Monday, May 23, 2016

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Night Two Review

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Night Two
May 22nd, 2016 | Kiramesse Numzazu in Numazu, Shizuoka, Japan

Night two of this year’s Best of the Super Juniors Tournament didn’t air live on NJPW World. Instead, just the tournament matches were uploaded later in the day. They are all shot in single camera format, similar to some of the G1 shows last year.

B Block: Ricochet [2] def. Tiger Mask IV [0] in 9:53
Ricochet is one half of the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. They worked some back and forth early before Ricochet’s athleticism and quickness gave him the upper hand. The height he gets on his springboard stuff is absurd at times. Tiger Mask was smart, trying to ground the high flier. He went for a few submissions, including an armbar and then he countered the Benadryller into an ankle lock. Ricochet rolled through into a version of the Manjigatame to make Tiger submit. I thought this was fine but nothing special. I appreciated them going with a submission finish as it was unexpected. **½

B Block: Jushin Thunder Liger [2] def. ROH World Television Champion Bobby Fish [0] in 11:30
While I like the NJPW dub theme for reDRagon, I really liked that they’ve got their official theme so far in the tournament. There was some early trash talk, which made things fun. Fish worked the leg and was really good at playing the heel here. I didn’t expect it but he pulled out some underhanded tactics and mixed it in with the trash talk, making for a good heat segment. He came close to winning with a knee bar only for Liger to rally behind the crowd and reach the ropes. In a great turn of events, Liger blocked the Fishhook by holding the ropes and leaning down on Bobby, using them for leverage and getting the three count. Solid work from both guys. Extra points for heel Bobby, the hot crowd, their back and forth banter and Liger turning the heel tactics around on him. ***¼

B Block: Beretta [2] def. Volador Jr. [0] in 12:04
I’m pretty sure Beretta clearly said “I DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT LUCHA LIBRE” just before the bell. Volador had the early upper hand until things spilled outside. Beretta did something that the damn single camera missed and it gave us a countout tease. As Volador began a comeback in the ring, he removed his tear away pants and nailed a dive outside. Back inside, Volador removed his mask. If this went any longer, he might have been naked by the finish. There was a cool spot where Volador leapt over a Beretta spear attempt on the apron and went right into an Asai moonsault. Beretta survived a super rana before putting Volador away with the Dudebuster. Another good match as they did well with being given the most amount of time on the card. I look forward to more from both guys as the tournament progresses. ***

B Block: Chase Owens [2] def. Will Ospreay [0] in 9:58
Easily the most shocking result of the first two nights but more on that later. It was clear from the start that Ospreay was fired up. He wowed the crowd early with his athleticism, including a really nice handspring moonsault to the outside. The lack of commentary allowed us to hear just how vocal Ospreay is during his matches. Ospreay tired his Chaos buddy Okada’s Rainmaker, complete with pose, but Owens was ready and blocked it before hitting a nice spinning backbreaker. Ospreay’s high flying style cost him as he springboarded right into a superkick, followed by a gutbuster and package piledriver, giving Owens the upset. Ospreay entered as a heavy favorite to win the entire thing and a loss to Owens, probably the blandest guy in the tournament, was unexpected. Either way, this was easily the best match I’ve ever seen from Owens and Ospreay is in a zone in 2016 where he seemingly can’t have bad matches. Unfortunately, he’s now 0-2 in singles matches in NJPW. ***¼

Overall: 6/10. Clearly this set of matches lacked the must see aspect that KUSHIDA/O’Reilly had on night one. However, this is a very solid set of matches. None of them are bad and they all mostly fly by. Fish/Liger and Ospreay/Owens were the best matches, while Beretta/Volador was pretty good. The fact that the tournament has had so many early upsets makes for interesting watches as you don’t know what to expect.

Fave Five 5/16/16-5/22/16

1) Kyle O'Reilly: Last year, Kyle O'Reilly lost in the finals of the Best of the Super Juniors Tournament to KUSHIDA in a match that ranked 15th in my Top 100 Matches of 2015 list. They met on the first day of this year's tournament and managed to put on an even better performance. Their chemistry is off the charts. For twenty minutes, they had a MOTY candidate, which included one of the best spots I've seen in years. Kyle was able to make KUSHIDA, the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion, submit to his armbar before getting on the microphone and promising to win the entire tournament. He's a safe bet and my pick to win it as well. If he wins, it should lead to another match between these two, this time for the title.

2) The Miz: While KUSHIDA and O'Reilly had the best match this week, the IC Title match was a close second. The Miz, Cesaro, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn went out and completely stole the show. Honestly, all four of them have strong cases for making the list, but I went with the winner, the Miz. True, he had to sneak in to steal the win, but that was perfect. I saw a lot of complaints about the result and I get that. However, Miz is the best heel they have (along with Owens) and elicits the actual heel response that the WWE wants. He's the best kind of chickenshit champion and I fully expect Cesaro to dethrone him soon to a massive pop. For now though, Miz continues to be awesome.

3) Rusev: TONG PO! There was no result on Extreme Rules that I was happier about than seeing Rusev regain the United States Title. I like Kalisto, but his run as champion was lackluster for the most part despite some good matches. Rusev has easily been one of the most entertaining acts in all of wrestling over the past few months. He was even the only tolerable part of the awful love rectangle angle with himself, Lana, Summer and Ziggler last year. Rusev deserves a chance to get somewhere with his personality and I hope they do it here. Of course, he could just be keeping it warm for a week until John Cena returns and wins it bac
k because Memorial Day and America and all of that stuff.

4) KUSHIDA: Considering how great the match between KUSHIDA and Kyle O'Reilly was, both had to make it. As noted, they put on a classic and both guys deserve all of the credit for their efforts. KUSHIDA came close on several occasions, but dropped a tough one to O'Reilly. KUSHIDA is still the reigning IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion though, and it's very possible that he wins out the rest of his block before coming close to or making the finals. Either way, he earned his spot here and will probably make it again over the next two weeks with consistently stellar performances.

5) Seth Rollins: Returned and took out WWE Champion Roman Reigns.