New Japan Pro Wrestling
Best of the Super Juniors 29 Night 5
May 21, 2022
New Aomori Prefecture Sports Park Maeda Arena
Aomori, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

It’s the final solo show for the A Block as the 29th Best of the Super Juniors tournament comes to Aomori, Japan. The card is headlined by two matches featuring undefeated wrestlers. Which two will be the first to get to six points? Continue reading the review to find out, though before I start diving deep into the tournament bouts, here are the results from the undercard tags:

-El Lindaman, Jado, & Titan def. Bullet Club (Dick Togo, El Phantasmo, & Gedo)
-LIJ (BUSHI & Shingo Takagi) def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Master Wato
-Flying Tiger (Robbie Eagles & Tiger Mask) & Wheeler Yuta def. Suzuki-gun (DOUKI, El Desperado, & TAKA Michinoku)

Best of the Super Juniors 29 A Block
SHO (2) def. Clark Connors (0)

Both of these men came into this show winless thus far with 0-2 records, and at this stage, a third loss would basically put you on the verge of elimination. Unfortunately for Clark Connors, he would come up short once again, this time after House of Torture shenanigans from SHO. The match actually got off to a funny start (funny in a bad way, I suppose), as SHO, after making his own entrance, literally sprinted to the other side of the building so he could jump Connors during his entrance. There was some brawling on the floor before the match officially began, though once it did, it was just….fine. SHO would work over the arm of Connors after using a chair and doing more damage on the floor. There was a decent countout tease after SHO dragged Connors to the other side of the building, and there was some fine action in the closing minutes. However, as I mentioned earlier, the typical House of Torture cheating crept in when it came time for the finish. SHO tried to use a wrench after knocking Connors into the referee, but the referee came to and took the wrench away before it could be used. SHO then used this opening to low blow Connors and roll him up with a handful of tights for the win. As a side note, Connors has been in the opening tournament match spot on all of the A Block shows so far, which is interesting. As for the match, like I said, it was just there. Hard to expect much from a SHO matches these days when you know there’s going to be shenanigans involved in the finish. **1/2

Best of the Super Juniors 29 A Block
Ryusuke Taguchi (2) def. Francesco Akira (2)

Another wrestler coming into this show in desperate need of a win was Ryusuke Taguchi, as he lost his first two tournament bouts to two Hiromu Takahashi and Taiji Ishimori. A tough early draw for sure, but Taguchi needed a win to realistically stay in the hunt. Fortunately, he was able to get that much needed victory here against United Empire member Francesco Akira. I wasn’t expecting a ton from this one (especially after that match Taguchi had with Hiromu), but this one wound up being a pleasant surprise. I really enjoyed this bout from start to finish. We did get a Taguchi hip attack here and there (that’s to be expected), but for the most part, Taguchi kept it serious, and wrestled a pretty straight match. Akira took control early after a big dive to the floor, but Taguchi eventually fought back with a springboard hip attack and a high cross to the floor. At that point, it became a very even affair down the stretch as the two went back and forth. Some really solid action in the closing stretch, and it ultimately came down to a series of flash pin exchanges, which Taguchi got the better off after sitting down on a pin attempt from Akira. A super enjoyable match the whole way through. ***1/2

Best of the Super Juniors 29 A Block
YOH (4) def. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (0)

Yet another wrestler who was looking to stave off an 0-3 start was Yoshinobu Kanemaru, but he wasn’t able to pull off the victory in the end, as YOH advanced to four points after putting Kanemaru away with the Direct Drive. The match went just over ten minutes, and was pretty solid for the time that it lasted. Kanemaru jumped YOH before the bell, and after firmly taking control, started working over YOH’s leg. YOH would fight back with a Satellite DDT and a Falcon Arrow, and the two had some good back-and-forth from there. Towards the end of the bout, Kanemaru sent YOH into the referee, and tried to use his signature whiskey. YOH then stole the bottle, downed some of the whiskey himself, and spit it in the face in Kanemaru. This led to YOH hitting the aforementioned Direct Drive as a bunch of the whiskey got dumped onto the canvas. While Kanemaru’s matches thus far haven’t really stood out, they’ve all been pretty solid. In terms of his chances in this tournament, he’d need a ton of help to have a chance, but it’s pretty much a lock that he’s going to spoil some people’s hopes later on. ***1/4

