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Pantoja’s NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 2022 Night Eight Review

May 26, 2022 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Image Credit: NJPW
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Pantoja’s NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 2022 Night Eight Review  

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 2022 Night Eight

May 25th, 2022 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 1,104

The first night of full show action was pretty damn good and I’m looking forward to more.

A Block: Ace Austin [6] vs. Alex Zayne [6]

Interesting that we’re starting with two guys who sit near the top of their block. Honestly, based on their performances so far, I’m looking forward to this. Zayne had a really good opener yesterday and Austin has been a highlight. According to commentary, these two have also formed a friendship. You could tell there was chemistry here with both guys exchanging crisp stuff early, countering one another, and bumping well for the other. For example, Zayne did a flip on a springboard kick bump to make sure Austin looked good. Both guys seemed to have the other scouted, avoiding some big moves and that made for some really entertaining exchanges. When Zayne went up top, Austin started pleading with him and bringing up their friendship, pulling him into an inside cradle. The crowd responded with as much enthusiasm as they could when these two both went down following some great kicks and strikes. Austin crotched Zayne up top when he went for the Cinnamon Twist, hit a sweet headscissors takeover, and won with The Fold at the 11:37 mark. These guys have won me over. Austin has arguably been the A Block’s most consistent wrestler and Zayne delivered big on two straight nights. Probably the third best match so far. [****]

B Block: BUSHI [4] vs. DOUKI [4]

They’ve met in each of the last three BOSJs (**, ***, and **¾). They started hot here with DOUKI nailing a dive through the ropes in the opening moments and taking control from there. He even applied the DOUKI CHOUKI soon after. BUSHI fought back with a tope suicida of his own. Even with that, it felt like DOUKI was still really the guy with the upper hand. Maybe it’s because BUSHI kept his shirt on the entire time. Due to various submission attempts, BUSHI was damaged when trying to climb up top and DOUKI caught his MX attempt into the DOUKI CHOUKI, giving him the win in 8:09, which got the response of an upset from the live crowd. That was kind of the BUSHI special as he delivered a 6/10 match. DOUKI already has his high point total for one of these. [***]

A Block: Clark Connors [2] vs. Francesco Akira [2]

The other two new guys from the A Block also square off here. Connors has been solid so far, while Akira is another highlight despite his record. Commentary explained that Connors is basically on excursion from the LA Dojo, so even having 2 points already is a success for him. Something I’ve liked about Akira in recent matches is that he feels like he’s getting more desperate for a win. Once they took things outside here, he looked to pull a page out of SHO’s book and tried for a countout win. Since Korakuen is smaller than other venues, he snapped off a rana into the ring post to help the cause, though that still failed. Akira only getting two on the Fireplex (impressive since Connors is the biggest guy in the tourney) led to more frustration. Connors avoided the Fireball and won with the Trophy Kill in 8:12. Another upset as I didn’t see Akira starting 1-4. I thought this was better than expected and I’m really liking Akira’s frantic attempts at winning. [***½]

B Block: Titán [2] vs. Wheeler Yuta [4]

Two of the most interesting names in the tournament. They got off to a strong start here with a classic indie standoff. With yesterday’s win, it seems like Yuta’s confidence has grown. He was cocky after the exchange and more than willing to trade chops with Titán like they were in a NEVER Openweight Title match. Titán was also not shy about taking to the skies, hitting dives that had an extra something behind them. It reminded me of Desperado’s from yesterday. Once back inside, they just traded offense and you got the sense that both weren’t here to waste time. They were going to try and win at any point, which makes sense given how we’ve had short matches over the past day and a half. Titán hit a Hammerick clothesline, which if you know about the famous Hammerick bump he took against X-Pac, you’ll understand. It looked cool. Titán missed a dive inside and Yuta pounced with elbows before rolling over into a pin to win in 7:01. That’s my kind of match. Short, energetic, to the point, and packed with action, all while making sense. [***½]

B Block: El Lindaman [6] vs. El Phantasmo [6]

Given how ELP is typically booked and how good Lindaman has been, I’m surprised this is in the first half of the show. Anyway, there were strikes exchanged to start which was an obvious mistake for ELP because Lindaman had him beat there. I liked that ELP’s strut wasn’t something Lindaman would just let happen and take lightly. He put him down with a great German suplex for his troubles and then hit a gorgeous dive. That set the tone for some hard hitting stuff but then ELP tried to pull a DOUKI, which is how he lost yesterday. Lindaman saw it coming and dead lifted him into a suplex in a cool spot. Weirdly, ELP feigned a leg injury right after and it worked as he suckered Lindaman in and won with CR2 in 8:40. Good for the time it got though kind of disappointing. I didn’t like going to the finish well twice. [***]

A Block: Ryusuke Taguchi [2] vs. SHO [2]

