New Japan Pro Wrestling
Best of the Super Juniors 2017 Final
June 3, 2017
Yoyogi 2nd Gymnasium – Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Shota Umino, Tomoyuki Oka & Yuji Nagata Def. Tetsuhiro Yagi, Katsuya Kitamura & Manabu Nakanishi

Oka got the win over the newest rookie Tetsuhiro Yagi here in what was another impressive outing for all of the young lions. New Japan is just pumping these guys out like it’s nothing at this point. Usually they only have a few of them at a time but now it seems like a new guy is coming along every month, and they’re all good. We have so many good young lions now that you forget Henare, who was arguably better than all of them, is out with injury along with Kanemitsu.

Kitamura continues to stand out among the pack for obvious reasons and it seems New Japan knows what they have with him as they keep presenting him as a bigger deal than the rest, even Oka who was the guy they had their eyes on as someone who could be a future star. While maybe not the best matches on the shows, these matches are always incredibly fun and light-hearted. Watching these rookies progress is a blast. ***

Jado, Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii Def. Hirai Kawato, Togi Makabe & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

Another fun match with Kawato serving as that great underdog, selling for his opponents like he always does and has become so good at. He may only be in the early stages of his development and it may be too soon to map it out, but this Kawato could seriously be a star in a few years. He has potential to be the next Honma. It’s impossible to not get behind the guy when he’s selling for assholes like Jado and Yano, he has such incredible babyface charisma and likability.

Although it may just be because he’s super young, he also looks like a human being and not a superstar like everyone else, which is a big part of it. He deserves a spot in Best of the Super Juniors from here on out, at least until he goes on excursion. As expected, he took the fall and once again looked great in defeat. New Japan has something with him too. **3/4

Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV & Volador Jr. Def. TAKA Michinoku, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado

Vacation is over as we head back to work and continue on business as usual with Suzuki-gun with TAKA and Desperado, who had excellent tournaments, falling right back into place as irrelevant bodies in meaningless multi-mans. While the match was solid, I hate knowing that this is all there is for these guys until next year, because let’s face it, New Japan has no intent on pushing any of them beyond the junior tag titles. Volador and Desperado had some nice interactions here, Volador being the hardest working guy in the match despite wrestling a style more rough on the body than the others and presumably being more worn out as a result. He got the fall over TAKA. **1/2

Yujiro Takahashi, Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa Def. Hanson, Raymond Rowe, ACH & David Finlay Jr.

Yujiro is a guy I always have mixed feelings on.

Sometimes I like him, sometimes I dislike him, rarely do I hate him and rarely do I love him. He simply exists in New Japan and does not stand out in any way at this stage even with the entrance. With that said, he was genuinely great in this match. He busted his ass, he looked like he cared and he looked better than he has in years. Funnily enough, he’s been scoring the falls in these matches too, which could explain it. David Finlay also looked like he had something to prove in this match as he did everything he could to impress since he was not given the opportunity to do so in Super Juniors. It looked like nothing on paper but this ended up being pretty damn fun for what it was with everyone being on top of their game and keeping things hot from bell to bell. ***1/4

YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto Def. Minoru Suzuki & Taichi

Your standard Suzuki-gun match. Crowd brawl at the beginning, Taichi garbage, Suzuki locking in sleepers. Same as always. Suzuki and Goto went at it for a little bit, YOSHI-HASHI got beat up some and then pinned Taichi with a Made in Japan. It was a match that happened. Hopefully Goto and Suzuki will deliver at Dominion. **1/4

Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, BUSHI, EVIL & SANADA Def. Satoshi Kojima, Ryusuke Taguchi, Juice Robinson, Ricochet & Dragon Lee

Kojima, with his tremendous fresh haircut, has been a great addition to these LIJ vs. Taguchi Japan matches, which raises the question of whether Kojima is now a member of Taguchi Japan or if Taguchi is now a member of Bread Club. Or perhaps we have a little cross-unit action going on between them. Taguchi can be the co-leader of Bread Club and Kojima can be co-leader of Taguchi Japan. Why not? Kojima has the freshest hair and the strongest arm, so who more cut out than him?

