New Japan Pro Wrestling
BEST OF THE SUPER JUNIORS 26
Day 2 – B Block
Sendai Sunplaza Hall
Kevin Kelly, Caprice Coleman and Chris Charlton on commentary.
DOUKI vs REN NARITA
Douki is in as one of the replacements for the injured El Desperado and the visa-stranded Flip Gordon, and is seconded by Taichi. I’ve never heard of or seen him before, which is always exciting for a tournament like this. They grapple on the mat to start with Douki bailing for a breather. Back inside and Narita goes back to the mat to keep Douki off his game. Nice split evade by Douki makes Ren dump himself, and Taichi distracts the ref allowing Douki to get a chair shot in. Douki throws Ren into the audience chairs at ringside and works him over in the carnage. Ren gets tossed back inside and Douki keeps the pressure on. Elbow takes down Ren for 2. Douki with a rope-run double stomp to the gut for 2, keeps on Ren and gets in the refs face and knocks him down. Ren with an evade, shots traded, Ren looks for that bridging belly to belly but Douki counters into an interesting double-wrist-clutch headscissors submission, but Ren pulls himself to the ropes.
Douki looks for a shot off the ropes but eats a dropkick from Ren. Ren keeps coming and drops Douki with a tackle and a nice vertical suplex and covers for 2. The Boston Crab is attempted, Douki looks to counter but Ren keeps fighting with it and locks in a cross between a crab and a sharpshooter, but Douki makes the ropes. Ren catches Douki with the belly to belly but couldnt hold the bridge, scrambles for the cover but is only able to get 2. Douki with a nice lariat to take Ren’s head off, looks for his finishing dragon suplex (Suplex De La Luna) but Ren catches a rollup for 2. Another cradle by Ren for 2. Douki to the apron and nearly botches an over the top DDT, then hits a GORGEOUS Suplex De La Luna and thats the WIN.
Douki defeats Ren Narita by pinfall via Suplex De La Luna
JAY’S RATING: 2.75 out of 5
A decent start to Block B action, with Ren Narita continuing to show why he is one of the rising stars of this Young Lion class. Douki shows promise, botched a bit at the end and I think had a little touch of nerves for this first outing, but his style is SUPER interesting and unique, and that finisher is sick. Intrigued and looking forward to seeing where he goes from here.
After the match, Douki attacks Ren viciously with a pipe as Taichi keeps any help at bay. Douki then faces down Jushin Liger, who is on Japanese commentary.
ROBBIE EAGLES vs ROCKY ROMERO
The bell rings and they start fast out of the gate, shots traded, Rocky looks for Shiranui early but Robbie escapes and looks for his own, Rocky escapes, Rocky gets a running rana and Robbie heads outside. Robbie evades a Rocky dive but Rocky cuts off a Robbie dive as well. Back inside and Rocky gets a gorgeous octopus hold locked in and transitions into a cover for 2. Basement dropkick by Rocky, who toys with Robbie. Shots traded but Robbie fires back and targets Rocky’s leg. Rocky fights up but Robbie hits a nice kneeling northern lariat and a cover for 2. Bridging fallaway slam by Robbie gets 2, and he goes right back to Rocky’s knee. Corner double knees by Robbie connect and a low 619 to the knee, followed by seated running corner knees right to Rocky’s face. Cover by Robbie but only 2. Nice sequence. Robbie talks shit and stays on Rocky, but Rocky swats Robbie to change the momentum, and lands a nice leaping tornado DDT out of the corner, but Rocky is still down due to the knee. Rocky makes it to his feet first but is limping, fires at Robbie, Robbie fights back but Rocky snags a nice roll-through into the cross armbar and Robbie has to get the ropes.
They trade shots and kicks, Rocky snatches the wrist and drives his knee hard onto the arm and into the mat. Rocky gets Forever Clotheslines, but Rocky’s knee gave out, Robbie gets a spring dropkick to the knee and locks in the Miller Special, a trailer hitch-style submission that he submitted Jushin Liger with during Jr. Tag League. Rocky fights and crawls and gets the rope for the break. Robbie keeps on Rocky and the knee, Rocky fires back (GREAT pop on a right hand shot from Rocky) but Robbie gets a jumping enziguri and rope assisted shiranui and covers but only gets 2. Robbie looks for Turbo Backpack but Rocky turns it into a rollup for 2, gets a magistral next for another 2, and another cover for 2 but they bridge up and Rocky backslides Robbie into a knee and hits a running shiranui for 2. Rocky almost gets caught in the Turbo Backpack, kicks by Robbie but Rocky gets the rewind kick but Robbie lands the Turbo Backpack, covers but only gets 2! Basement superkick by Robbie who climbs and hits a 450 on the knee, and then locks in the Miller Special again and Rocky finally has to TAP.
