Another day, another full New Japan show, as Osaka is the venue for Sunday’s instalment from the Best of Super Junior tournament, and we’re going back to block A.
After Friday’s show split opinion – particularly with the main event that was either loved or hated, depending on your view of the wrestling business – we’re back to more traditional action, with KUSHIDA and Ryusuke Taguchi main eventing. They were in the smaller Municipal Central Auditorium today, ahead of New Japan’s return to the city’s Jo-Hall in three weeks’ time for their Dominion event.
Tomohiro Ishii, Beretta & Will Ospreay vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Michael Elgin & Volador Jr.
We start out with the usual tag match featuring B-block guys, and there was good stuff early on with Tenzan and Ishii charging at each other like bulls. Ospreay got a good response when he was tagged in against Volador, and Ospreay showed a nice preview of their impending block B match.
Reacting to one of the biggest detractors of his match on Friday, Ospreay pulled off a Vader bomb on Volador. As long as Will doesn’t copy something else from Vader (ahem, Tweeting from bed), we’ll be OK.
Beretta turned a slingshot DDT from Volador into a Northern Lights suplex for a near-fall, as Ishii returned for more stiff chops on the Mexican. Volador escaped a suplex from Ishii and was about to make a hot tag to Tenzan, only for Ospreay to cut him off, but some headscissors meant that Volador was finally able to get the tag, as Tenzan cleared house. We finally got Elgin and Beretta to complete the pairings, in what was Elgin’s first action, but Elgin took out Ospreay with a slam, before a military press slam on Beretta got a near-fall.
A tornado DDT from Beretta took down Elgin briefly, before everyone piled in on Elgin with dropkicks, somehow ending with Volador hitting an Asai moonsault to Ospreay, as Elgin and Beretta went at it, ending with Elgin catching a codebreaker attempt and drilling Beretta with a buckle bomb, then a sit-out powerbomb for the win. Good opener, but a little rushed as usual on these cards – but hey, at least none of these guys outstayed their welcome! ***
Katsuyori Shibata, Bobby Fish, Juice Robinson & Jay White vs. Yuji Nagata, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask & Manabu Nakanishi
We’re onto the young-guys vs. old-guys feud again now, with Katsuyori Shibata’s band of merry men against the Blue Justice Crew. Speaking of, Nagata and Shibata start out with a lock-up, which Shibata breaks by booting Nagata in the head, before completely ignoring a tag from Juice Robinson.
Jushin Liger comes in and stomps on Robinson’s foot for being too cocky, before Nakanishi comes in with a cross body off the top for good measure. Nakanishi actually gets taken down with flying headscissors and a back suplex by Robinson, but everyone tags out so we get Tiger Mask and Bobby Fish to trade some kicks. More Nagata and Shibata sees Shibata take the NEVER champion to the cleaners, with Shibata getting a near-fall from a butterfly suplex, before Nagata dumps Shibata with an Exploder.
Jay White comes in to continue the work on Nagata, connecting with uppercuts and a suplex for a near-fall, before the rest of Shibata’s crew knock the older guys off the apron, so they can quadruple-team Nagata. White gets a dropkick on Nagata or a near-fall before the ring clears out, and things go south for the New Zealander, who quickly takes the Backdrop Hold as Nagata scores the win. Not a bad match, but again, insanely rushed. **¾
As everyone leaves the ring, I finally noticed what the metal crate in the aisle was for… it was literally holding up the projector for the video screen. That seems awfully low rent!
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block A: Gedo  vs. David Finlay 
Gedo worked over Finlay’s arm early on, looking to negate the uppercuts, but Finlay returned with an arm wringer, before Gedo took a shoulder tackle and rolled out of the ring. Finlay followed him out and threw Gedo back, but Gedo went to the outside as they played cat and mouse a few times.
Gedo used the timekeeper’s hammer on Finlay, as they went in front of the announcer’s desk, as Finlay actually collapsed the table when he was thrown into it. More hammer shots followed, as Finlay became rather acquainted with the timekeeper’s table, then the timekeeper’s chair. Finally back inside, Gedo hooked away at Finlays mouth, before using a rear chin lock to keep him grounded.
Finlay fired back with a knee lift, but failed at an uppercut attempt, and an effort at a dropkick as Gedo hooked the ropes, before tying him up in a double chickenwing until Finlay made the ropes. Gedo went for a superkick but his foot was caught, sparking another fightback from Finlay, with a trio of uppercuts decking the veteran, and getting Finlay a near-fall.
Finlay locked Gedo in the Stretch Muffler, dragging him into the ring after he almost made the ropes, before Gedo made the rope break at the second time of asking. Finlay went back to the hold, but Gedo blocked out, and almost snatched a win with a roll-up from a Finlay roll. A couple of kicks to the head earned Gedo a near-fall, whilst a uranage backbreaker got Finlay a two-count, before a reversal from a Finlay roll led to Gedo getting a roll-up, which Finlay reversed to score the surprise pin! That got a good reaction, as the match was – albeit basic – good for what it was. Gedo pitched a fit in the ring afterwards, as Finlay celebrated his first Best of Super Junior win. **½
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block A: BUSHI  vs. Rocky Romero 
BUSHI needs a win here to stay alive in the tournament, after falling in his first three matches. Usual stuff to open with, as Romero held into the ropes and ducked an oncoming BUSHI, then met him with a knee off the apron on the outside, before throwing him back into the ring and setting up for the Shinsuke knee for a near-fall.
