NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
BEST OF THE SUPER JUNIOR 30 FINAL
MAY 28, 2023
OTA CITY GENERAL GYMNASIUM
Watch: NJPW World
The two-week sprint ends in Ota City Gym, as Master Wato takes on Titán to determine the winner of Best of the Super Juniors 30! Wato and Titán was a gutsy call for a Final, considering there being so little underneath in terms of support. But it worked out just fine, as New Japan drew 3,132 people to Ota City. That’s the highest non-Dome show attendance since New Year Dash 2020. New Japan has taken a ton of big swings this year, and it looks like they’re paying off.
With that said, this is an odd card to run as the last show before Dominion. There are five matches currently booked for Dominion on June 4. Three of them have no representation on this card – Ospreay/Archer, Sabre/Cobb, Finlay/Phantasmo – and one-half of the World Title main event is finishing up his dates in Mexico. It’s not a complaint about a lack of build for these matches. It’s just out of the ordinary for New Japan. With that said, a lot of what’s ordinary for New Japan has been eschewed in this post-restriction generation, as this morning’s main event proved.
BEST OF THE SUPER JUNIOR 30 FINAL MATCH
MASTER WATO DEF. TITÁN
On July 3, 2020, Master Wato returned from his excursion to Mexico. When Hirai Kawato left Japan after the 2018 Fantastica Mania tour, he was beloved by the New Japan audience. He was this scrawny-looking guy with an odd face, but he had a ton of heart and built a real connection to the crowd as a black trunks Young Lion. New Japan also had faith in him, giving him a highlight match in the 2017 Super Junior Tag Tournament alongside KUSHIDA. He also finished second in the 2017 Young Lions Cup, beating names like Shota Umino, Ren Narita, and Tomoyuki Oka (Great O-Khan).
No one really knew what the ceiling would be for a guy like him, but when Master Wato walked out to an empty Korakuen Hall in the early days of the pandemic, it was clear that he was nowhere close to it. Wato looked like a goof, sporting Gatorade blue hair and some kind of karate gimmick. It was already going to be a tough climb, but returning on the first New Japan show of the COVID era made that climb look more challenging than Everest.
Wato trudged on. He took his lumps at the bottom of the card, with many people openly wondering if he would even last in New Japan. He got a shot against El Desperado for the Jr. Title. He would win the Jr. Tag Titles with Taguchi. He even beat then-reigning Jr. Champion Taiji Ishimori in a non-title match at the Declaration of Power show, earning a spot in the four-way Wrestle Kingdom Jr. Title match in the process. But throughout the process, people were still wondering…this guy? Really?
When Wrestle Kingdom 17 came around and the spotlight shone on him, Wato shone brightly. In that match, he had the performance of a lifetime, with a vocal Tokyo Dome audience living and dying with him. While he didn’t win, it was a performance that the New Japan office always believed he had in him. He got another showcase match against Ishimori during the New Beginning tour. He was chosen to main event the highly-anticipated All Star Junior Festival. And now in the Best of the Super Junior Finals, with a raucous crowd behind him, Master Wato stands tall as the winner. It’s been a long climb, but he’s almost to the top of the mountain. At Dominion, in his home prefecture of Osaka, he’ll try and take the last step as he’ll go against Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title.
The match started with strong dueling chants for both men. Titán got the first real advantage after using some leg submissions. Wato returned with a tope to the floor and Vendoval in the ring, but Titán quickly got to the ropes. Titán hit a massive springboard moonsault to the floor, then followed it with a tope of his own. At the fifteen-minute mark, Wato got back into the mix after a strike exchange. He escaped Titán’s tornado DDT and hit Recietemente for a nearfall. Wato locked on Vendoval for a longer point, but Titán still got the ropes.
『BEST OF THE SUPER Jr.30』(5/28)を公開‼️
BEST OF THE SUPER Jr.30を制するのはどちらだ⁉️
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) May 28, 2023
Titán returned with the tornado DDT and the insane corner lariat where he sends himself to the floor. Titán hit a disgusting double stomp to Wato’s spine, then locked on an Indian Deathlock. He tried to transition to Llave Inmortal to a massive reaction but couldn’t get his hands clasped before Wato reached the ropes. Wato caught Titán with an O’Connor Roll into the Tsutenkaku German, but Titán kicked out.
Recietemente got countered into a La Mistica, but Wato kicked out of the ensuing cover. A flurry of kicks from Titán led to another violent double stomp to the chest, but only scored a two-count. The crowd was losing their minds at this point. Wato reversed a Llave Inmortal attempt into a rollup, then caught Titán with the Hurricane Kick. Wato hit the Tsutenkaku German, then transitioned immediately into Recietemente II to win the match and win Best of the Super Junior 30.
