By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Best of Super Juniors Night Three”
May 18, 2022 in Miyagi, Japan at Sendai Sunplaza Hall
Streamed live on New Japan World
This year’s field features two blocks, each with ten wrestlers. This is a round-robin tournament, so everyone will have nine singles matches in this two-week event. (Some nights, there will be 10 tournament matches, and other nights, there will be five tournament matches and a handful of non-tournament matches.) The winner of each block will then meet in the finals on June 3. This event features five A Block matches.
Kevin Kelly provided commentary solo. His voice is much easier to understand tonight and less muffled by his mask.
1. Tiger Mask and Yuto Nakashima defeated Kosei Fujita and Ryohei Oiwa at 8:07. Kelly acknowledged that Oiwa is the top of the three Young Lions. Tiger Mask tied Oiwa in a Camel Clutch. Tiger Mask hit a Tiger Driver/sit-out powerbomb on Fujita to score the pin. Basic stuff.
2. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Jado, and Master Wato defeated El Phantasmo, Dick Togo, and Gedo at 9:44. Lots of stalling as none of the heels wanted to start. Tenzan hit a Mongolian Chop on ELP. The heels worked over Jado. Wato entered and traded good offense with Phantasmo. Wato tied up Gedo’s head in a submission hold on the mat, and Gedo tapped out. Very basic.
3. Robbie Eagles, Titan, and Wheeler Yuta defeated Douki, Taka Michinoku, and El Desperado at 8:10. Kelly played up that the Suzuk-Gun faction is still not getting along. Desperado and Titan opened with some hard chops. Douki choked Wheeler on the floor. In the ring. Wheeler hit a top-rope flying clothesline on Douki at 5:00. Taka applied a crossface on Wheeler. However, Yuta hit an enzuigiri, a series of elbow shots to the head, and got a rollup on Taka for the pin.
4. Yoh (2) defeated Clark Connors (0) in a BOSJ match at 12:18. The crowd was hot at the bell, and they traded mat holds early, and Connors applied a Full Nelson at 4:30. Yoh escaped and hit a dropkick. Connors nailed The Pounce at 7:30. The crowd was really hot for this action. Yoh hit a dragon screw leg whip in the ropes. Connors nailed a spear, and they were both down. Yoh went to work on the injured leg, applying a grapevine on the mat. Yoh hit a neckbreaker over his knee at 11:30, then a pair of superkicks to the jaw. Yoh hit a double-arm spinning faceplant to score the pin. Yoh gets his first points while Connors starts 0-2.
5. Ace Austin (4) vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (0) in a BOSJ match at 11:09. Ace wore his Impact X Division title belt to the ring. Kanemaru attacked him before the bell. Kanemaru hit a running kick to Ace’s head on the floor, and he brought Ace into the ring and grounded him on the mat. Ace hit a dropkick at 6:00 and did his paper cut spot between the left fingers. Ace nailed the Fosbury Flop dive to the floor at 8:00. In the ring, Kanemaru hit a tornado DDT, then a top-rope moonsault for a nearfall. Ace hit a faceplant using his knees to get a nearfall at 10:30, then a spin kick to the jaw. Ace then hit The Fold/flipping faceplant for the pin. Good start to this tournament for Ace.
6. Alex Zayne (4) defeated Sho (0) in a BOSJ match at 12:09. They immediately brawled on the floor; the bell sounded seconds after they started brawling. (What happened to waiting for both men to be in the ring?) Zayne hit a huracanrana on the floor. Sho hit a chairshot to the side/back, and he took control of the match, keeping Zayne grounded on the mat. Zayne nailed a clothesline at 6:30 and they were both down. Zayne nailed his summersault kick to the back of the head; they were both down and the crowd became energized.
Sho speared Zayne, who came back and went for his top-rope corkscrew splash, but Sho got his knees up at 10:00. Dick Togo came to ringside to distract the ref, and Sho got his wrench. However, Zayne avoided a wrench shot and hit a jumping knee to the chest. Sho applied a Divorce Court armbreaker on the mat, but Zayne reached the ropes at 11:30. Zayne hit a pumphandle powerbomb move for the pin. Really good match.
7. Taiji Ishimori (4) defeated Ryusuke Taguchi (0) in a BOSJ match at 12:16. They traded mat reversals. Taguchi went for a flying butt attack, but Ishimori blocked it. They fought on the floor and Ishimori crotched Taguchi around a ring post at 3:30, allowing Ishimori to take control in the ring. Taguchi hit a plancha to the floor at 6:30, and they were both down at ringside.
In the ring, Taguchi hit a flying butt attack and three snap suplexes, then a running butt attack for a nearfall. Ishimori hit a flying double knees in the corner, and he applied a crossface on the mat, but Taguchi reached the ropes at 9:30. Taguchi hit an enziguri, and he applied an ankle lock. They traded rollups. For some unknown reason, Taguchi pulled down his green pants to reveal his red underwear, then he pulled those down in back; Ishimori got a rollup for the pin. I am not amused by Taguchi’s antics.
8. Hiromu Takahashi (4) vs. Francesco Akira (2) in a BOSJ match at 17:04. It’s worth reiterating both men had a day off on Tuesday leading into this match. They immediately traded stiff forearms. Akira hit a huracanrana on the floor, then a plancha. In the ring, Akira hit a top-rope crossbody block for a nearfall at 1:30, and they are moving at a fast pace. Akira hit a basement dropkick to the back of the head for a nearfall, and he applied a headscissors-leglock on the mat at 3:30, but Hiromu reached the ropes.
Hiromu hit a huracanrana, and they were both down. Hiromu nailed a running dropkick from the ring apron to the floor at 6:00. In the ring, Hiromu nailed a sit-out powerbomb for a nearfall. Hiromu nailed a wheelbarrow suplex for a nearfall at 9:00. The crowd is really hot as both men were down. They traded hard chops and forearm shots. Akira hit a shotgun dropkick in the corner; Hiromu hit a mid-ring dropkick and a Death Valley Driver into the corner turnbuckles at 12:00.
Akira got a jackknife cover for a nearfall, then a Poison Rana and a swinging faceplant for a believable nearfall. Hiromu avoided a double knees shot to the back of the head, and he hit a faceplant for a nearfall. Hiromu nailed a clothesline at 15:30; both men were down and the crowd i really making a lot of noise for them. Hiromu hit another clothesline for a nearfall. “What a match!” Kelly exclaimed. Takahashi then nailed his Timebomb 2 side slam for the pin.
Kelly marveled that this was Akira’s first-ever New Japan main event match. Hiromu spoke on the mic after the match but we don’t have Chris Charlton to provide translation tonight.
Final Thoughts: That was an absolutely fantastic main event and best match of the first three nights of the tournament. While I never fully believed Akira would win, he sure brought the fight to Hiromu. I hadn’t seen Akira wrestle before this week, but count me as a believer.
I will give Zayne-Sho second-best of the night, with Connors-Yoh at third. I am optimistic about how the new, fresh faces (Austin, Zayne) are off to a good start, while aging veterans that generally don’t interest me (Taguchi, Kanemaru) are struggling and are rightfully putting over the new talent.
The show clocked in at about two-and-a-half hours. The B Block is back in action on Thursday.