New Japan Pro Wrestling
Best of the Super Juniors Night 7
May 29, 2016
Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium
Osaka, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Volador Jr., Michael Elgin & Hiroyoshi Tenzan def. Tomohiro Ishii, Will Ospreay & Beretta


This was a predictably fun opener given the competitors. Each wrestler, yes, even Tenzan had a moment to shine and get their jollies in. The Osaka crowd was very Pro-Tenzan tonight giving him huge pops for anything he did, yet another reminder that even if some hardcore or newer fans don’t understand the guy’s use, he’s a very important part of this roster. Tenzan also spent the better portion of the match yukking it up with Volador Jr. on the apron. To be a fly on the wall for that conversation.

Ospreay, as you’ll probably assume, had a lot of fun spots throughout but spent a majority of his ring time taking athletic bumps for other guys. The highlight of Ospreay’s output was undoubtedly his troll-job Vader Bomb on Volador Jr. For those who haven’t been following, Vader was very critical of Ospreay vs. Ricochet from the prior night calling it nothing but gymnastics and lamenting the fall of pro wrestling. It’s a bigger conversation for another day, so I’ll leave it out of this. Either way, Ospreay’s strategically timed Vader Bomb couldn’t have gotten a bigger pop out of me. Back to the match, Elgin is your likely standout for the match as he hit a series of beautiful looking powerslams and eventually finished off Beretta with an Elgin Bomb. ***

Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV, Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata def. Katsuyori Shibata, Jay White, Juice Robinson & Bobby Fish

Would you believe me if I told you this match was essentially a Yuji Nagata showcase match? What began as the standard “guys in a feud do a spirited exchange at the start of the match” turned into a full blown control period by Nagata which saw him go move-for-move with Shibata and eventually pick up the win over Jay White (with some help from his best dad friend Manabu Nakanishi, of course). Score one for The New Japan Dads. **

Best of the Super Juniors A Block
David Finlay def. Gedo

HE DID IT! HE DID IT! UPSET SPECIAL! After taking a one-sided beating through the entire match, the young lion Finlay shocked the world pinning Gedo with a Granby Roll. Not only is this Finlay’s first win in Best of the Super Juniors competition but it’s a game-changer. Sure, it seems like a throwaway pinfall on the booker of the company but it means a lot more. It’s sets a precedent that young lions COULD win in this or any other tournament. No, Finlay probably won’t have another win, this will likely be it for him but still, it’s great to add that little bit of doubt in the fan’s mind. This was absolutely the right call given the lack of ramifications for Gedo, who, by the way, reacted to the loss like a pouting child. **¼

Best of the Super Juniors A Block
BUSHI def. Rocky Romero

While BUSHI’s success in the tournament thus far (1-3 after tonight) has been disappointing, his performances night in and night out have been nothing short of spectacular. His matches has not been the most flashy or “GIF-worthy” but they’ve been solidly worked and are doing wonders in solidifying him as one of the key members of the junior division, even with the losses. These two kept their big sequences close to the chest but would routinely bust out a flurry to get the crowd back on their feet in anticipation of the next big sequence. My personal favorite saw Romero go for the TJ Perkins special only to see BUSHI throw a brutal dropkick right into his ribs sending Romero flying to the outside. Reacting quickly BUSHI bounced off the ropes and hit as beautiful a Tope Suicida as you’ll ever see. A compact 11-minute match that should be apart of any BOSJ re-watch or catch-up you do. Don’t overlook it. ***3/4

Kenny Omega, Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens def. Satoshi Kojima, Yoshitatsu, Captain New Japan & Ricochet

Following up a great juniors match between Rocky and BUSHI with this was… well, it was quite the juxtaposition. Despite a few standout competitors, this match was no good. Captain New Japan joined Yoshitatsu in the Triple H cosplay on this night. You know, NOAH could use some more depth guys! (Take Yujiro before the G1 too, kthanksbye). Predictably the sequences featuring the Cap, Yoshi, Fale and Yujiro dragged the match down and had the crowd sitting on their hands. Thankfully, their features were short-lived as Ricochet wowed the crowd with a spinning plancha and Kenny Omega, continued his work as one of the top heels in the company. In the end, Bullet Club shenanigans and some trolling out of Omega—who hit the High Fly Flow and Slingblade on the Cap—led to a figure for Team Bullet Club. **

Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Tetusya Naito, SANADA & EVIL

Naito talked shit to commentator Milano Collection AT once again. Milano stood up shouted some words then let Naito go on his merry way. People are clamouring for some type of confrontation between the two but injuries may prevent us from ever seeing it which is a damn shame. Like Kenta Kobashi reacting to Minoru Suzuki during the initial run of Suzukigun in Pro Wrestling NOAH, you’ve created a scenario where something we’re dying to see literally cannot happen and that’s always a bummer. Maybe we can get some stem cells for Milano or something, he just has to snap and destroy Naito at some point, right?

The match was solid but unspectacular. A steady affair between the warring factions with each of the feuding singles stars matching up with one another. EVIL and Goto had the most passioned of these sequences highlighted by Goto finishing EVIL off with the Ushigoroshi/GTR combo. **¼

Best of the Super Juniors A Block
Matt Sydal def. Kyle O’Reilly

Both men are now tied at 6 points and the top spot in the A Block. Sydal greatly enhanced his chances of winning the Block with this huge win of O’Reilly. I doubt he’ll see that all the way through but he certainly wasn’t thought of as a contender at the beginning of the tournament. Only 4.9% (six people) in our BOSJ pick’em game had Sydal winning the entire block. Slightly more (16 – 8.8%) saw him as a potential runner-up. Either way, he’s been a revelation of sorts in this tournament, his settling into a tag role with Ricochet has made many of us forget just how talented he is as a single.

What more needs to be said about O’Reilly at this point? Night in and night out he’s putting out great performances and despite being overshadowed by Ricochet and Will Ospreay, I still think KUSHIDA vs. O’Reilly from Night 1 is the best match of the tournament. O’Reilly was the perfect dance partner for Sydal in this match as the two kept things grounded but busted out the flashy moves only when they needed to. Despite that, the crowd was enthralled with each submission sequence wondering when the finish would eventually come. The finish eventually did come after a fun stretch where Sydal hit a beautiful looking hurricanrana. He followed that with a Meteora, an obvious ode to his former Typhoon stablemate CIMA and eventually finished O’Reilly off with a Air Sydal. ****

Best of the Super Juniors A Block
KUSHIDA def. Ryusuke Taguchi

I’ll admit when I’m wrong. In previews for this tournament both in written and audio form, I eye-rolled Taguchi being in the tournament. Now sure, there was no way he wasn’t going to be in Best of the Super Juniors. He’s a former winner (not that long ago, actually!) and one of the staples of the division. I had just tired so much of his act in recent months that I wasn’t sure he’d be able to tone it down and have productive matches with the rest of the stalwarts in the tournament. I’ve been very, very wrong. His match vs Sydal earlier in the tournament was nothing short of great and this main event versus KUSHIDA was as simple and straight-forward a Taguchi match as we’ve seen in years. While I would rate O’Reilly and Sydal just above it, this is going to be a Top 10 match from this year’s tournament. It’s also one of the better “pure” wrestling matches you’ll see on this tour. It had the look, feel and tone of a classic New Japan match complete with an almost out of nowhere finish. KUSHIDA locked Taguchi in a cross armbreaker but Taguchi didn’t immediately tap, he fought as hard as he could to get out of the lock before he eventually just gave up. There was no crazy back and forth sequences, finisher exchanges or even flashy moves to the outside, which is good. You got that the prior night with Will Ospreay and Ricochet, it’s nice to have some variety and this was certainly that. Hats off to these guys, this was tremendous. ****

Final Thoughts:

Best of the Super Juniors Night 7 was a solid show anchored by three tremendous BOSJ A Block matches and a huge upset. The rest of the card is very skippable as the multi-man matches acted more as fodder for feuds than actual matches with any substance.