New Japan were back at Korakuen Hall on Friday for the latest stop in this year’s Best of Super Junior tournament, and it was a block B day for a card headlined by a tournament match, between Ricochet and Will Ospreay.
This show was broadcast live – in full – on New Japan World, featuring eight matches, including the latest chapter of the Los Ingobernables de Japon vs. Okada/Ishii/Goto feud. Oh, and Jushin “Thunder” Liger was named on the card too, so his stretcher job from Wednesday’s show didn’t translate to him being pulled from any shows.
YOSHI-HASHI & Rocky Romero vs. Matt Sydal & Michael Elgin
Since Beretta’s in block B action later today, Rocky Romero gets a new tag team partner for today… in YOSHI-HASHI. I call downgrade!
Standard stuff early on, but Sydal dropkicked Romero after he hooked himself in the ropes, before Elgin tagged in and punched YOSHI-HASHI, leading to stereo bodyslams from Big Mike and Little Matt. Elgin came in with a pair of Superman Forearms on YOSHI-HASHI, before dropping Romero off the apron with a pump kick.
Sydal came in and leapt over an onrushing Romero, before taking him down with a heel kick, then going to work with kicks to the thigh and a head kick, before YOSHI-HASHI broke up a pin from a standing moonsault. Elgin threw YOSHI-HASHI to the outside and gave him a cannonball off the apron for good measure, whilst Romero fired back on Sydal in the ring briefly, and almost snatched a win by sitting down on a hurricanrana, with the referee stopping the pin after noticing Romero was holding the ropes. But moments later, Romero did score the win with a roll-up on Sydal. Good, solid opener **¾
Katsuyori Shibata, KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi, Juice Robinson & Jay White vs. Yuji Nagata, Hiroshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi, Kyle O’Reilly & David Finlay
Let’s flag this as “card subject to change”, as the original line-up was edited from an eight-man tag into a ten-man tag, with Messrs. Tenzan and Taguchi being added to the teams. This is clearly continuing the tensions from Shibata and Nagata earlier in the month, but we start with KUSHIDA and O’Reilly looking to continue from where they left off last Saturday.
KUSHIDA goes for the Hoverboard lock early on, only for Nagata to break it up, and before Shibata comes into kick off Nagata and O’Reilly as they went for more submissions. A sleeperhold on the outside saw Shibata floor Nagata, and we went back to Robinson and Nakanishi inside the ring. That went about as well as you’d expect for young Juice, although he was able to drop Nakanishi with a back suplex, before bringing in Taguchi, who from the off motioned for a bunch of hip attacks. Enough already Ryusuke!
Yep, sure enough, after a snapmare took down Tenzan, Taguchi hit a pair of hip attacks and got charged down by a Tenzan shoulder block. David Finlay added to Taguchi’s woe’s with some uppercuts, and we quickly moved to Nagata and Shibata lighting each other up with kicks and forearms. A nice brief snapshot of their feud from before Shibata lost the NEVER title.
Jay White was brought in, and took down Nagata with forearms and a suplex, before locking the veteran in a Rings of Saturn, which was broken up by O’Reilly as the ring flooded with both teams. After a knee to the midsection, Nagata regained the offence, and quickly took the win with a backdrop hold on White. A good match, with some unusual pairings that made this match come across as fresh. Sadly, it felt a little on the short side – but that’s always the way when you get anything above six-man tags in New Japan. ***
Nagata and Shibata continued going at it after the final bell, so something tells me they’ll be rematching in the not too distant future.
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block B: Chase Owens  vs. Tiger Mask 
The day’s first tournament match sees Chase Owens come out with Yujiro Takahashi once more, and Owens attacks Tiger Mask the second he touched the ring, powerslamming him off the top rope, before Takahashi carried Tiger Mask to the back as Chase Owens ordered the count out to start. That’s a novel way to use a cornerman – have him carry your opponent to the back… ah, but Tiger Mask returned to easily beat the count.
Takahashi interfered liberally as referee Red Shoes seemed oblivious to it all, but Tiger Mask was able to get an armbar on Owens, forcing a rope break, but the first five minutes here was pretty much one-way traffic. And not very entertaining traffic at that.
