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

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

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 2022 Night Nine

May 26th, 2022 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 1,015

These full shows have seen a step up in the tournament, so I’m hoping that trend continues in our final of three shows in a row at Korakuen.

B Block: Master Wato [2] vs. Titán [2]

Whoever loses is eliminated, though the winner also doesn’t have a good chance either. These two apparently met a lot in CMLL, with Wato never being able to best Titán in tags. That history was evident thanks to some crisp exchanges that looked right out of a lucha libre show as they were quick, filled with energy, and got the crowd into it. They kept up the pace and Wato looked more confident than usual. He tricked out Titán on a dive, hit a sweet German suplex, and a springboard uppercut. Titán got his stuff in too but you got the sense this was surprisingly something of a Wato showcase. Wato won with the RPP after 8:16. The worst opener of the three in Korakuen so far but still quite good. There wasn’t any drama or anything that blew me away but it was entertaining from start to finish. Surprised at Titán’s 1-5 record. [***¼]

B Block: DOUKI [6] vs. TJP [4]

One of the surprises of the tournament so far has been DOUKI with 6 points. TJP tried for an attack before the bell but DOUKI turned it around on him. Damn, DOUKI on fire. That did set the tone for a fight filled with high impact moves and intensity. I’ve harped on it a lot but in a tournament like this, I want wrestlers who are TRYING to win rather than just doing shit for the sake of popping the crowd or star ratings. They brought a chair into play, hit top rope offense, and delivered hard strikes throughout. Down the stretch, we got the DOUKI CHOUKI which is something I actually pop for now. That damn DOUKI has won me over. I popped even more when he caught the Mamba Splash into the DOUKI CHOUKI. TJP found a dope counter into the STF, forcing DOUKI to tap in 8:39. That was really good. I loved the sense of urgency both guys brought and it had some creative elements to make good use of the short time. [***½]

A Block: Clark Connors [4] vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru [4]

Both guys have won two straight, with Kanemaru’s coming against block favorites Hiromu and Ishimori. This match didn’t really grab me but it was fine for what it was. They went back and forth with Kanemaru using his usual underhanded tactics. He nearly stole a third straight by playing possum but Connors managed to kick out of his inside cradle. He then hit the Trophy Kill to win in 4:50. The highlight was Connors bowing to Kanemaru and taking a swig of his whiskey. 3-0 in Korakuen? Not bad for Connors. [**¼]

A Block: Alex Zayne [6] vs. Ryusuke Taguchi [2]

After a loss to Austin yesterday, Zayne has a shot at 2nd place with a win here since the other two guys with 8 points are going against each other tonight. Zayne has shown a willingness to get involved in the goofy antics of sorts so this could work or be dreadful. It started well enough with Zayne hitting some sweet aerial offense to get the crowd going and smoothly avoiding an ass attack. He did have a spot where he bit Taguchi’s ass, prompting ass eating comments from commentary. I’ve always felt that’s the way to victory. Taguchi never really threatened here and Zayne won in 6:14. A mildly fun little match here. [**½]

A Block: Francesco Akira [2] vs. YOH [6]

YOH is coming off of a huge main event win over Hiromu, while Akira has dropped four straight. Akira also went to the school of making sure the tournament feels important, jumping YOH beforehand and doing everything he can to get a win. That has kind of been building over his past few matches, which I appreciate. They brought the quality of the show back up with an entertaining, crisp match that felt intense. Again, all I ask is that your tournament matches feel important. YOH seemed a bit exhausted from yesterday. Not physically but maybe mentally as he finally got the big win and ended up rebounding in a negative way here. In the end, Akira secured the win with Fireball in 9:14, capping off a really good match before intermission. [***¼]

B Block: El Lindaman [6] vs. Wheeler Yuta [6]

Pretty exciting match on paper. They shook hands before the bell but things quickly got pretty physical. This was a case of Yuta being willing to throw hands with his opponents but kind of being outmatched there. El Lindaman hits hard and it showed as even his tope con hilo was stiff. Yuta walloped him with a step up kick in the corner as commentary echoed my thought process that this was more aerial than I expected. They kept things evenly matched and built to bigger moves and exchanges, with Yuta coming close to a huge win several times. El Lindaman survived the Danielson elbows and found a way to hit the tiger suplex for the win in 9:17. A good, hard hitting affair that brought Lindaman closer to the top of the block and kept the trend of Yuta having good performances. [***½]

A Block: Ace Austin [8] vs. Taiji Ishimori [8]

