Heads up, there’s a chance I was in a bad mood when I watched this show because I did not enjoy it at all. There’s also a chance it was crap. I guess you’ll have to decide for yourself.
Taiji Ishimori (3-2) defeated Tiger Mask (3-2)
Unsurprisingly, Tiger Mask’s winning streak has become a losing one. Ishimori, meanwhile, put his two shock defeats behind him with an assured victory over the veteran.
Sadly, it didn’t make for fascinating wrestling. New Japan is trying to tell a story with Tiger Mask. After starting hot, the toils of the tournament are now taking their toll on him. He can’t keep up with the youngsters and is dropping points. Sadly, I don’t think Tiger is that invested in the story. He’s going out there and having bog standards matches, which after his surprisingly good opening bouts is a real disappointment.
If you particularly love either of these men, then it might work for you. Otherwise, skip it.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
BUSHI (2-3) defeated ACH (2-3)
I’ve enjoyed these two throughout the tournament. Until today anyway, because this sent me to sleep. Literally. I drifted off twice. It was only eleven in the morning when I was watching it!
The problem is BUSHI. I’ve been singing his praises on the last few shows but fuck me when he has a stinker is he dull. That methodical style wasn’t adding to the story of the match or helping build to a hot finish. It was holding ACH back. With ACH on fire at the moment, the last thing you should be doing is quenching that.
And ACH was great. He’s doing a terrific job selling that shoulder while I love the way he’s bullying the rest of the Block. However, there was only so much he could do when he was in there with a man trying to bore everyone into submission.
Verdict: Two Stars
YOH (2-3) defeated Flip Gordon (3-2)
Well, at least this one was never going to be boring. It was two youngsters going out there and trying to impress. They didn’t take long to shift up through the gears, and when they hit the top, they didn’t bother with unimportant things like brakes or stories. They were too busy having fun.
It did, however, make one thing very evident. Flip Gordon is not as good as YOH. He’s a spectacular wrestler who does some unbelievable things, but when it comes time for subtlety, YOH laps him. Everything Flip does is big and flashy, and in there with a New Japan Dojo graduate, Gordon began to look a bit Pantomime. That’s not to say that Flip can’t someday be as good as YOH is, he definitely can. It just served as a reminder that he’s got a long way to go.
Even with that issue, it was hard not to enjoy these two bouncing around the ring. At the very least, it ticked the fun box.
Verdict: Three Stars
Will Ospreay (3-2) defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru (2-3)
After a bit of a crappy show, this was a beautiful example of two wrestlers playing their roles to perfection. Will Ospreay was the injured babyface, nursing a neck injury and fighting from underneath against the evil prick that is Yoshinobu Kanemaru.
It’s a role that both men excel in with Kanemaru being particularly brilliant here. Right from the start, he was on Will, attacking that neck and looking to cause as much pain as possible. He doesn’t have to do anything fancy because he’s so damn hateable. Then, when he does pull out a few flash tricks, it comes across as pure arrogance and gives you even more reason to want his opponent to stamp on his head.
They had a few cool spots up there sleeve too, the highlight of which was Will blocking the Whiskey shot by clamping his hand over Kanemaru’s mouth. It’s a simple idea, but it shows a degree of foresight from Ospreay which wrestling often forgets. Everyone that faces Kanemaru should know he’s planning to do that, why haven’t they come up with plans to combat it?
Of course, Yoshinobu is still Yoshinobu. There was no chance he could go out and put on an Ospreay style classic. However, he did exactly what he needed to and sometimes that is enough. Not every wrestling match needs to be a five-star epic, sometimes you can focus on telling a good story. Will battling from underneath to get the win was a good story.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
If you’re going to skip one full day of Super Juniors, make it this one. Ospreay vs Kanemaru was fun while Flip vs YOH was okay, but nothing is unmissable. It felt like a nothing show in the middle of a long tour which is what it was.