New Japan Pro Wrestling
Best of the Super Juniors 29 Night 4
May 19, 2022
Hachinohe City East Gymnasium
Hachinohe, Aomori, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

After three straight Best of the Super Junior reviews, I’ve decided to give my pal Sean Sedor a break and take over the writing duties for night four. It’s been an easily digestible tournament so far; it may not be fattening up anyone’s spreadsheets with ****+ matches out the wazoo like 2019’s tournament was (boy does that seem like an eternity ago), but the wrestling has been consistently solid and the newcomers/returning foreigners have been the breath of fresh air that New Japan’s tournaments have desperately needed for quite some time. So without further ado, let’s get to the action.

Non-Tournament Matches

-YOH & Hiroyoshi Tenzan def. Suzuki-gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru & TAKA Michinoku)
-Alex Zayne, Clark Connors, Ryusuke Taguchi, & Jado def. BULLET CLUB (Taiji Ishimori, SHO, Gedo, & Dick Togo)
-LIJ (Hiromu Takahashi & Shingo Takagi) def. Ace Austin & Tiger Mask

Best of the Super Juniors 29 B Block
Wheeler Yuta (2) def. DOUKI (2)

DOUKI came into this tournament with a bad attitude (even more so than usual). Even his teammate and fellow B Block participant El Desperado has been a target of DOUKI’s bitterness, building up to their eventual main event on the 28th. But tonight the subject of DOUKI’s ire was Wheeler Yuta, who DOUKI looks at as another lucha hipster. He calling Yuta out for his Seatbelt finisher (commonly known as the Rivera Special or Skayde Special), which is a move DOUKI has also used as a roll-up finisher on occasion. DOUKI used that aggression to soften Yuta’s neck up for Italian Stretch #32 (a.k.a. the DOUKI Chokie), but Yuta gave that aggression right back to him, at one point biting DOUKI’s hand to escape a submission. He also showed off a few dives and springboards to rub the lucha influence in DOUKI’s half-covered face. Towards the end, Yuta kept trying to hit the Pain Thriller, but DOUKI continually managed to avoid it, locking in Italian Stretch #32. Yuta got to the ropes, then kicked out of a Daybreak. DOUKI set up Suplex de la Luna, but Yuta rolled through into the closing sequence of the match, a frantic bit of lucha chain wrestling that saw both men desperately fighting for control. Just when it looked like DOUKI was gonna lock in the Rivera Special, Yuta slipped out, walloped DOUKI with the Bryan Danielson elbows, then put him in the Seatbelt for the win. Score one for the lucha hipsters. This was a good opener to kick off the tournament matches and get Wheeler Yuta on the board. ***1/4

Best of the Super Juniors 29 B Block
El Lindaman (2) def. Titan (0)

First of all, as the host of Music of the Mat, I gotta give props to Titan’s new NJPW music. It not only reminds me of KENTA’s short-lived “Overture” theme from 2019, but it’s a marked improvement over having to hear the generic metal music dubbed over his CMLL theme by Amon Amarth. Secondly, I have to give props to El Lindaman, who after night two took a train to Tokyo, got the absolute bejeezus knocked out of him by Shigehiro Irie on GLEAT’s Korakuen Hall show, then took the train back to Aoyagi to wrestle this match the next day. The little scamp is putting in the miles and we all love him for it.

Thirdly, I have to give props again to both Lindaman and Titan because they delivered a great match here. As Kevin Kelly astutely pointed out on commentary, Lindaman’s Dragongate background meant he was accustomed to Titan’s lucha style, and the two showed good chemistry in their first-ever meeting. Early on, Titan looked like he was gonna exchange a chop battle with Lindaman, only to fake him out and hit a TNA kick to the gut. Lindaman’s look of betrayal gave me a nice chuckle. The craziness ramped up later on when Titan went for a top rope double stomp onto his opponent prone on the apron, only for Lindaman to move and have Titan bounce off the apron with a disgusting thud, holding his leg in pain. Lindaman, who at that point was bleeding from a cut on his chin, followed it up with a wild tope that saw his momentum carry him up to the front row. He too was clutching his knee in pain. Titan soon locked in a Figure Four, but Lindaman got to the ropes. From then on, Titan kept going for big move after big move, the knee remaining a constant issue. Lindaman would get some offense in like a backdrop suplex, but Titan kept the pressure on despite the obvious pain in his leg. After Lindaman kicked out of a Samoan Driver, Titan went up top and hit a diving double stomp on Lindaman’s back. Instead of going for the cover, he went for the springboard double stomp, except this time Lindaman moved and Titan screamed in pain as his knee buckled. Lindaman capitalized and hit the Kumagoroshi, but Titan kicked out at 2.9. Lindaman hit the delayed bridging German suplex and that was enough to score the win. For a match that was the second of five tournament matches on the show, this had the intensity of a main event. It was a better showcase for Lindaman than his first tournament match against DOUKI, and Titan managed to follow up his really good match with El Desperado on night two with a match I liked even more. ****

Best of the Super Juniors 29 B Block
BUSHI (2) def. Robbie Eagles (2)

