New Japan Pro Wrestling kicked off their annual Best of the Super Juniors tournament today at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
The show was headlined by IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay facing the newest member of Bullet Club, “Bone Soldier” Taiji Ishimori. Plus, Ring of Honor’s Flip Gordon faces ACH, a battle between two veterans, and Yoh gets a chance to shine outside of Roppongi 3K when he faces Los Ingobernables de Japon’s masked superstar, Bushi.
NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Results (Night 1)
May 18, 2018
– Chris Sabin & Ren Narita def. Kushida & Shota Umino
– Yoshi-Hashi & Sho def. Tomoyuki Oka & Dragon Lee
– Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado def. Toa Henare & Ryusuke Taguchi
– Hiromu Takahashi & EVIL def. Marty Scull & Chase Owens
A Block Tournament Matches
TIGER MASK def. YOSHINOBU KANEMARU
Kanemaru controlled almost the entire match after throwing the juniors legend into a row of chairs early on, and took his time with numerous stretches and holds. The ringside area almost felt naked with no other members of Suzuki-Gun out there causing trouble. Tiger eventually got in a solid run hitting the Tiger Driver and a double underhook suplex from the top rope, which got the fans going. He locked in a Figure Four but Kanemaru beat the hell out of him at ringside and literally started picking up Young Lions and throwing them at Tiger. Shortly after Tiger rolled through a superplex into a cradle pin to steal a win out of nowhere.
ACH def. FLIP GORDON – Recommended Match
ACH came out with the AAW Championship, which is pretty cool. Right off the bat it’s clear this a much more serious, focussed competitor than the one we’ve seen in previous tournaments. There were lots of cool spots early on as you would expect, but Flip took the cake springboarding from one set of ropes to another, into an impressive dive all the way to the floor. ACH was selling his shoulder all throughout the match which may become a story throughout the next few weeks. A really solid back and forth that turned into both guys just nailing each other with stiff strikes, kicks, elbows and everything in the tank, with both taking serious damage and not wanting to budge. ACH eventually hit the Soul Buster to pick up the win.
YOH def. BUSHI
This was a surprisingly slow match. YOH got some decent offense in to start, doing a tope con hilo within the first 30 seconds, as Kevin Kelly on commentary played up how Rocky Romero and the rest of Chaos are kind of letting Roppongi 3K off the leashes to really show what they’ve got in this tournament. Bushi hit a DDT out on the apron a few minutes in and from there was in total control for almost the entire match, keeping things on the mat with a ton of holds.
TAIJI ISHIMORI def. WILL OSPREAY – Must Watch Match
Easily the most intense match of the show, with Ospreay going right after the newcomer as soon as the bell rang and both seemingly ignoring the referee focussed on beating the hell out of each other. Maybe it’s just that I’ve been watching her matches lately, but it had a Manami Toyota vs. Mima Shimoda 1995 vibe to it. Ishimori came prepared and had a counter ready for all of Ospreay’s usual moves, and knew to go for the injured neck right away. Will played the lion-hearted babyface refusing to give up, escaping some interesting crossface variations, but he could never get more than a few bursts of momentum going. He even tried to change things up, hitting Bloody Sunday as an homage to Prince Devitt. Bone Soldier eventually got the win in about 14 minutes by countering the Oscutter into a Bloody Cross.
If Ishimori ends up winning the tournament, the rematch is going to be a serious contender for match of the year. If they had another 10 minutes to work, this might have been in that territory as well. I could see them telling the story that Bone Solider had the entire field scouted, he was prepared for every match, and painting him as this scientific wrestler who knew all the counters, submissions and targets he needed to. Ospreay will have to pull out something new and break out of his comfort zone to have a chance in round two.
Ishimori – 2
Yoh – 2
ACH – 2
Tiger Mask – 2
Ospreay – 0
Bushi – 0
Flip – 0
Kanemaru – 0