The Best of the Super Juniors returns in Niigata, as SHO looks to keep his place among the top of the block as he faced El Desperado in the main event.

Quick Results
Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma pinned Gabriel Kidd & Yuji Nagata in 7:24 (**¾)
Best of the Super Junior 27 – Hiromu Takahashi submitted Yuya Uemura in 11:43 (***½)
Best of the Super Junior 27 – Master Wato pinned DOUKI in 12:30 (***)
Best of the Super Junior 27 – BUSHI pinned Ryusuke Taguchi in 12:51 (***¼)
Best of the Super Junior 27 – Taiji Ishimori pinned Robbie Eagles in 17:22 (****)
Best of the Super Junior 27 – El Desperado pinned SHO in 18:40 (***¾)

We’re in Niigata’s Toki Messe for the current round of the tournament…

Yuji Nagata & Gabriel Kidd vs. Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma
It’s Honma and Kidd who start things off today, with Kidd eschewing a lock-up so he could trade elbows with Honma.

Shoulder tackles follow, but it’s Honma who edges ahead there, taking Kidd into the corner for chops, before Kidd hit back with a shoulder tackle of his own. A slam from Kidd’s resisted, with Honma easily hitting one of his own before he missed a Kokeshi.

Kidd comes right back with a slam for a two-count, before Nagata tagged in to trade chops and elbows. Kicking Honma’s leg out takes him down before an Irish whip sends Honma into the corner, with a kick to the back following not long afterwards for a two-count. A tag brings KIdd back in to keep the pressure up, but Honma manages to edge back in with elbows.

A telegraphed back body drop from Kidd just earns him a DDT, before tags bring in Kojima and Nagata to throw elbows like the old days. Machine Gun chops follow as Nagata was trapped in the corner, but he avoids the top rope elbow by cutting off Kojima before he could go up top… only to miss a stalling enziguiri.

Kojima looks to put Nagata away with a lariat, but just runs into an Exploder as Kidd returned to tage over. Kidd apes Kojima’s Machine Gun chops, then called for a brainbuster… but instead has better luck with a back senton before he landed that suplex for a two-count. Honma breaks up the count, then watched on as Kojima dropped Kidd with a back body drop and a Koji cutter for a near-fall.

Nagata broke that pin up, but got thrown outside as Kidd had to fight back against a numerical disadvantage, and almost nicked a win with a roll-up on Kojima, only to get put away with a Cozy lariat in the end. Better than we’ve had before, but the same result. **¾

Best of the Super Junior 27 – Yuya Uemura vs. Hiromu Takahashi
Uemura sprinted to the ring so quick I couldn’t get a decent screengrab… par for the course with these Young Lions!

They take their time at the start, with Hiromu going in side a side headlock, only for Uemura to get free and hit the ropes for shoulder tackles. Of course, they fail to put down Hiromu, until some misdirection backfired as the former IWGP junior heavyweight champion ended up on the deck.

They head outside, where Hiromu’s slammed on the floor, before Uemura hit a crossbody off the apron. He’s a brave little sod against Hiromu, eh? Heading back inside, Uemura tries for a Boston crab, but it’s broken in the ropes as Hiromu then dragged him outside for “payback time” as the commentary team put it, taking Uemura into the guard rails. Hiromu’s dropkick off the apron sends Uemura backwards into the railings again, but only gets a one-count back inside.

Hiromu ties up Uemura’s legs for a Cloverleaf, but then drops back into a backbreaker-like move as he stretched the Young Lion, before a more orthodox slam dropped Uemura for a two-count. That Cloverleaf backbreaker’s applied again as Hiromu prepared for a future career in orthopedics, before a half crab was broken via the ropes.

Hiromu dares Uemura to elbow him, which he does, before a dropkick from Uemura missed. Second time wasn’t the charm either, as Hiromu hung onto the ropes, then whipped Uemura into the corner… but it was third time lucky as Uemura finally landed that dropkick. A running back elbow follows into the corner as Uemura pushed on, cracking Hiromu in the corner with another dropkick for a near-fall, before he went to the Boston crab.

