NJPW “Best of the Super Juniors” results (5/16): Vetter’s review of Robbie Eagles vs. Taiji Ishimori, Hiromu Takahashi vs. Dragon Dia, Ninja Mack vs. Sho, Kushida vs. Francesco Akira

By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)

New Japan Pro Wrestling “Best of the Super Juniors – Night 4”
May 16, 2024 in Gunma, Japan at G Messe Gunma
Streamed live on New Japan World

There are 20 wrestlers in this year’s tournament, divided into two Blocks. It is a round-robin tournament, thus, each wrestler has nine tournament matches. The top two from each Block will advance to a four-man playoff. The finals will be June 9. The four men who reached the playoffs last year were either 6-3 or 7-2. So, anyone who starts out at 0-3 has a very unlikely path to reach the playoffs. For the first time, we have just the B Block in tournament action, while eight of the 10 A Block competitors were in undercard matches.

This is one of the weird, large gray gyms with all seating on the floor,, and perhaps 600-800 in attendance. A reminder we don’t have guardrails, giving the high-flyers more room to move. Once again, we have Japanese-only commentary.

1. El Desperado, Katsuya Murashima, and Boltin Oleg defeated Kevin Knight, Tiger Mask, and Shoma Kato at 7:45. The Young Lions shoved each other before the bell. Knight and Desperado opened and they traded some deep armdrags Tiger Mask hit some Yes Kicks on Murashima, then he tied him in a Boston Crab. The Young Lions fought. Boltin tagged in at 6:00 and hit his gutwrench suplex on Shoma. Knight hit a flying clothesline on Desperado. Shoma hit a dropkick but couldn’t knock Oleg off his feet. Oleg hit the “Kamikaze”/forward Finlay Roll on Shoma for the pin.

2. “House of Torture” Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Yujiro Takahashi defeated Tomoaki Honma and Hayata at 9:02. Hayata worked over Kanemaru’s arm. Hayata hit an enzuigiri at 5:00. Honma entered and hit some forearms on Yujiro, but he missed his Kokeshi falling headbutt. Yujiro nailed Pimp Juice/jumping DDT for a nearfall at 7:30, but Hayata made the save. Honma then hit the Kokeshi on Yujiro. Yujiro hit Honma with his staff, then hit another Pimp Juice for the pin. The three NJPW regulars in this match are admittedly among my least favorites to watch, so this was a tough one to care about. Kanemaru attacked Hayata’s knee after the bell.

3. “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Bushi, Titan, and Tetsuya Naito defeated Blake Christian and “United Empire” Callum Newman and TJP at 9:54. It once again took Naito forever to get ready. Blake wanted to join in the UE hand gestures before the bell, but TJP pushed him aside, making clear that Blake is not in their faction. TJP and Bushi opened with some quick reversals. Callum entered and tied up Bushi on the mat. TJP hit a slingshot senton for a nearfall at 3:30. Bushi hit a basement dropkick on Blake’s knee. Titan hit a springboard crossbody block on Blake and some quick kicks. Blake hit a splash on Titan. This is really good action. Blake hit a running neckbreaker on Titan at 5:30.

Blake hit a Fosbury Flop to the floor on Titan. In the ring, Titan hit a spin kick to the jaw and they were both down. Naito and Callum entered, and Newman hit his running Mafia Kick, then a dropkick into the corner. Newman hit a spin kick to Naito’s head for a nearfall at 7:30. Bushi entered and hit a DDT on Newman. Titan hit a springboard dropkick on Blake, then a flip dive to the floor on him. In the ring, Naito hit an enzuigiri on Newman, then a tornado DDT at 9:30. Bushi tied up TJP’s leg’s on the mat, allowing Naito to hit a Destino on Newman for the pin, as TJP was unable to break it up. That was really good action.

4. Kushida (6) defeated Francesco Akira (2) in a B Block match at 12:41. Kushida has already matched last year’s win total, which is just amazing. They charged at each other at the bell, and Akira hit a leg lariat. Kushda slammed Akira shoulder-first into the ring post at 1:00, then he bodyslammed him onto the thin mat on the floor. In the ring, Kushida stomped on Akira’s elbow and he immediately twisted the left arm and kept Akira grounded. Akira hit a huracanrana at 4:30, then a slingshot stunner, but he sold the pain in his arm. He hit a German Suplex and they were both down. Akira hit a top-rope crossbody block for a nearfall at 6:30.

Kushida went for a handspring-back-move, but Akira dropkicked him in the back. Akira dove to the floor, but Kushida caught the arm and slammed it on the thin mat on the floor. Akira dove back into the ring to avoid being counted out. They traded reversals. Akira tied him in the Tarantula at 9:00, then he hit a Buzzsaw Kick to the head. Akira missed the Fireball double knees, and Kushida immediately hit a hard clothesline.

Akira hit a snap German Suplex. They fought on the top rope, where Kushida snapped the arm across his shoulder at 12:00. Kushida hit a top-rope Spanish Fly, and upon landing on the mat, slapped on the Hoverboard Lock, and Akira tapped out. Unique finish and a really good match. Worth reiterating that Kushida was shockingly bad at 2-7 last year and is a replacement for the injured Yoh, but is off to a 3-0 start.

5. Drilla Moloney (2) defeated Douki (2) in a B Block match at 9:26. I will reiterate that Drilla is right up at the 220 pound mark and is noticeably larger. Quick reversals with neither able to land anything, and Douki got a believable nearfall at 1:30 on a rollup! Drilla put a palm to the sternum, slammed Douki to the mat, and got a nearfall. They went to the floor, where Drilla slammed him back-first across an open chair at 3:00. In the ring, Douki hit some forearm strikes and a DDT, and they were both down at 5:30. Douki hit a springboard back elbow for a nearfall.

