The Best of the Super Juniors 26 final between Shingo Takagi and Will Ospreay takes place in the main event at Sumo Hall! Also on the card is the New Japan debut of Jon Moxley as he challenges Juice Robinson for the IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship and Hiroshi Tanahashi makes his return from injury in a special singles match against Jay White. Let’s get started!
Dragon Lee, Titan & Shota Umino def. Bandido, Jonathan Gresham & Ren Narita @ 8:26 via Lee Running Knee Strike – ***
Gresham and Umino started off. Umino shoulders Gresham down, blocks two monkey flip attempts, Gresham offered his hand but Umino slaps it away and they tag out. Bandido and Titan are in next. They trade handstands, Bandido caught Titan running in and popped up him for a cutter. Bandido’s team stays on Titans arm and made quick tags to keep him isolated. Titan caught Bandido charging the corner with an enziguri followed by a dropkick and tagged in Lee. Lee unloads and shouts out Katsuyori Shibata as he delivers a dropkick.
Bandido slides out of Desnucadora, hits a modified Go 2 Sleep, Lee avoids the 21-plex and drops Lee with a German suplex but Bandido is quickly back up for a standing moonsault body press. Narita gets the tag and his team takes turns on Lee. Bandido lands a 450, Gresham a shooting star and Narita a bridging German for a two count. Lee’s team makes the save, Titan hits a springboard frog splash for two, a hurricanrana and as asai moonsault. Narita catches Lee running in with a released belly-to-belly suplex for two, Lee quickly gets back up and responds with a pair of knee strikes to finish Narita and pick up the win. Everyone embraces and both Lee and Titan bow to the crowd before making their exit.
El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori & Robbie Eagles def. Ryusuke Taguchi, YOH & SHO @ 9:10 via ELP CR II on SHO – **1/2
Bullet Club go on the jump before the bell. ELP beats down Taguchi, steals his hat and plays catch with the rugby ball with Eagles before booting it into the crowd. Taguchi catches ELP with a hip attack and coaches 3K to run a train. They throw ELP into Taguchi for a hip attack but ELP sticks his thumb up Taguchi’s butt and gets stuck. Bullet Club help ELP free, Eagles smells his thumb and passes out. ELP grabs Taguchi’s wrist and walks the ropes, jumps over YOH’s lariat and takes Taguchi down. A pair of corner running knee from Eagles and Ishimori, ELP puts Taguchi in the tree of woe and stomps him low. Eagles atomic drops an attempted hip attack and hits one of his own before being taken down with one from Taguchi.
YOH gets the tag and flurries on Bullet Club. He drives Eagles to the corner, SHO makes the tag and they double Eagles until ELP makes the save. They drop ELP with a pair of knee, set Eagles up for 3K but he turns it into a DDT on YOH and flurries on SHO. He’s taken down with a lariat, escapes the Shock Arrow and pulls SHO into a Turbo Backpack for two. Eagles climbs to the top, ELP tags him while Eagles is coming down with a 450. ELP pulls Eagles off SHO and finishes him with CR II. An angry Eagles shoves ELP and Ishimori before making his way to the back.
Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI, Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger & Tiger Mask IV def. Taichi, Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI @ 10:34 via Y-H Karma on DOUKI – **3/4
Taichi throws the NEVER title at Ishii which fires Ishii up. DOUKI calls out Liger and they start. Hw ducks a shotei but gets caught running in with a spinning backbreaker followed by the Romero Special. Kanemaru breaks the hold, Yano trips DOUKI, Kanemaru trips Liger and a brawl breaks out. DOUKI climbs to the top rope and lands a senton onto the collection of wrestlers. Ishii and Taichi brawl outside while the rest of Suzuki-Gun isolate Liger. Suzuki and Liger have an overhand chop exchange before Suzuki lands a pair of knees and takes the arm. Liger reverses an Irish whip and drops Suzuki with a shotei.
