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NJPW ‘Best of the Super Juniors 26’ (5.23.19) Results & Review



The eighth night of the Best of the Super Juniors 26 sees both blocks in action in front of 1,715 fans at Korakuen Hall. All twenty competitors have a match but the main event sees the undefeated Shingo Takagi take on the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Dragon Lee. Let’s get started!

El Phantasmo (4-0) def. Ren Narita (0-4) @ 7:00 via Frog Splash – **3/4
They lock up and trade waistlocks. ELP takes Narita down and poses. Narita backs ELP into the corner and takes the arm. ELP floats through and ties Narita in the bow and arrow, Narita escapes for a one count. They lock up again, ELP backing Narita to the corner and laying in boots before tying him in the tree of woe. He stomps Narita low and pulls him from the ropes for a two count. Wrist clutch upkicks followed by a headkick for another two. ELP takes the arm, slaps the chest and scales the ropes for Old School but Narita catches his hurricanrana into a release belly-to-belly for two followed by a vertical suplex for another two. ELP lands a flurry of kicks for his own two count, sets up for CR II but Narita slides through into a small package for two. Narita backslides for another two, a German suplex for two, ELP catches him charging in with a thrust kick for two, sets up for CR II again, Narita kicks his way free and applies a Boston Crab. He pulls ELP from the ropes, ELP rolls Narita up for two and hoists him up for a spinning neckbreaker. ELP climbs to the top, Narita rolls away but ELP still makes the distance and finishes Narita with a frog splash. After the match, ELP hits Narita with CR II, teabags him and kicks a fan’s hat into the crowd before heading to the back.

Titán (1-3) def. TAKA Michinoku (0-4) @ 8:11 via Titán de Japonesa – *1/4
TAKA goes for the leg, Titán kicks him away. They lock up, TAKA takes the waist, Titán the head and TAKA the wrist. Titán armdrags TAKA down, TAKA sweeps the leg, Titán bails and TAKA teases a dive. He stomps Titán on his way back in the ring and Titán unloads a series of overhand chops before TAKA pokes the eyes, hammers the knee and traps Titán in a double wrist clutch Indian Death Lock for two followed by a bow and arrow. Titán bails, TAKA brings him back in and applies an armbar, Titán finds the ropes. TAKA lands a kneelift in the corner, Titán responds with a corner lariat, a springboard crossbody, a hurricarana and follows TAKA out with a tope con hilo. He sends TAKA back in for a two count, boots him into the corner, goes for a hurricarana, TAKA puts the brakes on and applies a crossface. Titán gets to the ropes, TAKA looks for a second rope moonsault, Titán moves but TAKA lands on his feel and catches him in La Magistral for two. TAKA again gets the crossface but Titán finds the ropes, tries the Japanese leg roll clutch, TAKA counters back into the crossface. TAKA pulls Titán’s arm from the rope, changes position on the hold, Titán manages to find the ropes. Titán escapes the Michinoku Driver, ducks a lariat, eats a kick, breaks free of a second Michinoku Driver, drops TAKA from a fireman’s carry and bridges in a leg clutch, beating TAKA for the win.

BUSHI (1-3) def. Robbie Eagles (3-1) @ 8:04 via MX – ***
BUSHI hits Eagles off the second rope with a dropkick on his own entrance, Eagles bails and BUSHI follows him out with a tope suicida. He whips Eagles with his belt, sends Eagles in and they hit the ropes where Eagles kicks the back of BUSHI’s knee followed up by a sliding lariat to the back of the head. Eagles stays on the knee, BUSHI catches him into a DDT and chokes with his shirt. Eagles elbows free, eats an enziguri followed by another DDT. Eagles blocks a swinging neckbreaker, BUSHI lands a dropkick to the back, looks for a DDT on the apron, Eagles blocks and hits a 619 to the back of BUSHI’s knee. Eagles lands a sliding enziguri that sends BUSHI to the floor and follows him out with a tope con hilo. He sends BUSHI in, hits a springboard dropkick to the knee, sets up for the Ron Miller Special, BUSHI sends him off but Eagles catches an enziguri and lands the Turbo Backpack for two. He immediately locks in the Ron Miller Special but BUSHI finds the ropes. Eagles stomps the knee in the corner, follows with a pair of corner running knees, looks for the 450 on the knee but BUSHI moves. BUSHI sends Eagles to the apron, hits a codebreaker and swinging neckbreaker for two, climbs the ropes and finishes Eagles with MX.