BUSHI crotched Romero into the ringpost and held on for added pressure, before going for the usual t-shirt choke spot. The referee ignored BUSHI’s cover as he took his sweet time throwing the t-shirt out of the ring, before making a two-count from a BUSHI neckbreaker. Romero elbowed out of a sleeperhold, but was dropkicked to the outside where he was met with a tope from BUSHI, and only just beat the count back in.
Romero returned the favour from earlier when he rammed BUSHI into the ringpost, crotch-first, as we had another count-out tease, going into a flurry of offence from Romero, ending with a dropkick to a diving BUSHI for a near-fall. BUSHI blocked a Shiranui attempt, before launching Romero into the turnbuckles and almost getting the pin. BUSHI succeed with a rewind enziguiri after seeing Romero fail seconds earlier, but after using the referee as a human shield, BUSHI used the green mist and landed a code breaker off the top rope to get the win and break his duck. Good match with some fun spots… and that now means that everyone in Block A has points! ***¼
Satoshi Kojima, Ricochet, Yoshitatsu & Captain New Japan vs. Kenny Omega, Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens
We kicked off the second half with Satoshi Kojima against the Bullet Club – and of course, they had plunder.
Simple stuff to open with, as Yoshitatsu and Takahashi exchanged holds, before Yoshitatsu overcame some cheating to knock down Yujiro with a Triple H high knee. Captain New Japan came in to be his usual bumbling self, missing a double clothesline and getting stood on by Fale by the ropes. Takahashi came back in and just looked bored, with Captain New Japan taking more punishment before finally tagging in Ricochet, which is where the match went up a notch.
Ricochet and Omega worked well together, with Ricochet rolling up into a DDT on Omega, which turned out to be the cue for Kojima to come in and chop the holy hell out of Omega. Kojima pulled up Omega’s shirt, but after learning from last time, he’d put a second t-shirt on underneath… no problem for Kojima though, at least until Owens and Takahashi combined to smash a garbage can lid over Kojima’s head as he was stuck on the top rope.
After that, a Koji cutter downed Omega, with the Captain coming back in to not suck, but he still missed a headbutt off the top after Kojima’d downed Omega with a Michinoku driver. Kojima and Yoshitatsu broke up a cover after an Omega moonsault, but after the Captain almost stole it with a roll-up, earning cheers from the entire commentary role, Omega took the win with a Slingblade and a High Fly Flow as he continued his Tanahashi baiting. Another good eight-man tag with these groups, and thankfully with restrained plunder use! ***½
Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & EVIL
After Okada’s entrance featured him almost colliding with the projector, Naito’s glorious trolling of Milano Collection AT on commentary continued here, as did Jay White’s secret title reign, with Naito handing him the belt on the way in.
EVIL and Goto started us off with huge strikes for a while, before YOSHI-HASHI came in and leapt into SANADA, lighting him up with chops in the corner. Naito and Okada went at it on the floor, in front of Milano and Jushin “Thunder” Liger on commentary, as SANADA kept on top of YOSHI-HASHI with stomps in the ring. YOSHI-HASHI and his taped shoulder didn’t fare too much better when Naito came in, and a phantom tag allowed EVIL to complete the hattrick of pain from Los Ingobernables de Japon.
A SANADA dropkick downed YOSHI-HASHI for a near-fall, but the latter was able to hit a suplex into a neckbreaker, but couldn’t make the hot tag as Naito re-entered the fray. Okada finally got the hot tag in, and scored a two-count following a flapjack, but quickly got taken down with a Koji clutch after interference from EVIL and SANADA.
EVIL dispatched of Goto after he broke up the hold, but Naito saw an attempt at his Gloria and Destino holds blocked, before Okada dropped him with the Heavy Rain. Goto and EVIL returned to striking, with a spinning heel kick and a bulldog getting Goto a near-fall, before Okada saved Goto from a double military press slam.
Things broke down again with Goto and EVIL left in the ring, ending with a Goto lariat dropping EVIL, along with an ushigorishi, before landing the final cut (reverse DDT/elbow) for the win. Another fun match between these teams, slowly building up their ongoing feuds – which is the way it’s meant to be! ***½
Post-match, Naito attacked the referee (a best guess, as we didn’t see anything but the aftermath), before SANADA and YOSHI-HASHI resumed their war, hell… the match just seemed to continue outside the ring for a while, with Okada stomping away on EVIL, before Naito went over to troll Milano Collection AT some more.
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block A: Matt Sydal  vs. Kyle O’Reilly 
Good stuff early on as Sydal tried to counter O’Reilly in the early going, and largely succeeded, as they switched headlocks, legscissors and more, before they hand a standoff after an attempted head kick by O’Reilly.
