Day 5 of NJPW’s Best of the Super Juniors and day 3 of Block A. Now we can really begin to see how the tournament is going to begin to take shape with the frontrunners and the stories coming into sharp focus. On paper today is all about one match – Jr Heavyweight champ Dragon Lee taking on one of the best in the world, Jonathan Gresham but with a block full of talent, there’s room for the rest to surprise. Let’s find out what happened:
Suzuki-Gun (Taichi & Douki) def. Bandido & Yota Tsuji // Taichi tapped out Tsuji with Seitei Jujiro
Bullet Club (El Phantasmo & Gedo) def. Bullet Club (Robbie Eagles & Jado) // Phantasmo pinned Jado with a Schoolboy
Juice Robinson, Ren Narita & Will Ospreay def. Rocky Romero, Yoh & Shota Umino // Robinson tapped out Umino with a High Angle Boston Crab
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI) def. Ryusuke Taguchi & Toa Henare // Naito pinned Henare off a Destino
BOSJ Tournament Block A Match: TAKA Michinoku v Sho
Sho finally has points on the board. TAKA continues to be incredibly smooth and covers well for the fact that he’s not the man he was. This match was pretty good but never really got out of third-gear. I think that just about covers it. Sho won with the Shock Volt or whatever it is he calls his Package Piledriver. This was Ok though frankly, if pressed for time, probably skippable.
BOSJ Tournament Block A Match: Marty Scurll w/Brody King v Tiger Mask IV
Scurll and King are playing a long game this tournament. They’re already getting more sadistic and King’s getting a big more involved in each match, mark my words, by the end of this tournament, Scurll will be fully back to his ‘villain’-ing ways. Either way this was another fun match with some strong sequences from everyone’s favourite masked Dad who isn’t Liger. It felt like after a spot where Scurll tried to break Tiger’s fingers around the ringpost he didn’t follow up on that level of intensity, the match just returning to its previous heat. That said, very watchable. Scurll won with the Black Plague reverse suplex.
Winner: Marty Scurll
BOSJ Tournament Block A Match: Titan v Taiji Ishimori
I don’t know about this one. I know the story was about Ishimori coming back from injuries in that pointlessly long Scurll match but this felt like two performers capable of a lot better who just didn’t gel. Much like Goto v Cobb, it feels like a match that should be a lot more exciting considering Ishimori has shown with the likes of Bandido and Dragon Lee, he can work well with luchadores but this was just, yeah, it filled the time. Nothing objectionable but at the same time, still just Ok.
Winner: Taiji Ishimori
BOSJ Tournament Block A Match: Jonathan Gresham v Dragon Lee
Luckily as the show has been alright up until now, this fucking ruled. Dragon Lee works this fast-paced, high-intensity style where Gresham is so adaptable and practically unflappable in terms of keeping his cool but while they clashed they worked together so damn well.
The story of Gresham’s injured finger and Lee’s injured elbow and the two’s agreement not to take advantage of the other’s injury was nicely told with sequences such as an arm-trap strike trade with Gresh throwing elbows and Lee kicks was lovely. In fact, the only issue here was at a neat 10m, it could’ve done with a few more minutes to really have time to build that final sequence. But for what it was, a sheer joy that I would be happy to watch a rematch of whenever.
Winner: Dragon Lee
BOSJ Tournament Block A Match: Yoshinobu Kanemaru v Shingo Takagi
Who knew that Shingo was so good he could travel through time and pull back 2005 Kanemaru? This was the deserving main event as it had everything: a great match, a great story, a great ending and it even followed up on yesterday’s tag action. Yesterday, after the match, Kanemaru went after Takagi’s leg with a chair so today was all leg work from Suzuki-Gun’s resident whisky waster.
The action was smooth and well-paced, taking far more of a hard-hitting G1 style than the usual flippy boy histrionics of BOSJ. It creates an interesting counterpoint with the much-maligned Taguchi v DOUKI match from day 4 as both relied on old-school heel tactics but where Douki wasn’t able to maintain any sort of heat in his control segments, Kanemaru was fascinating. Presenting a certain laconic sadism that remind you why he works so damn well with Desperado, get well soon, by the way, Despy, I need you and Hiromu back in my life.
The finish itself as a series of ref bumps, Takagi managed to overcome the odds and use Kanemaru’s own whisky to blind him and power himself up for one last Pumping Bomber and Last of the Dragon was utterly exquisite. This was as good as Ospreay v Romero, in fact possibly better as Takagi made himself look so much more vulnerable to a loss than Ospreay did. Watch. This. Fucking. Match!
Winner: Shingo Takagi
Today we not only got three solid lower card matches but also two superb semi-mains, including the best Yoshinobs match since his time as the Jr ace of NOAH. Carry on like this and we’ve got ourselves a good tournament cooking. That said, this tournament is looking increasingly bleak for Suzuki-Gun, but I’d imagine they’re the only ones not enjoying it.
Block A Standings:
Shingo Takagi: 6 (3-0-0)
Taiji Ishimori: 6 (3-0-0)
Dragon Lee: 4 (2-0-1)
Marty Scurll: 4 (2-0-1)
Tiger Mask IV: 4 (2-0-1)
Jonathan Gresham: 2 (1-0-2)
Sho: 2 (1-0-2)
Titan: 2 (1-0-2)
TAKA Michinoku: 0 (0-0-3)
Yoshinobu Kanemaru: 0 (0-0-3)