Robbie Eagles defeats Rocky Romero by submission via the Miller Special
JAY’S RATING: 3.5 out of 5
This was a great first round matchup and a nice tournament debut for Robbie Eagles, who is an eclectic wrestler but what really specifies it is his ATTITUDE, which he is so dropped into. Add to that a British-style crispness, and I’m really looking forward to more from him. However, honestly my big takeaway is how FUCKING GOOD Rocky Romero still is. The dude is precise, intelligent and an INSANE in-ring storyteller. Kevin Kelly describes him as one who will be known as one of the greatest junior tag competitors of all time. I not only agree, I honestly think he will go down as one of the most reliably consistent performers of all time (and honestly, Veteran Rocky may be the best Rocky we have yet seen overall, though that might be a bold statement to some). I always look forward to a Rocky Romero match. This match only added another example as to why. Well done.
EL PHANTASMO vs BANDIDO
I’ve been digging some of ELP’s stuff since joining Bullet Club more than when I was following his British stuff about a year or so ago, and Bandido is a fucking rockstar, so this could be fun. Bandido shakes the refs hand and extends to ELP but gets flipped off instead. They start quick running the ropes, nice lucha counterwrestling and we get a near perfect standoff. Bandido does his gun to the head pose and ELP walks right into it to talk shit, and uses the wrist to ground Bandido. Ground cover work, nice monkey flip weight-sharing sequence with double covers and double bridges while keeping locked hands. Bandido with an armdrag but ELP holds on to the wrist, nice rope work into a rana that sends Bandido outside and ELP lands a nice suicide dive that drives Bandido into the crowd. ELP then flips off a baby in the front row. WHAT. ELP works over Bandido on the outside, and commentary talks about the change in attitude since joining Bullet Club. ELP keeps things slow on the outside, rolls Bandido back inside and the crowd applauds, which ELP bows to mockingly.
Bandido evades a corner shot and fires back, catches ELP off a spring into a military press but ELP escapes, but Bandido lands a pump kick. Tilt a whirl rana dumps ELP and Bandido hits a FANTASTIC tope con giro with no touch to wipe out ELP. Beautiful. Back inside and ELP cuts off a spring crossbody with a dropkick, covers but only 2. ELP gets Bandido up for that cutthroat torture rack to set something up, Bandido out of it but eats a stiff shot, nice evasion by Bandido, flurry and a superkick connects but then ELP gets a spinning torture rack neckbreaker and covers for 2. ELP looks for Greetings from Chasewood Park, Bandido escapes but ELP gets a corkscrew spring destroyer out of the corner (WHAT!), but then Bandido gets a spinning destroyer of his own and both just collapse. Weeeeeeell shit. They trade shots, nice open hand chop exchange, nice kicks by ELP connect but Bandido stays on ELP as well, big pop-up cutter by Bandido connects but he only gets 2. Big reverse suplex and a Boma Ye land on ELP but Bandido still only gets 2.
Bandido climbs but ELP jumps right to the top rope with a kick and follows with a super rana, hops up top and lands a big splash on Bandido and covers but only gets 2. ELP with a wrist clutch and rope walks to 2 corners, Bandido escapes and climbs and lands the fallaway Spanish Fly! Cover by Bandido, but SOMEHOW ELP kicks out of that move. Bandido calls for the 21-Plex but ELP uses the ref to interrupt the move, then shoves the ref aside and pulls Bandido’s mask up to expose the face as a distraction and takes advantage of the moment to hit Greetings from Chasewood Park (an arm-trapped pancake Pedigree), covers and thats the 3 COUNT.
El Phantasmo defeats Bandido by pinfall via Greetings from Chasewood Park
JAY’S RATING: 3.25 out of 5
A nice Super Jr debut for both match-wise, and ELP debuting here as part of BC makes this victory make sense from a story point of view… but something feels weird to me about Bandido losing in the first round, only because he is SO. FUCKING. GOOD. ELP is definitely getting better and better and is more locked in now than I have ever seen him before, but Bandido still ended up impressing me more overall, and now has to gain new momentum in the tournament after an early disappointment. I dont know, I get it even if I’m not sure I agree with it. But both came away looking good at the end of the day, it was a super engaging match and both have so much more to offer in this tournament, so lots of good things out of this one.
