NJPW Best of the Super Juniors XXV: Day 11
By Big Red Machine
From May 31, 2018
BLOCK A MATCH:
Flip Gordon(6) vs. BUSHI(4)- 7.25/10
Early on they wind up on the outside and BUSHI goes to get a chair. The ref tries to stop him from using it but he shoves the ref. There was no DQ for this. He then hit Flip with the chair a few times, and I actually popped because at least the ref having been shoved meant he wasn't able to see it... but then the referee got up and saw BUSHI choking Flip with the chair... and despite the ref having told a wrestler not to do something, the wrestler trying to do it anyway and shoving the referee when he tried to physically stop him, then doing it anyway, the referee still didn't call for a DQ.
After that things got pretty great. You can add Flip Gordon to the list of people whose stock has really been raised in my eyes due to their performances in this tournament. He sold his neck very well all match, and had me wondering whether or not he had legitimately hurt his knee when he started selling that, too. The match was very exciting and some crazy athletic spots, but Gedo's lackluster standard tournament booking made the finish frustratingly obvious.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Taiji Ishimori(6) vs. ACH(4)- 7.5/10
They had a really great athletic match with ACH's midsection getting worked over. Shockingly, Gedo managed to do the right thing here and not the Gedo thing by giving the win to Ishimori instead of having ACH win to keep up the parity booking.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Tiger Mask IV(6) vs. Will Ospreay(6)- 9/10
OUTSTANDING! Ospreay ran wild until Tiger Mask reversed something into a Tombstone Piledriver, at which point Ospreay immediately rolled to the outside, selling his neck. The referee ran over to make sure he was okay, and when Ospreay assured him that he was, the ref got back into the ring and immediately began to apply the twenty-count. See? It's not so hard to follow the f*cking rules.
Ospreay was down on the outside and sold it really well, being unable to get up for most of the count and get constantly telling himself "I've got to do it," before eventually managing to get up and stumbling back into the ring just in time to beat the count. I bought into this more than any other count-out tease in New Japan in a very long time, and the reasons for that are that 1) it wasn't the same formulaic bullsh*t we get from LIJ and Suzuki-Gun matches, and 2) it played off of an already existing story. Another reason I liked this better than all of the other count-out teases in this tournament is that this one actually served a purpose to the story of the match (establishing just how vulnerable Ospreay's neck is) rather than just being a count-out tease for the sake of a count-out tease. Even if no one had bought this one, this still helped the match, whereas the others don't mean sh*t because no one believes them and they serve no other purpose in the match than to try to get people to bite on them as false finishes.
Anyway, Ospreay's neck obviously became the story of the match, and although he was able to use his legs to fight back, the pain in his beck kept getting in his way at every turn, preventing him from really stringing any offense together. Tiger Mask eventually got his own string of offense together, including a sick-looking submission that resulted in an extremely compelling struggle to the ropes. Tiger Mask then hit a Tiger Bomb but Ospreay wouldn't stay down so he hit him with a Butterfly Superplex but Ospreay once again fought through the pain and kicked out... so Tiger Mask figured he'd go back to the thing that worked the first time and picked Ospreay up for another Tombstone Piledriver but Ospreay managed to reverse it, flip Tiger Mask over into position for the Stormbreaker, hit his new big finisher and get the win. This was one of the best twelve minute matches you'll ever see.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Yoshinobu Kanemaru(4) vs. Yoh(4) - 7.5/10
Suzuki-Gun member Kanemaru jumped Yoh before the bell. We then went to more of the standard bullsh*t where they go to the outside and rules stop applying for a few minutes so that the heel can use a chair on the babyface and set-up the count-out tease that no one ever believes, but at least this time it was a lot shorter than usual. Kanemaru started to work over Yoh's neck, including a DDT on the outside to set up another count-out tease.
The whole match basically went like that, with Kanemaru working over the neck- especially with DDTs, and doing count-out teases. While I never bought any of the count-out teases as an actual false finish, they did at least feel like they were part of a story rather than just being a spot that was done to get a cheap pop as they usually like in New Japan. They had a good last few minutes that gives me (likely vain) hope that they've finally learned how to cheat correctly. Most of this match was repetitive, but it was repetitive in a way that felt like it was building up to something (which it ultimately did) rather than being repetitive out of a lack of creativity.
A GREAT show from New Japan, with probably my favorite match of the tournament so far, and also the best Tiger Mask IV match I've seen... well... probably ever. Go check this one out!