The Best of the Super Junior tournament continues with Hiromu Takahashi looking to bounce back from his opening day defeat.
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: TJP pinned KUSHIDA in 9:27 (***)
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: Yoshinobu Kanemaru submitted Dan Moloney in 5:42 (**½)
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: Lio Rush pinned Ryusuke Taguchi in 5:19 (**¾)
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: Robbie Eagles pinned Clark Connors in 5:57 (**¾)
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: Mike Bailey pinned SHO in 12:10 (**¾)
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: Francesco Akira pinned Kevin Knight in 8:40 (***¼)
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: Taiji Ishimori submitted Titan in 9:24 (***)
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: El Desperado pinned BUSHI in 8:54 (***½)
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: Hiromu Takahashi pinned DOUKI in 12:51 (***¾)
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: YOH pinned Master Wato in 18:12 (***¼)
It’s night two of the “do I have time to watch this?” tour as we’re at the Nagano Prefectural Budokan in Nagano – English commentary starts with Kevin Kelly flying solo, and TJP joining him…
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: TJP vs. KUSHIDA
Both men lost their opener yesterday – and it’s a clash between the current and most recent junior tag champion…
We’ve got a rapid exchange of holds to start as KUSHIDA looked to make a mark, but TJP was largely even to it – as seen when they both went for leg locks at the same time. TJP manages to pull ahead though, snapping back on KUSHIDA’s arm, before a Muta Lock forces KUSHIDA into the ropes. An Octopus hold keeps KUSHIDA in trouble, but KUSHIDA returns the favour – albeit in the ropes – before leaping down for a Cobra Twist. A hammerlock’d cradle saw KUSHIDA come close, before TJP’s springboard was countered into a cross armbar, only for TJP to counter with an eventual cradle for the win in a solid, if not eye-catching opener. ***
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: Dan Moloney vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
“Someone’s oh’s gotta go” – but it’s way too early to be talking about unbeaten runs here.
Kevin Kelly on commentary noted that Kanemaru had trouble against new faces last year – and surmised it may be a similar run here against a Moloney who seemingly wanted Kanemaru’s whiskey more than the match. When we got going, Moloney had a good run against Kanemaru, chopping through him before a stomp countered Kanemaru’s sunset flip. Kanemaru eventually fought back as a low dropkick cut off a spear, before he targeted the knee of Moloney… an attempt at the Drilla is escaped, as Kanemaru then wrapped up Moloney in a Figure Four for the submission. They did what they could with the time, as Kanemaru’s looking to make that hold a killer finisher here. **½
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: Lio Rush vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
Unlike yesterday, there’s no sneak attacks targeting Lio Rush…
Taguchi does try a rush start at the bell, but Lio out-paced and dizzied Taguchi, who resorted to a hip attack then a plancha to the outside. Lio’s able to turn it around, scoring with a pair of dives, before a Final Hour frog splash was blocked by Taguchi’s knees. A Dodon’s countered with a roll-up, before a wild lariat wiped out Lio… who ate a Dodon for a near-fall. Taguchi whiffs on a frog splash of his own, which allowed Rush back in.. at least until Taguchi went back to the hip attacks. In the end, Rush withstands it all, scoring a Rush Hour springboard stunner, then the Final Hour frog splash to take home the win in just over five minutes. **¾
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: Clark Connors vs. Robbie Eagles
Robbie Eagles has TMDK’s allocated Young Lion Kosei Fujita shadowing him… while Gedo’s with Connors at ringside.
Eagles surprises Connors amid a call-and-refrain with the crowd, as he rolled the former “Wild Rhino” into a Ron Miller Special early on. The ropes save Connors, who took things outside and began to target Eagles’ taped-up shoulder. Connors laughs off some attempted chops as Eagles looked to fight back, eventually scoring with a snap back suplex out of the corner. An Asai DDT from Eagles nearly wins it, but he’s pushed out of another Ron Miller Special as a spear took down the Aussie. A second Trophy Kill spear follows, before a flash roll-up from Eagles snatched the win as Connors took an age to set up for his No Chaser finish. **¾
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: SHO vs. Mike Bailey
SHO’s hugging his wrapped up wrench like a lost teddy bear again. Let’s call it Bobo, like Mr. Burns’ bear from the Simpsons, eh?
