With A Block all wrapped up, it’s time to see who will be losing to Shingo in the final. The important match is Taguchi vs Ospreay as the Funky Weapon battles the Aerial Assassin, but there is a couple of ways in which someone else could sneak in. Thankfully, they are incredibly improbable, so let’s not spend time worrying about them. Onto the show!
BUSHI (6-3) defeated Ren Narita (0-9)
Ren Narita wasn’t supposed to be in the 26th Best Of The Super Juniors, but it’s entirely possible that he, more than anyone, has come out this tournament better than he came in. At the start, he was a Young Lion with potential. He leaves as everyone’s new favourite wrestler.
That change in perception has been so effective that quite a few people, including myself, thought he had a chance to win this match. You could hear it in the Okayama crowd too, their joy when he escaped BUSHI’s Boston Crab and then the deflation when the MX connected with the cub, ending his hopes. BUSHI is usually a popular chap, but no-one was rooting for him here.
And, truthfully, the match sucked because BUSHI isn’t very good. It was by the numbers, and while a Narita win and the emotion that would have brought would have elevated it, BUSHI winning so comfortably was a downer. Still, Ren has done what he needed to do, and he should head straight out on his excursion to ride this momentum into the next stage of his career.
Verdict: Two Stars
Bandido (5-4) defeated Rocky Romero (3-6)
Rocky and Bandido kicked off their encounter with some friendly stretching. There was a last day of school feel to proceedings as they seemed happy to see who was technically the better wrestler.
Unfortunately for their aching limbs, they couldn’t keep that happy-go-lucky feel up. Eventually, these two proud men ramped up the intensity, and we had a match on our hands. Rocky went after the arm of Bandido while Bandy returned the favour by attacking the leg. It was an enjoyable back and forth that didn’t reach incredible levels, but was a lot of fun.
In the end, Bandido finished his strong second half of the tournament with another win. As for Rocky, his story concluded with the ELP match, and he’s been spinning his wheels since, but he can be very proud of his efforts.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
YOH (6-3) defeated Robbie Eagles (5-4)
The odds are that most people won’t be talking about YOH and Robbie Eagles coming out of this tournament, but they’ve both had impressive runs. Robbie has even received some storyline support, as it seems his long-term future will be away from Bullet Club.
Their final match became a battle of the legs as Eagles wanted to set up the Ron Miller Special and YOH his newly named Stargazer (the Calf Crusher he’s been using). Between them, they make this stuff look ridiculously easy as their wrestling was as smooth as a freshly shaved peach (that would be smooth, wouldn’t it? I don’t know why you’d shave a peach, but people get up to all sorts).
The conclusion removed any chance of someone not named Taguchi or Ospreay going to the final as YOH connected with the Dragon Suplex for the win. After all the leg work I’d have preferred it to end with something to do with that, but it’s a minor quibble as this was a fun match.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
El Phantasmo (6-3) defeated DOUKI (1-7)
These two have had contrasting tournaments if you’re judging on Stuart’s Affection Scale (I’ve given it capitals, so it’s a thing). Coming in, I thought ELP was a decent wrestler while DOUKI’s first few matches garnered little more than a ‘meh’. As we’ve gone on, ELP has started to piss me off, and DOUKI has proven to be better than I believed.
Their final match brought them together, and it was, fine, I guess. It started fast with DOUKI getting the cheap shot before throwing himself from the top to the floor. It wouldn’t be the last dangerous moment in the match as they later crashed and burned on an attempted Super Hurricanrana. DOUKI took the worst of it, but it didn’t look nice for either man. Thankfully, they seemed to be okay.
The problem with the match was that outside of the dangerous (both intentional and not) it was all a bit dull. There is something about Phantasmo being in that ring that almost guarantees my brain is going to switch off. I’m trying, I really am, but it’s not working. He’d get the win after pulling DOUKI’s mask down, but if I had to choose which one of these guys to watch more of in the future, it would be the angry luchador, not the Canadian bellend.
Verdict: Two And Three Quarter Stars
After the match, ELP placed his British Cruiserweight Title in-front of Liger and I think spat on him? It wasn’t clear. Either way, the Thunder God went for a steel chair and had to be prevented from getting revenge. I suspect that’s a match we’re going to see in the future, probably in RevPro or maybe even at Royal Quest?
Will Ospreay (7-2) defeated Ryusuke Taguchi (6-3)
With the way this show had played out, Taguchi vs Ospreay was a straight shootout with the only potential complication coming with a draw or double count-out/DQ in which case fuck knows what would have happened. It gave this a big match feel from the outset, and even Taguchi had his game face on, tricking Will into thinking he was going to run the ropes to exhaustion before hitting a Hip Attack while Ospreay was distracted.
Unfortunately, that was one of the few moments where Taguchi caught Ospreay off-guard. The story of this one was that for all of Taguchi’s talents, Will is better than him. Old Ryusuke had the occasional flashes, his experience allowing him to find openings, but Will always felt like he was a step ahead. He’s younger, faster and stronger.
Not that I want to dismiss Taguchi completely. That might have been the story, but it didn’t change the fact that Taguchi still had to keep up with that younger, fitter man. He put it all out there, working his arse off to make Will look like a stud and doing everything in his power to make it look like he could escape with the upset win. The crowning moment of which was him reversing the Oscutter into an Ankle Lock before pulling Will in for the Dodon and going back to the Ankle when Will kicked out. By that point, the Okayama crowd had firmly shifted into his corner and were desperate for a Taguchi win.
In the end, though, Will was too much. Even a dislocated finger (which he was disturbingly blasé about, showing it off to the commentary table before popping it back in) didn’t slow him down as he battled through and hit Stormbreaker for the win. While this wasn’t one of the best matches in the tournament (and it was still damn good), it told its story perfectly. Will Ospreay is a level or two above Taguchi now, and while the old master can scare him, he can’t beat him. The question is whether Will has what it takes to beat the Dragon. Damn, that’s going to be special.
Verdict: Four And A Quarter Stars
There was an end of tour feel to the undercard tournament matches on this show. With all the important stuff done, you got the impression the wrestlers were struggling to motivate themselves and, to be honest, I don’t blame them. They have all earned the right to take it easy.
Neither Will or Taguchi took it easy, though. They had a fantastic main event with the right man going over. That final has the potential not just to be the best match of the Super Juniors, but the best match you’ll see this year. Will Ospreay vs Shingo Takagi? Yes, please!
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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