Lio Rush looks to keep his unbeaten run alive in this year’s tournament as he faces Hiromu Takahashi in the main event.
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: Kevin Knight pinned Yoshinobu Kanemaru in 7:17 (**¾)
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: SHO pinned Ryusuke Taguchi in 6:29 (**¾)
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: Clark Connors pinned BUSHI in 6:04 (**½)
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: Taiji Ishimori submitted DOUKI in 9:31 (***½)
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: Francesco Akira pinned Robbie Eagles in 12:02 (****)
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: Titan pinned KUSHIDA in 6:01 (**¾)
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: Dan Moloney pinned YOH in 9:01 (**¾)
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: Mike Bailey pinned TJP in 13:01 (****)
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: El Desperado pinned Master Wato in 14:10 (***¾)
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: Lio Rush pinned Hiromu Takahashi in 18:11 (****¼)
Aichi’s Nagoya International Conference Center’s the host for today’s leg of the Best of the Super Junior tour, with 1,599 watching on. Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton are on commentary for those listening in English… please be a good crowd today.
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Kevin Knight
We’ve got opposite ends of the spectrum here, with 100% taking on 0%… and Knight’s not won a singles match in New Japan in over 600 days apparently. To be fair, this was only his seventh since the start of 2022!
Knight misses an early plancha as a trip outside put Kanemaru ahead, before a low dropkick to the knee telegraphed Kanemaru’s desire to go for a Figure Four later… and the hold followed just a moment later as Knight was forced to drag his way to the ropes. A dropkick from Knight created an opening, leading to a Stinger splash in the corner before Kanemaru ended up eating a crossbody off the top. Kanemaru runs into a Sky High for a near-fall, but Kanemaru tries to go back to the Figure Four… it doesn’t work as Knight pushes away, then scored a top rope ‘rana as Kanemaru scaled the ropes. A spiking DDT followed… and that’s all for the Jet to score his first win in a decent enough-but-short opener. **¾
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: SHO vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
Chris Charlton comparing Best of the Super Junior to the Eurovision Song Contest is a little too close. Allegations of rigging in Eurovision… meet the almost guaranteed interference from EVIL and Bobo here.
SHO hands off Bobo to the referee as he promised to be “serious” – even busting out a hontai t-shirt and a gumshield. I don’t buy this. We start with a long tie-up into the ropes, then shoulder tackles, which Taguchi won out on. Taguchi’s dropkick takes SHO outside for a springboard body press, while a stiff lariat back inside led to a deadlift German suplex from SHO. Taguchi tries for Dodon, but has to make do with Oh My & Garankle… which is countered out of, and back into. SHO rolls through the hold, sending Taguchi into the ref, and out go the light. You know the drill here. EVIL’s in the ring acting as a referee, checking on Taguchi’s gear as SHO took advantage with a low blow. Cue Bobo… and the original ref’s in to count the pin after pantomime boos and the Shock Arrow. They tried something different, but it was, what it was. **¾
Post-match, SHO takes some scissors to Taguchi’s t-shirt, then to the hontai shirt he’d worn earlier.
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: Clark Connors vs. BUSHI
It’s not been a good run for BUSHI this year, as he’s still waiting for his first win…
Connors jumps BUSHI at the bell, then ripped off the t-shirt as he expressed frustration at being caught out against Robbie Eagles on Saturday. I’m not sure having fans laughing at your frustration was the idea, but that’s what Clark got as he stomped on BUSHI at ringside. Back inside, a pounce knocks BUSHI down, but a low dropkick buys BUSHI time to land a tope suicida on the outside. A DDT back inside gets BUSHI a near-fall, as did a roll-up, only for Connors to snap back with a Trophy Kill spear… as the No Chaser implant DDT gets the win. **½
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: Taiji Ishimori vs. DOUKI
Ishimori’s not lost yet – nor has he lost to DOUKI, so there’s a good shout for him ending today with at least a share of the lead in block A.
