The second round of the Best of the Super Junior tour sees El Desperado take on Taiji Ishimori as both men went looking for their first win of the tournament.

Quick Results
Ryohei Oiwa & Kosei Fujita went to a draw in 10:00 (**½)
Best of the Super Junior 28 – DOUKI pinned YOH in 10:56 (***¼)
Best of the Super Junior 28 – BUSHI pinned Ryusuke Taguchi in 13:59 (***)
Best of the Super Junior 28 – Robbie Eagles pinned Master Wato in 13:30 (***¾)
Best of the Super Junior 28 – Yoshinobu Kanemaru pinned El Phantasmo in 12:40 (***¼)
Best of the Super Junior 28 – SHO defeated Hiromu Takahashi via referee stoppage in 17:37 (***)
Best of the Super Junior 28 – Taiji Ishimori submitted El Desperado in 22:42 (***½)

We’re still at Korakuen Hall for this… before the show, there were some announcements over New Japan’s 50th anniversary year in 2022, including a double-header at Budokan Hall on March 1 and March 2, the announcement of January’s Golden Series tour, and the presentation of Andre the Giant’s boots as part of an exhibition that’ll be on show next year. They also announced an LIJ-branded gaming chair, what looked like a New Japan-branded golf club bag and other merch, if that’s your thing.

Ryohei Oiwa vs. Kosei Fujita
After both Oiwa and Fujita drew with Yuto Nakashima in the first two days of the tour, could we actually see a definitive winner here?

We start with some ground work as Fujita looked to stretch Oiwa in the early going, before headlock and headscissors led to a staredown. A leglock ended in the ropes, but stomps from Fujita quickly follow to the knee as we’re back to the leg lock as Oiwa looked to be in trouble.

A double leg from Oiwa gives him an opening though, before a double wristlock ended in the ropes… as did an armbar as we hit the final three minutes of the time limit. The pair trade forearms as the clock continues to while away, leading to a back body drop, then a dropkick, before a Boston crab ended in the ropes as time just ran out on the Young Lions. **½

Best of the Super Junior 28: DOUKI vs. YOH
DOUKI’s coming in on the back of a win over BUSHI on Saturday, while YOH lost in short order to Hiromu in his opening match…

DOUKI takes the first shot, but YOH manages to send DOUKI outside for a plancha… but instead it’s DOUKI who took over, using almost a DOUKI CHOKI to the back as YOH wriggled into the ropes for a break. A missed dropkick leaves YOH down, but he pops back up with leaping forearms for a two-count.

DOUKI returned with an attempt at Daybreak, but ended up settling for a roll-up before he pulled YOH back into the DOUKI CHOKI. YOH tries to return fire with a Dragon suplex, but ends up taking an enziguiri instead before he backflipped away and hit the Dragon suplex anyway. A German suplex follows for a two-count, as DOUKI came back in with inside cradles and a clothesline to turn the tide.

YOH’s caught with the Daybreak DDT after that, but manages to kick out at two, before a torture rack bomb was countered with an inside cradle as YOH looked to stay in it. A throat thrust from DOUKI only earns him a superkick as YOH then went for an over-the knee Falcon Arrow, before the Direct Drive’s countered into the backsliding Widow’s Peak for a near-fall. From there, DOUKI nails Suplex de la Luna, and that’s a second win for DOUKI as YOH’s added to that short list! A pretty good showing from DOUKI as YOH’s struggling to get anything going following his split from SHO. ***¼

Best of the Super Junior 28: BUSHI vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
Taguchi’s coming into this off the back of an upset win over Robbie Eagles on Saturday… meanwhile, BUSHI’s upgraded his entrance mask for a light-up, smoking one.

BUSHI and Taguchi start with rope running and drop downs early, with Taguchi avoiding a low dropkick from BUSHI early on, before he got crotched on the ropes by the man of many masks. After shaking it off, Taguchi’s chopped in the corner, then dragged back out as BUSHI continued to torture Taguchi’s tackle.

More of the same followed on the outside as Taguchi’s dropped balls-first across the guard rails, before he was stretched in almost an upside-down full nelson back in the ring. Eventually Taguchi’s able to retaliate with a slew of hip attacks (what else?), before he baited in BUSHI… who misses a low dropkick to the arse and got caught with an ankle lock.

BUSHI responds with a tijeras to take Taguchi into the ropes, before a missile dropkick and a DDT put BUSHI ahead for a near-fall. Taguchi’s back with another ankle lock, countering a Codebreaker into the hold, before BUSHI countered back with a Fisherman screw. The pair trade forearms from there, before BUSHI hung up Taguchi in the ropes for a back cracker.

