NJPW “Best of the Super Juniors” results (5/26): Vetter’s review of El Desperado vs. TJP, Hiromu Takahashi vs. Robbie Eagles, Kevin Knight vs. Clark Connors, Blake Christian vs. Bushi

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

New Japan Pro Wrestling “Best of the Super Juniors – Night 9”
May 26, 2024 in Yoyogi, Japan at 2nd Gymnasium
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.

This is a small arena with a lower bowl that was largely empty. Walker Stewart and Chris Charlton provided commentary. A reminder the B Block has had one fewer day of matches so far. SO, this is the eighth tournament match for the A Block competitors but just the seventh tournament match for the B Block.

1. Douki (8) defeated Francesco Akira (4) via forfeit due to injury in a B Block Tournament match. Akira was 2-3, but he will finish at 2-7 due to four forfeits because of a knee injury.

2. Ninja Mack (6) defeated Kushida (8) in a B Block tournament match at 5:58. They traded kicks to the thighs. Kushida hit a huracanrana but Mack rotated and landed on his feet and that drew a pop. Mack did a cartwheel to the floor and attempted a sunset flip powerbomb but Kushida held onto the ropes. In a cool spot, Kushida went for a sunset flip powerbomb but Mack did five cartwheels on the floor, going down an aisle. He hit a corkscrew Asai Moonsault, then a top-rope diving headbutt for a nearfall at 3:30. They traded rollups for nearfalls. Kushida applied a Hoverboard Lock; Mack leaned forward and got a nearfall to escape. Mack got the rollup for the pin! That was a fantastic sprint of a match.

3. Hayata (10) defeated Kosei Fujita (4) in an A Block tournament match at 9:06. Fujita’s shoulder is taped again, which the commentators pointed out. They immediately traded forearm strikes. Kosei hit some deep armdrags and a dropkick. Fujita landed face-first on the ring apron and grabbed at his mouth as he rolled on the floor. Hayata threw Fujita head-first into the ring post. Back in the ring, Hayata was in charge. Charlton talked about breaking down barriers between promotions, and noted how Hiroshi Tanahashi appeared on AEW Collision a few hours earlier. Kosei nailed a springboard dropkick for a nearfall at 5:30. Hayata hit an enzuigiri and a shotgun dropkick.

Hayata went for a second-rope moonsault but Fujita got his knees up to block it. They traded forearm strikes. Hayata hit a DDT. Kosei tied him up on the mat and cranked back on the arms, but Hayata reached the ropes, and Stewart said the pain in Kosei’s shoulder prevented him from properly holding onto Hayata there. Fujita hit a German Suplex for a believable nearfall at 8:30. Hayata hit a swinging neckbreaker then an implant DDT for the pin. Really good action.

4. Sho (w/Yujiro Takahashi) (8) defeated Dragon Dia (0) in a B Block tournament match at 6:57. Dia has his skateboard with him. Sho snuck up behind him and grabbed it; Dia chased him and I started the stopwatch at first contact. They immediately got in the ring with Sho stomping on him and stretching him on the mat. They fought over the skateboard. Dia blocked a low blow attempt, and he hit a huracanrana. Dia hit a baseball slide dropkick to the floor on Yujiro. He hit an Asai Moonsault onto both Sho and Yujiro. He finally handed the skateboard to Milano Collection AT at ringside.

In the ring, Dia hit his slingshot corkscrew press and a 619 for a nearfall at 4:00. Sho caught him coming off the ropes and slammed Dia back-first into the corner. Sho got his wrench but the ref confiscated it. Dia hit a dropkick and he picked up the wrench but he gave it to the ref. Sho nailed a spear and they were both down. Dia got some rollups for some believable nearfalls. Sho powerbombed Dia into the ref! He hit a low blow. Yujiro entered the ring and hit Dia with the skateboard. Sho hit a running punt kick for a believable nearfall; I thought that was it. Sho hit a Dominator faceplant for the pin. Highly watchable; one of the better House of Torture matches. Sho only has one match left, as he will pick up two points via Akira’s forfeit.