Best of the Super Juniors 29 A Block
Hiromu Takahashi (6) def. Ace Austin (4)

I’m a little surprised that this didn’t get the main event slot. Both of these men came into this show undefeated, so unless they go to a draw (which given the match lengths on the tour thus far, is pretty unlikely), someone was going to eat their first loss. Out of all the matches on this particular show, this was probably the one I was looking forward to the most, and when the dust settled, I can safely say that it delivered in a big way. These two had a great contest that (for my money) might’ve been the best bout of the tournament so far. It was just under thirteen minutes, but I thought they definitely made the most of that time. Early on, Hiromu tried to give Ace Austin a paper cut with one of his cards, but the referee stopped him, which led to Austin pulling out a card and successfully pulling off the paper cut spot. Austin was in control for a brief period after this, but after Hiromu was able to hit a rana in the ring, the pace really picked up. The fast-paced action continued as Austin hit an awesome Fosbury Flop to the floor, while Hiromu having The Fold (Austin’s finisher) scouted on a few different occasions. After a series of lariats, Hiromu was finally able to hit the Victory Royale, followed by the Time Bomb, and that was that. Of course, Hiromu was as great as always, but Ace Austin had a really strong performance here as well. He’s had a few solid bouts in the tournament thus far, though this was the clear standout. With that victory, Hiromu became the first wrestler in the tournament to reach six points. ****1/4

Best of the Super Juniors 29 A Block
Taiji Ishimori (6) def. Alex Zayne (4)

The main event of Night 5 saw another set of undefeated wrestlers going at it, and the winner would join Hiromu Takahashi at the top of the board with six points. Taiji Ishimori ultimately emerged victorious over Alex Zayne in what I thought was a really good main event. While it wasn’t quite on the same level as the previous match with Hiromu and Ace Austin, we got some really good action from start to finish. Zayne was a real house of fire in the early minutes, but his momentum got cut off after Ishimori sent Zayne into a chair with a drop toe hold. While Zayne didn’t fully connect with the chair, his arm hit the floor in an awkward manner, and that opened the door for Ishimori to go after the injured body part. Ishimori would utilize the Yes Lock in an attempt to wear down the arm, though Zayne would fight back after hitting a lariat. Zayne would do his best in his comeback, but unfortunately for him, the damage done to that arm and shoulder by Ishimori proved to be too much. He got into the Bone Lock after hitting La Mistica, and Zayne had no choice but to tap out. Again, these two had a really good match, with Zayne having his best outing yet. However, on this night, his best wasn’t enough to stop the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion from reaching six points. ***3/4

Final Thoughts

Aside from Clark Connors vs. SHO, which was totally average and forgettable, Night 5 was easily the best outing from the A Block thus far. Hiromu Takahashi and Ace Austin had one of the strongest bouts of the entire tournament, while Alex Zayne and Taiji Ishimori had a very good bout in the main event spot. The remaining two tournament matches on the card were both pretty enjoyable given where they were on the card. I know the tournament will be finishing off with a bunch of shows with both blocks featured, but once again, I have to commend the match times. Nothing on this show went over fourteen minutes, so if you’re trying to catch up, you can get through the show in about an hour or so.

In terms of the A Block standings, things are in a pretty interesting spot right now. Hiromu Takahashi and Taiji Ishimori are both on top of the board with six points each. On one hand, it’s a little surprising to see them up front this early (you would think losses are coming based on how New Japan books their block tournaments), but then again….they are two of the top guys in the junior division, so you would expect them to be booked strong. From there, you’ve got three wrestlers each at four points and two points, while Clark Connors and Yoshinobu Kanemaru are sitting with goose eggs at the bottom of the pile.

Hiromu Takahashi – 6 Points
Taiji Ishimori – 6 Points
Ace Austin – 4 Points
Alex Zayne – 4 Points
YOH – 4 Points
Francesco Akira – 2 Points
Ryusuke Taguchi – 2 Points
SHO – 2 Points
Clark Connors – 0 Points
Yoshinobu Kanemaru – 0 Points