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Kevin’s NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 26 Finals Review

June 5, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Kevin’s NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 26 Finals Review  

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 26 Finals
June 5th, 2019 | Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 7,650

We’ve reached the end of the line for the Best of the Super Juniors Tournament. Shingo Takagi vs. Will Ospreay is, as expected, the finals. We also have the return of Hiroshi Tanahashi and the NJPW debut of Jon Moxley. That’s a lot to take in, so let’s see how it goes.

Bandido, Jonathan Gresham and Ren Narita vs. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Dragon Lee, Shota Umino and Titan
A staple of the BOSJ Finals show is the multi-man tags involving guys who aren’t part of established stables. Also, Shota Umino. I quite enjoy all six guys in this match, so I’m pumped. Dragon Lee came out in a Katsuyori Shibata shirt. Yes! Surprisingly, he took something of a heat segment. You expect the champ to get the hot tag but I liked this twist. It allowed him to work against Bandido and give us something fun. Lee got triple teamed and it was quite impressive. He turned the tables against Narita. The match broke down to give everyone some big spots and that was appreciated. Lee beat Narita with a sick running knee strike in 8:26. Perfect way to start the show. The BOSJ guys having a really fun and competitive tag, with the champion gaining momentum heading into a huge title defense this weekend. [***½]

El Phantasmo, Robbie Eagles and Taiji Ishimori vs. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Roppongi 3K and Ryusuke Taguchi
Ah, now we get the BOSJ multi-man tag with guys who are in established stables. Also, Ryusuke Taguchi. Bullet Club attacked before the match because that’s what NJPW heels do. However, this one had some intrigue to it because Robbie Eagles wasn’t happy about it. He’s been moving towards babyface during the tournament. From a wrestling perspective, this was simple. Each guy did their signature spots and it was kind of basic. What made this really click was the character work and stories. ELP was a total jerk and it bothered Eagles each time. Meanwhile, Roppongi 3K struggled because they were paired with the other NJPW coach, Taguchi, and not their usual mentor Rocky Romero. Eagles had this won, only for ELP to blind tag in and steal the pin with CR2 on SHO at 9:09. Like I said, a decent match bumped up by the story. [***]

DOUKI, Minoru Suzuki, NEVER Openweight Champion Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & RevPro British Heavyweight Champion Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV, Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano
This tournament made me forget that Liger/Suzuki was being built. Gedo better put that match on Dominion. And this also builds Taichi/Ishii for that show, which I don’t care about. It’s nice to have Sabre back. Speaking of Sabre, the third match this looked to build towards was him against YOSHI-HASHI. The crowd was on fire for anything Liger did, which gave this match a bit of a boost. DOUKI had a highlight when he dove out onto everyone outside. Of course, he also had to be the guy to eat the pin. HASHI nailed him with Karma to take this in 10:34. A solid enough match that did the job it had to in setting up the future. [**¾]

BUSHI, EVIL, SANADA and Tetsuya Naito vs. IWGP Intercontinental Champion Kota Ibushi, Toa Henare, Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma
Ibushi/Naito III (at least of 2019) is set for Dominion. Come on, you know how this one went. These are some very enjoyable wrestlers and they’re almost always a safe bet to give us something fun in the ring. The main focus was Ibushi/Naito, but they also teased an EVIL/Henare match which sounds bonkers. Henare is someone I think is underrated. Other than those two builds, the rest of this match was fine. Well executed, but lacking that extra bit of energy from other LIJ tags. Henare fell to the Magic Killer in 10:27 to wrap up a good six man tag. LIJ is a safe bet for something good almost every time out. [***¼]

Brody King and Marty Scurll vs. IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada and Rocky Romero
Honestly, there’s not a ton to say about this. It was notable as being the first look at Brody King and Marty Scurll as a team outside of the undercards on earlier tournament dates. But it was a total night off for Kazuchika Okada. With his upcoming opponent being Chris Jericho, this had nothing to do with that and was just a match that happened. Romero took the heat segment and made the hot tag to Okada. He came in, did his thing, and won after the Rainmaker (right after doing the camera zoom out pose, which is rare) connected on Brody King in 10:35. Standard tag match. [**¾]

Post-match, the lights went out and a Chris Jericho video played. He just threw a bunch of threats at Okada. Hilariously, he called himself the PAINMAKER. That’s so bad.

