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NJPW ‘Best of the Super Juniors 25’ 5.19.18 Results & Review

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New Japan returns to Korakuen Hall for the first night of B block action in this year’s ‘Best of the Super Juniors’. The place is sold out with 1,721 live in attendance for tonight’s main event featuring the fourth ever singles match between ‘Ticking Time Bomb’ Hiromu Takahashi and ‘The Villain’ Marty Scurll. After a great night of action from the A block, let’s see if the B block can match the excitement.

Shota Umino def. Yota Tsuji @ 7:26 via Boston Crab – **1/4
Tsuji replaced the originally scheduled Ren Narita, who was unable to compete due to injury. Both Umino and Tsuji were extremely motivated and had a hot crowd behind them. Umino was unwilling to let the younger lion get one over on him despite the size difference. Although still extremely early in his career, Tsuji showed great timing in his selling of the Boston Crab. This was better than anyone could have expected, they both looked great and the crowd interaction put the match over the top.

Ospreay, YOH & HASHI def. Tiger, ACH & Oka @ 11:06 via Y-H Butterfly Lock on Oka – **3/4
Will Ospreay elevated everyone’s performance. Even Tiger Mask was going off when he was in the ring, hitting a rare tag match Tiger Driver. The showcase between ACH and Ospreay was silky smooth and it’s a shame their match will be recorded on single camera. Everyone got a good amount of time to shine. Even Oka was given more light than usual and excelled in his role. One of the better opening tag matches we’re likely to see on this tour.

Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru def. Toa Henare & Flip Gordon @ 11:17 via Suzuki Gotch-Style Piledriver on Henare – **
Kanemaru came in with a noticeable limp and as a result didn’t see much action, instead brawling around the ring with Flip. The reaction on Suzuki’s face when Flip received more cheers than him was priceless and poor Flip had to pay the price. Henare had some rough moments of miscommunication that slowed down the pacing and Suzuki looked noticeably annoyed with him, even adding an extra slap after the bell. Post-match Suzuki teases Liger with a fake-out chair shot. Suzuki stepped up and kept the energy going to the best of his ability.

SANADA & BUSHI def. Chase Owens & Taiji Ishimori @ 9:45 via SANADA Skull End on Owens – **
The opening saw Ishimori and BUSHI share some nice moments but the stand out here was Milano attempting to teach Chase how to apply the Paradise Lock. The crowd popped huge, chanting for Milano but despite his best efforts, Owens was unable to learn the hold and SANADA wound up locking it onto him. BUSHI and Ishimori stare each other down after the match but I’m apprehensive in believing their singles match will be anything more than average.

Best of the Super Juniors Tournament Match
Dragon Lee def. SHO @ 17:31 via Desnucadora – ***3/4

As many hoped and some expected, this was SHO’s coming out party. The focus of both men was to attack the arm but each had a different approach. Lee exploited his speed advantage and SHO, knowing he couldn’t win that battle, opted to use his strength. When Lee would come in hot, SHO would put on the brakes and transition into an armbreaker. This would be a staple in SHO’s approach and it lead to his downfall. Lee realized SHO’s pattern and when his running lariat was countered into another armbreaker attempt, he used it to his advantage by hoisting SHO up into a Desnucadora to pick up the win. This was an awesome match from beginning to end. There were various points where they traded forearm strikes for extended periods of time. They opened with an exchange, had one on the top rope that ended with a headbutt and double stomp from Lee and in the heat of the moment, brawled on the outside until the count of nineteen. Very, very good stuff from both men and like I said, this felt like SHO’s coming out party. Definitely feels like a future star.

Best of the Super Juniors Tournament Match
El Desperado def. Ryusuke Taguchi @ 13:19 via Roll Up – ***

We saw every side of Taguchi, from the goofy to the great, all in one. There were the groin shots where Desperado pulled up the ropes on a 619 attempt and crotched Taguchi. There were butt shot where Desperado smashed a chair into a chair that went up Taguchi’s crack. Then there was the great Taguchi where he hits a combination consisting of a double springboard plancha, top rope hip attack, topé con hilo and springboard dropkick. Whichever side of Taguchi you like, you got it here. Taguchi blocked one ref bump Desperado attempted but couldn’t block the second. Desperado gets out of the Dodon by pulling the referee down, hitting Taguchi low and rolling him up for the three. The crowd buying everything these two were selling put this over the top into the borderline great category but their enthusiasm wouldn’t bleed over into the following match.