A bright start for DOUKI took Ishimori outside, but Ishimori blocks a rebound DDT and posts DOUKI instead. Back inside, DOUKI manages to get back into it with a diving headbutt, before he did a splits to avoid a charge from Ishimori, taking him out for a tope into the crowd. Back inside, a swinging Northern Lights suplex got DOUKI a two-count, before Ishimori ran him into an exposed corner. A hammerlocked shoulderbreaker exacerbates things further, only for a DOUKI CHOKEY to briefly slam the brakes on things. DOUKI counters a Cipher UTAKI into a Gory-ish slam and back into the Italian Stretch #32… which almost led to a stoppage, only for Ishimori to fall into the ropes. So close!
Daybreak followed for a near-fall for DOUKI, but Suplex de la Luna’s countered into a Divorce Court… DOUKI manages to cut off Ishimori with a lariat though, but a Skayde Special’s countered into a Bone Lock as DOUKI held on, only to ultimately tap. DOUKI’s having a hell of a tournament, results be damned, as he came so close to what would have been an upset on paper. If you’re sleeping on DOUKI… wake up! ***½
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: Francesco Akira vs. Robbie Eagles
Eagles plays to the crowd at the bell – but it’s not the “Robbie Robbie Robbie” stuff he used as a distraction yesterday…
Eagles manages to pull ahead with a tijeras and a dropkick early on, taking Akira outside… and fakes out a dive for the hell of it. Charging back into the ring, Akira’s tripped into a pinning predicament, but gets free with a monkey flip before a plancha met Eagles on the floor. Back inside, a leaping knee followed from Akira, but Eagles gets right back in it with a chop block as the pair remained even. Akira’s crashed into with a leg lariat, then a diving kick as Eagles began to work over the knee. An endless wheelbarrow led to a Ron Miller Special, ending in the ropes before Akira’s attempted Cheeky Nando’s led to an exchange of suplexes. We’ve a neat counter as Akira switched a Turbo Backpack into a reverse ‘rana, but Eagles’ kick has Akira rocked, only for the Italian to return with a shotgun dropkick.
The back-and-forth continues, leading to a diving knee for a near-fall, before Eagles blocked some cravat knees. Eagles almost baits Akira in for the Fireball, but gets cradled out as the pair looked for the finish, trading quick pinning attempts before a Turbo backpack almost won it for Eagles. Massive running knees crash into Akira in the corner, but a 450 splash misses as Akira charged back with a Fireball for the win. This was fantastic back-and-forth stuff, with neither man really holding an advantage for long. Run this back at Korakuen, as while the crowd here were enthusiastic, the acoustics didn’t make it sound that way! ****
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: Titan vs. KUSHIDA
It’s been a rotten start for KUSHIDA, who comes into this winless and without a singles win in Japan since 2018. Just don’t look that one up… and yes, I know he had a few years away!
An early armdrag has KUSHIDA on the back foot, before he cartwheeled out of a lucha armdrag… only to get sent outside as Titan’s dive sent KUSHIDA scurrying into the crowd as he played keepaway. Alexa, play Yakety Sax! Returning to the ring, KUSHIDA kicks Titan in the ribs, before a Cobra Twist ended in the ropes as KUSHIDA was starting to build up some offence. Titan evades a clothesline as we crossed the five minute mark, with Titan adding a crossbody, a flurry of strikes and a swinging DDT for good measure.
KUSHIDA heads outside and gets wiped out with a tope con giro, before a springboard stomp back into the ring got the win. Surprisingly short as KUSHIDA lost control and was quickly put away… **¾
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: Dan Moloney vs. YOH
Both men come in with 1-1 records – but YOH’s got a horrid record in Aichi apparently…
YOH sidestepped Moloney early on as he seemed hell-bent on poking the bear… which sparked our second crowd chase in as many matches. YOH instead stopped and offered himself up for a chop, but it’s Yuto Nakashima who ate it as YOH snuck onto the apron and hit a cannonball. Moloney’s chopped back inside, then met with some Mongolian chops as YOH’s been watching his Great O-Khan tapes… an enziguiri from Moloney leads to a brainbuster for a quick two-count, as Kevin Kelly took aim at a certain system that used to exist in Enfield. Blistering chops from Moloney sends YOH outside, but he skinned the cat and hit one of his own, before taking Moloney into the corner for some Machine Gun chops.
