El Phantasmo looks to rescue his Best of the Super Junior campaign as he takes on Hiromu Takahashi in today’s Korakuen Hall main event.

Quick Results
Kosei Fujita and Ryohei Oiwa went to a draw in 10:00 (**½)
Best of the Super Junior 28 – Ryusuke Taguchi pinned DOUKI in 11:39 (***¼)
Best of the Super Junior 28 – Robbie Eagles submitted BUSHI in 12:53 (***½)
Best of the Super Junior 28 – YOH pinned Taiji Ishimori in 13:33 (***¼)
Best of the Super Junior 28 – SHO defeated Master Wato via referee stoppage in 15:02 (***¼)
Best of the Super Junior 28 – El Desperado pinned Yoshinobu Kanemaru in 15:09 (****)
Best of the Super Junior 28 – El Phantasmo pinned Hiromu Takahashi in 22:59 (***¾)

We’ve got another Best of the Super Junior card here, and we’re coming from a familiar place – Korakuen Hall.

Kosei Fujita vs. Ryohei Oiwa
Twelve in a row, coming up!

A scrappy start culminates with Fujita grabbing a side headlock, then holding on as Oiwa tries to counter into a wristlock as the pair went back-and-forth. Headlocks and headscissors keep Fujita ahead, as did an armbar as Oiwa eventually got a foot to the rope.

Oiwa snaps back with an Alabama slam as he grabbed a heel hook on Fujita, who tries in vain to chop his way free, but the hold’s turned into a leg lock that forces Fujita to the ropes. Oiwa looks to follow with a half crab as we hit the final three minutes, but Fujita manages to power his way to the ropes to force the break.

Fujita and Oiwa trade forearms from there, before a dropkick earns a two-count… but you know how this goes. We’re into the final minute, so there’s no finish – instead it’s a draw as the pair trade elbows at the bell. So close, yet so far… **½

Best of the Super Junior 28: DOUKI vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
After a good early start, DOUKI’s form has come undone as he’s coming in today at the bottom of the league, having lost four in a row. Meanwhile, Taguchi’s mocked up a DOUKI costume out of a face mask and what looked like a cut down swimming noodle (which is apparently official DOUKI merch?). Halloween was last month Ryusuke… Last month!

DOUKI understandably jumps Taguchi, who responds by grabbing his “pipe” and hit DOUKI with it. The ref waves it off because it’s soft, but Taguchi whacks DOUKI upside the head with it before he missed a hip attack. Outside, Taguchi’s thrown into the rails as my feed dropped out.

We’re back with Taguchi walking gingerly, before he’s slammed back inside for a running stomp from DOUKI. Taguchi boots DOUKI out of the corner, but runs into atomic drops before his hip attack finally connected. DOUKI’s baited outside, where he’s met with an ankle lock, which Taguchi went back to inside the ring, rolling DOUKI back to the mat in the process.

From there, Taguchi goes for a Bummer-Ye, but gets rolled up into a bridging Widow’s Peak for a near-fall, before Taguchi flopped down to avoid a Daybreak DDT. It suckers DOUKI in for an inside cradle, but from the kick-out Taguchi’s just caught with the DOUKI CHOKI, which ends in the ropes pretty quickly.

Daybreak follows for a near-fall, before Taguchi fights out of Suplex de la Luna, only to get met with a throat thrust. DOUKI tries again, but gets rolled up for a near-fall, with the ankle lock following, then Dodon to the Throne for a near-fall, as the ankle lock ended up getting countered back into the DOUKI CHOKI. Taguchi looks to get to the rope, so DOUKI rolled them back into the middle of the ring, only for Taguchi to sit down on the hold for the win! An enjoyable opener, with DOUKI not being too far behind Taguchi despite coming away with a fifth loss on the spin. ***¼

Best of the Super Junior 28: BUSHI vs. Robbie Eagles
Eagles is another of those who comes into today at the bottom of the table – rather surprisingly given he was the junior champion until just a few weeks ago.

BUSHI takes Eagles into the ropes early on, before an eye rake led to Eagles hitting a springboard armdrag and some headscissors. A dropkick has BUSHI on the outside, but BUSHI pulls ahead as he slung Eagles into the barriers, before some t-shirt choking wore down the Aussie some more.

Figure Four headscissors have Eagles squirming towards the rope for a break, before he tried to chop his way back into things. BUSHI goes to the eyes again, but Eagles takes out the knee and hits a clothesline to the back of the head, then a diving kick for a near-fall. Eagles takes off his bandannas so he could choke BUSHI with them, then went for an Asai DDT… only for BUSHI to block it as instead Eagles wrapped his leg around the bottom rope.

