New Japan Pro Wrestling
Best of the Super Juniors 29 Night 9
May 26, 2022
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

It’s the third of three straight nights in Korakuen Hall as the 2022 Best of the Super Juniors has officially passed the halfway point. That means we’re now at the stage where wrestlers will start to get eliminated from contention in their respective blocks. Which wrestlers will start to separate themselves from the rest of the pack, and which ones will be able to survive elimination? Read on to find out.

Best of the Super Juniors 29 B Block
Master Wato (4) def. Titan (2)

Tonight was the first night where certain wrestlers would be officially eliminated if they were unable to gain a victory. After the dust settled in this opening contest, Titan would end up being the first wrestler officially eliminated from contender after he fell to Master Wato. The match itself was fine, but not super notable. They got off to a slow start, but once they got through the opening exchange, I couldn’t help but think that Master Wato just felt….a step behind, at least in terms of him trying to compete with Titan in terms of lucha ability. Look Wato, I know you spent your excursion in CMLL, but don’t try to out lucha a guy like Titan. It’ll just make you look bad by comparison. The second half featured some decent action between the two, but Wato was able to put Titan away with the TTD (borrowed from his mentor Tenzan, of course) followed by the RPP (a corkscrew senton). That was the first time in this tournament that Wato had successfully hit the move. Again, a solid match, but nothing more. ***

Best of the Super Juniors 29 B Block
TJP (6) def. DOUKI (6)

With his win over BUSHI the night before, DOUKI officially tied his best points total in a Best of the Super Juniors (he scored six points last year after scoring four in 2020 and two in his tournament debut in 2019). Unfortunately, he was unable to get to eight points on this night, as TJP defeated him in just under nine minutes after forcing him to tap out to the Pinoy Stretch. I thought this was a very entertaining contest. It got off to a fast start when TJP tried to jump DOUKI, but the Suzuki-gun member was ready for him. A chair got brought into the ring and one point, and that led to TJP using the chair as a launching pad to hit DOUKI with a rana, which was cool. DOUKI would respond in kind with a DDT on the apron and a big dive to the floor while TJP was seated in a chair. The final few minutes saw some really solid exchanges, with DOUKI looking to submit TJP with the Italian Stretch #32 on a few occasions. One of those attempts saw TJP counter in the aforementioned Pinoy Stretch, and that was it. An enjoyable match between two guys who’ve both been a lot of fun to watch in this tournament. ***1/2

Best of the Super Juniors 29 A Block
Clark Connors (6) def. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (4)

Clark Connors has had quite the tournament, when it comes to his results. He got off to a horrible 0-3 start during the single block portion of the tour, but once the double block nights got started, he caught fire. With this victory over Yoshinobu Kanemaru, he’s now won three matches in a row. This wasn’t a very long match (clocking in at just under five minutes), but it was still pretty decent as a whole. After a brief brawl on the floor, Kanemaru tried for a number of flash pins before attempting the Deep Impact. It was blocked by Connors, who managed to hit the Jeep Flip a few moments later. Kanemaru tried for a few more flash pins, but Connors survived all of those attempts. A powerslam, a spear, and the Trophy Kill put Kanemaru down for the count. Connors went from being on the verge of elimination to back in contention in the span of three days. Far from the strongest match on this card, but on a show with ten tournament matches, I don’t mind if one of them ends up being shorter than the rest. **3/4

Best of the Super Juniors 29 A Block
Alex Zayne (8) def. Ryusuke Taguchi (2)

Another wrestler that came into this show on the verge of elimination was Ryusuke Taguchi. I was a little surprised to see both Taguchi and Master Wato at the bottom of their respective blocks, given that they’re the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. Then again, I don’t think anyone is complaining that they aren’t in contention to win the block (I’m certainly not!). Anyway, Taguchi took on Alex Zayne here, and in the end, Zayne scored the win after hitting the Cinnamon Twist. The first part of this bout featured some fine action, but then we got to the Taguchi comedy in the second half. After avoiding Zayne’s flipping leg drop, Taguchi pulled down his tights to reveal his red underwear for a hip attack. How does Zayne counter this, you might ask? By literally biting Taguchi’s ass. Yep….that’s a thing that happened. After that, we did get a little more back and forth before the finish. The result of the Ace Austin/Taiji Ishimori match later on in the night would officially put the nail in Taguchi’s coffin, but his loss here sealed his fate. While this was by no means bad, Zayne trying eating Taguchi’s ass is the only memorable moment from this one. **1/2

Best of the Super Juniors 29 A Block
Francesco Akira (4) def. YOH (6)