This was one of the matches on the card that I wasn’t really all that excited about. I love Robbie Eagles, he’s one of my favorite guys to watch, but I’m much more interested in seeing him wrestle fresher opponents like Lindaman and TJP than I am with a guy he’s already wrestled a bunch like BUSHI. And BUSHI, well, I’m never really excited about BUSHI in general; it typically depends on how long into the match he wears his t-shirt. Having said all that, I actually ended up enjoying this match. It didn’t knock my socks off, but it told a straightforward story that was easy to get into. Eagles spent the whole match going after BUSHI’s leg to set up for the Ron Miller Special. There was a moment when BUSHI managed to hit a top rope dropkick, but he couldn’t follow it up with the BUSHI-roonie like usual because his leg hurt too much. Eagles eventually locked in the Ron Miller Special, but BUSHI resiliently fought his way to the ropes. BUSHI also did a couple of really cool counters in the final few minutes. The first was when Robbie tried for the Turbo Backpack, but BUSHI countered it with a Backcracker. The other was at the end when Eagles went for a jackknife pin, only for BUSHI to roll through into a standing position and hit the BUSHI Destroyer. He followed it up with MX for the victory. Look, I gotta give credit where it’s due, this was a real solid match for Robbie and the BOOSH. ***1/2

Best of the Super Juniors 29 B Block
El Phantasmo (4) def. Master Wato (0)

There was a weird moment before the bell rang where referee Marty Asami clonked heads with ELP as he was checking him. The cameras didn’t catch it, so you just saw Phantasmo and Marty both rubbing their heads in pain. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen in wrestling before. The actual match was not as bizarre, though at 16:28 it was the longest of the night. The opening minutes saw ELP and Wato play a game of “Anything you can do…” trying to show off to the crowd. Seeing Master Wato mimic ELP’s Too Sweet gyration taunt was certainly a sight to behold. ELP eventually took control with a delayed suplex on the floor. After ELP did nothing but chinlocks and the tree of woe nut stomp, Wato fought back with a couple dives to the outside. This took us to the final portion of the match, which was definitely a lot more exciting than the rest. Wato hit a very nice German suplex and Recientemente, both of which only got two. ELP fired back with a huge superplex and the UFO, but that also only got two. After exchanging some more blows, Wato tried to hit a springboard attack, only to eat a mid-air Sudden Death. ELP then hit CR-II right afterwards for the win. This picked up a lot when Wato made his comeback, but as a whole the match wasn’t anything special. It was fine, probably on the same level with the Yuta-DOUKI match, but as a semi-main event you want something better. It should be noted ELP is now two-for-two when it comes to winning his matches clean in this tournament. ***1/4

Best of the Super Juniors 29 B Block
El Desperado (4) def. TJP (2)

Besides Lindaman vs. Titan, this was the match I was most interested in seeing on this show. El Desperado has become one of the most consistent wrestlers around, delivering the goods not just in New Japan but elsewhere (seriously, go watch the Desperado/DOUKI vs. Jun Kasai/Tomoaki Honma hardcore tag match from TAKATaichi Mania earlier this month, it’s incredible). And even though he does drive Rich Kraetsch crazy with his basketball takes, TJP is a tremendous wrestler too. So going in I had high hopes for this one, and sure enough these two delivered. I think a big reason why, and I realized this while watching the match, is because Desperado and TJP are pretty alike in a lot of ways. They both employ a similar in-ring blend of smooth technical work, a skilled submission game, and vicious, explosive offense. They both have a strong lucha background. And while certainly not wholesome good guys, they both still rely primarily on their wrestling skills to win their matches, as opposed to someone like SHO who is trying to cheat all the time.

After an initial feeling out process in the first few minutes, TJP took control, going after Desperado from every angle; he slammed his back into the apron, stomped on his face, jammed his legs in an inverted deathlock. Desperado eventually fought back, going after TJP’s legs to set up Numero Dos. A wild spot happened when TJP draped Desperado over the top rope and hit the Mamba Splash on him, which got an audible gasp from the clap crowd. Another Mamba Splash right afterwards only got a 2-count. The two went back and forth with various submissions, then strikes. At this point I was well into the match. TJP tried for another Mamba Splash, but there was no water in the pool. This allowed Desperado to lock in Numero Dos. TJP looked like he was trying to power out of it, which we’ve seen happen in El Desperado matches before, but this time Despy held onto TJP and dropped him with a Dudebuster/Strong Zero/Jig ‘n’ Tonic/whatever name you want to use for 2.9. As the 15-minute call was announced, Despy roared and set up for Pinche Loco. TJP countered it, then ate a Loco Mono for his troubles. Another Pinche Loco attempt, another counter by TJP into a pin, but Desperado bridged up (this got another audible reaction from the crowd) and finally hit Pinche Loco for the win. This was a great match, easily my favorite of the tournament so far. The chemistry between Desperado and TJP was immediate, and although it was the about the same length as ELP-Wato, the action here was much more engrossing from start to finish. Despy and TJP both have guys like Yuta, Eagles, and Lindaman ahead of them, so I’m excited to see how well those matches stack up to this one. ****1/4

Final Thoughts

I know we’re still in the early days of the tournament, but so far B Block has taken the lead over A Block in terms of in-ring quality. That’s not to say that I don’t like A Block, I’ve enjoyed it to some extent, but overall I’ve enjoyed B Block a good deal more. It certainly helps that B Block doesn’t have any House of Torture bullshit or Ryusuke Taguchi butt comedy. Regardless, night four was the best of the tournament to date, especially with the excellent main event between Desperado and TJP, as well as the great Lindaman-Titan match earlier in the night. Also, as Sean Sedor has pointed out in prior reviews, the match lengths are not overwhelming at all, so you can just watch the tournament matches in about 90 minutes, fewer if you skip entrances and such.

B Block standings as of Night 4

El Phantasmo – 4 points
El Desperado – 4 points
DOUKI – 2 points
Robbie Eagles – 2 points
TJP – 2 points
Wheeler Yuta – 2 points
El Lindaman – 2 points
BUSHI – 2 points
Master Wato – 0 points
Titan – 0 points