While A Block’s future is simple, B’s is all over the place. Half the wrestlers involved can still win this thing, and nearly every match on this show has consequences. Will that still be the case come the end? No, the answer is no, it will not.
YOH (5-3) defeated Ren Narita (0-8)
YOH and Narita followed a similar formula to Taguchi’s match with the Young Lion. There was an emphasis on technical work, with YOH going after Narita’s leg and seemingly relishing the chance to school a rookie after being treated like one for so long.
As is becoming the norm, the fire in the match came from the cub. Narita does a brilliant portrayal of a man with more guts than brains, stumbling around the ring on that beat-up leg and throwing himself at YOH. Whatever it is, that kid has it, and Osaka was on the edge of their seat when he teased an Avalanche version of that Belly to Belly.
We’re hitting broken record territory with all of this. Narita is fantastic, and this was another wonderfully entertaining opener. We’re getting to the stage where you believe he might just win one of these matches and there was a Backslide which had me almost out of my chair. Sadly, our boy YOH came through with the Calf Crusher, but Osaka can go down as the latest place to fall for young Ren’s charms.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Bandido (4-4) defeated Robbie Eagles (5-3)
These two shot out the gates with Robbie taking control after an insane flipping Tope Suicida. I’m 99% certain I’ve already said this, but Bandido is at his best in wild sprints where he can show off that combination of speed and power. It felt like Eagles went out there intending to have that of kind of match, and it helped a lot.
That also lead to a few sloppy moments as there was an Eagles Springboard Dropkick that completely missed the target. Thankfully, it was quickly forgotten when Eagles was reversing the 21 Plex into a Reverse Hurricanrana.
The real shock was the finish which saw Bandido hit the Avalanche Moonsault Press to get the win. I was talking about every match on this show having tournament implications, and that one has just made it very hard for Eagles to reach the final.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
BUSHI (5-3) defeated Rocky Romero (3-5)
Rocky was rocking (hehe) his Black Tiger mask on his way to the ring, and when BUSHI insisted he take it off, the gimmick change came with a spray of liquid into the LIJ man’s eyes.
It’s no secret that nearly every foreign wrestler thinks BUSHI is a dick and Rocky has been playing into that on commentary for months now. I’ve no idea how real the heat between them is, but it brought an extra bit of spice to the action with Rocky chopping BUSHI around the ring and perhaps enjoying keeping it stiff.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure a slug-fest played to these two’s strengths. The middle section got a bit dull, and it wasn’t till they sped things up again that I re-engaged. It did at least lead to a fun final stretch with BUSHI escaping Romero’s Arm Bar by gnawing on his leg before getting the win with the MX.
Verdict: Three Stars
Will Ospreay (6-2) defeated DOUKI (1-7)
My opinion on DOUKI has veered wildly throughout Super Juniors, so I was intrigued to see what Ospreay could do with him. Unsurprisingly, he threw himself into the brawling element of DOUKI’s game, even launching himself across the Japanese commentary table to take Taichi out of the equation.
What I was even more impressed with, though, was the wrestling between these two. We’ve seen DOUKI get smoother as the tournament goes on, but this was his best performance yet. His reversal of Ospreay’s Running Shooting Star Press into his Cross-Legged Choke was beautiful.
It built to a fabulously enjoyable closing stretch as I’m putting this down as the best indicator of Ospreay’s talent yet. DOUKI might not be awful, but he’s at best proven himself a decent mid-carder. In there with Will, he suddenly looked like a star. It’s easy having great matches with great wrestlers, having great matches with alright wrestlers is the real talent.
Verdict: Four Stars
Ryusuke Taguchi (6-2) defeated El Phantasmo (5-3)
Five minutes into this match (I was watching on a delay) I went to the New Japan website to check out how long it was going to go. When I saw, I nearly cried. Fucking hell, this was dull.
I’m sorry, I know I’ve spent this tournament bashing Phantasmo, and it feels like I’m a bit out on an island with my opinion, but this fucking stunk. Taguchi’s comedy works when the action around it is good and most of this wasn’t. It was the kind of match that pushes you towards Twitter.
There were hints of big match Taguchi while Phantasmo hit a beautiful Moonsault to the floor, but it wasn’t enough. They had already lost me, and I did not care. The final stretch inspired apathy rather than excitement, and the finish brought only relief. I’m sure there was stuff in there to enjoy, but I was done.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
If my maths is correct, B Block’s outcome rests entirely on the shoulders of Taguchi vs Ospreay with the winner going to the final. The only way that isn’t the case is if they have a double count-out/DQ in which case a Robbie Eagles win (he is the only person to have a tiebreaker against both of them) would see him advance? Is that correct? I’m pretty sure it is.
As for this show, it was good with only the main event letting it down. I also suspect I will be alone in being that low on it but fuck it, I felt the way I felt. All things considered, we’re nearly all done with this Super Juniors, and it is the first time I’ve felt like that, so I can’t complain too much.
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/