While Francesco Akira has definitely had some strong performances in this tournament, I didn’t think he’d be one the first guys on the verge of elimination. Especially after his surprise debut at Sumo Hall last month, I thought he’d be more of a contender. Alas, Akira was in a must-win situation coming into this match with YOH, and when the dust settled, he managed to get that victory to keep his hopes alive. This was a really good ten minute match that featured really good action from start to finish. Akira jumped YOH before the bell even rang, which I thought was cool, given the points situation Akira was in. YOH would soon respond, and the two would have a number of fun exchanges throughout the rest of the bout. A big turning point occurred when Akira connected with a Spanish Fly off the second rope. From there, he connected with his crazy twisting neckbreaker (which I believe is called Speedfire) before hitting Fireball to secure the victory. A very solid match, though a disappointing result for YOH, as he was coming off a huge win over Hiromu Takahashi. As for Akira, I believe there’s a slim possibility that he can still win the block, but it’s VERY slim. ***1/2

Best of the Super Juniors 29 B Block
El Lindaman (8) def. Wheeler Yuta (6)

We had an impromptu following of the Code of Honor before the match, which was nice to see, given that the ROH Pure Champion was involved. This match was a battle between two guys at six points, with the winner moving up to the upper echelon of the block where El Desperado and El Phantasmo have resided for most of the tournament. He once again had to bust out the Tiger Suplex, but El Lindaman managed to get the job done. A very good match between these two guys. After they both managed to connect with big dives to the floor (El Lindaman’s dive looking much more impressive), Yuta managed to lock on the Cattle Mutilation, though a rope break stopped that submission attempt. He tried for the Seatbelt Clutch, but El Lindaman was able to wiggle his way out. The GLEAT G-Rex Champion followed with the bridging German Suplex before following up with the bridging Tiger Suplex to win the bout. Nothing much else to say about this one. It was really good while it lasted, both men continue to have impressive tournaments in terms of match quality. ***1/2

Best of the Super Juniors 29 A Block
Ace Austin (10) def. Taiji Ishimori (8)

It was a battle of champions in this one, and we got a little taunting beforehand (it was brought up on English Commentary that Ishimori was a former X-Division Champion, which I had completely forgotten about until they brought it up). This was going to be a curious result on multiple fronts. Not only did you have two champions, but whoever won would be the first wrestler in the tournament to reach ten points. Ultimately, Ace Austin would score the victory in what was a controversial finish. Austin had countered a La Mistica attempt from Ishimori into a European Clutch, but it appeared that he had his shoulders down as well. There seemed to be a disconnect between the English Commentary and the production at the finish, because Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton weren’t sure who was the winner for a good minute, while Ace Austin’s theme and a match graphic declaring him the winner popped up almost immediately after the three count. That aspect was a little strange, but I guess they wanted to protect Ishimori in some way.

Outside of the finish, these two actually had a great match. Ishimori would take control when he dropped Austin throat first on the ropes following a successful evasion of the Fosbury Flop. The next few minutes saw Ishimori try to grind down Austin, but the X-Division Champion would fight back after executing the Fosbury Flop, and that led to a really exciting second half. Austin would go through his signature moves before eventually hitting The Fold, but Ishimori was too close to the ropes. The same thing would happen with Ishimori, as he nearly had the match won with the Bone Lock before Austin got to the ropes. That all led to the finish that I brought up earlier. Ace Austin continues to have a very strong tournament, both in terms of his in-ring work and the results, as he’s the first wrestler to get to ten points. As for Ishimori, he has one of his best bouts in the tournament thus far, though he unfortunately leaves Korakuen Hall on a two match losing streak. ****

Best of the Super Juniors 29 B Block
BUSHI (6) def. El Desperado (8)

Coming into this third consecutive night at Korakuen Hall, both El Desperado and El Phantasmo had the chance to be the first wrestlers in the B Block to reach ten points. Desperado would be the first of the two to have that opportunity, as he took on BUSHI, who would pretty much be eliminated if he came up short here. This got off to a quick start as BUSHI went right after Desperado. He had the early edge after connecting with a big rana onto the floor, but Desperado would quickly cut off his momentum after a bodyslam on the floor (I love how Desperado executes that move, as it just looks like he chucks the guy). Desperado would work over the leg until BUSHI managed to mount a comeback following a rana and a DDT. The last few minutes saw some very solid action between the two, though the bout seemed to reach a turning point after BUSHI connected with a lungblower. BUSHI followed up with a Destroyer (he tried for the pin, but Desperado got to the ropes) and followed up with the MX to get the win. A big victory for BUSHI as he stalled El Desperado’s efforts to become the sole leader in the block. While BUSHI certainly hasn’t been on the upper end of wrestlers in this tournament in terms of match quality, he’s had a number of matches that I’ve really enjoyed. This bout was by no means stellar, but it was quite enjoyable from start to finish. I do enjoy how the wrestlers who’ve been on the verge of elimination (such as BUSHI here or Francesco Akira earlier) have started their bouts by going right after their opponents. It really helps to put over the urgency of their respective situations. ***1/2

Best of the Super Juniors 29 A Block
SHO (6) def. Hiromu Takahashi (6)

After making his entrance, SHO went right up to the entranceway on the other side of the building in an attempt to jump Hiromu as soon as he came through the curtain. However, Hiromu was more than prepared, as he came through the entranceway that SHO entered through, and snuck up on the House Of Torture member from behind, attacking him with a chair. I do enjoy moments like that where the babyface manages to outsmart a heel. Unfortunately for Hiromu, his early advantage was short-lived, as SHO avoided a dropkick off the apron, and immediately went to work on Hiromu’s injured leg. Hiromu would regain control after another brawl on the floor, and actually went on quite the roll at this point. He hit a Death Valley Driver on the apron, and managed to successfully pull off his sunset flip powerbomb to the floor!