Uemura’s unable to avoid Hiromu from making it to the ropes, so he keeps going with a backdrop for a two-count, then segued into a cross armbar, only for Hiromu to make it to the ropes once more. A struggle over a suplex sees Hiromu escape, only to get caught with an elbow… but Hiromu’s back with a superkick. By the time Hiromu went in for a pin, Uemura was able to come back with a roll-up, then a release Kanuki suplex… he then went to set up for the regular Kanuki, but ends up getting caught with a clothesline instead.

From there, Hiromu picks up Uemura for a Falcon arrow, and almost wins it there, before a Lion Tamer-ish Boston crab forces Uemura to submit. I like that detail – Hiromu not needing any of his usual finishers to win. Uemura never really looked to have a shot of winning, but he didn’t look a million miles behind Hiromu either, which can only bode well for the future. As long as he doesn’t go away on excursion and come back with a wacky gimmick… ***½

Best of the Super Junior 27 – DOUKI vs. Master Wato
Of course, we get a jump start here, with DOUKI very sour on the excursion Master Wato had in Mexico…

We get some lucha-flavoured stuff early, with Wato taking DOUKI outside after a tijeras and a dropkick, but DOUKI avoids taking a plancha as he pulled Yota Tsuji into harms way instead. Then we have Wato getting thrown into the guard rails, as is the norm, before DOUKI got hold of his pipe and used it on Hiroyoshi Tenzan at ringside. Wato gets it too, before my feed dropped out.

It recovers with Wato still on the defensive, taking a Kevin Nash-ish boot choke in the corner before Wato came back with a series of kicks. Those send DOUKI powdering to the outside, but yet again he avoids a plancha… instead taking a flying headscissors takedown on the floor. The tornillo dive follows, then a springboard uppercut back inside which gets Wato a two-count.

DOUKI responds with the Italian Stretch #32 after Wato had tried for the abdominal stretch driver, but Wato manages to get to the ropes to force a break. Wato blocks the Daybreak DDT, then avoids a running kick in the corner as DOUKI instead lands an enziguiri before he rolled Wato to the mat for a pin. From the kick-out, it’s back to that Italian Stretch #32, but that again ends up in the ropes.

Second time’s the charm for the Daybreak DDT, before Wato escapes Suplex de la Luna. An eye rake has him back in trouble though, before Wato found a way back in with the abdominal stretch driver. We get a ref bump next as Wato’s sent into the referee… which allows DOUKI to grab his pipe, which eventually gets whacked into Wato’s midsection. A second pipe shot follows as the ref was still down, but it’s not enough.

Suplex de la Luna looks to follow, but Wato wheelbarrowed into a roll-up for a near-fall, before DOUKI ran into a high kick. The Tenzan Tombstone Driver follows, as Wato then heads up top to land RPP for the win – a decent outing, with that loss for DOUKI eliminating him and Uemura on tie-breakers at this stage. ***

Best of the Super Junior 27 – BUSHI vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
Holy flickering LED mask, BUSHI…

There’s a lot of feinting early on as Taguchi teased hip attacks, before Taguchi made BUSHI run the ropes… eventually avoiding a low dropkick attempt. Taguchi takes advantage of that with hip attacks, but BUSHI comes right back, tripping Taguchi as he then dragged him into the ring post for a nut cracker.

The guard rails follow as Taguchi’s hurtled into them, with Taguchi taking his time to roll back inside as BUSHI was waiting for him. A neckbreaker follows for a two-count, before BUSHI booted Taguchi’s balls ahead of a STF. Of course there’s a rope break, as BUSHI then looked to hit a sunset flip… and today of all days, Taguchi forgot to wear underwear.

