NJPW Best Of The Super Juniors Night 12
June 2, 2018
Takasaki, Gunma, Japan
New Sunpia Takasaki
Watch: NJPW World
Chris Sabin (6) def. El Desperado (4)
Neither man in this match has a chance of making it to the finals in the B Block so this one was all about respect and pride. Desperado attacked Sabin during his entrance and set up a brawl-y first half to the match that saw the Suzuki-Gun member toss Sabin across the arena throwing him onto rows and rows of chairs. They teased a 20-count but Sabin slid in just under the count to keep the match alive.
Sabin took control in the latter half of the match turning the tables by throwing Desperado into chairs on the outside. Not a great day for those in charge of maintaining row and seat number integrity. Despeardo tried to introduce a chair into the match but Sabin again got the better of Despy by hitting a superkick into the chair knocking Despeardo out. After a lariat and a two count Sabin finished him off with the Cradle Shock.
Fun match. Not anything to go out of your way to watch but I thought both men played their roles well. I’ve been on a rollercoaster of sorts with Sabin in this tournament. I was initially disappointed by his output but have began to appreciate what he is at this stage of his career. In this match, he was the smart, cagey veteran trying to survive the onslaught of the nefarious heel. And it worked. ***1/4
Marty Scurll (8) def. Ryusuke Taguchi (4)
Taguchi was effectively eliminated from the finals before this match… there was a scenario I believe where he could rise up but, look, it wasn’t going to happen. Scurll on the other hand was very much in play at 6 points and a win here kept him alive going into the final night of the tournament.
This was a hard match to describe because the beginning and end were very heavy on comedy and novelty spots but the middle half was a damn good match. Both Taguchi and Scurll (but particularly Taguchi) worked their asses off in the mid part of the match to make it an exciting match.
Both guys don’t need to do much to get crowd reactions and, hey, that’s good for them. Taguchi can dance or hit someone with his ass and get as much reaction as he would for a tope, so why not go heavy on the former. Scurll gets a crowd going nuts just by flapping his arms, so why bother taking a bunch of high spots? It’s a good problem to have for those guys but can sometimes make their matches a chore to get through from the standpoint of a reviewer. Credit to both guys for getting their characters to that level but they’ve both had very disappointing tournaments as a result.
Again, I don’t know how to grade this one. Scurll won after executing the Eddie Guerrero special of untying his boots letting it fall off when Taguchi tried for a submission and winning via roll-up. It was fine, I guess. It probably went too long. I’m just going to stop typing and give it a star rating so we can move on. ***
Hiromu Takahashi (8) def. SHO (4)
Effort is something we talk a lot about on this site. Wrestlers who portray a sense of effort when they step into the ring, wrestlers who make it obvious to the audience that every match means a lot to them, regardless of the cirumstances. SHO was all effort on this night against one of the best juniors in the world. Hiromu is still very much in the running for the block win, SHO isn’t. SHO is toast. Yet, he understands his place in the pecking order. He understands where he is relative to Hiromu and more than anything he knows where he wants to be: atop the junior division. Even though SHO had no chance of winning the block with a victory here, he was going to do everything he could to win and the crowd fed off that from the opening bell until the closing seconds of the match.
As far as Hiromu, what more needs to be said about the guy? He’s one of the best in the world right now and this victory keeps him as one of the favorites to emerge from the Best of the Super Juniors B Block. There’s a special feel to every match he’s in. There’s danger. There’s innovation. It just feels… different everytime the bell rings and Hiromu is in there. Hiromu is a junior that can transcend weight divisions whenever they want to strap the rocket to him.
The finish here, rocked. Awesome, awesome finish with Hiromu locking on his Triangle Choke (D). SHO initially withstood the submission and tried unsuccessfully about three times to powerbomb out of the move. Eventually on the last powerbomb attempt he just couldn’t get Hiromu up and collapsed allowing Hiromu to turn him over and get the tapout. SHO showed tremendous guts here hanging with one of the junior aces. SHO is going to be a star one day but Hiromu is the present. ****1/4
KUSHIDA (8) def. Dragon Lee (6)
KUSHIDA keeps himself in the running for the block win while Dragon Lee is effectively eliminated. This was a good match but at times felt a little long in the tooth. It had a pace that definitely befit its spot on the card as the main event but for someone like Dragon Lee, really sucked some of the energy out of his offense. KUSHIDA controlled much of the match teetering from smiley babyface to wretched heel at times by stomping on Dragon Lee’s arm or getting noticably frustrated. Dragon Lee did Dragon Lee things but as mentioned the slower pace to the match made it feel at times like KUSHIDA was in the ring with just anyone not one of the most dynamic high fliers in pro wrestling.
KUSHIDA focused much of the match on attacking Lee’s arm to set him up for the Hoverboard Lock. In the final stretch of the match KUSHIDA locked on the Hoverboard but Lee just wouldn’t give up. KUSHIDA tried time and time again to get him to tap and Lee kept fighting. Eventually, after a few reversals and the appearance of a Dragon Lee comeback KUSHIDA hit the Back to the Future and picked up the win. This would’ve been a spectacular match if it was a few minutes shorter but still, very good and a great way to cap off a fun night of BOSJ action. ****
The penultimate night for the Best of the Super Juniors B Block sees stars emerge while favorites begin pushing through the muck. Also, two standout matches that you should go out of your way to see.