The A-Block were back in action on Monday, as this year’s New Japan Best of Super Juniors tournament rolled on, with the Tsubame Civic Gymnasium in Niigata our latest home for tournament action.
As with Sunday’s card, only the tournament matches were posted on New Japan World… and we’ll now be able to replace those zeros with scores – remember, a win gets you two points, and a draw just the one point.
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block A: BUSHI  vs. Matt Sydal 
After losing to Gedo and Ryusuke Taguchi respectively, both men were looking for their first wins of the tournament here, and oh joy, we’re back to the fixed camera again. We at least get to see a video screen this time, so it’s a slight step up from Sunday’s show, even if the decor is fairly drab.
BUSHI starts by killing time, sitting on the top turnbuckles, then goes into headlock takedowns and flip overs, with Sydal taking down BUSHI with headscissors. BUSHI low bridges Sydal to the outside, but fakes the dive, before swapping places to kill some more time. BUSHI’s t-shirt comes off and is used to choke Sydal, with BUSHI following up with another choke in the ropes.
Sydal remains grounded with with some legscissors, which he breaks by rolling into the ropes, before he mounts a comeback by kicking away at BUSHI’s legs, then landing a legdrop-assisted reverse DDT. Sydal switches a back body drop on BUSHI into an Emerald Fusion for a near fall, but BUSHI gets the knees up when a standing moonsault is attempted.
A missile dropkick sends Sydal out to the floor, where BUSHI catches him with a tope, and BUSHI returns to the ring to pose a la Naito as Sydal takes his time returning. Sydal flips out of a backslide and levels BUSHI with a dropkick, but gets sent into the top turnbuckle and staggers into a codebreaker. The end came for BUSHI when he fell to a hurricanrana from the top rope (as Sydal stood on the mat), before a Shooting Star Press sealed it. Good match, but that hurricanrana to a higher opponent is a little on the contrived side, no? ***
Sydal claims his first win of the tournament, whilst BUSHI moves on to a 0-2 record.
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block A: Gedo  vs. Kyle O’Reilly 
From two men with 0-1 records, to the only bout involving two men who won their opening match, as Kyle O’Reilly took on Gedo here.
O’Reilly starts cleanly, by taking Gedo to the ropes before a clean break, then going for the headlock takedown. Gedo reverses it, as O’Reilly tried for a pinfall by rolling through, before a sunset flip from Gedo was reversed into an armbar. Gedo escaped to the floor, and repeatedly broke the count, only to use it as a way to tempt O’Reilly towards the rope for an attack that sent him to the floor (and out of view!). They teased yet another count-out finish, with O’Reilly rolling back in, where he was immediately whipped into a turnbuckle after Gedo’d removed the padding. Another whip to the unprotected corner followed, as Gedo kept up the pressure with a Curt Hennig-like snapmare to the seated O’Reilly, then a double chicken-wing, forcing O’Reilly into the ropes.
O’Reilly retaliates with an armbreaker, then a flying forearm into the corner, before transitioning a butterfly suplex into another armbar. Gedo rolls up for a two-count, but he gets drilled with kicks and punches, before ducking a rebound lariat and dropping O’Reilly with a Flatliner.
Another double chicken-wing sends O’Reilly reaching for the ropes, but Gedo switches the move into a crossface, as O’Reilly eventually scrambles into the ropes to break the hold. O’Reilly blocks another Flatliner, then hits a kick to the back of Gedo’s head, as a brainbuster gets O’Reilly a near-fall, before the armbar forces a quick tapout. Another solid, albeit unspectacular, match, as O’Reilly moves to four points from his two wins. ***¼
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block A: David Finlay  vs. Ryusuke Taguchi 
No dubbed-in music for Taguchi here, as he came out to dubbed-in silence, and sadly no Big Bird inflatable or recorder for him today, but instead… a knitted beanie hat that looked like Eric Cartman crossed with a Teletubby.
