NJPW Best Of The Super Jr. 26 (18/5/19) Review

One way to deal with it. Credit: NJPW

We’re only five days in, but Super Juniors has been a delight so far. The shows are zipping by and even the one that I’d consider a dud (night three) was only worthy of the title in comparison to everything else. It’s shaping up to be a great tournament, and it’s up to A Block to continue that momentum. On with the review!

SHO (1-2) defeated Taka Michinoku (0-3)

I was out on an island with my dislike of SHO vs Dragon Lee, so for most people, SHO’s tournament has been defined by great performances while coming up short. However, he can slightly excused for that having wrestling Dragon Lee and Shingo, two of the favourites. For all Taka’s talents, he was a more straightforward proposition.

Which isn’t to say that this was presented as a walk in the park for SHO. He’s beaten up, and as we’ve already established, Taka loves a beat-up opponent. The veteran was more than happy to grind the young stud into submission as it became a clash of Taka’s methodical cuntery vs SHO’s blood and thunder.

It led to an entertaining contest that saw SHO continually fire up only for Taka to drop him into the Just Facelock and bring him shuddering to a halt. In the end, SHO was forced to change his gameplan, moving to his own submission game so he could hammer away on the arm of Michinoku. That weakness caused the veteran to hesitate and gave SHO the chance to take control. A Pumping Bomber followed by Shock Arrow saw him finally get on the board.

Verdict: Three Stars

Marty Scurll (2-1) defeated Tiger Mask (2-1)

I was not out on an island with my hatred of Scurll vs Ishimori. In fact, my two stars looked quite generous next to some of the other reviews I have seen. It was shite. Tiger Mask, meanwhile, went into this unbeaten as he’d pinned both Suzuki-gun members despite them attacking his dodgy knee.

Perhaps the grimy tactics of Suzuki’s trolls were catching up with Tiger as Scurll took control of this one quickly, snapping his fingers within the opening minutes. Marty then went to work on Tiger Mask’s hand, even trapping his fingers in the ring that connects the rope to the turnbuckles before tightening it with the help of Brody King.

The match then followed the formula Tiger’s established this tournament. Scurll worked him over, only for Tiger Mask to fire up with a Tombstone and Tiger Bomb for a close two count. The difference this time was that he couldn’t go on to get the win. Despite taking the Avalanche Double Underhook Suplex, Scurll was able to battle back hitting Black Plague for the win. It was a flat finish as having worked the fingers all match they ended up not playing a part in the ending. This was still alright, that just felt like a missed opportunity.

Verdict: Two And Three Quarter Stars

Taiji Ishimori (3-0) defeated Titan (1-2)

My alarm bells were ringing at the start of this one as Ishimori was focusing on mask related antics. They seemed in no rush to get going, and I was preparing for boredom. Thankfully, I was leaping to conclusions. As this went on it turned into a decent mid-card match.

They structured the action around Ishimori’s neck, which is starting to feel the strain of wrestling as often as the tournament requires. In theory, that left him vulnerable to Titanics, and there was a moment when it looked like Titan had it locked in. However, when he moved to transition into the pin, Ishimori rolled through and seconds later spiked him with Bloody Crosses for the three.

This felt slightly truncated with the finish coming out of nowhere, but while it lasted, it was quite fun. As we get deeper into the tournament, you have to have matches that don’t go all out so as not to exhaust the wrestlers. Titan and Ishimori delivered some entertaining action without working too hard, and I can’t blame them for that.

Verdict: Three Stars

Dragon Lee (2-1) defeated Jonathan Gresham (1-2)

Lee and Gresham started by shaking hands and seemingly agreeing to avoid each other’s injuries (Gresham’s fingers and Lee’s elbow). How pure is that? Are there two bigger babyfaces than these two? That’s the kind of lovely polite wrestling we should all aspire to.

These two then opened with a wrestling clinic, dancing between counters as Gresham proved himself the better technical worker. He had agreed not to attack the injured arm of Lee, but he had no qualms about going after the healthy one. As Gresh found multiple openings to attack that arm, Lee’s frustration started to bubble over. He realised he couldn’t out-wrestle Gresham and started to out-power him.

That strength advantage would prove decisive as it allowed him to escape the Octopus and build up a head of steam. A Running Knee followed by the Desnucadora turned this one on its head and gave the champion a win. If they’d had another five minutes, it would have a fantastic match. Instead, it was merely a very good one. Gresham continues to impress, and I hope he gets a chance at some point in this tournament to work a longer match and show what he can do.

Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars

Shingo Takagi (3-0) defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru (0-3)

After their tag team match on the previous show, Kanemaru grabbed a steel chair and drove it into Takagi’s knee. Before that moment, you would have given him a 1% chance to win this. With that injury now hanging over Shingo (along with the work SHO did to his arm) those odds might not have moved into Kanemaru’s favour, but a crack had appeared in Shingo Takagi’s unbeatable facade.

And, unsurprisingly, Kanemaru grabbed the first chance he had to widen that crack. Shingo made a rare mistake and took the fight to the outside, entering what can surely be called Suzuki-gun territory. On his home turf, Kanemaru hoisted Shingo up and drove him knee-first through a table. The Last Dragon was in trouble.

From there, this revolved around Kanemaru being as big a prick as possible. He used every shitty tactic he had at his disposal to beat that knee into submission. Takagi, meanwhile, sold his ass off, looking like a total badass for just clambering to his feet to try and put a beating on Kanemaru. Every time Kanemaru kicked that leg or locked on a Figure Four, it looked like it might be it, but Shingo kept coming back. Michael Myers like in his determination to Lariat that wee troll.

Of course, that troll-like behaviour would also damage the match. I had no problem with Kanemaru playing the wee shite, but fucking Taichi getting involved soured me on this. Why did it have to happen? It was a touch of overbooking in a fantastically structured match. If you took it out, Shingo would have still looked like a warrior, and we wouldn’t have had to see the singing ballbag. I was starting to like him recently too.

Anyway, Shingo blocked a whiskey spray with the steel chair Kanemaru had used, before having a big old glug and giving Yoshinobu a taste of his own medicine. He followed up with a Noshigami (which Kanemaru sold brilliantly), Pumping Bomber and Last Of The Dragon combo to hobble his way to 3-0. Even with Taichi’s interference, these two destroyed my expectations for any match involving Kanemaru. Is there anything Shingo can’t do?

Verdict: Four Stars

Overall Show

Night five of Super Juniors was a wonderfully watchable wrestling show. Nothing was blow your mind amazing while I wasn’t super-impressed by Tiger vs Scurll, but it all zoomed by. As we enter the meat of the tournament, people are working more constrained, and that might ultimately be to its benefit. It leads to fun, easy watches that I recommend giving your time to.

BOSJ Best Matches So Far

  1. Shingo Takagi vs SHO (13/5/19) – Four And Three Quarter Stars
  2. Will Ospreay vs Rocky Romero (16/5/19) – Four And A Quarter Stars
  3. YOH vs Ryusuke Taguchi (14/5/19) – Four Stars

Watch New Japan: https://njpwworld.com/

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