NJPW’s BOSJ & World Tag League Finals Report

Mark Buckeldee reviews NJPW's Best of the Super Juniors & World Tag League final from Sumo Hall including Katsuyori Shibata's announcement.

Photo Courtesy: NJPW

By: Mark Buckeldee

Welcome to this POST Wrestling report for the Final of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s BOSJ  28 and World Tag League 2021, which took place on 15th December 2021 at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. In addition to the finals for both tournaments, this was publicized up with a special announcement from Katsuyori Shibata. The attendance for this show was 3,200 fans.

  1. Kosei Fujita, Yuto Nakashima & Ryusuke Taguchi vs DOUKI, TAKA Michinoku & Minoru Suzuki – A good opener highlighted by Suzuki taking on Young Lions
  2. Ryohei Oiwa & Tiger Mask vs El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori – More of an angle than a match
  3. Master Wato, Tomoaki Honma, Togi Makabe & Toru Yano vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado, Zack Sabre Jr & Taichi – A decent undercard tag centered around Yano and Kanemaru
  4. Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Chase Owens, Mad Luck Fale, Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga – An okay undercard tag with some nice moments
  5. SANADA & Tetsuya Naito vs Great O-Khan & Jeff Cobb – A simple tag match with low effort from LIJ and another solid showing from O-Khan & Cobb
  6. BUSHI & Shingo Takagi vs Robbie Eagles & Kazuchika Okada – An underwhelming build up tag with a lack of heat and not enough Robbie Eagles
  7. World Tag League 2021 Final: YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto vs Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL – A good (by House of Torture standards) heel vs face match. One of HoT’s better matches but there was a lot of the usual shtick
  8. Best of the Super Jr. 28 Final: Hiromu Takahashi vs Yoh – A long, slightly messy match with lost of action, a crazy finishing stretch, some great sequences, and a baffling booking decision – RECOMMENDED

Kosei Fujita, Yuto Nakashima & Ryusuke Taguchi vs DOUKI, TAKA Michinoku & Minoru Suzuki

The match started with the young Lions taking it to Minoru Suzuki: Fujita relied on amateur wrestling, Nakashima used striking. They both chose poorly as Suzuki made them pay for their impudence. Nakashima looked strong against Michinoku and Taguchi kept up the pressure with a good exchange between the two Jr. veterans. Fujita and Nakashima combined to take down Douki and the crowd was behind Fujita as he locked in a Boston Crab. After a promising roll-up by Fujita, Douki won the match by making the Young Lion tap out to the Italian Stretch #32 as Fujita’s teammates were also trapped in submissions.

Douki submitted Kosei Fujita via Italian Stretch #32 (6:07)

This was a good young opener where the Young Lions got a nice bit of time, and both got to interact with Suzuki. The focus was on the Young Lions, and they both looked good here while also feeling distinctly different.

Ryohei Oiwa & Tiger Mask vs El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori

Tiger Mask and Ishimori started with a vast array of kick-based attacks before Tiger Mask hit the tilt a whirl backbreaker on both opponents. Ishimori tried to quickly turn the tide against Oiwa, only for the Young Lion to fight back with a dropkick and a Boston Crab. El Phantasmo then hit Oiwa with a loaded boot superkick and Ishimori pinned Oiwa.

After the match, Phantasmo hit Oiwa with a loaded boot Superkick but Robbie Eagles made the save when Phantasmo tried to hit Tiger Mask with the move. Ryusuke Taguchi also ran down when Eagles looked in trouble, although he later attacked both Tiger Mask and Eagles and declared that he wanted a match for the Jr Heavyweight titles held by Tiger Mask and Eagles.

Taiji Ishimori pinned Ryohei Oiwa (2:31)

This was a short but fun match that let Oiwa look good while he was in there. It was mostly designed to set up two matches for Eagles & Tiger Mask’s Jr Tag Team titles, and it delivered on that front.

Master Wato, Tomoaki Honma, Togi Makabe & Toru Yano vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado, Zack Sabre Jr & Taichi

The Suzuki-gun team attacked as soon as the introductions were over. Kanemaru doused Yano with Whiskey, which was an odd way to attack a guy who owns his own bar. Wato and Desperado went toe to toe until the match ended up on the outside, where Desperado slammed Wato on the floor. Sabre Jr tagged in and toyed with Wato’s arm like it was a vegan Twiglet. Taichi kept things simple with chokes, so Wato kicked him in the face and tagged in Makabe. The Unchained Gorilla went toe to toe with Taichi before they tagged in Honma and Sabre Jr. Somehow Honma applied a Cobra Twist on Sabre Jr, but Honma missed the Kokeshi, and Sabre Jr made him tap out with a Triangle Choke. Yano tried to intervene, but Kanemaru stopped it by blowing Whiskey in Yano’s face.

