New Japan Pro Wrestling 
Best of the Super Juniors 29 Night 7
May 24, 2022
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

The single block shows are officially behind us, as the rest of this year’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament will consist of double block shows from here on out. This also marks the first of three straight events in Korakuen Hall, as the tournament nears its halfway point. I have to admit that it’s weird to be watching a New Japan tournament with both blocks on the same show. Feels like an eternity since we’ve had one of those! The shows will take longer to get through, but the positive is that the cards will be all meaningful matches from start to finish, with no undercard tags. How did this particular show turn out? Read on and see for yourself!

Best Of The Super Juniors 29 A Block
Alex Zayne (6) def. Francesco Akira (2)

Both of these men were coming off defeats on Night 5 (to Taiji Ishimori and Ryusuke Taguchi respectively). While this wasn’t a match that jumped out to me on paper when looking over the lineup, it absolutely delivered in the ring. It was just over ten minutes of nonstop action right from the opening bell, and it was so much fun to watch. Francesco Akira was flying all over the place, hitting huge moonsaults, Spanish Fly’s, and various ranas (early on he connected with a huge springboard rana, and later on spiked Alex Zayne with a poison rana off the ropes). As for Zayne, he would use his size to his advantage at points, while also busting out his usual array of moves. A big powerbomb from Zayne would prove to be the turning point, as he would hit Akira with the Taco Driver to score the victory. I’ll freely admit that I might be overrating this one, but I absolutely loved it from start to finish. A near perfect opener. ****

Best Of The Super Juniors 29 B Block
Titan (2) def. TJP (2)

This match would kick off the trend on this show of guys at zero points picking up their first win of the tournament. In this case, Titan would pick up the win over TJP after two double stomps, the first of which was from the top rope all the way to the floor! That was one of the wildest spots of the night for sure. The bout itself was just shy of fourteen minutes, and featured some really good action throughout. It wasn’t a total surprise that this ended up as a strong match, as not only have they faced each other before (in CMLL), but their styles just generally complement each other, at least in my view. TJP utilized various different submission holds throughout, but Titan was able to use his high flying offense to secure the win in the end. Another super fun bout in the early portion of this show. ***3/4

Best Of The Super Juniors 29 A Block
Clark Connors (2) def. Ryusuke Taguchi (2)

The aforementioned trend of wrestlers on zero points getting their first win of the tournament continued here, as Clark Connors finally got on the board with a victory over one-half of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. The first few minutes were pretty standard, with some grappling to start, followed by Taguchi taking control. However, once Taguchi discovered that Connors had (as the English Commentary put it) strong glutes, it turned into a hip attack battle, as the two would trade hip attacks for a number of minutes. Things got back to being more serious in the closing moments, and Connors eventually put Taguchi away with the Trophy Kill. I don’t always enjoy Taguchi’s comedy (sometimes it just doesn’t land with me at all), but on this particular occasion, I actually found the hip attack stuff with Connors to be a lot of fun. A perfectly solid match for its spot on the card as Connors gets that elusive first win. ***

Best Of The Super Juniors 29 B Block
Wheeler Yuta (4) def. BUSHI (4)

BUSHI had a chance to put himself in contention with the top players in his block with a win here, but he ultimately fell short against the ROH Pure Champion in what was another good match on this card. It was certainly a step above Connors vs. Taguchi in terms of the action between the bells, but not on the same level as the two bouts that opened the show. While Yuta had the early edge at the start, BUSHI gained control after using his T-Shirt to assist him in a neckbreaker. Yuta would finally fight back after hitting a big dive to the floor, and it became a more even affair in the second half. BUSHI barely managed to survive the Cattle Mutilation, and tried to retaliate with a lungblower. Yuta was able to block it, however, and he followed up with repeated elbow strikes before pinning BUSHI with the Seatbelt Clutch. A neat and tidy eight minute match that had fine action throughout. This was by no means outstanding, but it was good for what it was, and didn’t overstay its welcome. ***1/4

Best Of The Super Juniors 29 A Block
Ace Austin (6) def. YOH (4)

Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton made it a point to note on commentary that Ace Austin had a notably long autograph line before the show, and they showed a number of fans in the crowd who had purchased Ace Austin merchandise, so evidently he’s won over the fanbase as we near the halfway point of the tour. Whoever won this match would join the group of wrestlers in the A Block who were at six points, and when the dust settled, that person ended up being Ace Austin, as he managed to put away YOH with The Fold in just over seven minutes. This was the shortest bout of the night so far, but they managed to pack a lot of action into this one. Austin did have one moment where he slipped on the ropes trying to execute a springboard kick. Fortunately, he connected with a Fosbury Flop moments later that got an audible “woah!” from the crowd (The one thing I do love about the clap crowds is that you will get moments like that where something is so awesome that the fans can’t help but react verbally). YOH got a fair amount of offense in, but he just wasn’t able to put Austin away. I feel it’s fair to say that, based on their output so far, as well as the reactions they’ve gotten by clap crowd standards (particularly on this card), Ace Austin and Alex Zayne have both earned themselves future tours with New Japan proper. Both of them have done such a good job so far, and as we saw on this night, they’re continuing to have really solid matches against a variety of opponents. ***1/2

Best Of The Super Juniors 29 B Block
DOUKI (4) def. El Phantasmo (6)

I’m once again going to give a shout out to Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton, as before this match got started, they made sure to note that this show was happening on the third anniversary of Rocky Romero’s upset win over El Phantasmo during the 2019 Best Of The Super Juniors Tournament, in the very same building. Well, lightning managed to strike twice, as DOUKI pulled off the upset win over El Phantasmo, handing him his first loss of the tournament. The finish itself mirrored a famous finish from a match between Jushin Thunder Liger and The Great Sasuke from the 90’s. DOUKI botched a move off the ropes (ala Sasuke), Phantasmo taunted him (ala Liger), and DOUKI immediately rolled up Phantasmo for the finish. That was super cool, but the match as a whole was super entertaining as well. There was good action in the first half, before the second half swung heavily in Phantasmo’s favor. He would continually nail DOUKI with some pretty heavy offense, but the crowd got behind DOUKI as he kept on fighting, until they got to the aforementioned finish. While this didn’t even make it beyond seven minutes, it was incredibly fun to watch, and easily one of the highlights of the night. ***3/4

Best Of The Super Juniors 29 B Block
Master Wato (2) def. Robbie Eagles (4)

Yet another wrestler with zero points finally got on the board on this show, as Master Wato scored a pretty big victory over Robbie Eagles after catching him in a flash pin. The two got into an early strike exchange before Wato went for his Vendaval submission (commentary noted that it was the first time he’d gone for it the whole tour). From there, the match saw good back and forth action throughout before Wato caught Eagles in the aforementioned pin. Robbie Eagles is such a good pro wrestler. In terms of match quality, he’s been one of the strongest and most consistent wrestlers of the entire tournament. Wato’s had a fine tournament in his own right, though this was easily one of his best bouts so far. ***1/2

Best Of The Super Juniors 29 A Block
Yoshinobu Kanemaru (2) def. Hiromu Takahashi (6)

Hiromu Takahashi came into this show with the chance to reach the eight point mark, but just like El Phantasmo a few bouts earlier, he came up short, as the previously winless Yoshinobu Kanemaru scored the upset victory after forcing Hiromu to submit to a Figure Four. Coming into this match, I had a feeling that Kanemaru could pull off the upset, but I was expecting it to occur via nefarious means. Instead, the win for Kanemaru was pretty straight forward. After the bout got going (via Kanemaru attacking before the bell), the two had a brief exchange before the leg of Hiromu was targeted by Kanemaru, who went on to work it over for the remainder of the match. Whether it was in the ring, or on the floor, Kanemaru would relentlessly go after Hiromu’s leg, and while Hiromu would try to fight back, it proved to be a fruitless effort. A pretty clean and decisive win for Kanemaru here as he finally gets on the board. The match itself wasn’t very long, but it told a good story throughout. It should be interesting to see if this leg injury follows Hiromu for the rest of the tour, and if any of his future opponents will go after the obvious target. ***1/4

Best Of The Super Juniors 29 A Block
Taiji Ishimori (8) def. SHO (2)