Owens dropped Tiger Mask with a full nelson into a backbreaker for a near-fall, before Tiger Mask reversed a package piledriver attempt into an armbar. Takahashi again interfered by pulling out the ref, but ate a superkick from Owens, who then kicked Tiger Mask low. After rolling in the ref, Owens went for the package piledriver again, but Tiger Mask backdropped his way out of it, sitting on Owens to claim his first win of the tournament.
This was probably the worst match of the tournament so far, in my mind – all one-way, with the usual Bullet Club shenanigans meaning little because it came from the C-team (and that’s being generous!). *½
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block B: Beretta  vs. Bobby Fish 
Ah, things get better here – two guys who are actually interesting! A simple enough start sees Fish try for a slingshot DDT off the apron and into the ring, but Beretta catches it and turns it into a Northern Lights suplex for a near-fall.
Fish returned fire with a back suplex for a two-count, before a tornado DDT using the turnbuckles scored a near-fall for Beretta. Beretta countered a suplex, with both men ending up outside on the floor, with Beretta’s tope effort being caught and turned into an Exploder suplex on the outside. After the usual count-out tease, Beretta just about made it in at the count of 19, but returned to some knees from Fish, and an Exploder into the turnbuckles for a near-fall.
Bobby Fish missed with a moonsault after dropping Beretta with a backbreaker, but the Roppongi Vice member found himself caught in a heel hook after a jumping knee was caught. Beretta rolled back to get a two-count on Fish – and to free himself – before scoring another near-fall with a Shining Wizard. Fish fought out of a Dudebuster attempt, but charged into the feet of Beretta, who pushed him to the canvas.
Beretta ended up being caught on the top rope by Fish, who countered with a sitout slam superplex for a near-fall. Fish then took a near-fall as Beretta tried to roll-up, but from the kick-out, Fish locked Beretta in another heel hook for the win via tap-out – getting the ROH TV champion his first two points after an enjoyable match to round off the first half of the show. ***
Satoshi Kojima, Captain New Japan & Yoshitatsu vs. Kenny Omega, Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi
So, the injury to Hiroshi Tanahashi (and subsequent stretcher job last week) has meant that Satoshi Kojima’s taking his spot in this match, and of course, Kenny Omega and the Bullet Club C-team are out with various plunder, and a ladder as well.
The usual Bullet Club jump start saw the ring announcer knocked down, as Fale went to work on Captain New Japan, with some copious double- and triple-teaming. After being tagged in, Omega side-stepped a shoulder tackle from the captain, with Takahashi coming in to score a near-fall… at least, until Kojima came in to break it up and stomp on his own partner for good measure!
Yoshitatsu came in to do his Triple H tribute routine, with repeated knees to the face, and a spinebuster that looked like a rotating chokeslam. Takahashi quickly regained momentum though, getting a two-count from a low dropkick, before a Blue Thunder Bomb created an opening for Yoshitatsu to tag in Kojima, who went to work on Omega and Fale.
Omega took the rapid-chops in the corner from Kojima, who seemed to be really enjoying himself here… well, at least until Omega waffled him with the lid of a garbage can, before getting a near-fall from a Finlay roll and a moonsault. Kojima clotheslined the arm of Omega, before making the unwise move to tag in Captain New Japan, who missed a diving headbutt after Kojima had dropped Omega with a Michinoku driver.
Everyone came in to take a move, culminating in Yoshitatsu taking a superkick from Omega, before Captain New Japan almost shocked the Intercontinental champion with a couple of roll-ups. Things went south after the involvement of Bad Luck Fale, as the Captain took a slingblade from Omega, then a High Fly Flow to secure the win. A decent six-man tag, without too much of the Americanised garbage… at least, bell-to-bell! ***
And sure enough, Omega grabs the ladder after the match and uses it to choke Captain New Japan, as they try to repeat the Pillman spot that took out Tanahashi… before Kojima and Yoshitatsu make the save.
Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto & Gedo vs. Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI, SANADA & EVIL
The non-tournament action wrapped up with an eight-man tag between Los Ingobernables de Japon, and “Kazuchika Okada and friends”. Milano Collection AT disappears from commentary, and goes to the back to avoid another confrontation with Naito, who instead tries to bully KUSHIDA (who’s on commentary) into holding the ropes for him. No such luck, as Okada instead hits a somersault plancha to the outside to start this off.
BUSHI takes a triple-team from Gedo, Ishii and Okada, as Naito is shown on the outside to troll the returning Milano Collection AT. BUSHI tried to fire back on Ishii with forearms, but they proved ineffective, despite the attempted interference of EVIL. Once Naito and SANADA got involved, Ishii quickly went to the mat, as Naito tossed Gedo into the apron, and things broke down as they usually do with these two groups.
Ishii gets choked with BUSHI’s t-shirt, and things don’t get better as EVIL easily floors him with chops, before Naito came in to continue picking apart the former ROH TV champion for a brief while. EVIL and BUSHI combine to get a near-fall on Ishii, with the latter dropkicking the former off the top rope, but Ishii responds with a suplex to BUSHI, but finds that he has no partners to tag in, as they were all knocked to the floor.
Hirooki Goto eventually gets the tag in to face EVIL, with the latter being dropped by some forearm strikes, before EVIL comes back with a clothesline off the ropes. Goto tags in to Okada, who cleans house, before Okada reverses a tombstone piledriver attempt, and dropkicks Okada after a sunset flip-like seesaw from BUSHI.
Naito locks Okada in the Koji clutch, at least until Gedo punched him free, before seeing an attempt at Gloria averted as Okada rolled out. SANADA and Okada go back and forth, with Okada landing the Heavy Rain, before Gedo scored a near-fall with a superkick on SANADA. A rewind enziguiri from BUSHI dropped Gedo briefly, but he recovered to score a near-fall as things got spotty and the ring filled up once more, with SANADA ultimately getting a near-fall on Gedo with the TKO, before locking in the Skull End (Dragon Sleeper with bodyscissors) for the win via submission.
A good six-man tag, but it felt like it broke down too often in too many places. Post-match, YOSHI-HASHI came in to help his CHAOS stable mates, but fell to the Skull End, as BUSHI sprayed Ishii with the mist. YOSHI-HASHI then got hung by Naito, using SANADA’s t-shirt, with Okada making the save ***
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block B: Volador Jr.  vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger 
Back to tournament action now, with Volador showing off his light-up jacket in Korakuen Hall (I guess that gimmick’s been freed up, eh?), whilst Liger looks to have no ill effects of the beatdown from Chase Owens on Wednesday that saw him stretchered out of the ring.
Volador and Liger neutralise each other in the early going, with Liger going for the seated surfboard in the opening minutes, turning it into a pendulum swing as he tried for a submission. Wisely, Volador scurried out of the ring after Liger lost the hold and tried to re-apply it, before sending Liger to the outside with some headscissors, before meeting him with a tope con hilo.
Liger backdropped Volador onto the apron, but was quickly met with an enziguiri, before the veteran caught Volador on the top rope, bringing him back into the ring with a superplex. A Ligerbomb gets a near-fall, but Volador hangs onto the top rope as Liger tried for a super hurricanrana, instead coming off the top with a dropkick. Liger succeeds with a La Magistral cradle for a near-fall, before blocking a reverse ‘rana attempt as he goes back to the Mexican surfboard. Irony!
We almost get a draw as Volador leant back in the hold, giving us a double-pinning predicament, before Liger lands a plancha onto Volador on the outside. Back inside, Volador gets a near-fall from a back cracker, then takes off his own mask as he goes up for a moonsault that ultimately gets nothing but Liger’s feet. That acted as the set up for Liger to go up top, but he’s caught by an enziguiri, and then a One-Man Spanish Fly as Volador secured the win. A really solid tournament match, and definitely worth the watch. ***½
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block B: Will Ospreay  vs. Ricochet 
We end with a great-looking main event, which is a rematch of the fantastic main event from EVOLVE over WrestleMania weekend – http://backbodydrop.com/blog/reviews/evolve-59-delayed-demand-thoughts – these two guys have wrestled each other three times in singles matches before, with Ricochet holding a 2-1 record.
