New Japan Pro Wrestling
Best of the Super Juniors 2016
June 3, 2016
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan

A highlight on the calendar before the tournament began, Night 11 of the 2016 Best of the Super Juniors tournament teaches us that the obvious isn’t always so obvious. NJPW is main eventing KUSHIDA vs Matt Sydal here in Korakuen Hall, so we know going in this match will play key importance to the A Block. What may not have been super obvious, however, is just how important this night would also be for Ryusuke Taguchi. Amazingly, Taguchi is creeping his way to the end as a leader in the A Block. While this night may have changed that status, as Sydal gets his chance to take sole possession of the lead, we end up with an even more cluttered top of the bracket instead.

Best of the Super Juniors – A Block
Kyle O’Reilly (6) def. David Finlay (2)

What a fun way to start Night 11’s festivities in the tournament – Empowered by recent victory, David Finlay takes the fight to Kyle O’Reilly head on and nearly steals a 2nd tournament win. Nearly, of course. Kyle O’Reilly does prevail with a triangle choke, but the story really is the steady rise of David Finlay. Not just in talent, but with a win in this tournament that many saw impossible, Finlay is growing in confidence of character. That growth allows the crowd to also invest more in the young star, as he is no longer an automatic loss on the card. The crowd’s willingness to invest in Finlay makes this match even more entertaining, too, because you can tell the audience believes Finlay could now win with the stretch muffler even against a star on the level of O’Reilly.

Oh, and Finlay’s look allows him to go in many different ways in the future, too. His hair is growing out, the beard is grown, and the body of an 80’s gaijin heavyweight is coming into form. We all expect Jay White to become a heavyweight down the line, and Finlay himself may not be too far off, either. ***1/2

Best of the Super Juniors – A Block
Rocky Romero (4) def. Gedo (2)

Hilarious – With both overt and subtle comedy, Gedo vs Romero flies by. Beretta accompanies Romero to ringside, allowing for a meeting with all three CHAOS members in the ring before the match begins. The trio proceed to rapidly fly through emotions – from distrust to joy to anger and confusion – until Gedo comes up with a plan. The wise one he is, Gedo tries to trick Romero into an easy win in the match’s first few seconds, but the plan fails. Once the bout begun, it was a steady mix of mat work and more comedy. Beretta continued to play his role perfectly; he’d take a cheap shot on Gedo, then apologize, then another, and an apology, and so on. “Rob, you must not watch a lot of Gedo matches if you found this so funny.” I do, shut up! I just love Beretta and Rocky here, and Gedo is great in trying to get one over on the ‘youngsters.’ The dynamic plays better with the three all being CHAOS stablemates, as well. A well worked wrestling match, right before the event’s intermission, makes this a win. ***

During the intermission of this Korakuen show, the announcement is made that Hiroshi Tanahashi has to pull out of his DOMINION title match with Kenny Omega due to injury. Omega proceeds beat down the broken Tana before Michael Elgin makes the save. After an 8-man tag each are involved in, Elgin makes the challenge to battle Omega in the ladder match at Dominion. Omega balks at the challenge, but its clear that will be the match that ends up taking place.

Best of the Super Juniors – A Block
BUSHI (4) def. Ryusuke Taguchi (8)

The miracle (?) run of Ryusuke Taguchi sees a brief pause, due to mist, as BUSHI attempts to get out of the bottom of the bracket. We shouldn’t be surprised, of course, when the longstanding members of a division make runs in these types of tournaments. The past year has been a golden one for new faces in the Jr Heavyweight division – Will Ospreay, Matt Sydal, Kenny Omega, and somewhat with the return of BUSHI. Now, it’s time for the veteran to get back in the picture. Ryusuke Taguchi may have seen his momentum paused on this night, but he still maintains a lead in the group (tied with others). The match itself was the worst of the night. Rather, least enjoyable. There were no bad matches on the night as far as the tournament goes, and poor Taguchi has been doing so well on the tour that one night on the bottom of the star rating list won’t hurt him. **1/2

Best of the Super Juniors – A Block
KUSHIDA (6) def. Matt Sydal (8)

If Sydal wins, he takes sole possession of 1st place in the A Block. So of course, KUSHIDA wins! Let’s tighten up this race, shall we. That’s exactly what NJPW sees happen as KUSHIDA gets the win in a stellar match, based both on mat work quickness when it counted.

This very well could be a preview of a future title match between KUSHIDA and Sydal, as Sydal issued a challenge post-match which KUSHIDA seemed to be welcome to. Of course, not winning this tournament, while also being the current Jr Heavyweight tag champ, makes a Sydal singles title match in the near future unlikely. I’d be all up for some KUSHI-Reborn title battle-ness, though.

With only one more night of A Block action to go, Sydal goes from potentially controlling his own destiny to needing some serious help in the forms of KUSHIDA and Taguchi both losing on the final night of group action. Yikes for Sydal. ***3/4

Current standings after Night 11!

A Block

Taguchi [4 wins, 2 losses = 8 points]
Sydal [4 wins, 2 losses = 8 points]
O’Reilly [4 wins, 2 losses = 8 points]
KUSHIDA [4 wins, 2 losses = 8 points]
Romero [3 wins, 3 losses = 6 ponts]
BUSHI [3 wins, 3 losses = 6 points]
Finlay [1 win, 5 losses = 2 points]
Gedo [1 win, 5 losses = 2 points]


Ricochet [4 wins, 1 loss = 8 points]
Volador [3 wins, 2 losses = 6 points]
Liger [3 wins, 2 losses = 6 points]
Ospreay [2 win, 3 losses = 4 points]
Fish [2 wins, 3 losses = 4 points]
Owens [2 wins, 3 losses = 4 points]
Beretta [2 wins, 3 losses = 4 points]
Tiger [2 wins, 3 losses = 4 points]

Best of the Super Junior Pick’Em Standings (sponsored by available with discussion at the Voices of Wrestling Forums.