NJPW BOSJ 29 Final Report: Hiromu & Desperado Clash & The Road to Dominion Begins
By: Karen Peterson
BOSJ Finals Card Changes: Medical Clearances
Several talents were pulled from the June 3rd card for various medical clearance issues. Karl Anderson, Will Ospreay, and Tanga Loa were each included in the formal announcement on June 1st, along with the details behind their removal from the card. While there have been no updated details, Anderson is still listed for his NEVER Openweight Challenge against Tama Tonga at Dominion at this time. The show opened with a last-minute card as Juice Robinson was rushed to the hospital with appendicitis. His match with Tomoaki Honma was moved to the opening match with Ryohei Oiwa filling in.
Thank You, BOSJ! I’ve missed you.
Before I get started, I’m just going to roll out my soapbox for one small caveat about the match card. While I am happy to see all the heavyweights flooding back to Japan in preparation for Dominion, I really wish they would have afforded the Junior Heavyweights a greater spotlight on the final night of their three-week showcase. Yes, there are multiple heavyweight championship matches scheduled for Dominion, but just once, I would like to see the Juniors… every last one of them have a bigger celebration on the final night of their series.
I have truly loved seeing Titan and Clark Connors back in Japan because it’s been far too long.. I was thrilled to see Francesco Akira explore who he should be as the latest member of the United Empire. I relished seeing Alex Zayne, Wheeler Yuta, and –yes– even Public Enemy TJP– make the jump from NJPW Strong TV to the live audiences of Japan. I simply could not get enough of the energy of El Lindaman, as he was an absolute delight. Even Ace Austin changed my opinion on him because he had stripped off his Impact Wrestling character and presented the NJPW World with Ace Austin, the wrestler.
The Juniors who held the division together the last few years, making the most of the situation, shouldn’t be overlooked either because they still showed up, worked hard, and really made it entertaining. During the pandemic, the running joke was that the series was “The Best (Given the Global Pandemic and International Travel Restrictions) of the Super Juniors, but honestly, for the last two years, they made vats of lemonade with all those lemons. This year, all of the NJPW Juniors had fresh match-ups and I feel like the injection of fresh blood gave many of them the jolts they needed. With all the visiting champions, my imagination ran away with itself on multiple occasions, wondering if, during the G1, the Juniors will be hopping planes around the world to cash in on the potential title shots they earned as results of wins they racked up over their visiting guests.
Thank you, everyone, who made this tour possible. Hopefully, I can be there next year!
On the flipside… Don’t go just yet…
One of the things that often eclipses the thrill of the Super Junior Finals, is the short turnaround time between the Finals and Dominion. Without any obligatory three-day preview match stint in Korakuen Hall and just a post-BOSJ press conference, where the rest of the card will be revealed, the other PR hype for the finals… was the triumphant return of all the heavyweights and foreign wrestlers for Dominion. Heck, four of the matches were announced immediately after Wrestling Dontaku before BOSJ even started, so when they announced the final lineup for the Nippon Budokan, I felt like the air was let out of the Best of the Super JUNIORS finals, with the card completely dominated with heavyweight and openweight pairings.
Seeing the entire division pushed back into the opening matches and mixed back into the heavyweight tag matches, where the prevailing expectation is “back to normal business operations, on the final night of their three-week celebration just doesn’t sit well with me. I know that it happens every year, but perhaps it is time for a change. Just because history keeps repeating itself, doesn’t mean it should remain the status quo. Honestly, I would have preferred a chaotic 6-Man Super Juniors Tag featuring Ishimori, El Phantasmo, SHO, DOUKI, Kanemaru & BUSHI, instead of playing, “so which junior is eating the pin in this match…” with the return of all the heavyweights. Or permit all four of the guest champions’ title defenses alongside making the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Championship and even the IWGP Jr. singles’ Champion, remedy one of his few losses. So many of the six and eight-man tags felt like absolute throwaway previews, that could have opened the show (yes, including Okada/Jay or whatever extended long breakup Gedo/Jado are still going through months later).
It’s just hard being a fan of the Junior division sometimes when they can feel like an afterthought during their own tournament finale. With the return of the G1 back to its summertime slot and World Tag League now having the potential of being a stand-alone tournament again, there are plenty of heavyweight showcases, not to mention the placement of the heavyweight matches on virtually every card year-round. Even with the two-day Wrestle Kingdom format, the Juniors still haven’t been afforded the opportunity to close out one of the two nights. The Juniors matches, if any will likely be on the opening half of the Dominion card anyway, so it’s my hope moving forward, that NJPW considers a more Super Junior-centric finale for the Best of the Super Juniors Finals in future years, especially when you have to visit champions from other companies.