In all seriousness, this was one of the better LIJ multi-mans in recent memory, if not the best. Dragon Lee and Hiromu did their thing, Naito and Kojima did their thing, everyone did their thing and made it stand out among the million other LIJ matches this year. Poor Kojima ate a Destino and took the fall. ****1/4

Tanahashi and Naito shared a bit of banter as Tanahashi announced that he will indeed wrestle at Dominion, so that’s good.

Kenny Omega & Marty Scurll Def. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo

Matches like these are the reason I am perfectly okay with Marty Scurll being in the Bullet Club.

Okada and Gedo are one of the best tag teams in the world, Scurll and Omega are two guys I never thought I would see team up, so there was no way this was not going to be fun at the very least. It fell short of being anything memorable unfortunately but it was fun and it did accomplish what it needed to accomplish, which was continuing to get Scurll over and building towards Omega vs. Okada.

Scurll and Gedo have a great 15-minute singles match in them, though I doubt it would ever get booked since Gedo refuses to do mid-card singles matches for whatever reason. Anyhow, Scurll tapped him with a Chicken Wing. ***1/4

Best of the Super Junior XXIV Final
KUSHIDA Def. Will Ospreay

KUSHIDA, a fallen ace, a fallen man, a man with more on the line than anyone could imagine, a man on the road to redemption to get back what was once his, what he once held so close as he had it stripped away. For so long he worked to earn his spot, to earn his rank, to become the ace of his division, and it was taken away from him like it was nothing, like all of his hard work was meaningless.

A man that was groomed for success comes home, challenges KUSHIDA for his spot, KUSHIDA thinking he could overcome this man, only to learn that all of his hard work and all of the skill that he had acquired was not enough to match what the man was capable of. Hiromu Takahashi takes his spot, takes away what KUSHIDA fought for years to achieve, and when KUSHIDA gets his opportunity at redemption, not only does he fail, but he completely bombs.

KUSHIDA lost his step, Hiromu had him beat, he was given another chance and he blew it. What now?

He enters the Best of the Super Juniors, the tournament he won just two years earlier. Win the tournament and you get a shot, it’s that simple. He realized this was his last chance, his only chance to redeem himself, and though he fell a few times, he managed to work his way through and win his block. But he has one last roadblock before he gets to Hiromu, the current Best of the Super Juniors champion, the man he beat twice before and is out for his own redemption in Will Ospreay.

Both of them had the other scouted, seemingly knowing everything that was going to happen before it did, and both of them being forced to work more aggressively as a result.

KUSHIDA tried his best to take out the arm and the leg of Ospreay like he did last year, and again Ospreay showed him that it meant nothing. In his mind, he needed the win just as much as KUSHIDA did. He needed to prove that he was not just any other foreigner and he needed to prove that he has what it takes to beat KUSHIDA. He waited a full year to get back in the ring with him, so no amount of damage done to his arm or his leg was going to keep him down for long. Ospreay did everything he could possibly do to KUSHIDA, not caring if he hurt himself in the process, and the same goes for KUSHIDA.

When you have a man who is willing to go to hell and back in order to get his redemption, his health comes second. And when you have two men who are willing to go to hell and back to get redemption, this is what you get. KUSHIDA had to kill this man in order to beat him, and nearly killed himself in the process. Ospreay may be an awkward, scrawny foreigner, but he has more heart than anyone.

Between the callbacks to their previous matches, the heart, the guts, and the pride both of them showed, the molten hot crowd, the sense that this match meant more to them than anything else in the world, the incredible selling and the incredible emotion down the stretch, this was one of the best pro wrestling matches I have ever seen.

KUSHIDA gets his last chance at Dominion as he faces the biggest challenge of his career. Will he beat Hiromu? Will he bomb again? Stakes are high, everything is on the line, now or never for KUSHIDA. His redemption story may or may not come to a close, but as it stands, he is the Best of the Super Juniors. *****

Final Thoughts:

With the main event being an all time great and some pretty good tag matches scattered across the card, this was a solid show all around.