This week we were back to alternating nights of Block A and B matches instead of the loaded cards of all tournament matches from last week. It was the home stretch to determine who would go on to the final. Block A was increasingly narrowing down to either Shingo Takagi or Taiji Ishimori coming out on top as they had 14 and 12 points respectively, while Block B was being led by El Phantasmo, Will Ospreay, Ryusuke Taguchi and Robbie Eagles who all had a score of 10 points.
Night 11 – 29 May 2019
Unfortunately, this wasn’t a great night of action, many of the competitors looked like they were feeling the effects of a long tournament, particularly Ishimori, who is reportedly working through injury. Taka Michinoku has come out worst though as he has been pulled from the rest of the tour with a foot injury.
The top match of the night was Takagi v Jonathan Gresham. Gresham has looked better and better throughout the tournament and gave his all here in an attempt to topple the still undefeated Takagi. In a surprising, but smart, spot, Gresham locked in a sleeper on Takagi outside the ring to attempt to get a countout victory, but Shingo made it back in at 19. Gresham got in some good strikes and managed to block Last of the Dragon towards the end, followed by getting Takagi into the Octopus, but Takagi powered out and hit Last of The Dragon for the win.
Night 12 – 30 May 2019
Robbie Eagles and Bandido had a great, fast-paced, back and forth match which Bandido ultimately won with his amazing finisher, the Avalanche Moonsault Fallaway Slam. This loss left Eagles with no chance of winning the tournament, but he’s used the most of the opportunity to showcase his talent throughout. He’s definitely one to watch in NJPW.
Ospreay led Douki to his best match of the tournament. With assistance from Taichi, he tried all of the dirty tricks he could, but Ospreay kept coming back. Towards the end, the Young Lions and Milano held Taichi back from interfering while Ospreay hit the Hidden Blade and Stormbreaker for the decisive victory. If you only watch one Douki match, it should definitely be this one!
Night 13 – 31 May 2019
The focus of this night was the match between Takagi and Ishimori to determine the winner of A Block. They delivered a really good match with some awesome spots, it was believable that Ishimori could hand Takagi his first loss and take the Block in the process. At one point, Takagi took a DDT from Ishimori but held on to come back with a suplex, it was a fantastic display of the strength of The Dragon. Later, Ishimori hit the Destroyer, but Takagi jumped right back up and hit a Pumping Bomber! Ishimori just couldn’t keep Takagi down, and Shingo hit Last of the Dragon to win the match and the Block. This was one of the tournament’s must-watch matches for me.
Night 14 – 3 June 2019
The final night of B Block mirrored the final night of A Block with a main event featuring the only two men left who could win the tournament with Will Ospreay and, surprisingly for me, Ryusuke Taguchi both on 12 points.
Like with Rocky Romero, I missed Taguchi’s heyday and mainly saw him as a comedy wrestler, but this tournament has shown us his more serious side, and it felt like he was out to win. Ospreay is a phenomenon. At the start of the tournament, I wasn’t sure why he was still fighting in the Junior division, I still kind of do but I’m glad he has been as he’s put on consistently great matches for three straight weeks. The division will miss him when he goes full heavyweight, but he deserves to be a main event guy in the near future.
The match itself was brilliant, I was a bit irked by the comedy spots near the beginning as it didn’t fit with the high stakes in play, but the rest more than made up for it. Taguchi had counters for Ospreay’s big moves, blocking the OsCutter several times and even turning a Stormbreaker attempt into the ankle lock, but he couldn’t stop Ospreay who went all out eventually overwhelmed Taguchi to finally hit Stormbreaker for the win.
Shingo Takagi came out after the match to congratulate Ospreay and warn him that he is stronger then him. Ospreay cut a great promo, telling Shingo he would be the one to slay The Dragon.
No the scene is set, we have two of the top wrestlers in NJPW preparing to face each other to determine who is the Best of the Super Juniors in the main event at Ryogoku Sumo Hall on the 5th of June. I can’t wait for this one!