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NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 25 All-In-One Preview & Schedule

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 25 All-In-One Preview & Schedule

It’s that time of year again. The days are getting longer, the temperatures are getting warmer, and all of your favorite junior heavyweight wrestlers are getting ready to participate in the 2018 Best of the Super Juniors tournament! Oh, and Tiger Mask IV will be there too.

That’s right, New Japan Pro Wrestling’s annual Best of the Super Juniors tournament is returning for its twenty-fifth consecutive outing! To celebrate, New Japan has amassed what is quite possibly the greatest collection of participants to date. Let me tell ya folks, I haven’t seen a lineup this stacked since the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue! But more on that in a moment.

Rules and Regulations and Whatnot

This year’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament will run from May 18 to June 4. It will be held in a round robin format. Sixteen wrestlers will be divided into two blocks of eight. Each wrestler will wrestle everyone else in their block in order to score points. The scoring system is as follows.

  • A win is worth two points.
  • A draw is worth one point.
  • A loss is worth zero points.

Whomever has the most points in each block at the end of regular tournament play will move on to the finals. Whomever wins the finals will be crowned the winner of the Best of the Super Juniors tournament and, assuming they are not Will Ospreay, receive an IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship match at Dominion on June 9th!

If you’re an experienced New Japan fan, all of that seems like old hat. But don’t forget that there may be new fans reading this too who have never watched a New Japan round robin tournament, let alone a Best of the Super Juniors. To those fans, I say welcome! There is a lot of exciting, awesome wrestling coming your way… emphasis on a lot. And to that, I say good luck! There are going to be a lot of wrestling matches that you’re going to have to consume in a concise amount of time. Do your best to keep up, but know that there is no shame in skipping some matches; fatigue happens to the best of us. The most important thing is that you enjoy yourself. (Besides, you gotta save some room for the G1 Climax in July!)

Participants

As I mentioned earlier, this year’s lineup is absolutely loaded. It’s an all-star assembly of homegrown New Japan superstars, international talent, hungry young guns, crafty veterans, first-time participants, and experienced BOSJ entrants. So let’s take a peek at who will be wrestling in Best of the Super Juniors 25!

A Block

 

ACH

“Midnight Cannonball” ACH

Allegiance: Independent

Finisher: Midnight Star, Spirit Bomb

Previous BOSJ Experience: 2017

One Piece fans rejoice! Your fellow countryman ACH returns for his second Best of the Super Juniors. When it comes to New Japan tournaments, the Texas native has actually fared better in tag competition than singles. He only scored six points in last year’s BOSJ, but he’s made it to the finals of the Super Jr. Tag Tournament two years in a row! (Interestingly enough he is in the same block as the man he partnered with in the 2016 tag tournament, Taiji Ishimori.) ACH has become one of the shining stars of the independent scene these past few years, but he’s gonna need to step up to the next level if he wants to become the Pirate Ki- errr, I mean, the Best of the Super Juniors!

BUSHI

“Jet Black Death Mask” BUSHI

Allegiance: Los Ingobernables de Japon

Finisher: MX

Previous BOSJ Experience: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017

OH MY GOSH! *grimy rave music intensifies* Representing Los Ingobernables de Japon in the A Block this year is BUSHI. This is his sixth time entering BOSJ and while he’s never actually won the tournament, he’s gotten some key victories over the past few years. In 2016, he defeated KUSHIDA on the final day of block play to cost the “Time Splitter” a spot in the finals. BUSHI may not be a big favorite to win the Best of the Super Juniors, but he’s a former IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion, so a spot in the finals is not out of the realm of possibility. I can guarantee you though that he’ll have a lot of fun choking dudes with his t-shirt and misting a few poor saps in the face.

