NJPW “Best of the Super Juniors” results (5/19): Vetter’s review of El Desperado vs. Blake Christian, Robbie Eagles vs. Sho, TJP vs. Hayata, Hiromu Takahashi vs. Ninja Mack, Titan vs. Clark Connors

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

New Japan Pro Wrestling “Best of the Super Juniors – Night 6”
May 19, 2024 in Nagoya, Japan at Nagoya Congress Center Event Hall
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 has four or more losses is all but officially eliminated. We’ve reached the midway point of this year’s tournament.

The lights are low but this appears to be a much larger venue and crowd than the past few days. Walker Stewart provided solo commentary.

* Francesco Akira was struggling as he walked to the ring; at first glance I thought he wasn’t dressed to wrestle and I feared he was coming out to forfeit.

1. “Drilla Moloney (6) defeated Francesco Akira (4) in a B Block match at 4:36. Moloney immediately kicked at the damaged left knee. He grapevined the leg and twisted it on the mat. Moloney kicked him in the head at 4:00. He re-applied the leg hold, and Akira tapped out. Drilla kept assaulting Akira after the bell.

2. Bushi (4) defeated Kosei Fujita (4) in an A Block match at 6:13. Fujita hit a flip dive onto Bushi to start the match. In the ring, Bushi hit a basement dropkick and a stiff kick to the spine. Kosei hit a springboard dropkick for a nearfall at 3:00, then a running penalty kick for another nearfall. He hit a German Suplex for a nearfall. Bushi hit a dropkick, and they were both down at 5:30. Bushi hit his second-rope flying Lungblower to the chest for the pin. Bushi has now matched last year’s win total.

* Drilla Moloney joined Stewart on commentary.

3. Douki (6) defeated Dragon Dia (0) in a B Block match at 5:26. Dia hit some quick kicks. Douki hit a Northern Lights suplex for a nearfall. Dia hit an Asai Moonsault to the floor at 2:00. In the ring, he hit a modified Death Valley Driver and was in control of the offense. Dia wen for his slingshot twisting press, but Douki caught him and applied the Douki Chokey! Nice! Douki hit a decapitating clothesline at 4:00. Dia got a Crucifix Driver for a believable nearfall. Dia hit an enzuigiri. Douki applied a full nelson and turned it into a Dragon Suplex with a high bridge for the pin. Good action. As I noted after night two… the ceiling for young, undersized Dragon Dia is 2-7.

4. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (4) defeated Kevin Knight (6) in an A Block match at 6:56. Kanemaru attacked as Knight entered the ring, before he even got his jacket off. Knight hit a dropkick. They went to the floor, where Kanemaru hit a basement dropkick on the knee, then he slammed the knee onto the thin mat at ringside. In the ring, Kanemaru applied a Figure Four Leglock, but Knight reached the ropes at 1:30. Kanemaru kept him grounded on the mat. Knight hit some clotheslines and was fired up. He hit a D’Lo Sky High at 4:30, then a splash for a nearfall. Kanemaru hit another dropkick to the knee. Kevin hit a second-rope clothesline for a nearfall. Kanemaru shoved the ref into Knight, then he hit an enzuigiri on Knight. He got his whiskey bottle and sprayed it in Kevin’s face! Kanemaru again applied the Figure Four Leglock, and Knight tapped out. Underwhelming.

5. Kushida (8) defeated Taiji Ishimori (6) in a B Block match at 2:34. Both are off to excellent 3-1 starts. An intense lockup and standing switches; Drilla noted that Ishimori has been wrestling as long as he’s been alive. Kushida rolled him up with his feet around the neck for the pin out of absolutely nowhere! No one saw that coming! (Being as this was short, I will point out here that Kushida went 2-7 last year in the A Block. Four of the guys he faced in last year’s tournament have joined him this year in the B Block, and he’s beating the guys he lost to last year, like Ishimori here. I like the ‘revenge tour’ storyline they’ve done here, as again, he was a last-minute replacement for the injured Yoh.)