Eagles gets taken outside again as a tope suicida from BUSHI crashes him into the rails, before a Fisherman screw back inside led to Eagles rolling up BUSHI for a near-fall. More pinning attempts get Eagles closer, before a Turbo Backpack was countered into a back cracker. BUSHI followed that up with a running Codebreaker for a near-fall, before an MX was avoided as Eagles 619’d BUSHI out of the corner. Running double knees keep BUSHI there, but we’re quickly back on the outside as a slingshot DDT spiked Eagles onto the apron. Eagles blocks Terrible, then hauled up BUSHI for a Turbo Backpack, before he rolled BUSHI into a Ron Miller Special… Eagles drags BUSHI away from the ropes and reapplies the hold, and there’s your eventual tap. The win keeps Eagles safe for now, but his WrestleKingdom outing may just be limited to the junior tag titles for now. ***½

Best of the Super Junior 28: Taiji Ishimori vs. YOH
After a horrible start, YOH’s picked up points – but a loss here could be the end of him depending on other results.

YOH took the initiative early on, as he and Ishimori traded hammerlocks, before a drop toe hold and an elbow drop had Ishimori outside. A missed plancha earned YOH a trip to the barriers, while Ishimori proceeded to remove a corner pad as the ref checked on YOH.

Back inside, Ishimori focuses on YOH’s arm, rolling him into a pin from a hammerlock position, before a kick from Ishimori gets countered into a Dragon screw. Headscissors take Ishimori to the corner, while a neckbreaker landed for a two-count, before Ishimori struck back with a baseball slide German suplex.

A Codebreaker to the arm softens YOH for a Yes Lock, but that ends in the ropes as YOH returns with a dropkick… but a suplex is kneed away as Ishimori ends up handspringing into a German suplex for a near-fall. Direct Drive looks to follow, but Ishimori just charges YOH into the exposed corner, before another trip to the corner leads to an old-school shoulder breaker on YOH.

YOH tries to come back with the Five Star Clutch, but Ishimori’s counter just earns him an over-the-knee brainbuster. Ishimori comes back by taking the long way into a Cipher UTAKI, before YOH returned fire with a superkick, before a Five Star Clutch snatched the win! Ishimori looked stunned, but YOH looks to be doing the ol’ “starting in the mud, coming back to the top” story as I wonder… are we aiming for SHO vs. YOH in next month’s finals? ***¼

Best of the Super Junior 28: SHO vs. Master Wato
A loss for Wato would eliminate him, and knowing that SHO’s going to be bringing toys with him, I think that may be the expected result here.

SHO slithers outside at the bell, but Wato joins him and threw him into the guard rails before rolling SHO inside for some stomps. Kicks into the corner lead to forearms, before SHO took things outside to get some receipts. Wato’s properly YEETED chest-first into the rails, as SHO then took off a turnbuckle iron cover and tried to smother him with it.

The focus moves onto Wato’s hands from there as SHO stretches them around the railings, then attacked one of the Young Lions as a distraction, so he could lay out Wato with chair shots. SHO blamed another of the Young Lions for the chair, then took things back inside for a rather nonchalant two-count from the cover.

SHO goes back to the hand of Wato, who tries to fight back, but an eye rake just takes things into the ropes before Wato replied with a dropkick. On the outside, Wato vaults the guard rails, then recovered to come back in with a missile dropkick to SHO, following with a springboard uppercut off the top for a near-fall.

Kicks from Wato have SHO whimpering into the ropes, as Wato was revealing a more aggressive side of himself here… but SHO manages to get a step ahead as he uses the ref to confuse Wato ahead of a misdirection spear. SHO returns the kicks from earlier as he held Wato by the wrist, finishing with a thrust kick to the head for a near-fall, before Wato struck back with a head kick of his own.

A roundhouse enziguiri knocked SHO down like a tree ahead of a Recientemente for a near-fall, before Wato crashes with an RPP attempt. SHO’s gone back outside for a chair, but the distraction only ties up the referee as Wato kicks away the spanner, before the referee wandered too close to SHO as he went for a Tenzan Tombstone Driver.

Wato gets free and jack-knifes SHO, but the ref’s down… and I think you know how this ends. Another ref bump, a low blow, a spanner shot, and then SHO gets the win after he pulled the limp body of Wato into the Snake Bite for the stoppage. Take out the final two minutes and I’d have gone higher, but I tire easily of these “we’ll establish a new route on the tour spots. ***¼

Best of the Super Junior 28: Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. El Desperado
A battle of tag team partners is our curious choice of semi-main event…

Desperado sprints to the ring, not in the mood for any of the ceremonial stuff… yet he offered a handshake. Kanemaru rolls outside as he wanted to give Desperado the win, but Desperado doesn’t accept it, and rolled outside to break the count. The ref restarts the count as Desperado called Kanemaru’s bluff, and ends up getting thrown into the rails as Kanemaru tried to get the count-out.

Some flash pins get Kanemaru a load of two-counts before a side headlock dragged Desperado to the mat. Desperado escapes, but Kanemaru keeps the side headlock on as things headed outside, where Kanemaru survived getting posted as he DDTs Desperado on the floor.

Back inside, headscissors have Desperado down as did a side headlock, then a cravat, before Figure Four headscissors looked to force a stoppage. The ropes save Desperado, who looked to fight back, looking for Numero Dos, but Kanemaru scrambled to the ropes as Desperado instead hits a grounded Dragon screw.

