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Kevin’s NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 26 Night Five Review

May 18, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW Shingo Takagi
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Kevin’s NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 26 Night Five Review  

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 26 Night Five
May 18th, 2019 | Yamagata Big Wing in Hirakubo, Yamagata | Attendance: 1,213

We’re back to the superior A Block for night five of the BOSJ. Nothing on this card stands out as a must-see match on paper, but we’ll see how it goes.

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A Block: IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion SHO [0] vs. TAKA Michinoku [0]
TAKA has had a great strategy in both matches so far. SHO has had the two best tournament matches. Both are still 0-2. Once again, TAKA played the role of the craft veteran. It’s something he’s been excelling at in this tournament. I also like how he hasn’t gone the route of cheating like other Suzuki-Gun guys. DOUKI and Kanemaru do it all the time but TAKA hasn’t. It adds to his bond with Zack Sabre Jr., who is similar in that way. TAKA kept SHO grounded and slowed the pace because that style suits him better. SHO proved to be too much as he survived a crossface scare and got his first victory with Shock Arrow in 10:02. Another solid TAKA match, while SHO continues to impress. This was a simple setup, but one that worked. [***]

A Block: Marty Scurll [2] vs. Tiger Mask IV [4]
It feels like Tiger Mask IV always gets off to a good start in this tournament. Marty Scurll showed a surprising amount of respect. He shook hands at the start. Of course, he went away from it when he offered a clean break only to attempt to snap Tiger Mask’s fingers. Scurll put his focus on Tiger’s hand. I loved him putting Tiger’s fingers into the metal part of the turnbuckle. It’s such a sick looking spot that is so simple. Scurll accidentally chopped the ring post, putting his hand in danger as well. It played a part going forward as both guys had trouble with their hands. Tiger Mask came close with a Tiger Driver and Kimura, but Scurll reaches the ropes. Shortly after, Scurll won with the Black Plague after 13:01. I thought this was fine. However, it lacked some of the fire and energy I’ve seen from Tiger Mask so far in this tournament. I have to say, Marty hasn’t been bad, but he’s disappointed outside of the Gresham match. [**¾]

A Block: Taiji Ishimori [4] vs. Titan [2]
Commentary did a good job pointing out how banged up Ishimori is. They even pointed to his botched spots against Scurll as a sign. I appreciate that. Titan tried to take to the skies at the start, but Ishimori was aggressive and slowed him down. Understandably, Ishimori didn’t seem to be putting out his best effort. With him being banged up, you can see him taking the night off of sorts. Titan had a few close calls but never felt like he truly threatened. When he went for the Titan X pin, Ishimori panicked and found a way to counter. He then added a lariat and Bloody Cross to move to 3-0 in 11:42. Like I said, it didn’t feel like these guys were going all out. Instead, they worked a good match that was unspectacular. [***]

A Block: IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Dragon Lee [2] vs. Jonathan Gresham [2]
One of my most anticipated matches of the tournament. It’s the kind of styles clash that I feel usually works with two good wrestlers like this. Gresham used his mat knowhow to really dominate Dragon Lee at points. Commentary even noted how much Lee has kind of struggled so far in this tournament. Gresham was just in control, owning him on the mat in the same way that Zack Sabre Jr. does in the G1 Climax, but less vicious. Lee’s arm was almost completely taken out of the equation. It caused him to not be able to hit some of his signature moves. The champion did manage to survive what was thrown at him before hitting Desnucadora from out of nowhere to get the win in 9:42. Way shorter than I expected. This was a case where another few minutes would’ve helped. As is, Gresham got to showcase his skills and Lee looked like a resilient champion. Very good stuff. [***½]

A Block: Shingo Takagi [4] vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru [0]
Shingo came in with a knee injury. This was his first tournament match where he didn’t charge his opponent, instead waiting for Kanemaru to come to him. As much trouble as SHO gave Shingo, this was different. Kanemaru targeted the bad knee and was willing to use all his usual tricks to be the first person to beat Shingo in NJPW. That included using a steel chair on the leg on more than one occasion. Shingo barely beat a countout and was in a lot of pain while trapped in the Figure Four. He was in real trouble and he sold it as such. Taichi got involved as well, but when the referee caught Kanemaru cheating, Shingo got an opening. He went off with Pumping Bombers and finished him with Last of the Dragon in 15:42 as the Young Lions held Taichi back. The best Kanemaru match I’ve seen in forever. His strategy was smart and it led to a different kind of Shingo. [***¼]

Taiji Ishimori 6 (3-0) Ryusuke Taguchi 4 (2-0)
Shingo Takagi 6 (3-0) Will Ospreay 4 (2-0)
Dragon Lee 4 (2-1) El Phantasmo 4 (2-0)
Marty Scurll 4 (2-1) Robbie Eagles 4 (2-0)
Tiger Mask IV 4 (2-1) DOUKI 2 (1-1)
Titan 2 (1-2) YOH 2 (1-1)
Jonathan Gresham 2 (1-2) BUSHI 0 (0-2)
SHO 2 (1-2) Bandido 0 (0-2)
Yoshinobu Kanemaru 0 (0-3) Rocky Romero 0 (0-2)
TAKA Michinoku 0 (0-3) Ren Narita 0 (0-2)
The final score: review Average
The 411
Another day, another solid edition of wrestling. It was the first A Block show to not have at least one great match. Still, it was consistently good and flew by because nothing went long.