Flip Gordon

Flip Gordon

Allegiance: Ring of Honor

Finisher: Star Spangled Stunner, 450 Splash

Previous BOSJ Experience: Inaugural Year

Everyone’s favorite flat-earther* may not be booked for All In, but he is booked for Best of the Super Juniors. Flip Gordon debuted in New Japan Pro Wrestling earlier this year at the ROH/NJPW two-night collaboration show Honor Rising, picking up a notable win over KUSHIDA and Hiromu Takahashi on the first night. His speciality is that he does a lot of flips (BIG SHOCKER, I know), so he’s a perfect fit for a junior heavyweight tournament. A strong showing would do wonders for Flip, while a victory would almost certainly guarantee him a spot amongst the top junior wrestlers on the planet… as long as he doesn’t walk off it.

*Not 100% accurate

Taiji Ishimori

“Bone Soldier” Taiji Ishimori

Allegiance: Bullet Club

Finisher: Bloody Cross, 450 Splash

Previous BOSJ Experience: 2010

This will be Taiji Ishimori’s first BOSJ since 2010 and a lot has changed since then. He used to work for rival wrestling company Pro Wrestling NOAH, sporting bright yellow pants and a killer six-pack. Eight years later, Ishimori has jumped ship to New Japan, aligned himself with Bullet Club as their new “Bone Soldier,” and has ditched the flashy colors for Bullet Club’s signature black aesthetic. He still has the six-pack though. That beautiful, juicy six-pack. The kind of abs that would make Randy Orton cry. You just wanna stare at them for days on end………………………… *nudge*

Huh?! Oh, sorry. Where was I? Oh yes, Taiji Ishimori. His track record speaks for itself when it comes to being a junior heavyweight wrestler: Three-time (and longest reigning) GHC Jr. Heavyweight Champion, six-time GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, a former Impact X-Division Champion, and one hell of an athlete. He’s a heavy favorite to win the A Block and the tournament (especially after he laid out IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay in his debut at Wrestling Dontaku a few weeks back), so keep your eyes on Taiji Ishimori. More specifically, Taiji Ishimori’s abs. God, those abs. You could grate cheese on those bad boys.

Tiger Mask

Tiger Mask IV

Allegiance: New Japan Pro Wrestling

Finisher: Tiger Suplex, Scissored Armbar

Previous BOSJ Experience: 2002, 2003, 2004 (Winner), 2005 (Winner), 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

Speaking of heavy favorites, we’ll get to another one of those after Tiger Mask IV. Yes, while Jushin Thunder Liger rode off into the sunset last year after competing in his final Best of the Super Juniors, Tiger Mask IV decided to give it another go and enter his seventeenth (!) tournament. You never know, it could be his year. He’s already won it twice (two years in a row, the only wrestler to do so), so surely he can win it again!…. Maybe?…. Possibly?… Okay, let’s be honest, Tiger Mask IV sticks out like a sore thumb here. He’s past his prime and hasn’t been a believable contender in years. But he does have one thing going for him: His grumpiness. And with him being in the same block as Flip Gordon, we may end up finding Tiger Mask IV’s entry this year worthwhile after all.

Will Ospreay

“Aerial Assassin” Will Ospreay

Allegiance: CHAOS

Finisher: OsCutter, Stormbreaker

Previous BOSJ Experience: 2016 (Winner), 2017

Currently in the midst of his second IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship reign, Will Ospreay has been tearing it up this year in New Japan. After winning the title at Wrestle Kingdom 12, Ospreay has successfully defended it against Hiromu Takahashi, Marty Scurll, and KUSHIDA in three outstanding matches. None of those three men are in the same block as Ospreay this year; in fact, the only other A Block wrestler that Ospreay has faced in prior BOSJ outings is Tiger Mask IV. So we get to see a slew of fresh singles matches for Will Ospreay in this year’s tournament, including a grudge match against Ishimori for attacking him at Dontaku, a rematch from last year’s Global Wars: Chicago show against Flip Gordon, and what should be a hotly contested match against ACH. Is he gonna kill it? Of course he is, he’s Will Ospreay! But is he gonna win it? That’s the question. The last time an IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion won Best of the Super Juniors was Prince Devitt in 2013. Ospreay is one of the best wrestlers in the world, so there’s a great chance he could do it and become a two-time winner in the process. But who would he face for the title at Dominion? Maha aha, we shall see, we shall see.

