After years in Korakuen Hall, New Japan rolled the dice and moved the Best Of The Super Junior final to Ryogoku. It was a massive statement of intent, and they backed it up by giving us the debut of Jon Moxley and Tanahashi’s return from injury underneath the tournament conclusion. Now, did they justify that move?
Dragon Lee, Titan and Shota Umino defeated Jonathan Gresham, Bandido and Ren Narita
Shota Umino is visibly bulking up, and our boy looks a lot less like a boy than he used to. It seems likely that he and his old sparring buddy Narita are destined for different divisions in the future.
Dragon Lee and Titan seemed to relish the opportunity to work with Bandido, pulling out some ridiculous lucha fun. Narita, Bandido and Gresham also put together some nice combinations, even finding a way to make Bandido’s Rope Hang 450 a bit less ridiculous.
We eventually ended up with Dragon Lee and Narita in the ring, so you know how that ended. Narita got a little shine, but ultimately Lee’s knee put the cub to bed in a fun opener.
Verdict: Three Stars
The Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori, Robbie Eagles and El Phantasmo) defeated Ryusuke Taguchi and Roppongi 3K (SHO and YOH)
Bullet Club got us started by attacking before the bell. Well, ELP and Ishimori did, Eagles stood behind them looking a bit bemused. That babyface turn is a-coming. It was the start of the nonsense portion of this match. At one point, ELP had his fingers up Taguchi’s arse and only got them out with the help of his pals. That was only slightly more ridiculous than Phantasmo’s daft rope walking shtick.
This match was built to put over the tension between ELP and Eagles. It culminated in Eagles hitting SHO with a 450 only for Phantasmo to tag himself in, push Eagles away and hit his finisher to steal the win. Then, after the bell, Ishimori (who presumably had a nap under the ring while everyone else was wrestling) joined ELP to grab the tag titles and make their intentions clear. Unsurprisingly, Eagles wasn’t too impressed with.
I’m enjoying the build between Eagles and Phantasmo, and I’m intrigued as to when they’re going to pull the trigger. The main event made Ospreay’s expected heavyweight move seem unlikely, but if he does make that transition, CHAOS will need a new top Junior, and they could do a lot worse than Robbie Eagles.
Verdict: Three Stars
CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano and YOSHI-HASHI), Jushin Thunder Liger and Tiger Mask defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru and DOUKI)
DOUKI’s Cannonball from the top is something, isn’t it? He had every person in this match to hit and he someone crashed and burned. The poor bastard. They’ve been saying Hiromu stole that move from him, but he was smart enough to adapt so that it actually connects.
This served as a refresher on some feuds that were placed on the back burner for Super Juniors. Taichi and Ishii are still angry at each other, Suzuki and Liger are even angrier, and apparently, Sabre and YOSHI have beef? Only one man is winning that feud.
Poor YOSHI did get the win in this one, pinning DOUKI. If you’ve seen a Suzuki-gun multi-man before, then you know what to expect. It was fine.
Verdict: Two And Three Quarter Stars
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, EVIL and BUSHI) defeated Kota Ibushi, Toa Henare, Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma
Ryogoku is Los Ingobernables de Japon territory, and you can tell. The crowd were rabid for their heroes and, in turn, were up for this match.
Not that it’s particularly hard to be up for a match with Naito and Ibushi in it. They teased us with their interactions in this one, not going too far, but reminding us that it’s coming on Sunday. Not that we needed any reminder.
Elsewhere, Henare continues to be a standout, throwing himself into every opportunity. He’s been working a mini-feud with Naito which has mainly revolved around him losing all the time. It’s slightly reminiscent of his battles with Ishii as Henare plays the underdog, desperately looking to prove himself. He took the fall here (although it was EVIL that pinned him), and I hope that is building to something.
Another decent match. LIJ always deliver in these spots and even with Makabe and Honma on the other side, they put on a good show.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada and Rocky Romero) defeated Villain Enterprises (Marty Scurll and Brody King)
Outside of the singles matches, this was the intriguing prospect on this card. You’ve got to think New Japan sent Okada and Rocky out to party with Brody and see what he can do? That combined with Marty’s talk of recruiting someone new to Villain Enterprises makes me think they’ll be popping back to Japan a few more times before Scurll’s ROH contract expires.
And Brody was fantastic. I’ve been unsure of him in the past, but he brought it, showing off a combination of power and speed as they built the action around him. There was nothing subtle about this; he was sent out to get over and get over he did.
By the end, this was a hella entertaining match with there even being a moment where I lost myself and thought Brody might win when he spiked Okada with a Piledriver. Of course, that was never going to happen, and he eventually met the Rainmaker, but based on this performance? He should be back.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Before and after the match Okada was looking around for Jericho, expecting the sneak attack. Then, just as it looked like we weren’t getting anything, the lights went off, and we got a suitably deranged video from Y2J. It was horror influenced but didn’t impress Okada as he grabbed the mic and mocked Jericho’s Painmaker nickname afterwards.
Jay White defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi
I loved White attacking before the bell and going straight after Tanahashi. One of the major criticisms of their matches is that they take too long to get going, but there was none of that here. White began a vicious assault on Tana’s injured elbow, wrapping it around barricades and Suplexing The Ace onto it. The newly bearded Knife Pervert looked great.
It also put Tanahashi in the exact spot you want him in, battling from underneath as the fans roar him on. Honestly, his big comeback feels a bit underwhelming because he’s not been away that long, but Ryogoku did not give a shit. They were going to cheer their Ace on, chanting his name and praying for his victory.