At one point, Hiromu looked to be on his way to a submission victory, but EVIL appeared and pulled out the referee, which was the signal for the House Of Torture shenanigans to commence. While Hiromu was choking out EVIL in the ring, SHO used this time to slip some sort of metal plate under his kickpads. Once he got back in the ring, he kicked Hiromu’s leg a bunch of times before locking him in a leg submission, and Hiromu had no choice but to tap out. The House Of Torturer stuff wasn’t unexpected, though I must say that this was definitely one of SHO’s better matches in this tournament. Before the shenanigans at the end, the bout was on its way to being really good. The one positive thing I will say about how the match finished is that at least SHO uses the cheating to go after Hiromu’s injured leg. So it not only continued the story, but it furthered it as well, as the metal plate SHO used further weakened that injured leg. It should be interesting to see if Hiromu can fight back from this, especially since he’s now four points behind block leader Ace Austin with only three matches to go. ***1/4

Best of the Super Juniors 29 B Block
Robbie Eagles (6) def. El Phantasmo (8)

This main event features two guys with a lot of history as (of course) Robbie Eagles used to be a member of Bullet Club, and it was during his tenure in the group that he and El Phantasmo had a very antagonistic relationship. With El Desperado’s loss earlier in the night, this match became a crucial one for El Phantasmo, as a win would make him the sole leader of the B Block at ten points.

After some early taunting between the two, the pace picked up quickly as Eagles connected with a big dive to the floor. El Phantasmo managed to turn the tables moments later after long darting Eagles into the ring post, and after following up with a DDT on a chair, Phantasmo had the edge for the next few minutes. Eventually, Phantasmo hit a dive to the floor of his own, which helped set up the crazy spot of the night (and possibly of the entire tour thus far). Phantasmo walked across the top rope and tried for a big moonsault to the floor, but Eagles moved out of the way, which meant Phantasmo absolutely ate shit. Eagles quickly responded by hitting a quick double knee strike while Phantasmo was laying against one of the ringside walls. At that point, the match really kicked into high gear. Big kicks, hard strikes, and even move theft! Phantasmo stole the Turbo Backpack, but then Eagles responded with a freaking Burning Hammer (which I believe Phantasmo has used in the past, correct me if I’m wrong) and a dangerous looking Thunderkiss 86. The final few minutes saw some great exchanges as the two tried to put each other away. Phantasmo couldn’t capitalize after hitting the CR2, and after Eagles recovered, he was able to go on a quickly offensive flurry before hitting the 450 Splash to the knees and locking in the Ron Miller Special for the submission victory. This was an awesome match from start to finish that was (for my money) easily the best match in the tournament thus far. The crowd was on fire near the end (as much as a clap crowd can be, anyway), and both guys really worked hard. Robbie Eagles was great as always, but matches like this are proof that once you get past all his silly heel shenanigans, El Phantasmo is an awesome pro-wrestler. Go out of your way to see this one. ****1/2

Final Thoughts

Obviously the match from this show that everyone is talking about is the main event, and that’s a match you should absolutely watch. As far as the rest of the show goes, it was pretty solid up and down the card. Ace Austin and Taiji Ishimori had a really strong match that would’ve been the best bout of the night if not for the main event, and there were a couple of other matches that were very good as well. If you’re pressed for time, there are a few matches that could easily be skipped, but there wasn’t anything that I would consider bad.

As we take a look at the standings in both blocks, the one thing we now know for sure is that (as of Night 9) both Ryusuke Taguchi and Titan have both been eliminated. I think it was mentioned on English Commentary that Francesco Akira was eliminated, but I don’t think that was actually the case at the time. Akira still hasn’t wrestled Ace Austin or Taiji Ishimori yet, so while he still had a path, it was extremely slim. Thanks to El Desperado and El Phantasmo losing, the B Block is much closer than the A Block, with three wrestlings at eight points and five wrestlers at six points. A lot left to play for as the tournament reaches the home stretch.

A Block

Ace Austin – 10 Points
Taiji Ishimori – 8 Points
Alex Zayne – 8 Points
Hiromu Takahashi – 6 Points
YOH – 6 Points
SHO – 6 Points
Clark Connors – 6 Points
Yoshinobu Kanemaru – 4 Points
Francesco Akira – 4 Points
Ryusuke Taguchi – 2 Points

B Block

El Desperado – 8 Points
El Phantasmo – 8 Points
El Lindaman – 8 Points
Robbie Eagles – 6 Points
BUSHI – 6 Points
Wheeler Yuta – 6 Points
TJP – 6 Points
DOUKI – 6 Points
Master Wato – 4 Points
Titan – 2 Points