By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Best of the Super Juniors tournament”
May 24, 2023 in Osaka, Japan at Edion Arena
Streamed on New Japan World
Kevin Kelly provided solo commentary as the show began; TJP is slated to join him later. This is a gym and the second consecutive night in this venue.
BoSJ is a 20-man tournament, with 10 wrestlers in each Block in a round-robin tournament, spread out over 12 shows in an 18-day span. So, each wrestler will have nine matches within their block. From there, we have a “final four” this year. The A Block winner will face the second-place finisher of the B Block, and the B Block winner will finish the second-place finisher of the A Block. Those winners head to the finals. Each win is worth two points. A draw is worth one each.
This is the FINAL night of Block action, with five tournament matches from the B Block. The A Block wrapped up on Tuesday, with Mike Bailey (7-2, 14 points) defeating Lio Rush (6-3, 12 points) to lock down the #1 seed. In a shocker, Titan (6-3, 12 poiints) got Hiromu Takahashi (6-3, 12 points) to tap out to the Muta Lock to earn the #2 seed. Titan defeated both Rush and Takahashi, so he advanced via tiebreaker. To the show!
1. Mike Bailey and Oskar Leube defeated Lio Rush and Yuto Nakashima at 6:21. Yuto and Bailey started and immediately traded kicks. Lio and Oskar entered at 1:00 and Leube just towers over him. Lio dove between the ropes on both opponents at 4:00. Lio and Bailey traded some fast offense in the ring, with Lio dropping Mike after a spin kick to the head, and they were both down. Leube and Yuto entered and traded forearm shots. Oskar hit a powerslam for a nearfall. Bailey hit his triangle moonsault to the floor. In the ring, Oskar slammed Yuto for the pin out of nowhere.
2. “House of Torture” EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi, and Sho defeated “Just 5 Guys” Taichi, Douki, and Taka Michinoku at 7:12. Douki hit a dive onto Sho as Sho walked to ringside to kickstart the match; those two brawled on the floor and over to the gym walls. Back in the ring, the HoT kept Douki in their corner. Taichi entered and hit some Kawada Kicks on Yujiro. Taka entered at 6:00 and tried to bodyslam EVIL, but he couldn’t get the bigger man up. Taka hit a running knee on EVIL for a nearfall and went to his modified STF and cranked back on EVIL’s head. However, EVIL hit the Everything is EVIL uranage on Taka for the pin. Exactly as how you would have imagined this one would play out.
* Douki and Sho kept brawling after the bell, and they left the gym and down a hallway, where Douki threw Sho into a giant garbage dumpster.
3. “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Titan and Hiromu Takahashi defeated Ryusuke Taguchi and Kushida at 5:55. Hiromu pulled out a chair at ringside and told Titan to sit down; this is some comedy, as Hiromu apparently wants to do this on his own. Hiromu entered the ring and hit some chops on both opponents, who both no-sold everything Hiromu did. More comedy stuff with Taguchi unaware he was twisting Kushida’s arm because Taguchi was turned to the crowd.
Taguchi and Kushida kept Hiromu in their corner. Titan, who was still seated at ringside, hopped onto the ring apron and made the hot tag at 4:30. Titan started to apply a Muta Lock on Taguchi, but Hiromu made the save. Titan hit his springboard doublestomp to Taguchi’s chest for the pin. Adequate.
4. Bushi (4) defeated Francesco Akira (8) in a B Block match at 8:42. Akira hit a plancha to the floor just seconds into the match, and they brawled on the floor. In the ring, Bushi went for a leglock, but Akira scrambled to the ropes at 2:00. Bushi kept Akira tied up on the mat. Akira hit a top-rope crossbody block for a nearfall at 5:00, then a snap German Suplex for a nearfall. Bushi hit a dropkick on the knee, then a Lungblower to the chest for a nearfall.
Bushi came off the second rope, but Akira caught him with a superkick. Akira set up for the Fireball, but he clutched at his sore knee and didn’t hit it. Bushi hit another dropkick on the knee and applied a leglock; he rolled Akira to the center of the ring, and Akira tapped out. Good match.
5. Dan Moloney (8) defeated Clark Connors (8) in a B Block match at 8:29. They immediately brawled on the entrance ramp and brawled through the crowd. They walked near the gym walls; Kelly pointed out that the match hasn’t officially started but I started my stopwatch at first contact. TJP said Moloney is a “classic wild man” who is fun to go with to the bars. Connors slammed Moloney’s head on the ring bell at ringside at 2:30. Connors tossed a bench at Moloney; Moloney threw it back at him. Back at ringside, Connors slammed Moloney’s head into the ring post, and they entered at about 4:00 even to officially begin the match… the bell rang, and they rolled right back to the floor, where Connors hit a snap suplex on the thin mat.
In the ring, Moloney hit a fisherman’s buster for a nearfall at 6:00. Connors hit a powerslam, then a spear. Moloney strugged to get to his feet; Connors immediately hit a second spear. They brawled, flipping over the top rope to the floor again. Moloney hit a spear on the floor and immediately jumped in the ring, just before the ref counted to 20. That was a very quick 20-count. Again, the “official time” is about 4:30 from when the bell rang to begin the match. That was one heckuva brawl.