After the match, Kanemaru continues to cover Yano in Whiskey and he challenged Yano for the KOPW trophy.

Zack Sabre Jr beat Tomoaki Honma via referee stoppage (Triangle Choke) (9:16)

This was a decent 8-man tag. The best part was probably the segment with Desperado and Wato. This wasn’t anything special, but it was a decent build to Kanemaru vs Yano.

Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale, Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga & KENTA

For the second consecutive match, the heels jumped the faces to kick things off. Tenzan & Kojima dealt with Fale, and Loa and Kojima used his signature machine gun chops and Bakayaro Elbow.  It all fell apart when Kojima got pushed in the by from Fale. That’s the only push that Kojima will see in the next 12 months. Loa mocked Kojima with machine gun slaps and the Bullet Club isolated Kojima. Tonga used Mongolian chops as the crowd got behind Kojima, who used a DDT to make the hot tag.

He chose Nagata, who unleashed a flurry of middle kicks and got a two-count with a double underhook suplex. Nagata tagged in Tanahashi after making Tonga hit Owens with a Stinger splash. The Bullet Club teamed up on Tanahashi before Tonga fell victim to Kojima & Tenzan’s quasi-3D. Owens dodged Tanahashi’s High Fly Flow, hitting a pair of V-Triggers before getting surprised by Tanahashi who won the match with the Samson Clutch.

After the match, KENTA appeared on the screen and agreed to face Tanahashi for the IWGP US Title under no-DQ rules.

Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Chase Owens via Samson Clutch (9:25)

This was an okay undercard tag match where ¾ of the Bullet Club kept their shirts on. It was built around Owens vs Tanahashi, although the star on the Bullet Club team was Tanga Loa, who looked good and showed great charisma at times.

This match was followed by Katsuyori Shibata’s big announcement, declaring that he would have a match on January 4th at Wrestle Kingdom 16. The announcement was short and sweet, just like a good Shibata match. This return match will be 4 years and nearly 10 months after his last wrestling match, the infamous match against Kazuchika Okada. To say that I am excited but nervous about this return would be an understatement.

SANADA & Tetsuya Naito vs Great O-Khan & Jeff Cobb

Ah Tetsuya Naito, a man who wears a T-shirt under 3-piece suit so he can dress to the nines while also reminding you that he’s putting in a house show-level performance. Naito and Sanada worked over O-Khan’s hair like it was a Genki Horiguchi match. O-Khan and Cobb showed off their power and isolated SANADA, who eventually fought back with Mongolian Chops and a springboard dropkick.

Naito threw himself at Cobb, using a Hurracanrana and a baseball slide dropkick. Cobb’s power prevented Naito from using a swinging neckbreaker and Cobb tried to tranquilize the Tranquilo one by repeatedly ramming him into turnbuckles. SANADA made the save but he got caught by O-Khan’s Eliminator. Naito fought back and somehow stole the win with an unexpected Hurracanrana. Cobb snapped and attacked Naito after the bell, setting up a possible singles match.

Tetsuya Naito pinned Jeff Cobb via Hurracanrana (9:30)

This was another decent undercard tag match that built to a match for (I assume) Wrestle Kingdom. It was basic, and Naito didn’t really get out of second gear, but the Naito and Cobb interactions were good, and I look forward to this match. Cobb and O-Khan continued to show that they are fast becoming reliable names on the undercard.

BUSHI & Shingo Takagi vs Robbie Eagles & Kazuchika Okada

Okada and Takagi traded holds before a test of strength where Okada had to use his wiles to overcome Takagi’s strength advantage. After teasing their big moves, they tagged in their partners. The introduction of BUSHI and Eagles briefly upped the pace before BUSHI and Takagi worked over Eagles. A spirited Eagles fought off Takagi and he tagged in Okada, who used his speed to keep Takagi off balance.

Okada got drawn into a strike exchange, which eventually ended with Takagi’s Yukon DDT. BUSHI and Takagi combined, with BUSHI getting a pair of two counts on Okada. The Rainmaker got back in control with his reverse neckbreaker and the Money Clip, with Takagi having to make the save. Eagles used a springboard dropkick to the knee and a Tope con Hilo to take out Takagi. BUSHI ran into an Okada dropkick before eating a top rope elbow drop and a Rainmaker that saw Okada win in an exceedingly comfortable fashion.

Kazuchika Okada pinned BUSHI via Rainmaker (11:32)

 This was a decent match to build up Okada vs Takagi on January 4th. The exchanges between the two were good but lacked energy and heat. Eagles looked good when he had time, but he didn’t get a lot here. This was a by-the-numbers build-up tag match that didn’t have anything special that would make it worth recommending unless you decided to watch the show in full.

