Our first single-camera show. I am always in two minds about these. On the one hand, it means I don’t have to watch a two and a half to three-hour long event. On the other, the view is always a bit shit. Shouldn’t complain too much, though, there’s wrestling to watch.
Tiger Mask (2-0) defeated YOH (1-1)
Did anyone inform Tiger Mask that YOH is no longer a Young Lion? Because whether he knew or not, he wasn’t acting like it. After these two started with a handshake, it seemed like we were going to get a mild-mannered contest. Then the grumpy kitty started trying to kick the shit out of YOH, and we went from there.
They put together a simple, but compelling, fight. Tiger did a lot of kicking, while YOH did all the movement. He’s impressed me in his opening two contests, and he made the masked feline look strong by bouncing around the ring for him. The fans are getting behind him too as he’s been proving it’s not only his partner who can do explosive offence. His Tope Con Hilo is particularly beautiful.
It wasn’t to be YOH’s day, though. Tiger astonishingly continued his unbeaten start to the tournament despite YOH kicking out of a lot of stuff. First, he escaped the Scissored Armbar – which Tiger Mask went for after zeroing in on YOH’s arms with those kicks. Then he kicked out of the Tiger Driver and the Super Double Underhook Suplex before finally succumbing to the Millenium Suplex. It made YOH look tough while continuing this incredibly strong start to Super Juniors for Tiger Mask.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Flip Gordon (1-1) defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru (0-2)
Another grumpy old veteran vs energetic newbie encounter. Kanemaru showed Flip what Suzuki-gun is all about by attacking him from behind at the start. After a brief comeback from Flip, he followed up with a DDT on the floor before tossing him into the chairs. If you’re going to stick around Gordon, you better get used to that.
The key to all of this was Flip’s comebacks. While Kanemaru being a horrible old bully is okay, his offence isn’t the most compelling thing in the world. You needed to break up those periods of domination with bursts of Flip’s high-flying antics. On the whole, they did a decent job of that. Flip seems to be growing in confidence with more of those spectacular moves coming off. He didn’t do enough to make this great, but he kept it entertaining.
The finish came off the Four Flippy Splash (which is a cool move) and saw Flip pick up his first win on the tour while Kanemaru remains on the goose egg. If you’re in a rush, this is probably one you can skip. However, if you choose to watch it, you certainly won’t come away regretting the ten minutes you put into it.
Verdict: Three Stars
Taiji Ishimori (2-0) defeated Bushi (0-2)
Taiji Ishimori looks like a video game character. He’s all leather and abs and, to be honest, I’m right there with Tama Tonga. Those abs are great. Well done that man.
After sliding into Ospreay’s shadow on the opening night (although I should reiterate, that wasn’t his fault, everyone is in Will’s shadow at the moment) this was Ishimori’s chance to dominate a match. He got to show what he can do ticking all the right boxes in the process. Key to that was his success in turning the crowd against him with some very old-school heelwork, slowing the pace of the action and grounding Bushi before grinding away at him.
The second key to the act, however, is that when he does get going, Ishimori is a hell of a lot of fun. As they picked up the pace, he was right there with Bushi showing off a cool moveset that combines power with speed. He’d even give the LIJ man a taste of his own medicine as he reversed the MX with a Codebreaker of his own before putting him away with Bloody Crosses.
I’ve focused on Ishimori, but it’s worth taking a second to praise Bushi too. That’s him two for two in impressive showings even if he’s yet to pick up a win. While I was harsh on him in my preview, he’s bringing it right now, and he worked hard to make Bone Soldier Reborn look good. Fair play to that man.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Will Ospreay (1-1) defeated ACH (1-1)
These two didn’t take long to get into their antics. Before you could catch your breath, Ospreay and ACH were flying around the ring, flipping over each other and leaping to the outside. In their undercard bout yesterday I said this had the potential to be this year’s Ospreay vs Ricochet, the match that spawns a thousand GIFs. However, I think that was slightly unfair on ACH. He brought something different to the table that made this very interesting.
Because while ACH is perfectly capable of doing all the flips in the world, he also brings a more physical element to the table. Unlike Rico, those sequences are likely to end in a big chop or a dropkick. He’s not all flash, and that plays into the way Ospreay has been wrestling recently. There’s more aggression to him, with ACH being the perfect person to bring that out.
So, we got a bout that bounced between beautiful high-flying and stiff strikes. ACH was throwing those chops while Ospreay came back with a variety of kicks. It gave the beauty more substance as it made it clear that this was no gymnastics show. Two men in that ring were trying to hurt each other.
In the end, Ospreay would get the win with Stormbreaker following a fantastic finishing sequence that I won’t even attempt to put into words. Look, it was Will Ospreay vs ACH, you know it was good. Just go and watch it.
Verdict: Four Stars
Perhaps the weakest night of Super Juniors so far and yet nothing dropped below three stars while we still got one four-star match. There’s nothing to complain about is there?