YOH

“High and Mighty” YOH

Allegiance: CHAOS

Finisher: Complete Shot

Previous BOSJ Experience: 2015

Unlike his Roppongi 3K tag partner SHO, this is not YOH’s first appearance in Best of the Super Juniors. He took part in the tournament once before in 2015. Of course he was the inexperienced young lion Yohei Komatsu back then, losing all of his matches and finishing dead last in A Block with no points. But that was then and this is now, baby! No longer is he Yohei Komatsu, a rookie with black trunks; now he is YOH, a world traveller with some shiny silver pants and a jacket with stars on the inside! And with two IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championship reigns and a 2017 Super Jr. Tag Tournament victory under his belt, YOH is ready to kick some ass and take some names in this year’s BOSJ.

Yoshinobu Kanemaru

“Heel Master” Yoshinobu Kanemaru

Allegiance: Suzuki-gun

Finisher: Deep Impact

Previous BOSJ Experience: 2017

When it comes to crafty veterans, they don’t get any craftier than Yoshinobu Kanemaru. One half of the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, Kanemaru enters his second Best of the Super Juniors as the second oldest wrestler in the tournament. His many years as a junior heavyweight wrestler (and champion) in Pro Wrestling NOAH, All Japan Pro Wrestling, and now New Japan served him fairly well last year, earning him eight points in B Block. Now Kanemaru is one year older and one year craftier, so the “Heel Master” could easily pick up the W over some of his more youthful and less experienced opponents like YOH and Flip Gordon. A swig of whiskey for the workin’ man!

B Block

 

Chris Sabin

Chris Sabin

Allegiance: Ring of Honor

Finisher: Cradle Shock, All Hail Sabin

Previous BOSJ Experience: Inaugural Year

We’re kicking off B Block with Ring of Honor’s Chris Sabin. Sabin is known today for being one half of the Motor City Machine Guns with Alex Shelley in ROH, but if you’re a longtime Chris Sabin follower like myself (shoutout to Garrett Kidney and Sarah Flannery), you remember Sabin as being one of the standout stars of TNA’s X-Division during its glory years of the mid-2000s. Along with AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, Shelley, Jay Lethal, Sonjay Dutt, Petey Williams, and others, Sabin helped establish the X-Division as the premier junior heavyweight division of its day with an array of fast-paced, exciting matches. He is a record eight-time X-Division Champion and his reigns have lasted for a combined 432 days, longer than anybody else in Impact history. He won the 2003 Super X Cup, the 2005 AJPW Junior League, and the Motor City Machine Guns once held the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship in 2009. I would say that Chris Sabin’s debut in Best of the Super Juniors is long overdue. Hail Sabin!

Image result for dragon lee png

Dragon Lee

Allegiance: CMLL

Finisher: Desnucadora, Dragon Driver

Previous BOSJ Experience: 2017

In addition to Ring of Honor, New Japan also has a working relationship with Mexico’s CMLL promotion, who every year send over one or two of their wrestlers to spice up the BOSJ field. This year’s lone CMLL representative is Dragon Lee! One of the most naturally gifted young stars out there, Dragon Lee is the current CMLL World Lightweight Champion; he’s held the belt for over 800 days. Yes, you read that right. Regardless of whether or not he is a champion, Dragon Lee is an awesome wrestler and his debut in Best of the Super Juniors last year was universally praised. This year should be no different, especially given the caliber of his opponents in the B Block. I mean, he’s gonna wrestle Hiromu Takahashi again for crying out loud! They’re gonna kill each other! It’s gonna rule!

