Welcome back to the BOSJ. After a few days break the action picked up thick and fast at Korakuen Hall with ten tournament matches. Both blocks were in action and the undercard was non-existent. The whole card was leading up to a main event between El Phantasmo and Will Ospreay. Also on the card were matches like Bandido vs Narita, Tiger Mask vs Dragon Lee and Shingo Takagi vs Marty Scurll. Let’s get into it.

Block A Match: Taiji Ishimori vs TAKA Michinoku

The show started with a short and sweet match between TAKA Michinoku, who is yet to score a victory, and Taiji Ishimori, who is unbeaten. TAKA started strong and kept control of most of the match with a slew of strikes and submission holds. He would use the Just Face Lock to go after the neck and then work on the legs if needs be after. He constantly seemed to be on step ahead of Taiji until Ishimori hit a Snap DDT and finished the match with a quick Bloody Cross. The match didn’t even last five minutes. It was an outta nowhere move that won the match meaning TAKA is still yet to score.

Block B Match: Bandido vs Ren Narita

Narita continues to impress in defeat as this time he gave Bandido a work out. Narita took control early on and impressed with a display of roll up attempts and two vicious overhead Belly to Belly Suplexes, one of which was on the apron. He even hit his first Springboard Plancha, even if it was caught and turned into an apron Powerbomb. This was a fun bout that ended with Bandido hitting a rough knee strike to the face and finishing with the 21 Plex. He was sure to show Narita respect before and after the match to Narita. Bandido continues to impress and Narita is really showing some fire and move-set diversity in this tournament.

Block A Match: Titan vs Jonathan Gresham

This was a technical marvel. Titan showed off more technical, mat wrestling prowess in this match as he tried to take on Gresham at his own game. They traded pin attempts and submissions throughout the match. Both men seemed to be equals for the longest time until Gresham locked in the Octopus Hold and won the match. This was a really nice change of pace from the previous two matches as it was an even, technical and deliberate bout that worked to its own pace. Titan is starting to show himself as more of a diverse performer and I couldn’t be happier at that. The pair had chemistry and were more than happy to show respect to each other post-match.

Block B Match: Rocky Romero vs YOH

The next big Chaos vs Chaos match saw Roppongi 3K go to war as Rocky Romero took it to his stablemate and mentee YOH. The pair put a nice mix of technical and power as YOH looked to work the knee and Rocky looked to work the arm. Both men had a modicum of success as both men could have won at countless times. In the end it came down to the knee being too damaged and Rocky tapping out to the Calf Crusher (or StarGazer as YOH calls it.) The pair didn’t hold back on one another and Rocky ended up being the stern mentor he promised to be. YOH is really starting to reach the same level as SHO as a singles star and could genuinely be a threat in later tournaments. Rocky too has been on a roll for excellent matches during the tournament.

Block A Match: Tiger Mask vs Dragon Lee

The current junior champion was in action next as he battled the veteran Tiger Mask. Tiger did not come out to play this time as within the first two minutes of the match had seen him go hold for hold with Lee, reverse a Hurricanrana into a Powerbomb and go for a dive off the top turnbuckle. He also hit a Tombstone and Tiger Driver but Lee kicked out. There was a mix of mat and submission wrestling but Lee got tired of this, hit two knee strikes to the face and finished with Desnucadora. It was another quick match that offered plenty of excitement whilst not overstaying it’s welcome. Everyone loves this pair so seeing them together is always a treat for the audience. Tiger may have lost again but he is still looking strong and Lee seems to keep racking up the wins.

Block B Match: BUSHI vs DOUKI

Welcome to the first brawl of the night. Before BUSHI could even get his suit off, the pair were fighting it out. The match went to the outside, BUSHI hit a diving Rana and started assaulting DOUKI with his belt and choked him with his T-shirt. DOUKI introduced BUSHI to the west sign and the two eventually get back in the ring. DOUKI has some control until BUSHI hits a super comeback and takes the win with MX. BUSHI dominated the latter stage of the match and put DOUKI away with relative ease. He didn’t even have to rely on the mist. I will always be happy to see BUSHI get a win so this was a good match to me. DOUKI is generating some buzz but most people were rooting for BUSHI and no one was really sad to see DOUKI lose.

