New Japan Pro Wrestling
Best of the Super Juniors 25 – Finals
June 4, 2018
Watch: NJPW World
Chris Sabin & Flip Gordon def. Tiger Mask & Shota Umino
Grumpy old Tiger Mask might have been the biggest surprise of the tournament. Everyone pretty much assumed Tiger Mask was filler, but a mixture of attitude and some impressive moves made every single match of his enjoyable to watch. This match opens with a great example, as Flip does his silly repeated handsprings which has befuddled some opponents, and TM just watches nonchalantly until he’s done then kicks him. While Tiger Mask had a surprisingly good tournament, the ROH duo of Flip and Sabin was kind of disappointing. Neither one had a particularly memorable match or tournament. Nothing was bad (though you’re mileage my vary on Flip), but nothing stood out either. Meanwhile, Umino is the cream of the Young Lion crop. Just as I’m about to go on about Umino’s future, Flip gets the pin on him with the springboard 450 to end a short opening match. **1/2
Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, & YOSHI-HASHI def. Minoru Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka, & Taka Michinoku
None of these guys were featured on the majority of the tournament shows, so what have they been up to during those single cam shows? The world may never know. Here tonight though, YOSHI takes one heck of a beating from Suzuki. YOSHI has one of my least favorite move sets in all of pro wrestling, but he takes a great beating. The highlight of the match is Ishii and Suzuki tearing into each other. I wonder if there’s a future RevPro title match between the two in the future. The match ends with a Yano low blow and roll up to Taka, but it’s not over yet. Suzuki charges through the Young Lions to go after Ishii after the match. I think it’s definitely safe to say something is cooking between those two, and I can’t wait. ***3/4
Hirooki Goto, SHO, & YOH def. Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, & El Desperado
Kevin Kelly is joined by Chris Sabin on commentary. I love the rotating cast of commentators on these smaller shows that Don Callis can’t be bothered to come to. Sometimes they’re terrible, but even then I enjoy the change of pace. With Taichi moving up to heavyweight, we were denied his entrance for weeks now. Thankfully that is rectified tonight. Taichi has been clamoring for a shot at Goto’s NEVER title and there will be a rare Triple Threat match at Dominion with Michael Elgin, in case you had forgotten in the weeks since the Super Jr’s tournament began.
I would be remiss without talking about El Desperado for a minute. This was a loaded tournament, with the three best Jr Heavyweight wrestlers in the world, and several others of high quality. But the two best matches of the tournament belonged to El Desperado, against Hiromu and against Dragon Lee. No other Jr in New Japan conveys the same sense of hate and danger that he does. Hiromu comes across as crazy and dangerous, but there’s a real sense that, when Desperado turns it on, he hates his opponent. When he unleashes his rage fully, he’s the most compelling Jr on the roster, and his big matches had a fire that many others just lacked. 2018 could be a huge year for El Desperado.
YOH pins Kanemaru with a flash pin that he has used to great effect during the tournament. After the match, the Suzuki-gun team beats down the CHAOS team. Taichi gets his chance at Goto, and with this win, Roppongi 3K might be challenging Despy and Kanemaru for their Jr Heavyweight Tag titles. ***1/4
Marty Scurll & Yujiro Takahashi def. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare
What a weird place for Tanahashi to be. He’s had nothing to do since losing to Okada, and I doubt anything special will be set up against the Villain or the Tokyo Pimp. Henare works best when paired against tough guys like Ishii, so weeing him against two smaller guys is odd too. Marty tries, and sometimes succeeds, in putting Henare in various submission holds while taunting Liger at ringside. Yujiro pins Henare after the Pimp Drop DDT. Post match, Marty locks the Chicken Wing on Tanahashi, and Liger makes the save. Kevin Kelly initially calls it a three way for Dominion, but it looks like it will be a 6 Man tag. Liger, Tanahashi, and Rey Mysterio vs Marty and the Bullet Club! **3/4
Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, EVIL & BUSHI def. KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi, Dragon Lee & ACH
This match starts with a dance off. No really. ACH has some moves for Naito’s theme music. Naito seems amused, but kicks ACH in the butt to get things started. This match opens up hot, with Dragon Lee and BUSHI flying around, over and through the ropes. The action is too fast to keep up with. GUys are flying around, Taguchi is hitting people with his ass, and LIJ is doing some great double team moves. Eventually ACH gets targeted, and gets beat down until SANADA locks in the Skull’s End for the win. Fun, fast paced match. ***1/2
Post-match, Jericho has another video, taunting Naito about stealing his main event at WrestleKingdom 12
Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay def. Kota Ibushi & Chase Owens
This was a really good match that there’s not much to say about. Ibushi and Owens continue to be the Odd Couple of tag team wrestling. Ibushi mixed it up with Okada, making me want that match, then he mixed it up with Ospreay, making me want to see that match. Is there anything Ibushi cannot do? Okada has the best facial expressions when Chase has him up for the Package Piledriver, though eventually he gets out and wins with the Rainmaker. Before that though, he makes sure to hit Chase with a V-Trigger, sending a message to Kenny Omega. A good match, but I’m ready for the main event. ***1/4
Best Of Tthe Super Juniors 25 Final Match
Hiromu Takahashi def. Taiji Ishimori
This tournament has been my introduction to Taiji Ishimori. He’s been fine, but I can’t say that he’s stood out from some of the others. Meanwhile, Hiromu is the man. I’m very curious to see if Ishimori can keep up with him. Going into the match, Hiromu has been scoring points with a triangle choke, not the Time Bomb. I have to think that’s going to come into play.
After some crowd brawling, Hiromu hits his amazing sprinting drop kick in the aisle, but then takes an insane bump when Ishimori throws him down the stairs. Ishimori stays on Hiromu, attacking the neck with a variety of offense. Hiromu hits a big move here and there, but Ishimori stays in control. The occasional neck crank is offset by big moves like a sliding german suplex. When Ishimori locks in the crossface and rolls Hiromu into the middle of the ring, it’s almost over for the ticking Time Bomb.
But Hiromu gets free, and the two start exchanging offense. When Ishimori lands a reverse hurricanrana, Hiromu pops up and hits one of his own, leaving both men down. Ishimori stays in control, but Hiromu is finally able to lock in the triangle choke. Ishimori struggles, Hiromu has won his matches this way, but Ishimori is able to lift Hiromu and powerbomb him into the turnbuckle! Spots like that are why you establish secondary finishers. Hiromu gets his knees up when Ishimori goes for the 450 splash, and plants Ishimori with a Jay Driller! The triangle choke is back on but Ishimori reaches the ropes. Hiromu hits the Time Bomb after avoiding it all tournament, and that’s enough for the win!
This was a great fucking match. Both guys showed off their stuff, and I loved how it built off all their tournament matches. Hiromu was the star as he usually is, but Ishimori more than showed he could keep up. ****3/4
The main event is a must watch, Match of the Year contender with some crazy bumps and a great story to cap off a really good Best of the Super Juniors tournament. Be sure to watch the finals, and the Chaos/Suzuki-gun match if you have time.