There are three prior BOSJ meetings for them in 2018 (***½), 2020 (***¼), and 2021 (***¼). SHO attacked from behind and dragged Taguchi to the back to try for a countout win, only for that to fail. Taguchi turned the tide and we got a goofy spot where his head poked out of the curtain while SHO’s legs did since he was sitting on his face. They continued with the wacky antics and BS from there including replacing SHO’s wrench with a banana, the lights going out, and interference from Dick Togo, which involved him getting his face sat on. Yujiro Takahashi also showed up. He laid out Taguchi with his pimp cane and SHO won after a long 10:53. The House of Torture is legitimately bad. Like, they don’t have good heat. They just have “this shit sucks” heat. I used to love watching SHO and now I can’t stand it. [*]

A Block: Taiji Ishimori [8] vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru [2]

These are the two most decorated junior heavyweights in NOAH history. Kanemaru holds a ridiculous 13-1-1 record over Ishimori. They met in NJPW in the 2018 BOSJ (*½), 2019 BOSJ (**), 2020 New Japan Cup (***), and 2021 BOSJ (**½). Ishimori’s only win actually came during the pandemic with nobody in attendance. In fact, Ishimori came into this with only 15 BOSJ losses ever and three came against Kanemaru. Kanemaru dropkicked him before the bell, looking to get the upper hand. He played mind games with Ishimori and nearly stole this quickly. Ishimori got in a lungblower but then Kanemaru swigged whiskey, spit it at Ishimori, and rolled him up to win in 2:07. Not much of a match but Kanemaru did it again. [NR]

B Block: Robbie Eagles [4] vs. TJP [2]

On paper, this should be a technical clinic. That’s what we got, with these two trading some crisp stuff on the mat. Eagles was the one to be arrogant first, which was surprising, as he patted TJP on the head after winning an exchange. He kind of held serve for a while until TJP avoided the 450 splash onto the knee. He countered his next move and nearly got on an STF but Eagles frantically made it to the ropes. From there, we got some really good back and forth with submission stuff that felt different from the rest of the night. TJP not only avoided the 450 a second time but also got his knees up on it. He hit the Mamba Splash and then made Eagles tap to the STF, staying alive after 11:49. Another really good match on a night of wrestling that has been highly enjoyable for the most part. We’re back on track. [***½]

B Block: El Desperado [6] vs. Master Wato [2]

They met in the 2020 (***¼) and 2021 BOSJ (***) tournaments. Desperado also beat him in a title match this year (***¼) after tapping to Wato in a tag. The early portions of this were all Desperado. Wato couldn’t get anything going and the leg work led to his knee buckling when he tried certain offensive moves. Even when Desperado locked in the Stretch Muffler, he didn’t seem to put all that much effort behind it because he doesn’t need to against Wato. Wato finally got going late with a submission attempt and some near falls that had Desperado reeling. Despite his best efforts though, Wato still couldn’t top Desperado, falling to Guitarra de Angel in 16:06. Wato’s best performance of the tournament. It started slowly but really picked up down the stretch and Desperado continues to be a star. [***½]

A Block: Hiromu Takahashi [6] vs. YOH [4]

The big rematch from last year’s finals. Last year, Hiromu beat him in a mere 4 minutes in the tournament (***) and then again in an epic finals that went nearly 40 minutes (****¼). Hiromu won again when they met earlier this month at Wrestling Dontaku(***½). Hiromu also enters with a bad knee due to last night. Almost immediately, YOH went after the leg. If Hiromu tried getting something going, YOH could just dropkick the knee and cut him off with ease. That was basically the story here and it’s one that worked. YOH has been mentioned as a guy who can’t win the big one but having a hampered Hiromu could open the door for him to get that monkey off of his back. YOH was able to cut a Hiromu hot streak off with a dragon screw and applied a leg lock that Hiromu sold as if he was really going to tap. He made it to the ropes, setting up a good back and forth to close things out, including YOH coming incredibly close on the Five Star Clutch. He finally got over the hump by using a Butterfly Suplex to win at the 17:57 mark. I was surprised that move ended it but this was a hell of a match that told a good story, with Hiromu selling his ass off. [****]

A Block

Ace Austin/Taiji Ishimori: 4-1 (8 points)

Hiromu Takahashi/YOH/Alex Zayne: 3-2 (6 points)

Clark Connors/SHO/Yoshinobu Kanemaru: 2-3 (4 points)

Francesco Akira/Ryusuke Taguchi: 1-4 (2 points)

B Block

El Desperado/El Phantasmo: 4-1 (8 points)

El Lindaman/Wheeler Yuta/DOUKI: 3-2 (6 points)

Robbie Eagles/BUSHI/TJP: 2-3 (4 points)

Titán/Master Wato: 1-4 (2 points)

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
This is what I’ve been waiting for. The tournament picked up in a big way here with a fantastic show. Ishimori/Kanemaru did its job so the only real blemish on the card was Taguchi/SHO. Everything else was either good or great and things are heating up.