Even if the final match is a MOTYC, I feel like this should’ve gone on last. Two champions going at it (like the last match actually) and a battle for the top of the block. There was something of a big fight feel here and the guys traded stuff early. Austin was arrogant after sending Ishimori outside and Ishimori returned the favor with his level of brashness. Ishimori put a target on Austin’s shoulder, looking to set put the Bone Lock. Landing on your feet on a Fosbury Flop is pretty cool. Ishimori stayed in control but Austin got in some hope spots. When he got trapped in the Bone Lock, I legitimately thought it was over but Austin made it to the ropes and you could see Ishimori getting frustrated. They went into a great series of counters late with Austin getting the huge win on a pinning combination at the 11:24 mark. There seemed to be a bit of confusion on who had their shoulders down. From the exchanges to the importance of the match to the selling of the mark to the result, I loved this. A banger that should’ve headlined. [****]

B Block: BUSHI [4] vs. El Desperado [8]

I’ve seen these two wrestle quite often. BOSJ 2017 (***), Wrestling Hi No Kuni 2018 (**¾), Road to the New Beginning 2019 (***), BOSJ 2020 (***¼), and BOSJ 2021 (***¾). BUSHI jumped Desperado before the bell and hit a dive outside to get the crowd and Shingo Takagi on commentary pumped. Desperado stopped his momentum by going after the leg, which BUSHI sold relatively well. Even when he hit something involving the leg, he’d stop to hold it in pain or fail to capitalize. Desperado started bringing bigger offense but for some reason, BUSHI wouldn’t stay down. This is a guy with a .500 or worse career record in this tournament but he was on point here. BUSHI came back with a few offensive moves and surprised me with a Destroyer that Desperado barely survived. He instantly pounced and scored an upset with MX after 11:11. Another really good match and one of BUSHI’s better performances in a while. [***½]

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

I used to love this pairing. Their matches ruled in the BOSJ 2018 (****) and BOSJ 2021 (****¼) but the BOSJ 2021 outing lacked (***¼). Their New Beginning title match last year ruled (****¼) but the one in the New Japan Cup this year was ass (**). SHO is such a victim of Gedo’s bad booking. He wanted to sneak attack Hiromu during his entrance but Hiromu came from the other entrance and hit him with a chair instead. They brawled around the ring and had a match that felt more personal than most. We got antics with the referee before Hiromu applied the triangle choke. He had this won but here was EVIL to pull the referee out of the ring. Hiromu took him out but that left open for SHO to attack and made him submit with a leg lock in 11:30. I liked 90% of that but the finish with EVIL is just overdone. I hate the House of Torture and what they’ve done to my boy SHO. [***]

B Block: El Phantasmo [8] vs. Robbie Eagles [4]

They met in the 2019 Super J-Cup (***½), 2019 BOSJ (***), and 2021 BOSJ (***¾). That’s not counting their tag history. Eagles needs to win to stay alive. ELP was his typical arrogant self to start but Eagles shut him up with some shots and a dive to the outside. ELP used a Lawn Dart into the ring post and DDT on a chair outside to really swing the momentum. Even when Eagles tried to take a powder, ELP was on him with a dive to the outside, though a second one led to him hitting the floor hard. Self-sacrifice became a theme as Eagles also damaged his knees while taking out ELP. Once they took the match back to the ring, they really started trading stuff and both were hurt so you got a sense of desperation from them. These dudes were exhausted as they threw their biggest offensive bombs at each other. ELP even fell while trying CR2. They redid the finish from last year but with ELP kicking out this time. ELP’s neckbreaker off the second rope was seriously impressive and everyone needs to see it. He added CR2 but was too hurt to cover immediately. That allowed Eagles to recover, hit the 450 onto both legs and win with the Ron Miller Special after 24:43. A pretty epic main event that is arguably the best match of the tournament so far. Eagles also gets to stay alive. [****¼]

A Block

Ace Austin: 5-1 (10 points)

Alex Zayne/Taiji Ishimori: 4-2 (8 points)

Clark Connors/Hiromu Takahashi/YOH/SHO: 3-3 (6 points)

Francesco Akira/Yoshinobu Kanemaru: 2-4 (4 points)

Ryusuke Taguchi: 1-5 (2 points)

B Block

El Desperado/El Phantasmo/El Lindaman: 4-2 (8 points)

BUSHI/Robbie Eagles/DOUKI/TJP/Wheeler Yuta: 3-3 (6 points)

Master Wato: 2-4 (4 points)

Titán: 1-5 (2 points)

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Another fantastic show from the BOSJ. These guys are going out there and trying to be great and they’re delivering. We got some fantastic matches, nothing that was bad, and the whole thing was just really entertaining.