One of my very first articles for Voices of Wrestling was an examination of the Final Night Scenarios for the 2020 G1 Climax. Since then, in the four years I’ve clung onto this website, I’ve written six more of these final night scenario evaluations. This is number eight, and one of the most frustrating. As I’ve been obstreperously whimpering about for two years, including my A Block preview for this BOSJ, I absolutely fucking despise a round robin system where two people advance per block. It doesn’t work. It’s completely inferior to the system where one person advances, and a one match final. The semi-finals are another desecration as this desperate company, in a desperate land, desperately grasps for the wafer-thin Yen. As much as they can get their fucking hands on. It was tolerable during the peak years; now it is inglorious and pathetic.

And so, the B Block is a one match show. I assumed, when the schedules came out, that Hiromu Takahashi vs. Taiji Ishimori would decide who advances in the block… but not both the winner and second place. But that is what we are left with: the winner will win the block, and the loser will take second place. Ishimori, as it stands, is guaranteed a spot in the semi-finals. It’s devoid of meaning or consequence. Block final nights should mean something, and gradually they mean less and less as this two-advance structure perpetuates, their lust for a few extra seats, a few extra yen, persists.

In the A Block, the reliable strategy of working your way back from the final night match-ups still holds true. It looked like the HAYATA-Desperado and Titaqn-TJP matches would determine the two semi-finalists from the block, and that appears to still be the case. They played around, yet again, with a slow-start/hot-finish story with TJP, who lost his first four matches, only to barnstorm back with four straight wins. TJP is now in the driver’s seat; he controls the majority of the tiebreaker scenarios at 10 points if he wins.

The tournament itself has been steadfast and trustworthy, but lacking provocation or ambition. The last two years have been a delight, with amiable, engaging foreigners and significantly shorter match times. This year, people have excoriated the American in the tournament, Blake Christian, at every turn. I’m utterly baffled. The Blake Christian-Clark Connors Night 1 match has a 3.94 rating on Cagematch. Alright, for fuck’s sake, I thought the match was fine, but I can accept some captious assessment of the contest, flavored by a hefty amount of pre-existing disdain for Christian. But 3.94? Get the fuck out of here. That is just epileptic judgment. A lot of people came into this tournament with their feelings in tatters.

The match times have reached the point of excessive contraction. Last year, the matches averaged a breezy 10:01. This year? 8:52! A lot of guys have underwhelmed, and it’s not their actual effort. It’s the condensed match times, giving them a sparsity of chances to establish anything. I don’t need the pandemic-era time inflation, with G1 Climaxes averaging over 15 minutes a match. But this is setting guys up to exist, neither failing nor succeeding. We do require some consolation for being wrestling fans, here. A sense of accomplishment, a coherent understanding of purpose, that would suffice.

Looking at the final night scenarios, I once again call upon my Realistic Outright Win Scenario perspective, even if the two-advance system renders it largely useless beyond analyzing outright winners. I’ve added, reluctantly, the Realistic Outright Advance Scenario.

The Realistic Outright Win Scenario

The Realistic Outright Win Scenario (ROWS) is the sequence of events that must happen for a wrestler to be the sole winner of a block. 

“Realistic,” in this case, means that we only acknowledge events that are likely to happen. “Unrealistic” events are those that would confuse or antagonize the fans, and thus would be illogical to book. 

ROWS follows these two basic concepts:

  • Unbreakable ties are unrealistic; one winner will emerge as the victor of a block
  • Each match on the final night will result in positive points of some kind; Outright Win Scenarios that require zero-point contests are therefore considered unrealistic.
    • Double-countouts were previously viewed as unrealistic, thought to be a zero-point “no-contest” type finish. Shingo Takagi v. Yujiro Takahashi proved this incorrect in 2021. DCO’s are worth one point.
    • It is uncertain whether double-disqualifications would be treated the same.

The Realistic Outright Advance Scenario

The Realistic Advance Scenarios (ROAS) is the sequence of events that must happen for a wrestler to advance out of a block without winning the block, when two or more wrestlers can advance from a block

It follows the same precepts as ROWS: each match results in points (ie, no contests are not acknowledged) and unbreakable ties are an unrealistic outcome.