BUSHI vs WILL OSPREAY
This is genuinely interesting to me, as Will has pretty fully leveled up to compete consistently in the heavyweight division, and so his inhabiting both divisions simultaneously is simultaneously cool, intriguing, full of potential and also on-brand for a talent like Ospreay. Nice crowd response for Will. Lockup to begin as both test their strength and trade the advantage in the ropes. BUSHI goes tranquilo, and Will just KICKS HIM IN THE FACE. HA! Rocky would have loved that spot on commentary. Rana by BUSHI but Will cartwheels out, BUSHI evades a shot by Will, they run the ropes and BUSHI gets monkey flipped, Will does the feint taught but BUSHI kicks him in the face in revenge, Will to the outside and BUSHI takes him over with an over the top rana. BUSHI rolls Will back in and stays on him. Neckbreaker and cover but only 2 for BUSHI. Shots traded but BUSHI gets control and locks in an STF, but Will makes the ropes. Shots traded, Will pulls off BUSHI’s shirt but BUSHI holds onto it and gets his trademark choke, but Will fires back with the handspring enziguri (but hits it more as a cannonball).
Kick by Will and a 619 connects, and he follows with a huge hesitation dropkick on BUSHI in the corner. BUSHI counters and tries to dump Will but Will hits Pip Pip Cheerio instead and covers for 2. Will favoring the neck and jaw. BUSHI gets an overhead kick and missile dropkick into the BUSH-a-roonie, looks for the fisherman neckbreaker but Will counters, they keep reversing each other with BUSHI finally landing the neckbreaker and covers for 2. Will lands the backflip into the enziguri and both are down. Shots traded once again. Nice rewind kick by BUSHI, Will counters into a Liger Bomb for 2. BUSHI evades the Os-Cutter and hits a lungblower and covers but only gets 2, and calls for MX. Will counters, gets a kick to BUSHI’s face from on his back, then puts BUSHI on his shoulders, then climbs to the middle rope… but BUSHI fights back and is able to get Will over in a rana but Will lands on his feet because OF COURSE HE FUCKING DOES. Will with a standing Spanish Fly for 2, calls for Stormbreaker but BUSHI escapes and DDT’s Will HARD onto the apron over the middle rope!
The ref starts counting and Will is out, BARELY making it in at 19. Rope-hung backstabber by BUSHI gets 2 and BUSHI looks for MX again. Will counters with a high roundhouse kick, and Will gets distance and lands the Robinson Special. The Os-Cutter gets countered and BUSHI tries the mist but Will COVERS BUSHI’S MOUTH, then turns him around and hits the hook kick which sends the mist into the air (I love it because I’m a nerd for that kind of spot), Will follows with a reverse Bloody Sunday and covers for 2. Will with the Hidden Blade, follows up with Stormbreaker and covers, and that is all for BUSHI as Will takes the WIN.
Will Ospreay defeats BUSHI by pinfall via Stormbreaker
JAY’S RATING: 3.5 out of 5
Another strong first round match, with the right person winning. Ospreay is a fucking machine, but more than that he is a thoughtful, passionate in ring storyteller who balances fun and fight better than almost anyone in the game today. (That mist spot was money.) The layers of Will as a performer are ridiculous, and we got to see fun bits of all of them here. BUSHI also provided nice competition and showed us why you cant write him off completely, as he is great at spoiler moments and unexpected twists, and just seems like a great scene partner. Really well done by all.
YOH vs RYUSUKE TAGUCHI
I’m excited by this match and its potential, given Yoh’s great quickness and defensive style, but even moreso because Taguchi has a shtick that seems like it will never get old to me. He’s a performance genius. And then he also delivers such great work so consistently especially in tournament settings – its why he was one of the first Japanese wrestlers who really grabbed my attention when I first began following regularly. Taguchi is out in Taguchi Japan gear and rugby ball, and is also helping to market Toru Yano’s branded ramen. I love it. We get a fist bump of sorts and the bell. Interesting split crowd. They work the mat to start. They run the ropes, Taguchi does his shtick, Yoh tries to drop a leg but Taguchi evades, showing the experience edge. Flying hip attack hits Yoh but Yoh gets an atomic drop on a second one. Taguchi tries to hold the rope and bring himself back in, but crotches himself on the bottom rope. I LOVE IT. Yoh now gets Taguchi in a rope trapped Paradise Lock, with a nod to and approval from Milano Collection AT on commentary, and gets the basement dropkick to a prone Taguchi who rolls to ringside.
