New Japan Pro Wrestling held the opening rounds of the 23rd annual Best of the Super Juniors Tournament over the weekend. This year, sixteen wrestlers were split into two separate round robin tournament blocks (A & B), where a wrestler scores two points for winning, one point for a draw, and zero points for losing.
The two wrestlers with the most points in their respective blocks will face each other in the finals on June 7th where the winner, sans KUSHIDA who is the current champ, will receive an IWGP Jr Heavyweight title match.
I super excited for this year’s tournament because it’s the first time I can watch the matches live on New Japan Pro Wrestling’s streaming service www.newjapanworld.com. In the past, I would have to either wait about after the tournament to watch it on DVD or stumble upon on upload on Youtube.
Night 1: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan. – A block *(2) points
– Rocky Romero (2) defeated David Finlay: Finlay was super aggressive coming out of the gate. Romero was able to score the victory for the first win in the tournament.
– Gedo (2) defeated BUSHI: New Japan’s head booker gets a big win on opening night.
– Ryusuke Taguchi (2) pinned Matt Sydal: This was a by the numbers match with some good spots. Sydal is a really good worker and it’s a shame WWE didn’t do more with him.
– Kyle O’Reilly submits KUSHIDA via armbar: O’Reilly vs. KUSHIDA is always worth the price of admission. This was a rematch from last year’s tournament finals, which was also a match of the year candidate. O’Reilly scores a measure of revenge from last year’s tournament.
Night 2: Kira Messe Numazu in Shizuko, Japan – B block
– Trent Baretta (2) pinned Volador Jr. with the Dudebuster: There was nothing bad or special about this match.
– Ricochet (2) picked up a submission win over Tiger Mask: Same as above.
– Jushin Liger (2) beat Bobby Fish: Fish worked over Liger’s left leg throughout the match with various attacks. Liger counter one of Fish’s leg locks, held him down, and grabbed the ropes to score the pin.
– Chase Owens (2) beat Will Ospreay: I was never a fans of Owens’ work but this turned me around a bit. I also didn’t know he was in the Bullet Club. Ospreay is amazing and he makes everything look so effortless. Owens pinned him with the package piledriver for an unexpected win.
Wrap up: A block came out swinging in their opening round matches while B block left a lot to be desired. KUSHIDA having to play catch up is intriguing since he’s the champion and is realistically looking to overachieve while preventing an immediate number one contender for the time being.
Will Ospreay is one of the most talented wrestlers in the business and I really want to see him in the finals against Kyle O’Reilly. I’ve noticed that a lot of people online are crapping on Tiger Mask. Did I miss something? Someone please clue me in.
I’ll be back later in the week with results from nights three and four.