Tonight, it’s probably my most-anticipated main event of the entire BOSJ to this point, as SHO meets El Desperado!
Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma vs Yuji Nagata & Gabriel Kidd
If you have any doubts about who wins this match or who does the job, I’m taking away your NJPW privileges. Kojima with the lariat on Kidd. I know, shocking, right? (Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma over Yuji Nagata & Gabriel Kidd, pinfall, 7:24)
Hiromu Takahashi (6 Points) vs Yuya Uemura (0 Points) – BOSJ Match
Oh, now this could be interesting. I wonder if the vets have a ‘who can carry Yuya to the best match?’ pool going in the back? Considering that Uemura has absolutely rocked it in this tournament, I’m sure they appreciate the chance to work with someone who is proving match by match that he can hang with these dudes.
They trade shoulderblocks to start and Uemura WINS, then Hiromu bails to the floor and Yuya follows him out and slams him on the mat. Then he comes off the apron with a crossbody! I’m pretty sure THAT’S not part of the Young Lion moveset. Back in and Yuya gets his leg swept as Hiromu demands he pay for such a monstrosity, pulling him to the floor and dropkicking him into the railing. Back in and Hiromu smashes him in the back with double knees from a catapult position, which looked quite painful. So he does it again, then puts Yuya in a half-crab.
Uemura tries a dropkick but Hiromu just steps away and sends him crashing to the mat. Off the ropes, Yuya tries another one, but Hiromu hooks the top rope and Uemura goes…..crashing to the mat. Blind charge and Hiromu hits boot, then comes off the ropes and Yuya finally nails the dropkick! I almost applauded. Back elbow and corner dropkick get two for Yuya, and it’s Boston Crab time. Hiromu makes the ropes and you can see him change up a bit as he realizes this kid is fighting back harder than he anticipated. A belly-to-back suplex later from Yuya and Hiromu is caught in a cross-armbreaker.
Takahashi makes the rope to break that and escapes a suplex, but Yuya drops him with a forearm. His charge off the ropes, however, is met with a superkick from Hiromu and both guys are down. Hiromu charges with a lariat, but Yuya ducks and hits the double hook suplex! He comes off the ropes, Hiromu drops him to the mat with a clothesline. Falcon Arrow gets two for Hiromu, who can’t believe it. So Takahashi decides he has to do this the old-fashioned way, and locks in the Boston Crab for the tapout. (Hiromu Takahashi over Yuya Uemura, submission, 10:44)
THOUGHTS: ***1/2. I really, really liked this even more on the rewatch. Hiromu’s subtle shift from screwing around too much into ‘oh s---, did I let this kid hang around too long?’ is the type of thing that he can do as well as, if not better than, anyone else in wrestling. His facial expressions are just dynamite, especially when he needs to put over a match being a struggle. This was absolutely excellent with a simple, effective story, and it put Yuya over in the loss.
DOUKI (0 Points) vs Master Wato (w/Hiroyoshi Tenzan) (6 Points) – BOSJ Match
DOUKI is coming off a surprisingly great match with Takahashi, and frankly has had a better BOSJ than I anticipated. Wato has been hit and miss, at times seeming like he could hang with the big guys and at times not, so we’ll see where this one lands.
DOUKI attacks before bell and we get some decent back and forth before a Wato dropkick sends DOUKI out, but the follow-up plancha ends up taking out Tsuji at ringside instead. DOUKI grabs his metal stick, the ref tries to stop him from using it, but DOUKI just grabs him and throws him down because why not? Might as well have used the stick on the ref, nothing was going to happen because of it. This is New Japan! DOUKI whacks Tenzan with it, then chokes Wato with it. Back in and DOUKI gets a DDT for two.
DOUKI misses a blind charge and ends up outside, and now Wato comes off the apron with a ‘rana. This hasn’t been bad, per se, but it’s not really been good either. Just wrestling. Twisting press by Wato puts DOUKI down, then Wato comes back in with a flying uppercut, which he does well every time, for two. DOUKI yanks the ref in the way to cut off Wato and it’s Italian Stretch time, Wato makes the ropes.
Here’s about where the match goes off the rails, as DOUKI attempts a corner whip and the key word is ‘attempts’, as they get signals crossed in multiple spots. DOUKI grazes Wato with an enzuigiri and hooks the stretch again, Wato makes the ropes. Slingshot DDT gets two for DOUKI. DOUKI throws elbows to get out of a waistlock and it feels awkward. Wato with a crucifix bomb and DOUKI comes back with a dropkick that creates the weakest ref bump I’ve seen in AGES, as Wato grazes the knee of the ref, who sells it like he’s been shot.
DOUKI takes advantage and grabs his stick again, hitting Wato in the ribs with it. Another one to the head and DOUKI gets two. DOUKI with a palm strike and he comes off, but Wato catches him and hits the Tombstone Driver. Up to the top and Wato hits the RPP for the pin. Yoinks. (Master Wato over DOUKI, pinfall, 12:29)
THOUGHTS: **. This was not a good wrestling match, y’all. They looked hesitant and lost multiple times out there, and the offense looked far too soft in places where it really couldn’t be. Every thing about both guys was exposed here, and I think that if you just look at the first part of the match, it’s fine, so maybe the length here was an issue? Regardless, it didn’t work and sometimes that happens, whether if was just them not clicking or what.
