By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Best of Super Juniors – Night Ten”
May 28, 2022 in Chiba, Japan at Makuhari Messe International Conference 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. There are ten tournament matches on this event.
Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton provided commentary. They made clear several times it was hot and muggy in the building. This is the massive conference center that appears six stories tall. There is only seating on the floor, with perhaps 1,500 fans.
1. Francesco Akira (6) defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru (4) in a BOSJ A Block match at 10:39. I am still stunned that Will Ospreay’s hand-picked star (Akira) is sitting at 2-4; he has to win here, right? Kanemaru attacked at the bell and he hit a dropkick on the knee and he dominated early. Kanemaru tied the legs around the ring post at 4:00, and he kept focused on the left knee. Akira hit his roll-through into a double stomp on the chest, and they were both down.
Akira picked him up for a suplex, but hit a faceplant instead. Kanemaru fired back with another basement dropkick on the knee, and he applied a half-crab at 8:00, but Akira reached the ropes. Kanemaru hit a Slop Drop DDT for a nearfall. Kanemaru leapt off the ropes, but Akira caught him with a dropkick. Akira hit a German Suplex with a bridge for a nearfall. Akira missed his running knees to the back of the head. They traded rollups. Akira hit a DDT for a nearfall. Akira nailed the Fireball running knees to the back of the head for the pin. Solid match. A rare match in this tournament without a single dive to the floor.
2. Taiji Ishimori (10) defeated Clark Connors (6) in a BOSJ B Block match at 8:46. The announcers talked about how the Ishimori vs. Ace Austin match should have been a double pin/draw on Thursday. Ishimori shouted in English that Connors “you are no junior heavyweight.” Connors hit a shoulder tackle, and he gave Ishimori a hip toss across the ring. Connors is believably at the 100 kilogram/220 pound cut-off. Connors picked him up for a Gorillas Press. The brawled to the floor, and Ishimori gave Connors a catapult into the ring post at 3:00.
Back in the ring, Ishimori went to work on Connors’ injured left upper arm and shoulder; Connors has a wrap on his elbow. Connors went for the spear, Ishimori sidestepped it, and Connors crashed into the corner at 6:00. Ishimori immediately hit a shoulderbreaker over his knee. Ishimori went for the Bonelock STF, but Connors quickly reached the ropes. Connors hit a snap German Suplex, then a spear for a believable nearfall. Connors hit a powerslam. Ishimori went back to the Bonelock; Connors tried to reach the ropes, but Ishimori pulled him back to the center of the ring, and Connors tapped out. Good match, but once again, no dives to the floor.
3. Titan (4) defeated Bushi (6) in a BOSJ B Block match at 8:43. Bushi attacked from behind. The announcers talked about how Titan, now that he’s eliminated, is dangerous because he has nothing to lose. Titan hit a dive through the ropes to the floor. Bushi hit a basement dropkick on the knee, and he choked Titan with a shirt. Bushi loosened Titan’s mask at 2:30. Titan hit a flip dive to the floor. In the ring, Titan hit a shoulderbreaker over his knee for a nearfall. Titan hit a superkick. Bushi hit a dropkick at 7:00, then a swinging neckbreaker for a nearfall.
Titan nailed a tornado DDT. He put Bushi on his shoulders and flipped him forward for a Go To Sleep type move. Titan nailed a springboard double stomp to the chest for the pin. Good match, and best so far. Charlton said that at 3-4, Bushi is on the verge of being eliminated.
4. Ryusuke Taguchi (4) defeated Yoh (6) in a BOSJ A Block match at 8:09. Mat reversals to open. Taguchi hit an axe kick to the back of the head at 2:00. Taguchi hit a dragon screw leg whip and a handspring-back-butt splash at 5:00. Yoh applied a leglock, but Taguchi reversed it and applied an ankle lock. Yoh hit two consecutive German Suplexes. They traded rollups for believable nearfalls. Taguchi yanked down his green pants (why??) to show off his lime green underwear. Taguchi hit a huracanrana, with his butt now hanging out, to score the pin. Subpar match, even before the comedy at the end.