El Desperado

El Desperado

Allegiance: Suzuki-gun

Finisher: Guitarra de Angel, Numero Dos, Pinche Loco

Previous BOSJ Experience: 2014, 2017

Kanemaru is covering A Block, so who is representing Suzuki-gun in B Block? Of course it’s none other than Kanemaru’s tag partner and co-IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion El Desperado! The “Outlaw Man” may not have the singles career accolades that his partner does, BUT he did score an upset victory over KUSHIDA in last year’s tournament, which later earned him an IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship match. So while Desperado may not be many people’s odds-on pick to win Best of the Super Juniors, his opponents should not take him lightly. His rough house tactics and deep arsenal of finishing moves could see El Desperado strum his way to the winner’s circle.

Hiromu Takahashi

“Ticking Time Bomb” Hiromu Takahashi

Allegiance: Los Ingobernables de Japon

Finisher: Time Bomb

Previous BOSJ Experience: 2012, 2013, 2017

“Time to go crazy” is not just Dragon Gate wrestler Kzy’s entrance theme, but it’s also Hiromu Takahashi’s personal motto. Any time Takahashi steps into the ring, the chances of something bonkers happening drastically go up. What can I say, the guy is just a few cards short of a full deck. But dammit, that’s why we love him! And it’s that same bonkers mentality that earned Takahashi his first IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 11. Almost eighteen months later, Takahashi enters his fourth Best of the Super Juniors (he entered his first two as a young lion) as the Los Ingobernables de Japon representative for B Block. It’s been quite a while since he’s had “Mr. Belt-o” in his possession. Winning the tournament would put him back on track to being champion once again. There are a few familiar faces in the way though. Like that KUSHIDA guy who ended his first reign. Or that Marty Scurll fellow who kept breaking his fingers. Or Dragon Lee, whom he is seemingly destined to fight forever. Takahashi is gonna have to pull out all the stops to win this year… but that’s just the way he likes it.

KUSHIDA

“Time Splitter” KUSHIDA

Allegiance: New Japan Pro Wrestling

Finisher: Hoverboard Lock, Back to the Future

Previous BOSJ Experience: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 (Winner), 2016, 2017 (Winner)

KUSHIDA has quite the resume in New Japan Pro Wrestling: The ace of the junior division, five-time IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion, two-time IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, two-time Best of the Super Juniors winner, Super Jr. Tag Tournament winner, Super J-Cup winner, Back to the Future megafan. He has done everything there is to do and won everything there is to win as a New Japan junior heavyweight. What he hasn’t done is win Best of the Super Juniors three times. And if he does that, it would cement his legacy as one of the greatest junior heavyweight wrestlers in New Japan history. Jushin Thunder Liger has done it. Koji Kanemoto has done it. Will KUSHIDA become the third man in history to proudly call himself a three-time winner of Best of the Super Juniors? Only time will tell.

Marty Scurll

“The Villain” Marty Scurll

Allegiance: Bullet Club

Finisher: Crossface Chickenwing, Bird of Prey

Previous BOSJ Experience: 2017

Woop woop! Marty Scurll has been a semi-regular in New Japan Pro Wrestling since debuting at last year’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament. Since then he has held the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship for a cup of coffee and is currently one-third of the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champions with his Bullet Club brethren The Young Bucks. True to his name, “The Villain” often resorts to dastardly deeds like breaking fingers and swinging umbrellas to get the advantage over his opponents, but make no mistake: Marty is quite the technical tactician. He can apply his crossface chickenwing hold in a variety of different ways (just ask Will Ospreay). So even with a loaded B Block, we may end up calling Marty Scurll the “Best of the Super Villains” in just a matter of weeks.