So we get a prolonged sight of the Funky Weapon, with a bare-arsed hip attack taking down BUSHI. Another one knocks him off the apron, before the butt cleavage flew with a plancha to the outside. Returning to the ring, Taguchi goes for a springboard hip attack, which finds its mark, as Taguchi keeps going with the arse attacks in the ropes. A low bridge from BUSHI sends Taguchi sailing outside but he’s back inside quickly to thwart BUSHI with a Magistral cradle for a near-fall. BUSHI returns with an overhead kick in the ropes, then a missile dropkick before he crotched Taguchi in the ropes. Someone clearly took a message away from that last Talk’n Shop PPV…

Pulling Taguchi back into the ring by his tights, BUSHI looked to push on, landing an enziguiri before a Codebreaker was blocked and turned into an ankle lock. BUSHI tries to roll away, but Taguchi held firm, looking to go for Dodon, which BUSHI naturally rolled through as they ended up back in Oh My Garankle.

BUSHI’s rewind enziguiri breaks it, but Taguchi quickly goes back to Dodon, only for BUSHI’s Fisherman screw neckbreaker to get a near-fall. A running Codebreaker drops Taguchi for a near-fall, before BUSHI hobbled up to the top rope, where he successfully landed the MX for the win. ***¼

Best of the Super Junior 27 – Robbie Eagles vs. Taiji Ishimori
It’s a battle of former Bullet Club compadres here, with Eagles kicking away a too sweet attempt as he caught Ishimori with dropkicks early on.

Ishimori looked to get back in, but he’s quickly knocked down with kicks, before some misdirection in the corner saw him catch out Eagles for a springboard seated senton. A cravat and some knees from Ishimori takes Eagles down for a neck twist, which gets a one-count before he settled for a common or garden chinlock.

Some figure four headscissors from Ishimori end in the ropes, before a neckbreaker and a chinlock kept Eagles on the back foot. Shots take Eagles into the corner for some chops, before landing the baseball slide German suplex. That gets Ishimori a two-count back inside, before Eagles slipped under a charge and rolled Ishimori down for a two-count.

Eagles keeps going, clipping out Ishimori’s knee before hitting a clothesline to the back, following that up with mid kicks and a leg lariat as Ishimori was on his knees. Those get Eagles a two-count, before he lifted Ishimori to the outside for a tope con giro into the aisle. They head back inside, with Eagles getting a two-count, following up with a 619 to the knee and some running knees into the corner, which earned him another near-fall.

The springboard missile dropkick to the knee takes out Ishimori ahead of a Ron Miller Special… but it’s countered with an inside cradle as Ishimori then found a way back in. A handspring enziguiri leaves Eagles down, with a shotgun dropkick taking him to the corner… but Ishimori’s running knees clip Eagles’ arm, leaving him perfectly poised as a headscissors takes him into the Yes Lock.

Eagles manages to scoot towards the ropes, but Ishimori rolls Eagles back into the middle of the ring, forcing the Aussie to drag himself back for the break. A rolling enziguiri helps Eagles stem the tide, before he blocked a Cipher UTAKI and rolled in for the Ron Miller special instead. He pulls Ishimori away from the ropes as the champion nearly submits, but in the end Ishimori’s able to get to the ropes anyway.

A standing Shiranui from Eagles looks to keep him ahead, but a 450 to the leg’s blocked as Ishimori raises his knees up… then we get the old school shoulderbreaker as Ishimori continued to wear down the left arm. Ishimori then whiffs on a 450, landing in Eagles’ knees, as Robbie then came back with a myriad of kicks as he took Ishimori’s legs away from him once more.

Ishimori’s leaping knee stops all that, but a reverse ‘rana and a bicycle kick are caught, with the latter turned into a Turbo Backpack for a near-fall. An inverted Asai DDT’s caught as Ishimori pulls Eagles into the Bone Lock – but it turned out there was an escape – only for Eagles to get pulled into a Bloody Cross for the win. This was a nice game of human chess as they used to call it, with both men picking their body part and working on it for the duration, but in the end Ishimori was able to edge past his former tag partner in a low key banger of a match. ****

Best of the Super Junior 27 – El Desperado vs. SHO
Before YOH’s injury, these two were seemingly always feuding around the junior tag titles – but here it’s a singles match, with SHO having a prior win from 2018’s Best of the Super Junior tournament.

