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NJPW ‘Best of the Super Juniors 26’ (5.24.19) Results & Review

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The ninth night of the Best of the Super Juniors 26 sees both blocks in action in front of 1,722 fans at Korakuen Hall. All twenty competitors have a match but the main event sees Rocky Romero trying to keep his tournament alive as he faces off with the undefeated El Phantasmo. Let’s get started!

SHO (2-3) def. Tiger Mask IV (2-3) @ 8:14 via Shock Arrow – ***1/4
They start off with a knuckle lock, Tiger takes SHO over and applies the kimura but SHO makes it to the ropes. SHO goes for the leg, Tiger sprawls and takes the arm and again SHO gets the ropes. Tiger kicks SHO into the corner, SHO rolls away and Tiger brings him down with another arm bar, again SHO finds the ropes. More kicks from Tiger keep SHO down until he hits the ropes and SHO meets him with a spear for a two count. SHO lands a lungblower and applies the cross armbreaker, Tiger forces the rope break. He picks Tiger up and stays on the arm with shoulder breakers. Tiger catches him running in with a kick, SHO returns with a knee, muscles Tiger up but Tiger breaks free and takes him down with a knee. SHO fights the Tiger Driver so Tiger double underhooks him to a knee strike and follows up with the Tiger Driver for a two count. SHO pulls the attempted Tiger Suplex into a crossarmed piledriver, Tiger catches him running in with a kick but responds with a lariat. Tiger catches a second lariat into a crucifix bomb for two but SHO catches him with a third lariat and a lungblower for two. SHO stays on him and finished Tiger with Shock Arrow.

Will Ospreay (4-1) def. Ren Narita (0-5) @ 8:45 via Oscutter – ***1/2
They lock up, trade wristlocks, Ospreay takes Narita over for a headlock, Narita is there to take the wrist. Ospreay sends him off, Narita shoulders him to the mat, Ospreays nips up and hits the top rope 619. He slams Narita and follows in with a knee drop for a two count. Narita fights back with forearms and catches Ospreay’s handspring with a German suplex. He shoulders Ospreay to the mat and lands a vertical suplex for two. Ospreay blocks the belly-to-belly, Narita sweeps the legs for the Boston Crab but Ospreay sends him off and hits a corner dropkick followed by a standing shooting star press for two. A springboard forearm sends Narita to the floor, Ospreay looks for a plancha, Narita sidesteps and catches Ospreay with a belly-to-belly outside. Ospreay makes it in at nineteen, Narita fires off forearms, hits the ropes and Ospreay recovers with a wallflip enziguri and Robinson Special. He looks for the Oscutter, Narita sidesteps and catches Ospreay in the Texas Cloverleaf. Ospreay struggles but finds the ropes, Narita pulls him back up and looks for a belly-to-belly that Ospreay flips through. He drills Narita with a headkick, sets up for the Stormbreaker, Narita backslides Ospreay for two. Ospreay is quickly back up, hits a flurry of kicks to Narita’s face and finishes him with an Oscutter.

Marty Scurll (2-3) def. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (2-3) @ 5:01 via Black Plague – **1/2
Scurll swings his umbrella at Kanemaru before the bell, Kanemaru ducks and grabs his whiskey bottle. They have a standoff before dropping their weapons and the match offically starts. They go on the chase outside, Scurll catches Kanemaru with an apron thrust kick and takes Kanemaru up the stairs. The two trade strikes on the second level before Kanemaru slams Scurll into a handrail. Brody King tries to keep Kanemaru from making it back to the ring but Kanemaru ducks his lariat and slide back in the ring. Scurll makes it in too and Kanemaru looks to land a moonsault, misses but sends Scurll into the referee and lands a satellite DDT. With the referee down, Kanemaru loads up on whiskey but Scurll unfolds his umbrella to block the spray. Scurll then sprays Kanemaru with the whiskey and rolls him up for two, picks him back up and finishes Kanemaru with Black Plague.

