The unusual surroundings of New Sunpia Takasaki in Gunma was our well-lit venue for Sunday’s block B action, as the penultimate round of block matches from the Best of Super Junior got underway.
The New Sunpia Takasaki has a glass ceiling (insert joke here), which made the arena look a world away from the usual darkened rooms that wrestling is held in.
Rocky Romero & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Jay White & Ryusuke Taguchi
YOSHI-HASHI is taking a break from his baiting of SANADA here, and is in the opener, against Jay White and a rather sedate Ryusuke Taguchi.
Good stuff to start off with, as White and Romero worked on the basics, before Romero held onto the ropes as White went for (and missed) a dropkick. YOSHI-HASHI and Taguchi worked well together, and we had an early hattrick of hip attacks for YOSHI-HASHI, then one to Romero, before Taguchi teed off with a pair of hip-attacks on both as he ran the ropes. There’s seven in quick succession then…
The action went outside, with YOSHI-HASHI sending Taguchi into the ring post, before being sent in to take Romero’s Shinsuke knee strike in the corner, for a near-fall. Taguchi fired back with a hip attack to Romero and YOSHI-HASHI (eight…), then made the tag to Jay White, who came out all guns blazing on YOSHI-HASHI, getting a near-fall from a bodyslam, then locking in a Boston Crab. Which Romero couldn’t break up with kicks, but eventually did so via a hair pull. Two more hip attacks from Taguchi followed, followed by a diving clothesline as White got a near-fall.
White kicked out of a superkick, and avoided YOSHI-HASHI’s neckbreaker, scoring a near-fall with a roll-up. YOSHI-HASHI was second time lucky with the move, but after White kicked out, he was caught in a butterfly hold, giving him no chance but to tap-out. Good little opener, but I’m getting a little fed up of the predictable “Young Lions taking the fall” spiel. ***¼
Katsuyori Shibata, KUSHIDA, Matt Sydal, Captain New Japan & Juice Robinson vs. Yuji Nagata, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Kyle O’Reilly, Manabu Nakanishi & David Finlay
A monstrous ten-man tag here, with a weird team for Shibata, as it’s not made up of the usual youngsters he’s partnered with.
Sydal and Finlay started, with Sydal freeing himself of early headscissors, before Kyle O’Reilly came in to add to the punishment, and mock Yuji Nagata’s salute. KUSHIDA gets tagged in and resumes hostilities with O’Reilly, flooring the Canadian with a series of dropkicks, before nailing a Pele overhead kick and bringing in Juice Robinson. Who ran headfirst into a monster named Nakanishi.
Robinson actually took down Nakanishi with some flying headscissors, then a back suplex for a near-fall, before Nakanishi gave himself a nosebleed with a crossbody block off the top rope… and then we got Nagata and Shibata, and dear Lord, they lit each other up with strikes. Shibata got a two-count from a butterfly suplex, but after a couple of boots, Nagata hit a back suplex, before Shibata quickly returned the favour.
Captain New Japan and Hiroyoshi Tenzan came in at last, with the Captain aping Tenzan’s Mongolian chops, before everyone on Shibata’s team fired away on Tenzan in the corner… well, everyone bar Shibata, who opted to kick Nagata down and choke him out on the floor.
As that went on, Captain New Japan missed a body splash off the top, but got some respite as Nakanishi clotheslined Tenzan. A dive spot from Sydal and KUSHIDA cleared the ring, ending with a picture perfect moonsault from Tenzan on the Captain for the win. Another solid match, but it was way too short for a ten-man tag… but hey, at least it highlighted what they needed to – namely the ongoing Nagata/Shibata feud – and of course, the two brawled to the back. ***¼
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block B: Beretta  vs. Tiger Mask 
There’s little on the line here as Tiger Mask is already eliminated, with Beretta on the bubble… and this match reflected that. Plenty of stalling as they killed time for some reason, as they felt each other’s facial fuzz, and leapt into dives from the start, with Beretta cutting off a dive from Tiger Mask, before nailing a tope of his own.
Beretta ties Tiger Mask’s hands around the ringpost on the outside, but instead of counting, the referee tries to undo the tape. Shame, that’d be a nice, unusual count-out spot… After being freed, Tiger Mask comes back in, and Beretta tries to unmask him, to a chorus of boos from the otherwise silent crowd.
