By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Best of Super Juniors Night Seven”
May 24, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen 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. Beginning with this show, there are ten tournament matches for the next five events.
Kevin Kelly was back on commentary and joined by the incredible Chris Charlton, who can help provide Japanese translation. They once again pointed out there are no guardrails at ringside, allowing high-flyers to do moves safely to the floor. If this isn’t a sellout, it is pretty close to it. (Kelly would later say 1,300 fans in attendance.)
1. Alex Zayne (4) defeated Francesco Akira (2) in a BOSJ A Block match at 10:53. Quick reversals to open. Zayne hit his summersault leg drop to the back of the head at 5:00, then a spin kick to the head. Akira hit a second-rope Spanish Fly for a nearfall, and they were both down. Zayne blocked a Poison Rana and hit a knee strike. Akira hit the Poison Rana at 8:00, and they were both down again. This crowd is hot, and this is a really good opener so far.
Akira hit an Asai moonsault to the floor. In the ring, Akira hit a huracanrana off the ropes and got a rollup for a nearfall. Zayne hit a spinning faceplant, then the Taco Driver/pump-handle Michinoku Driver for the pin. Fantastic opener, and Zayne needed this win to stay within hunting distance in the tournament.
2. Titan (2) defeated TJP (2) in a BOSJ B Block match at 13:52. Quick reversals and a standoff. TJP tied up the legs, and Titan reached the ropes. TJP ripped at Titan’s mask. Titan nailed a flip dive to the floor at 6:30 and nearly landed in the front row of fans. In the ring, Titan applied a Divorce Court armbreaker. They traded hard chops, and TJP nailed a spin kick to the face, then he dropped Titan throat-first on the top rope at 9:00.
TJP nailed a top-rope superplex, then a swinging reverse DDT for a nearfall. TJP went for a top-rope move but Titan got his knees up. They traded rollups. TJP applied an STF, but Titan reached the ropes at 12:00. Titan hit a kick to the head that sent TJP to the floor. Titan then nailed a top-rope double stomp onto TJP’s chest on the floor. Ouch! Titan got TJP in the ring, nailed a top-rope double stomp to the back, and got the pin. Another really good match, but with both at 1-3, they are really underdogs in the tournament.
3. Clark Connors (2) defeated Ryusuke Taguchi (2) in a BOSJ A Block match at 8:25. Kelly and Charlton wondered if Taguchi was going to focus on “butt stuff” humor or play it straight. They opened with mat reversals. Taguch hit his running butt attacks to Connor’s head, then a springboard butt attack at 2:00. They switch to humor with Taguchi headbutting Connors’ butt and getting knocked silly; apparently Connors has a butt of steel, too. Connors then hit a running butt attack. The crowd is enjoying this humor. Charlton said this is Taguchi’s 91st singles match in Korakuen Hall, which is amazing.
Connors hit another mid-ring flying butt attack, and they were both down at 5:30. This is getting repetitive but the crowd is enjoying this silliness. Their butts finally collided and hurt them both. Connors went for a spear but Taguchi avoided it and applied an anklelock. Connors hit the spear at 8:00, then a powerslam. Connors then nailed his powerbomb for the pin. Like the prior match, both men now sit at 1-3 and have a serious uphill climb to get back into the running.
4. Wheeler Yuta (4) defeated Bushi (4) in a BOSJ B Block match at 8:05. Yuta hit a senton early on for a nearfall. Bushi hit a basement dropkick on Yuta’s left knee, and he choked Yuta with his shirt. Yuta hit a dropkick that sent Bushi to the floor at 3:30. Yuta then nailed a dive through the ropes. Back in the ring, Yuta hit his clothesline in the corner. He went for the Cattle Mutilation, but Bushi scrambled to reach the ropes. Bushi hit a DDT. Yuta hit an enzuigiri, and they were both down at 6:00. Wheeler hit a nice German Suplex for a nearfall, then he applied the Cattle Mutilation submission hold, but Bushi again reached the ropes. Wheeler started hitting the repeated elbows to the side of the head, turned him over and got a rollup for the pin. That came out of nowhere, and Yuta dominated this match.
5. Ace Austin (6) defeated Yoh (4) in a BOSJ A Block match at 7:21. Ace gave Yoh a paper cut, and he hit his punt kick on the ring apron. Ace hit the Fosbury Flop to the floor at 3:30. Yoh tied him up with a leglock on the mat. Yoh hit a German suplex with a bridge for a nearfall, and they were both down at 6:00. Austin hit The Fold/flipping faceplant to score the win. That was fast, and just like the prior match, Austin dominated.
6. Douki (4) defeated El Phantasmo (6) in a BOSJ B Block match at 6:36. Quick reversals to open, and Douki hit a huracanrana in the ring, then a tornado DDT to the floor. In a cool spot, Douki went into the stands, and leapt over Kelly at the announcer table, and hit a crossbody block on the floor; Phantasmo barely made it back in the ring before being counted out. They got back in the ring, but Phantasmo tossed him to the floor at 3:00, then hit an awesome moonsault to the floor. Great action early on here.
