NJPW “Best of the Super Juniors” results (5/21): Vetter’s review of El Desperado vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Kevin Knight vs. Titan, Blake Christian vs. Hayata, Bushi vs. Clark Connors, TJP vs. Kosei Fujita

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

New Japan Pro Wrestling “Best of the Super Juniors – Night 7”
May 21, 2024 in Hyogo, Japan at Arcrea Hieji
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. Tonight, we have just the A Block in action for their sixth match. So, anyone who is 2-4 after today is eliminated. This is another large gym with all seating on the floor, but perhaps 1,000 to 1,200 in attendance. Walker Stewart provided solo commentary as the show began.

* The big news is Francesco Akira is injured. I don’t know if it is a legit injury or a kayfabe injury, but either way, he is not competing tonight. On Sunday, he sold the leg injury and lost quickly to a grapevine of the leg.

1. “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Hiromu Takahashi and Yota Tsuji defeated Katsuya Murashima and Shoma Kato at 8:30. Walker Stewart explained that LIJ was supposed to face Francesco Akira & Callum Newman, but with Akira’s injury, LIJ is now facing the Young Lion duo. Yota and Kato opened; Kato tried some chops that Yota completely no-sold, and Yota leveled him with a hard chop. Murashima hit some nice dropkicks on Yota. Kato applied a Boston Crab on Yota at 7:00. Yota hit a backbreaker over his knee and a stomp to the head to pin Kato. Fairly basic; Hiromu was barely in this one.

2. “House of Torture” Sho and Yujiro Takahashi defeated “Just 5 Guys” Taka Michinoku and Douki at 8:04. J5G worked over Sho early on. Yujiro choked Taka in a corner and slammed him back-first into an exposed corner at 3:00. Douki hit a hard clothesline on Sho at 6:00 and they were both down. Taka hit a running knee on Yujiro for a nearfall; he applied a Crossface and cranked back on Yujiro’s head. Yujiro hit a low blow punt kick on Taka, then the Pimp Juice jumping DDT for the cheap pin. Not good, really.

3. Kushida, Ninja Mack, and Dragon Dia defeated “The Bullet Club War Dogs” Gedo, Drilla Moloney, and Taiji Ishimori at 8:52. Mack and Ishimori opened, and Mack rotated to his feet on a huracanrana attempt. Kushida and Moloney tagged in at 1:30. Dia entered and hit a running Shooting Star Press on Drilla. Drilla stole Dia’s skateboard and (badly) rode on it in the ring. We saw Gedo grab the hammer for the ring bell and hit someone with it on the floor. The BCWD worked over Kushida in their corner.

Kushida hit a handspring-back-double elbow at 6:00. Mack made the hot tag and hit a diving European Uppercut on Ishimori. Gedo entered and traded blows with Dragon Dia. Dia hit his slingshot corkscrew senton at 8:00. Mack hit his Sasuke Special to the floor. Dia leapt off the second rope and hit a DDT on Gedo for the pin! Kushida and Mack grabbed Dia’s arms and thrust them in the air to celebrate his first NJPW victory. Good action.

4. TJP (4) defeated Kosei Fujita (4) in an A Block tournament match at 12:13. TJP finally got his first victory on Sunday. An intense lockup to open, and Fujita applied a crossarm breaker at 2:30. TJP escaped and applied a Sharpshooter. TJP snapped Kosei’s left arm backward, and Fujita immediately sold the pain in his arm. TJP hit a Facewash in the corner and was in charge. TJP applied a Boston Crab at 5:30, and he stood up to make it a pendulum. Kosei hit a spin kick to the head and they were both down.

Kosei hit a springboard dropkick for a nearfall, then a penalty kick for a nearfall at 7:30. TJP hit an inverted DDT, then a Mamba Splash for a believable nearfall. TJP hit some rolling snap suplexes. Kosei hit a German Suplex. TJP applied an Octopus stretch at 9:30 but Fujita reached the ropes. TJP hit a back suplex and he was fired up. Kosei hit another German Suplex for a nearfall. TJP applied the Pinoy Stretch, and Fujita tapped out. Good match, and TJP improves to 2-4.

5. Clark Connors (8) defeated Bushi (4) in an A Block tournament match at 8:46. They charged at each other at the bell and traded blows. Connors hit a Pounce, and he choked Bushi with a shirt. They went to the floor, where Clark whipped him into the ring post at 2:00, and he began untying Bushi’s mask! In the ring, Connors grounded him and was in charge. Bushi hit a dive through the ropes at 5:00. In the ring, Bushi hit a Lungblower to the back, then a dropkick on the knee. Connors hit a powerslam and they were both down.

Bushi hit another dropkick on the knee, and he tied up Clark’s legs in a modified Figure Four, but Clark reached the ropes at 7:30. Bushi hit a dropkick to the jaw. Connors caught him with a spear out of nowhere for a believable nearfall. He set up for No Chaser, but Bushi escaped. Seconds later, Connors hit the No Chaser spike DDT for the pin. Decent match. At 4-2, Connors stays in the hunt for the playoffs, and Walker pointed out this ties Clark’s best-ever point total with three matches to go.

