NJPW Best of the Super Juniors XXIV: Day 11
By Big Red Machine
From May 29, 2017
DRAGON LEE & SHOTA UMINO vs. SUZUKI-GUN (TAKA Michinoku & Taichi) - 4/10
Shota Umino jumped Suzuki-Gun from behind to start off this match. That's pretty ballsy for a young-boy. Taichi got into the ring and basically no-sold Shota's stuff and started to kick the living sh*t out of him. Well... so much for me getting behind this guy. He did look good here, but he'd have a much easier time if Taichi wouldn't be a dick and would actually give the kid something like TAKA did.
JUICE ROBINSON, HIRAI KAWATO, & RICOCHET vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Hiromu Takahashi, Sanada, & EVIL) - 6.25/10
For the second match in a row we have a young-boy jumping a heel to start the match. Kawato looked really great and actually did the large majority of the work for his team, but Juice Robinson showed absolutely no faith in him, face-palming when Kawato would charge in at a heel. He did this multiple times. Meanwhile, Kawato actually seemed to be handling himself well (in kayfabe, I mean) against these established stars, so it felt to me like Juice was just being a douche. Ricochet didn't do much here, but the stuff he did do looked pretty cool.
DAVID FINLAY JR. & WAR MACHINE vs. BULLET CLUB (The Guerrillas of Destiny & Yujiro Takahashi) - 2.5/10
The match was very blah. Rowe (and everyone else in the world) needs to stop doing that spot where he blocks forearm shots with his head. Isn't that just getting forearmed in the head?
BULLET CLUB (Marty Scurll, Bad Luck Fale, & Kenny Omega) vs. CHAOS (Will Ospreay, Kazuchika Okada, & Gedo) - 6.75/10
Why is Okada wearing a Lucha mask? That's kind of weird. Anyway, he and Omega get face to face in the middle of the ring and crowd goes nuts. Omega shoves Okada... and then Ospreay starts to hold Okada back as if to say "let me handle this for you." Gedo seemed to give this plan his blessing as he and Ospreay bumped fists, but when Ospreay offered Okada a handshake Okada completely ignored him, focusing on Omega the whole time. This whole thing was kind of weird. I like the idea that Okada is so focused on Omega, but Ospreay definitely like he was in the wrong for preventing the leader of his stable from retaliating against his chief rival, and Okada's disapproval of this was clear... but they're not going to do an Okada vs. Ospreay match and even Ospreay being kicked out of CHAOS wouldn't mean much, so I don't know where this could possibly lead to... and if it's not going to lead to anything, why do it?
The pair that winds up starting things off for us are Ospreay and Scurll. These two had a kick-ass match against each other on the opening night of the tournament, and have had a few even better high-profile encounters in the past eighteen months. I can't wait to see what they do here...
But I'll have to because as soon as the bell rang the director cut away from the ring to a shot of Toru Yano sitting there on commentary. He was all calm and un-Yano-like, which is a nice change, but it's one I want to see in HIS matches, not while he is sitting there on commentary when a much more exciting match is going on in the ring!
For the Heavyweights this tour is basically Road to Dominion 6.11 and this was basically what you'd expect from a match in this spot on the card on that type of show. It got you excited for the Okada-Omega rematch, Fale got to look big and strong, and the new guy in the company made Gedo tap out to help get him over.
BLOCK B MATCH: Tiger Mask IV vs. El Desperado - 6/10
Desperado worked over Tiger Mask's leg and knee. Tiger Mask managed to overcome this and win even though most of the offense he used was leg-based. I know that makes it sound like Tiger Mask wasn't selling well, but it really did feel like he was fighting through the pain rather than no-selling.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. They did a bit after the match where Tiger Mask went for El Desperado's mask (Desperado had gone after his several times recently). They made it clear that Tiger Mask could have ripped Desperado's mask off if he wanted to but decided not to. A mask vs. mask match between these two would be a cool little thing for the undercard of a big show like Dominion of King of Pro Wrestling.
BLOCK B MATCH: BUSHI vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (w/TAKA Michinoku) - 6.25/10
Kanemaru jumped BUSHI during his entrance. They brawled into the crowd and BUSHI did a big dive off of a ledge. Both guys worked over each other's heads. They had a very fun spot towards the end where BUSHI, New Japan's master of spitting things in his opponents' faces in order to cheat, knew exactly how to prevent Kanemaru from doing so. BUSHI won, now moving us up to six of the eight men in this block who are now sitting at six points. If I had to guess, we're going to have an eight-way tie going into the final day of block competition.
BLOCK B MATCH: Volador Jr. vs. ACH - 7.5/10
A couple of "accidental" low blows early in the match. That should have set an interesting tone for this match, but they didn't follow up on it in any way. They just proceeded to have a regular (well... better than average but still not out of the ordinary) Best of the Super Juniors Tournament non-main event match.
BLOCK B MATCH: Ryusuke Taguchi vs. KUSHIDA - 9.25/10
Taguchi blocking KUSHIDA's pitching windup punch by swinging his arms like a baseball bat was wonderful, as was this match overall. Both guys worked their respective favored body part while also trying to hit their big non-submission finisher a few times. There were a few points where KUSHIDA definitely could have sold his ankle a bit better, but on the whole both guys sold excellently. Why can't we have this Taguchi the rest of the year? He even made his hip-thrust attack look like a completely believably false finish!
Pretty much a one-match show from New Japan, but that match was the best match of the tournament, so I'm calling this a great show (ACH vs. Volador Jr. is worth watching as well).