Three ROAS scenarios are provided: Advance-with-Loss, Advance-with-Draw, and Advance-with-Win

The Scenarios

Below are the A Block and B Block Scenarios. It can get a bit opaque, with all the convoluted possibilities, so we’re going to simplify things here, before diving into the heftier scenario list, followed by some analysis of the blocks themselves and the paths taken to get to these nights.

The Simple A Block Scenario

  • The winner of El Desperado and HAYATA will advance, unless they get caught in an unbreakable tie with Titan and Blake Christian
  • Blake Christian holds the tiebreaker on Titan, but he lost to both Despy and HAYATA. And so, unless that match ends in a draw, Christian’s best shot is the unbreakable three-way tie noted above)
  • Titan wins the block if he beats TJP (unless he gets caught in an unbreakable three-way tie, as noted above
  • TJP needs to beat Titan, but he holds significant tiebreakers: Despy, HAYATA, and Blake Christian. Basically, he’s beaten everyone ahead of him in points. TJP wins almost every tiebreaker scenario at 10 points.
  • Kevin Knight needs to beat BUSHI, and hope that TJP and Clark Connors both win. That would result in a six-way tie. Kevin Knight wins both six-way tie scenarios.
  • Clark Connors needs a very specific sequence to happen to advance: a five-way tie at 10 points between Titan, TJP, Desperado, Kevin Knight, and Connors. That is the one scenario he would win.

The Simple B Block Scenario

  • Taiji Ishimori is guaranteed to advance. If he beats Hiromu Takahashi, he wins the block. If he loses, he takes second place, with tiebreakers over both DOUKI and Robbie Eagles
  • Hiromu Takahashi wins the block if he defeats Taiji Ishimori. If he loses, he needs Robbie Eagles to defeat or draw with DOUKI. DOUKI holds the head-to-head tiebreaker on Takahashi.
  • DOUKI needs to defeat Robbie Eagles, then have Taiji Ishimori defeat Hiromu Takahashi. That would result in DOUKI and Takahashi tied at 12 points. DOUKI would advance with the head-to-head tiebreaker.
  • Robbie Eagles has lost to both Taiji Ishimori and Hiromu Takahashi, and trails both by 2 points. He is eliminated.