YOH keeps up with the Kojima stuff, but that includes getting caught up top… YOH recovers to hit a Falcon arrow for a near-fall, then a slam onto the knee as Moloney looked to have been caught on the hop. A ‘rana nearly wins it for YOH, but Moloney kicks out before he scored with a spear and a Drilla Killa for the win, forcing Oleg Boltin to carry YOH to the back. **¾
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: Mike Bailey vs. TJP
“Remember EVOLVE?” yeah, we’ve got to go back to 2015 for the last singles meeting between these two, back at EVOLVE 43. If only there were a legitimate way to watch those…
TJP looked to control Bailey early, but some grounded headscissors were escaped in kind before Bailey’s playful brushing kick to TJP led to a stand-off. Catching a kick, TJP ends up backing Bailey into the ropes ahead of a shoulder tackle… but Bailey’s right back in with scissor kicks, only for a follow-up dive to be scouted out as TJP charged Speedball into the side of the ring. Bailey avoids a slingshot legdrop onto the side of the ring, before a Boston crab attempt back inside was blocked in the ropes, with TJP instead coming back with a guillotine between the ropes. TJP remained ahead with a senton atomico back into the ring, then with a face-washing boot.
A missile dropkick got Bailey back in it, before a rear spin kick got TJP an opening… as did TJP hooking himself in the ropes. Bailey’s bare feet become a target, but he’s able to catch TJP on the outside with a springboard moonsault. Back inside, the corkscrew kick looked to lead to an Ultima Weapon, but TJP avoids it and locks in a Pinoy Stretch, forcing Bailey to crawl to the ropes for a break. TJP sneaks through a kick, but so does Bailey before a stomp to the bare foot and a back suplex had TJP back on top. A Detonation kick’s countered as we go back to pinning attempts… only for Bailey to counter a sunset flip with the moonsault knees. From there, TJP’s taken up top for a Flamingo Driver, but it’s escaped as TJP’s tornado DDT set up for a Mamba Splash… only to switch it into a flying DDT for a near-fall.
TJP goes back up top again, but gets caught by Bailey’s gamengiri… before a corkscrew kick in the opposite corner set up for the Flamingo Driver, finally landing it for the win. These two packed a LOT in here, with plenty of back-and-forth while leaving space for you wanting more. Add this to your growing watchlists! ****
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: Master Wato vs. El Desperado
Wato’s only won once in six prior matches – back at 2021’s tournament after he returned from excursion.
Desperado looked to outsmart Wato early on, wrapping his arm around the ropes before a drop down on Wato caused Desperado some discomfort, as Wato was able to take him outside. Back inside, Wato scores a bulldog for just a one-count as he proceeded to ground Desperado with headscissors. Desperado rolls outside again as the pair exchange strikes, but Despy’s bad knee from earlier in the tournament’s causing concern. Back inside, a back suplex forces an opening, with a Numero Dos looking to force it as Wato had to fight to get to the ropes. A turnaround sees Wato score with a tope con giro to the outside, then with a springboard European uppercut back inside for a near-fall.