— The Bad Child (@IamLioRush) May 28, 2023
These two had a match right up there with the best matches of this tournament. I wrote a ton about Wato already, but Titán is also a made man in this company. In the span of three matches, the Llave Inmortal has gotten over as a deadly submission. That, along with the LIJ stamp of approval, has given Titán a massive boost of support. This was Master Wato’s moment to shine, but don’t get it twisted. Titán is going to be a big-time player in this new generation of New Japan juniors. ****1/2
THE BEST OF BEST OF THE SUPER JUNIOR 30
For those who want to catch up on the Super Junior tour before Dominion, here are the top 10 matches of the tournament, as rated by me:
- Lio Rush vs. Speedball Mike Bailey – Osaka, Night 9 – An incredible battle between two of the best junior heavyweights in the world, with a spot in the semifinals on the line. ****1/2
- Master Wato vs. Titán – Tokyo, Final – I just wrote 750 words about this match. Scroll up. ****1/2
- YOH vs. El Desperado – Miyagi, Night 5 – An impassioned YOH putting on the best singles match of his career. ****1/2
- Francesco Akira vs. El Desperado – Korakuen Hall, Night 8 – An emotional and heated main event that will start Akira’s star turn in New Japan. ****1/4
- Hiromu Takahashi vs. Speedball Mike Bailey – Korakuen Hall, Night 1 – A big upset to cap the first night of tournament action. ****1/4
- Master Wato vs. Speedball Mike Bailey – Yoyogi, Semifinals – Master Wato pulls out the upset over the MVP of the tournament. ****1/4
- Hiromu Takahashi vs. Lio Rush – Aichi, Night 3 – A stellar rematch from the New Japan Cup Final. ****1/4
- Speedball Mike Bailey vs. TJP – Aichi, Night 3 – Crisp. Smooth. Am I describing this match or an ice-cold Coca-Cola? You decide. ****1/4
- Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Speedball Mike Bailey – Korakuen, Night 8 – Big Match Taguchi’s fight for his first win saw his best singles match in years. ****1/4
- Dan Moloney vs. Clark Connors – Osaka, Night 10 – A bench-throwing, chair-clearing brawl that saw Dan Moloney find himself on the last night of block play. ****
TALES FROM THE UNDERCARD (NAMES IN BOLD INVOLVED IN THE FALL)
- BOLTIN OLEG & TOGI MAKABE OSKAR LEUBE & YUTO NAKASHIMA
- Makabe bump counter: 2!
- CLARK CONNORS DEF. RYOHEI OIWA
- LIO RUSH & YOH DEF. TMDK (KOSEI FUJITA & ROBBIE EAGLES)
- Kosei Fujita is going to be a GUY. New Japan has been high on him for a while, putting him in a unit as a Young Lion. But he’s putting in great performances in these tags, and he’s gotten a win over Gedo himself. When the bookerman is counting the lights for you, that’s a good sign.
- UNITED EMPIRE (AARON HENARE, DAN MOLONEY, FRANCESCO AKIRA, GREAT-O-KHAN & TJP) DEF. HIROYOSHI TENZAN, SATOSHI KOJIMA, YUJI NAGATA & THE INTERGALACTIC JET SETTERS (KEVIN KNIGHT & KUSHIDA)
- It’s humorous to see Triple Crown Champion Yuji Nagata back on Dad Duty in New Japan undercards, with the belt around his waist to boot.
- CHAOS (HIROOKI GOTO, TORU YANO & YOSHI-HASHI) VS. HOUSE OF TORTURE (EVIL, SHO & YUJIRO TAKAHASHI) ENDS IN A NO CONTEST
- At the Super Jr. Semifinals, O-Khan and Henare asked to be added to the tag team title match at Dominion in the place of Aussie Open. House of Torture got Great O-Khan and Aaron Henare involved in this match, which led to everyone fighting. YOSHI-HASHI accepted the challenge of O-Khan and Henare, making the Dominion title match a three-way for the vacant titles.
- EL DESPERADO, REN NARITA, MIKE BAILEY & SHOTA UMINO DEF. KAZUCHIKA OKADA, TOMOHIRO ISHII, HIROSHI TANAHASHI & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI
- Desperado and Bailey got into a scuffle after the match. They shook hands afterward but keep an eye out for that.
- After the match, it was announced that Shota Umino would be challenging Okada, Tanahashi, & Ishii for the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Titles at Dominion. His partners will be his senpai Jon Moxley & his Blackpool Combat Club teammate Claudio Castagnoli!
- LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (BUSHI, HIROMU TAKAHASHI, SHINGO TAKAGI & TETSUYA NAITO) DEF. JUST 5 GUYS (DOUKI, SANADA, TAICHI & YOSHINOBU KANEMARU)
- SANADA is defending the IWGP World Heavyweight Title against Yota Tsuji at Dominion in a week. So of course, in his last match before then, Tetsuya Naito pins DOUKI. No spotlight on SANADA. Not even a VTR message from Tsuji. An odd call.
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