6. Hayata (6) defeated Blake Christian (8) in an A Block tournament match at 10:23. Mat reversals and a feeling-out process early on. Christian hit a backbreaker over his knee at 3:00, then the Fosbury Flop to the floor; he stood up and give the fans the middle finger, showing he’s a heel tonight. Blake tied Hayata’s arms around the ring post. He snapped Hayata’s arm as he slammed him onto the ring apron at 4:30. In the ring, Blake was in charge and focused on the left arm. Hayata hit a dropkick at 6:00. Blake hit a dropkick that sent Hayata to the floor, but Blake was selling a leg injury, and he landed awkwardly on a plancha attempt.

Back in the ring, Hayata immediately tied up Blake’s legs on the mat. Blake hit a Divorce Court Armbreaker and a knee drop on that damaged arm, but was still selling the leg injury. Hayata hit an enzuigiri at 8:30, then a moonsault for a nearfall. Blake hit a springboard dropkick onto Hayata’s arm, then a mid-ring Spanish Fly! Nice! This should have been the main event. Blake missed a top-rope 450 Splash and it damaged the leg more.They traded rollups, and Hayata scored the pin! Blake started 4-0 but has fallen to 4-2. Blake continued to sell the leg injury as he hobbled to the back.

7. Titan (8) defeated Kevin Knight (6) in an A Block tournament match at 8:18. Quick reversals and this is immediately at a faster pace than the other tournament matches today. Knight hit a springboard clothesline with great height, then a plancha to the floor. Knight hit a splash to the mat for a nearfall. They traded superkicks. Knight hit a dropkick at 2:30. Titan hit a dive through the ropes. In the ring, Knight hit a D’Lo Sky High powerbomb. These guys are going at fast paace. They traded forearm strikes while on their knees, then while standing. Knight slammed him to the mat for a nearfall at 5:30.

Knight set up for his leaping DDT finisher but Titan turned it into a back body drop. Nice reversal. Knight hit a Pele Kick, then a jump-up Frankensteiner for a nearfall. Titan hit a springboard tornado DDT and a buzzsaw kick at 7:30, then a top-rope doublestomp for a nearfall. He tied up Knight’s legs, leaned back, and applied a Muta Lock. Knight tried to reach the ropes, but Titan captured the arms, and Knight verbally submitted. Titan moves into a first-place tie with Blake Christian and Clark Connors. That was great high-flying action.

8. El Desperado (8) defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru (4) in an A Block tournament match at 16:56. These two were teammates in the now-defunct Suzuki-Gun faction. No signs of any House of Torture teammates as the match begins, but I’m sure that will come. Quick reversals and a standoff at 1:00. Desperado tied up the left leg on the mat. They went to the floor, where Kanemaru slammed Desperado’s hand on the hard floor at 3:30. In the ring, Kanemaru kept Desperado grounded and worked the arm. Desperado hit some Dragonscrew Legwhips at 9:00, and he applied a leg lock on the mat, and Kanemaru screamed in pain.

Desperado hit a Russian Legsweep and they were both down at 12:00. Kanemaru hit a top-rope moonsault for a nearfall, and he applied a hammerlock. Kanemaru hit a second-rope flying DDT for a nearfall at 14:30. Desperado hit a suplex and they were both down. Kanemaru whipped Desperado into the ref in the corner, and suddenly all three were down at 16:00. Kanemaru got his whiskey bottle, but Desperado hit a forearm strike, and the alcohol flew to the side. Desperado hit a spinebuster, then the Angel’s Wings for the clean pin. I am shocked we saw absolutely zero House of Torture antics.

Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed that Blake Christian-Hayata match and that definitely should have been the main event. It was clear that Knight-Titan wasn’t going 10 minutes as they just had an all-out sprint, and that takes second. I’ll take the intense TJP-Kosei match for third. The main event was merely okay; I really like Desperado, but good luck finding many people who want to see Kanemaru in a 17-minute singles match. Surprisingly, Desperado never went to a Stretch Muffler during the match.

In last year’s tournament, Taiji Ishimori landed awkwardly on a Poison Rana in his second-to-last match and was clearly legit injured; he forfeited his final match. I didn’t see anything in Akira’s match Saturday that was a “clear injury.” NJPW really worked me well when Yoshinobu Kanemaru “blew out his leg” as it was an angle for him leaving Just 5 Guys and joining the House of Torture. Point being… I am not convinced yet that Akira’s injury will keep him out of tournament action, or if it is legitimate at all. If he doesn’t compete Wednesday, then it is in all likelihood a legit injury.

The tournament resumes Wednesday but a review probably will not be posted until Thursday or possibly even Friday. I am traveling the rest of this week for a wedding. My reviews will up a bit later than normal and will likely be shorter and to the point. 


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