And that drove Tanahashi back into this match, giving him the power to take the fight to Switchblade. It became as much about Tanahashi’s heart vs his elbow as it did anything else. White was torturing that arm, at one point locking him in a Fujiwara Armbar while twisting and pulling at it. It was reminiscent of Suzuki’s destruction of Tana’s knee last year, and you wondered whether Marty Assami was going to have to take matters into his own hands.
In the end, neither gave up. Jay White was just that little bit craftier. Tanahashi fought off Gedo’s interference, and when White used the distraction to hit a low-blow, he responded with one of his own. However, when Tana went for a Cloverleaf, White grabbed the injured arm and used it to pull him into a roll-up. The momentary flash of pain was enough to catch The Ace off-guard, and he couldn’t kick out.
That might have been Tana and White’s smoothest match yet and possibly even their best (and I’ve liked their series more than most). I don’t think it had the emotion of White’s title win, but it was put together better. Presumably, White now goes on to challenge Okada in Australia? I’ll be intrigued to see how that goes.
Verdict: Four And A Quarter Stars
Jon Moxley defeated Juice Robinson to win the IWGP US Title
Moxley made his entrance through the crowd and got a good reaction. Juice, meanwhile, was all business, ditching his usual fun and games and then revealing that he’d shaved his dreads off. I dig the look.
There were a lot of questions going into this one, most of which queried how Moxley was going to fit into the world of New Japan. The guy was a hard worker, not a super worker, and he’s been doing that WWE style for a while. They had done a great job crafting a narrative around the smidge of history Moxley and Juice had, but how would he fare in ring?
Well, it turns out that the plan was not to bother with the ring much. They had a straight-up fight with it taking no time at all for them to make their way into the crowd. Mox was like a man possessed, biting at Juice and driving his knuckles into his forehead to bust him open. In return, Robinson began to take risks. He flew off the entranceway before missing a Cannonball into the barricade. Moxley had goaded him into fighting the match he wanted to fight.
They did slow things down at times, but they kind of had to, there was no way they could keep that pace up. However, for the most part, this was Moxley beating the shit out of Juice Robinson. Both men looked fantastic for it too. Robinson pulling himself to his feet and fighting on made him look like a hero while Moxley was an unhinged killer, wrestling fast and violent.
I loved this. It was a sweaty, grunty and occasionally sloppy brawl that worked for these men. By the end, they were dead on their feet, throwing fists in a desperate attempt to get the win. Then, it turned out that crazy beats heart as even Juice kicking out of the first Double Arm DDT didn’t make a difference. The second one lofted him up higher and down sharper, as I took back every question I had. Jon Moxley is more than welcome in New Japan.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
Will Ospreay defeated Shingo Takagi to win the 26th Best Of The Super Juniors
Will Ospreay took a sword to the ring, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say even Red Shoes would DQ him for using that.
The opening moves between these two felt like two wrestlers checking each other out. Shingo and Will were prodding each other, asking questions to see how the other responded. There was an air of intrigue in the way Takagi approached Ospreay, as if he wasn’t quite sure how to deal with the flippy bugger with a sword.
Eventually, though, they ended up on the floor, and that’s when things got serious. First Shingo hit a DDT on the hard ground before the crazy bastard only went and took flight. Flipping over the top rope and crashing into Will while nearly taking the barricade with him. We were still in the opening throes of this match, but Takagi had realised he was going to have to go big to come out with the victory.
It was the moment that set this match up for what it was, two brilliant wrestlers giving everything they had. While it wasn’t the wild brawl that Mox vs Juice was, it was every bit as intense as the physicality hit ridiculous heights. Every move was a bit harder than the last as they seemed determined to leave everything in the ring.
And yet, still, Shingo was the one who looked unbeatable. Will was trying, he was trying fucking hard, but he couldn’t break that armour. As Shingo seamlessly caught Will off an Oscutter and transitioned into a Noshigami, it was hard to see anyone but him winning the match. Even a Liger Bomb worthy of the Thunder God himself only granted Will a brief reprieve as seconds later Takagi wheelbarrowed him into the corner.
Then, Will rolled the dice. With Shingo on the apron, he leapt back into an Oscutter, sending them both crashing onto a part of the ring that you might have heard is quite hard. That was the moment, the moment where Shingo was weakened, and Will unloaded the barrel. The crazy fucker hit a 630 Splash to a standing Shingo before following up with a Shooting Star Press. A second Oscutter should have been that. With any other man, it would have been, but SHINGO MOTHERFUCKING TAKAGI is not any other man.
The final minutes were pure ecstasy. Will kicked out of the gnarliest Made In Japan you will ever see before Shingo took a Poison Rana that might have been worse. It was two men, two motherfucking warriors, the two best wrestlers on the planet working at a level that no-one else can touch. In the end, it took a Hidden Blade, an Oscutter and a Stormbreaker and that’s how you slay a motherfucking dragon.
Honestly, if I’m booking this shit, Shingo wins, but who the fuck cares? That was incredible. Shingo and Will put on the match of the year so far, and if any fucker wants to beat it, they might have to kill themselves. Bloody hell. Wrestling is a bit good, isn’t it?
Verdict: Five Stars
New Japan justified their decision to move the Super Junior Final to Sumo Hall and delivered a show of the year closing trio of matches. That final, though, fucking hell. Ospreay vs Shingo will go down in history, and it has earned that place. I fucking love this shit you know that? It means everything to me. Cheers for reading!
BOSJ Best Matches So Far
- Shingo Takagi vs Will Ospreay (5/6/19) – Five Stars
- 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
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