They go to the mat early on, with SHO making a beeline for Desperado’s arm, then his leg, as a submission attempt ended in the ropes. SHO keeps going, grounding Desperado for a waistlock that he then turned into another cross armbar… but again, it ends in the ropes, with SHO throwing in some kicks afterwards. A Corning hold, then a standing wristlock sees SHO tie up Desperado ahead of a leg sweep, then some choking in the ropes as SHO was having his own way… at least until he slid outside, with Desperado then catching him with some throws into the guard rails. The ring post comes into play next as Desperado wrapped SHO’s leg around it, following up as he drove SHO’s knee into the floor.

Desperado then pulls a Taichi by grabbing the timekeeper’s hammer, then by grabbing a chair to distract the referee with, so the hammer shots would be missed. There’s one to the knee for later on, as they then head back inside, with SHO trying to muster a comeback with some elbows. Except Despy just kicks away the knee and leapt on it on the ropes.

SHO tries to fire back with more elbows, but an eye rake and some more attacks to the knee set up Desperado for a leg spreader, with SHO’s attempts to chop free just exacerbating things as SHO had to drag himself to the rope for a break. Even if Desperado was feigning an inability to break the hold on his own…

SHO fought back with a suplex, before he aimed some kicks at Desperado, including a series of mid kicks to the front and back. That gets him a two-count as we crossed the ten-minute mark, while a German suplex was avoided, with SHO instead running into a low dropkick. Desperado followed that up with Numero Dos, dragging SHO away from the ropes as a submission loomed on… but SHO was again able to muscle his way towards the rope for a break. Guitarra de Angel is escaped as SHO looked to make a comeback, trading elbows until his knee was again kicked out, leading to Guitarra de Angel as Desperado got back on track for a near-fall.

A kitchen sink knee to the gut from SHO stops things momentarily, as he was able to roll Desperado down for a keylock, but that too ends in the ropes. SHO stays on the arm though, before he ran into a spinebuster as Desperado then looked to follow up with Numero Dos… but SHO rolls in for another cross armbar. Desperado rolls out for a pin, but ends up in the armbar yet again as the ropes came to his rescue.

A back cracker from SHO sends Desperado into the corner for a clothesline, with a second lariat off the ropes dropping Despy… before a Power Breaker bounced him skyward for another near-fall. Feeling, ahem, desperate, Desperado grabs the referee as he tried – and failed – to mule kick SHO, before a roll-up out of a Shock Arrow attempt got a near-fall. Second time was the charm as Desperado pushes SHO towards the ref, masking a clear punch, before Pinche Loco gets the win. A pretty good main event, with Desperado throwing yet another hurdle in SHO’s tournament dreams – and locking both men into that second tier of wrestlers behind the leaders. ***¾

World Tag League 2020
SANADA & Shingo Takagi (4-1; 8pts)
EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi; Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb; Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.; Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa; Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (3-2; 6pts)
Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI; Juice Robinson & David Finlay (2-3; 4pts)
Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens; Toa Henare & Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-4; 2pts)

Best of the Super Junior 27
Taiji Ishimori, Hiromu Takahashi, Master Wato (4-1; 8pts)
BUSHI, El Desperado, SHO (3-2; 6pts)
Robbie Eagles, Ryusuke Taguchi (2-3; 4pts)
DOUKI, Yuya Uemura (0-5; 0pts) * eliminated

The tour takes two days off, and returns for another run starting on Saturday in Kanagawa with a World Tag League show. YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto vs. Guerrillas of Destiny headline there before we get a pair of Korakuen shows on Sunday and Monday. We’ve got our first eliminations on this tour as the Best of the Super Junior crossed the half-way mark – and while things are still tight at the top, the contenders are really beginning to stand out from the pack now, although Master Wato’s 4-1 record right now is incredibly curious.