Robbie Eagles (3-2) def. DOUKI (1-4) @ 8:11 via Ron Miller Special – ***1/4
DOUKI charges in with a lariat before the bell, Eagles ducks and takes him down with a hurricanrana. Eagles charges in, DOUKI does the splits and Eagles crashes to the outside. DOUKI follows him out, sends Eagles to the post and chokes before jamming a chair into Eagles’ throat. He drops Eagles with a DDT on the chair and makes his way back in the ring. Eagles makes it in at nineteen, charges in, DOUKI does the splits but Eagles holds onto the ropes and kicks DOUKI on the back of the head. He follows with a springboard dropkick and a running kick for a two count and stays on the attack with running corner knees for another two. Eagles climbs to the top rope, DOUKI moves from the 450, Eagles lands on his feet but is caught in a double wrist clutch triangle. Eagles rolls DOUKI through into the Ron Miller Special but DOUKI finds the ropes. DOUKI sends Eagles off, Eagles comes back in with a 619 to the back of the knee, charges in and is caught with a slingshot DDT for two. Eagles rolls through Suplex De La Luna, DOUKI catches him in several flash pins but Eagles unloads a flurry of kicks, charges in and is dropped with a lariat. DOUKI looks Suplex De La Luna again, Eagles counters into Turbo Backpack for two, stays on the attack landing a 450 on the knee and finishing DOUKI with the Ron Miller Special.

Shingo Takagi (5-0) def. TAKA Michinoku (0-5) @ 7:23 via Last of the Dragon – ***1/2
TAKA asks for a knuckle lock, kicks Shingo on the knee, pokes the eyes and applies a headscissors. Shingo makes it to the ropes and bails, TAKA follows him out, ducks a lariat and Shingo crashes into the post. TAKA dropkicks Shingo before he can make it back in the ring, dragon screws his knee over the second rope and applies the figure four between the ring post. He brings Shingo in for a corner knee lift, Shingo bails back out and TAKA follows him with a moonsault off the second to the floor. He takes Shingo into the crowd for a thrust kick followed by a crossface and lets go at the count of fifteen. Shingo makes it back in at nineteen but Taka in there for a series of roll ups for two and catches Shingo back in the crossface. Shingo gets to the ropes and drops TAKA with a scoop slam. TAKA catches Shingo coming in with another crossface, pulls his arm from the ropes and changes positions. He traps both arms and pulls back but Shingo uses his legs to cause the rope break. Shingo slides out of the Michinoku Driver and slams TAKA followed by a flurry of strikes. TAKA responds with a jumping thrust kick, Shingo takes him down with a Pumping Bomber. Shingo looks to pick TAKA up but gets poked in the eyes. TAKA tries rolling Shingo back into the crossface, Shingo powers him up and finishes TAKA with Last of the Dragon.

Bandido (2-3) def. Ryusuke Taguchi (4-1) @ 10:51 via 21-plex – ***1/4
They fist bump before locking up and trading hammerlocks. Taguchi takes the head, sends Bandido over, Bandido grabs the headscissors and Taguchi handstands out into a pin attempt for a two count. Taguchi sends Bandido to the ropes and forces him to blow himself up. Bandido collapses and demands Taguchi now run the ropes. Taguchi hits the ropes once, Bandido catches him with a thrust kick for a two count. Bandido sends Taguchi over the top rope, flips over Taguchi on the apron and powerbombs him into the post. Bandido comes back in only to dive back out with a tope con hilo and brings Taguchi back inside for a springboard crossbody followed by a low dropkick for a two count. Taguchi fights with forearms, Bandido responds with a pump kick and catches two hip attacks with atomic drops.