- *New* Opening Match: Get well, Juice. Homna’s match moved to the start of the show.
- Tag Match: A potential NEVER 6-Man Set up
- 6-Man Tag Match: A IWGP Heavyweight Tag Preview
- 6-Man Tag Match: A KOPW Preview, but stipulations on Taichi’s YouTube Channel
- 8-Man Tag Match: A Dual NEVER Openweight & World Heavyweight Preview
Spoiler-Free Showcase of the Super Juniors – This is the reason we’re all here, right? THE JUNIORS!?
- Showcase of the Super Juniors Match: Where do everyone’s journeys lead now the tournament is over?
- Juniors Non-Title Tag Match: Can United Empire lockdown a championship match for Dominion?
- BOSJ29 Finals: Revisiting one of the hottest matches of 2020
Results & Notes
Opening Match (1/20): Tomoaki Honma (GBH) defeated Ryohei Oiwa (4:36) via Kokeshi & Pinfall Combo
When the card was originally announced, I was surprised to see that this match was included as a non-title match, likely to set up the arrival of Juice’s next challenger. However, with Juice in the hospital and no announced recovery timetable (no details on the status of the US Heavyweight Championship), the match was moved into the opening slot and Young Lion Ryohei Oiwa was added to the vacancy in the match.
Great seeing the Young Lions back in the ring. Honma made quick work of the match; a nice, light way to open the show after the heavy news with Juice.
What’s Next? Wishing Juice Robinson a speedy recovery.
Showcase of the Super Juniors Match (1/20): Alex Zayne, Wheeler Yuta © (ROH/AEW), Ace Austin © (Impact) & El Lindaman © (GLEAT) defeated Clark Connors (LA Dojo), Titan (CMLL), YOH & Robbie Eagles (CHAOS) (6:34) with Zayne pinning Connors after Cinnamon Twist
The match was originally assigned to open the show, and I wish it would have been placed in the second half of the card. Overflowing with an abundance of talent, it broke my heart that after three long weeks, they had less than seven minutes. I am sure that everyone is exhausted from the tour, but I would have loved this to be a completely chaotic, twenty-minute draw.
After the match, Robbie Eagles got a bit mouthy with Wheeler Yuta, reminding him who lost in their block match-up, so perhaps that will be a potential match we could see in the future. As for everyone else? I have no clue which direction any of them are going, aside from the guests returning to their home promotions shortly after the tournament. I don’t anticipate any of the guests being on the Dominion card either.
Super Juniors Non-Title Tag Match (1/20): Team 6 or 9 (Master Wato & Ryusuke Taguchi; Hontai) © vs. United Empire (TJP & Francesco Akira) (6:47) TJP submits Taguchi with the Pinoy Stretch
The reason the match was non-title was due to the balance of TJP with a win over Wato and Taguchi with one over Akira in BOSJ block action? However, I feel like this hasn’t really prevented anyone in the past from demanding the added title stipulation or just walking up to the champions and demanding a title shot. I mean, that was practically any time Roppongi 3K held the championship, everyone would manipulate all the loopholes or just declare their intention, so I don’t understand why TJP/Francesco as the heels in the match, didn’t do precisely the exact same thing?
TJP submitted Taguchi with the Pinoy Stretch, securing a decisive victory over Six or Nine, in a rather quick fashion. Saving the potential title match for Dominion to pad the undercard, just seems unfair to all four competitors involved, when they could have easily gave them more time and made this part of the upper card of the show. I guess it could be tied into the prevailing conspiracy theory against the United Empire, with the company denying them opportunities? Given the matches all of them had separately throughout the tournament, this could have been a star-making opportunity for Wato and Francesco in particular, counterbalancing the veterans of TJP and Taguchi. I just wanted so much more for everyone in this match. It was good but far too short.
To add insult to injury, Francesco punctuated their intention by driving Master Wato’s head into the match. With how quickly they put Taguchi/Wato away tonight, they could easily be the next champions, taking those IWGP Jr Tag Belts to the US and making people chase them all around America for them while the G1 is going on… instead of the likely scenario which will be shelving them during the G1 while the Juniors are off or having the Juniors work preview tag matches throughout the G1.