SHO jumps Bailey before the bell, using a chair as the match started with SHO capitalising on his work by going after Bailey’s toes. Speedball responds with kicks, taking SHO outside for the scissor kicks before EVIL came out to interfere, knocking Bailey off the top rope. Le sigh. Going back to the bare feet, SHO stomps on Bailey and threw him outside as EVIL used a chair on him… Bailey overcomes by sending SHO outside, but EVIL trips him up to stop a dive as we’re getting a light smattering from boos. Nagano doesn’t like noise, eh? Eventually Bailey gets to hit that dive, landing the triangle moonsault after he’d kicked EVIL away.
More distractions from EVIL give SHO an opening, leading to a cross-armed piledriver for a near-fall, before Bailey ‘rana’d out of a powerbomb. Moonsault knees follow before EVIL helped set up for a ref bump… that allows SHO to use Bobo and smash it on Bailey’s big toes, before he used it to try and dislocate the toes. EVIL pulls out the referee as Bailey had SHO beat with a cradle, but once again Bailey overcomes the cheating as he laid into the House of Torture lads with kicks, leading to the Ultima Weapon for the win. Add in a hot crowd and I’d have managed to cope, but the overdone interference almost made this a Speedball match you’d want to skip. And think about THAT. **¾
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: Francesco Akira vs. Kevin Knight
After that last match, the pacey opening was just what we needed as Akira and Knight took to the skies, with Knight landing his plancha early on.
Back inside, Akira’s able to find a way through with a baseball slide as Knight’s put in a Tree of Woe ahead of a hammerlock’s Octopus hold on the mat. Akira keeps pushing on with a dropkick for a two-count, before Knight fought back with a Stinger Splash… then with a dropkick of his own. Knight’s Sky High almost gets the win, but Akira’s able to snap back with a DDT before he missed a Fireball. Pinning attempts ensue between the pair from there, with a hands-free ‘rana out of the corner giving Knight hope, before the Speedfire and Fireball combo ended up getting the win. Decent enough, but the crowds are really not helping things today. **¼
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: Taiji Ishimori vs. Titan
We’ve got armdrags ahoy to start, as Titan had Ishimori backing into the ropes to avoid a kick.
Going to the eyes through the mask, Ishimori upped the pace before a tijeras from Titan took things outside… where Ishimori ends up posting him. Back inside, Ishimori rips off a corner pad, then tried to rip off the mask as Ishimori looked to keep things grounded with a cobra clutch. A swinging DDT from Titan helped get him back in it, as Ishimori was sent outside for a tope suicida, before a flash handspring enziguiri from Ishimori turned it around. Ishimori’s shoulderbreaker looked to have him on the home straight, but Titan pushed ahead with a Mistica and a Samoan Driver. My GOD the silence from the crowd from that. Ishimori hits a Mistica of his own in return, then trapped Titan in a Bone Lock… rolling away from the ropes to reposition ahead of the submission for the win. ***
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: BUSHI vs. El Desperado
Desperado’s looking to recover from his opening night loss… but BUSHI’s in exactly the same spot, even if he’s not among the tournament favourites.
BUSHI targets the legs of Desperado early, capitalising on the work that Yoshinobu Kanemaru had put in the night before, leading to a missile dropkick to the knee a la Robbie Eagles. A modified Figure Four leg lock from BUSHI forces Desperado to the ropes, before Despy crumpled into a heap as he was being thrown into the corner. Desperado returned fire, scoring with a suplex for a two-count, before he evaded another dropkick to the knee. BUSHI hit back with a short DDT, then a Codebreaker, before he went back to the knees as Desperado’s again forced to the ropes. BUSHI’s run on top hits the skids when Desperado caught him with Numero Dos, then Guitarra de Angel, before El Es Claro proved to be enough to get the flash pin. Easily the best thing on the show so far, but Desperado’s going to be working through knee trouble throughout if he’s to win this tournament… ***½
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block A: DOUKI vs. Hiromu Takahashi
Hiromu’s got a 100% record against DOUKI – and needs that to remain the case if he’s going to pick up points here.
