NJPW Best of the Super Juniors XXV: Day 9
By Big Red Machine
From May 29, 2018
BLOCK A MATCH:
Taiji Ishimori(4) vs. Tiger Mask IV(6) - 7.5/10
Ishimori jumped Tiger Mask as he was getting into the ring. Tiger Mask made his comeback and started to work Ishimori's arm with submissions that would make Zack Sabre Jr. proud, but unfortunately Ishimori came back and used head-targeting offense to get the win. The last few minutes of this were very exciting. Ishimori really needed a win at this point, but I really, badly want Tiger Mask IV to win this tournament (yes I realize there isn't a snowball's chance of that happening- or even of him making the finals- but I just really want it, okay?).
BLOCK A MATCH:
ACH(4) vs. BUSHI(2) - 7/10
They started off with BUSHI working over ACH's injured arm and ACH's selling was excelling, but once his comeback started they just started doing moves rather than focusing on the story they had spent the early portion of the match establishing. It was still exciting (they had one particularly excellent reversal that I don't ever remember seeing before), but it definitely could have been better if they had stayed focused on their story.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Yoh(2) vs. Flip Gordon(6) - 7/10
Basically a slightly shorter version of the previous match. Just substitute ACH's arm for Gordon's neck. ACH's selling was better than Gordon's, but this match had some more exciting nearfalls and built a little better.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Will Ospreay(4) vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru(4) - 4/10
As you would expect from a member of Suzuki-Gun, Kanemaru jumped the bell on Ospreay. Ospreay quickly turned it around on him, but Kanemaru cut him off by hitting him in the face with a chair right in front of the referee, who, of course, did nothing about this flagrant use of a foreign object in clear violation of the rules. Kanemaru then started jamming the chair into Ospreay's neck so the referee... started counting to five like it was a hold in the ropes or something. All of this time they're on the outside and of course they're not being counted out or anything, because that would mean the referee was doing his job, which rarely happens in New Japan.
The count-out, of course, starts once Kanemaru returns to the ring, because that's definitely how these are supposed to work. The reason we have count-outs is so the wrestlers are incentivized to keep the action in the ring where it is supposed to be because they don't want to get counted out and thus not win. They're not supposed to be an alternate win condition that you can try for. They're supposed to be incentive to keep the fight in the ring where it is safer and there is less of a chance of someone interfering or using a foreign object (which is also why it bugs me so much when referees just let the wrestlers keep their title belts or other paraphernalia on the apron in their corner instead of on a table at ringside where they belong). That's why you can't win most titles by count-out: because it's not as "real" of a win as the encouraged forms of victory (pinfall, submission, TKO) are. It's almost the same as a DQ. Winning by count-out isn't you winning the match; it's the other wrestler losing the match by violating a rule. Whenever we have a storyline in which there is a stipulation added that the title can change hands on a count-out it's almost always because the champion has been walking out of matches and taking advantage of this technicality to not lose the title when he/she really should lose the belt because what he/she is really doing by walking out is forfeiting, which is a form of submission, so the stip just makes that official, thus closing the loophole
The reason it bothers me so much when New Japan (and others as well, copying the matches that everyone- especially Meltzer- raves about in New Japan) does the dumb sh*t they do with their count-outs is because they are blatantly dropping the pretense of this being a professional sport in exchange for one moment of totally cheap drama (and I call it cheap because nobody ever bites on these endless count-out teases, despite them happening in just about every singles big singles match). It's the sort of thing we've all sh*t on TNA for doing, so why should any other promotion get a pass?
Anyway, once Ospreay predictably makes it back into the ring without getting counted out, Kanemaru goes back to work on his neck, but this time with legal wrestling maneuvers, so it doesn't feel contrived. He then gave Ospreay a DDT on the outside. Wow! Look at that! Kanemaru hit Ospreay with a move that targets his neck on the outside so now Ospreay has to sell his neck and they can tease him being counted out... but this time it doesn't make the referee look like an idiot for not disqualifying someone for severely breaking the rules right in front of his face! Why couldn't we have just done this in the first place?
Ospreay started to make his comeback with what looked to me almost like Kanemaru taking a phantom bump for one of his handspring flippy kicks. More stuff happened, leading to an atrociously weak-looking ref bump (especially when you consider how easily these ref pop right back up after Suzuki-Gun members shove them down), because someone decided we needed Ospreay to get a visual pinfall on Kanemaru here. This let Kanemaru hit Ospreay in the nuts when he went to go check on the referee, though it probably would have been just as effective if all he had done was pull him down by his hair and have him land on his neck (which is exactly what he did right afterwards).
It would have worked better, actually, as Ospreay recovered from this nut shot plus attack on his neck rather quickly. Quickly enough to stop Kanemaru from hitting him with a chair. Ospreay then went to hit Kanemaru with the chair... but the referee stopped him from doing so, because I guess only Kanemaru is allowed to use chairs in this match. Or maybe chairs are only allowed to be used outside of the ring. Or maybe Kanemaru got his chairshots in during the allotted five-minute window in the beginning of the match or something. This was all done so that when the referee went to put the chair away, Kanemaru could take a big gulp of his handle of whiskey (which he is allowed to just keep on the ring apron) and try to spit it in Ospreay's face but Ospreay stopped it by putting his hand in the way, then superkicked Kanemaru so he spit all of the whiskey in the air. We had to go through several steps to get to this spot that made the match stupid and overbooked, but hey, at least we got the visual of a guy spitting liquid in the air because he got kicked. Yeah. That was totally worth it.
They then proceeded to have a really great last few minutes, including Kanemaru jumping about ten feet into the air to hit dropkick Ospreay as a counter for an attempted Os-Cutter, plus some other awesome high-flying stuff like one of the sickest diving DDTs I've ever seen. It was enough to save this from being a dud even earn it a 4/10, but watching these last few minutes be so great almost made me angry because if they had cut all of the dumb sh*t out of this fourteen minute match and replaced it with stuff that was the quality of the cumulative four minutes of this match that wasn't stupid, we'd be talking about this as yet another Will Ospreay MOTYC.
An otherwise great BOSJ show damaged by TNA-level overbooked stupidity in the main even from two guys who really should know better- especially Ospreay, who has been having a career year by doing the exact opposite of this crap.