5. Sho (8) defeated Ace Austin (10) in a BOSJ A Block match at 7:29. Sho hit him in the face with a cane before the bell. The announcers talked about how Ace had the most points, at 5-1, entering this match. They immediately fought to the floor, and Sho slammed Ace into a cement wall. Sho grabbed the Best of Super Juniors tournament and teased throwing it or using it as a weapon. Ace re-entered teh ring at 4:00 to avoid a countout. Ace nailed his punt kick to the chest from the ring apron, then he nailed the Fosbury Flop to the floor.
Ace hit his modified Pedigree. He went for The Fold flipping faceplant, but Sho caught him and threw Ace onto the ref. Sho grabbed his wrench and nailed Austin with it. Sho called for another ref to come to the ring, and the new ref counted a nearfall at 7:00. Sho applied a Triangle Choke, and Austin passed out. A cheap win for Sho, and this doesn’t hurt Ace at all. Also, Ace’s finisher is still protected, as no one has kicked out of it yet during this tournament.
6. Wheeler Yuta (8) defeated Master Wato (4) in a BOSJ B Block match at 7:58. Standing switches to start. Wato hit a huracanrana and spin kicks to the legs and chest. Yuta grabbed Wato’s arm and yanked on it as he jumped from the corner to the mat, and Charlton said that “was a little bit of Regal coming out of him.” Wheeler began to work over the damaged left arm. Wato nailed a flip dive to teh floor at 4:00, but he’s selling that arm injury. In the ring, Wato hit a top-rope flying elbow for a nearfall.
They traded rollups and Wato nailed a German Suplex for a believable nearfall at 7:00. Wato missed a top-rope corkscrew press. Yuta nailed an Angle Slam for a nearfall, then he hit his repeated elbow shots to the side of the head, trapped both arms, rolled Wato over, and got the pin. Good match. As Wheeler walked to the back, he told the camera, “I still got a shot. It’s not all up to me, but I still got a shot.”
7. El Phantasmo (10) defeated TJP (6) in a BOSJ B Block match at 11:12. Charlton said ELP suffered a broken nose in his match against Robbie Eagles two days ago. This is heel-heel but the crowd is hot; Phantasmo has a great way of getting fans to cheer while still being a jerk. Good mat reversals to open and a standoff at 2:30. They traded headscissorlock moves; this is intense but slow early. TJP did a headstand in the corner; as ELP came over to him, TJP hit a huracanrana. Phantasmo nailed a suplex onto the thin mat on the floor at 5:00, and they were both down.
In the ring, Phantasmo hit a delayed vertical suplex for a nearfall, then a double-knee gutbuster for a nearfall. Phantasmo tried to walk the top rope, but TJP kicked the rope and ELP crashed. TJP hit a tornado DDT for a nearfall at 8:00. TJP applied a mid-ring Octopus submission hold, then a jackknife rollup for a nearfall. ELP hit an enzuigri, and they were both down. TJP nailed a second-rope flying back elbow. TJP applied the STF submission hold on the mat. They traded rollups. Phantasmo hit his modified Styles Clash for the pin out of nowhere. Good match, and really good heel-heel match. The announcers agreed that TJP is virtually eliminated.
8. Robbie Eagles (8) defeated El Lindaman (8) in a BOSJ B Block match at 10:00 even. Charlton warned of a letdown for Eagles after his big, emotional main event win two days ago. Quick reversals to open with Eagles hitting a basement dropkick to the head. Lindaman hit a neckbreaker out of the corner for a nearfall at 3:00. Eagles hit a huracanrana and several Yes Kicks to the chest. Lindaman hit a short-arm DDT and they were both down at 6:00. They began trading stiff forearms. Eagles hit his mid-ring Sliced Bread for a nearfall at 7:30.
Lindaman nailed a T-Bone suplex into the corner, and they were both down. This has been really good. They traded quick reversals and blocked each other’s big moves. Eagles nailed the Turbo Backpack for a beievable nearfall, and he immediately applied the Ron Miller Special leg lock, and Lindaman immediately tapped out. Easily best match of the show so far, and I wish that had gone longer. Eagles walked over to Kevin Kelly and said his match with Desperado on Sunday is personal to him because he lost his belt to Desperado.
