New Japan Pro Wrestling’s annual Best of the Super Juniors tournament has been held each spring in some form or fashion since 1988. The tournament is currently held in a pool format, with the top two wrestlers from each pool advancing to the semi-finals. The winner of the prestigious junior heavyweight tournament receives a shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.

This year’s field features one of the deepest collections of junior heavyweight talent ever seen highlighted by NJPW resident juniors like current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion KUSHIDA, BUSHI and the legendary Jushin Thunder Liger. Flanking them are American imports such as Ring of Honor’s Kyle O’Reilly, Matt Sydal and Ricochet and perhaps the most dynamic high-flier in wrestling today, Europe’s Will Ospreay.

In this preview, we will focus specifically on the B Block (A Block preview can be found here). This includes a brief write-up by one of our four authors (Rich Kraetsch, John Carroll, Taylor Mitchell and Bryn Edwards Gunn) detailing the wrestler in questions history within Best of the Super Juniors and prospects for this year’s tournament. We’ve also included points predictions for each wrestler as well as a look at their past appearances in the Super Juniors tournament, records included. Note: These W/L do not count any wins/losses by forfeit, but does include wins/losses in semi-finals and finals matches.

If you haven’t already, be sure to join our free Best of the Super Juniors Pick’Em contest and check out our NJPW 2015 Year in Review eBook

Beretta

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Roppongi! Roppongi Vice! Okay, Beretta is the one who doesn’t rap, but you’ll still get to enjoy Romero’s vocal stylings throughout this year’s BOSJ during Beretta’s matches. One of the fun parts about the BOSJ every year is watching guys more well-known for their work in the junior tag division get a shot at singles matches, and it will be interesting to see how far Beretta has come along after a year+ in NJPW. We all are in unanimous agreement that Beretta will finish with 6 points, which practically guarantees it won’t happen. Still, he should be somewhere around that 4-8 point range at least, so not a threat but not a total pushover either. -John Carroll

  • Points Prediction: Rich: 6, John: 6, Taylor: 4, Bryn: 6
  • Previous Appearances: 2015
  • All-time BoSJ Record: 4-3

Bobby Fish

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The new ROH World Television Champion just came off a huge win over Tomohiro Ishii at Global Wars. Whether or not this will be acknowledged by NJPW is uncertain. A junior getting a pin over any heavyweight, let along Ishii is very rare. The hype may carry Fish through the block though, although I don’t see him making the finals this year. Age is not on his side and there’s just too much talent in this block. -Bryn Edwards Gunn

  • Points Prediction: Rich: 6, John: 10, Taylor: 10, Bryn: 8
  • Previous Appearances: 2015
  • All-time BoSJ Record: 5-2

Jushin Thunder Liger

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One of the best junior heavyweights of all-time will compete in his 25th BOSJ, as Liger has been in every single tournament dating back to 1991 save for two (‘95 and ‘00). He has won the BOSJ three times, in ‘92, ‘94, and ‘01, but at this point of his career the legend will likely not be a major threat to make it a fourth. Still, he will win some matches, probably including at least one that will shock you, and he will be the most over person on probably every show he takes part in. PS: his theme song is (finally!) available on Japanese iTunes on the newly released “AMAZING SIDE” NJPW album! -John Carroll

  • Points Prediction: Rich: 6, John: 6, Taylor: 4, Bryn: 8
  • Previous Appearances: 1988, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
  • All-time BoSJ Record: 96-63-3

Chase Owens

Two days before the tournament kickoff, Owens, the current NWA Junior Heavyweight Champion, was announced as Nick Jackson’s injury replacement. Owens was already a favorite to take a spot due to a premature announcement he made via Twitter last weekend. This is Owens’ second BOSJ appearance after managing to win four matches last year — the biggest coming at the expense of legendary junior, Jushin Thunder Liger. (Liger will get his rematch against Owens in this year’s edition.) Owens joined Bullet Club last October when he became Kenny Omega’s tag team partner in the Super Junior Tag tournament and was a non-entity the rest of the year just filling in as a member of Bullet Club in various multi-man tag matches. This is a major opportunity for Owens in the midst of unfortunate circumstances. It will be interesting to see if Owens can capitalize and earn himself more touring opportunities with New Japan or if he will continue to be on the bottom rung of an ever-growing faction. -Taylor Mitchell

