It all came down to this, Bone Soldier vs Dragon, Shingo vs Ishimori, the unbeaten streak vs the injured neck. There were other matches on this show, at least one of which impressed, but they had no consequences. It was all about the main event and who sealed their spot in Ryogoku for the Best Of The Super Junior final.
Titan (3-6) defeated Tiger Mask (2-7)
Titan and Tiger Mask came into this having beaten the same men (Suzuki’s trolls) and were battling it out for the pride of finishing above the other. They were both hurting, but the victor would at least end the tournament with a spring in their step.
After some early technical work, Titan took to the air to gain an edge. Tiger Mask is many things, but he is not as quick as he once was and he struggled to keep up with the younger man. He was forced to rely on his experience instead, countering the youngster and going high impact.
Unfortunately, the finish was a total clusterfuck. Titan took Tiger down with a simple Arm Drag and rolled into a pin. Tiger seemed to kick-out and Titan sat up, but Marty Assami counted the fall anyway. Both wrestlers looked unimpressed afterwards with Titan having to remind himself to celebrate. I’ve no idea what happened, but what a shitty way for these guys to end their tournament.
Verdict: Two Stars
SHO (5-4) defeated Jonathan Gresham (4-5)
SHO might not have a chance of making the finals, but he’s cemented himself as a future star during this tournament. Gresham, meanwhile, has shown more than enough to get an invite back to New Japan in the future. If ROH isn’t going to use him to his full potential, why not just send him out to Japan full-time? Deal? Perfect.
You knew going in that this was going to be a technical battle and it didn’t take long for both men to pick their limb. For Gresham, it was SHO’s leg, for SHO, Gresham’s arm. They had set out their base, and the structure of the action was stacked on it.
And what action it was. If you love the back and forth chess-like nature of technical wrestling, then you will adore this. The selling throughout was exquisite while I adored the way that they never forgot their goals. At one point, Gresham went as far as chopping SHO in the leg. Then, when the tag champ got out of a Figure Four by reaching the ropes, Gresh rolled the dice and pulled both men to the floor, taking the fall to keep the hold on longer and perhaps get the win via count-out.
It all climaxed in a thrill ride of a closing stretch as they left the mat work behind and transitioned into strikes. Suddenly, we saw the other side of these men as they threw everything at each other only for SHO’s strength to win out and allow him to hit Shock Arrow for the win. What a match!
Verdict: Four Stars
Dragon Lee (7-2) defeated Marty Scurll (5-4)
Right, let’s get into this one. Scurll vs Lee did absolutely nothing for me, despite there not being anything I could pinpoint as being shit. It was two guys having a pretty straightforward back and forth bout, and I did not give a flying fuck.
The problem was that the whole thing felt lifeless. There was no story running through it or even the smallest of hooks for me to grab onto. It was the wrestling equivalent of jazz, as two guys meandered around doing stuff with no real endgame in mind. I know some people love jazz, but I need something to grip me.
They went all out in the closing stretch, looking to impress in their final match. Scurll even survived a Desnucadora as Brody King yanked Red Shoes out of the ring before Lee was forced to wriggle out of the Chicken Wing. It was fun, but I still didn’t care. While there are times where two wrestlers doing moves is enough, this was not it.
Verdict: Three Stars
Shingo Takagi (9-0) defeated Taiji Ishimori (7-2)
Ishimori vs Takagi should be a guaranteed home run. However, Bone Soldier fucked his neck against Marty, and this tournament has seen him limp through a series of short matches. Had the break allowed it to heal enough coming into the final day? Or was A Block going to end on a whimper?
Don’t be stupid. All those days of taking it easy made perfect sense the second Ishimori stepped into that ring. So, we moved onto the next question. Could the fucker hurt Shingo Takagi? The big man is on a beast like run, and it was going to take something special to take him down. At one point, Bone Soldier hit a DDT only for Shingo to stay on his feet, give a grunt and stand back up, bringing Ishimori with him to send him over with a Suplex. A few seconds later The Dragon bounced up from a Destroyer to remove Ishimori’s head with a Pumping Bomber. He looked invincible.
There was something different about this match, though as it wasn’t only Shingo who was refusing to go down. Ishimori was doing the same thing. You began to see frustration creep in, as Takagi roared out wondering what it was going to take to beat Taiji Ishimori. At the start of the match, he might have seemed like an irritating fly, buzzing around until Shingo got his hands on him. But as the action went on, that fly grew, developed teeth and with them the confidence that maybe it could be the thing to beat the unbeatable.
In the end, it came down to a mistake. Ishimori went for Bloody Cross too early, couldn’t get Shingo up and when he tried to follow-up with a Lariat Takagi caught him, throwing him onto his shoulders and bringing him down with Last of the Dragon. That one mistake was all it took, and Shingo Takagi comes out of the block undefeated.
What a fucking contest! That was fantastic, as any worries I had about Ishimori quickly vanished. If I had to quibble, I’d say that the finish felt slightly abrupt, but when you factor in Ishimori’s neck injury, this was an absolutely stunning match. Shingo Tagaki might be the best wrestler on the planet right now.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
I said coming in that it was all about Shingo vs Taiji, and they certainly delivered, but a quick shout out to SHO vs Gresham too. They had a match that far-exceeded my expectations, and while everyone will be talking about that main event, the technical masterclass was a lot of fun too. Now, onto B Block to see if we’re getting Will vs Shingo for the final (we’re definitely getting Will vs Shingo for the final).
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
- Shingo Takagi vs Taiji Ishimori – Four And A Half Stars
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