They tag out to Ishii and Taichi who trade Irish whips, Ishii lands a couple chops and shoulders Taichi down. Taichi connects with a kick to the knee and follows with a buzzsaw kick, Ishii ducks the lariat and drops Taichi with a German suplex. They tag out to Sabre and Y-H. Sabre is dropped in a vertical suplex, escapes a Kumagoroshi and traps Y-H in an armbar. Suzuki-Gun come in to run a train on Y-H but his team cuts it off and another brawl breaks out. DOUKI sets up for Suplex De La Luna, Y-H blocks it and Tiger comes in for the save. Y-H connects with a lariat and Karma finishes DOUKI. Liger and Suzuki have to be pulled away from each other, Suzuki takes the arm of a young lion and Liger chashes him to the back.
Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, EVIL & BUSHI def. Kota Ibushi, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & Toa Henare @ 10:28 via EVIL & SANADA Magic Killer on Henare – ***
Ibushi and Naito start the match with a lock up. Ibushi takes the head, Naito sends him off and armdrags Ibushi before hitting his pose. Ibushi goes to lock up again but Naito sidesteps it and tags in BUSHI and Ibushi brings in Honma. BUSHI takes care of Honma until Henare comes in and they double BUSHI but Honma comes up empty on the kokeshi an LIJ come in to clear the apron. EVIL wins a chop exchange with Honma and tags in SANADA. They have a forearm exchange, SANADA takes Honma down with an uppercut, Honma responds with a shoulder and lands a kokeshi before tagging Makabe. Corner lariats and punches followed by the Northen Lights for a two count. SANADA blocks the German, catches the boot and looks for the Paradise Lock but Makabe sends him off.
SANADA ducks one lariat, gets taken down with the second and Naito and Ibushi get their respective tags. Ibushi takes Naito down, follows up with a moonsault off the second for two, looks for a standing moonsault but Naito gets his knees up and follows with a low dropkick. Naito charges the corner, Ibushi gets his boot up, Naito ducks a lariat and drops Ibushi with a slingshot DDT. EVIL gets the tag, gouges the eyes and hits the ropes but eats a dropkick. Henare tags in, takes EVIL down with a shoulder tackle and lands a vertical suplex. Makabe, Henare and Honma triple EVIL, LIJ break the flurry. Henare unlods on EVIL, misses a corner attack and SANADA is there to capitalize. BUSHI dives on Ibushi outside and Henare is finished with Magic Killer. Naito throws Ibushi into the rails before celebrating with his team. Ibushi hops up to the apron and the two have a stare down.
Kazuchika Okada & Rocky Romero def. Brody King & Marty Scurll @ 10:36 via Okada Rainmaker on King – ***
Okada starts off with King and they lock up. King backs Okada to the ropes, Okada slides through and gives a clean break. King shoulders Okada down, lands a chop, Okada trips King and follows with a low dropkick. Romero gets the tag, wants Scurll but King refuses the tag. He tells Romero to gives him his best shot and reponds by grounding Romero with a shot of his own before tagging out to Scurll. Romero tries fighting him off but Scurll takes him down and stomps the arm. Romero catches Scurll coming in with a pair of hurricanranas, Scurll bails and King comes back in. He puts the brakes on a Romero hurricanrana, cuts off Okada’s attack and springboard armdrags them both at the same time.
Scurll comes back in and puts Romero in the Romero Special and into a pin for a two count. King follows with a running splash, Scurll taunts Okada and Romero is able to fire back with a kick and tags in Okada. He sends Scurll to the corner, drops him with a DDT but King comes in, Okada ducks a lariat and slams King on top of Scurll. He climbs to the top rope, Scurll avoids the dive and catches Okada with a slingshot DDT. King gets a wasistlock on Okada, Scurll sunset flips them through but Romero is there and takes them both down with forever clotheslines. King catches Romero running in with a black hole slam, pulls Okada up and into a piledriver but Okada kicks out at two. Okada catches King with a dropkick, follows with an elbow drop off the top and a Rainmaker finishes King.
The lights go out and a Chris Jericho video package plays. He calls himself the Painmaker and tells Okada he will beat him on June 9th.
Okada responds to the crowd saying his title isn’t to be messed with. What is a Painmaker? All New Japan needs is a Rainmaker.