6. Clark Connors (6) defeated Titan (6) in an A Block match at 7:55. They immediately traded forearm strikes. They rolled to the floor and up the risers and into the lower seating. Back at ringside, Connors whipped Young Lion Shoma Kato into Titan, then he ripped atTitan’s mask at 2:00. Titan rolled back into the ring at the 17-count. Titan hit a Pele Kick at 4:00, then he dove through the ropes onto Clark. In the ring, they traded forearm strikes while on their knees, then while standing. Connors nailed the Pounce. Titan hit a spinning heel kick, then a tornado DDT at 6:30. Titan hit his clothesline into the corner. Connors yanked off the mask and rolled away from Titan! As Titan put it back on, Connors hit a spear then the No Chaser spike DDT for the pin. Good action but every match tonight has been really short so far. Connors stopped at the commentary table to celebrate with Drilla Moloney.

7. Hiromu Takahashi (6) defeated Ninja Mack (4) in a B Block match at 9:10. Mack insisted they start the match on their knees and they shook hands then had an intense lockup while still on their knees. Hiromu went for a huracanrana, but Mack rotated and landed on his feet at 3:30. Nice! Hiromu hit a basement dropkick for a nearfall. They traded chops while back on their knees. Hiromu applied a leg lock around the neck at 5:00 and kept Mack grounded. Mack did the Sasake Special to the floor, but Hiromu avoided it. Mack powerbombed Hiromu onto the edge of the ring at 7:00! Ouch!

Mack hit a top-rope flying headbutt for a nearfall. Mack went for a top-rope corkscrew press, but Hiromu got his knees up. Hiromu nailed the Time Bomb modified Death Valley Driver for a nearfall at 8:30. Mack got a backslide for a nearfall. Hiromu again went for a head-scissors takedown, but Mack again landed on his feet. Hiromu applied a Triangle Choke, and Mack quickly tapped out. Another finish that came out of nowhere.

8. TJP (2) defeated Hayata (4) in an A Block match at 12:59. With an 0-4 start, Stewart wondered if there is too much weight on TJP’s shoulders as leader of the United Empire. TJP immediately grapevined the left leg as they traded mat reversals. TJP hit a European Uppercut at 2:30. Hayata hit a plancha to the floor. Back in the ring, Hayata grounded TJP. TJP snapped Hayata’s left arm backward at 5:30, then he hit his three consecutive rolling snap suplexes. He hit a face wash running kick in the corner. He tied Hayata in the Tree of Woe and hit a doublestomp to the collarbone for a nearfall at 7:30.

Hayata avoided a Mamba Splash, and he hit an enzuigiri. Hayata hit a shotgun dropkick, then a moonsault for a nearfall. (Walker said “TJP has only won one tournament his whole career,” citing a tag tournament; this ignores winning the WWE Cruiserweight Classic.) TJP hit a spinning heel kick to the jaw at 10:30, and they were both down. They traded forearm strikes. TJP hit a suplex and a DDT and he was fired up. He hit a running knee for a believable nearfall at 12:00. He went for the Mamba Splash but Hayata got his knees up. Hayata hit a DDT for a believable nearfall, and he was stunned he didn’t win there. Hayata set up for another DDT, but TJP got an inside cradle for the pin!

9. Robbie Eagles (w/Kosei Fujita) (6) defeated Sho (4) in a B Block match at 15:50. Sho pushed against Fujita, so Kosei shoved him back. Sho tried for a low blow, but Robbie blocked it, shook Sho’s hand, and the match officially began. Sho clutched at his shoulder and pointed at Kosei for shoving him before the bell. They fought on the floor and along a wall, far from ringside. Sho dropped Eagles ribs-first across the top of an open chair at 3:00! Back in the ring, Sho tied up Eagles on the mat. Sho hit a gutbuster over his knee for a nearfall at 6:00.

