Watch: NJPW World

Yoshinobu Kanemaru (8) def. El Desperado (6)

The last time we saw two Suzuki-gun members face off in this tournament, Taichi and TAKA tried their best to not touch outside of a kick in the dick. This time around, Despy immediately grabbed a chair so my hope was that he would brain Kanemaru with it and instantly win because I have no interest in watching a full Kanemaru match. Sadly, that didn’t happen.

With the cheating ways of the two participants and the interference of TAKA and Taichi, this match was so grimy that I could barely see the action. I feel like there were more bits of cheating than there were legal maneuvers in this one. The match was fine. Nothing offense, but a bit boring in spots. Desperado was clearly the star of the match taking two sick looking bumps on the outside and almost killing Kanemaru with his insane dive. Kanemaru won via countout when TAKA was shoved into Despy, keeping him from getting back into the ring in time. Ultimately the biggest disappointment of the match was the teased split from Suzuki-gun for Desperado not actually leading to anything. If Desperado showed anything in this tournament it was that he is certainly deserving of a singles run. **1/2

Ryusuke Taguchi (8) def. ACH (6)

I feel like Taguchi had to be bringing some jealousy into this match because of ACH’s far superior rump. When your thing is ass-based offense and you’re against ACH, you just look foolish. In the end though, it was ACH looking like the fool having been defeated by Taguchi.

This was a match that I really wanted to like, but it felt super disjointed. It seems as though these two weren’t sure if they wanted to do a comedy match or a serious match and kept changing their minds throughout. Whenever it really felt like things were kicking into gear, the action would drag to a halt when the focus was shifted back to the comedy aspects. I have no problem with comedy wrestling, but when it makes a match take such sharp detours, I can do without it. Also, clue the referee into the comedy spots because Red Shoes blatantly watched ACH sack tap Taguchi. **3/4

BUSHI (8) def. Tiger Mask IV (6)

This contest had what was quite possibly the oddest moment of the whole tournament when BUSHI choked Tiger Mask on the outside with his shirt. That’s not the weird part. The weird part is that while doing the choking, BUSHI was pressing Tiger into a fan that was wearing a BUSHI mask. Tiger Mask was being forced to almost lay on this fan, who was smiling like a maniac the entire time. So yeah, that was weird.

Odd smiling fan aside, this was a pretty good time. Tiger Mask was grumpy as hell and he brought it to BUSHI early on. You really got a sense that Tiger was working his ass off to win because this is as close to making it to the finals as he’ll probably ever get again. Once BUSHI took control, it was pretty easy to see who was going to win, but Tiger didn’t go down easily, even surviving a chair assisted Codebreaker. It was a good story with the veteran that refused to go down and the young wrestler that wasn’t afraid to cut corners to put him down. While I wouldn’t call this a must watch by any means, it was a solid end to Tiger Mask’s strong showing in this tournament. ***1/4

KUSHIDA (8) def. Volador, Jr. (6)

Something that’s great about KUSHIDA is that no matter who he’s up against, he sticks to his plan. There may have been a bit where KUSHIDA was drawn into a lucha style flipz battle, but he stayed the course and kept going after Volador’s arm. One thing that bothers me in wrestling is when a wrestler changes their plan in a match for no reason. This was one of my major complaints about the KUSHIDA/Taguchi match from earlier this week. Taguchi shifted his focus from KUSHIDA’s ankle to his arm for no other reason than to take KUSHIDA’s move. Tropes in wrestling are fine, but when they supercede logic, I don’t see the point of them. KUSHIDA is a guy that never lets the tropes take over his actions, even when they do his opponent. There’s a logic to damn near everything he does in the ring and I don’t think the quality of his work is appreciated as much as it really should be. KUSHIDA is a tremendous pro wrestler that we, myself included, sometimes take for granted.

That was a long way of saying that I liked this match. KUSHIDA played to Volador’s strengths as an awesome high flyer and still made the match his own. Even though he’s stepped to the side for Hiromu to take a top spot, KUSHIDA is still the junior division ace and he showed it here by dispatching Volador with relative ease. The Back to the Future scored KUSHIDA a rather sudden win and sent him to the finals where he’ll face last year’s tournament winner, Will Ospreay. ***¾

Final Thoughts

These matches felt like they were performed by wrestlers that have been on tour for quite a long time. Ultimately, nothing was actively bad, but nothing was must see either as it showed that these guys are tired. Purely skippable as a whole, but if you’re looking for something to watch, KUSHIDA/Volador won’t be a bad way to spend some time.