Jay White def. Hiroshi Tanahashi @ 19:16 via Small Package – ***1/2
White attacks Tanahashi before the bell and dumps him outside. Tanahashi fires forearms, Gedo distracts him and White goes back on the attack. He brings Tanahashi back inside and stomps the arm. Tanahashi fights back, wants the Irish whip but his arm gives out and White dumps him over the top rope and Tanahashi crashes to the floor. White follows him out, traps the arm and drives Tanahashi into the rails and apron repeatedly. He breaks the count twice, throws Tanahashi into the post, traps the arm in the rails and pulls the referee out of the ring to stop the count. White comes back in and pulls the referee up to start the count. Tanahashi makes it back in, unloads forearms, wants an Irish whip but White holds on and drives Tanahashi down to the mat arm first.
White flexes and say it’s too easy. He wants a Saito suplex, Tanahashi blocks, White traps the arm and drives Tanahashi down arm first with a Saito suplex. He removes Tanahashi’s sleeve and hammers at the arm. Tanahashi lands a flurry of forearms, again fails on an Irish whip but catches White’s boot and turns him with a dragon screw. He takes White down with a series of forearms, his Irish whip is countered but fires back with a dropkick to White’s knee and a senton off the second rope for a two count. White catches Tanahashi running in with a chop, Tanahashi shrugs it off and ducks a lariat but White responds with a flatliner followed by a German suplex. Tanahashi kicks out of a DVD at two, White pulls him up in a headlock and bloks Tanahashi’s forearm, dropping him with a urange. White’s Kiwi Crusher is countered into a couple of Twist & Shouts but he blocks a third and collapses. Tanahashi pulls White up and slaps him across the face. He picks White up again and White quickly drops Tanahashi in an armbar.
He struggles but Tanahashi manages to find the ropes, holds the ropes on a sleeper suplex, lands a few strikes and catches White’s boot. Tanahashi puts White’s boot between his legs and pulls him into a dragon screw. White catches Tanahashi coming in for Blade Runner position but Tanahashi turns it into a Slingblade. He follows up with a second Slingblade and takes to the top but Gedo hops the apron for the distraction and White crotches Tanahashi over the ropes. He pulls Tanahashi off the top looking for Blade Runner, Tanahashi escapes and hits a straightjacket German suplex for two. Gedo rushes the ring, distracts the referee and White low blows Tanahashi. He wants Blade Runner but Tanahashi low blows White and rolls him up for two. Tanahashi dragon screws White’s knee into the mat, hooks him up for the Texas Cloverleaf but White rolls through and pins Tanahashi in a small package for the win. White goes to the commentary table to tell Liger he can retire because it’s White’s era now.
IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship
Jon Moxley def. Juice Robinson (c) @ 24:14 via Double Arm DDT – ****1/4
Moxley gives Juice the double bird and they start swinging. Moxley dumps Juice over the toop and follows him out with a tope suicida that sends Juice over the rails, into the announce table and they brawl into the crowd. He bites Juice’s face and hammers down elbows over the face. Juice back drops Moxley, escaping a piledriver on the floor and climbs to the second level where he hits a senton to the floor. He drops Moxley throat first over the guardrails and throws him into the rails. Juice wants a cannonball but Moxley moves and Juice crashes into the rails back first. Moxley brings him back in the ring and chop blocks the back of Juice’s knee. He drives Juice’s knee into the post and gets a swinging neckbreaker for a two count. Moxley bites the head and pulls Juice into a half crab. When Juice starts to scramble towards the ropes, Moxley pulls him into an STF before letting go and hitting Juice’s signature punches.
Juice catches Moxley running in with a spinebuster and rains down a series of punches. The punches continue in the corner, Juice is bleeding from the head but charges in for a cannonball. Moxley slides out of the way and Juice follows him with out with a plancha. He crotches Moxley over the rails and lands a lariat before bringing Moxley back inside for Juice Box. Juice heads to the top rope, Moxley rushes in, shoves him to the floor and sets up a table outside. He hits Juice over the back with a chair before setting him up on the table and raining down a series of punches. Moxley climbs to the apron with the chair and crashes over the top of Juice. One half of the table’s legs fold up so Moxley suplexes Juice through the table. Juice makes it back in at nineteen but Moxley is there for a release vertical suplex and drives Juice’s knees into the post before applying a figure four around the post. He pulls Juice’s legs through a chair, the referee begs Moxley off and while he’s distracted with the referee, Juice throws the chair at Moxley’s face. Juice follows up with a corner lariat and sets up for a cannonball but Moxley makes it back to his feet and lays Juice out with a lariat of his own. The two struggle back to their feet and trade forearms and headbutts.