Tag Match (1/20): Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre, Jr. & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. House of Torture (EVIL & SHO) (4:56) with SZJ submitting SHO with an armbar
Kanemaru denied SHO from advancing further in BOSJ with an exceptionally short pinfall loss in less than three minutes on Sunday, which means a chance to seize the NEVER 6-Man Championships. SZG needs a third to even the numbers. Naturally, House of Torture got the jump on Suzuki-gun with both EVIL and SHO attacking SZJ and Kanemaru from behind… has Dick Togo casually strolls past wearing and carrying two-thirds of the NEVER 6-Man Openweight Championship, and carrying in some additional… supplies like his garrote and SHO’s wrench, not-so-conspicuously concealed
EVIL grabs one of the championship belts, SHO reaches for the wrench, and Dick Togo helps himself to some of Kanemaru’s whiskey. It would all backfire as Kanemaru would dodge the mist-spray, and Togo would hit EVIL in the face, leading to SHO getting fed to SZJ. Oh, how I have missed watching Zack Sabre, Jr. wrestle. That pop-up transition into a submission onto SHO was so smooth. As House of Torture stalked off to lick their wounds, Kanemary & Zack took the NEVER 6-Man Championships home with them with the moral victory.
This further cements Suzuki-gun’s case for a proper NEVER 6-Man Match at Dominion. With Taichi competing against Shingo Takagi, I would love Minoru Suzuki to be the third man in this match. However, if they announce TAKA Michinoku, I feel like it will be a guaranteed House of Torture win.
6-Man Tag Match: United Empire (Jeff Cobb, Great O’Khan & Aaron Henare) vs. Bullet Club (The General’s Jewel Bad Luck Fale/Chase Owens © & El Phantasmo) (8:08) with ELP hitting Henare with the CR II
While I know the title change happened at Wrestling Dontaku with the celebration of Bullet Club, I still feel like it did a disservice to both Cobb/O’Khan and Goto/YOSHI-HASHI. There wasn’t anything particularly remarkable or outstanding in the simple tag match in its build-up for Dominion. Owens/Fale debuted a new tag name, entrance theme, and shirt. The match was a very standard 6-man preview tag.
HOWEVER. Ace Austin distracted Henare, by climbing onto the ropes, allowing for ELP to his the CR II for the win. I guess the feature point in this match was ELP getting a win over a heavyweight, meaning he could plead his case to enter the G1 as Ospreay and Takagi did. Austin’s Spade Calling Cards have already been upgraded with the BC logo, too. I already miss Zesties of the Super Juniors. Also, **SPOILER** Friendship is Dead.
What’s Next? Dominion (Osaka; 6/12): Cobb/O’Khan vs. General’s Jewel (Owens/Fale) was previously announced for Dominion.
SANADA’s Suited Up with a Brief Special Announced!!
“At (Dominion) on June 12th, I’m challenging for the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship.” – SANADA
6-Man Tag Match: LIJ (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI) vs. Suzuki-gun (Taichi, TAKA Michinoku & DOUKI) (9:31) with Takagi pinning Michinoku via Pin
Glad to see Naito back after his emergency eye surgery after Wrestling Dontaku. The central focus of this match was the looming KOPW match between Takagi and Taichi. Another short, fun, palette cleanser of a match. Nothing particularly remarkable or outstanding. Would have preferred more of a spotlight on BUSHI and DOUKI because while Shingo competed in BOSJ in 2019, he went heavyweight shortly thereafter, many many questions if he was even a Junior Heavyweight, to begin with.
What’s Next? Dominion (Osaka; 6/12): Taichi said he’d announced the KOPW Stipulations on his YouTube Channel. This match was announced prior to BOSJ.
8-Man Tag Match: CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano) and G.o.D. (Tama Tonga & Jado) vs. Bullet Club (Jay White, Doc Gallows, Taiji Ishimori & Gedo) (8:33) Tama Tonga hitting Gedo with a Gunstun and a pin
I wish as Champion, everyone would have walked out to Ishimori’s music instead of Jay’s or at least afforded him a separate entrance as they did for KENTA. If LIJ can do multiple theme songs, the champions in any given stable for be afforded the same luxury. Jay kicked the ring announcer out, took the mic, and acknowledged that it wasn’t the luckiest night for BC with Karl Anderson being quarantined and Juice hospitalized. However, he didn’t return to Japan empty-handed either. KENTA’s music played, and the man we haven’t seen since January made his return to the ring. KENTA didn’t address anything but did join the group Too Sweet. Kevin Kelly made the worthwhile note that it was in the Nippon Budoukan where KENTA turned on Shibata to join BC, siding with Tama Tonga, so it was very auspicious that this was his moment to return. He followed up by reminding the people that Tama was also responsible for bringing in Taiji Ishimori.