Best of the Super Juniors 31 A-Block

  • In Block Final Match: El Desperado at 10 points
    • Realistic Outright Win Scenario: To win the block, El Desperado needs to defeat HAYATA and have Titan lose or draw with TJP.
      • El Desperado holds the tiebreakers over Clark Connors and Blake Christian 
      • El Desperado has already lost to Titan, TJP, and Kevin Knight. He holds a two-point advantage over TJP and Knight.
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Win Scenario: If El Desperado defeats HAYATA, Titan defeats TJP, and Kosei Fujita defeats Blake Christian, Desperado and Titan would be tied for first place at 12 points, with Titan holding the head-to-head tiebreaker. 
      • A three-way tie between Desperado, Titan, and Christian would be unbreakable, and unbreakable tied are not realistic.
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Loss Scenario: El Desperado could not advance with a loss. If El Desperado lost to HAYATA, he would be stuck at 10 points. There are no tiebreaker scenarios where Desperado would advance at 10 points.
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Draw Scenario: El Desperado could not advance with a draw. If El Desperado drew with HAYATA, they would both be at an unbreakable tie with 11 points. If they are tied with Blake Christian at 11 points, it is still unbreakable. If they are tied with Titan at 11 points, Titan wins by head-to-head tiebreakers over both.
      • If they are tied with both Blake Christian and Titan at 11 points, Titan wins the block, while Desperado and HAYATA remain in an unbreakable tie for 2nd place.
  • In Block Final Match: HAYATA at 10 points
    • Realistic Outright Win Scenario: To win the block, HAYATA needs to defeat El Desperado and have Titan lose or draw with TJP.
      • HAYATA holds the tiebreakers over Blake Christian and Kevin Knight 
      • HAYATA has already lost to Clark Connors, Titan, and TJP. He holds a two-point advantage over Connors and TJP
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Win Scenario: If HAYATA defeats El Desperado, Titan defeats TJP, and Kosei Fujita defeats Blake Christian, HAYATA and Titan would be tied for first place at 12 points, with Titan holding the head-to-head tiebreaker. 
      • A three-way tie between HAYATA, Titan, and Christian would be unbreakable, and unbreakable tied are not realistic.
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Loss Scenario: HAYATA could not advance with a loss. If HAYATA lost to El Desperado, he would be stuck at 10 points. There are no tiebreaker scenarios where HAYATA would advance at 10 points.
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Draw Scenario: HAYATA could not advance with a draw. If HAYATA drew with El Desperado, they would both be at an unbreakable tie with 11 points. If they are tied with Blake Christian at 11 points, it is still unbreakable. If they are tied with Titan at 11 points, Titan wins by head-to-head tiebreakers over both. If they are tied with both Blake Christian and Titan at 11 points, Titan wins the block, while HAYATA and Desperado remain in an unbreakable tie for 2nd place.
  • Outside Block Final Match: Blake Christian at 10 points
    • Realistic Outright Win Scenario: To win the block, Blake Christian needs to defeat Kosei Fujita and have the El Desperado-HAYATA match end in a draw.
      • Blake Christian holds the tiebreakers over Clark Connors, Kevin Knight, and Titan. 
      • Blake Christian has already lost to El Desperado, HAYATA, and TJP
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Win Scenario: If Blake Christian defeats Kosei Fujita, TJP defeats Titan, and there is a winner in the El Desperado-HAYATA match, Christian would advance, tied with the Desperado-HAYATA winner at 12 points, but losing the head-to-head tiebreaker.
      • A three-way tie between Christian, Titan, and either Desperado or HAYATA would be unbreakable, and unbreakable tied are not realistic.
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Loss Scenario: Blake Christian could not advance with a loss. If Blake Christian lost, he would be stuck at 10 points. There are no tiebreaker scenarios where Christian would advance at 10 points.
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Draw Scenario: Blake Christian could advance with a draw. If Blake Christian drew with Kosei Fujita, he would both be at 11 points. If Titan drew with TJP and there was a clear winner in the Desperado-HAYATA match, Christian would advance in second place, tied with Titan at 11 points and holding the head-to-head tiebreaker.
      • In a four way tie with Titan, Desperado, and HAYATA, or a three-way tie with Desperado and HAYATA, he would come out last in tiebreakers.
  • Outside Block Final Match: Titan at 10 points
    • Realistic Outright Win Scenario: To win the block, Titan needs to defeat TJP and have Kosei Fujita defeat or draw with Blake Christian
      • Titan holds the tiebreakers over El Desperado, HAYATA, and Kevin Knight 
      • Titan has already lost to Clark Connors and Blake Christian
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Win Scenario: If Titan defeated TJP, Blake Christian defeated Kosei Fujita, and the El Desperado-HAYATA match ended in a draw, Titan would advance, tied with Christian at 12 points but losing the head-to-head tiebreak. 
