NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
BEST OF THE SUPER JUNIORS 2019 NIGHT 11
MAY 29, 2019
NAGOYA CONGRESS CENTER – AICHI, JAPAN

Watch: NJPW World

Due to injury, TAKA Michinoku has forfeited the rest of his tournament matches. His opponent for this evening was Marty Scurll, who received an automatic victory and more importantly, a night off.

BEST OF THE SUPER JR. 26 A BLOCK
SHO (8) DEF. TITAN (4)

SHO worked this match like he needed to win, desperately. Luckily for him, he was squaring off against Titan, who sits near the bottom of the A Block. Neither man tried to reinvent the mold here, they just went out and traded moves in the spirit of competition. SHO never felt like he was in any serious danger. He was on offense for the brunt of this bout, and all of that momentum eventually carried into him dropping Titan on his head and getting the win. ***

BEST OF THE SUPER JR. 26 A BLOCK
TAIJI ISHIMORI (14) DEF. TIGER MASK IV (4)

This was very odd. Taiji Ishimori is coming into this match with a neck injury, which per Kevin Kelly, was suffered during the Marty Scurll match. He jumped Tiger Mask at the bell and put the boots to him from there. Tiger Mask briefly got in a Tiger Bomb and a deep two count, but this match gave him his sixth loss in a row. Ishimori was able to submit him with relative ease, securing at least a second place finish in the A Block. This match confirmed that the block will come down to Ishimori vs. Shingo on the 31st.

Ishimori got in-and-out of this match as quickly as he possibly could. I’m assuming he’s hurting pretty bad, given his recent output and some of the odd things that have transpired in his matches. He was blessed with Tiger Mask on this night, so they were able to do a lot with a little. That being said, there’s not a ton here worth watching. **3/4

BEST OF THE SUPER JR. 26 A BLOCK
SHINGO TAKAGI (16) DEF. JONATHAN GRESHAM (8)

Shingo Takagi has far surpassed my greatest fantasies of him competing in this tournament The 2019 Super Juniors has been built around him and it has been a really beautiful thing to see. He’s been one of the best wrestlers on the planet for the past 15 years, and I’m so happy that he’s getting this huge platform thanks to New Japan now. His tournament has been brilliant. He didn’t need another great match to add to his collection, but we got one anyway.

Gresham, who felt miniscule next to The Dragon, did everything he could to get Takagi off of his feet. He tried taking out the legs, he tried grappling him to the ground, and in an almost father-son-like fashion, he tried simply diving on Takagi to get him to the ground. Gresham attempted a much tamer version of the Nigel McGuinness/Austin Aries suicide dive to the back of an opponent, and even that didn’t take Takagi to the ground. It did rock Takagi, however, and Gresham quickly capitalized on it by locking in a sleeper hold and then sitting down in the front row with the hope of incapacitating his opponent.

That doesn’t work when the opponent is Shingo Takagi. Takagi climbed back in the ring at the count of 19 and then proceeded to bully Gresham for the rest of the match. Gresham could slip and slide out of any move that he wanted to, because there was always another move waiting for him on the end. We all knew it going in, but Takagi was established as someone much higher ahead in the pecking order than Gresham.

I do want to micro-analyze one part of this match, though. Right before Takagi picks up the eventual win with the Last of the Dragon, he nearly takes Gresham’s head off with a Pumping Bomber lariat. He bounced off the ropes, clobbered Gresham, and then stared and the crowd and did the throat slit motion with his thumb. That should’ve been the finish. That was what Takagi is all about. He was so mean and unforgiving about destroying this guy that so clearly wasn’t on his level. There was no need for a big finish. Let him win with the Pumping Bomber. It’s a minor nitpick, but while the Last of the Dragon hit in this match was impressive, the transition from Pumping Bomber to throat slit registered as a 10 out of 10 on the badass scale.

Shingo Takagi remains undefeated, and that’s a damn good thing. I hope he rolls through Ishimori on the 31st and then takes out Will Ospreay in Sumo Hall. ***3/4





BEST OF THE SUPER JR. 26 A BLOCK
DRAGON LEE (10) DEF. YOSHINOBU KANEMARU (4)

In his last tournament match, Yoshinobu Kanemaru threw out all the stops to defeat IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Dragon Lee. This involved unmasking Dragon Lee, having Taichi run-in and attack the ref, and various whiskey-based attacks. Kanemaru was eviler than he was vicious. It wasn’t good enough for him to beat Dragon Lee, he wanted to embarrass him. The constant mask-ripping and yet another attempt at a countout victory were Kanemaru’s best shots at beating the champion, but Dragon Lee was simply too strong for him.

Dragon Lee had three impressive tournament matches – the epic against Shingo stands out as one of the best matches of the entire tournament, but I also really enjoyed his bouts vs. Ishimori and Titan. He ends his tournament against Marty Scurll in a few days and then will have to watch closely at Sumo Hall to see who his opponent is going to be.

I didn’t like this match as a main event, but I understand that they want the champion going on last. This just felt like undercard nonsense for a lot of the time. Luckily it didn’t drag, and just before the 15-minute mark, Dragon Lee nailed the Desnucadora for the three. ***1/4

Final Thoughts

These wrestlers are feeling the effects of a long and grueling tour. Takagi and Gresham came in looking like the two healthiest wrestlers and their match was unsurprisingly the best on the show. Ishimori is clearly hurting and it looks like Dragon Lee and Yoshinobu Kanemaru are feeling similarly. Don’t waste your time with the first few matches. Get right to Shingo vs. Gresham and then move on your life. Thumbs in the middle for Night 11 of 2019 Best of the Super Juniors.

VOW Best of the Super Juniors 2019 Pick’Em Contest

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