They leave the ring and go walkies, with Beretta going up to the edge of the ice rink barriers, and teases a suplex off them, but Tiger Mask frees himself, and instead connects with a plancha. Meanwhile, the referee hasn’t even started a count. Back inside, Beretta avoids a Tiger Driver, but gets rolled up for a two-count. Beretta misses a moonsault off the top, as he tried to channel his inner-Tenzan, and takes a Tiger suplex for his troubles.
An enziguiri downs Tiger Mask briefly, as does a diving dropkick, before Beretta gets a near-fall from a diving double stomp to a bent-over Tiger. After ducking a clothesline, Tiger Mask locks in a chickenwing, but Beretta tries to free himself by going for the mask once more, then shoving Tiger into the referee. A low blow in the ensuing mess lets Beretta roll up Tiger for a two-count. Beretta then gets crotched on the top rope, and taken down with a butterfly superplex, then a Tiger Bomb for a near-fall.
Tiger Mask went for an armbar, but ended up rolling through, and switched the hold into a double arm-bar for the tap-out win that kills any chance of a win for Beretta. A decent match, but it didn’t need to go as long as it did. ***
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block B: Will Ospreay  vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger 
The formula is simple for the pre-tournament favourite: win, or you’re out. Ospreay shakes hands and bows to Liger at the bell, and we’re underway, with Ospreay doing his repeat kip-ups to escape a wristlock, but was quickly caught in a seated surfboard stretch.
Liger sends Ospreay to the outside, before faking out a dive, and catching the returning Englishman in a more conventional surfboard stretch. One mis-step meant that Liger ended up outside, and took a shooting star press off the apron to the floor, something which almost led to a count-out victory as Liger just beat the 20 count back in.
Ospreay pulled back on a double armbar so much that he got a two-count from Liger, who retaliated with a titlawhirl backbreaker, then a Ligerbomb for a near-fall. Ospreay got a two-count from a standing shooting star press, then followed up with a missed 630 Splash as Ospreay landed on his feet, but was able to come back with a Phenomenal Forearm for a near-fall.
Ospreay tried again with a shooting star press, but Liger got the knees up and rolled him up for a two-count, before Ospreay squirmed out of a suplex, hit a corkscrew kick to the head, and then got the win with a springboard stunner. Decent match, but there was little response – almost like this was an early tournament match, not a “win or bust” match for either guy, as Liger is now out of contention. ***
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block B: Chase Owens  vs. Bobby Fish 
I’ll admit, Chase has done a lot better than I thought he would have done as a pre-tournament fill-in. Yes, he was responsible for the worst match in the tournament, but aside from that, he’s been pretty consistent.
Simple stuff here, with Fish working on Owens in the corner in front of what was a really disinterested crowd, with Owens catching a kick and sending Fish to the mat as he then went to work on the left leg, snapping back on it, and slamming it into the apron. A ringpost figure-four got some murmurs from the crowd, but Fish was able to fight back, drilling Owens into the corner, before sending him in there head-first with an Exploder.
Some knees and a back suplex get Fish a two-count on Owens, before wriggling out of a package piledriver and backdropping his way free. Owens nailed a full nelson backbreaker for a near-fall, before tying up Fish in a Trailer Hitch (modified figure-four), with Fish eventually making the ropes.
Just after they passed the ten minute mark, Owens picked up Fish for a gutbuster, but Fish blocked most of it, before turning a backslide into a heel hook, as Owens tapped out. A solid enough match, but with Owens now eliminated and Fish not having much of a hope of winning, this was largely met with indifference. ***
Best of Super Junior Tournament, Block B: Volador Jr.  vs. Ricochet 
Given other results, a win for Ricochet here would seal the block for him with a day to go… something tells me we’re going to have both blocks alive going into the final day of block action.
Volador starts by working the wrist, but there’s a lot of flying, with Volador spinning out of a tiltawhirl, sending Ricochet into the corner. A backflip into an armdrag follows, and the two square off in a manner not too dissimilar to that Ospreay/Ricochet match. Ricochet nails Volador with a 619, then turns a leapfrog into a backbreaker for a near-fall.