Jonathan Gresham (2-2) def. Tiger Mask IV (2-2) @ 9:22 via Headscissors Pin – ***1/4
Gresham offers his hand and Tiger accepts before they knuckle lock. Tiger muscles Gresham down, Gresham drags through but is taken back down. Gresham points up to distract Tiger and takes im over. Tiger is quick to respond but Gresham takes the headscissors. Tiger slides his head out and the two shake before he sends Gresham to the corner. Both try a series of hip tosses but each are blocked and they back to their corners before hitting the ropes. Again Tiger blocks a hip toss, lands a knee to the chest and goes on the attack with kicks and stomps before applying a headlock. Gresham tries taking the hand to break free but Tiger quickly gets him in a headscissors. Gresham reaches the ropes, Tiger stays on the attack with kicks to the chest. The referee backs Tiger from Gresham, Tiger still comes in for more. Gresham fires off a forearm and Tiger asks for more before dropping Gresham with a kick to the chest and sends him to the corner.

Gresham avoids the attack, ducks a kick, armdrags Tiger down and catches him on the way up with a dropkick. He sends Tiger to the corner and lands a series of spears that slow Tiger. Gresham applies the Octopus Hold, Tiger powers free and lands another knee to the chest. He takes Gresham down by the arm and applies a grounded double arm bar. Gresham manages to make it to the ropes, Tiger pulls him back up for a Tiger Driver, Gresham blocks so Tiger double underhooks and drops Gresham on his knee followed by a headkick for a two count. The two charge at each other with crossbodies and collapse. They exchange punches to the chest, Gresham catches Tiger in a wheelbarrow, takes him over with a headlock, breaks free of Tiger’s headscissors, responds with one of his own and hooks the legs for the win. An overjoyed Gresham jumps on the referee to celebrate and shakes hands with Tiger before heading to the back.

YOH (2-2) def. DOUKI (1-3) @ 11:22 via Bridging Dragon Suplex – ***1/4
DOUKI dropkicks YOH over the top rope while he was making his entrance and follows him out with a tope suicida. He takes YOH into the crowd and slams his head into the east sign. The crowd breaks into a DOUKI chant as he takes YOH back into the ring. He chokes YOH with his own ring jacket and the crowd breaks into YOH chant. They trade forearms before DOUKI eye gouges and slaps YOH on the back of the head. He slams YOH and follows with a running double stomp for a two count. YOH escapes a vertical suplex, DOUKI moves out of the way of a dropkick to his knee, YOH catches his kick and turns it into a dragon screw. YOH stays on the attack with flying forearms, a corner back elbow and neckbreaker for two. DOUKI stomps on the foot, hits the ropes, YOH catches him with a backbreaker followed by another dragon screw. DOUKI catches a boot, sends YOH off but is caught in a calf crusher. He makes it to the ropes but YOH stays on him with dropkicks and stomps to the knee.

DOUKI blocks a dragon screw, flips over the ropes to the apron and looks for a slingshot DDT but YOH puts the breaks on and drops DOUKI with a falcon arrow for two. DOUKI breaks free of a dragon suplex and rolls YOH up before locking in a double wrist clutch triangle. He rolls YOH from the ropes before reapplying the hold. YOH collapses, powers back up and finds the ropes. DOUKI again sets up for a slingshot DDT, hits it for a two count and then sets up for Suplex De La Luna but YOH rolls through for a two. YOH wants the dragon suplex, DOUKI blocks to YOH settles for a bridging German suplex for two. Each go for their finishing suplex, DOUKI breaks free of the dragon, eats an enziguri and drops YOH with a lariat for two. He looks for Suplex De La Luna, YOH headbutts free, DOUKI lands a kick, YOH pulls himself back in by the bottom rope and hots a thrust kick of his own before finishing DOUKI with the dragon suplex.