Douki applied the Douki Chokey but Moloney quickly got to the ropes at 7:00. Douki went for Daybreak (hey it’s the same word in Japanese!) but Drilla blocked it. Drilla hit a superkick. Douki again applied the Douki Chokey. However, Drilla stood up while still in the hold, and hit his swinging piledriver on Douki for the pin! That came out of nowhere. Drilla needed that win to stay remotely in the hunt.

6. Sho (4) defeated Ninja Mack (4) in a B Block match at 9:10. Sho dragged Ninja Mack to the ring; it’s clear Mack was attacked backstage. Sho hit a clothesline and a bodyslam, and he applied a Boston Crab, and Mack tapped out at 26 seconds, and Sho celebrated a short victory! However, the ref rang the bell again so we are having a real match after all; I restarted my stopwatch. Mack nailed the Sasake Special to the floor. In the ring, Mack hit a corkscrew senton for a nearfall.They brawled on the floor, and Sho hit him with a chair. They brawled over toward a wall, and Sho whipped him into rows of chairs at 3:00.

In the ring, Sho applied a leglock around the waist and kept Mack grounded. Sho put Mack on his shoulders, then slammed him sternum-first across his knee for a nearfall at 5:30. Mack fired back with a German Suplex for a nearfall, and he switched to a crossface. Sho hit a spear. The ref was knocked down! Sho got his wrench. We had a fake Ninja Mack in the ring who begged off. The real Ninja Mack snuck up behind Sho and got a rollup for a nearfall. Sho hit a low blow and got a rollup with a handful of tights for the cheap pin. Too busy of a finish; I don’t know where this fake Ninja Mack came from and it didn’t work for me. Both men are 2-1.

7. Hiromu Takahashi (2) defeated Dragon Dia (0) in a B Block match at 12:30. On English commentary the first two days, Chris Charlton has stressed that Hiromu hasn’t won a singles match in 2024 and it is driving him crazy. Dia charged and hit an enzuigiri at the bell; he is so much smaller and thinner than Hiromu and everyone else. Hiromu hit a basement dropkick for a nearfall. He applied a leglock around the throat; Dia reached the ropes at 4:00. Dia hit his slingshot corkscrew senton, then an Asai Moonsault to the floor. In the ring, Hiromu nailed his Death Valley Driver into the corner. He hit a backbreaker over his knee, then a Falcon Arrow for a nearfall at 6:30. Hiromu hit a standing powerbomb with a jackknife cover for a nearfall.

Dia hit a leaping buttbump to Hiromu’s face. Dia hit a Road To Valhalla faceplant for a believable nearfall at 8:30! Dia hit an enzuigiri. Dia nailed a modified Air Raid Crash for a believable nearfall; I really thought that was a pinning move. HIromu nailed a Trash Compactor piledriver along his back for a believable nearfall at 10:00. HIromu hit a wheelbarrow German Suplex and a decapitating clothesline. Dia hit a Crucifix Driver for a believable nearfall! Dia went for a top-rope 450 Splash but Hiromu got his knees up. Hiromu hit a modified Death Valley Driver for a believable nearfall, then another clothesline, then the Time Bomb slam for the pin. That was really good; the fact Hiromu had been winless gave a sense that Dia could pull off the upset here.

8. Taiji Ishimori (6) defeated Robbie Eagles (2) in a B Block match at 15:18. A feeling-out process to open. I recall these guys were in opposite Blocks last year, and I don’t know how often they’ve faced each other in the past. Robbie hit a huracanrana and a leg lariat, sending Ishimori to the floor at 2:00. They brawled to the floor, where Ishimori tossed Eagles shoulder-first into the ring post. In the ring, Ishimori snapped Eagles’ head between his ankles, and he kept Robbie grounded on the mat. Ishimori hit a shoulder breaker move over his knee at 5:30, and Robbie rolled to the floor in pain. In the ring, Robbie hit a back suplex and they were both down.

Robbie hit some Yes Kicks to the chest, then a running knee at 7:30. Eagles hit a springboard dropkick on the knee, and he immediately applied the Ron Miller Special leglock, but Ishimori reached the ropes at 9:30. Ishimori applied the Bone Lock/modified STF, but Eagles reached the ropes. Ishimori hit a shoulder breaker over his knee for a nearfall. Eagles hit a crossbody block and they were both down at 12:00. They traded forearm strikes while on their knees, then while standing. Eagles struck head-first on an exposed turnbuckle, and Ishimori again applied the Bone Lock. Robbie escaped and again applied the Ron Miller Special. Ishimori nailed the Bloody Cross kneestrike to the chest for the pin out of nowhere. Ishimori moves to 3-0 and tied with Kushida at 6 points.

Final Thoughts: A good night of action. Dragon Dia was a pushover in his first two matches, so it was great to see him score so  much offense and believable nearfalls against Hiromu. I love the idea of a mentally unstable Takahashi, and I really think it was possible Dia was scoring a pin there. I’ll narrowly give that best match ahead of the main event. Kushida-Akira takes third. The first two matches are highly skippable, but the six-man tag will wind up being one of the best undercard matches of this tour.

After a day off, both Blocks will be in action on Saturday with Hiromu Takahashi vs. Sho and El Desperado vs. Kevin Knight as the top two matches.


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