An abdominal stretch keeps Volador stable, before Ricochet rolls through for a two-count, with a modified Gory special getting similar results. Volador cuts off Ricochet with a superkick, but ends up taking an inadvertant tombstone piledriver on the floor, as Ricochet’s baseball slide to the outside was met with an Asai moonsault, but the landing went awry for both guys.
Volador was fine from there, and the action spilled out to the other side of the ringside area, with Ricochet going up top with a moonsault press to the floor, before rolling in Volador for a two-count. Ricochet fails at a Regalplex attempt, and takes a superkick and a lungblower from Volador for a two-count.
Volador then locks up Ricochet in a Gory Special, but Ricochet sits up and takes down the Mexican with a hurricanrana, then a spinning kick and a Regalplex for a two-count. A standing shooting star press gets another two, as the crowd finally make some noise, before Volador switches out of a Benadryller attempt and gets a roll-up for a near-fall.
Ricochet finally hits his Northern Lights/vertical rolling suplex combo, but only gets a two-count, before Volador catches him up top, only to get sent to the floor. Volador recovers quickly though, and lands a super hurricanrana, but Ricochet lands on his feet, and eventually has to kick out after a wheelbarrow bomb from Volador. A superkick from Ricochet stuns Volador, as does a double knees, but out of nowhere, Volador turns an Alabama Slam out of the corner into a reverse ‘rana and gets the win! A really good match, hurt badly by the lack of crowd reaction (even by Japanese standards) – and we now have an interesting final day on the cards! ***¾
Satoshi Kojima, Michael Elgin & Yoshitatsu vs. Kenny Omega, Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi
After Friday’s announcement by Hiroshi Tanahashi, we’re now getting the “will he, won’t he?” treatment of a replacement Intercontinental championship match, with Elgin/Omega in a ladder match all-but-confirmed.
Fale looks to be in a foul mood, shoving down a commentator and the ring announcer during the introductions, and we started out with Omega against the “Bullet Club Hunter” Yoshitatsu, who quickly goes into his Triple H routine with knees to Omega and Takahashi, before Fale wades in and knocks everyone else to the outside.
Yujiro came in and immediately struck Yoshitatsu in the midsection with a trash can lid, and then it was Fale’s turn to add to the pain by literally standing on him. Fale looked bemused with Omega leant in with his broom to “clean” Yoshitatsu’s ass, and Omega for some reason slid to the outside to give Captain New Japan a superkick. Because, reasons.
Yoshitatsu hit back with a Blue Thunder Bomb on Omega, but couldn’t make the tag, at least until he avoided a charging Fale in the corner, and in came Kojima for the rapid-fire chops. Omega failed at his interference, so he took some too, but it wasn’t too long before Fale came back to flatten Kojima. Michael Elgin came in to work over Yujiro, blocking a clothesline and firing back with another, as Elgin looked to make an example of Takahashi.
The cameras just about caught Fale splashing Elgin in the corner, as Yujiro capitalised for a near-fall, but Elgin backdropped out of a DDT and took a high knee from Omega. Things broke down once again, ending with Fale taking Kojima to the outside, leaving us with Elgin giving Yujiro a bucklebomb… before ducking a trash can shot from Omega. Elgin grabbed the lid, and added to Yujiro’s headache as Omega ducked, then drilled him with a sit-out powerbomb for the win. A nice solid match, building up the presumed title match at Dominion in two weeks’ time. ***½
Post-match saw Elgin grab Omega’s broom and smash it against the ringpost, before chasing Omega to the back with the trash can lid.
Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto & Gedo vs. Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, BUSHI & EVIL
The show ends with what’s become a staple of this tour – the multi-man tag match between Okada & Friends and Los Ingobernables de Japon. Since BUSHI wasn’t in tournament action, we’ve got an eight-man main event.
With no Milano Collection AT at ringside, Naito made a beeline for guest commentator YOSHI-HASHI, and was jumped by Okada as we started off hot, with Goto throwing EVIL into the hockey rink walls, whilst Gedo drilled SANADA with a chair. We quickly moved to Gedo and BUSHI, with Bushi having his eyes raked and then double-teamed by Gedo and Ishii in the corner.
BUSHI tried to dropkick Ishii, but found he was swatted away with ease, as Goto took the EVIL chair spot on the outside, whilst Okada and Naito fought in the crowd. SANADA had better luck with Ishii after being tagged in, taking the stockier one down with a shoulder tackle, before bringing in EVIL, who curb stomped Ishii to the mat.