Finlay grounds Taguchi with a waistlock early on, but quickly loses the advantage as they trade the hold back and forth, with Taguchi taking Finlay to the outside, where he meets him with a flying hip attack off the apron. A reverse chinlock keeps Finlay down on the inside, but Finlay fires up… only to get punched back to the mat. Taguchi locks the legs a la a Figure Four, but rolls through into a painful-looking Octopus stretch.
Finlay gets whipped into the corner, but meets Taguchi with an elbow, then a missile dropkick as his comeback starts, with a flying forearm sending Taguchi to the mat. A diving uppercut off the second rope gets Finlay a near-fall, but a hip attack sends Finlay to the mat as he tried for another uppercut. Oh, and now Taguchi goes to his Nakamura schtick, and gets met with an uppercut and a Stretch Muffle from Finlay, but Taguchi gets the ropes, before squirming out of a Finlay roll. An attempt at an ankle lock quickly ends when Finlay makes the ropes, before he switches a Tiger suplex attempt into a backbreaker for a near-fall.
Finlay tries for a Fisherman’s suplex, but Taguchi escapes, before the pair trade near-falls, as another ankle lock is averted. Taguchi’s hip attack is blocked again, but he grabs a heel hook and forces Finlay to tap out. Good match, but nowhere near the level of Taguchi/Sydal from the first round of matches… and they said that was all Taguchi?! ***
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block A: Rocky Romero  vs. KUSHIDA 
Our last tournament match of the day sees the IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion resume his hunt for his first win, against Rocky Romero. KUSHIDA spends a lo-o-ong amount of time deciding where to throw his dog tags, before returning to the ring to go face-to-face with Romero, and after a handshake, we’re underway! KUSHIDA takes down Romero with a headlock, and keeps it on for several roll-throughs, before handstanding his way around Romero and taking him down with a low dropkick.
Romero hooks himself into the ropes after being whipped there, rolling out of the way just in time to see KUSHIDA dive to the floor. Romero cheapshots KUSHIDA as he tries to re-enter the ring, as the fixed camera’s weaknesses come into play once more, with the two brawling around the ring. KUSHIDA’s sent into the ringpost, shoulder-first.
Once in the ring, KUSHIDA kept on taking offence from Romero, with a low dropkick getting Rocky a two-count, who follows up with the Nakamura inspired knee (called the “Shinsuke”) to the midsection as KUSHIDA was draped over the top turnbuckles. KUSHIDA fires back with kicks, and a handspring back elbow as he took down Romero.
KUSHIDA outsmarted Romero’s rope hanging trick, sliding to the outside, before somersaulting back in and hitting a moonsault to the middle of the ring for a near-fall. Romero pushed his way out of a Shiranui, but ended up taking more kicks to the injured shoulder, as a handstand into the ropes knocked Romero out of the ring.
KUSHIDA went to dive to the outside, but Romero returned to the ring, and low-bridged the champion as he went out, before connecting with a tope to the floor. A lariat inside the ring floors KUSHIDA, who is later able to land a Shiranui after blocking a similar attempt from Romero. KUSHIDA rolls through a tilt-a-whirl attempt into the Hoverboard Lock, before Romero rolled through and almost stole the win.
They traded forearms, with both men slumping to the mat, before Romero caught KUSHIDA off the ropes with a high knee for a near fall, and then hitting another high knee coming out of the corner for another surprise loss for KUSHIDA. That leaves KUSHIDA at 0-2, and with two possible challengers coming out of the tournament, after just two matches! A good match to end things with from the tournament for today. ***½
Another solid night of Super Junior action here, with the A block putting on a marginally better night’s action; however, the results have left us in a quandry, with two of the pre-tournament favourites in KUSHIDA and BUSHI ending up with 0-2 records after two matches.
After two matches, Block A stands like this: Kyle O’Reilly, Rocky Romero and Ryusuke Taguchi all have four points/two wins; Gedo and Matt Sydal have two points/one win; KUSHIDA, David Finlay and BUSHI are on no points/no wins.
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…