NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 24: Day 12

May 31st, 18:30 from Osaka Prefectural Gym No.2, Osaka

The A Block decider.

Five men are still in the running and the results of today’s matches will determine which of them wins A Block and advances to Saturday’s final. Let’s get to it. The story so far…

Here are the current standings, with the names in bold still in the running:

A Block – Current Standings

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

Bearing in mind that in the event of a tie the winner of the head-to-head goes through, here’s everyone’s possible route to the final:

  • Dragon Lee must beat TAKA, Ricochet and Hiromu must lose
  • Will Ospreay must beat Hiromu, Taichi must lose
  • Ricochet must beat Scurll, Dragon Lee and Ospreay must lose
  • Taichi must beat Liger, Ricochet and Hiromu must lose
  • Hiromu Takahashi must beat Ospreay, Ricochet and Dragon Lee must lose

Here we go…

  • Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) defeated ACH & Volador Jr. **1/2
  • Taguchi Japan (KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi & Juice Robinson) defeated Los Ingobernables de Japón (BUSHI, EVIL & SANADA) ***1/4
  • Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga) defeated David Finlay, Hanson & Raymond Rowe ***
  • Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi & Kenny Omega) defeated CHAOS (Gedo & Kazuchika Okada) **3/4

A Block – Round Seven

Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Taichi

Taichi jabbed Liger with the mic stand, Kanemaru and El Desperado clubbed him to the mat, then Taichi taunted him on the mic. Liger hit back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, but Desperado blocked the follow-up and Taichi used a cable to choke him before continuing the beatdown in the crowd. Liger broke the count, but was hit with the ringbell hammer and Taichi tried to pull off his mask. A suplex brought respite, but not for long, and Taichi’s head kick earned two. Superkick – one, two, no! The crowd was desperate for Liger to fight back and he did so with a back body drop and Shotei. The referee was bumped, however, Suzuki-gun attacked again, and when it looked like the referee was recovering they knocked him down once more. Taichi then took a pair of scissors and started cutting off Liger’s hair and bodysuit! Taguchi and Kushida to the rescue! Koppu kick from Liger, followed by the Shotei and a powerbomb! Brainbuster! One, two, three!

YES! A tremendously satisfying result; Liger finally gets point on the board and puts Taichi out of the running. Such was Suzuki-gun’s beating that I thought we might get an appearance from the very, very rarely seen Kishin Liger, but it wasn’t needed. He got a big ovation post-match and thanked the crowd after his last ever Best of the Super Juniors tournament match. The match, while just an extended beatdown with a brief comeback, was exactly what it needed to be. ***

Dragon Lee vs. TAKA Michinoku

Taka tricked Dragon with a handshake and dragged him into the crowd where he applied the Just Facelock. Dragon just made it into the ring before the 20-count, but Taka stayed in control. A ‘rana sent Taka outside, but the dive didn’t connect and Taka used a rope-assisted low blow to get back on top, although soon enough Dragon did connect with a suicide dive. Corner dropkick for two, elbow strikes, then a back-and-forth led to Dragon locking in the crossface, but Taka made the ropes. Dragon set him up for the double stomp, which missed, but the rebound German connected, before Taka landed a thrust kick and running knee for a two-count. Backdrop Hold from Dragon Lee for two, but Taka recovered and nailed the Michinoku Drive for the win!

A disjointed effort here, with little sense of momentum one way or the other and both men looking understandably tired. **1/4

Ricochet vs. Marty Scurll

Scurll attacked before the bell, but Ricochet hit back with a suicide dive and twisting tope. As Ricochet springboarded in, Scurll caught him with the chickenwing, forcing a desperate scramble to the ropes! Scurll nicely countered a handstand headscissors with a superkick then landed the apron variation outside. Back in, Scurll disrespectfully applied the Romero Special, but impressively rolled into it three times. They traded chops, Ricochet hit the 619 at the second time of asking, and the springboard elbow connected. Neckbreaker and standing SSP for two, then Scurll hit back with the Just Kidding superkick, lariat and the Last Shot for a two-count of his own. A series of incredible counters allowed Ricochet to nail a corkscrew enzuigiri and both men were down. Scurll blocked the King’s Landing and the suplex combo, countering into the chickenwing, but Ricochet powered up and this time did land the suplex combo. The Shooting Star Press hit the knees and Scurll capitalised with a piledriver! Two-count only. Another piledriver, another near-fall! Scurll snapped a finger, but Ricochet went to hit the leg-hook Michinoku Driver, which Scurll reversed into the chickenwing! O’Connor Roll from Ricochet, countered again into the chickenwing, and this time he was forced to tap.

Very good indeed. Both men played off the offence they’d established during the course of the tournament and there were some fantastic counters throughout. I’d love to see this again as a main event, and without the somewhat predictable outcome, because they had some quality chemistry. ****

That result means that it’s all down to our final match of the show. Winner takes all.

Will Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi

Ospreay sent Hiromu to the floor and nailed him with a suicide dive, then sat him down on a chair and launched himself with a dropkick! Hiromu avoided a second dive, though, and splatted Ospreay to the floor with a sunset flip powerbomb off the apron. Corner clothesline, seated dropkick, back suplex, two-count. Chops kept Hiromu on top, then he went after Ospreay’s knee with a low dropkick and shinbreaker, before wrapping his leg around the ringpost. Arm-trap Dragon Screw, and the modified figure-four was cinched in. Ospreay screamed in pain, but he just made the ropes, then flipped out of a back suplex (to his own detriment) and landed the handspring kick. Tope atomico, the limping corner dropkick connected, and a series of kicks led to a crucifix driver for two. Standing SSP and middle-rope Spiral Tap(!) for another two-count. Main Event Elbow Battle time, with the pop-up powerbomb and Falcon Arrow earning a near-fall for Hiromu, then they headed up top where Hiromu’s Victory Roll Driver crunched Ospreay down to the mat! Two-count only again! Ospreay got the Cheeky Nandos kick, but the OsCutter was blocked, and Hiromu hit double Germans for yet another two-count. They elbowed each other on the apron, Ospreay blocked another sunset flip powerbomb, and he landed a Shooting Star Press to the floor! Back in, the Red Arrow hit the knees, but a Destroyer DDT spiked Hiromu and Ospreay followed with the imploding 450! 2.9! OsCutter! One, two, three!

Will Ospreay wins A Block!

Ospreay is a Best of the Super Juniors finalist for the second year in a row and scores a very impressive win over the Junior Heavyweight champion. A lively post-match promo had him promising to win the match on Saturday, no matter the opponent. They went at it full bore and this was an intense, aggressive spotfest only slightly diminished by Ospreay’s lack of selling late on. Ultimately though, it proved a fitting match to determine the block winner. ****

A Block – Final Standings

  • Will Ospreay – 10
  • Dragon Lee – 8
  • Ricochet – 8
  • Marty Scurll – 8
  • Taichi – 8
  • Hiromu Takahashi – 8
  • TAKA Michinoku – 4
  • Jushin Thunder Liger – 2

Final thoughts: Liger won! But seriously, that was my main concern. That result and the two quality matches to close the show make this an easy recommendation.

I’m back tomorrow for the B Block decider. See you then.