A running Codebreaker’s next from BUSHI for a near-fall, before Taguchi tried in vain to block an MX… and ends up falling to it. A good back-and-forth outing, as Taguchi was unable to build on his opening day win, and ended up with rather sore balls. ***

Best of the Super Junior 28: Master Wato vs. Robbie Eagles
Eagles is coming in on the back of that upset loss on Saturday as he looked to book a quick way back to the IWGP junior title…

Wato tries to keep Eagles close to start with as the pair traded wristlocks, headlocks and escapes. They lock up in the ropes, breaking cleanly, before some rope running and roll throughs lead us to a springboard armdrag from Eagles, before his tijeras was cartwheeled out of en route to the stand-off.

The pair trade kicks to the legs from there, before Eagles just slapped Wato in the face. Wato slaps back, and it kicks off from there before Eagles tripped Wato into a Ron Miller Special, which ended in the ropes before Eagles could fully lock it in. A spinning heel kick knocks Wato to the outside, before another submission attempt back inside ended in the ropes.

A head kick from Wato bought him time as we go back to the pair trading and blocking strikes. Eagles moves ahead with a series of mid kicks, ending with a diving one that took Wato into the corner for some double knees, only for Wato to retaliate with a dropkick that took Eagles outside for a corkscrew tornillo.

Back inside, a springboard uppercut keeps Eagles down as Wato followed up with a superkick for a near-fall. Wato kicks away a Ron Miller Special, then cradled Eagles for a near-fall, before Eagles’ wheelbarrow roll through almost put him back in place for another Ron Miller Special, only for Wato to hit a roundhouse enziguiri to knock him clear.

Recientemente looked to follow, but Wato switches it into an Octopus stretch… Eagles can’t quite counter free, and gets rolled into the corner before landing a low dropkick on Wato. A 619 to the knee’s next, then a springboard dropkick to it, and it looks quite elementary from there, as Wato then tried to block the Ron Miller Special, only for Eagles to sit down on the roll-up and snatch the win. Still a little rough around the edges, but Wato’s slowly getting there, and looked pretty good in defeat here – but I suspect he’s a ways away from being in serious contention. ***¾

Best of the Super Junior 28: El Phantasmo vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Kanemaru had a short night on Saturday as he beat Taiji Ishimori in short order to keep his winning run well and truly alive over ELP’s tag partner.

Phantasmo annoyed Kanemaru early by calling him a “young boy,” which of course earned him a kicking. ELP struts his way free, but gets kicked in the arse as he looked for a rest in the corner, before a quick game of cat and mouse broke out as they chased each other.

ELP misses a stomp, which apparently hurt his own foot, before he dropped some elbows on a downed Kanemaru for a near-fall. From there, ELP fakes out a springboard armdrag so he could rake Kanemaru’s back, before a side chinlock forced Kanemaru to try and bite his way free. Kanemaru’s able to get back into it, heading up top for the Deep Impact… but ELP sidesteps and looked to go for the whirlibird neckbreaker, only to get faceplanted with a low dropkick in the end.

Kanemaru runs into a Sudden Death that stopped him in his tracks, before a sit-out Torture Rack facebuster nearly put him away. Things spill outside as ELP blocks a whip into the rails, only to backflip off them into a reverse DDT as we had a double count-out tease… ELP avoids having a Young Lion thrown into him as they teased a repeat of the Ishimori finish, with both men beating the count instead… only for ELP to try his luck with a V-Trigger back inside. That doesn’t quite work, as both men end up going for the other’s eyes before Kanemaru blocked a Sudden Death with the referee… then punted ELP low and rolled him up for the win. ***¼

Best of the Super Junior 28: SHO vs. Hiromu Takahashi
In his scrapbook today, Hiromu apparently has gone all Frozen on us. Let it go.

Hiromu shoots out of the blocks early, taking SHO outside and into the railings, before SHO returned the favour, as he then followed up with some choking with the cabling for good measure. Back in the ring, SHO continued to work on Hiromu’s arm with a hammerlock, ending in the ropes as SHO was clearly targeting Hiromu’s previously-injured shoulder.

SHO’s sent outside with headscissors, before he was taken into the rails courtesy of a shotgun dropkick off the apron. Returning inside, Hiromu comes close with a Falcon arrow, before he got swept onto the apron as a hesitation dropkick into the ropes took Hiromu back outside. This time, SHO looks to leap off the apron, but his PK’s caught as Hiromu instead went back up for a death valley driver onto the edge of the ring.

