Week 2 of Best of the Super Juniors featured four nights with cards consisting entirely of tournament matches, so we were treated to a lot of action!
Night 7 – 22 May 2019
Jonathan Gresham’s match against Titan was the first time he really impressed me in this tournament. He showed off an array of offence and escapes that could rival Zack Sabre Jr. He got the victory with a painful looking submission hold.
Kanemaru scored an interesting victory over Sho. After taking the match into the crowd, he stopped Sho making the 20 count by throwing an Young Lion into him to obstruct his path!
Marty Scurll put on his best match of the tournament so far against the unbeaten Shingo Takagi. He was all business from the start and the interference by Brody King was effective. In the end Takagi overcame King and an umbrella shot to hit Last of the Dragon for the pin.
El Phantasmo v Will Ospreay was easily the match of the night. The two men work brilliantly together. ELP targetted Ospreay’s neck for much of the match but Ospreay was able to make some strong comeback’s. ELP got the victory with CRII in a match that went close to the 30 minute time limit. This was a great match that let ELP show what he can do and the win over Ospreay gives him more legitimacy for the tournament.
Night 8 – 23 May 2019
Ryusuke Taguchi and Rocky Romero had a short but fun match with a bit of comic relief. Taguchi came out in his rugby attire while Rocky entered with his basketball to try to take the mantle of Coach! Taguchi came out victorious after a series of pinfall reversals. The best moment was post-match when they agree to be co-coaches of NJPW!
In another Kanemaru upset, he pinned Ishimori with a roll-up after hitting him with a Suntory Surprise, I really didn’t see that one coming.
Will Ospreay and Bandido put on a classic, Ospreay seems to bring out the best in all of his opponents. There was a lot of high-flying as you would expect but they also showed hit a lot of stiff shots on each other, something that we’ll be seeing more of in Ospreay’s matches as he heads into the heavyweight division. Ospreay won this one after catch Bandido on a moonsault attempt and hitting Stormbreaker for the pin. Definitely check this one out!
For me, the match of the night was Dragon Lee v Shingo Takagi. These two went at it like they were in a title match. Like in the previous match, we got a great mix of striking and high flying but it was on a slightly higher level. The biggest spot was Dragon Lee’s crazy suicide dive into Takagi in the crowd, the distance was insane! There were plenty of moments where I though Takagi was going to take his first defeat from Lee (and there would be nothing wrong with that at all) but he managed his 5th victory of the tournament to continue undefeated. This is another must watch!
Night 9 – 24 May 2019
We got a little bit of fun from Red Shoes when he decided to try to referee Titan v Dragon Lee while wearing Lee’s outer mask. It lasted through the first sequence of moves but he had to take it off to boos from the crowd. The match itself was unsurprisingly superb with the two going at a fast pace through the whole thing. They threw everything at each other and put on an exhibition which ended with Dragon Lee picking up the win with Desnucadora. Definitely add this one to your watch list.
Match of the night was El Phantasmo v Rocky Romero. Having only watched NJPW for a couple of years, Romero’s been an absolute revelation for me in this tournament and this match was no exception. Phantasmo effectively went for Rocky’s damaged leg with strikes and submissions. Rocky pulled out all the stops, targeting Phantasmo’s arm. There was an amazing sequence of a spinning DDT into a falcon arrow into an armbar by Romero that was reversed into an ankle lock by Phantasmo, a triangle hold by Romero, and finally a one-armed powerbomb by Phantasmo. It was perfectly executed. In the end, Rocky won his first main event in Koruoken Hall by submission, in the process hnding Phantasmo his first loss in NJPW! Sho and Yoh out to celebrate with Romero to end the night on a high. Add this one to your watch list, and I’ll be searching through the NJPW World archives for more Romero classics.
Night 10 – 26 May 2019
There wasn’t a huge amount to this night of the tournament, but once gain Will Ospreay put on the match of the night, this time with Robbie Eagles.
The commentary team filled us in on the history between the two men and how it was Ospreay who tried to get Eagles to Japan, giving him a Japanese flag patch from his ring gear in their last singles encounter. Eagles gave the patch back to Ospreay at the beginning of the match, they’re both here now and it’s time to fight!
This history came to the fore when Ospreay hesitated on the hidden blade, not wanting to inflict so much damage on Eagles. But that allowed Eagles to lock in the Ron Miller Special which Ospreay struggled to escape from.
Somewhere in the middle of the match, El Phantasmo came down to ringside. He interfered towards the end, hitting Ospreay in the knee with a chair as he attempted an Oscutter. Eagles locked in the Ron Miller Special again, and this time it was too much for Ospreay who tapped out.
Eagles was noticeably upset about the interference and refused to 2 Sweet Phantasmo. He wanted the clean win against his longtime rival but ended up getting a cheap victory. Hopefully it won’t be the last time the two are in the ring together.
This was another match to check out and one of the best of the week.