6. Master Wato (14) defeated Kevin Knight (6) in a B Block match at 9:31. Quick reversals at the bell, with Knight really able to show his leaping ability. They switched to forearm shots. Knight hit a plancha to the floor at 1:30. In the ring, Knight hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker over his knee for a nearfall. Wato hit a leg lariat at 4:00, then a flip dive to the floor. In the ring, Wato applied the Vendival head submission hold, but Knight got his feet on the ropes at 6:00. Knight hit his picture-perfect dropkick and they were both down.
Knight hit his leaping splash for a nearfall, a superkick and the D’Lo Sky High for a nearfall at 8:30. Wato hit a spin kick. Knight hit a springboard crossbody block for a nearfall. Knight went for his leaping DDT, but Wato caught him and hit his German Suplex with a bridge for the pin. Good match. However, it means the current junior tag champs (Knight and Kushida) went a combined 4-10 in the tournament, and I consider that highly problematic. If you had asked me before the tournament began, I would not have had Wato at 7-2.
7. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (6) defeated Yoh (12) in a B Block match at 13:22. Kanemaru won his first two but is now on a six-match losing streak; he hit a dropkick on Yoh’s knee early. Yoh stalled on the floor to recover, but once he got back in, Kanemaru hit another dropkick on the knee and he began working the leg over, tying Yoh up on the mat. Yoh finally hit a dropkick at 6:30 that sent Kanemaru to the floor, but Yoh was struggling to stand up. Yoh hit a plancha to the floor, hopped to his feet, but collapsed as he grabbed his sore knee.
In the ring, Yoh hit a Falcon Arrow. Kanemaru went back to a dropkick on the knee. Yoh hit a backbreaker over his knee and they were both down at 9:30. Kanemaru applied a Figure Four Leglock, Yoh writhed in pain but eventually reached the ropes at 12:00. Kanemaru missed a moonsault. Yoh hit a superkick and a Dragon Suplex with a bridge for a believable nearfall. Yoh went for the Direct Drive double-arm DDT, but Kanemaru escaped, and he got a rollup for the clean pin. n
* Kevin Kelly explained that with the tiebreakers, Master Wato is now in the playoffs, and Yoh is eliminated. So, the next match will determine the second playoff spot. If Desperado wins, he is the #1 seed. If Eagles wins, Master Wato is the #1 seed and Eagles is the #2 seed.
8. El Desperado (14) defeated Robbie Eagles (10) in a B Block match at 20:31. They shook hands at the bell and had an intense lockup, and Desperado immediately went to work on the left arm. He went for the Stretch Muffler leglock, but Eagles scrambled to the ropes at 2:00. They kept having standoffs and shaking hands; this is a friendly competition. Of course, Eagles hit a spin kick to the thigh and the fun is over. They began trading hard chops. Desperado tied up Eagles’ legs, and Robbie again reached the ropes at 5:00.
Eagles hit a back suplex, sending Desperado rolling to the floor. They brawled on the crowd, over to a wall, then back to ringside. In the ring, Eagles applied the Ron Miller Special (Trailer Hitch) leglock, but Desperado reached the ropes at 8:00. Desperado hit a Blue Thunder Bomb but he clutched at his sore knee. Desperado again applied a Stretch Muffler, but Eagles reached the ropes at 10:00. Eagles hit a modified 619. They went back to the floor, where Eagles hit a chop block to the back of the knee. In the ring, Eagles hit a springboard dropkick to the knee, and he immediately applied the Ron Miller Special again, with Desperado quickly reaching the ropes at 12:00.
Desperado hit a spinebuster for a nearfall and he went back to the Stretch Muffler. Eagles hit a Canadian Destroyer then a Meteora running double knees in the corner at 13:30 for a nearfall. They traded stiff forearm shots. Desperado hit a dropkick on the knee. Eagles re-applied the Ron Miller Special, and Desperado teased tapping out but he reached the ropes at 16:30. Eagles hit some Yes Kicks. Desperado hit a Falcon Arrow for a nearfall.
They fought out of each other’s finisher attempts. Desperado applied the Stretch Muffler, but Eagles powered out. However, Desperado put Eagles along his back and hit a tombstone piledriver for a believable nearfall at 20:00. They swore at each other. Desperado went back to the Stretch Muffler, and Eagles submitted. A very good match.
* Desperado spoke on the mic to close out the show.
Final Thoughts: A strong main event that easily earns best match. Wato-Knight earns second place, and that Connors-Moloney brawl gets third.
Before the tournament began, I predicted six wrestlers who were most likely to win BoSJ, but Desperado was the only wrestler from the B Block; I said from the start he was the favorite to win the Block, and with this win, he did just that. By securing the win, he will face 2-seed Titan on Friday, while 1-seed Mike Bailey will face 2-seed Master Wato. In my eyes, the 1 seeds are light years ahead of the 2 seeds.
The tournament takes a rare off-day on Thursday. Friday’s shows will feature those semi-final matches, with the rest of the card to be announced.
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