NJPW Best of the Super Juniors XXIII: Day 7

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May 29th, 16:00 from Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium

Today’s A Block show features Kyle O’Reilly vs. Matt Sydal and is headlined by KUSHIDA vs. Ryusuke Taguchi. Also, BUSHI and David Finlay will be looking to get some points on the board in their respective matches. Let’s get to it.

The story so far:

The card also featured the following four multi-man tag matches, but today I’ll only be reviewing the tournament matches:

  • Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Michael Elgin & Volador Jr. vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Trent Baretta & Will Ospreay (Worth mentioning that Ospreay used the Vader Bomb in this one – I laughed.)
  • Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask vs. Bobby Fish, Jay White, Juice Robinson & Katsuyori Shibata
  • Satoshi Kojima, Yoshi Tatsu, Captain New Japan & Ricochet vs. Kenny Omega, Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens
  • Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Tetsuya Naito, EVIL & SANADA

A Block – Current Standings

  • Kyle O’Reilly – 6
  • Ryusuke Taguchi – 6
  • Rocky Romero – 4
  • Matt Sydal – 4
  • Gedo – 2
  • KUSHIDA – 2
  • BUSHI – 0
  • David Finlay – 0

Here we go…

A Block – Round Four

Gedo vs. David Finlay

Gedo     David Finlay

Fun story here, with Gedo the canny veteran to Finlay’s spirited youngster. Gedo continued his affiliation with the ringbell hammer and even jabbed Finlay with a chair, before dropping a Lawler-like fist drop (if you were any doubt as to his influences). Finlay fired back with European uppercut and the Stretch Muffler. An Irish Curse backbreaker drew a near-fall, then Gedo tried to counter a German suplex, but Finlay rolled him up for the three-count! Gedo threw a fit like a toddler and it was tremendous. I really thought Finlay would lose every match, so this was nice surprise. ***

BUSHI vs. Rocky Romero

BUSHI     Romero

The other day I mentioned how Bushi had become Naito Jr., well, today he had the suit to complete the look. Romero had the better of the early minutes, delivering a jumping knee from the apron and Nakamura’s turnbuckle-hung knee lift, before getting crotched on the top rope. Bushi did his t-shirt choke, then applied the chinlock and headscissors, and with Romero kicked to the outside, a suicide dive followed. Romero got some respite by lifting his opponent and running him crotch-first into the ring post, and back in, a springboard crossbody and hurricanrana connected, but the Shiranui was blocked. Double knees in the corner from Bushi for two. The green mist and a sit-out jawbreaker weren’t enough for the win, but the middle-rope diving Codebreaker was, and the Los Ingobernables man finally has points on the board. This was decent enough, although Bushi’s repetition of spots in every match has become noticeable. ***

Kyle O’Reilly vs. Matt Sydal

Kyle O'Reilly     Sydal

These two worked damn hard in the heat of Osaka, which had both men sweating from the opening bell. The match started an extended sequence of matwork and reversals, then O’Reilly proceeded to stretch the hell out of Sydal in the Canadian fashion. Sydal fought back with a spinning heel kick and strikes, but his standing moonsault was reversed to a kimura, from which he just made the ropes. Sydal then kicked out of a Regalplex, which was transitioned to a triangle hold, and the match spilled to the outside. After having the move countered by Kushida last week, O’Reilly finally nailed the jumping dropkick from the apron to Sydal who was seated on the floor. Back in, Sydal reversed a brainbuster attempt to a hurricanrana for a two-count, before nailing the Here It Is driver for the near-fall. Double knees off the top followed soon after and the Shooting Star Press connected for the three-count. Now that is a surprise. I felt this was a very good match, despite a quiet crowd. ****

KUSHIDA vs. Ryusuke Taguchi

KUSHIDA     Ryusuke Taguchi

Taguchi had done his homework when it came to Kushida’s signature moves, countering or avoiding almost every one of them, and yet Kushida still found opportunities to target Taguchi’s arm. It felt like the Junior champ had to raise his game and up his aggression, and he did so with a jumping armbreaker from the apron, as well as hitting a tope con hilo and moonsault. Taguchi reversed the Hoverboard Lock to the Three Amigos, then an attempted Dodon’s Throne set off a back-and-forth of pinning attempts, none of which brought the fall. Taguchi connected with Dodon’s Throne at the second attempt for a close two-count. Main Event Elbow Battle, then Kushida hit White Noise, and after a little slip-up the Juji Gatame armbar was locked in and Taguchi tapped immediately. Crowd were way into this one, but it seemed like both guys were spent come the closing stretch, and Taguchi’s offence isn’t built for dramatic denouements. Still, great effort and an enjoyable watch. ***3/4

Post-match, Kushida delivered a promo then went into the crowd to pose with his belt in a cool moment.

A Block standings after Round Four

  • Kyle O’Reilly – 6
  • Ryusuke Taguchi – 6
  • Matt Sydal – 6
  • KUSHIDA – 4
  • Rocky Romero – 4
  • Gedo – 2
  • BUSHI – 2
  • David Finlay – 2

B Block standings after Round Three

  • Ricochet – 4
  • Jushin Liger – 4
  • Barreta – 4
  • Volador Jr. – 4
  • Chase Owens – 2
  • Tiger Mask – 2
  • Bobby Fish – 2
  • Will Ospreay – 2

Final thoughts: It was great to see Finlay get some points on the board and although BUSHI joined him with a win, it’s almost certainly too late to stage a comeback. The last couple of matches are worth watching, with O’Reilly/Sydal my third favourite match of the tournament so far.

I’ll be back with a recap of B Block Round Four and A Block Round Five on Wednesday. See you then.