Eagles hit a dropkick on Sho’s left knee. He hit some Yes Kicks. Yujiro Takahashi tripped Eagles! Sho accidentally hit Takahashi. Eagles hit a flip dive through the ropes onto Sho at 8:30. In the ring, Eagles hit a springboard dropkick on the damaged knee and got a nearfall. He did a 619 move and a running double knees, then he went back to twisting Sho’s damaged left knee. Sho pushed the ref into the middle of the ring, allowing him to hit a spear! He nailed a Shock Arrow cross-arm piledriver for a believable nearfall at 12:00; I thought that was it.

Eagles hit some kicks and a Sliced Bread for a nearfall. Eagles locked in the Ron Miller Special (Trailer Hitch) leg lock. The bell rang and Eagles released the hold! But of course, it was Yujiro who rang the bell! Sho was laughing at Eagles; he kicked Robbie, who collided with the ref. Yujiro hopped in the ring and helped beat up Eagles. Eagles hit forearm strikes on both men. Fujita hit a springboard dropkick on Yujiro. Fujita and Eagles hit a team slam on Sho at 15:00, and Fujita shoved the ref back into the ring. Eagles hit an enzuigiri as Sho was on his knees for the pin. Solid action.

10. El Desperado (6) defeated Blake Christian (8) in an A Block match at 18:11. Standing switches and a feeling-out process early on. Blake hit an eye poke at 2:00! Desperado twisted the left ankle on the mat. Blake hit a springboard clothesline at 4:00, but then he gave the middle finger to the crowd and was booed. (He wrestled as a 100% babyface a day ago!) He hit a flip move on the left elbow, and Desperado rolled to the floor. Blake joined him at ringside and twisted the damaged arm. He jabbed a chair onto the elbow at 6:30. He twisted Desperado’s arm in a guardrail; I don’t even know where he found that guardrail! Blake ran on the floor and did a summersault over the guardrail and barreled onto Desperado at 9:00.

They finally got back into the ring, with Blake still in charge, as he hit a half-nelson suplex. He set up for a Stomp to the head but Desperado avoided it, and Desperado hit a Blue Thunder Driver, then a brainbuster for a nearfall at 11:00. He began twisting Blake’s ankle again, and he applied the Stretch Muffler leg lock behind his head. Blake leapt off the top rope and stomped on Desperado’s elbow, then he snapped the damaged arm across the top rope. Blake nailed a flip dive over the top rope at 13:30, but he clutched at his own knee upon landing. Desperado leapt back into the ring at the 19-count;

Blake hit a springboard 450 Splash onto the back for a nearfall, and he applied a Fujiwara Armbar and cranked back on it, but Desperado reached the ropes at 15:30. They traded forearm strikes while on their knees, then while standing. Blake hit an enzuigiri. Blake went for a Stomp, but Desperado turned it into a spinebuster at 17:00. Desperado couldn’t hit the Angel’s Wings. Blake hit a Pele Kick on the damaged arm and a jumping knee to the nose. Desperado hit a Jay Driller, then an Angel’s Wings for the pin. Really good action. Blake takes his first loss, and no one is undefeated.

* Desperado addressed the crowd; I headed to Chris Charlton’s Twitter/X for translation, with him saying “Christian, you’ve got it. Don’t think we’re done. I hope the fans realize that too. Now, someone said something about not waiting for their turn, and I appreciate that being said, but not at my expense.”

Final Thoughts: Anyone who has read my reviews knows I’m a huge fan of both Blake Christian and Desperado, and they definitely earned best match of the show. Blake’s offense is just so tight and crisp and believable. TJP-Hayata takes second place. I love the desperation of TJP NEEDING to end the losing streak and get on the board. Even though it was shorter than I hoped, Hiromu-Mack was a really good match for third. NJPW always catches us with a surprise, short fluke win, and I liked Kushida scoring one here on Ishimori, and it doesn’t hurt Taiji at all. No, Dragon Dia isn’t winning, but his offense is exciting and innovative, and I’ll take that over watching Rysuke Taguchi drop his pants and show off his underwear in juvenile matches any day.

The tournament takes a day off before resuming on Tuesday. Just the A Block is in tournament action, featuring former teammates Desperado and Kanemaru in the main event, plus Blake Christian vs. Hayata.


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