SHO (1-3) def. Marty Scurll (2-2) @ 13:18 via Shock Arrow – ***1/2
Scurll comes out limping with his head bandaged. He rushes SHO on his entrance and hits him with the umbrella followed by a powerbomb for two. SHO slides out of Black Plague and drops Scurll into a cross armbreaker. Scurll rolls SHO up to release the hold, goes for an arm stomp but SHO moves and dropkicks Scurll. He takes Scurll’s arm, Scurll ends him off, SHO sends Scurll to the apron where Scurll catches him with a neckbreaker over the second rope. Scurll follows with another neckbreaker and stands on SHO’s head over the second. A series of chops followed by a thrust kick from Scurll before he stands on SHO’s head and applies a headscissors. SHO makes it to the ropes but Scurll slingshots him throat first into the bottom rope. Scurll applies a headlock, SHO breaks free, Scurll sends him out and hits a thrust kick from the apron. SHO eats the kick and asks for more. Scurll hits a second and still SHO wants more. He catches a third and they trade forearms on the apron.

SHO sweeps the leg, dropkicks Scurll off the apron and lands a PK begore bringing Scurll back in for a lungblower. He applies the cross armbreaker, Scurll struggles but finds the ropes. SHO looks for a German, Scurll grabs the ropes, SHO kicks Scurll’s arm off the rope and lands a series of suplexes. He charges in, Scurll ducks a lariat and drops SHO with his own suplex, SHO is quickly back to his feet to respond with another German and both collapse. They make it back up to trade forearms. SHO breaks free of Black Plague and catches Scurll with a lungblower. He sets up for Shock Arrow, Scurll refuses to be lifted and drops SHO with a brainbuster on the knee for two followed by a tornado DDT and looks for the chickenwing. SHO refuses to allow Scurll to lock in the hold, pulls Scurll into Shock Arrow but only gets two. SHO lands a running knee, Scurll responds with a lariat and a follow up lariat for a two count. Scurll takes the fingers and snaps them, charges in and is caught with a lariat and a second from SHO. He hoists Scurll up for a powerbomb lungblower for two, powers up and finishes Scurll with Shock Arrow.

Ryusuke Taguchi (3-1) def. Rocky Romero (1-3) @ 10:00 via Victory “Donda” Roll – **1/2
Romero comes out in basketball gear in response to Taguchi’s rugby gear. Taguchi tries swatting the basketball from Romero but is unable and challenges Romero to a free throw competition. Romero hits Taguchi on the head with the ball, Taguchi bails outside and Romero follows with a crossbody off the second. He sends Taguchi back in and lays in stomps to the butt. Taguchi sends Romero to the ropes, Romero traps himself between the top and second, Taguchi hip attacks him to the floor and follows Romero out with a tope con hilo. He brings Taguchi back inside, Romero unloads chops that bring Taguchi to the corner. Taguchi sends Romero to the mat for a series of hip attacks. Romero chops him back into the corner and channels Kojima before setting up for the forever clotheslines. Taguchi responds with hip attacks for every lariat.

They charge at each other, hip attacks versus lariat and trade atomic drops. Both power up before collapsing to the mat. They make it back to their feet and trade forearms. Taguchi lands a kick, hits the ropes but Romero side steps the hip attack. Taguchi catches a kick, ducks two others and applies Oh My & Garankle. Romero flips through and looks for Slice Rocky, Taguchi sends him off and hits a hip attack. Romero hits the ropes and lands a slingshot DDT, takes Taguchi’s arm and heads to the second rope for a knee drop over the arm. Taguchi comes in with a hip attack, Romero catches him in a cross armbreaker, transitions into a triangle and back into the cross armbreaker before Taguchi finds the ropes. A kick, a knee strike and an attempted Sliced Rocky but Taguchi sends him off, looks for Dodon, Romero rolls through into a jackknife pin for two. Taguchi rolls into one of his own, Romero responds with another and Taguchi into one that wins him the match. They decide they’re equals and fist bump, 3K pose and Taguchi Japan pose before heading to the back.