In the ring, Phantasmo put Douki on his shoulders and did an airplane spin before hitting a Death Valley Driver for a nearfall at 5:30. Douki avoided a superkick and hit an enzuigiri, and they were both down. Douki went for a springboard move but awkwardly landed on the mat. When Phantasmo bent over to pick him up,, Douki grabbed him, got an inside cradle and the shocking pin. The announcers agreed that Douki “botched the move on purpose” to sucker Phantasmo in.
7. Master Wato defeated (2) defeated Robbie Eagles (4) in a BOSJ B Block match at 11:38. They immediately clubbed each other with forearm shots and spin kicks. Eagles hit a hard spin kick to the chest at 2:00, then a basement dropkick to the face for a nearfall, and he dominated early. Eagles hit some Yes Kicks to the chest. Wato fired back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker over his knee and a dropkick, sending Eagles to the floor. Wato hit a corkscrew press to the floor, but he barely grazed Eagles before crashing on the wood. In the ring, Wato hit a top-rope flying elbow for a nearfall.
Eagles clipped the knee and hit a running forearm to the back of the head, then a running double knees in the corner for a nearfall at 6:00. They traded rollups. Eagles hit another springboard dropkick to the knee. Eagles applied the Ron Miller Special leg lock, which is essentially a reverse Figure Four leg lock. Wato reached the ropes at 9:30. Wato fired back with a German Suplex with a bridge for a believable nearfall. Eagles hit a series of kicks to the head. Wato avoided a Turbo Backpack, got a jackknife cover, and scored his first pin of the tournament.
8. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (2) vs. Hiromu Takahashi (6) in a BOSJ A Block match at 7:15. Before this starts, I’m calling a Kanemaru upset via cheating. Kanemaru attacked before the bell. Hiromu hit a Death Valley Driver into a turnbuckle. Kanemaru hit a basement dropkick on the knee, and he applied a Figure Four leglock. They went to the floor, where Kanemaru dropped Hiromu’s knee on an open chair at 4:30. Back in the ring, Kanemaru applied a Figure Four leglock and he’s been in total control of the match. Suddenly, Hiromu tapped out from the pain, and I’m in shock. I called the win, but Kanemaru dominated without cheating to directly lead to the win.
9. Taiji Ishimori (8) defeated Sho (2) in a BOSJ A Block match at 11:33. This is a heel vs. heel match, with Sho’s House of Torture and Ishimori’s Bullet Club loosely aligned. Ishimori opened with a series of eye-pokes, so Sho did his own eye-pokes. Sho hit him with the wooden mallet used to ring the bell. They traded arm holds on the mat. In a fun spot, they took turns shoving the ref at 7:30 in an attempt to get an advantage to cheat.
Ishimori did the “Eddie spot,” where he tossed his title belt into Sho’s hands and pretended like he had been hit. Ishimori got a rollup with his feet on the ropes, but the ref saw it at 10:00. Sho nailed a hard German Suplex. Sho got his wrench, but Ishimori kicked it out of his hand. Ishimori again did the “Eddie spot!” Ishimori then nailed Sho with the title belt to score the tainted pin. Ishimori remains undefeated, while Sho is in big trouble at 1-3. As heel vs. heel, this didn’t have great heat, but I prefer that neither of them tried to be babyface for the match.
10. El Lindaman (6) defeated El Desperado (6) in a BOSJ B Block match at 15:16. Lindaman hit a flip dive to the floor to jumpstart the match. Desperado caught him with a hard spinebuster at 4:00. They fought on the floor and Desperado dropped him headfirst on the ring apron. Desperado then nailed a dive through the ropes, with both of them winding up in the fans. Lindaman hit a T-Bone suplex into the turnbuckles at 8:30, and they were both down.
Lindaman applied a Divorce Court armbreaker, but Desperado reached the ropes at 10:30. Desperado applied the Stretch Muffler, wrapping Lindaman’s knee behind Desperado’s neck. Desperado hit an Angle Slam for a nearfall at 13:00. This has been really good. Lindaman nailed a German Suplex with a bridge for a nearfall. He went for a Tiger Suplex, but Desperado escaped. Lindaman twice avoided a One Winged Angel. He nailed a snap German Suplex, then the Tiger Suplex, to score the clean pin. The crowd loudly applauded the win. “I don’t even know if we can call that an upset!” Kelly exclaimed.
Lindaman got on the mic and talked about the victory. He said he’s the happiest guy in Japan right now. He noted this event was free on New Japan World, so new fans are seeing him and how great the super juniors are. (I feel I must reiterate how awesome Charlton is in providing the translation here. Lindaman spoke a long time.)
Final Thoughts: That main event was fantastic and wins best match of the show. They did a great job of establishing that Desperado knew the Tiger Suplex was lethal, and he tried his best to avoid it. There were two other spots that stood out on this show: Titan’s double stomp from the top rope onto TJP’s chest (and I’ll give that second-best match), and Douki launching himself over Kevin Kelly into a crossbody block. I’ll give third-best match to the very good Zayne-Akira match that opened the show.
Every wrestler has now won at least one match. I fully expected Kanemaru to win (while I’m not a fan, I couldn’t see him starting 0-4), I was stunned at his total and complete domination over Hiromu, who seriously got nothing in; he was attacked at the start and the beatdown was relentless.
With several matches finishing in under 10 minutes, the show clocked in at just under three hours. The tournament continues with another show on Wednesday.