With A Block smashing it out the park on night one, it’s time to wander over to B Block as they kick off their side of the tournament with a card that lacks the wow factor of SHO vs Shingo or Ishimori vs Dragon Lee. Not that there isn’t intrigue to be found. We’ve got El Phantasmo and the mysterious DOUKI competing in straight-up matches for the first time while Will Ospreay’s return to the Juniors after his NEVER run will be interesting. There is fun to be had even if the potential for brilliance is not quite there.
DOUKI (1-0) defeated Ren Narita (0-1)
B Block started with a battle of the replacements although it is fair to say that going in there was more intrigue about one of these men than the other. We know what to expect from Narita (it mainly involves him being pinned), but DOUKI? I have no idea what that lad is packing, and I doubt I’m alone in that.
And initial impressions suggest that DOUKI will fit in well with Suzuki-gun. It didn’t take long for him to take the fight to the outside, wallop Ren with a chair and throw him into some other. I wonder how he became friends with Taichi and Despy? He’s already establishing a story for himself, as he rages against the New Japan system. In his head, the people who came through it had it easy, while he struggled for money in Mexico, they had a warm bed and three square meals.
Back in the ring, I struggled to get an impression of the newbie. He dominated the bulk of the action, bullying Narita and acting like the Young Lion was below him. There wasn’t enough about the performance to have me give an opinion either way, though. Then, as you’d expect, his arrogance nearly cost him the match. When Narita fired up, he gave DOUKI a few scares locking on Modified Scorpion Death Locks and coming within inches of getting the win. It was only the fact that he couldn’t bridge off that beautiful Belly To Belly Suplex that proved DOUKI’s saving grace.
Ultimately, the youngster would be dropped back into his place, eating the three after a Suplex De La Luna (a Wheelbarrow Dragon Suplex). However, it wasn’t DOUKI who made an impression in this match. Ren Narita looked fantastic, and while he’s not going to get any points, I suspect he’s going to turn a few heads with his Super Juniors’ run.
Verdict: Three Stars
Robbie Eagles (1-0) defeated Rocky Romero (0-1)
It’s lovely to have Rocky Romero reversing out of multi-man tag land and back into the joys of a New Japan tournament. He came bounding out of the traps in his opening match, fired-up to show that he still has it.
Sadly for Rocky, Robbie Eagles was having none of that. When he got a chance, he slowed everything right down, zeroing in on the leg of Romero. In turn, that pushed Rocky towards attacking Robbie’s arm, throwing his kicks in that direction and slipping into an Armbar at one point.
However, he wasn’t able to overcome the damage done to that leg. At one point, Romero made the mistake of going for the Forever Clotheslines and while his heart wanted to keep going, his leg couldn’t. When it buckled, Eagles struck, locking on the Ron Miller Special. Romero would manage to crawl to the ropes, but the damage was done. He was in trouble.
Even then, Rocky’s heart wouldn’t stop going. That man is all blood and thunder, and he kept coming forward, and he kept kicking out. He was only delaying the inevitable, though. When Eagles got the chance to go up top, he came down with a 450 onto the leg and the second Ron Miller Special was inescapable.
An enjoyable as hell match from these two as they worked a fun story that ran through the whole thing. For its spot on the card, it was perfect, so fair play to them.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
El Phantasmo (1-0) defeated Bandido (0-1)
If there is a theme for this show, it might be wrestlers who are looking to impress. Super Juniors is Bandido’s first time in New Japan without the ROH banner while Phantasmo is coming off an impressive debut but still has question marks over his role in the company.
Their route to impressing took a different path from Rocky vs Eagles, though. Those two went down the storytelling route while Bandido and Phantasmo were looking to wow. There was a lot of cool shit in this match, with both men looking impressive. If you’re a fan of flips and Destroyers, you are going to have a lovely old time.
Perhaps surprisingly (considering their global standing), it was Phantasmo who shined brightest for me. He looks like he is having the time of his life playing the cocky prick, and even gave the finger to an adorable child in the front row. Bandido looked cool, but Phantasmo had that extra edge which proved decisive as he pulled up Bandido’s mask to set him up for Greetings To Camwood Park and the win.