Yoshinobu Kanemaru (1-3) def. Taiji Ishimori (4-0) @ 3:51 via Small Package Hold – **
Kanemaru comes in with a boot before the bell. Ishimori flurries, looks for a handspring enziguri, Kanemaru kicks the arm out and takes the fight to the floor. He slams Ishimori’s head into the east sign and hangs out at ringside waiting for Ishimori. He throws a chair at Ishimori at the count of eighteen, Ishimori jumps over the chair and meets him back in the ring before the count out. Ishimori catches Kanemaru in a crossface but Kanemaru finds the ropes. Ishimori charges in with double knees in the corner followed by Cipher Utaki. He sets up for Bloody Cross, Kanemaru grabs the referee, shoves him into Ishimori, hits an enziguri, grabs the whiskey and takes a drink. Ishimori grabs the bottle, the referee sees it in Ishimori’s hand and takes it from him. With the referee’s back turned, Kanemaru sprays Ishimori with the whiskey and rolls him up for the win.

Will Ospreay (3-1) def. Bandido (2-2) @ 18:03 via Stormbreaker – ****1/4
Bandido offers his hand and Ospreay accepts before they lock up. Ospreay backs Bandido to the ropes and gives a clean break. He takes the leg, Bandido the head, Ospreay breaks free and they stalemate before locking up again. Bandido sends Ospreay off but is caught with a money flip and bails. Ospreay fakes out a dive and dropkicks Bandido off the apron and follows him out with a plancha. He brings Bandido back in and drives him into the corner. Ospreay takes the wrist, bandido hangs onto the ropes and Ospreay chops him down. Bandido catches Ospreay running in with a stalling powerslam for two, catches him running in again with a trip and locks in the Romero Special. Ospreay frees his arms and makes it to the ropes.

They trade chops, Bandido flurries with an uppercut, Ospreays hits the ropes and lands a handspring enziguri. Ospreay catches Bandido running in with a boot, hits the top rope 619 followed by the springboard forearm for two. Ospreay stays on the attack with a bridging chinlock, Bandido finds the ropes, Ospreay looks for a reverse bloody sunday, Bandido blocks and takes Ospreay down with a dropkick. Bandido ducks lariat, slides out of another reverse bloody sunday and hits a revere brainbuster for two. They trade forearms, Bandido flurries, Ospreay lands the wallflip enziguri, catches Bandido’s hurricanrana, looks for a sitout powerbomb but Bandido counters into a poison rana. Ospreay bails and Bandido follows him out with a shooting star press off the top rope to the floor.

Bandido sends Ospreay in and hits a springboard frankensteiner for two. He pulls Ospreay up for more but is countered into the stundog millionaire. They meet forehead to forehead and trade forearms. Ospreay flurries, powers up and eats a thrust kick. Ospreay catches Bandido running in, pops him up, Bandido frankensteiners through and Ospreay rolls through for a two count. Ospreay pops Bandido up for the sitout powerbomb, gets a two. Bandido hits the ropes and lands Spanish Fly for two. He looks for the 21-plex, Ospreay holds the ropes, tries again and Ospreay flips through. Bandido turns around and is dropped by a Spanish Fly for two. Ospreay heads to the top, Bandido cuts him off and drops Ospreay with a Pudgyplex for a two count. Ospreay catches Bandido’s moonsault off the second and muscles him up for the Stormbreaker and the win. Ospreay helps ice Bandido’s neck before making his way to the back.

Shingo Takagi (4-0) def. Dragon Lee (3-1) @ 17:20 via Last of the Dragon – ****1/2
Lee offers his hand, Shingo takes it and won’t let go. He brings Lee down, takes the headlock and the arm. Lee flips through, tries to armdrag, Shingo puts the brakes on, misses a senton and they stalemate. Shingo gives a boot, grabs the headlock, Lee sends him off and lands a kick. Shingo sends Lee to the ropes, Lee lands a hurricanrana, Shingo bails and catches Lee following him out with a DDT to the floor. He sends Lee back in and stomps his chest before sending him to the corner for shoulders to the mid section. Lee fires off forearms, Shingo puts him down with a double overhand and a jumping senton. Shingo stays on the attack with a vertical suplex and a knee across the gut. Lee fights back up, lands forearms, Shingo cuts him off with knees to the chest, runs in for a lariat but Lee ducks and drops Shingo with an STO.