World Tag League 2021 Final: YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto vs Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL

EVIL needs a hat. Not only would it suit Dick Togo and Yujiro’s aesthetics, but you could also tie it to the handlebars on EVIL’s shoulder pads. The House of Torture got the advantage by distracting YOAHI-HASHI with the big shiny bicep trophy. The CHAOS team attacked Togo, but EVIL soon regained control and used YOSHI-HASHI to take out the timekeeper. I hope that guy gets danger money.  After the Bullet Club team worked over YOSHI-HASHI, Goto tagged in. After a promising start the HoT used dirty tricks and questionable tactics to regain control. YOSHI-HASHI made the save with a double team Russian leg sweep-Headhunter as the match broke down. The reverse GTR earned Goto a two count, Togo got involved with his garotte, but Goto powered out and nailed EVIL with a backdrop suplex.

YOSHI-HASHI and Takahashi both tagged in, with YOSHI-HASHI using chops to control Takahashi, although Takahashi gained control by repeatedly biting YOSHI-HASHI’s hand. There was a great fight over a German suplex before Takahashi hit the Miami Shine, forcing Goto to make the save. YOSHI-HASHI kept going, only to crumble after a Takahashi Lariat. He kicked out of the Pimp Juice DDT, to the crowds’ surprise. Goto came in to stop Takahashi from using his cane and EVIL got thrown into an exposed turnbuckle, which let Goto hit the GTW.

The crowd was strongly behind the CHAOS team, who hit Takahashi with the GYR and their GYW finisher. Unfortunately, Togo dragged the referee out of the ring and things broke down with chairs and garottes. Tomohiro Ishii made a surprise return, taking out EVIL and Togo. EVIL ate a short-range headbutt and a Lariat to a huge pop and things came back to YOSHI-HASHI vs Takahashi. YOSHI-HASHI hit a Lariat and blocked the Big Juice DDT. Goto took care of EVIL, but Takahashi escaped a second GYW. YOSHI-HASHI anticipated Takahashi’s low blow and the CHAOS team hit the Naraku (an elevated Full Nelson Neckbreaker) to pin Takahashi and win the World Tag League.

Goto has now won the tournament three times with three partners (with Karl Anderson in 2012 and Katsuyori Shibata in 2014). This was the first time that YOSHI-HASHI had won a regular New Japan tournament.

YOSHI-HASHI pinned Yujiro Takahashi via Naraku (19:58)

This was a good final, maybe the best that you could expect for a final involving the House of Torture. Goto and YOSHI-HASHI were firm crowd favorites, and the use of Ishii was perfect for this final. This was a clear heel vs face match and the crowd cared about their favorites winning the tournament. As painful as the constant HoT shenanigans is, YOSHI-HASHI is probably EVIL’s best opponent thanks to his popularity and his scrappy underdog character. Plus, many of the more critical fans don’t mind it as much as they have lower expectations for the match. Is the match worth watching if you are cherry-picking? Probably not. Then again, this was the right result as it helps cement Goto and YOSHI-HASHI as a true tag team. Of course, we’ve seen this all before with Goto in this tournament over the years.

Best of the Super Jr. 28 Final: Hiromu Takahashi vs Yoh

The opening exchange was a series of wristlock counters, with Yoh turning that into a short arm scissors where Takahashi had to use a rope break. The match stayed grounded for several minutes as they looked for opportunities, with Takahashi briefly targeting Yoh’s left leg. The pace sped up and both wrestlers used speed and unexpected movement to try and get the advantage.

Yoh started a slap exchange before Takahashi found that his knife-edge chops gave him a striking advantage. They continued to trade chops and Yoh’s chest started to match the color of Takahashi’s hair. Takahashi used a running dropkick off the apron before reverting to using chops. Yoh kept fighting back despite taking a beating, and Yoh gained some success with knife-edge chops of his own.

Takahashi and Yoh were well matched in terms of speed, as they both moved incredibly quickly at times. This was quite back and forth, with Yoh having more of the match when Takahashi wasn’t relying on chops. Yoh used a Hurracanrana and spied an opportunity to hit a Dragon Screw before locking in a calf slicer. Takahashi fought back and locked in his D Triangle choke, with Yoh managing to escape. They traded big bombs and pinning combinations, both looking to win any way that they could.

There was a forearm exchange that was won by Takahashi before they traded one counts after running forearms. Takahashi was fed up with Yoh’s fire and desire, so he tried to snuff it out with a DVD on the apron. It wasn’t enough as Yoh countered Takahashi’s Sunset Flip powerbomb and Yoh hit a Tope con Hilo. After this happened Sho appeared, and he attacked Yoh with a Shock Arrow on the outside. Takahashi was upset about this and Sho also hit Takahashi with the Shock Arrow. Sho then insisted that referee Red Shoes Unno declare the match a no contest. Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Takagi, and Naito appeared to check on their friends and run off Sho.

