Friday, June 2, 2017

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors XXIV Nights Eleven and Twelve Review

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors XXIV Night Eleven
May 29th, 2017 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 1,311

The B Block gets live treatment again. No single camera, no commentary stuff here. It’s an interesting show because, if results pan out, everyone could end the night tied in points. Time to see how B Block will shape up heading into its final night.

B Block: El Desperado [6] vs. Tiger Mask IV [4]
Desperado started 3-0 but hast lost two straight. Tiger Mask has had quite the impressive tournament. I enjoy Desperado, but he’s not immune to the tired pre-match Suzuki-Gun attack and outside brawl. He focused on Tiger Mask’s knee, and the Tiger Mask sold it well. Desperado went for various submissions and attempted to remove Tiger Mask’s mask. I appreciate that he didn’t completely resort to the same boring tricks like the rest of his stable. Tiger Mask fought from behind and connected on a Tiger Bomb and Tiger Suplex to win in 10:20. A rock solid way to start the tourney matches. Tiger Mask had to overcome a lot and it worked all came together well. [***]

B Block: BUSHI [4] vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru [6]
One member of an awesome stable (LIDJ) and one member of a lame one (SG). Fuck Kanemaru for jumping BUSHI while his dope theme song played. And guess what? It led to a brawl through the crowd. This stale ass stable and their stale ass matches. Like when met Kanemaru, BUSHI kind of played the de facto babyface and it worked. His suicide dive to take out TAKA was great and got a good reaction. Kanemaru used Suzuki-Gun’s dreaded tequila bottle as mist but failed. BUSHI hit MX and picked up the win at 9:27. I dig BUSHI but even he couldn’t overcome the dullness of Kanemaru. Too much of the same old, same old at times. I did like babyface work from BUSHI and that cheating backfired in the end. [**½]

B Block: ACH [6] vs. Volador Jr. [4]
For some reason, ACH didn’t trust Volador to shake hands at the start. Volador has mostly been a babyface so far. I guess he was right because Volador kicked him low once they shook. From there, this was non-stop action and moved at a crazy pace. There wasn’t a ton in the way of psychology or story, just two guys hitting their shit in an effort to win. That’s fine sometimes. I think it worked well here because everything they did felt important. The highlight might’ve been ACH hitting a quartet of suicide dives. He’s been a blast in this tournament. Volador won this insane battle with a massive super rana at 12:02. This wasn’t the kind of match everyone likes, but I had so much fun with it. More of this please. [***½]

B Block: ROH World Television Champion KUSHIDA [4] vs. Ryusuke Taguchi [6]
TAGUCHI JAPAN EXPLODES! They met on this same day last year (***½). Due to their friendship, this was clean from the start, which is a nice change of pace from the past three matches. They worked the expected body parts, and when that didn’t work, they progressed to striking. The exchanges were great, with armbars and ankle locks galore. Though I’m tired of the “desperate come from behind rally” in these tournaments, KUSHIDA has done well with his. He was willing to get a bit dirty when he needed to, but didn’t take it overboard to where he looked like a heel. His rollup attempt out of Dodon felt like a last ditch effort, but he dug deep and hit Back to the Future to earn the victory in 22:53. I thought that when he had the great match with Hiromu, Taguchi was done putting on great performances. I was wrong. This ruled. Their chemistry was top notch and KUSHIDA’s determination was palpable throughout. I liked the little things too, like stealing each other’s moves, as their usual stuff failed. [****]

Overall: 8/10. Probably my favorite B Block show thus far. Everything clicked, as even the worst thing (BUSHI/Kanemaru) was still solid. Tiger Mask/Desperado was a fun opener and ACH/Volador felt like a less-hyped version of Ricochet/Ospreay. The main event truly delivered one of the better tournament matches and B Block has an interesting scenario were everyone is tied with six points.

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors XXIV Night Twelve
May 31st, 2017 | EDION Arena in Osaka, Japan | Attendance: 1,118

It’s the final night of A Block competition. I believe I know where they’re going with the booking and I’m not a big fan, but we’ll see. Taichi, Dragon Lee, Ricochet, Will Ospreay and Hiromu Takahashi are all alive on the final night.