A jump start from DOUKI almost led to an early Suplex de la Luna, before things headed outside with a rebound DDT to Hiromu on the floor. DOUKI adds a second DDT on the outside as he looked to get a count-out win, but of course it’s not ending that way as the match returned to the ring with DOUKI still in the driver’s seat. Hiromu manages to do the deal with a Falcon arrow for a near-fall, before DOUKI snuck back in with an attempted Gory special. It’s escaped, as he ends up pulling Hiromu into the DOUKI CHOKEY, which ends in the ropes. The Daybreak DDT’s caught as Hiromu instead countered by charging DOUKI into the corner pad, before a Dynamite Plunger almost took the win.
DOUKI rolls his way out of a Time Bomb and went back into the DOUKI CHOKEY, following with a Widow’s Peak backslide as we’re back into the hold. Eventually the ropes saved Hiromu once more, but he couldn’t avoid a Daybreak as DOUKI looked to be comfortably on his way to a first win over the current champion. Hiromu kicks out at two, and after he kicked out of a pair of lariats, then a torture rack/sidewalk slam… had to dig super deep as DOUKI began to get flustered. Another Suplex de la Luna’s countered as Hiromu rolled through into a Time Bomb… and that’s enough to snatch a win from the jaws of defeat. A fantastic showing for DOUKI, but that Time Bomb here was a one-hit kill – and enough to prevent a dangerously-poor start for Hiromu. ***¾
Best of the Super Junior 30, Block B: Master Wato vs. YOH
We’re closing out with this – and it’s a pretty measured start as YOH and Wato traded wristlocks and knuckle locks in the opening stretch.
YOH pulls some Lio Rush-esque misdirection, only to get pulled into a Vendaval submission attempt from Wato, sending YOH scurrying to the outside… and literally running to the back of the room to get the hell away from any dives. So of course, it’s YOH who hits the first dive with a plancha after he’d made it back towards the ring. A neckbreaker from YOH keeps him pushing on as commentary started talking about how quiet crowds affected things during the pandemic. Can’t think why that’d suddenly be a topic! Wato returns with a bulldog after he charged out of the corner, while a dropkick took YOH outside for cover… only to get caught with a tope con giro.
Wato misses a springboard uppercut back in, but manages to finagle his way into Recientemente for a near-fall, before a Vendaval had YOH trapped in the middle of the ring. Cradling his way free to force a break, YOH’s able to return with a dropkick before eventually following up with a superplex. Wato breaks free for a springboard European uppercut, but a German suplex is flipped out of as YOH tried to end things with a Direct Drive. We’ve passed the 15-minute mark as the pair trade strikes, building up to a hockey fight as YOH’s elbows leave Wato laying. Another crack at Direct Drive is blocked, leading to Wato sitting down on a Dragon screw for a near-fall. YOH’s able to add in a reverse ‘rana and a superkick, before a wild lariat spun Wato to the mat… with a Direct Drive finally landing for the win. This was fine, but was starting to feel a little on the long side in spite of the crowd starting to get into it. ***¼
The tour picks up tomorrow in Aichi with Hiromu Takahashi and Lio Rush main eventing before a day-off…
Your standings after two matches:
Mike Bailey, Taiji Ishimori, Lio Rush (2-0 / 4pts)
DOUKI, TJP, Hiromu Takahashi, Titan (1-1 / 2pts)
KUSHIDA, SHO, Ryusuke Taguchi (0-2 / 0pts)
Robbie Eagles, Yoshinobu Kanemaru (2-0 / 4pts)
Francesco Akira, Clark Connors, El Desperado, Dan Moloney, Master Wato, YOH (1-1 / 2pts)
BUSHI, Kevin Knight (0-2 / 0pts)
I’m being harsh, given the strong finish to the card, but the crowd made this show a real struggle to get through – especially now restrictions are gone. If you can get through a 2023 rendition of the clap crowd atmosphere, where the bulk of the noise came from TJP of all people on commentary, then you’ll be fine… the rest of us might just want to put something else on in the background if you’re being a completist.