      • A three-way tie between Titan, Christian, and either Desperado or HAYATA would be unbreakable, and unbreakable tied are not realistic.
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Loss Scenario: Titan could not advance with a loss. If Titan lost, he would be stuck at 10 points. There are no tiebreaker scenarios where Titan would advance at 10 points
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Draw Scenario: Titan could advance with a draw. If Titan drew with TJP, he would be at 11 points. 
      • If Blake Christian drew with Kosei Fujita and the Desperado-HAYATA match ended in a draw, there would be a four-way tie at 11 points, Titan would win the block based on tiebreakers within this group.
      • In a three-way tie for second place at 11 points between Titan, Desperado, and HAYATA, Titan would win based on tiebreakers within this group.
  • Outside Block Final Match: TJP at 8 points
    • Realistic Outright Win Scenario: TJP trails El Desperado and HAYATA by two points. Because Desperado and HAYATA face each other, at least one of them is guaranteed points, and TJP could not catch them.
      • TJP cannot realistically win the block. 
      • TJP holds the tiebreaker over El Desperado, HAYATA, and Blake Christian
      • TJP has already lost to Clark Connors and Kevin Knight
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Win Scenario: If TJP defeats Titan, he wins nearly every tiebreaker scenario at 10 points:
      • A four-way tie between TJP, Titan, Desperado, and Christian
      • A four-way tie between TJP, Titan, HAYATA, and Christian
      • A five-way tie between TJP, Titan, Desperado, Christian, and Connors
      • A five-way tie between TJP, Titan, Desperado, Christian, and Knight
      • A five-way tie between TJP, Titan, HAYATA, Christian, and Knight
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Loss Scenario: TJP could not advance with a loss. If TJP lost to Titan, he would be stuck at 8 points. There are four wrestlers coming into the final night with 10 points.
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Draw Scenario: TJP could not advance with a draw. If TJP drew with Titan, he would be stuck at 9 points. There are four wrestlers coming into the final night with 10 points. 
  • o Outside Block Final Match: Kevin Knight at 8 points
    • Realistic Outright Win Scenario: Kevin Knight trails El Desperado and HAYATA by two points. Because Desperado and HAYATA face each other, at least one of them is guaranteed points, and Knight could not catch them.
      • Kevin Knight cannot realistically win the block.
      • Kevin Knight holds the tiebreaker over Clark Connors, El Desperado, and TJP
      • Kevin Knight has already lost to Blake Christian, HAYATA, and Titan
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Win Scenario: If Kevin Knight defeats BUSHI, he wins both potential six-way ties at 10 points:
      • A six-way tie between Knight, TJP, Titan, Desperado, Christian, and Connors
      • A six-way tie between Knight, TJP, Titan, HAYATA, Christian, and Connors
      • Knight does not prevail through tiebreakers in any four-way or five-way ties at 10 points.
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Loss Scenario: Kevin Knight could not advance with a loss. If Kevin Knight lost to BUSHI, he would be stuck at 8 points. There are four wrestlers coming into the final night with 10 points.
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Draw Scenario: Kevin Knight could not advance with a draw. If Kevin Knight drew with BUSHI, he would be stuck at 9 points. There are four wrestlers coming into the final night with 10 points.
  • o Outside Block Final Match: Clark Connors at 8 points
    • Realistic Outright Win Scenario: Clark Connors trails El Desperado and HAYATA by two points. Because Desperado and HAYATA face each other, at least one of them is guaranteed points, and Connors could not catch them.
      • Clark Connors cannot realistically win the block.
      • Clark Connors holds the tiebreaker over HAYATA, TJP, and Titan
      • Clark Connors has already lost to El Desperado, Blake Christian, and Kevin Knight
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Win Scenario: If Clark Connors defeats Yoshinobu Kanemaru, TJP defeats Titan, Kosei Fujita defeats Blake Christian, and El Desperado defeats HAYATA, there will be a five-way tie between Connors, TJP, Titan, Christian, and HAYATA. Connors would win second place based on tiebreakers within this group.
      • Connors does not prevail through tiebreakers in any other four-way or five-way ties at 10 points.
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Loss Scenario: Clark Connors could not advance with a loss. If Clark Connors lost to Yoshinobu Kanemaru, he would be stuck at 8 points. There are four wrestlers coming into the final night with 10 points.
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Draw Scenario: Clark Connors could not advance with a draw. If Clark Connors drew with Yoshinobu Kanemaru, he would be stuck at 9 points. There are four wrestlers coming into the final night with 10 points