Bsndido sunset flips a third hip attack, Taguchi rolls through and lnds a dropkick, Bandido bails and Taguchi follows him out with a plancha. Taguchi sends Bandido back in, hits a springboard hop attack that sends Bandido back out to the floor but Taguchi follows with a tope con hilo. Taguchi brings him back in, Bandido ducks a second springboard hip attack but gets caught with three amigos for two. Bandido catches Taguchi coming in and muscles him up for a reverse brainbuster followed by a hip attack for two. Taguchi rolls up a second hip attack and pulls Bandido into Oh My & Garankle. He sets up for Dodon, Bandido rolls through, catches a second rope hip attack into a German suplex for two. Bandido wants the 21-plex, Taguchi hits a lariat instead. Bandido comes back at him and drops Taguchi with a modified Go 2 Sleep and finishes him with the 21-plex.

Taiji Ishimori (4-1) def. Jonathan Gresham (3-2) @ 6:50 via Bloody Cross – ***
Gresham offers his hand, Ishimori spits on him, Gresham takes him down and spits on Ishimori. He follows with a dropkick, Ishimori catches his boots, swings them to the corner and lands a sliding German suplex. Ishimori forearms Gresham, stomps the hand and sends him crashing to the corner for a two count. Gresham tries fighting back, Ishimori overpowers him in a cravat, Gresham picks Ishimori up and slam himself out of the hold. Gresham follows with a hurricanrana that sends Ishimori out and stays on the attack with a running knee off the apron, sends Ishimori back in and lands a springboard crossbody. He sends Ishimori to the ropes, Ishimori responds with a handspring enziguri. They trade waistlocks, Gresham rolls through Ishimori’s roll through into a bridging leg clutch, Ishimori kicks out and applies the crossface. Gresham gets the ropes, and traps the legs for a two count before locking in the Octopus Hold. He pulls Ishimori from the ropes so Ishimori backdrops himself into Gresham on the mat and follows with corner running knees for two. Ishimori stays on Gresham, picks him up and finishes with Bloody Cross.

BUSHI (2-3) def. YOH (3-2) @ 11:46 via MX – **1/2
BUSHI dropkicks YOH before the bell, YOH bails and BUSHI follows him out with a tope suicida. He drives YOH into the apron and whips him with his belt before bringing him back in for stomps. BUSHI applies an STF, YOH makes the ropes and BUSHI gouges the eyes. They have an overhand chop exchange, YOH ends it with an uppercut, removes BUSHI’s shirt and they continue. BUSHI hits the ropes, YOH looks for a dropkick but BUSHI hangs on, sends YOH to the ropes and is taken down with a flying forearm. YOH drops BUSHI eith back elbows, sends him to the ropes and lands a dropkick. He catches BUSHI running in with a dropkick to the knee but BUSHI fights off any further attack and lays YOH out with a dropkick. YOH puts the brakes on an apron DDT, dropkicks BUSHI to the floor and follows him out with a tope con hilo.

YOH lays in some stomps before bringing BUSHI back in where he hits a dropkick to the knee and rolls BUSHI into a calf crusher. BUSHI struggles but manages to find the ropes, catches YOH running in with a pendulum kick, YOH responds with an enziguri and drops BUSHI off the top rope with a superplex and falcon arrow for a two count. He brings BUSHI back up for a dragon suplex but BUSHI fights it off so YOH decides German suplex for two. He brings BUSHI back up for the dragon suplex, BUSHI counters into a swinging neckbreaker. They meet forehead to forehead and exchange forearms. The fight breaks out to slaps. They catch each other with enziguris and BUSHI a pair of codebreakers followed by a BUSHI Destroyer for two. BUSHI heads to the second, grabs his knee, and catches YOH with MX for the win.

Dragon Lee (3-2) def. Titán (2-3) @ 14:01 via Desnucadora – ***1/4
Lee and Titán persuade the referee to put on the commemorative Dragon Lee/Kamaitachi rivalry mask and all three pose with the Mexican flag. They embrace before locking up. Titán gives a clean break, they trade leg sweeps and spring back up for a stalemate. Titán hits the ropes, handstands over Lee and catches him with a hurricanrana. Lee handstands out of a second, dropkicks Titán out of the ring and follows him out with a tope con hilo. Lee brings him back in and applies a double armbar, sends him to the corner and delivers an overhand chop and a flurry of kicks. Titán follows Lee to the opposite corner with a lariat, springboard corner dropkick and boots. Lee follows Titán into the opposite corner with a dropkick and forearms. They meet in the middle where Titán hits a dropkick to the knee. Lee sends him over the top, charges in and is caught and brought over the top to the floor. Titán follows with a top rope moonsault to the floor, brings Lee back in for a top rope crossbody but Lee counters with a knee lift.

