After a short break, Super Juniors returns and is into the home stretch. We’re back down to five tournament matches a night (although A Block will actually be four as Taka has pulled out with injury) which will make these reviews a hell of a lot shorter. I enjoyed those epic runs in Korakuen, but it’s nice not to have to dedicate most of my day to watching New Japan.
SHO (4-4) defeated Titan (2-6)
Before the match, Kevin Kelly explained that Titan has been working with a knee injury all tour, but was keeping it a secret. I’m assuming that’s a shoot because he was walking with a visible limp as he made his way to the ring.
And if Titan’s knee was banged up, you’ve got to give him all the credit in the world for this performance. That guy was smoother on one leg than most are on two and while this wasn’t incredible, he didn’t seem hampered by his injury. They had a fun back and forth which got more time than you’d expect.
It also continued the idea that young SHO is refusing to die. He’s playing for pride now, but that kid has a lot of pride. He took Titan’s best and came firing back, hitting the pair of Piledrivers he’s been using as a finishing stretch and making sure he surpasses last year’s total of six points.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Taiji Ishimori (7-1) defeated Tiger Mask (2-6)
Another quick victory for Ishimori as my initial scepticism about his injury looks silly now. I assume they kept this short so that his body could rest before the group decider with Shingo, but he didn’t take it easy. Tiger hit a Tiger Bomb and twisted Ishimori up in all sorts of painful ways. It was by no means a squash.
Eventually, though, Bone Soldier turned the action in his favour with a leaping knee. Tiger would kick out of the cover but got rolled straight into a Yes Lock and despite wriggling around like a very angry kitty, his night was done. There wasn’t enough of this for it to be a great match, but it did what it needed to do.
Verdict: Two Stars
Shingo Takagi (8-0) defeated Jonathan Gresham (4-4)
If you were to come-up with the dictionary definition of a styles clash, it would be Shingo vs Gresham. Takagi is brute force personified while The Octopus is a technical wrestler to his core.
And to begin with, it looked like brute strength was going to breeze to an easy win. Shingo was able to swat Gresh away like a slightly irritating fly, negating the expertise that he brings to the table. It was only when Gresham went after the knee that Kanemaru injured early in the tournament that an opportunity opened up for him. It wasn’t much, but a chink in the Dragon’s armour is a rare thing.
Gresham’s problem was that this particular Dragon could turn up stark bollock naked, and he’d still beat you. He threw a lot at him, choking him on the outside in an attempt to get a count-out before tying Takagi up in all sorts of fancy knots. None of it worked. Shingo is every horror villain and the fucker will not die.
Despite that, I still think this goes down as another success for The Octopus. He looked at home in there, reversing the Last of the Dragon towards the end and getting some excitement out of the crowd when he locked in The Octopus. Gresham is too good not to stand out and wrestling a stud like Shingo highlighted that.
Verdict: Three and Three Quarter Stars
Dragon Lee (6-2) defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru (2-6)
I’ve just realised that Taka’s injury means we won’t get the Kanemaru vs Michinoku Trollfest. That’s a damn shame.
By New Japan main-event standards, this was a motherfucking sprint as they went under fifteen minutes. A lot of that time was filled by Kanemaru being the wee cunt he is. It will surprise no-one to hear that he attacked before the bell, went after the mask and attempted to get the count-out victory. That lad is predictable for everyone except New Japan wrestlers.
What makes these Kanemaru matches work, though, is that it all builds to that final run where he brings it. Dragon Lee exploded back into this, but Kanemaru was right there with him. That forty-two-year-old can’t go every week, but when he puts the foot down, he’s still one hell of a worker.
The finish was shenanigan central and was a whole load of fun. You had Kanemaru stealing the mask, forcing Dragon Lee to fight with one hand over his face and Taichi dragging Red Shoes from the ring only to later eat a Lee dropkick. It’s the kind of stuff that can annoy me, but it was well done, and the story of Lee battling through to hit Desnucadora was perfectly told. I enjoyed that a hell of a lot more than I expected to.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Taka’s injury meant Marty got an automatic two points, but it doesn’t matter. Block A is about Shingo vs Ishimori, and I hope Ishimori’s neck allows that match to be as fantastic as it should be.
As for this show, it was a hella breezy watch. The longest match went fourteen minutes and adding all the tournament match times up only gets you forty minutes worth of action. In a company that tends to do too much, it was a pleasant surprise and while nothing hit mind blowing levels, they were a lot of fun.
BOSJ Best Matches So Far
- Shingo Takagi vs SHO (13/5/19) – Four And Three Quarter Stars
- Shingo Takagi vs Dragon Lee (23/5/19) – Four And A Half Stars
- Will Ospreay vs Rocky Romero (16/5/19) – Four And A Quarter Stars
Watch New Japan: https://njpwworld.com/