Best of the Super Juniors 31 B-Block

  • In Block Final Match: Taiji Ishimori at 12 points
    • Realistic Outright Win Scenario: To win the block, Taiji Ishimori needs to defeat Hiromu Takahashi
      • Taiji Ishimori holds the tiebreakers over DOUKI and Robbie Eagles. 
      • Taiji Ishimori has not lost to any wrestler relevant on the final night
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Win Scenario: If Taiji Ishimori defeats Hiromu Takahashi he wins the block.
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Loss Scenario: Taiji Ishimori can advance with a loss. If Taiji Ishimori loses to Hiromu Takahashi, Takahashi will win the block and Ishimori will finish in second place with 12 points. He holds the tiebreaker over both DOUKI and Robbie Eagles, so the result of that match is relevant to Ishimori.
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Draw Scenario: Taiji Ishimori can advance with a draw, but not realistically. If Taiji Ishimori drew with Hiromu Takahashi, both would advance, though locked in an unbreakable tie.
  • o In Block Final Match: Hiromu Takahashi at 12 points
    • Realistic Outright Win Scenario: To win the block, Hiromu Takahashi needs to defeat Taiji Ishimori
      • Hiromu Takahashi holds the tiebreakers over Robbie Eagles 
      • Hiromu Takahashi had already lost to DOUKI, but leads him by two points
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Win Scenario: If Hiromu Takahashi defeats Taiji Ishimori he wins the block.
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Loss Scenario: Hiromu Takahashi could advance with a loss. If Hiromu Takahashi loses, and Robbie Eagles defeats DOUKI, Takahashi and Eagles would be tied in second place with 12 points, with Takahashi holding the head-to-head tiebreaker.
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Draw Scenario: Hiromu Takahashi can advance with a draw, but not realistically. If Hiromu Takahashi drew with Taiji Ishimori, both would advance, though locked in an unbreakable tie.
  • In Block Final Match: DOUKI at 12 points
    • Realistic Outright Win Scenario: DOUKI trails Taiji Ishimori and Hiromu Takahashi by two points. Because Ishimori and Takahashi face each other, they are guaranteed 13 points, with DOUKI’s ceiling at 12 points.
      • DOUKI could not realistically win the block. 
      • DOUKI holds the tiebreaker over Hiromu Takahashi
      • DOUKI has already lost to Taiji Ishimori
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Win Scenario: If DOUKI wins and Taiji Ishimori defeats Hiromu Takahashi, DOUKI and Hiromu will tie for second place with 12 points, with DOUKI holding the head-to-head tiebreaker. 
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Loss Scenario: DOUKI could not advance with a loss. If DOUKI lost, he would be stuck at 12 points and would be surpassed by any outcome in the Taiji Ishimori-Hiromu Takahashi match
    • Realistic Outright Advance-with-Draw Scenario: DOUKI could not advance with a draw. If DOUKI drew with Robbie Eagles, both would be stuck at 11 points and would be surpassed by any outcome in the Taiji Ishimori-Hiromu Takahashi match
  • o Outside Block Final Match: Robbie Eagles at 10 points
    • Realistic Outright Win Scenario: Robbie Eagles trails both Hiromu Takahashi and Taiji Ishimori by two points, and has lost to both. He cannot realistically win the block, nor advance.
      • Robbie Eagles does not hold any relevant tiebreakers 
      • Robbie Eagles has already lost to Hiromu Takahashi and Taiji Ishimori




Assorted Best of the Super Juniors 31 Thoughts and Analysis

The 10 Point Clusterfuck at A Block

In the A Block, there are 8 possible scenarios for a multi-man tie at 10 points. A couple notes before we run through them:

  • Because El Desperado and HAYATA face each other on the final night, one of them will get to 12. All 10-point multi-man ties are for second place
  • In fact, we broke the scenarios into two groups: the Despy groups and HAYATA groups
  • Every scenario has Titan and TJP, because if Titan defeats TJP, he gets 12 points. Because the Desperado-HAYATA match guarantees at least 11 points to each, if Titan defeats TJP the 10 point scenarios will not matter.
  • Blake Christian is in every scenario because, like Titan, if he gets to 12 points he will be joining Desperado or HAYATA, and the 10 point scenarios are meaningless.

These are the scenarios:

  • HAYATA Wins Scenarios
    • Titan, TJP, El Desperado, and Blake Christian
      • TJP wins second place, 3-0 in this group
    • Titan, TJP, El Desperado, Blake Christian, and Clark Connors
      • TJP wins second place, 3-1 in this group
    • Titan, TJP, El Desperado, Blake Christian, and Kevin Knight
      • TJP wins second place, 3-1 in this group
    • Titan, TJP, El Desperado, Blake Christian, Clark Connors and Kevin Knight
      • Kevin Knight wins second place, 3-2 in this group with a tiebreaker over TJP, who would also be 3-2 in this group
  • Desperado Wins Scenarios
    • Titan, TJP, HAYATA, and Blake Christian
      • TJP wins second place, 3-0 in this group
    • Titan, TJP, HAYATA, Blake Christian, and Clark Connors
      • Clark Connors wins second place, 3-1 in this group
    • Titan, TJP, HAYATA, Blake Christian, and Kevin Knight
      • TJP wins second place, 3-1 in this group
    • Titan, TJP, HAYATA, Blake Christian, Clark Connors and Kevin Knight
      • Kevin Knight wins second place, 3-2 in this group with a tiebreaker over TJP and Clark Connors, who would both also be 3-2 in this group

And so, despite starting with a four match deficit, TJP has clawed his way back, not only into contention but essentially controlling a large portion of his destiny. A shocking development, of course, totally unforeseen considering how infrequently they run this kind of story in their round robin tournaments…. Or, rather, they run it all the fucking time? I feel like that that deserves to be unpacked.