You’ll probably already know whether you’re going to enjoy this or not. Some people are turned off by that movefest style of wrestling while others love it. I can go either way, but I enjoyed this. It was fun and had a few genuinely spectacular moments. Two thumbs up from me.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Will Ospreay (1-0) defeated BUSHI (0-1)
Will Ospreay is a tricky proposition in this year’s Super Juniors. He’s spent the first few months of 2019 beating heavyweights, and New Japan takes that stuff seriously. Can they now send him out to have competitive matches and even lose to Juniors like BUSHI?
Well, we got an answer to the competitive part of that question. BUSHI found his way into this match by going after the neck of Ospreay. Will has been selling that injury for a long time, and it’s a natural way to knock him down a level or two. It’s easier to buy BUSHI rocking him if it is via an already existing route to success.
Unfortunately, it didn’t lead to a great match. The bulk of it was boring. I’m not entirely sure where to lay the blame for that either. BUSHI is hit and miss, so it’s no surprise to see him not put on a classic, but I don’t think Will is blameless. I’ve waved away people moaning about his selling in the past, but he was massively over the top here, grunting and screaming at every opportunity. There is also this newfound obsession he has with being The Assassin. He’s cut back on the high flying parts of his game, and while that’s probably a good thing for his body, I’m not sure it is for the matches.
Thankfully, the final few minutes saw them ramp everything up. Will was going for what I assume was going to be a Super Electric Chair variation only for BUSHI to spin into a Super Hurricanrana which Will then flipped out of. That spot alone is worth watching. They then went into a fun back and forth finish where BUSHI hit a DDT on the apron and reversed an Oscutter. Will would then clamp his head over BUSHI’s mouth, stopping the mist and hit a Hidden Blade followed by Stormbreaker for the win.
The final five minutes of this went some way towards saving this match, but it wasn’t enough to elevate it beyond its dull beginnings. I didn’t hate it. I’m just never going to think about it again.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Ryusuke Taguchi (1-0) defeated YOH (0-1)
Last year YOH came into Super Juniors as the other guy in Roppongi 3K and ended up having a fantastic tournament. After that, I have high expectations that while he isn’t going to win this block, he’ll be one of the standout performers. He had an excellent chance to prove me right in his first match as he kicked things off in his hometown of Sendai (Taguchi is from nearby too) in front of a crowd who were very happy to see him.
Perhaps Taguchi agrees with me because he gave YOH a hell of a lot in this one. The younger half of the match was allowed to lead the bulk of the action, taking control and working over the leg of Taguchi. In turn, that seemed to bring out big match Taguchi and as the fight went on the quality began to rise.
As that happened, Taguchi’s experience began to tell. Early on in the match, YOH caught Taguchi with a fakeout as he spun around in the ropes before coming straight back at him. However, he made the mistake of doing it again, and that time the Master of the Funky Weapon was ready. He leapt forward grabbing YOH’s ankle and dragged one-half of the tag team champions into the centre of the ring.
That was the turning point, but there was at least one more surprise to come. When Taguchi got YOH up for a Dodon, everyone assumed this was done. However, the youngster defiantly kicked out. Sadly, it was to be a reprieve rather than a save. Taguchi hoisted him up in a Burning Hammer position and hit Dodon The End (the same move he used in Prince Devitt’s final New Japan match) for the win.
In many ways, this proved my point. YOH was fantastic in this match, looking at home in the main event even as he didn’t win. While no-one can deny SHO has proven himself a future star, I wouldn’t write his buddy off quite yet.
Verdict: Four Stars
That was a ridiculously easy watch. Every match was a breeze (apart from the start of Will vs BUSHI) and we finished things off with a fantastic main event. Best Of The Super Juniors has started hot and fingers crossed they can keep this momentum going.
BOSJ Best Matches So Far
- Shingo Takagi vs SHO (13/5/19) – Four And Three Quarter Stars
- Dragon Lee vs Taiji Ishimori (13/5/19) – Four Stars
- YOH vs Ryusuke Taguchi (14/5/19) – Four Stars
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