The Best of the Super Juniors tournament resumed Saturday following an off day. The A Block matches were featured in Yamagata and featured a strong outing from the participants.
The first tournament match saw SHO defeat Taka Michinoku in 10:03 with SHO gaining his first points of the tournament. SHO has been one of the standouts following matches with Shingo Takagi and Dragon Lee. SHO had his right elbow taped, which the announcers explained was badly swollen from the suicide dive Lee delivered on Wednesday’s show. It led to Michinoku working over the arm. SHO came back with armbar attempts that Michinoku escaped, eventually falling to the Shock Arrow. The opener was a good match with SHO displaying the tools necessary to bring the best out of guys. This wasn’t near the level of SHO’s previous matches, but he looked very good.
Marty Scurll defeated Tiger Mask in 13:00, which was Tiger Mask’s first loss of the BOSJ. Scurll focused on the hand and fingers of Tiger Mask, borrowing from Randy Orton and placing the fingers into the metal turnbuckle and twisting it. Tiger Mask beat the count, shielded his face allowing Scurll to return to the hand attack. Tiger Mask escaped the chicken wing, the traded strikes and Scurll hit the Black Plague to win. This was Scurll working at his best and personally, I feel Tiger Mask has been had a very good tournament, so far. This worked well in my opinion and never dragged, which Scurll’s match with Taiji Ishimori suffered from.
In the next match, Taiji Ishimori defeated Titan in 11:43. Ishimori attempted to unmask Titan, which he prevented. They fought on the floor after Titan did his flip over the top and proceeded to hit Ishimori with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Ishimori hit the snap German suplex off the middle rope and won with a lariat set-up for the Bloody Cross. Their styles meshed very effectively and the performance you would expect from Ishimori. I think his match with Dragon Lee on the first night was hurt by comparison to their Fukuoka match and following Takagi vs. SHO, then he had the Scurll match, but this was Ishimori back on track with a great outing and Titan has brought a different flavor to the block, as well.
IWGP junior heavyweight champion Dragon Lee defeated Jonathan Gresham in 9:42. This was my favorite match of the show and would love to see a lengthier match. Gresham controlled Lee’s arm by constantly going for a kimura and when Lee would attempt an offensive maneuver, he had to deal with Gresham’s arm control, and it worked so well. They had a phenomenal sequence of reversals and brought out the technical side of Lee. Lee won with a shining wizard and the Desnucadora. Gresham is among the best technicians in the world and this was an excellent display.
In the main event, Shingo Takagi defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru in 15:21. Taichi was on commentary and would get involved later. Kanemaru drove Takagi’s knee through a table on the floor and attacked the left knee throughout. Kanemaru grabbed the whiskey bottle and tossed it into the ring to distract Red Shoes, allowing him to use a chair on Takagi’s knee. Takagi was limping badly, stopped Deep Impact with a suplex and then Kanemaru used Red Shoes as a shield, and he was knocked down after Taichi slid a chair into the ring. It was a blatant disqualification, but it wasn’t called. Takagi used the chair to block the whiskey spray, then he drank the whiskey and sprayed Kanemaru in the face. He hit the Noshigami and Pumping Bomber for a two-count, the young lions held Taichi on the floor and Takagi hit the Last of the Dragon for the win.
Having the main event go less time was a positive move, it also educates the audience to expect a finish in the main event earlier than the 22-25 minute mark, which I felt has hurt some matches. The ending sequence with Takagi’s comeback, including the whiskey, worked for the audience.
From start-to-finish, I thought this was a solid night of the tournament and enjoyed all the matches. If you’ve fallen behind in the tournament, this is a show to use as a jumping on point as the schedule intensifies this week.
Here are the updated standings:
BLOCK A: Shingo Takagi and Taiji Ishimori (6 points), Dragon Lee, Marty Scurll, Tiger Mask (4), Titan, SHO and Jonathan Gresham (2), Taka Michinoku and Yoshinobu Kanemaru (0)
BLOCK B: Will Ospreay, Ryusuke Taguchi, El Phantasmo, Robbie Eagles (4 points), YOH and Douki (2), Bandido, Rocky Romero, Bushi, Ren Narita (0)
On Sunday, the B Block matches take place from Yamagata with the following:
*Rocky Romero vs. Ren Narita
*Bandido vs. Douki
*El Phantasmo vs. Robbie Eagles
*Will Ospreay vs. YOH
*Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Bushi