Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the quickest New Japan review in the world. I say that because thanks to the unfortunate injury sustained by TAKA Michinoku (Get well soon, TAKA), I only have four matches to review and at least two of them were quite short. Without further ado, let’s get into it:
CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & YOH) def. Ren Narita & Yota Tsuji // Ishii pinned Tsuji with a pin fall. That’s what NJPW1972 says. I don’t actually watch the tag matches, I’m not a masochist.
Taguchi Japan (Yuya Uemura, Juice Robinson, Bandido & Ryusuke Taguchi) def. Bullet Club (El Phantasmo, Robbie Eagles, Gedo & Jado) // Robinson pinned Gedo off Pulp Friction
Suzuki-Gun (Taichi & DOUKI) def. Will Ospreay & Shota Umino // Taichi pinned Umino off Tensho Jujiho
Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito) def. CHAOS (Toa Henare & Rocky Romero) // Naito pinned Henare off Destino
BOSJ Tournament Block A Match: SHO v Titán
One-half of the Jr tag champs took on the tournament’s most underrated masked man in a technically sound but emotionally hollow encounter. SHO slotted well into playing the de facto heel role as the more proficient power-game-player and Titán worked a good underdog but really this was never more than good. It’s a shame because I like both men and think they have great matches in them, as we’ve seen throughout the tournament, but this was just too slight in its construction to be truly memorable. SHO won with the Shock Arrow piledriver for the pin.
BOSJ Tournament Block A Match: Tiger Mask v Taiji Ishimori
Ishimori started hot, worked violent and tapped out Tiger Mask with the yes lock in 4m35s. This was a good and fun sprint that made Ishimori look like a damn killer, important as his final obstacle is Shingo ‘the answer to who better than Kanyon?’ Takagi. Not a must-see but if you’re watching the show anyway, it certainly filled its time well.
Winner: Taiji Ishimori
BOSJ Tournament Block A Match: Jonathan Gresham v Shingo Takagi
If you’ve been reading my reviews close enough, you’ll guess that I quite liked this one. Shingo has been on a great run, not just showcasing his versatility in his unbeaten streak but also making sure everyone he faced look like they could win. So when this match started and it seemed to be mostly Shingo bullying the smaller Gresham, I was worried this might just be a squash like the prior Ishimori match. I apologise for thinking this, I underrated the handsome octopus that Gresham is.
Playing off the length f the tournament and injuries sustained, Gresham managed to turn things around, attacked the previously damaged leg of Takagi, pulling off some impressively smooth wrestling exchanges but also looking like he might pull off Takagi’s first loss of the tournament after nearly making the big man pass out in an outside sleeper. If only you’d held it for one more count, Jon. Down the homestretch, there was some messiness that affected the flow of the match with Takagi looking somewhat thrown off by a slightly wobbly attempt at a gory bomb resulting in the final spot as Takagi went for the Last of the Dragon from a tombstone position a little odd. Still, a very good match up till those last moments and one that I thought could have been great with more time to clean-up that homestretch.
Winner: Shingo Takagi
BOSJ Tournament Block A Match: Yoshinobu Kanemaru v Dragon Lee
Kanemaru has really turned things around this year. During his near-record-setting 304 day Jr Tag reign with El Desperado, he managed to find his mojo again but it was only with this tournament that he started to turn back the clock and rediscover the Jr Ace of NOAH that was inside him. He brought the full Suzuki-Gun playbook to the champ, throwing pre-bell attacks, round-the-ring brawling, Yota Tsuji, Whisky, ref bumps and Taichi interference at the Jr champ but it turned out to be not enough to take him out.
In the two men’s defence, they put in a lot of work to convince that Kanemaru could win here and Lee fought from underneath the heel master convincingly but having so much heel master shenanigans worked to the detriment of the match, making the end stretch feel messy as opposed to tense. Lee eventually won with the Descunadora slam.
Winner: Dragon Lee
If you’re pressed for time, nothing here is unmissable. The two top of the card matches are good with Gresham and Shingo pushing into ‘very good’ but still, a somewhat minor day. Maybe some energy was being conserved for finishing off the block on a high. We’ll see.
Block A Standings:
Shingo Takagi – 16 (8-0-0)
Taiji Ishimori – 14 (7-0-1)
Dragon Lee – 12 (6-0-2)
Jonathan Gresham – 8 (4-0-4)
Marty Scurll – 8 (4-0-4)
SHO – 8 (4-0-4)
Yoshinobu Kanemaru – 6 (3-0-5)
Titán – 4 (2-0-6)
Tiger Mask – 4 (2-0-6)
TAKA Michinoku – 0 (0-0-8)