Block A Match: SHO vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru

Okay, this was clever. Yoshinobu Kanemaru won with a ring out here. After giving SHO the Suzuki Gun greeting by attacking early, the pair took the fight into the stands where Kanemaru ran SHO into the wall and then hit a Snap Suplex on the floor. From there he sauntered back to the ring whilst the ref started the count. SHO made chase but was caught off guard by Kanemaru throwing Tsuji into him and diving into the ring at the last second. SHO is screwed out of a victory and Kanemaru finally got his first win. It was clever and an interesting change of pace for the tournament that has played most matches straight. This was the first count out amongst a slew of screwy finishes throughout the tournament.

Block B Match: Ryusuke Taguchi vs Robbie Eagles

Robbie Eagles once again proves he brings the best out of his opponents as he had another exceptional match against the previously undefeated Ryusuke Taguchi. Eagles went for the leg again and was partially successful in damaging it but was unable to put Taguchi away with the Ron Miller Special or the Turbo Backpack. In the end he had to use a modified roll up NJPW1972 refers to as the Seatbelt to put the Coach away. Taguchi was no slouch either as he had Eagles number countless times throughout the match. He was able to escape the Miller Special and even locked in his own leg-based submission Oh My and Garankle. It was competitive, serious and delivered some nice chemistry between Taguchi and Eagles. By the end of this tournament, Robbie Eagles may be considered one of the best competitors in the there based purely on his in-ring consistency.

Block A Match: Marty Scurll (with Brody King) vs Shingo Takagi

Villain Enterprises continued living up to the “villain” part of it’s name as Brody King interfered in another match. Scurll started off trying to beat Shingo fair by working the arm and fingers but made the mistake of trying to match strength with Shingo. He tried all he could to get everything to work and had Shingo on the ropes countless times but once again he was able to overcome and overpower even withstanding Brody King and a shot to the head from an umbrella. Scurll impressed early on by withstanding and outsmarting Shingo but soon started to falter so turned to the usual heel tactics to try and win. In the end Brody was taking out by a Pumping Bomber and finished Scurll with Last of the Dragon. Marty had kicked out of the Noshigami and Pumping Bomber combo. Scurll was unable to beat Shingo but he certainly looked like he could have had Shingo not truly been the big boss of the division.

Block B Match: Will Ospreay vs El Phantasmo

Goddamn what a main event. This had everything, brawling, holy sh*t level high flying, strong strikes, ELP being a dick and Will Ospreay being brutal. The match started with a heated brawl on the outside, progressed into the stands where ELP hit a Moonsault off an entry way then finally made it back to the ring for an intense 20+ minutes extra. This match had everything. Ospreay and Phantasmo had a battle of epic proportions between good and evil. Phatasmo often tried to cheat but failed and was punished. He worked Ospreay’s neck with countless neckbreakers and even a Piledriver on the apron. It was probably also the most wrestling-centric match ELP has had in the tournament so far as he still kept going for the flashy moves but also had to contend with an angry Ospreay. In the end ELP hit CR II to become the current leader of the block and overcome Ospreay. Love him or hate him, ELP has taken NJPW by storm and the audience seemed to love him.

So, there you have it, night one of a marathon of Karokuen shows down. It was all tournament action and all matches delivered in some capacity. There were some shock finishes and surprisingly short matches as both Ishimori and Kanemaru put their opponents away in sub 5 minutes matches. We now have a clear B block leader in ELP, Shingo remains undefeated in A Block and Kanemaru and BUSHI finally got a win in the tournament. There are still two more Karokuen shows to come so stay tuned for more coverage.

Block A Standards

Taiji Ishimori – 8 (4-0-0)

Shingo Takagi – 8 (4-0-0)

Dragon Lee – 6 (3-0-1)

Marty Scurll – 4 (2-0-2)

Tiger Mask – 4 (2-0-2)

Jonathan Gresham – 4 (2-0-2)

Titan – 2 (1-0-3)

SHO – 2 (1-0-3)

Yoshinobu Kanemaru – 2 (1-0-3)

TAKA Michinoku – 0 (0-0-4)

Block B Standings

El Phantasmo – 8 (4-0-0)

Will Ospreay – 6 (3-0-1)

Robbie Eagles – 6 (3-0-1)

Ryusuke Taguchi – 6 (3-0-1)

Bandido – 4 (2-0-2)

YOH – 4 (2-0-2)

BUSHI – 2 (1-0-3)

DOUKI – 2 (1-0-3)

Rocky Romero – 2 (1-0-3)

Ren Narita – 0 (0-0-4)

(All images courtesy of njpwworld Twitter,njpw1972.com)

Leave a Reply