A Figure Four leglock keeps Kanemaru in trouble, before a satellite DDT off the ropes managed to catch out Desperado. Kanemaru tries to use the ref for a distraction, then cradled his way out of Numero Dos for a near-fall, before a dropkick to Desperado’s head leads to a moonsault that nearly won it for Kanemaru.

Desperado sandbags on a suplex attempt, returning with a Guitarra del Angel for a near-fall, before he went for a Pinche Loco. Kanemaru jack-knifes his way free for a near-fall, only to take Pinche Loco anyway for the win. Going from the initial tease of a cheap count-out, this one erupted into a lovely, competitive match that could really have gone either way, Make time for this unexpected gem. ****

Best of the Super Junior 28: El Phantasmo vs. Hiromu Takahashi
ELP needs a win to keep his tournament hopes alive…

Before the match, Hiromu asked the referee to check ELP’s boot, so we get almost a ceremonial unbooting. Of course, referee Red Shoes Unno sees nothing in ELP’s right boot, so Hiromu apologises. It’ll be in the left shoe, won’t it? Phantasmo wants Hiromu to say sorry to his shoe, which wouldn’t be the first time Hiromu’s spoken to inanimate objects…

A back rake awaits Hiromu as he bowed, as Hiromu then mocked ELP’s struts and mockery as the pair burst into life with roll-ups. Phantasmo powders outside, then cowered from a dive before he swept Hiromu onto the apron as the focus moved to Hiromu’s left shoulder. Back inside, ELP heads to the ropes for a rope-walk… back rake?!

My feed craps out here, as Phantasmo continued to work Hiromu’s arms, taking him down into as surfboard stretch, before Hiromu fought back with chops, taking ELP into the ropes – which he then kicked – as a tijeras then took the Canadian to the corner. A low dropkick has ELP on the outside, following with a dropkick into the rails, then a Falcon arrow back inside that didn’t quite do a deal.

A springboard crossbody and a Quebrada lands for a near-fall, before a knee drop off the middle rope saw ELP dig into another Canadian’s playbook. Tuning the band leads to a misused superkick, before an enziguiri caught out Hiromu ahead of a quick counter into the D. Phantasmo lifts his way free, then pulled Hiromu into a crossface, then rolled him back into the middle of the ring into a Bone Lock.

Hiromu’s able to make it to the ropes before the pair teed off on each other with elbows, before a thrust kick to the gut saw Hiromu ask for a superkick to the head. He gets it, but laughed it off before a charge was sidestepped as Hiromu squashed the ref. A ball shot from ELP has Hiromu laying, before he then took off his right boot… and swapped it for another one that was under the ring.

With neither the ref nor Hiromu any the wiser, Phantasmo tees up for a Sudden Death, but Hiromu catches it and hits a superkick in return, then a Hiromu-chan Bomber. A corner death valley driver stuffs Phantasmo into the pad, only for ELP to turn with a whirlibird neckbreaker attempt. Hiromu slips out for a headbutt, then hits a side slam, following it with Victory Royale for a near-fall. ELP goes for the whirlibird again, this time dumping Hiromu before he eventually connected with a V-Trigger in the ropes.

Phantasmo hesitates as he goes for a One Winged Angel, but Hiromu Victory rolls free, then back up for a Time Bomb… but ELP rolled through from that into a Styles Clash for a near-fall. Again, ELP hesitates as he went for a CR2, but Hiromu ‘rana’s out for a near-fall, then sank ELP with a superkick.

From there, Hiromu hits another Hiromu-chan Bomber, before a Sudden Death out of nowhere gave ELP the win. A good back-and-forth match, with Phantasmo looking to get back on track… ***¾

Post-match, Phantasmo said he was “done” worrying about the Ghosts of Bullet Club Past, then seemingly called out Jay White for WrestleKingdom as we’re back to questioning who’s in charge of Bullet Club. That part may be tricky given the restrictions that are about to come back into force…

We’re seven matches into the tournament, but we’re now close to seeing names fall off the radar as DOUKI and Master Wato need a lot of luck to make it to the finals.

SHO (6-1 / 12pts)
El Desperado (4-2-1 / 9pts)
Taiji Ishimori, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Ryusuke Taguchi (4-3/ 8pts)
Hiromu Takahashi (3-3-1 / 7pts)‘
BUSHI, Robbie Eagles, El Phantasmo, YOH (3-4 / 6pts)
DOUKI, Master Wato (2-5 / 4pts)

World Tag League has the next two shows – Tuesday live in Korakuen, and Thursday via tape-delay in Saitama, so we’ll be back on Friday for the next stop in the Best of the Super Juniors as YOH and El Desperado headline in Saitama.

A return to form, of sorts, from this leg of the Best of the Super Junior tournament, as New Japan faces some fresh uncertainty going into WrestleKingdom. Go out of your way for that Kanemaru/Desperado match!