Wato stayed ahead with a Yoshitonic, then into the Vendeval submission, with Desperado forcing a break in the ropes as he struggled to chain together any offence. Again the knee causes problems as Desperado went for a Guitarra de Angel, only for Wato to block and eventually counter back with a Tenzan Tombstone Driver. Of course, Wato doesn’t go for a cover, as he instead goes up top for RPP, crashing and burning in the process. In response, a spear from Desperado goes through Wato ahead of Guitarra de Angel for a near-fall. A Pinche Loco sparks some back-and-forth pinning predicaments as the pair looked for a sudden stoppage, before a head kick from Desperado dropped Wato to the mat. From there, Pinche Loco makes this academic, and it’s El Desperado who joins a six-way logjam at the top of his block. ***¾
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: Lio Rush vs. Hiromu Takahashi
It’s a rematch from two months ago, where Rush came close to unseating Hiromu for the IWGP junior heavyweight title on the New Japan Cup finals show…
We start with a bit of a mirror match as Rush and Hiromu had the same idea, before Rush began a game of keepaway, which led to an enziguiri from Rush, then a shotgun dropkick from Hiromu to end a breathless sequence. Rolling outside, Hiromu gets taken into the side of the ring, before a suplex from Rush countered a threatened death valley driver into the announcer’s table. Rush begs a fan for his seat, and ended up putting Hiromu in it before a lap of honour led to Hiromu putting Lio through it with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Hope they’ve got spare chairs for that poor sod who gave it up…
Back inside, Hiromu goes for a pin, but Red Shoes Unno was still dealing with the broken chair… so a diving knee gets Hiromu a two-count as he began to settle into the lead. Some more headscissors have Hiromu threaten a reverse ‘rana to the outside, but Rush pushes free as Hiromu cracks his leg on the side of the ring on the way down… ahead of a low-pe from Rush to the outside. A second one follows, before a third low-pe kept the Young Lion crash barriers busy. It led to a count-out tease, but Hiromu beats the 20-count before a leaping knee from Rush led to his take on a F5 for a near-fall. Hiromu blocks a Rush Hour attempt, returning with a death valley driver into the corner as he sought to buy some time.
On the apron, Hiromu stuffs Rush with a thrust kick, then picked him up for a death valley driver onto the side of the ring for good measure. A Dynamite Plunger’s next for a near-fall as Hiromu looked to be in the driver’s seat… only to get floored with a superkick as he went for a Hiromu-chan Bomber. Lio avoids a suplex into the buckles as he instead landed almost a Vader Bomb out of the corner, then a Final Hour… into the knees! Rolling through, Hiromu almost hits a Time Bomb, but Rush escaped and hit a rolling elbow in return. That Hiromu-chan Bomber lands moments afterwards, while a second one’s turned into a standing Spanish Fly as we crossed the quarter-hour mark. Another crack at the Final Hour’s met with a cutter, as Hiromu goes back to the Time Bomb… this time countered into a reverse ‘rana. Rush Hour followed, then the Final Hour frog splash to the back as Hiromu thought he’d rolled out of harm’s way. That’s good for a near-fall, so Rush heads back up… and has to push Hiromu down from an avalanche Time Bomb, before the Final Hour finally landed flush for the win. Hiromu’s shaky start continues, as 100% Rush joined a three-way tie-breaker at the top. ****¼
Your standings after three matches, with a bit of a divide already forming at the top of block A:
Mike Bailey, Taiji Ishimori, Lio Rush (3-0 / 6pts)
DOUKI, SHO, TJP, Hiromu Takahashi, Titan (1-2 / 2pts)
KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi (0-3 / 0pts)
Francesco Akira, Clark Connors, El Desperado, Robbie Eagles, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Dan Moloney (2-1 / 4pts)
Kevin Knight, Master Wato, YOH (1-2 / 2pts)
BUSHI (0-3 / 0pts)
The tour’s got Monday off – and returns on Tuesday for a run of four shows in successive days, with Lio Rush vs. Taiji Ishimori headlining in Akita. Wednesday in Miyagi has El Desperado vs. YOH on top, Thursday in Iwate has Robbie Eagles vs. Master Wato main eventing, while Friday in Aomori is topped by TJP vs. Hiromu Takahashi… and these may be the shows I’ll not have time to catch, as an early warning!
This was a marked improvement on Saturday’s almost-soulless event, with the crowd in Aichi actually reacting throughout to what was in front of them. You can almost skip the shorter undercard matches, but a couple of noteworthy matches between the bells help big time as the first stretch of the tour wrapped up.