A second Falcon arrow back inside’s broken as SHO went for the fingers, then caught out Hiromu with a spear as the referee had been shoved aside. SHO goes back to the Kimura as he tries to get the submission, then switched it up for a cross-armed piledriver, but Hiromu ‘rana’s out and nearly got the pin.

Kicks from SHO lead to a death valley driver attempt, but SHO slipped out for a German suplex, then another, before SHO blocked another tijeras and powerbombed his way free. A lariat dumps Hiromu from there, while a cross-armed piledriver – to silence – nearly put Hiromu away.

Hiromu blocks a Shock Arrow, countering back with a DDT instead, before SHO reached for his spanner. It’s kicked away by Hiromu, who drives SHO into the corner with a death valley driver, before Time Bomb 2 was countered… the frantic back-and-forth continued with a lariat from Hiromu, who then planted SHO on his face with a Victory Royale, before SHO pushed Hiromu into the ref.

Here comes the bullshit. A low blow from SHO is the cue for Dick Togo and Yujiro Takahashi to come out with their props. Hiromu’s choked out, then knocked down with the Pimp Cane as EVIL slow clapped his way to the ring. Yep, we’re deep in this now. Everything is EVIL followed, before SHO mopped up with his triangle choke as the referee stoppage was called – forcing Shingo Takagi to leave the commentary table to break it up. Until the final few moments, this was a good match, but you know how New Japan loves to force new stuff down our throats – and this is clearly going to be the tournament of SHO’s interference-laden shenanigans. ***

Best of the Super Junior 28: Taiji Ishimori vs. El Desperado
Someone’s getting on the board tonight, after both men lost their opener on Saturday.

Ishimori looks to ground Desperado early on, but a side headlock ends in the ropes as Ishimori tried to control the early going. After using the referee to unsight Ishimori, Desperado takes things outside with a slap to the head, but it’s Ishimori who ends up pulling ahead after some trips into the rails.

Ishimori grabs a chair and blows out the seat against Desperado’s knee, which starts a count-out tease, but of course, Desperado beats the count and ends up having his arm stood on. Some elbows to the neck follow from Ishimori, who then throws Desperado shoulder-first into an exposed corner, before he snapped back with a levering armbar that sent Desperado spilling outside and through the gate.

Desperado remained on the defensive as Ishimori followed him to the outside. Back inside, a cross armbreaker from Ishimori keeps Desperado in trouble. Escaping, Desperado hits a knee breaker then a grounded Dragon screw to buy him time, following up with a grounded Numero Dos, even if he struggled to hold a grip as things ended in the ropes.

A spinebuster from Desperado’s fought out of, before he dove under a leapfrog to take out Ishimori’s knee… only for Ishimori to recover and take things outside with a Golden Triangle moonsault as my feed was giving me hell. Ishimori keeps things going with a baseball slide German suplex, before he took Desperado back into the exposed corner ahead of an old-school-ish hammerlock’d shoulderbreaker for a near-fall.

Desperado tries to stay in it, going for a Pinche Loco, but Ishimori ‘rana’s free for a near-fall before trapping Desperado in a Yes Lock, only for Desperado to try and counter back into Numero Dos. In the end though, Ishimori’s right back with the Yes Lock, then rolled Desperado back up for Cipher UTAKI to nearly win it out.

A leaping knee from Ishimori keeps Despy down, only to get punched out seconds later, as Desperado looked to finish things off with a Pinche Loco… but again Ishimori escaped, hitting a Mistica back into the Yes Lock for the submission. A good showing from Ishimori, who controlled proceedings from the start – to the point where Desperado was pretty much fighting from beneath for the entire duration. A rough start for Despy, who’s clearly doing the “champion has a rough start” tournament here. ***½

After two rounds of the Best of the Super Junior, here’s your standings…

DOUKI, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, SHO (2-0 / 4pts)
BUSHI, Robbie Eagles, Taiji Ishimori, Ryusuke Taguchi, Hiromu Takahashi, Master Wato (1-1 / 2pts)
El Desperado, El Phantasmo, YOH (0-2 / 0pts)

Wednesday’s show is in the World Tag League, so we’ll be back some time after Thursday’s show in Nagano, headlined with El Desperado and Master Wato. Don’t stay up for it – both Thursday and Friday’s tour stops aren’t being live streamed, and are VOD-only. Like the good old days!

We’re still dealing with muted Korakuen crowds, but this was at least a little better between the bells – even if we now know that we’ll be dealing with all the interference in SHO matches. It is what it is, but I doubt it’ll be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for those who are still watching in what’s traditionally the least-engaging tour of the year.