A Comeback Story Fighting A Block’s Match Order

Once again, we have a comeback story. TJP lost his first four matches, ruminated on his situation, and ran off four wins. He now sits in a prime position. There are eight possible tiebreaker scenarios at 10 points, and TJP wins five of them. This sort of comeback story seems common in these tournaments, and this booking order. You’ll hear it said that Gedo & Co. love this story and run it often. But is that true?

Kind of? They run it fairly often, but not as often as you’d think. It’s just that the ones they run are indelible. And, like many things in this company, they’ll run it enough in a condensed timespan that you lose your taste for it forever. Case in point: there have only been a handful of El Desperado vs. Hiromu Takahashi matches. Eight, in fact, spread out over six years. But right now, you’d rather go sounding with a rusted Pringles can than see that match in the BOSJ 31 Final.

Here are the recent BOSJ and G1 examples of the slow start-hot finish comeback story narrative:

  • Best of the Super Juniors
    • 2016
      • BUSHI loses his first three, then wins his last four. He was mathematically eliminated by the final night, however, but spoiled prospective winner KUSHIDA.
      • KUSHIDA loses his first two, then goes 4-1 over his last five. He is in position to win the block on the final night, but loses to BUSHI.
      • Will Ospreay loses his first two, then goes 4-1 over his last five to make the semi-final and win the tournament.
    • 2017
      • BUSHI, again, loses his first three before winning his last four matches. He has a chance to win the block but loses on tiebreakers.
    • 2019
      • BUSHI, AGAIN, loses his first three, then rattles off six victories. He was technically alive but could not catch the leaders of the block, who were facing each other (Ospreay and Ryusuke Taguchi)
    • 2021
      • YOH, in one of the weird one-block pandemic BOSJ’s, loses his first four and then runs off SEVEN straight wins, advancing to the Final.
    • 2022
      • Hiromu won his first three, then lost three in a row, then won three in a row to make the final and win the tournament. This is a stretch, since he didn’t start at a deficit, but they presented it like a comeback story.
    • 2024
      • TJP loses his first four, then wins his next four.
  • G1 Climax
    • 2010
      • Tetsuya Naito loses his first three, then carried through six straight wins to win A Block
    • 2016
      • Hiroshi Tanahashi starts with three loses, then runs off five wins and a draw to finish out. The draw, against Kazuchika Okada on the final night, famously opens the door for Hirooki Goto to win A block.
    • 2018
      • Kazuchika Okada starts off with two losses, then wins his next six. He draws with Tanahashi the final night, which gives Tanahashi the A Block victory.
    • 2019
      • Kota Ibushi loses his first two, then wins his next SEVEN to win A Block, and win the tournament.
      • Jay White loses his first three, then wins his next six to win B Block
    • 2020
      • SANADA loses his first three, then rattles off six victories to win B Block

So yes, they love this story, but they haven’t done it to the point of absurdity. If you’re looking for absurdity, try the Final-Night-Comback. In that scenario, the final block match involves one wrestler leading the other. As usual, the undercard is a gauntlet of atrocity, as anyone with tiebreakers on the main eventers loses. The final is winner-take-all for the block. In the G1 Climax, this has happened sixteen times since 2009.

The trailing wrestler is 14-1-1. 

14-1-1.

In the BOSJ, this doesn’t occur as much. The trailing wrestler is 3-2 since 2015, though it happened in both 2022 blocks, so a new trend might be firmly established with a TJP victory. In two-advance years (2009-2014, 2021-2022, 2023), they are 1-2. They tend to have a lot of guys even in points on BOSJ final nights, up and down the card.

Even so, TJP has two very solid and historically undergirded narratives overlapping here. He’s one of the strongest bets to win and reach the semi-final. This is simply the way they do things here. Now, all of the scenarios laid out were people winning their block. The wretched, impossibly stupid two-advance-from-one-block system allows all sorts of meaningless drivel, and so TJP is fighting for a spot, not the block. That’s not worthy of a main event, but it’s assuredly the semi-main event, especially against LIJ member Titan.

So then why isn’t TJP in the semi-main event?

The A Block sequence of matches is a bit perplexing. It’s not illogical, just peculiar once you consider the real-time implications of the matches.

