NJPW Best of the Super Juniors XXVI: Day 5
By Big Red Machine
From May 18, 2019
YOTA TSUJI & BANDIDO vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Taichi & DOUKI) - 6.5/10
The referee ordered the bell to be rung to start the match while DOUKI was still holding a metal pipe. Tsuji charged right at Taichi the moment the bell rang and then knocked DOUKI down, basically doing the competent referee's job for him.
In a very pleasant surprise, Suzuki-Gun did none of their usual bullsh*t. DOUKI and Bandido had a great segment together that has me very excited for their upcoming match. Taichi made Tsuji tap, and the Suzuki-Gun beat Bandido up after the match and DOUKI stole his mask. As I've said before, I should care about this, but such things have happened so often in New Japan (and especially with Suzuki-Gun) and never led to anything, so I have no reason to believe this time will be any different and thus don't care.
BULLET CLUB (El Phantasmo & Gedo) vs. BULLET CLUB (Robbie Eagles & Jado) - 3.5/10
They tried to do a "no honor among thieves" match, but I've seen enough of them that lead to nothing over the years in New Japan and there was nothing on the line here, so I found it extremely hard to care.
JUICE ROBINSON, REN NARITA & WILL OSPREAY vs. SHOTA UMINO & CHAOS (Rocky Romero & Yoh) - 4.75/10
Some decent action, but that's about it. Ospreay and Juice had a moment where Juice tagged himself in and Ospreay was not expecting it and not happy about it which could lead to something but probably won't.
RYUSUKE TAGUCHI & TOA HENARE vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Tetusya Naito & BUSHI) - 5.75/10
Taguchi did his usual Taguchi stuff. Naito and Henare had some good chemistry and Henare had very good babyface fire.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Sho vs. TAKA Michinoku - 6/10
Sho picks up his first win of the tournament.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Tiger Mask IV vs. Marty Scurll (w/Brody King) - 5.75/10
If twisting the opponent's fingers in the turnbuckle faster is illegal, DQ the guy for it! If not, then leave him alone! A referee should never be at the point of physically attacking a wrestler unless the wrestler has already been disqualified and still hasn't stopped the illegal behavior.
Brody King also got involved at several points during the match, so I guess Villain Enterprises are heels now. Credit where it's due: Having Brody distract the referee so that Marty could prevent Tiger Mask from getting back in and do even more damage to him, then having Brody let the referee go so he would resume that count at fifteen extremely clever. I don't think I've ever seen that before.
They never really came much of a coherent story, but the action was fine. Marty picked up the win, handing Tiger Mask IV his first loss of the tournament.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Taiji Ishimori vs. Titan - 4.75/10
More cheap-heat going for the mask. Red Shoes won't count because of it. Now Ishimori is choking Titan... and now he's going right back to the mask. This one segment of the match took an exciting, action-packed match and completely derailed it. We got a few minutes of good action before it several minutes of very good action after it, but those two minutes completely took me out of the match because it felt like something they were doing to get booed rather than anything felt natural or a severed a purpose for any sort of story.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Jonathan Gresham vs. Dragon Lee - 7.75/10
A great match for the time it got, but I was shocked that this didn't even get ten minutes. It really feels like NJPW doesn't have any confidence in Gresham and doesn't see him as anything more than another spot-filler, which is a shame because not only is he extremely talented, but he brings a much different style than anyone else in this tournament.
BLOCK A MATCH:
Shingo Takagi vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru - 8.75/10
They quickly wound up on the outside, where they stayed for a long time without getting counted out. Part of this saw Kanemaru put Shingo through a table in a clearly premeditated manner right in front of the referee and somehow not get disqualified. This set up the Count-Out Tease That No One Ever Buys(TM), because apparently that rule came back into effect after the referee was done checking on Shingo.
Shingo was put through the table shins-and-knees-first, so that's what Kanemaru started to work over once Shingo predictably beat the count-out. For the record, this is exactly the sort of situation where the count-out tease wouldn't bug me (because the big bump was being used to set up the story of the match) if they didn't do these count-out teases so f*cking often. We would later get another count-out tease spot, but they once again incorporated it into the story so it didn't just feel like something they were doing for a cheap pop when the babyface beats the count. Now if only they would start applying the rules of a count-out consistently then we would be taking some steps to turning the culture of "whatever I need for the spot I want to do trumps the logic of the situation" that has metastasized in this company over the past few years.
The match continued telling its story and did so wonderfully. Shingo's selling was beautiful, Kanemaru was a completely despicable heel, and I thought the overbooking was done in a way that helped the match rather than hindering it. In fact, they did it so well that I can explain away to myself why there was no DQ even though the referee clearly saw Taichi holding Shingo in place for the attempted chairshot (his first responsibility is the safety of the wrestlers so he immediately went to stop Kanemaru from using the chair- and might not have even seen Taichi until he was engaged in the tug of war with Kanemaru- and from that point on he was either having the tug of war with Kanemaru or bumped until the finish, so he never got around to calling for the DQ because he didn't have a free moment. While I did like the young-boys holding Taichi back the second time he tried to interfere, it does make me wonder 1) why they didn't do that the first time he tried to interfere, or any other time people try to interfere, and 2) why Naito and BUSHI didn't come out to try to thwart Taichi's interference.
A fine show from New Japan. The main event certainly carried it, but they at least got the other stuff (and particularly the non-tournament matches) out of the way relatively quickly. Tomorrow's show should be pretty interesting, so hopefully B Block finally gives us a show worth watching.