Sunday, June 3, 2018

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors XXV Night Twelve Review

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors XXV Night Twelve
June 2nd, 2018 | New Sunpia Takasaki in Takasaki, Gunma | Attendance: 1,515

Not only is this the final B Block only night of the tournament, but it’s also the final single camera show! NJPW took a while to get this uploaded, so night thirteen is already up as I check this one out. I’ve really enjoyed you B Block, so let’s go out with a bang.

B Block: Chris Sabin [4] vs. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion El Desperado [4]
Desperado took jumping his opponent before the match to a new level, hitting Sabin just as he stepped through the curtain. That led to Desperado beating him up all around the arena and nearly winning via countout. Sabin fought back by giving Desperado some of his own medicine. I’ve liked that about Sabin’s matches so far. He goes out and finds a way to work the style of the other guy. For example, he tossed Desperado into a sea of chairs and hit a cannonball onto one that he was sitting on. The pace picked up late, which worked in Sabin’s favor. He used Cradle Shock to stay alive after 12:14. This was a fine opener, though not the best outing from either man. I appreciated Sabin playing into Desperado’s style for his comeback. [***]

B Block: NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Champion Marty Scurll [6] vs. Ryusuke Taguchi [4]
To stay alive, the “Funky Weapon” needed a victory. Meanwhile, the “Villain” has picked up three straight wins. The guys had some fun in the early stages, mocking each other a bit. It works because both characters are flat out silly. Yes, if you don’t think Marty’s gimmick is silly, you haven’t been watching him. Taguchi bothered him with all the clever counters he found for some of Marty’s key offense. Had this gone about eight minutes, we’d be talking about a fun encounter. Instead, it went the NJPW route and kept going, ending up twice as long as it should’ve been. The back half was oddly paced, featured another ref bump (a few too many of those in this tournament), and ultimately didn’t make much sense. After Taguchi got a visual tap out win, Scurll rolled him up to steal it in 15:42. It was on pace for something strong, but got marred by too much BS. [**½]

B Block: Hiromu Takahashi [6] vs. SHO [4]
One of my most highly anticipated matches of the entire tournament. For two guys without much history, there was an intensity in this that most other matches in the BOTSJ could rival. SHO continued to be desperate to prove himself against the top guys in his block, while Hiromu is always a safe bet for a wild performance. SHO knew he’d have to bring his best for Hiromu and he did with some German suplexes and a trio of powerbombs. As we saw when Hiromu faced Desperado, though, it takes a lot to keep the man down. SHO showed (ha) just as much heart, kicking out of some of Hiromu’s very best stuff. The finish was tremendous, as Hiromu applied his triangle choke. SHO tried to powerbomb his way out, but couldn’t get Hiromu up a third time and just collapsed, giving Hiromu a win in 16:19. Usually, I don’t these single cam/no commentary matches four stars or more. They just feel hollow. However, Hiromu is so special that he’s now got two in this tournament alone. This was awesome, with two gives throwing everything at each other in a match that felt important throughout. [****]

B Block: CMLL World Lightweight Champion Dragon Lee [6] vs. KUSHIDA [6]
Dragon Lee is basically the Tiger Mask IV of this side, starting hot and going cold late. On paper, this sounds incredible, but in practice, it lacked a bit. That’s not to say it wasn’t great, because it was. It just kind of felt like two great wrestlers having a very good match and not one that featured any real drama. It was mostly crisp, outside of a few miscommunications, but there didn’t seem to be much behind it. Basically, it was a good match that felt like it came between two guys who weren’t going anywhere in the tournament, rather than two at the top of the standings. They had each other well scouted, like KUSHIDA escaping Desnucadora and hitting Back to the Future, only for Lee to roll that into a pin. KUSHIDA eventually hit another Back to the Future to win in 18:17. Like I said, this was a strong main event and I apologize if the review led you to believe it wasn’t. It’s a very good match that had some issues keeping it from being one of the best in the tournament. [***¾]

Overall: 7.5/10. Though I was disappointed in two matches, this was a strong show from start to finish. The opener was solid, Taguchi/Scurll was half a very good match, and the final two matches were damn good. An easy watch outside of the second match. Hiromu is the best junior heavyweight on the planet, while SHO is the breakout star. It’s must watch.

Taiji Ishimori8 (4-2)KUSHIDA8 (4-2)
Will Ospreay8 (4-2)Hiromu Takahashi8 (4-2)
BUSHI6 (3-3)Marty Scurll8 (4-2)
Flip Gordon6 (3-3)Dragon Lee6 (3-3)
YOH6 (3-3)Chris Sabin6 (3-3)
Tiger Mask IV6 (3-3)El Desperado4 (2-4)
Yoshinobu Kanemaru4 (2-4)Ryusuke Taguchi4 (2-4)
ACH4 (2-4)SHO4 (2-4)

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