Desperado and HAYATA main event, which was expected. It is the only match-up where both wrestlers are sitting at 10 points. And, of course, Desperado adds one more main event to his tally, for an astounding six times out of twelve shows. He main evented half the goddamn tour. The convoluted nature of A Block ascends to the top of the card; this match is not so simple as a winner-take-all, or winner-advances, since the winner faces the possibility of an unbreakable tie with Titan and Blake Christian. That said, we don’t acknowledge unbreakable ties, even if it’s startlingly plausible under the current team. 

It’s the semi-main that’s puzzling. One would have thought it safe to presume Titan v. TJP to inhabit that spot. In fact, once it became apparent that TJP was going to this year’s comeback story, the most steadfast of New Japan tournament narratives, I presumed that Titan-TJP would probably be the main event. I never once considered it would be anywhere below the semi-main, and yet they’ve placed it behind the Blake Christian v. Kosei Fujita match. 

It’s an odd choice, but understandable. If Christian wins, he advances, although that’s a fairly anodyne way to describe a totally fucked situation. Christian advances cleanly so long as Titan loses to TJP. If Titan wins, we’ll find ourselves in an unbreakable three-way tie between Christian, Titan, and the Despy-HAYATA winner. Again, any sane booker would never even consider such a thing… but never forget that the first G1 crafted under this regime had a block end in a fucking coin toss. It’s almost unfathomable how much two-advance sucks. Tangible evidence somehow makes it harder to believe it still exists and projects such putrid, corrosive influence.

In the salad years of the 2010’s, the heyday of the one-advance blocks, they generally followed the same formula: the final block match was winner-take-all, by way of a carefully constructed series of losses earlier in the night. The undercard would be replete with wrestlers that had tie-breakers over a block final main eventer. And, almost always those people lost. In the G1, since 2009, those wrestlers are 27/34: 27 loses, 3 wins which ended up leading to a block win, 1 win which did not end up leading to a block win, and 3 draws of some kind. Yes, it’s formulaic, but there was a charm to things tidily wrapping itself up and clearing out for a winner-take-all main event final.

It appears that they’ve reversed the order here, while maintaining the vital tension. If Fujita-Christian went first, and Christian lost, then TJP vs. Titan would essentially be a winner-take-all to advance, since both Desperado and HAYATA had lost to the two of them. Now, things are switched. That’s an intriguing set-up, for sure, but then, does it really help the story?

The story here is TJP coming back from an 0-4 deficit to run the table and make it to the playoff. By switching the order, TJP’s triumph becomes passive. He has to win and then wait for help, instead of receiving the help first and then assertively grasping his place in the next round. Obviously, that’s a risky concept, since a Christian win would knock him out before he got a chance to assemble his glory. Good thing they decided to fix this dilemma a hundred years ago by fixing the whole fucking thing, so you can control things to not be a big deflating disappointment, the normalcy of life.

Besides just the build, it’s also strange because it takes the weight of the consequences off of TJP and places them squarely upon Blake Christian. I’d presume you’d want to have the critical aspects of a block final night focus on one of your guys, and not a guy that works for another company, and has never worked in Japan for this company prior to this tour. But that is the fundamental dynamic with this match order: TJP can take care of his end of things, but the high stakes moments then shift to Christian. Again, wouldn’t you want to spotlight your guy, as he consummates yet another one of your favorite storytelling routines? Especially after your guy closed out the most recent A Block show with an excellent soliloquy about his struggles against his final night opponent? Titan has TJP’s number, but that has turned out to be another example of a New Japan wrestler in 2023-2024 suggesting better material than what actually plays out.

And that disparity is what makes this so difficult to predict. TJP’s comeback story is so firmly entrenched, with such robust historical precedent, but that precedent usually involves someone closing out a final night to win a block. Third from the top, TJP’s scenario might be a red herring to distract everyone from Titan.

Akira and the B Block Dissolution

Not all tournament injuries are tragic. Certainly, 2021 stands out as one of the most brutal, with Tetsuya Naito missing all but one match. But then, no one lamented the absence of the final three Taka Michinoku matches in 2019. Withdraws can be weird: in 2004, Jushin Liger won A Block then had to withdraw. Ryusuke Taguchi did the same and Prince Devitt had to withdraw right before the tournament began in 2007, and after one match in 2008.

Add Francesco Akira to the canon, as a particularly aggravating and unfortunate entry. Akira fell to a knee injury after his 5th match, the worst possible of all timing for this specific entrant. Akira’s schedule was heavily backloaded. His first five opponents: Dragon Dia, Ninja Mack, KUSHIDA, Taiji Ishimori, and Drilla Moloney. 