Juice shrugs off a chop and unloads a flurry of punches. Moxley lands a boot and pulls Juice in for a double arm DDT but Juice charges towards the ropes, sending them both through the ropes and to the floor. Moxley sets up a table against the rails, looks to drive Juice through but he fights it off and connects with a cannonball into Moxley against the table. The table doesn’t break, Juice sets it back up and powerbombs Moxley through before sending him back inside. Moxley escapes Juice’s grip, sweeps his legs and pulls him into a Texas Cloverleaf. Juice fights for the ropes but Moxley pulls back to the center of the ring and rolls Juice through and bites Moxley. Juice sets up for Pulp Friction, Moxley fights it off and looks for the double arm DDT, Juice sends him off and rolls Moxley up for two. Moxley recovers quickly and drops Juice with a double arm DDT but Juice kicks out at two. Moxley stays on the attack, lifts Juice up and finishes him with a double arm DDT.
Best of the Super Juniors 26 Final
Will Ospreay def. Shingo Takagi @ 33:37 via Stormbreaker – ****3/4
They circle and lock up. Shingo backs Ospreay to the ropes, Ospreay takes position and gives a clean break. They knuckle lock, Shingo powers Ospteay down but Ospreay bridges and pulls himself back up, taking the wrist and they trade wristlocks. Ospreay breaks the hold and takes the headlock, Shingo sends him off and shoulders Ospreay down but he nips back to his feet. Shingo gives a boot, hits the ropes and catches Ospreay in a German but Ospreay flips through, look for the Oscutter, Shingo sends him off and avoids a kick for a stalemate. They lock up again, Ospreay powers Shingo to the ropes, Shingo switches position and delivers a chop. Ospreay elbows out of a cravat and dishes out chops of his own, hits the ropes and lands a hurricanrana, dropkicks Shingo out of the ring and fakes out a dive. Shingo throws a bottle of water at Ospreay from outside to a chorus of boos. He comes back inside, Ospreay rushes in with a boot, takes Shingo down with a dropkick, Shingo bails and Ospreay follows him out with a plancha.
Ospreay hits a chop, Shingo gouges the eyes and sends Ospreay to the rails but Ospreay hops to the top, Shingo catches him and drops Ospreay over the apron followed by a DDT to the floor. Shingo wants a DVD on the apron, Ospreay slides through and back inside, lands an enziguri, charges in, Shingo dodges and Ospreay falls to the floor. Shingo quickly hits the ropes and follows Ospreay out with a tope con hilo. He brings Ospreay back inside, stomps the chest, brings Ospreay back to his feet and shoulders Ospreay to the mat. Shingo stands on the back of Ospreay head, Ospreay fires up and delivers a series of forearms that Shingo shrugs off and hits one of his own that drops Ospreay, followed by a back drop. Ospreay crawls to the corner, Shingo catches his boot, eats a kick, pops Ospreay up and hits a DVD for a two count. Shingo hammers elbows to the neck, Ospreay fires forearms, Shingo’s double overhand takes Ospreay down but he nips back up and lands a handspring enziguri. Ospreay hits an enziguri, top rope 619, sweeps the leg in the corner and follows with a dropkick and standing shooting star press. Shingo bails outside, Ospreay follows him out with a Sasuke Special and brings him back in, hitting a springboard forearm for a two count.