Both collapses on the mat and shake hands before trading forearms. Each try coming in with lariat, both duck the other’s attack but Titán traps Lee in a figure four. Lee gets the ropes, cuts Titán off on top where they continue to trade forearms and they fight breaks into slaps. Titán wins the exchange with a headbutt, Lee comes back up and armdrags him off the top but Titán is back with an enziguri. Titán charges Lee on the top, Lee cuts him off and lands a draping double stomp. Lee looks for Desnucadora, Titán slides out and drops him with a satellite DDT for a two count. Lee sidesteps Titán, hits a German followed by a knee lift but Titán comes right back with a destroyer and Lee fires off another knee. Titán escapes Desnucadora, Lee escapes a hurricanrana and lands a knee followed by a brainbuster for two. He comes in with a posion rana and another knee for two. One more knee and finishes Titán after Desnucadora. They embrace after the match and hold up the Mexican flag.

Rocky Romero (1-4) def. El Phantasmo (5-0) @ 28:38 via Cross Armbreaker – ***1/2
ELP takes Romero’s hat and throws it into the crowd. Romero responds with a dropkick and we’re off. Romero rains down forearms, sends ELP out and follows with a tope suicida. ELP lands an elbow and drives Romero into the apron. He takes Liger’s water, Romero takes it from him and sprays ELP in the face. Romero takes ELP into the crowd and they battle on the second level. ELP scales the overhang, teases a dive but doesn’t seem Romero. He climbs back down where Romero finds him with a slap, climbs the overhang and hits a knee lift and drives ELP into the wall. They fight back down with stairs, ELP drops Romero knee first on the apron before making their way back inside. ELP stays on the knee, applying a half crab while punching the knee. Romero fights back up and lands an enziguri, runs in and is caught, driven back down followed by a lionsault from ELP. He sends Romero repeatedly into the corner and starts pie facing.

Romero wakes up and fights back but ELP brings him back down with a dropkick to the knee. Romero reverses an Irish whip, looks for forever clotheslines, gets caught and put in the tree of woe and ELP follows with forever nut stomps. He takes Romero’s hand and walks the ropes for Old School. After some showboating, Romero pushes him down and ELP crashes to the floor. Romero follows him out with a plancha and looks to drive his knee into ELP’s arm but he moves and crashes knee first into the post. ELP removes the floor pads, looks for CR II, Romero backdrops out, sending ELP back first to the floor. Romero slides in to break the count out, immediately slides back out and drives ELP shoulder first into the post. He climbs to the top rope and lands a senton to the floor. Romero sends ELP in, ELP tries begging him off but Romero fires off a flurry of kicks before draping him over the top rope and hitting a dropkick for a two count. He takes ELP’s arm, climbs to the second and drops a knee over the arm. ELP cuts off the forever clotheslines, looks for a moonsault, Romero crotches him over the turnbuckle and puts ELP in the tree of woe.

Romero thinks about nut stomping, decides better of it and delivers a series of back kicks before heading to the top. ELP fights him off, wants a moonsault, Romero moves but ELP lands on his feet. Romero traps him in a cross armbreaker, ELP transitions to an ankle lock, Romero transitions to a triangle and ELP connects with a powerbomb. They trade forearms, ELP lands a flurry of kicks , Romero floats out of the spinning neckbreaker, looks for Sliced Rocky but ELP puts in the brakes. He takes Romero to the top, Romero fights him into a Sliced Rocky off the top for two and immediately goes into the cross armbreaker. ELP finds the ropes, heads to the corner, Romero unloads a couple of lariats, ELP ducks third and kicks out Romero’s leg before muscling him up for a spinning neckbreaker. Romero rolls to the floor before ELP can get the pin. He follows him out and sends Romero into the crowd. Romero makes it in at eighteen where ELP is waiting for a frog splash but Romero moves, lands a knee lift followed by a lariat for two.