  • Points Prediction: Rich: N/A, John: 4, Taylor: 6, Bryn: N/A
  • Previous Appearances: 2015
  • All-time BoSJ Record: 4-3

Ricochet

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They just can’t let go…. In this year’s NJPW Year in Review eBook, I likened Ricochet and New Japan’s relationship to that of a college-aged summer fling that one party (NJPW) just can’t let go. Each year, Ricochet returns from school, ready to re-connect with one of his first loves. New Japan drops whatever stopgap they had in place, throws roses at Ricochet’s feet, wines him, dines him and just has the time of their life. New Japan gives him everything he wants (including a BoSJ championship in 2014). Yet, once the summer ends and it’s time to go back, Ricochet says goodbye and promises he’ll be back around Christmas. New Japan thinks it’s gotten over him until those washboard abs flip back into view and they just can’t let it go. Nobody is ever sure when the New Japan/Ricochet relationship will end or if it even is a relationship or what exactly they’re doing hanging out but man, WHAT A GREAT COUPLE. Many of us assumed Ricochet was bound for the brand-new WWE Cruiserweight Classic, but nope, he shocked the world announcing his participation in this year’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament. It always feels like Ricochet is on borrowed time with the company but they never let it affect how they book him. With one of the best juniors ever in the fold (even if only for a few more weeks), New Japan always makes the absolute most of it. Ricochet will be in this tournament until the very last day and, who knows, he may win it again. Love is tough to let go. -Rich Kraetsch

  • Points Prediction: Rich: 12, John: 11, Taylor: 10, Bryn: 12
  • Previous Appearances: 2013, 2014
  • All-time BoSJ Record: 12-5

Tiger Mask IV

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Former two-time Best of the Super Juniors champion (2004 & 2005), Tiger Mask will be lucky to get even two points this year. Sorry, bud, you’re 45 years old now and really, given how stacked the B Block is, it’s hard to see how you can give him any additional victories save for a few banana peel/fluke wins. Last year, Tiger needed a forfeit (Alex Shelley) and a young lion (David Finlay) just to get to 8 points. Any prediction above 4 points for Tiger this year would be insane. Regardless, he’s often not as offensive as you’d think in this tournament and does seem to relish in the singles spotlight. And, c’mon, a grumpy, pissed-off Tiger Mask vs. a cocky, big smiled Will Ospreay sounds like an absolute hoot! -Rich Kraetsch

  • Points Prediction: Rich: 2, John: 4, Taylor: 2, Bryn: 4
  • Previous Appearances: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
  • All-time BoSJ Record: 55-37

Volador Jr.

Volador Jr.’s appearances in NJPW have been exclusive to the annual FantasticaMania tour with one lone match vs. Prince Devitt in 2012 for the NWA World Historic Middleweight Championship at NJPW’s 40th year anniversary show. CMLL has frequently had a representative travel to NJPW to appear in the BoSJs tournament, but this will be Volador Jr.’s first appearance. CMLL’s representatives will usually win anywhere from 3-5 matches in the tournament and Volador Jr. will perform about the same. Volador Jr. stands as the most interesting participant of the entire tournament as he will provide fresher match ups than most and rarer ones than newcomers such as Will Ospreay, who will be competing far more regularly in NJPW. The three matches I am looking forward to the most for Volador Jr. are the first time ever match ups against Ospreay and Ricochet, and then the second time ever match vs. Liger (first was in Mexico in 2011). -Taylor Mitchell

  • Points Prediction: Rich: 6, John: 6, Taylor: 6, Bryn: 2
  • Previous Appearances: N/A
  • All-time BoSJ Record: 0-0

Will Ospreay

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Ospreay would be an instant favourite if it wasn’t for his very first match being against KUSHIDA for the championship. The crowd is sure to be into the guy after an impressive first showing, and lots of fresh matchups to come. Getting to see him interact with the likes of Liger will be fantastic. His record here will also establish his place in the junior division, and what with him being a hot new prospect, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the finals. Personally I’d be happy to see Ospreay vs KUSHIDA again, but he has to take the title sooner rather than later. Whichever way it goes, expect the spotlight to be on Ospreay, and to see him shine in it. -Bryn Edwards Gunn

  • Points Prediction: Rich: 14, John: 13, Taylor: 14, Bryn: 14
  • Previous Appearances: N/A
  • All-time BoSJ Record: 0-0