NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 24: Day 11

May 29th, 18:30 from Korakuen Hall, Tokyo

We’re live, pal! It’s the penultimate B Block show of the tournament and everyone’s still in the running. Let’s get to it.

The story so far…

Here we go…

  • Suzuki-gun (TAKA Michinoku & Taichi) defeated Syota Umino & Dragon Lee **1/2
  • Hiromu Takahashi, EVIL & SANADA defeated Hirai Kawato, Ricochet & Juice Robinson ***1/4
  • David Finlay, Hanson & Raymond Rowe defeated Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi, Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga) ***
  • Bullet Club (Marty Scurll, Bad Luck Fale & Kenny Omega) defeated Gedo, Will Ospreay & Kazuchika Okada ***1/2

B Block – Round Six

Tiger Mask IV vs. El Desperado

Desperado knocked Tiger off the apron and wrapped his left leg around the ringpost before whacking it with a chair, forcing New Japan’s ringside doctor to take a look. After tossing Tiger into the chairs, Desperado worked the leg in the ring and tried to remove the veteran’s mask, before Tiger hit back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and some kicks. Crucifix pin for a two-count, then he smoothly rolled Desperado into an armbar from which the Suzuki-gun man made the ropes. The referee was intentionally bumped, allowing Desperado to go back to the mask, and a torture rack slam got two, then he applied the Stretch Muffler.  Tiger scrambled to the ropes, nailed a spin kick and the Tiger Driver connected for a near-fall! Desperado blocked the tombstone, but was nailed with a high knee and the Tiger Suplex gave Tiger Mask the three-count.

Post-match, Tiger considered ripping off Desperado’s mask, but ever the babyface, decided against it. This was solid outing, with the legwork providing a consistent thread. A little rough around the edges, but fun nonetheless. ***

BUSHI vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru

Bushi was out first and Kanemaru attacked during his entrance! He dragged Bushi out into the crowd, but Bushi fought back and launched himself with a crossbody from the entranceway! Hell of a dive and the crowd definitely appreciated it. Back in the ring, Bushi got a little cocky and was caught by Kanemaru, who DDT’d him on the floor and landed the apron-hung dropkick. Tree-of-woe dropkick for two and the camel clutch was locked in. Kanemaru choked Bushi with his t-shirt – gimmick infringement! – so Bushi replied with a DDT and both men were down. Double knees, missile dropkick and a reverse swinging neckbreaker from Bushi for two. Kanemaru landed a reverse DDT, but Bushi caught the ref’s arm to stop the three-count! The ref was bumped for the second Suzuki-gun match in a row, and Kanemaru tried to nail Bushi with a whiskey bottle, but Bushi caught him with a sit-out jawbreaker for two. He followed with the Diving Codebreaker and that was more than enough for the win.

Bushi misted Kanemaru with the whiskey after the match! I really enjoyed this. Shenanigans aplenty, of course, but the devil’s in the detail and I appreciated the brawl in the crowd and particularly the spot thieving. ***1/2

Volador Jr. vs. ACH

Volador went low with a kick, so ACH replied with the inverted atomic drop and a dropkick sent Volador outside, then back in, Volador’s movement was too quick for ACH and a ‘rana sent the latter outside before the former nailed a beautiful tope con hilo. ACH was back in at 19 and Volador mocked his pose, so ACH replied with the strike combo, dropkicked Volador off the apron and hit FIVE suicide dives, with each one sending his opponent further and further into the chairs behind him. The slingshot cutter earned ACH a two-count, but a superkick and lungblower brought Volador back into it. They fought up top, Volador was knocked down, but ACH’s 450 splash missed the mark, so it was time for the elbow strikes. ACH countered a handspring into a German suplex and followed with a lariat for a near-fall! Another lariat landed, but Volador no-sold it, nailed a superkick and headed up top. ACH leapt to the top-rope and hit a huge superplex! 2.9! He headed up again, but Volador blocked him and hit a huge top-rope super hurricanrana for the win!

We got a reluctant post-match handshake after what was a very good effort by both men. They stepped it up here and had me biting on a couple of near-falls. ***3/4

Ryusuke Taguchi vs. KUSHIDA

Kushida dominated the early exchanges on the mat, first applying a bow-and-arrow stretch, then a series of side headlocks. Taguchi escaped each time, but Kushida was all about asserting his wrestling prowess. The pace picked up with attempted charges and strikes, but neither man connected, so Taguchi faked a fist bump and kicked Kushida to the floor. The attempted apron hip attack, however, was countered mid-air into an armbar! Nicely done. Kushida now had the opening to begin working on Taguchi’s arm, and did so with stomps and a rolling hammerlock. He applied the standing double-wristlock, but Taguchi powered into two amigos, then hit a low dropkick when Kushida flipped out of the third. Now Taguchi had his opening to work on Kushida’s leg.

Kushida fired back with chops, but Taguchi cut him off with a brief ankle lock, then the Dodon (chickenwing facebuster) was blocked and Kushida rolled-through a hip attack to hit a Dodon of his own! Taguchi countered a sunset flip and landed some hip attacks, but his springboard version was again reversed in mid-air to an armbar. A fantastic sequence of submission counters culminated in Kushida applying a figure-four, but Taguchi just made the ropes. Kicks to the leg from Kushida, then he went back to the arm, and Taguchi tried desperately to fight back with elbows. They slapped each other, nailed kicks, then Taguchi blocked Kushida’s straight punch and swung an uppercut to his gut! Reverse STO into the turnbuckle from Kushida, but Taguchi grabbed a double-wristlock of his own, before they traded armbreakers and Kushida’s Dragon Screw put both men down! Taguchi tilt-a-whirled into Dodon – two-count only! BomAss Ye – two-count only! Ankle lock from Taguchi, and he dragged Kushida to the middle of the ring, then countered a counter into a pin for a near-fall. Kushida somehow scrambled his way into the Hoverboard Lock, and when it looked like Taguchi might escape, he picked him up and planted him with Back to the Future (small package driver)! One, two, three!

They shook hands after the match and Kushida had the crowd stand for a traditional Japanese end to the show. This was a fantastic main event. Taguchi is as skilled a wrestler as anyone on the roster when given the opportunity and he certainly had that here. The story of both men initially trying their usual tricks, but having to switch it up (and lift from the other guy) was well told, and there was quality selling too. Just a top class performance from both guys. Thoroughly enjoyed this one. ****1/2

A Block standings after Round Six

  • Dragon Lee – 8
  • Will Ospreay – 8
  • Ricochet – 8
  • Taichi – 8
  • Hiromu Takahashi – 8
  • Marty Scurll – 6
  • TAKA Michinoku – 2
  • Jushin Thunder Liger – 0

B Block standing after Round Six

  • ACH – 6
  • BUSHI – 6
  • El Desperado – 6
  • Yoshinobu Kanemaru – 6
  • KUSHIDA – 6
  • Ryusuke Taguchi – 6
  • Tiger Mask IV – 6
  • Volador Jr. – 6

Final thoughts: No, your eyes do not deceive you, going into their block decider on Thursday every B Block wrestler is tied on six points! This was a great show all-round, not a bad match on the card, all the tournament matches being at least good, and the main event delivering huge. As for Thursday, my brain is melting at the possibilities and various outcomes. A little help, please?

Back on Wednesday for the A Block decider. See you then.