He gets Sliced Rocky but ELP kicks out at one. ELP pushes Romero into the referee, looks for a low blow but Romero blocks and catches him in a cross armbreaker. Romero lets go to loo for the referee, ELP punches him low and rolls Romero up for two. He follows with a frog splash for another two but ELP lands on the referee after the kick out. ELP grabs his belt, Romero takes a phantom bump, the referee sees Romero down and teases the DQ. Romero rolls him up for two followed by a backslide for another two, ELP kicks out the knee, sets up for CR II, Romero frankensteiner pins for two, comes in for Sliced Rocky, ELP counters but Romero responds to the counters with a small package and into a cross armbreaker. ELP tries to power out, Romero brings him back to the mat and ELP taps out.

YOH and SHO come out to celebrate the win. Romero says tomorrow is a night off, time to celebrate in Roppongi. Backstage, Romero says this was his first ever Korakuen singles main event and he beat who he believes is the best junior heavyweight. This is a big deal for his career and he hopes this leads him to main eventing Sumo Hall.

In terms of consistency, this show is somewhere between the previous two nights at Korakuen. The show was more consistent than the last but didn’t reach the highs of either show. All in all, this three day run of thirty tournament matches was an absolute breeze. There’s the obvious complaint that the main event went too long which is true but the finishing stretch was really strong and the crowd were extremely vocal towards the end which created a great environment for Romero’s big win. El Phantasmo’s lone loss in the tournament to this point and a great feel good moment to close the show.

Because of the long main event there were a lot of sprints to start the show and most of which hit their mark. Tiger and SHO kicked the show off with Tiger continuing to be violent with his knee strikes. SHO overcame the veteran and earned his respect. Narita had another great match with a super athlete in Ospreay. Kanemaru was up to his same tricks that won him his last two matches but he was out smarted by Scurll in the end. The visual of Eagles’ face covered in blood at the end of his match with DOUKI will be memorable. Their match was super fluid like all of their matches have been throughout the tournament. TAKA ditched the Suzuki-Gun gear and channeled his former self which was great. His intensity was on a level we’ve yet to see from him to this point. Taguchi was able to shove off his lucha influence with Bandido. They had strong chemistry until a wonky ending. Ishimori and Gresham was speedy and fun but never quite got to the level that’d push it over the hump. BUSHI and YOH went a little long, the match was slowed with submissions that were hard to believe and there wasn’t much movement inside of those holds. Dragon Lee and Titán showcased but felt like they were okay with giving the fans a staged performance of crazy athleticism rather than making anything feel like a real fight. And again the main event was long but the payoff was strong and ended the show on a positive note.

Recommended Matches
Romero vs ELP
Ospreay vs Narita
Shingo vs TAKA
Taguchi vs Bandido
SHO vs Tiger
Lee vs Titan
Eagles vs DOUKI

Standings
A Block
Shingo Takagi (6-0)
Taiji Ishimori (5-1)
Dragon Lee (4-2)
Jonathan Gresham (3-3)
SHO (3-3)
Marty Scurll (3-3)
Tiger Mask IV (2-4) ELIMINATED
Titán (2-4) ELIMINATED
Yoshinobu Kanemaru (2-4) ELIMINATED
TAKA Michinoku (0-6) ELIMINATED

B Block
El Phantasmo (5-1)
Will Ospreay (5-1)
Ryusuke Taguchi (4-2)
Robbie Eagles (4-2)
YOH (3-3)
Bandido (3-3)
BUSHI (3-3)
Rocky Romero (2-4)
DOUKI (1-5) ELIMINATED
Ren Narita (0-6) ELIMINATED

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

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