9. Hiromu Takahashi (8) defeated Alex Zayne (8) in a BOSJ A Block match at 13:32. I can’t see Hiromu losing here, because that would eliminate him far too early. Quick reversals at the bell. This is a first-time-ever matchup. Zayne hit his summersault legdrop on the ring apron, then his slingshot senton into the ring, followed by his corkscrew senton for a nearfall. Zayne kicked at Hiromu’s damaged left knee that has caused three straight losses. Hiromu hit a huracanrana, then a basement dropkick to the head. Hiromu nailed the shotgun dropkick from the apron the floor at 5:00.
Back in the ring, Hiromu hit another shotgun dropkick for a nearfall. Zayne nailed his forward roll-into-a-huracanrana from the corner, and they were down at 7:30. Hiromu nailed a superkick, then he nailed the Sunset Bomb from the ring apron, sending Zayne crashing into the thin mat on the floor. OUCH! Both men were down and barely got back in before the countout. Zayne nailed a standing powerbomb for a believable nearfall at 9:30. This has been really good. Hiromu hit a faceplant and they were both down.
Hiromu nailed a clothesline for a nearfall, then a superkick at 11:30. Zayne hit his Baja Blast spinning faceplant, and they were both down, and the crowd is hot. Hiromu nailed a superkick. Zayne hit a running knee to the chest. Hiromu applied a Triangle Choke move on the mat, but Zayne powered out. HIromu hit a stunner and again applied the Triangle Choke, and this time, Zayne tapped out. Very good match.
10. El Desperado (10) defeated Douki (6) in a BOSJ B Block match at 21:50. These stable mates had been jawing at each other in recent weeks, and earlier in this tournament weren’t “on the same page” in non-tournament bouts. Taichi joined the Japanese commentary table to see his teammates have this match. They argued and immediately began trading stiff forearm shots. Douki hit a Rude Awakening neckbreaker, and Desperado rolled to the floor They brawled on the floor. In the ring, Douki slowed him down with a cravat on the mat and worked the neck.
Douki hit a running neckbreaker at 6:00, and they brawled again to the floor. Douki hit a DDT on the floor mat. Desperado dove through the ropes and crashed onto Douki, and they were both down. Desperado hit a bodyslam onto the thin mat. Douki dove back into the ring at the 19-count at 8:30. In the ring, Desperado hit a belly-to-back suplex for a nearfall, then a dragon screw leg whip out of the corner. Desperado tied up the legs in an Indian Deathlock; Douki reached the ropes at 11:00. Desperado applied the Stretch Muffler, wrapping Douki’s leg behind Desperado’s neck.
Douki went for a move but his knee buckled. Douki hit a top-rope missile dropkick but sold the pain in his knee. Douki hit a leaping DDT for a nearfall at 13:00. Douki applied his modified Triangle Choke. Desperado hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a believable nearfall at 14:30, and they were both down. Desperado went for the Stretch Muffler again, but Douki fought out of it. They traded stiff forearms and some of these sounded sick. Desperado went for the Angel’s Wings, but Douki fought out and again applied the modified Triangle Choke at 17:00. However, Desperado eventually reached the ropes.
Douki dove through the ropes and hit a tornado DDT, with Desperado’s head hitting the hard cement floor. It sounded ugly. Douki dragged Desperado back into the ring. Douki hit the slingshot DDT for a nearfall at 20:00. Douki went back to the Triangle Choke. Desperado escaped and applied the Stretch Muffler, while also cranking on Douki’s arms, and Douki submitted. Good match.
Desperado got on the mic and asked for a show of hands from people who thought Douki would win. He told Douki to look at all the people who believed he would win. Every match has been tough and grueling, but he lives for this, but he vowed to win the tournament.
Final Thoughts: Best match goes to Hiromu-Zayne, and that could have been last. I’ll give second-best to Eagles-Lindaman, just ahead of the heel matchup between Phantasmo and TJP for third place. Nothing wrong with the main event, and it deserves honorable mention for fourth-best, but Desperado wasn’t going to lose that one.
I don’t want to say anything was bad, but none of the matches in the first half of the show were really above average. After three hot, hot, hot show at Koakuen Hall, this event didn’t reach the level of those events.
The show lasted just over three hours. The tournament continues on Sunday.