Yoh hypes the crowd but Taguchi evades the dive, Yoh stops his momentum and adjusts to hit Taguchi with a cannonball off the apron. Kevin Kelly reminds everyone that Yoh and Sho defeated Taguchi with Ricochet on their R3K debut to win the IWGP Jr Tag Titles. Back in and Yoh slams Taguchi and gets an elbow drop, covers for 2, then a knee drop, covers for 2, then a double stomp and covers again but still 2. Shots traded, Yoh gets the leg and nails a great dragon screw, and works the knee. Leg lock is applied by Yoh but Taguchi gets the ropes before Yoh hits basement dropkicks, continuing to work the knee. Taguchi with a spring hip attack, rolls through a Yoh sunset flip and hits his own low dropkick and Yoh bails. Spring dive over the top by Taguchi wipes out Yoh. Taguchi gets a flying hip attack off the apron that puts Yoh into the crowd. The ref begins the count and Taguchi rolls Yoh back in, looks to spring but Yoh evades, Taguchi hits 2 Amigos but Yoh turns the 3rd into a cradle for 2 and targets the knee, then hits a backbreaker/neckbreaker combo and both are down.
Yoh fires up and comes right at Taguchi, dropping him with a corkscrew forearm. Enziguri to the back of the head by Yoh who tries a dragon suplex, Taguchi breaks it but Yoh gets a bridging German instead for 2. Yoh looks for a superplex, Taguchi looks to counter and knocks Yoh off the corner, and comes off the middle with a flying hip attack. Gourdbuster by Taguchi connects and he channels Shinsuke Nakamura, lines it up but Yoh counters Bummer Ye by rolling it through into a half Boston Crab. Yoh drops big elbows on the knee, then does the same while crossing the knees, and then locks in the Figure Four but good. Seriously, thats a great looking Figure Four. Chris Charlton notices it too. Taguchi reverses the pressure and is able to roll into the ropes. Sleeper by Yoh turned into a Nightmare on Helms Street but Taguchi counters and they trade rollups and nearfalls. Dodon attempt is rolled through but they trade counters with Taguchi getting his for 2, and hits Bummer Ye but Yoh bridges out of the cover before eating a Taguchi enziguri, but Taguchi eats a superkick and both are down.
Both slowly rise and trade shots. Yoh hits a mid kick and jumping knee but eats the hip attack, Yoh was looking to rebound but Taguchi catches him coming into the ankle lock! Yoh keeps looking for the escape and counter but Taguchi keeps rolling with him to maintain the hold. Taguchi transitions into Dodon but instead changes it into a Tiger Suplex, bridging with it for 2. Nice jumping enziguri from Taguchi leads to Dodon and a deep cover, but Yoh kicks out at 2! Taguchi is stunned. Nice pop from the crowd. Taguchi hoists Yoh into a torture rack and hits another Dodon variation of his (one that he used to defeat former tag team championship partner Prince Devitt/Finn Balor), covers and thats the WIN for Taguchi.
Ryusuke Taguchi defeats Yoh by pinfall via Dodon II (?)
JAY’S RATING: 4 out of 5
This was a great main event, with Taguchi taking a singles win which helps him more than Yoh (who is currently a Jr. Tag champ, so he’s got other stuff to worry about more immediately) and showing once again how reliable Taguchi is, and how well he can balance the entertainment and competitiveness sides of wrestling to brilliance. And while Yoh takes the loss, he also looked FANTASTIC here, as both he and partner Sho seem to have the faith of NJPW as future stars. And to be fair, Yoh and Sho are working damn hard to show why they deserve that faith and investment. Great action, great arc, great moments. And a great cap to Day 2.
We get a handshake and deep respect between Taguchi and Yoh. He talks to the crowd, and then dances to his theme music and its AMAZING.
This was another strong day of tournament action, with every match delivering on some or multiple levels. Robbie Eagles has my attention for sure, sad that Bandido lost, Ospreay is Ospreay and Rocky is an underappreciated hero, and Yoh will be a singles star in the future while Taguchi provides a STRONG veteran anchor to the tournament who could pose a viable threat to some of the more up-and-coming junior aces. All of this to say, B Block joins A Block in a strong start, and I cant wait for more. The full first round standings now are:
Tiger Mask IV (1-0): 2 pts
Titan (1-0): 2 pts
Marty Scurll (1-0): 2 pts
Shingo Takagi (1-0): 2 pts
Taiji Ishimori (1-0): 2 pts
Dragon Lee (0-1): 0 pts
Jonathan Gresham (0-1): 0 pts
TAKA Michinoku (0-1): 0 pts
Yoshinobu Kanemaru (0-1): 0 pts
Sho (0-1): 0 pts
Robbie Eagles (1-0): 2pts
DOUKI (1-0): 2pts
El Phantasmo (1-0): 2pts
Will Ospreay (1-0): 2pts
Ryusuke Taguchi (1-0): 2pts
Yoh (0-1): 0pts
BUSHI (0-1): 0pts
Bandido (0-1): 0pts
Rocky Romero (0-1): 0pts
Ren Narita (0-1): 0pts