When they finally got back to the ring both wrestlers showed their spirit with running dropkicks as they tried to fight through the damage caused by Sho’s interference. Yoh countered a Time Bomb into a series of pinning combinations, only for Takahashi to counter the Five Star clutch with a German suplex.  After a lot of flipping escapes, they traded headbutts and refused to let go of the wrist. This sequence felt like the New Japan match equivalent of one of those “I showed a Bot 1000 hours” tweets. Despite that, the crowd loved this, and they were firmly engaged in the match.

Yoh kicked out of the Victory Royal. After avoiding another Time Bomb II attempt, Yoh went back to the Dragon Screw to buy himself some time.  This let Yoh hit a superplex, which was immediately followed by a Brainbuster onto the knee. Takahashi escaped the Direct Drive and used the roll-up that he used to beat Yoh in the group stage. Yoh kicked out, with Takahashi running into a superkick and Yoh hitting a Dragon Suplex hold for a huge near fall. There was a frantic counter sequence where Takahashi countered the Direct Drive into the Time Bomb for a huge near fall of his own.

Yoh dodged a Lariat by Takahashi and he hit a Lariat of his own. They slowly got to their feet and Takahashi baited Yoh into throwing a slap, with Takahashi expecting it and locking in the D triangle choke, only for Yoh to roll through into a cradle for another huge near fall.  Takahashi hit a double arm piledriver, but Yoh countered a Lariat into a Five Star Clutch for another huge near fall. Yoh walked into a Superkick, and Takahashi hit a Lariat and the Time Bomb II to win the BOSJ for the third time in four years.

Hiromu Takahashi pinned Yoh via Time Bomb II (38:30)

This was a very good match that was completely derailed by Sho’s interference at the halfway mark. I get that they wanted to get the crowd behind both wrestlers, and it sort of worked, but it really took me out of it and Sho felt like New Japan’s version of The Simpsons’ infamous Poochy character. This was a very good match that could easily have been a great match. It wasn’t just the Sho segment that hurt the match. The match didn’t need to go north of 35 minutes. It got messy at times and there was one trope-heavy sequence that almost felt like a parody of the New Japan main event style.

That said, Yoh had a great showing in multiple ways. I appreciated how he tried to keep Takahashi off balance. I loved the fire that he showed with the early strike exchanges. Those chop exchanges in the first half were incredibly well used from a storytelling perspective, so it was a shame that they were mostly forgotten. I had doubts about Yoh after his return from injury, but he impressed me a lot here. The finishing stretch was great, with some huge near falls and the crowd was highly invested in this one. The counters right at the end were either inspired or simple and effective. The D sequence in those last few minutes was just incredibly good storytelling and would have been a great finish for a smaller match.

Ultimately this is a fascinating match because it is very good despite a lot of flaws. It felt like a match where you could edit it into multiple different matches, where they would feel more cohesive than this. Despite that, this felt like a match from the mind of Hiromu Takahashi in terms of its creativity and its chaotic nature. Is it worth going out of your way to watch? Well, that is for you to decide.

Show Summary

This was an interesting but frustrating show. A lot of the undercard did a decent job of laying the foundation for Wrestle Kingdom matches, but I cannot say that I am excited for most of the matches that they set up. The overall quality on the undercard was decent but nothing was above expectations and the Okada vs Takagi tag felt a bit disappointing.

The tag league main event was probably as good as that match could be and I like the winners, but it’s not a match (or a Wrestle Kingdom match) that is going to make people take the tag team division seriously. The BOSJ final was very good but match choices and THAT booking choice with Sho made the match feel less good than it could have been. It made the match more memorable, but not in a good way. It felt like New Japan forcing Sho into the mix because they want to push the House of Torture.

In many ways, this is a forgettable show after a tour with probably the lowest western fan engagement that New Japan has seen since 2014. Aside from Shibata and Naito vs Cobb, the matches that seem to have been set up feel lackluster and uninspired, even the ones that feel fresh. 2022 is a big year for New Japan, as they need to stop the rot in terms of non-Japanese fan engagement and attendance figures. The Shibata move feels like WWE bringing in Brock Lesnar or Goldberg. I hope that it actually feels more like when WWE brought in WCW talent in 1999/2000. Time will tell what 2022 brings, but the last 18 months have not made me optimistic.

About Mark Buckeldee 61 Articles
Hailing from Oxfordshire in the UK, Mark Buckeldee writes show reports for POST Wrestling.