Ryusuke Taguchi

“Funky Weapon” Ryusuke Taguchi

Allegiance: New Japan Pro Wrestling/Taguchi Japan

Finisher: Dodon, Oh My & Garankle

Previous BOSJ Experience: 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 (Winner), 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

Ryusuke Taguchi is a goofball. When your persona is essentially “keister enthusiast,” you kinda have to be. But as a staunch Taguchi supporter, I will defend the “Funky Weapon” by reiterating something that has been said by myself and others many a time: When it comes to Best of the Super Juniors, Taguchi delivers. Seriously, if you only know Taguchi for his comedy shtick in lower card multi-man tag matches, you don’t have a complete picture of the man. He always brings it in BOSJ, just like he brings it in a big-time title match. Go watch his match against Will Ospreay in the 2016 finals or his match against KUSHIDA in last year’s B Block or his two-on-two tag matches with Ricochet or ACH in the latter half of 2017. The proof is right there. And considering the fact that he is in the same block as guys like KUSHIDA, Hiromu, and Dragon Lee, he’s gonna bring the goods again this year too. And hell, he’ll probably have a great outing in the standings as well! I’ll again reiterate something that has been said by myself and others many a time: When it comes to Best of the Super Juniors, Taguchi does well. He won it in 2012 and he’s made it to either the semifinals or the finals on eight different occasions. Yeah.

SHO

“High Voltage” SHO

Allegiance: CHAOS

Finisher: Shock Arrow

Previous BOSJ Experience: Inaugural Year

Rounding out the field this year is another first-timer and the other half of Roppongi 3K, SHO. The former Sho Tanaka shares the same accolades as his partner YOH, holding the IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championship twice and winning the 2017 Super Jr. Tag Tournament. It’s been said, however, that SHO could be the future breakout singles star of the team. And since SHO wears gold and YOH wears silver and gold is clearly better than silver (and I should know, I’ve watched the Olympics), that may likely end being the case. So a few years down the line, we may look back at SHO’s performance in this year’s Best of the Super Juniors as his first foray into the world of singles junior stardom in New Japan. Or he’ll probably just end up with, like, four to six points. Yeah, I’m gonna go with that.

So there are your Best of the Super Juniors 25 participants. To sum it up:

  • A Block: ACH, BUSHI, Flip Gordon, Taiji Ishimori, Tiger Mask IV, Will Ospreay, YOH, Yoshinobu Kanemaru
  • B Block: Chris Sabin, Dragon Lee, El Desperado, Hiromu Takahashi, KUSHIDA, Marty Scurll, Ryusuke Taguchi, SHO

Pretty damn awesome, right? As you can see, B Block has a bit more zest to it than A Block. That is actually the inverse of last year, where A Block was the shinier block. But don’t discount A Block entirely, there are some fun matches to be had with that group of guys. But B Block is definitely where it’s at this year.

Notable Matches

Here are some matches that will be notable for one reason or another:

  • Will Ospreay vs. Taiji Ishimori (5/18) – Ospreay gets his first taste of revenge against Ishimori for the Wrestling Dontaku attack.
  • KUSHIDA vs. Chris Sabin (5/19) – The winner gets custody of Alex Shelley.
  • Hiromu Takahashi vs. El Desperado (5/22) – You wanna get nuts? LET’S GET NUTS!
  • BUSHI vs. Tiger Mask IV (5/24) – This will be Tiger Mask IV’s 100th Best of the Super Juniors block play match (not counting forfeit wins). Congrats Tiger!
  • Dragon Lee vs. Hiromu Takahashi (5/25) – No explanation needed.
  • ACH vs. Taiji Ishimori (5/31) – Former tag partners explode!
  • KUSHIDA vs. Dragon Lee (6/2) – A first-ever singles match between two of the best in the world.
  • Marty Scurll vs. Ryusuke Taguchi (6/2) – This will be Ryusuke Taguchi’s 100th Best of the Super Juniors block play match (not counting forfeit wins). Congrats Gooch!
  • Will Ospreay vs. Flip Gordon (6/3) – A rematch from last year’s Global Wars: Chicago show and a potential A Block winner decision match.
  • KUSHIDA vs. Hiromu Takahashi (6/3) – A potential B Block winner decision match.


