Friday, June 1, 2018

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors XXV Night Eleven

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors XXV Night Eleven
May 31st, 2018 | Hachinohe City East Gymnasium in Hachinohe, Aomori | Attendance: 1,426

We’re nearing the end of the line people. With just two shows for each block left, the true contenders are separating themselves from the pack. Side note, this tournament has had too many single camera, no commentary shows. I get it, but it has made most of the tournament feel less important.

A Block: BUSHI [4] vs. Flip Gordon [6]
A win keeps BUSHI alive, while Flip could jump out into sole possession of first if he does the same. When you watch enough of these matches, you begin to sense patterns. BUSHI had the early control thanks to some of his usual underhanded tactics. Flip made a comeback, complete with all the flashy moves we’ve come to expect from him. I did appreciate how BUSHI continued to find interesting ways to avoid Flip’s offense. He seemed to have him scouted well. BUSHI picked up the win with MX after 11:58 in a match that was just the right length. It worked as a solid opener, without either man going overboard with what they did. [***]

A Block: ACH [4] vs. Taiji Ishimori [6]
I guess I’ve messed up my block standings because I’ve had ACH at 2 points, but he has four. Anyway, this was intriguing because these two made quite the tag team in 2016. They were a highlight of the Super Jr. Tag Team Tournament. Ishimori showed just how much he’s changed since then. He was vicious and attacked his former partner at every opening. There was no semblance of the good guy from those days. ACH’s shoulder was once again a problem. He’s not winning matches, but his selling and performances continues to make him a standout. ACH had some hope spots, but Ishimori was always a step ahead. Though they both knew each other well, Ishimori’s new attitude and ACH’s bad shoulder kept the new Bone Soldier in the driver’s seat. He won via Bloody Cross in 11:57. There are matches in the tournament with more action. However, I really enjoyed the story between former partners and their new personalities. [***½]

A Block: Tiger Mask IV [6] vs. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay [6]
Can Tiger Mask IV just win this block? And maybe even the tournament, then title, and then give me him against Liger in a veteran battle. Whatever. He was obviously going to lose this, a victim of the Gedo round robin tournament booking trope. Interestingly, Tiger Mask bested Ospreay in the 2016 BOTSJ. Since Will, the young champion, is quicker, stronger, etc., Tiger Mask had to dig deep. He busted out a Tombstone to gain an advantage that rattled the champion. Will’s comeback still had the same problems it has had in almost all other tournament matches. Tiger Mask gave it his all, but clearly wasn’t on the champion’s level, falling to Storm Breaker in 12:05. Smart action and a well told story that didn’t overstay its welcome. [***]

A Block: YOH [4] vs. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion Yoshinobu Kanemaru [4]
This is the strangest, weakest main event choice so far in the tournament. Kanemaru has been the worst performer of the field, while YOH is still mostly unproven. It does involve two members of junior tag teams, but that’s it. Anyway, Kanemaru attacked before the bell. Duh. It seemed like they were going for a story of the young upstart trying to weather the storm of the wily veteran. However, Kanemaru’s offense and heat segments continue to be devoid of any interest or intrigue. YOH’s comeback sequence was filled with energy, raising some of the fun level of the match. He won with the Five Star Clutch in a long 16:37. They told a version of this story in much better fashion when YOH faced Tiger Mask. Kanemaru dragged this down, but YOH did his best to make it fun. A lackluster main event. [**½]

Overall: 6/10. Another average outing from the A Block. There was nothing bad, but also nothing you had to see. I dug the hell out of ACH/Ishimori, which is worth checking out. The rest of the show is either solid or went on for too long. 

Taiji Ishimori8 (4-2)KUSHIDA6 (3-2)
Will Ospreay8 (4-2)Hiromu Takahashi6 (3-2)
BUSHI6 (3-3)Marty Scurll6 (3-2)
Flip Gordon6 (3-3)Dragon Lee6 (3-2)
YOH6 (3-3)El Desperado4 (2-3)
Tiger Mask IV6 (3-3)Chris Sabin4 (2-3)
Yoshinobu Kanemaru4 (2-4)Ryusuke Taguchi4 (2-3)
ACH4 (2-4)SHO4 (2-3)