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White
Tanahashi won their WK12 match (***¼), White won the G1 outing (***¾), Tanahashi won at KOPW ’18 (***), and White beat him for the IWGP Heavyweight Title at New Beginning this year (****). Facial hair is a good look for Switchblade. White attacked before the bell to take even more advantage of a hurt Tanahashi. They brawled in and out of the ring, with White focusing on the elbow. It made for a much different match than we’ve seen from them before. White removing Tanahashi’s protective elbow pad is the kind of thing I love in a match. Tanahashi sold the hell out of everything. He couldn’t even complete certain moves because of the damage. Watching him squirm in a great looking Fujiwara Armbar led to some great drama. Gedo got involved and it allowed White to hit a low blow. I thought that was the end but then Tana hit one of his own for a great spot. When he tried the Texas Cloverleaf, White countered into an inside cradle to steal this in 19:16. Great match. I loved how it was different from standard NJPW fare. It wasn’t a reversal barrage or who could do more cool moves than the other. It told a tremendous story because Tanahashi is a master babyface and White is a fantastic heel. [****¼]

IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship: Juice Robinson [c] vs. Jon Moxley
Moxley wore tights for a change, but still made his entrance through the crowd. I’ve had concern about him in NJPW. He’s a guy who excels in TV matches, but working the longer style of NJPW match could be problematic. Juice has cut his hair. This started out as the fight they promised. They went into the crowd and we even got to see Juice do a somersault off the entrance structure. He mostly missed and caught Young Lions instead. Things got intense, with chairs and tables being brought into play, as well as Juice getting his eye busted open. Moxley hitting jabs to the eye looked brutal in the best possible way. He also went after the leg and busted out the ring post Figure Four, which I love. Juice fighting back with blood around his eye made for a great visual. He used a cannonball outside and a powerbomb to put Moxley through a table before trying to win with a Boston Crab. I love that he used a move he learned in the Dojo rather than from WWE, where these two had a past. In the end, Moxley hit Death Rider (Dirty Deeds) for two and then added an elevated version to win the title in 24:14. Way better than I expected. Moxley looked crazy motivated here. He brought a wild level of intensity and Juice’s babyface fire made him a perfect foil. They started hot and kept that level going for almost 25 minutes, which is hard to do. [****¼]

Best of the Super Juniors Finals: Shingo Takagi vs. Will Ospreay
The unstoppable Shingo Takagi feels more special than almost anyone who has come to NJPW in a long time. He goes up against Gedo’s golden gaijin, Will Ospreay. This is Will’s third finals in four years. Early on, they did a great job playing up how Ospreay was close to Shingo in terms of power. For example, Shingo shoulder blocked him down and he popped right up, which nobody else had done yet. Shingo sensed he was in trouble because he started to do uncharacteristic stuff, like diving to the outside. At times, Ospreay looked like his equal. Then Shingo would do something like flip him into oblivion after catching a kick. This progressed into the typical NJPW main event. Lots of big moves, slick counters, and some dramatic near falls. Will’s release Liger Bomb was a sight to behold. The match was reaching its peak. Unfortunately, it went on for a lot longer and went into overkill with the close calls, near falls, and big spots. It was the same issue I had with the Cole/Gargano TakeOver matches and something like Scurll/Ospreay at Sakura Genesis last year. Sometimes it can feel natural and sometimes you roll your eyes. Will kicked out of Last of the Dragon and I don’t recall anyone doing that unless my mind is blanking. Will survived another Pumping Bomber and then went toe to toe with Shingo despite taking a bit of a beating. It took a Spanish Fly, hook kick, Hidden Blade, top rope Oscutter, and Storm Breaker to win in 33:36. Again, Will’s wheelhouse isn’t the 30+ minute one. I don’t want people to think I’m being overly negative on this match. It’s great. There’s a lot to like, from the hard strikes to the crowd being invested to the big moves to the story of Will possibly being Shingo’s equal. It just hit that level of overkill that took me out of it. Not the all-time great I’ve heard people praise it as, but still a great match. [****¼]

Booking wise, I’m obviously not a fan. Shingo was something special and Will feels like that status quo Gedo likes so much. However, I don’t want people to think that affected my review. It has that same score if Shingo wins. I’d rank it as the third best BOSJ Finals since I started watching in 15. It goes Ishimori/Takahashi, KUSHIDA/O’Reilly, Shingo/Ospreay, KUSHIDA/Ospreay, and Ospreay/Taguchi.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
I may not think the main event is a classic and I may not like the result, but make no mistake. This was a great show. There are only two matches to not reach *** and both were right on the edge. We got some entertaining undercard stuff and build for Dominion. The three final matches all delivered and each felt different from the other. I’m actually pumped for Dominion and that’s the first time NJPW has me feeling that way in 2019.