We’re getting towards what they call the “business end” of the Best of Super Junior tournament this year, and it’s back to block A as the crew travelled to Hiroshima for their fifth round of tournament matches.
Going into Tuesday’s matches, BUSHI and David Finlay wrestled each other knowing that the loser would be definitely eliminated – but if Kyle O’Reilly or Matt Sydal won their matches, BUSHI would also be eliminated regardless. Confused yet? We’ll clear it up at the end…
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block A: BUSHI  vs. David Finlay 
We begin today’s activities with the match that could well be meaningless by the end of the day, and we started off hot with Finlay ducking a clothesline from BUSHI as he came in, then hitting a dropkick… before missing a plancha to the outside. BUSHI had no trouble with his tope though. The fixed camera immediately came into play as we struggled to see BUSHI choking Finlay with the belt from his suit, before we got a visual of him using the same belt to whip the young boy.
Back inside, BUSHI uses his t-shirt for another choke spot, then got a two-count from a neckbreaker. Finlay remained grounded with some headscissors, but he was too close to the ropes for it to have much of an effect, and Finlay retaliated with a corkscrew uppercut. A diving forearm downs BUSHI, who gets thrown to the outside where Finlay’s plancha is successful this time.
An uppercut in the corner staggers BUSHI, who takes a Finlay roll for a near-fall, before the youngster applied the Stretch Muffler, but BUSHI eventually makes it to the ropes for the clean break. BUSHI counters another corner uppercut with an overhead kick, then a missile dropkick, before the two exchange forearm shots, ending with BUSHI kicking FInlay into the corner and delivering a running knee strike for a two-count.
Finlay ducks away as BUSHI went for the top rope codebreaker, and nearly got the win with a couple of roll-ups, but got dazed by a rewind enziguiri and a sit-out jawbreaker for a really near-fall. Unfazed, BUSHI came off the top with the MX (top rope codebreaker) to seal the win and eliminate Finlay from contention. Really solid, basic and enjoyable match to start us off. ***
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block A: Rocky Romero  vs. Matt Sydal 
Well, BUSHI did his bit to keep himself alive – but will this next match eliminate him? If Rocky Romero doesn’t win, the answer will be “yes”.
They started out tentatively, swapping waistlocks, headlocks and cravats, before rolling hiptosses left us with a stalemate. The match remained grounded, with Romero baseball sliding under Sydal, who froze for long enough to take an axehandle smash to his back, before replying with a tiltawhirl headscissors into a roll-up, then another headscissors as the pace quickened.
Romero landed on his feet from a monkey flip, but started taking kicks from Sydal, who ended up on the floor after Romero moved out of the way of a rope dive. Back inside, Romero hooked away at Sydal’s face, but Sydal returned fire with strikes, only to be cut off by an eye rake and a series of clotheslines. Sydal moved out of the way of a springboard curb stomp from Romero, and took him down with headscissors and a spinning wheel kick, but couldn’t make the cover, before getting a near-fall from a diving clothesline.
Sydal took too long for a standing moonsault and was rolled up for a near-fall, before blocking a Shiranui and then the legdrop/reverse DDT combo. Sydal finally pulls off the standing moonsault for a two-count, as Romero rolls to the outside for cover, where he’s joined by a diving dropkick through the middle ropes.
On the outside, Romero throws what I think was a fan’s drink (thanks, fixed cameras!) at Sydal, who them blocks a suplex into the ringpost, before Romero creatively uses the ring apron to pull off a Shiranui on the floor. Sydal just makes it back in at the count of 19, but walked straight into a springboard dropkick from Romero for a two-count, before they trade strikes, ending with Sydal catching a kick and dropping Romero with a powerbomb for a near-fall.
