)
BUSHI, Ren Narita (0-3; 0pts)

The tour now gets two days off before the nose really gets pushed to the grindstone, with a run of three nights in a row at Korakuen Hall from Wednesday to Friday. On top of that, those will be ten-match cards as both blocks will be in action – headlining on Wednesday with Will Ospreay vs. El Phantasmo, Thursday with Dragon Lee vs. Shingo Takagi and Friday with Rocky Romero vs. El Phantasmo.