The semi-main on this first of three Korakuen Hall cards saw a battle between members of Bullet Club, with House Of Torture member SHO going up against Taiji Ishimori. The shenanigans started early and fast, as both men went for repeated eye pokes. There would be some decent action in the middle portion of the bout, though as we got closer to the finish, the nonsense creeped back in. Ishimori got a chair and tried the Eddie Guerrero spot, but to no avail. He would then try to pin SHO with his feet on the ropes, but again, the referee didn’t fall for it. SHO would eventually try to use his wrench, though after it got taken away by the ref, it left him wide open to a belt shot from Ishimori, and that was it. The result was a little surprising in the sense that it effectively eliminates SHO. I say that because while SHO will probably get more wins in the back half of this tournament, Ishimori probably won’t be taking a ton of losses, especially since he’s the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. Both men have five matches left, and all Ishimori needs to do is win one of them, and SHO is done, because even if SHO ties Ishimori, that won’t be enough as Ishimori will have the tiebreaker. Hopefully that makes sense. The bottom line is that, with this loss, SHO’s chances of winning the block are very slim. The bout itself wasn’t awful by any means, but it was certainly the weakest on the entire card. **3/4

Best Of The Super Juniors 29 B Block
El Lindaman (6) def. El Desperado (6)

I know a lot of people were very perplexed when they saw that El Lindaman lost to DOUKI on the first night of the B Block, especially given that El Lindaman came into the tournament as the top champion in GLEAT. Well, on this night, El Lindaman had a shot against another member of Suzuki-gun, though under much different circumstances. He was going up against El Desperado (one of the tournament favorites) in the main event in Korakuen Hall. After a hard-fought battle that saw some exciting back and forth action throughout, El Lindaman managed to score the victory after hitting Desperado with a Tiger Suplex. The bout started off fast, as El Lindaman went right after Desperado, and the pace never really slowed down. After Desperado managed to hit a big spinebuster and a big dive to the floor, it became a more even affair, with both men picking a body part to work over. El Lindaman was able to avoid the Pinche Loco, and while Desperado managed to survive the bridging German Suplex (which El Lindaman had used to win bouts earlier in the tournament), the bridging Tiger Suplex proved to be too much. Despite the loss, it was another great main event performance by El Desperado on this tour. As for El Lindaman, this was his best bout in the tournament, along with being quite a big moment for him as well. Winning in the main event of a New Japan show in Korakuen Hall, and getting to cut the show-closing promo as well. I do hope we see more of El Lindaman (as well as the rest of StrongHearts) in New Japan, because they’ve definitely been a breath of fresh air. ****

Final Thoughts

The first of three straight nights in Korakuen Hall proved to be a very eventful show in many ways. All of the wrestlers who came into this event with no points finally got on the board, while other wrestlers suffered their first defeats of the tour. In terms of match quality, the opener and the main event were the best bouts on the show, for my money. As for the rest of the card, the only match that I would say wasn’t good was SHO vs. Taiji Ishimori. Everything else ranged from good to really good and, once again, all of the match times were very reasonable. I enjoyed the fact that a lot of the matches in the middle of the card were under ten minutes, as it helped the card move along quickly.

In terms of the standings in the blocks, the only thing to really make note of is that Taiji Ishimori became the first wrestler to reach eight points, as the other three wrestlers who came in with six points (Hiromu Takahashi, El Desperado, and El Phantasmo) all lost. At this stage, I would say Ryusuke Taguchi and SHO (both on two points and with losses to Ishimori) are effectively eliminated, though not mathematically eliminated.

A Block

Taiji Ishimori – 8 Points
Hiromu Takahashi – 6 Points
Ace Austin – 6 Points
Alex Zayne – 6 Points
YOH – 4 Points
Francesco Akira – 2 Points
Clark Connors – 2 Points
Yoshinobu Kanemaru – 2 Points
Ryusuke Taguchi – 2 Points
SHO – 2 Points

B Block

El Phantasmo – 6 Points
El Lindaman – 6 Points
El Desperado – 6 Points
BUSHI – 4 Points
Robbie Eagles – 4 Points
Wheeler Yuta – 4 Points
DOUKI – 4 Points
Titan – 2 Points
TJP – 2 Points
Master Wato – 2 Points