Playing possum, Romero caught Sydal up top as he went for a shooting star press, but was caught with a jumping knee as Sydal slipped out, followed by a leaping headscissors and then the shooting star press for the win… and BUSHI is out of contention! A really good match that was nothing like what I’d envisioned going in ***½
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block A: Gedo  vs. KUSHIDA 
The KUSHIDA comeback looks to continue here, and he starts by… scooting across the ring on his rear end towards Gedo?! Okay… KUSHIDA’s dropdown for Gedo almost saw him fall into a camel clutch early on, before Gedo had a less than clean break in the ropes. After a dropkick and a couple of kicks, KUSHIDA targetted Gedo’s left arm, stomping it into the mat, before connecting with a dropkick to the left shoulder. Gedo caught a kick aimed there and went for a schoolboy, but KUSHIDA switched it into an armbar as Gedo was forced to reach for the ropes.
A body block from Gedo nullified KUSHIDA’s handspring off the ropes, and Gedo took advantage of a rolling KUSHIDA, draping him off the apron and drilling him to the floor with a DDT. After making it back into the ring, took off some padding and whipped KUSHIDA hard into the exposed buckles, as Gedo tried to pin the blame on Jay White for it all, before sending KUSHIDA back into the corner.
Gedo kept KUSHIDA on the mat with a double chickenwing, dragging him back into the middle as he looked to make the ropes, before switching it into a crossface. KUSHIDA finally reached the ropes, then got a measure of revenge by sending Gedo into the exposed corner, before following up with a missile dropkick then a plancha to the outside as Gedo sought cover.
Inside, KUSHIDA went after Gedo’s left arm, but was quickly cut off, with a kick to the head earning the veteran a two-count, before they trade shots, ending with a Complete Shot (reverse STO) from Gedo, before they go back and forth with near-falls. Gedo shoved KUSHIDA into the referee, giving him an opening for a mule kick and the Gedo Clutch for a near fall. The end came for Gedo when he tried to his a Rainmaker, but KUSHIDA blocked it and rolled through into a Hoverboard lock, rolling Gedo into the middle of the ring for a tap-out win. Another fun match, with good back and forth – definitely worth a re-watch! ***½
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block A: Kyle O’Reilly  vs. Ryusuke Taguchi 
We end today’s action with a match to decide who’ll join Matt Sydal at the top of the standings (unless we get a draw, that is!). My guess is that we’ll have more than 4 hip attacks from Taguchi here, in spite of O’Reilly’s attempt to drag a match out of him.
Taguchi’s outfit today sees him wearing a banana head, just because, with the Young Boys on the outside completely clueless on how to handle it. As was the referee when Taguchi went all Jack Sexsmith on us by pulling a banana out of his tights.
Taguchi grounds O’Reilly early with a leglock, before diving into a headlock that was quickly reversed, with O’Reilly forcing a rope break from a simple hammerlock. They keep it simple, and then the comedy arrives when O’Reilly stomps on Taguchi’s rear-end, and selling like it was made of steel.
O’Reilly blocks a sunset flip and goes for an early armbar, with Taguchi reaching the ropes, before going for an armbreaker and then shoving Taguchi into the turnbuckles shoulder-first. Another hammerlock grounds Taguchi, before O’Reilly uses a hammerlock and a legsweep to send Taguchi down once more for a two-count.
O’Reilly’s attempts at a suplex get blocked, so he goes for another armbar that sends Taguchi reaching for the ropes, as this seems to be fairly one-way. And sure enough, that sparks a Taguchi comeback, sitting down on a sunset flip attempt, before connecting with a pair of close-range hip attacks. Two more hip attacks against a slumped-in-the-ropes O’Reilly follow, before Taguchi slides to the outside and makes it five with a leaping hip attack off the floor, getting him a near-fall back inside the ring.
Taguchi elbows his way free out of a Regalplex, but can’t stop a pair of rolling butterfly suplexes, before he manages to work free and take down O’Reilly with some Eddie Guerrero-esque rolling suplexes, and then an ankle lock. O’Reilly scored a two-count after rolling out of said ankle lock, but ran straight into hip attack number six as he went for a rebound lariat.