Schedule

Some events will be shown live on New Japan World with commentary. The rest will be uploaded after they occur as part of New Japan World’s VOD service. They are marked accordingly.

May 18th, 2018
Tokyo, Korakuen Hall
Live on New Japan World

Will Ospreay vs. Taiji Ishimori
YOH vs. BUSHI
ACH vs. Flip Gordon
Tiger Mask IV vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru

May 19, 2018
Tokyo, Korakuen Hall
Live on New Japan World

Hiromu Takahashi vs. Marty Scurll
KUSHIDA vs. Chris Sabin
Ryusuke Taguchi vs. El Desperado
Dragon Lee vs. SHO

May 20, 2018
Shizuoka, Kira Messe Numazu
VOD

Will Ospreay vs. ACH
Taiji Ishimori vs. BUSHI
Flip Gordon vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Tiger Mask IV vs. YOH

May 22, 2018
Tokyo, Korakuen Hall
Live on New Japan World

Hiromu Takahashi vs. El Desperado
KUSHIDA vs. Marty Scurll
Dragon Lee vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
Chris Sabin vs. SHO

May 24, 2018
Shiga, Ukaru Chan Arena
VOD

Will Ospreay vs. YOH
Taiji Ishimori vs. Flip Gordon
ACH vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Tiger Mask IV vs. BUSHI

May 25, 2018
Osaka, OSAKA MUNICIPAL CENTRAL GYMNASIUM Sub Arena
VOD

Hiromu Takahashi vs. Dragon Lee
SHO vs. El Desperado
KUSHIDA vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
Marty Scurll vs. Chris Sabin

May 26, 2018
Aichi, Nagoya Congress Center Event Hall
VOD

Will Ospreay vs. BUSHI
Taiji Ishimori vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
ACH vs. YOH
Flip Gordon vs. Tiger Mask IV

May 27, 2018
Aichi, Nagoya Congress Center Event Hall
VOD

Hiromu Takahashi vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
KUSHIDA vs. SHO
Dragon Lee vs. Chris Sabin
Marty Scurll vs. El Desperado

May 29, 2018
Tochigi, Tochigi City Athletic Park Gymnasium
VOD

Will Ospreay vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Flip Gordon vs. YOH
ACH vs. BUSHI
Taiji Ishimori vs. Tiger Mask IV

May 30, 2018
Fukushima, Big Palette Fukushima
VOD

KUSHIDA vs. El Desperado
Hiromu Takahashi vs. Chris Sabin
Ryusuke Taguchi vs. SHO
Dragon Lee vs. Marty Scurll

May 31, 2018
Aomori, Hachinohe City East Gymnasium
VOD

YOH vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Will Ospreay vs. Tiger Mask IV
Taiji Ishimori vs. ACH
Flip Gordon vs. BUSHI

June 2, 2018
Gunma, New Sunpia Takasaki
VOD

KUSHIDA vs. Dragon Lee
Hiromu Takahashi vs. SHO
Marty Scurll vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
Chris Sabin vs. El Desperado

June 3, 2018
Tokyo, Korakuen Hall
Live on New Japan World

Will Ospreay vs. Flip Gordon
Taiji Ishimori vs. YOH
ACH vs. Tiger Mask IV
BUSHI vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
KUSHIDA vs. Hiromu Takahashi
Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Chris Sabin
Dragon Lee vs. El Desperado
Marty Scurll vs. SHO

June 4, 2018
Tokyo, Korakuen Hall
Live on New Japan World with English commentary

Finals: A Block Winner vs. B Block Winner


About The Author

Andrew Rich

Andrew Rich has written for Voices of Wrestling since early 2015. In addition to writing for VOW, Andrew is also one of the co-hosts of the wrestling music podcast Music of the Mat.

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