Just as an aside – and my only nitpick here – I’m not too keen on Ospreay’s overuse of the Union Jack in his ring gear. They didn’t have Volador with the Mexican flag, or any of the ROH guys with Canadian or American flags, so why have this exception?
An absolutely blistering start saw both guys go for repeated headscissors, before a standoff had everyone – even the referee – applauding! Ospreay met Ricochet with a dropkick off the top as Ricochet had tried to meet with a clothesline, but was only getting a one-count, before he caught Ricochet with an Octopus hold (I almost called it an Ostrich hold… damn you Twitter), until the latter made the ropes.
Ricochet rolled out of the corner and drilled Ospreay with a DDT that send him to the outside, in prime position to take a twisting somersault dive from Ricochet, then a somersault senton back into the ring. Some kicks expose Ospreay’s potty-mouth in the corner, before Ricochet catches him in a reverse abdominal stretch, and another hold that looks like a shoulder breaker in suspended motion. An attempted Phenomenal Forearm gets turned into a tiltawhirl backbreaker by Ricochet, but Ospreay lands a jawbreaker followed by stiff forearms… then a handspring kick after he was slapped silly.
Ospreay lands the springboard (Phenomenal) forearm at the second attempt, then follows up with a sky twister press to the outside, before kissing the camera. Anyone got a cloth for that? A Code Red on the way back in gets Ospreay a two-count, before he backflips Ricochet’s attempted handspring kick, with Ricochet landing a Regalplex for another near-fall. Ricochet blocks a few kicks, but gets caught as he tried to mount Ospreay in the corner, setting himself up for a superkick attempt, only for Ricochet to block as the two then went for moonsaults, and finally dropping the other to the mat with stereo head kicks.
After getting back up, they went for more spectacular moves, with Ospreay being dropped on the apron with a death valley driver, before quickly popping up to give Ricochet a reverse ‘rana on the floor. At least they both sold after that quick exchange of two devastating moves, then beat the 20 count back into the ring at the last possible moment.
Back in the ring they stared off, with Ospreay slapping Ricochet down, as they went back to exchanging strikes, before Ospreay ducked a Benadryller, with Ricochet ducking a Rainmaker in exchange. Ospreay dropped Ricochet with a C4 (one man Spanish Fly) in the ring for a near-fall. Ospreay’s springboard stunner was countered into a Blue Thunder Bomb, followed by some rolling suplexes and a standing shooting star press as Ricochet got another two-count.
Ricochet went up top but got nothing but the mat with a 630 Splash, as Ospreay drilled him with the Essex Destroyer (think Canadian Destroyer, but with a DDT instead) for another two-count. Two rapid-fire kicks rile up Ricochet, as he catches another handspring effort, but again misses the Benadryller as Ospreay connects with the Springboard Cutter to seal the win.
This was definitely north of four stars, and whatever you feel it should be, I’m not going to argue; I’ve seen scores between ****¼ and the full ***** – but for me, there were a few parts in there where “forgetful selling” became annoying (like the apron bump and floor bump in quick succession). ****1/4
The main event made the whole show, but save for one match, it’s worth watching. Heck, I even recommend watching the whole show without skipping over Tiger Mask/Chase Owens… if only to appreciate the main event even more!
So, with both blocks having done three matches each, Block B now has nobody on zero points, with two four-way ties: Beretta, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Ricochet and Volador Jr all lead the way on four points, with Bobby Fish, Tiger Mask, Will Ospreay and Chase Owens all on two. Block A, of course, remains unchanged: Kyle O’Reilly and Ryusuke Taguchi on six points, Rocky Romero and Matt Sydal on four, Gedo and KUSHIDA on two, and BUSHI and David Finlay on zero.
With New Japan World only showing selected cards from the Best of Super Junior tournament in full, we’ll be mirroring them – providing coverage of those shows (when they air) and tournament matches (when they aren’t live) shortly after they’re available…