Ishii eventually fought back, suplexing BUSHI, as Ishii was then cut-off from tagging out just as Naito was brought into the match. Okada came in and took down SANADA, before DDTing Naito. Okada caught Naito’s attempt at a slingshot dropkick, but ended up being taken down with a Koji clutch that was broken up by Gedo, and yet again on the tour, Naito failed at an attempt a his Gloria signature move.
Naito ducked the Rainmaker, only to take the Heavy Rain neckbreaker onto the knee, as EVIL and Goto came in to exchange stiff blows. Goto’s clothesline into the corner followed by a bulldog out of it got him a near-fall, before EVIL fought out of an ushigoroshi and took down Goto with a neckbreaker.
EVIL almost won it with a lariat on Goto, but Goto managed to avoid much of a follow-up, turning out of the STO and then dropping EVIL with the ushigoroshi, as EVIL tagged out to SANADA, who was quickly felled with a spinning wheel kick. Gedo made the tag in and chopped away at SANADA with kicks to the head, before getting stunned by a rewind enziguiri from BUSHI. Gedo then back body dropped BUSHI to the outside, and nearly took the Skull End, only for Ishii to make the save. Things broke down again as everyone hit moves on each other, culminating in an Okada dropkick on SANADA, and a Gedo roll for a near-fall.
A Naito neckbreaker sent Okada to the outside, before Naito missed Gedo with a diving strike… BUSHI fared better, and a codebreaker set up SANADA for a TKO for a near-fall. From there, SANADA picked up Gedo and dropped him with the Skull End, and with no help at hand, Gedo was forced to tap. A fine main event, but by lord, this crowd did not help matters at all. ***½
Post-match, YOSHI-HASHI ran in from commentary and went straight for SANADA, but the numbers game worked against him as SANADA quickly got to his baseball bat and struck him in the midsection.
I would have to say that this was perhaps the weakest of the full shows that’s been live on New Japan World during this tour. Volador/Ricochet was the best match of the show, but the reaction (or lack thereof) from the crowd in Takasaki really hurt things. Perhaps it’s the fact that similar cards have been run in the non-tournament side of things, but this is a tournament that would have benefited more from just having the tournament matches broadcast and nothing else.
In short: if I’d been able to watch this show live at 8am on Sunday morning… I’d have been really disappointed.
With one match remaining, Block A looks like this:
KUSHIDA, Kyle O’Reilly, Matt Sydal, Ryusuke Taguchi (4 wins, 8 points)
BUSHI (eliminated), Rocky Romero (3 wins, 6 points)
David Finlay (eliminated), Gedo (eliminated) (1 win, 2 points)
Monday’s finale from Sendai has the following block A matches: David Finlay vs. Matt Sydal, Kyle O’Reilly vs. Rocky Romero, Gedo vs. Ryusuke Taguchi and BUSHI vs. KUSHIDA.
Realistically, we’re down to either Matt Sydal or KUSHIDA winning block A after tie-breakers (head-to-head results) are accounted for.
With two matches left, Block B looks like this:
Ricochet, Volador Jr. (4 wins, 8 points)
Bobby Fish (eliminated), Jushin “Thunder” Liger (eliminated), Tiger Mask (eliminated), Will Ospreay (3 wins, 6 points)
Beretta (eliminated), Chase Owens (eliminated) (2 wins, 4 points)
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.
Realistically, this is a 3-way fight: as Ospreay has beaten Ricochet already, a win over Volador puts him in the finals (with tie-breaking wins over Ricochet and Volador). A Volador win puts him in the final, regardless of what happens due to his tie-breaking win over Ricochet today; so Ricochet is almost snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in block B.
My pick: KUSHIDA to complete his comeback and win the block, keeping to my earlier pick of Will Ospreay from block B, with Ospreay taking the overall crown.
If you’re looking to join up to New Japan World for the remainder of the tournament, here’s the remainder of the live shows, with the block and tournament finals both having live English-language commentary courtesy of Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino.
Both Blocks – 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 – Monday’s block finale will not be up until early Tuesday morning UK time, whilst the tournament finals will be up on early Wednesday.