O’Reilly hopped on Taguchi’s back for a rear naked choke, but he lost his grip and fell into an ankle lock, with Taguchi scissoring the legs, but O’Reilly reversed into a Sharpshooter, forcing Taguchi into the ropes. O’Reilly ducked an enziguiri kick, but Taguchi was successful at the second attempt, before falling to a rebound lariat. A brainbuster scored O’Reilly another near-fall, but Taguchi scored a two-count himself from a roll-up, before going to the ankle lock, and then a wheelbarrow facebuster for another two-count.
Things didn’t last much longer for O’Reilly though, as he was caught in another ankle lock, with Taguchi this time forcing the submission by tap-out. Even though I’m not exactly a Taguchi fan, this was another enjoyable match, with good back and forth – although I wasn’t thrilled by the constant spamming of the same holds on both sides of the match. ***½
Some good long matches today, and we finally have a few wrestlers out of contention, with BUSHI, Gedo and David Finlay mathematically unable to make it to the finals now. Rocky Romero is almost out as well, needing a minor miracle and/or some injuries to make it.
After five matches, Block A looks like this:
Matt Sydal, Ryusuke Taguchi (4 wins, 8 points)
KUSHIDA, Kyle O’Reilly (3 wins, 6 points)
BUSHI (eliminated), Rocky Romero (2 wins, 4 points)
David Finlay (eliminated), Gedo (eliminated) (1 win, 2 points)
Our remaining block A matches are on Friday and Monday, with Friday’s Korakuen Hall show seeing Gedo vs. Rocky Romero, Kyle O’Reilly vs. David Finlay, BUSHI vs. Ryusuke Taguchi and KUSHIDA vs. Matt Sydal. Monday’s finale in Sendai features David Finlay vs, Matt Sydal, Kyle O’Reilly vs. Rocky Romero, Gedo vs. Ryusuke Taguchi and BUSHI vs. KUSHIDA.
With four matches gone, Block B remains like this:
Ricochet (3 wins, 6 points)
Beretta, Bobby Fish, Chase Owens, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask, Volador Jr. (2 wins, 4 points)
Will Ospreay (1 win, 2 points)
Block B resumes on Thursday in Nagoya, with Chase Owens vs. Volador Jr., Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. Tiger Mask, Beretta vs. Ricochet and Bobby Fish vs. Will Ospreay in a match that Will pretty much needs to win to stay alive. Then on Sunday, in Takasaki, block B has Beretta vs. Tiger Mask, Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. Will Ospreay, Bobby Fish vs. Chase Owens and Ricochet vs. Volador Jr. Finally, Monday’s block matches finale in Sendai has block B bouts as Volador Jr. vs. Will Ospreay, Chase Owens vs. Ricochet, Bobby Fish vs. Tiger Mask and Beretta vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger.
After Thursday’s show in Nagoya (which’ll be posted on New Japan World on Friday, so expect a Thursday review plus a live show review going into the weekend), we should be able to have a better handle on block B’s standings (and make a more informed prediction!)
If you’re looking to join up to New Japan World for the remainder of the tournament, Thursday’s block B matches will be added late on Thursday night/early Friday morning UK time, whilst the remainder of the tournament will be shown live:
Block A – Friday June 3 – Korakuen Hall, Tokyo @ 1830 JST; 1030 BST; 0530 EST; 0230 PST
Block B – Sunday June 5 – New Sunpia Takasaki, Gunma @ 1600 JST, 0800 BST; 0300 EST; 0000 PST
Both Blocks/Final Matches – Monday June 6 – Sendai Sun Plaza, Sendai @ 1830 JST; 1030 BST; 0530 EST; 0230 PST
Tournament Final – Tuesday June 7 – Sendai Sun Plaza, Sendai @ 1830 JST; 1030 BST; 0530 EST; 0230 PST
We’ll have reviews of all of the live shows as soon as we can – schedules permitting!