It is worth noting that KENTA has not announced if he is medically cleared yet, but I think both Anderson and Juice’s sudden and unavoidable removals from the card, pushed him into making an appearance for the support of Bullet Club.
While Tama debuted a new Hontai-inspired shirt, Jado ditched his spaghetti strap tank tops, opting for matching GoD gear! Jado filled in for Tanga Loa who was removed from the show because of a potential knee issue. This was another “New Japan is Back, Baby!” match, but even with the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion in the match, it was more about everyone else in the match as this was the preview for both the NEVER Openweight match (with Gallows subbing in for a quarantining Anderson) and the World Heavyweight Championship match. It felt like even the breakup of Gedo and Jado had more of a spotlight than the man who will be defending the Junior Heavyweight Championship against the winner of the entire tournament had one of the furthest seats in the back of this match, especially when KENTA was seconding the group after being gone for five months.
It’s been a while since we’ve had Jay vs. Okada. I still don’t know if I am excited about it. I think the continued expansion of Bullet Club is making it difficult because there is an increasing premium on reliable, credible babyfaces in New Japan is throwing the power dynamic off. While LIJ, UE, and Suzuki-gun are technically heels, too, they are all wildly popular and beloved almost as much (if not more in some cases) than the heroes like Hontai and CHAOS. I need some people to start defecting from BC, a New Japan Draft… something. I know the endgame for BC is taking over the world, but it’s starting to smother things a bit.
What’s Next? Dominion (Osaka; 6/12):
- NEVER Openweight: Tama/Anderson
- IWGP World: Okada/White
- IWGP Jr. HW: Ishimori/BOSJ29 Winner
Tatsumi Fujinami Addresses the Crowd
Prior to the main event, legend Tatsumi Fujinami addressed the audience. He was appointed as the special guest official for the Best of Super Juniors Finals and joined the Japanese commentary booth.
Best of the Super Juniors 29 Finals: Hiromu Takahashi (A Block Winner; LIJ) defeated El Desperado (B Block Winner; SZG) (30:37) with Time Bomb II
Unlike their previous meeting in the 2020 BOSJ Finals, the opening sequence, in particular, was far more calculated as opposed to exploding right out of the gates. This match had all the signature marks of both Hiromu and Desperado matches, but I still found their 2020 meeting more captivating. I think it was largely due to the less predictable outcome at the time, Desperado’s unbelievable all-white big match gear, and his incredible unmasking purely out of necessity. However, with Hiromu’s tournament win in 2020, followed by the win in 2021, and the discussion throughout the tournament of him securing the hattrick and making history by breaking the record, I had flashbacks to the drive to have Kota Ibushi chalking up consecutive wins the G1 Climax, only breaking his streak when he dislocated his shoulder in the Finals against Okada last year.
With the variety of participants, I was cautiously optimistic that the finals would feel fresh, but the longer the tournament continued, it felt like the last few years, minus SHO (2020) and YOH (2021), it seemingly always came down to Ishimori, Hiromu, and Desperado. For the most part, aside from Robbie Eagles’ brief run with the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship in summer 2021, the championship itself has circulated solely between the three since January 4, 2020, when a returning Hiromu defeated Will Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom 14 (sending Ospreay off to the Heavyweight division). With the influx of returning and new talent, I really hoped that the Finals and outcome would have involved someone besides Hiromu and Desperado.
It isn’t that I am not a fan of Hiromu. Conversely, I truly love how hard he pushes back against the company to promote the juniors. His finals match with YOH in the BOSJ 28 Finals in December, truly felt like the start of something new because it felt like they were letting him elevate other members of the division. I fully understand and appreciate the scope of his abilities and what he means to the Junior Division. That being said, I never thought I would find myself feeling indifferent that Takahashi won his fourth (and third consecutive) Super Junior, cementing his place in history. Hiromu/Desperado just feels so much like Okada/Naito, it’s the safest choice because it is a guaranteed way to move tickets, but it comes at the detriment of suppressing the rest of the division, as many may view it as the other Juniors ‘not pulling their weight.’
Desperado and Hiromu had a solid match, but I’ve seen it. I saw it in the 2020 BOSJ 27 Finals. I saw it earlier this year at Wrestle Kingdom. It’s the same with Hiromu vs. Ishimori. It’s been a while since their IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Match at Summer Struggle in Jingu Stadium (August 2020), this entire cycle started when Ishimori and Hiromu met in the BOSJ Finals in 2018. Again, another great matchup, but also another safe one… much like putting Tanahashi into any match to elevate the stakes of it. Hiromu versus Ishimori will be another great match, but I need them to do something to make it feel different from all their previous singles meetings.
