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Pantoja’s NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 30 Night 9 Review

May 23, 2023 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 30 5-23-2023 - Lio Rush vs. Mike Bailey Image Credit: NJPW
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Pantoja’s NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 30 Night 9 Review  

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 30 Night 9

May 23rd, 2023 | EDION Arena in Osaka, Japan | Attendance: 831

We’re back to the world of half a night of wrestling given that there’s only A Block matches tonight. Also, due to Taiji Ishimori’s unfortunate injury, his match with TJP won’t happen so TJP gets the two points via forfeit. We find out who advances to the semifinals tonight.

A Block: KUSHIDA [4] vs. Ryusuke Taguchi [0]

I’ve seen many tourney meetings from these veterans. That includes 2016 (***½), 2017 (***¾), 2018 (**), and a title match at Destruction in Kobe (***½). Neither man is having the tournament they’d like. While this doesn’t matter in terms of standings, pride is on the line as neither veteran is out to finish with 0 or 4 points. What you ended up with here is basically what you always get from these guys and from final night matches that don’t impact the standings. Good, solid pro wrestling. They traded stuff on the mat early with Taguchi more than holding his own. In fact, most of this match was played evenly without anyone gaining a clear upper hand. Taguchi really got going late with a Dodon near fall turning into an ankle lock, complete with his ass getting exposed. KUSHIDA was trapped, Taguchi’s ass was out, and we got a submission finish in 12:07. Taguchi is on the board. [***¼]

A Block: DOUKI [6] vs. SHO [6]

These two met in the 2021 BOSJ (***). SHO has been SHO while DOUKI is one of the tournament MVPs this year. There were wacky shenanigans here as SHO went to the back and brought out “DOUKI” after an attack. However, it was clear that this just Ryohei Oiwa with DOUKI paint and mask. SHO rang the bell to start the match and beat up on Oiwa until the real DOUKI ran out all taped up. Their fight spilled all around the arena, including in a spot where SHO threw DOUKI in the trash. DOUKI beat the count leading to a more traditional match for a bit. Loud DOUKI chants when he answered the SHO wrench with his pipe. As the DOUKI CHOUKI was applied, EVIL ran out with a towel to kickstart more shenanigans. That included the exposed buckle being used, a false three count, a Yujiro run-in and eventually Everything is EVIL was hit to give SHO the win in 10:33. A little more entertaining than your usual House of Torture BS but whatever. [**½]

A Block: Lio Rush [12] vs. Mike Bailey [12]

The winner automatically qualifies for the semifinals as the block leader. I mean, there are technicalities that could change that but Never Japan never goes through with those. It was pretty clear from the start what kind of match this would be as both men are ridiculously fast and have been on their game in this tournament. From the apron standoff onward, this was great. Lio had a speed advantage but Bailey could respond by lighting him up with kicks. Bailey also took to the skies for impressive stuff like a corkscrew moonsault at the crowd really appreciated. One thing I loved here was that this didn’t just feel like two guys having a great match. You got the sense that both were really trying to get those two points and advance. There was a feeling of desperation at times, like a hurt Lio throwing his damaged shoulder into a Spear to save himself. A pair of Spanish Flies got Lio closer to winning only for Bailey to get his foot up on the Final Hour attempt. Bailey capitalized by hitting the Flamingo Driver to win in 16:43. Once again, these two prove that they were great additions to the tournament. A fast paced match with tons of action and some great late drama. Keep these two around, the division NEEDS them. [****¼]

A Block: Hiromu Takahashi [10] vs. Titán [10]

Their only prior meeting that I saw was at Fantasticamania in 2017 (***). Due to tiebreakers, the winner of this all-LJ clash joins Bailey in the semis. Before the match, Tetsuya Naito casually walked out to join commentary to a pop. You could tell this would be a case of two guys who know each other well. Titán had his stablemate well scouted, so Hiromu had to do different things like an apron powerbomb. I appreciated that it felt like Hiromu could lean into his time in Mexico for some of these exchanges. Counters to things like a tornado DDT looked effortless and seamless. Titán got going and looked to latch on El Immortal. I loved Hiromu finding a way to cover his head and mostly prevent the submission. It made the move feel more dangerous than at any other point in the tournament. That led to a strong closing stretch where Titán cradled his way out of Time Bomb II, hit a superkick, and added a double stomp before winning with El Immortal in 16:42. A very good main event that was just shy of being great. The real kicker was how big this was for Titán and that it marks a rare case of New Japan doing something different, which I appreciate. [***¾]

I never would’ve picked Titán to make the semifinals so I genuinely applaud New Japan for that. Like the SANADA title run, Titán might not be the guy I’d have picked for this spot but I am so happy they’re actually trying something new rather than going with the same, beyond tired stuff they’ve done for years. New is good.

The final score: review Good
The 411
A good night of wrestling to conclude the A Block. The first match is good, the second is fine, the third is fantastic, and the main event was really good with a surprising result. A success.