Best of the Super Juniors Tournament Match
Chris Sabin def. KUSHIDA @ 13:46 via All Hail Sabin – **1/2

Shame on me for having high hopes. The crowd being largely unfamiliar with Sabin didn’t seem to buy anything he was selling. He had KUSHIDA grounded but no one bought that KUSHIDA would stay down and decided not to rally behind him. Most of the match was deafly silent as Korakuen had no idea what to expect and Sabin doing a lot of mat work didn’t do him any favors. Both KUSHIDA and Sabin are great opponents, they match up well and are stylistically similar but they didn’t grab the crowd. The finish seemed to have caught them by surprise as Sabin walked out the victor. I enjoyed the counter-wrestling back and forth and loved KUSHIDA signaling to Alex Shelley but it didn’t translate well to Korakuen and lead to a weird environment. Post-match the two shook hands as the crowd gave applause, not quite sure what they had just witnessed.

Best of the Super Juniors Tournament Match
Hiromu Takahashi def. Marty Scurll @ 20:48 via Referee Stoppage – ****

A jolt of energy shot threw Korakuen as the main event was announced, proving that they were still alive. Hiromu and Scurll milked the reactions as long as they could before finally locking up. They started with some wacky British wrestling holds as Hiromu backs off, taunting Scurll by waving his arms. Every match between these two has been fantastic and this was no different. Both men are extremely charismatic, seeming to win over every crowd they wrestle in front of, from RevPro to ROH to NJPW. Scurll did his best to focus his attacks on the neck and arm of Hiromu to set up for the Crossface Chickenwing but Hiromu is too crazy to acknowledge pain. He hits a massive dropkick off the apron to the floor and after two unsuccessful attempts he’s finally able to drive Scurll to the floor with a Sunset Flip Powerbomb. Scurll is reeling but isn’t ready to give in just yet. He catches Hiromu on a second apron dropkick attempt and powerbombs him to the floor. Scurll tells Hiromu that he will never be the best of the super juniors while he’s around which fires Hiromu up but Scurll positions him into the Crossface Chickenwing. Remember, Hiromu is too crazy to acknowledge pain. Scurll snaps his finger, superkicks him and stomps Hiromu into the mat but the Time Bomb is about to explode. Hiromu fires up once more, attempts Time Bomb, Scurll counters out but winds up trapped in a Triangle Choke. With his last bit on strength, he tries to powerbomb his way out of the hold but Hiromu has it in too tight. Scurll collapses and the referee rings the bell. Awesome main event.

Hiromu ends the show by taking the microphone and telling the crowd that Best of the Super Juniors will be better than the G1 Climax.

Tonight was a little uneven compared to the previous night but the highs were higher and the main event was better. The lack of interest in KUSHIDA and Sabin hurt the overall flow of the show and was a pretty big disappointment. Dragon Lee and SHO exceeded expectations and the main event killed. There weren’t any surprise wins as compared to the first night but the overall match quality top to bottom was more exciting. Both blocks had a successful opening night, albeit in different ways. Definitely watch Lee vs SHO and Hiromu vs Scurll. Taguchi and Desperado is borderline. The crowd reaction put it over the top but ultimately, if you’re not a Taguchi fan this isn’t the match that’ll win you over.

Records
Hiromu Takahashi (1-0)
Chris Sabin (1-0)
El Desperado (1-0)
Dragon Lee (1-0)
Marty Scurll (0-1)
KUSHIDA (0-1)
Ryusuke Taguchi (0-1)
SHO (0-1)

Recommended Matches
Hiromu vs Scurll
Lee vs SHO
Desperado vs Taguchi

Robert McCauley hasn't missed an NJPW show since the launch of NJPW World. Always be on the look out for his reviews where he shares results and gives his honest opinions on the goings-on of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

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