Sydal went up top early on, but O’Reilly recovered forcing Sydal to jump down, before O’Reilly lit him up with kicks on the mat, and eventually trapping him in some bodyscissors. O’Reilly went for a couple of pinfall attempts, either side of a painful-looking abdominal stretch, but Sydal used the turnbuckle pads to rebound off of, taking O’Reilly to the mat with a kick to the head.
Sydal remained grounded with a triangle choke, but he rolled to the outside and lured O’Reilly in, ducking a kick as his opponent got nothing but the ringpost. O’Reilly returned fire by shoving Sydal as he went for an Asai moonsault, before setting him in a chair, this time landing a dropkick (after his last attempt saw it reversed into an armbar by KUSHIDA earlier in the tournament).
A kick from Sydal saw him eventually folded inside out after O’Reilly drilled him with a rebound lariat, before Sydal almost stole the win with a suplex into a hurricanrana for another two-count. The end came when Sydal headbutter O’Reilly to avoid a superplex, before landing the diving double knees, and then a shooting star press for the win. An absolutely fantastic match between these two, at just about the perfect length of time as well. ****
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block A: Ryusuke Taguchi  vs. KUSHIDA
Taguchi came out aping KUSHIDA’s ring gear, wearing a green “puffer” jacket as he resumed his Nakamura-taunting entrance. He’s now firmly back in my “do not like” list after that Sydal match… Still, at least Milano got the sunglasses.
By the way, before this started, I’m going for “over 6” when it comes to actual hip attacks landed. Lets see how much spamming Taguchi can do here.
Taguchi and KUSHIDA traded wristlocks early, before the latter pulled off a surfboard, and going to a headlock for a spell. KUSHIDA tried for a Hoverboard lock after a trip, but instead went for a snapmare and a kick, before going to work on Taguchi’s left arm. Taguchi rolled through a sunset flip and hit a dropkick to the seated KUSHIDA, but didn’t go for a pin, and we have our first hip attack (even if it’s like a Stinkface in the ropes), before landing two more, and then a leaping hip attack onto the apron from the floor. I’m counting that first one.
Back inside, Taguchi used some head scissors to keep KUSHIDA grounded, and got a one-count from an awkward looking transition into a cover. Taguchi went to roll up KUSHIDA like a pretzel, adding in an arm stretch, getting a near-fall, before hitting a dropkick as KUSHIDA went for a springboard off the ropes.
Taguchi took his time after landing on the apron, and got caught in an armbreaker by KUSHIDA, who followed up with a leaping Hoverboard lock off the apron to the floor, a move that surely comes within an inch of dislocation if done badly. KUSHIDA found himself caught in an ankle lock in the ring, but freed himself and used a handstand into a kick to Taguchi, sending the “Funky Weapon” to the outside, and following up with a somersault plancha to the floor.
KUSHIDA landed a moonsault off the top rope for a two-count, but a follow-up Hoverboard lock quickly ended as Taguchi made the ropes. Another Hoverboard lock followed as KUSHIDA mounted Taguchi, but the move got switched into some rolling suplexes and another ankle lock, with Taguchi eventually scissoring the leg.
KUSHIDA rolled out of an attempted Dodon for a near-fall, and rolled Taguchi for another Hoverboard lock as they traded near-falls. A Pele kick dazed Taguchi, who fired back with a Dodon for a near-fall. After that, they slumped to their knees for a battle of forearm shots, rising to their feet to continue the strikes, with a pair of enziguiri’s seeing Taguchi win the battle… and go all Nakamura.
Thankfully, KUSHIDA caught Taguchi with a Flatliner in the corner, and an Emerald Fusion in the middle of the ring, getting him a two-count, but Taguchi crumpled at a tiltawhirl slam attempt, but they saved it to the point where Taguchi got a two-count before a KUSHIDA kick out ended in him locking in a Hoverboard lock, and ensuring that the KUSHIDA comeback continued with another win. ****
A fantastic match here, and I dare say it was a KUSHIDA carry-job, given how hit and miss Taguchi was… but that’d be me being mad at overestimating how many hip attacks we’d get.
Compared to Friday’s show, I’d say that this just about shaded it. Whilst there were no blowaway matches on the card like Ospreay/Ricochet, we had two four-star tournament matches and a wonderfully solid undercard that makes this show well worth going out of your way to see.
After today’s matches, block A has a three-way tie at the top, with Matt Sydal’s win meaning that he joins the man he beat, Kyle O’Reilly, and Ryusuke Taguchi at the top with 3 wins/6 points. Second place is now a two-way tie between KUSHIDA and Rocky Romero on 2 wins/4 points, whilst BUSHI, Gedo and Finlay are bottom with 1 win/2 points.
With block B having their fourth round of matches on Monday, they currently have Beretta, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Ricochet and Volador Jr all leading on four points, with Bobby Fish, Tiger Mask, Will Ospreay and Chase Owens all on two.
From Monday’s card, we’re back to New Japan World showing just the tournament matches for a while. We’ll be mirroring them – of course, we’ll still providing coverage of the live shows in full (when they air) and tournament matches (when they aren’t live) shortly after they’re available…