Shingo sends Lee to the corner, follows him in, Lee sends Shingo over and hit an enziguri. Lee looks for a hurricanrana from the apron to the floor but Shingo puts the brakes on and drops Lee with a DVD on the apron. Shingo brings Lee in for a sliding lariat that gets him a two count. He sends Lee to the corner, catches his boot and drills Lee with a lariat followed by a chop and punch combination. He hits the opposite corner and Lee follows him in with a dropkick and stomps. They meet forehead to forehead and Lee asks to trade forearms. Shingo unloads a combination, Lee catches him with a knee lift, Shingo runs in with a lariat, Lee responds with his own and Shingo bails. Lee follows Shingo out with a tope suicida and sends him back in the ring. Shingo powers out of a dragon suplex but Lee s there for a straightjacket German for two. Shingo blocks the running knee, hits an elbow, punch and lariat combo that puts Lee down.

After a scoop slam, Shingo head to the top. Lee cuts him off with an enziguri, Shingo is caught in the ropes for a draping double stomp followed by a PK for two. Shingo elbows free of Desnucadora, sends Lee to the hopes and catches him with a DVD. He rushes the corner with a lariat, Lee responds with a knee, Shingo blocks a second and hits Noshigami and a Pumping Bomber for two. Lee escapes Last of the Dragon and pulls Shingo into a leg clutch pin for two. Shingo sets up for Noshigami, Lee counters with a sunset flip and a knee strike for two. Shingo blocks a second, hits a headbutt, rushes the ropes, Lee sidesteps, hits a German, lands a knee lift followed by a poison rana, Shingo powers up, is dropped by a knee but kicks out at one. Lee follows with another knee, Shingo kicks out at two. He sets up for Desnucadora, Shingo escapes and finishes Lee with Last of the Dragon.

Shingo says he’s impressed by Dragon Lee but he’s still undefeated. He says he’s never main evented Sumo Hall in his fifteen years as a wrestler. His first match in New Japan was in Sumo Hall so he believes it’s only fitting he main events in the tournament final. He will keep winning and make it to the final.

Two absolute classics in the semi and main event. This wasn’t the consistent show we saw the night before but the highs were higher and delivered the two best matches of the tournament and two of the best matches of the entire year. There’s something to be said for these shorter matches delivering better than the longer ones we saw earlier in the tournament. The magic of Korakuen Hall is a factor as well but tonight further proved you don’t need to go long to be great.

Two eliminations as both Ren Narita and TAKA Michinoku no longer have a chance to win the tournament and both Shingo Takagi and El Phantasmo remain as the only two to be undefeated. The opener saw that despite being a young lion, Narita can make anyone look good. TAKA and Titán was the worst of the tournament. There were several awkward moments and finish was botched big time. Eagles and BUSHI put the show back on track. Eagles is another guy who has been super consistent. Tiger being embarrassed on the mat and subsequently trying to behead Gresham was scary but great. DOUKI’s high energy has rightfully won over Korakuen and YOH has had a very strong, maybe under the radar, tournament. SHO and Scurll have strong chemistry, the only thing holding SHO back at this point are his over the top facials. Taguchi and Romero had a goofball comedy match which will be memorable in its own right. Ishimori remains winless over Kanemaru. He now drops to 0-11-1 in their history dating back to NOAH. Ospreay and Bandido was as crazy as it looked to be on paper. Their strength and body control are unreal. Shingo and Lee was high intensity from start to finish. There were no brakes, they jammed in everything they could into a seventeen minute match. My personal favorite match of the month. Again, not consistent like the previous night but the highs were higher and produced two of the best matches of the year.

Recommended Matches
Shingo vs Lee
Ospreay vs Bandido
SHO vs Scurll
Gresham vs Tiger

A Block
Shingo Takagi (5-0)
Taiji Ishimori (4-1)
Dragon Lee (3-2)
Jonathan Gresham (3-2)
Marty Scurll (2-3)
Tiger Mask IV (2-3)
Titán (2-3)
SHO (2-3)
Yoshinobu Kanemaru (2-3)
TAKA Michinoku (0-5) ELIMINATED

B Block
El Phantasmo (5-0)
Will Ospreay (4-1)
Ryusuke Taguchi (4-1)
Robbie Eagles (3-2)
YOH (3-2)
Bandido (2-3)
BUSHI (2-3)
DOUKI (1-4)
Rocky Romero (1-4)
Ren Narita (0-5) ELIMINATED

Along with being FightBoothPW's editor for NJPW, Robert McCauley also covers show reviews for the key promotions across Japan.