Ospreay hooks up for the Stormbreaker but Shingo back drops free and catches the boot, loads up for a lairat, eats a kick but catches Ospreay running in with a lariat. Shingo toys with Ospreay, Ospreay unloads forearms, tries to flip off Shingo’s chest but Shingo over rotates him and Ospreay lands back first on the mat. Shingo wants Noshigami, Ospreay sunset flips through, wallflip enziguri, Shingo catches him running in and Ospreay turns it into a stundog millionaire. Ospreay charges in the corner hitting a boot, sets Shingo up for Cheeky Nandos and connects before looking for the Stormbreaker off the top. Shingo breaks free, they trade slaps on top, Shingo elbows Ospreay to the apron, Ospreay springs back up but Shingo cuts him off and lands a DVD off the second for a two count. Shingo fires up, charges in the corner, they collide with lariats, Shingo catches a handspring, Ospreay escaprs, hits the ropes again and Shingo catches the Oscutter into a Noshigami. He charges in for the Pumping Bomber, Ospreay holds on and floats through into a sitout powerbomber for a two count.
Shingo avoids the Robinson Special and pulls Ospreay into a wheelbarrow German suplex into the corner. Ospreay crawls to the apron, Shingo follows him out and eats a hook kick. Ospreay springs off the second turnbuckle for an Oscutter to the apron and they both crash outside. Ospreay makes it in at 16, Shingo 19 and wen Shingo makes it in Ospreay is waiting with a springboard dropkick. He follows with a shooting star senton to a bent over Shingo and a shooting star press for two. Robinson Special and the Oscutter get Ospreay another two count. He tries powering Shingo up for Stormbreaker but is unable so he grabs the wrist and delivers a series of upkicks. Shingo catches a kick, connects with a headbutt and they trade forearms. Shingo lands combination forearms, Ospreay catches him with a series of kicks, loads up for Stormbreaker but Shingo turns it into Last of the Dragon, Ospreay kicks out at two. Shingo connects with two Pumping Bombers but only scores a two count. He pulls Ospreay up into position for Last of the Dragon, Ospreay fights free and hit a poison rana. They trade headbutts, Shingo a pair of lariats, Ospreay a head kick, catches Shingo with a Spanish Fly for two, more kicks followed by Hidden Blade, hops to the top rope, hits the Oscutter and hangs on, lifts Shingo up into the Stormbreaker and defeats Shingo Takagi.
Ospreay takes the mic and thanks Shingo, the fans and everyone who has wrestled for New Japan. He announces that he has officially moved to Japan and plans to put the company on his back, wrestling both junior and heavyweights. Backstage he celebrates with Chaos and calls out Dragon Lee.
After a three week tournament, the gang is back together. The full roster came out to celebrate the super juniors final. Kota Ibushi was there, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Minoru Suzuki, it felt like a homecoming at Sumo Hall after such a long tour. The first match saw the juniors showcase one last time. Those five guys did great, I hope they return to the tournament next year. The next match we saw more of Eagles frustrations in Bullet Club come to the surface. With the Australian tour coming up, maybe that story will continue. There was more Liger and Suzuki interactions. I’m glad that it wasn’t a one-off for the last tour, there may be something more to this feud. The more Naito and Ibushi interactions the better, so that was nice to see. Brody King wowing the crowd with his athleticism may mean some bigger tours for him down the road. The Jericho video package sucked but what’s new?
Maybe I give Jay White too much credit but his matches with Tanahashi and Okada always deliver. Is that because those two can make anyone look good? Probably. Still, this was another really good match in their series. You can’t get better than babyface Tanahashi trying to overcome. Jon Moxley’s debut was great. His entrance through the crowd was cool, especially for this arena. We’ll see if that’s an every show entrance. His new attire is great, I love that he looks different from when he wrestled elsewhere. This was a great brawl, both men excel at the style and you could see how much fun they had being able to unleash their creativity.
The result of the main event is going to annoy a lot of people which is understandable but it leads me to believe that Shingo isn’t long for the junior scene. I’m fairly confident this was his send off from the division and we’ll be seeing him in the G1. If that’s not the case then this result is questionable. Still, it’s a good moment for Ospreay who announced he’s now living in Japan and will be touring with them full time. This is a great move for everyone involved. The show was strong overall, the singles matches all hit big and the pacing of the main event can’t be overstated. They went thirty-three and felt shorter than the two previous matches. Shingo Takagi is the master of pace.
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