NJPW – Best of the Super Juniors Night 2
May 22, 2016
Night 2 of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s 23rd Annual Best of the Super Juniors tournament aired on a delay via NJPWWorld.com. New Japan World subscribers only have access to the four tournament matches sans undercard. If you aren’t into the undercard filler matches and only want to see the tournament matches than this is right up your alley. You can get in and out and watch all four tournament matches in 43 minutes 23 seconds bell-to-bell (51 minutes 41 seconds including entrances/post-match). The production side of things can be jarring if you haven’t watched a show like this on New Japan World before. It was shot on a single stationary camera with no commentary. I enjoy a show produced like this from time to time. If you turn up the sound on your TV it makes you feel like you are sitting in the fourth row watching it live.
The four tournament matches on this show are all first time ever match ups which is always fun to witness. We also got our first glimpse of Chase Owens attempting to make the most of his opportunity of filling in for the injured Nick Jackson.
Ricochet def. Tiger Mask IV
The first major pop of the night came when Ricochet jumped over the top rope during his entrance just to show you how over Ricochet is with these Japanese crowds. The first half of this match was Ricochet flipping around with a broomstick, because Tiger Mask wasn’t adding a single thing to the match. Every once in awhile Tiger Mask IV will pull out an interesting performance when he is his grumpy self stretching the younger talent. We caught small glimpses of that tonight, but not enough to make this a must-see match. This was really just a Ricochet highlight reel of his greatest hits. Instead of being stretched by the grumpy old veteran, Ricochet won this match with a leg lock with his leg wrapped around the back of the neck of Tiger Mask. **½
Jushin Thunder Liger def. Bobby Fish
This is Liger’s 25th BOSJ tournament (including the early years when it was titled Top of the Super Juniors), but it’s only Fish’s second. Last year Fish finished with a very credible 5-2 record in his BOSJ debut while Liger finished 4-3.
Fish comes out to his usual theme sans overdub and adorning his newly won ROH TV title (Fish defeated Tomohiro Ishii at Ring of Honor’s PPV Global Wars last week). One of the benefits of this low budget production style is that you get to clearly hear the banter amongst the wrestlers in the ring and Fish was egging Liger on throughout the match. At one point in the middle of the match Fish has Liger in the Fish Hook in the center of the ring and Liger was screaming in agony. This got the crowd molten hot as they cheered Liger on to reach the ropes.
Liger then tweaked his knee on a top rope frankensteiner giving Fish the advantage leading to Fish locking in a grapevined ankle lock for nearly a full minute with the crowd completely in the palms of these guy’s hands. Liger got to the ropes, turned it over, and while still holding onto the ropes he pinned Fish for the win. The fans popped big for Liger’s win here, which they will anytime Mr. BOSJ picks up a win in this tournament, even if Liger is dastardly holding onto the ropes. Fish left the ring after arguing with the referee that he got his shoulder up.
This was Liger’s 97th BOSJ victory of his career (Including semi-finals/finals matches, but not including victories due to forfeit). Liger bowed to all of the fans afterward as they cheered him relentlessly not ever knowing if this would be Liger’s final BOSJ appearance. ***¼
Beretta def. Volador Jr.
This is Beretta’s 3rd BOSJ appearance and Volador Jr.’s first. Volador Jr. comes out wearing breakaway pants and his signature mask. This match was between two guys that can fly and hit the high spot with the best of them. At one point they take the action off camera and the one shot camera doesn’t move in time. If you ever wondered why Volador Jr. wears his old mask for the first half of his matches then just listen for the pop he receives when he removes it. (Not to mention the more the mask stays relevant the more money he makes off of the merch) It was almost as if when Volador Jr. removed his pants and mask that it woke him up and this lead to a barrage of spots on Beretta including a beautiful Asai Moonsault.
Beretta eventually puts Volador Jr. away with the Dudebuster in what was a harmless match. This was the longest match of the night and probably could’ve been improved with a couple of minutes shaved off. ***½
Chase Owens def. Will Ospreay
Owens is the guy I have my eye on the most in this tournament. One of my favorite stories in all of sports is watching a guy take over for an injured star and seeing if he can make the most of that opportunity and shine during a rare moment that the spotlight is all on him. In 2001, I witnessed Quarterback Tom Brady take over for the injured Drew Bledsoe for the New England Patriots. In Brady’s debut game he defeated my local Indianapolis Colts who had highly touted quarterback Peyton Manning at the helm. That was what we saw in this match here. Owens defeated the highly touted Ospreay after coming off the bench to take over for Nick Jackson. But, for every Tom Brady there is a Curtis Painter or Jon Kitna. Who? Exactly. So, I’m wanting to see that if Owens who has been regulated to the bottom of all rungs within Bullet Club can step up and break out in this tournament to truly make a name for himself. Owens has been put on the back burner of “Bullet Club developmental”, especially now that new project Adam Page has recently joined the ever growing gaijin faction. It was even speculated if Owens was still in fact an official member of Bullet Club or if he was pathetically hanging onto the buzz the faction garners by wearing his Bullet Club tights all over NWA shows in the states.
Ospreay is entering this tournament on the opposite side of the fence than Owens. Ospreay was highly recruited by NJPW and was instantaneously given a contract offer upon his debut. This furthers the Brady vs. Manning analogy as Brady was drafted 199th overall in 2000 while Manning was drafted 1st overall in 1998.
Ospreay outshined Owens in this match, but it wasn’t just because he was capable of flashier moves than Owens. Ospreay gained control of the crowd from the moment he made his entrance and held onto it with a Phenomenal forearm (a tribute to his hero, AJ Styles) and a fantastic Sasuke Special that will always get a pop from me. Ospreay even teased the Rainmaker into the Spanish Fly, a move that I have only seen Ospreay hit once (vs. Shane Strickland in wXw’s 16 Carat Gold Tournament).
Owens appeared more subdued until the match really got going. With that said Owens did show some spark towards the end of this match that I didn’t see in his BOSJ run last year. This match told an interesting story and was different from Ospreay’s run this year. In most Ospreay matches he is the guy with the flashy flips, but is always a step behind his opponent or gets caught making a major mistake. This is great storytelling given that Ospreay is only 22 and is still in his formative years, but in this match Ospreay controlled the majority of the match and threw everything he had at Owens until Owens was finally fed up with it and rolled a laid out Ospreay into a nifty looking Fireman’s Carry leading to a Gutbuster that got him a two count. The frustrated Owens then immediately hit Ospreay with the Package Piledriver to put him away for the surprising win. ***½
This tournament has started off with a slew of upsets in just the first two nights. It has definitely made for a fun and unpredictable BOSJ.
None of these four matches are must see, but none of them are a waste of time. Plus, it’s always fun to watch guys like Ricochet, Volador Jr, and Will Ospreay hit their high spots, which is what Block B is all about. And we don’t know if this is Liger’s last BOSJ run, so just in case it is, all of his matches are hard to miss for historical reasons. This was a nice first night for Block B, and I will continue to keep my eye on Owens, hoping he steps up and stands out.
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