A Block: Jushin Thunder Liger [0] vs. Taichi [8]
In his final BOTSJ match, Liger could play spoiler to Taichi. Taichi looked to prevent that with typical Suzuki-Gun nonsense. The pre-match attack, the cheap tactics, the fighting outside, etc. You know the deal by now. Liger had to fight from behind, because each time he thought he had something going, Taichi found an underhanded way to combat it. The Suzuki-Gun guys went too far, ripping Liger’s mask and cutting his hair. Sick of seeing what the legend was going through, perennial good guys KUSHIDA and Ryusuke Taguchi ran out to make the save. The place went nuts as Liger, with ripped mask and costume, rallied. Shotei, Liger Bomb and BRAINBUSTER wrapped it up at 10:02. Most of it was standard Suzuki-Gun shit but Liger overcoming it all to earn a win in his final BOTSJ match was great. The visual of him with the ripped attire was great. For that lone, it gets a bump in quality. Also, this was Liger’s 100th career BOTSJ win. A nice, round number to end on and a number that I don’t think will ever be touched. [**¾]

A Block: Dragon Lee [8] vs. TAKA Michinoku [2]
In a surprising moment, TAKA gave a handshake before the bell. He did poke Lee in the eye and it led to a fight in the aisle, so not everything changed. It led to one of the better countout teases of the tournament, but Lee beat the count. As expected, Lee turned it around and got his shit in. He even used TAKA’s own crossface against him. Lee got frustrated when he couldn’t put away TAKA and for having to overcome his shenanigans. His argument with the referee allowed TAKA to kick him in the face and win with the Michinoku Driver in 9:20. Solid little match here. Lee tried to fight through TAKA’s stuff, got frustrated and it cost him. TAKA needing everything in his power to win was wise. [**¾]

A Block: Marty Scurll [6] vs. Ricochet [8]
These two had a great match in PWG in 2015 (***¾). Ricochet needs a win and an Ospreay loss to win the block. I guess the reason TAKA didn’t attack before the bell was because Marty did it here. This was fought with a sense of urgency from the start. Scurll held serve for a large portion of the match and his antics were highly entertaining. Ricochet learned as the match went on, including flipping over Marty’s patented “JUST KIDDING” kick. He went into a wild flurry that made me feel he was on the verge of the win. Ricochet’s SSP caught knees and Marty, ever the villain, went into a series of piledrivers. Ricochet survived and fought through the Chicken Wing, but eventually had to tap at 13:31. This was one of the better tournament matches so far. Scurll looked great and they made me buy into Ricochet overcoming and winning. I hope Marty gets more NJPW bookings and I’d still love to see Ricochet get an IWGP Jr. Title run. More than another KUSHIDA run and definitely more than an Ospreay run.[****]

A Block: IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi [8] vs. Will Ospreay [8]
Whoever wins this, wins the block. One of these guys is one of the best wrestlers in the world. The other is Will Ospreay. Both guys came out on fire and we got some brawling through the crowd. Hiromu nailed his excellent sunset flip powerbomb. I just have to note it because it’s awesome. He attacked the leg, which can go one of two ways. Ospreay can sell well like he did at last year’s BOTSJ finals, or he can decide against it like he does all too often. He started with some good selling, but it all went downhill once he had to get his shit in. He didn’t want to let it stop him from hitting his key stuff and it took away from the match. The lack of selling allowed the finishing stretch to move at a quick pace. Ospreay used a flurry of offense, including the Essex Destroyer, an imploding 450 and the Oscutter to win the match and block at 15:19. Solid match, but nowhere near as good as it could’ve been if Ospreay sold better. Ospreay, Taichi and TAKA were the only guys to not have great matches with Hiromu in this tournament. [***¼] 

As I said before, I’ve been over the Ospreay hype (outside of a few matches, I’m looking at you, Shibata vs. Ospreay) for quite some time. I suspect they do KUSHIDA/Ospreay III as the finals. Their first match was a classic but the second left something to be desired. Also, I’d rather Hiromu not do another rematch at Dominion.

Overall: 7/10. A good final show for the A Block. We didn’t get the expected awfulness from a Taichi match, so it allowed for a consistent show. I came away disappointed with the main event and I thought TAKA/Lee was good, but nowhere near great. Ricochet/Scurll stole the show and I wish one of them won the block.
A BlockPointsB BlockPoints
Will Ospreay *Winner*10 (5-2)El Desperado6 (3-3)
Ricochet8 (4-3)Yoshinobu Kanemaru6 (3-3)
Dragon Lee8 (4-3)ACH6 (3-3)
Hiromu Takahashi8 (4-3)Ryusuke Taguchi6 (3-3)
Taichi8 (4-3)Tiger Mask IV6 (3-3)
Marty Scurll8 (4-3)KUSHIDA6 (3-3)
TAKA Michinoku4 (2-5)BUSHI6 (3-3)
Jushin Thunder Liger2 (1-6)Volador Jr.6 (3-3)