What’s Next: Hiromu Takahashi versus IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion, Taiji Ishimori for Dominion
As this year’s chapter for the Super Juniors closes, I’m left with exceptionally mixed feelings. I am glad BOSJ is back and in a more invitational format, especially bringing in champions from multiple companies. However, what I would do differently to make it a little more special is with all those guest champions, afford each one of them, along with the IWGP Jr. Tag Champions, opportunities for championship defenses at the Nippon Budokan before everyone scatters in the wind. If the endgame is sending NJPW Juniors to these promotions in a reciprocal agreement for a championship opportunity, that’s fine, too. I hope it’ll be something to consider moving forward because when you have the CMLL World Welterweight champion (Titán), GLEAT G-Rex Openweight (El Lindaman), Impact X-Division Champion (Ace Austin), and the ROH Pure Champion ( Wheeler) participate in the series and you lump them all into a single tag match that is over in less than ten minutes– when it could have been so much more– it just fell a bit flat.
I know that the return of the foreign heavyweights and the lack of road to Dominion shows resulted in a very heavyweight heavy BOSJ Finals, but I always think back to when Naito tagged during BOSJ, that he would ask the ring announcer to say his name first, giving the spotlight to the Juniors. I need more of that during the conclusion of the Juniors’ three-week festival as the heavyweights tend to have the other forty-nine weeks of the year.
Dominion in Osaka-jo Hall Announced Matches (6/12; 14:00 JST Start)
- KOPW 2022 Championship (No Time Limit): Shingo Takagi © (LIJ) vs. Taichi (SZG) – Stipulations pending
- NEVER Openweight Championship (1/60): Tama Tonga© (GoD) vs. Karl Anderson (BC)
- IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship (1/60): Taiji Ishimori© vs. Hiromu Takahashi
- IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship (1/60): Chase Owens/Bad Luck Fale© (BC) vs. Great O’Khan/Jeff Cobb (UE)
- IWGP World Heavyweight Championship (1/60): Kazuchika Okada© (CHAOS) vs. Jay White (BC)
There will be a post-BOSJ Finals press conference tomorrow, where the rest of the Dominion card will likely be announced. Based on the results from today, potential championship match additions could include:
- IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship (1/60): 6 or 9 (Hontai; Ryusuke Taguchi/Master Wato) vs. TJP/Francesco Akira (UE)
- NEVER 6-Man Tag Team Championship (1/60): House of Torture (BC; EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi & SHO) © vs. Suzuki-gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Zack Sabre, Jr. and Minoru Suzuki?)
- IWGP US Heavyweight Championship (1/60): SANADA (LIJ) vs. TBA
Both Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton mentioned the post-BOSJ press conference, likely in the next few days. It should be on NJPW World, so head over there or to any of NJPW’s social media for the updated Dominion match card, Hiromu’s comments, any possible contract signings, and more. I have an inkling that we’ll get some Forbidden Door and G1 updates as well.
Tanahashi Officially Unlocks the Forbidden Door
What started out as a catchphrase for his Wrestle Kingdom 14 match with Chris Jericho, morphed into one of the highly fantasized, hotly anticipated cross-promotional showcases over the course of the last two and a half years. With the appearance of NJPW President on AEW Dynamite in the wake of NJPW’s Windy City Riot and the formal announcement of AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door, fans around the world have been waiting with bated breath to see who would formally kick the gates open and issue a challenge. With CM Punk defeating Hangman Page at Double of Nothing to become the new AEW World Heavyweight Champion, many noticed that Hiroshi Tanahashi was conspicuously absent from the BOSJ Finals match card, everyone was on “Tana Watch” as AEW Dynamite started on Wednesday, June 1st. As C(ha)M Punk and FTR addressed the crowd after the opening match, celebrating his win, but wasting no time reminding everyone they’ve “got a Pay-Per-View to sell (on June 26th).”
“Forbidden Door, I know you’re back there. Show me who I’ve got!” – CM Punk
Get your air guitars ready, get those “GO ACE” chants ready and queue up some “LOVE & ENERGY” because Hiroshi Tanahashi unlocked the Forbidden Door himself and stepped onto AEW’s welcome mat to ring the doorbell. Further match details and card announcements are expected over the next few weeks. Details on ordering the PPV are available on the Bleacher Report website ($49.99 USD*).