5. Blake Christian (10) defeated Bushi (6) in an A Block tournament match at 6:23. Walker Stewart said Blake was stripped of his GCW title earlier in the day! I haven’t seen that yet. Blake started 4-0 but has lost three straight. Bushi applied a reverse Figure Four early on, but Blake reached the ropes. Blake hit a modified Pele Kick, then a Fosbury Flip to the floor, but he clutched at his left ankle upon landing at 2:30. In the ring, Blake hit a Helluva Kick and a doublestomp to the back for a nearfall, but he couldn’t hit the Stomp to the head. Bushi hit the Rewind Kick. The crowd rallied for Blake, who has wrestled this one as a babyface. Bushi hit a dropkick on the knee, and he again applied a modified Figure Four, with Blake reaching the ropes at 5:30. Blake hit an impressive Lethal Injection, then the springboard 450 Splash for the pin! Good win for Blake.

6. Taiji Ishimori (10) defeated Drilla Moloney (8) in a B Block tournament match at 6:15. A dreaded Bullet Club War Dogs heel-heel matchup. Really notable weight difference here as Drilla is right at the 220 pound cutoff. Ishimori hit a top-rope doublestomp on a standing Moloney. Drilla snapped Ishimori’s neck between his ankles. Moloney choked Ishimori in the ropes as Charlton and Stewart reminded viewers that Taiji had a neck injury that cut his tournament short last year. Ishimori hit a (Nic Nemeth) Danger Zone leaping inverted DDT at 4:00. He spun Drilla to the mat and applied a Bone Lock! The crowd was fully behind Ishimori; Drilla reached the ropes. Moloney blocked Bloody Cross, and he hit a Styles Clash for a believable nearfall and that got a pop. Moloney hit a spear for a nearfall at 6:00. Ishimori hit the Bloody Cross out of nowhere for the pin. Good match.

7. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (6) defeated Titan (10) in an A Block tournament match at 9:35. Kanemaru attacked from behind to open the match. Titan dove through the ropes onto Kanemaru, then the bell rang to officially begin. In the ring, Kanemaru hit a dropkick on the left knee and took control. He began untying Titan’s mask and was booed, and he focused on the damaged knee. They rolled to the floor at 4:00, where Kanemaru slammed the damaged knee on the thin mat at ringside. Titan got back into the ring fairly quickly but was selling the knee injury. Titan hit a Tornado DDT and that brought the crowd to life. He hit a springboard dropkick and a flip dive to the floor.

In the ring, Titan hit a Pele Kick and they were both down at 7:00. The ref got bumped and Kanemaru hit an enzuigiri. Kanemaru grabbed his whiskey bottle. Titan avoided being struck by it and he hit a kick to the face. Titan applied a Muta Lock; Kanemaru poked the eyes to escape. Titan hit a spinning heel kick. Titan came off the top rope, but Kanemaru got his feet up to block it. The ref got bumped again! Kanemaru hit a low blow, twisted the mask, rolled up Titan, and scored the cheap pin!

8. Kevin Knight (8) defeated Clark Connors (8) in an A Block tournament match at 9:41. Stewart talked about how Connors’ hot temper cost him a possible win against Desperado in his last match, as he was disqualified. Knight hit a dropkick. He hit a second one that sent Connors to the floor, then a plancha to the floor at 2:00. Connors got a chair but Knight superkicked it. Knight hit a missile dropkick off the apron to the floor. Connors hit his powerslam on the floor at 4:00. He got a chair and jabbed it into the ribs. He grabbed a Young Lion and bodyslammed him onto Knight! Both barely got in before a countout. In the ring, Knight hit a leaping splash to the mat and they were both down.

They got up and traded forearm strikes. Knight nailed a springboard clothesline for a nearfall at 7:00. Connors nailed a Pounce and they were both down. Knight leapfrogged over a spear attempt! However, Connors hit a Gore for a believable nearfall. Knight blocked the No Chaser spike DDT, and he hit a jump-up Frankensteiner. He hit his spike DDT for the clean pin! That was fun.

9. Hiromu Takahashi (10) defeated Robbie Eagles (8) in a B Block tournament match at 22:26. Eagles also will be picking up two points via Akira’s forfeit. Hiromu is 3-1 all time against Eagles. They took turns playing to the crowd before locking up. Robbie tied him in the Ron Miller Special but Hiromu quickly got to the ropes. They traded overhand chops. They rolled to the floor at 3:00 and continued to trade chops. This was a lengthy exchange and Walker pointed out that Eagles had a cut on his chest. They both dove back in at the 19 count, but Eagles immediately pulled Hiromu back to the floor and slammed Takahashi’s knee on thin mat at ringside.