His last four: Hiromu Takahashi, DOUKI, Robbie Eagles, and IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion SHO. We missed out on the true blossoming of Francesco Akira, especially on the final night, where he would receive the New Japan auto de fe rite of passage: enduring the indignity of a substantive HOT match. While I don’t think Akira was going to run the table or anything like that (though, for the best of the division, he probably should have), I definitely believe that he would have went 2-2, and certainly was defeating SHO on the final night. Champions don’t win on the final night.

SHO is also a key to understanding what B Block might have been. Whereas these injuries either turn out irrelevant, insignificant, or early enough to be accounted for in the booking, I don’t think that is the case with Akira’s absence.

 For instance, SHO comes into the final night totally eliminated, due to his loss to Taiji Ishimori on May 28th. Technically, SHO has 8 points, and will finish at 10 points with the Akira forfeit. I inferred (and I admit, trying to logically infer these creatively spasmodic motherfuckers right now is an exhausting waste of time) that SHO should have beaten Ishimori to get to 10 points, which would set Akira upo to spoil the champion on the final night.

Instead, SHO, the goddamn champion, as ludicrous a champion that he is, is eliminated. Meanwhile, with that victory Taiji Ishimori is guaranteed a spot in the playoff round. And while I believe that Akira was only beating one of his other three opponents, now all of them received free points, and it seems to have upset the balance of the block. Unless, of course, the plan all along was for B Block to have as little speculative excitement for its final night, essentially a one match show: the Ishimori-Takahashi match, which essentially serves as seeding (unless they do the right thing and push DOUKI through). 

First Night Connections

One cool thing about this tournament is that the first night is directly connected to the final night. Not that these things don’t naturally occur, but this one feels cohesive. 

Titan defeated El Desperado on Night 1, which plays a key role in the A Block final night. Desperado needs Titan to lose or draw in order to win the block, and in all the tiebreaker scenarios, Desperado’s path through the abyss is blocked by the Titan loss. Because of that loss, Desperado basically has to win. There is no way he can make it through at 10 points.

DOUKI and Taiji Ishimori’s match, either due to Francesco Akira’s injury or the braindead disarray of the booking team, provides the only glimpse of outside intrigue in B Block’s final night. Very literally, the only person with a chance to advance besides Ishimori and Takahashi is DOUKI. If DOUKI wins and Takahashi loses, Ishimori wins the block at 14 points, with DOUKI and Takahashi tied for 2nd place with 12 points. DOUKI would move on with that big head-to-head win over Hiromu on Night 2’s awesome Korakuen main event.

Finally, Kevin Knight’s surprise win over TJP is a very subtle, lurking monster in the A Block tiebreaker scenario. While TJP controls almost all of the four-way and five-way tiebreaker situations at 10 points, Kevin Knight controls the six-way tie situations. There are two of them, and Knight wins both. In the six-way that includes El Desperado (Titan, TJP, Despy, Connors, Christian, and Knight), Knight wins with a 3-2 record. One person in that group also has a 3-2 record within the group: TJP. Knight’s Night 1 win would be the difference in advancing. 

Predictions

I’ve never been coy about presenting a full-throated, seemingly prescient set of predictions in these previews…

Buried at the bottom of the massive, dense, impenetrable torrent of words I project. I pretty much predict one block correctly, and the other is an ignominious disaster. Like clockwork. And so, based on my analysis of the final night scenarios in context, and supported by historical research of precedents:

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 31 A Block Prediction

  • Yoshinobu Kanemaru defeats Clark Connors. Connors eliminated.
  • BUSHI defeats Kevin Knight. Knight Eliminated.
  • TJP defeats Titan
  • Kosei Fujita defeats Blake Christian
  • El Desperado defeats HAYATA

El Desperado wins the A block at 12 points.

TJP advances in second place, tied with Titan, Blake Christian, and HAYATA at 10 points, and advancing with a 3-0 record within that tiebreaker group.

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 31 B Block Prediction

  • Robbie Eagles defeats DOUKI. DOUKI eliminated.
  • Hiromu Takahashi defeats Taiji Ishimori.

Hiromu Takahashi wins the B Block at 14 points

Taiji Ishimori advances in second place, tied with Robbie Eagles at 12 points and holding the head-to-head tiebreaker.

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