Tuesday, May 24, 2016
NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Night Three Review
Night three of the Best of the Super Juniors Tournament followed a similar format to night two. We don’t get the entire show on NJPW World, instead having the individual tournament matches uploaded hours later. This was also shot in single camera format and features the A Block competitors.
Both men suffered night one losses to guys that probably won’t finish with more points than them. BUSHI was in full Tetsuya Naito mode, arriving in suit and mask. Early on, he even teased a dive outside, only to lay down in the middle of the ring and pose. When he actually seemed to give a fuck, he was able to gain control and wear down Sydal. Sydal started to rally with some kicks and some of his signature offense. We got a missile dropkick and SPRINAROONIE from BUSHI because, why not? The final few minutes were the best part. Sydal leapt off the mat to catch BUSHI with an impressive top rope rana. The Shooting Sydal Press followed for the 1-2-3. I’m not a fan of BUSHI starting 0-2, especially since I predicted him to only lose twice throughout the entire thing. The match itself was pretty good and really got going down the stretch, but I still found it a bit disappointing. I wanted more from both.
On night one, Gedo bested BUSHI while Kyle O’Reilly defeated KUSHIDA in a match of the year candidate. Things started mostly slow with some mat work. Gedo added to the slowness by taking a powder and stalling a fair amount. Gedo used that to his advantage and targeted the neck, setting up for the Gedo Clutch down the stretch. I appreciate when working a body part has some sensible thought behind it. O’Reilly got hot and closed with a flurry. Ax and Smash, as well as a Brainbuster, brought him a near fall. Just as Gedo kicked out though, O’Reilly latched onto the arm into an armbar and made the booker tap out. Good work from both men involved in front of a crowd that has been pretty good. So far so good for my pick to win, O’Reilly, in terms of both match quality and victories.
Ryusuke Taguchi, who nearly won this thing last year, beat Matt Sydal on night one, while David Finlay fell to Rocky Romero in a good showing. Unlike that first outing, Finlay didn’t attack quickly and instead chose to grapple with the former IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion. That did not bode well as Taguchi stretched him out. So far, Taguchi has been much less of a goof in the tournament and that has made him much more enjoyable to watch. He did go into his ass attacks and such but it wasn’t overdone. Finlay caught him in the stretch muffler but Taguchi reached the ropes. Finlay did the same when Taguchi applied the ankle lock. A fine finishing exchange saw Finlay get several near falls on flash pins before eventually succumbing to the ankle lock. Both guys were good again here as Taguchi has been more tolerable and Finlay continued to impress.
As noted earlier, Romero defeated Finlay and KUSHIDA lost to O’Reilly on the first night. These two are familiar with each other from their respective tag teams, the Time Splitters and Roppongi Vice (or the Forever Hooligans going a bit further back). This was good from the start. I liked Romero using his weird latch onto the ropes gimmick to his advantage, only for his second attempt at it to fail because KUSHIDA was ready. Outside of that though, it felt like Romero really had the champ’s number. He seemingly outsmarted him at multiple turns. Romero, like Gedo, is great on no commentary shows, because it’s a bonus to hear him throughout the match. As things came to a close, Romero survived the Hoverboard Lock and got a near fall on a small package. He then hit a string of moves that the resilient KUSHIDA kept getting up from. A big high running knee finally put him away. Another good match and the best of the two house shows so far. I like the upsets but I’m not a fan of KUSHIDA losing here. I’d have only had him lose to O’Reilly and BUSHI in this block.
Overall: Although the house shows being shot in single camera format isn’t something I like, these guys have still worked hard to have good matches. All four matches on this night were good and the four match format has proved to make for easy watches. KUSHIDA/Romero was the match of the night, but you can’t go wrong here. None go on for too long and all are worth a look, though none are must see.