Back in the ring, Eagles began targeting the damaged knee. Hiromu tried for a huracanrana but his knee was too sore to hit it. Eagles hit a running Penalty Kick for a nearfall at 8:00. Eagles applied a Figure Four Leglock but Hiromu got to the ropes. Eagles had Hiromu tied upside down in the ropes, then he hit a flip dive to the floor on Hiromu and he was fired up. In the ring, Eagles hit a springboard dropkick on the knee. He hit a running double knees into the corner, but Hiromu grabbed Eagles’ legs and flipped him overhead to the mat at 11:30. Hiromu hit a Falcon Arrow for a nearfall but was selling the pain in his knee. Eagles hit a modified spinebuster and he slammed the knee onto the mat.

He hit some Yes Kicks to the chest, and he applied the Ron Miller Special leg lock at 15:00 and Hiromu eventually reached the ropes. Eagles hit a Sliced Bread. Hiromu hit some superkicks. Hiromu avoided a Turbo Backpack and he locked in a Triangle Choke at 18:00, but Eagles powered out, stood up and hit a Buckle Bomb! For the first time in this tournament, I’m wondering if we’ll have a time-limit draw. Eagles hit an enzuigiri; Hiromu hit a superkick and a pair of clotheslines. Eagles hit the Turbo Backpack for a nearfall, and he went back to the Ron Miller Special at 20:30, and Hiromu sold the pain as he fought the hold but he EVENTUALLY got to the ropes. Just SECONDS later, Hiromu blocked a move, got a rollup, and scored the pin! What a match!

10. TJP (8) defeated El Desperado (10) in an A Block tournament match at 21:14. After starting 0-4, TJP has won three straight. Desperado was viciously attacked by Clark Connors in his last match so we’ll see if he’s selling the effects of that. Some mat reversals and a feeling-out process early on, with a standoff at 2:30. TJP applied a Sharpshooter, and he turned it into a bow-and-arrow and got a nearfall, and he targeted Desperado’s left am. Desperado snapped TJP’s left arm at 7:00. Desperado tied up an arm and a leg. TJP hit a dropkick on the floor, then a top-rope flying forearm in the ring at 10:00. He hit a spin kick to the jaw then his running face wash in the corner.

TJP hit some rolling suplexes, but Desperado avoided the Mamba Splash, and Despe hit a spear, and they were both down at 12:30. Desperado hit a suplex for a nearfall. TJP blocked the Angel’s Wings. Desperado snapped the arm across the top rope. TJP hit the Mamba Splash, but Desperado immediately applied a hammerlock. TJP escaped and applied an Octopus. Desperado applied a Stretch Muffler at 15:30. TJP got a nice rollup for a believable nearfall, then a clothesline, and they were both down. TJP hit a tornado DDT and was fired up. Desperado hit an Angle Slam and a scoop slam for a nearfall.

TJP went back to an Octopus stretch. TJP avoided an Angel’s Wings, but Desperado got a rollup for a nearfall. Desperado hit a spinebuster and they were both down at 19:00. Desperado set up for an Angel’s Wings on the apron but TJP fought free. TJP hit a Mamba Splash on Desperado’s back as Despe was draped over the top rope. TJP hit a running knee for a nearfall. He hit a running knee to the back of the head, then a Mamba Splash for the clean pin. Wow, that was really good, too. The commentators noted that at 4-4, TJP isn’t eliminated yet.

* TJP said a few words in Japanese, saying he was tired. He noted he is still alive in the tournament. He noted he has Titan next. He said a few words in Spanish to Titan, too!

Final Thoughts: Hiromu-Eagles might be the match of the tournament. No one sells pain like Hiromu, as he writhed on the mat, screamed, bit his fingers, tugged on the referee, and milked the crowd for a great reaction. TJP-Desperado was really good too and might be in the top five of this tournament, too. What a strong pair of matches to conclude the show. I will go with the short-but-exciting Kushida-Mack match for third. This was among the best nights of the tournament, between those top two matches and a decent undercard. Blake Christian looked good, Knight picked up a big win. The tournament takes a day off before resuming Tuesday with just the B Block in action.



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