BUSHI (4 Points) vs Ryusuke Taguchi (4 Points) – BOSJ Match
Two vets here, so I can’t imagine this won’t be pretty decent. Hopefully everyone keeps their ass in their pants, which is a desire I never thought I would have to seriously voice in a match review.
Taguchi starts by dancing and takes it a bit too long, so BUSHI nails him with a kick and starts in. Rope-running spot and Taguchi avoids the sliding dropkick. BUSHI comes back with a trip and it’s groin to the pole time for Taguchi, as we’re looking like a comedy match tonight. Taguchi does the slow roll through the ring to the floor, then does it a second time, so BUSHI just works a count, which Taguchi barely beats at 19. Neckbreaker by BUSHI for two, and he just grinds his foot on Taguchi’s groin. No DQ, the ref just gives him a 5 count, and BUSHI goes from that to the STF, which Taguchi breaks by making the ropes.
BUSHI with a sunset flip, and do you even need to ASK if he ends up pulling down Taguchi’s tights? Or if BUSHI then comes off the ropes and takes a bare-assed hip attack to the face? Because let me tell you, you don’t. You already know the answer. So, after BUSHI takes it to the face, he ends up outside the ring, where Taguchi hits a springboard plancha, then back in with a hip attack for two. Inverted DDT gets two for Taguchi, and he gets the anklelock and BUSHI scrambles for the ropes.
Only a slight bit of crack still showing as Taguchi cuts off a tope and gets La Majistral for two. BUSHI back with a missile dropkick, then catches a charging Taguchi and crotches him on the top rope. I’d say something about the constant abuse of Taguchi’s crotch, but frankly I’ve had enough of his ass in this BOSJ and I think he deserves everything he gets. Codebreaker by BUSHI is countered into the anklelock by Taguchi. They trade rollups and Taguchi goes back to the ankle, but BUSHI breaks it with the rewind kick. Dodon attempt by Ryusuke is met with a neckbreaker from BUSHI. Backcracker by BUSHI, then another Codebreaker for two. BUSHI goes up, MX hits! 1, 2, 3. (BUSHI over Ryusuke Taguchi, pinfall, 10:51)
THOUGHTS: **1/4. I dunno here. They looked like they were going for a comedy match and then that didn’t really play, then they tried to just throw moves at each other and the contrast really wasn’t much of substance in the end. If Taguchi is going to just make this a comedy BOSJ this year on his end, fine, but I’ve seen better from him and BUSHI before. Overall, this one was slightly below average on my end.
At this point, I was thinking that this was going to be the worst show of the tour.
Robbie Eagles (4 Points) vs Taiji Ishimori (6 Points) – BOSJ Match
Hiromu Takahashi has been in multiple main events so far on this tour, while Taiji Ishimori is the champ and has been in exactly one….against Hiromu Takahashi. That’s gotta be a thing going forward between the two of them.
Dropkicks by Eagles to start us off and he snaps off a ‘rana, then a spinning heel kick. Robbie keeps control with a dropkick the head of a kneeling Taiji, then lays in kicks until Ishimori catches one and drops an elbow on it. Ishimori takes over with speed to avoid Robbie and drop him with a seated senton, then a cravat. From there he snaps the neck and works on it on the mat, forcing Eagles to make the ropes. Ishimori covers multiple times to force Eagles to kick out, which I love and always will love. Makes him look like he’s actually trying to win the match and makes it look more like a struggle as Robbie refuses to stay down. Corner punishment by Taiji and a sliding German get two for Ishimori.
Robbie finally takes out a leg and then hits a lariat to the back of Ishimori’s head. He tosses Taiji to the floor and follows him out with a somersault tope through the ropes, landing on his feet. Always impressive. Back in, that gets two. Multiple Meteoras to the corner for two, and Eagles hits the springboard dropkick into Ishimori’s knee, but Taiji blocks the Ron Miller with a cradle. He hits a shotgun dropkick to send Robbie to the corner, then ends up spinning into the crossface on Eagles, center of the ring. Robbie finally makes the ropes after a hell of a struggle.
Eagles blocks the Bloody Cross and fires off kicks, then blocks the double knees by Ishimori into the Ron Miller Special. Match is getting really good at this point. Taiji works for it and finally makes the ropes to break. Robbie goes up for the 450 and Ishimori puts up his knees, and both guys are hurt. Neato bit of work there. Ishimori recovers first and hits a shoulderbreaker. He goes up for his own 450 and now Robbie puts up HIS knees and both guys are down again!
They slug it out from their knees and Eagles hits kicks, but runs into a high knee from Taiji. Ishimori goes for a bicycle kick, caught by Robbie, Turbo Backpack by Eagles! 1, 2, NO! Sliced Bread #2 attempt by Eagles, but Ishimori turns it into the GargaNO Escape, then lets Eagles roll through it and turns that into the Bloody Cross, hitting it for the first time this tournament and putting Robbie down for the pin. (Taiji Ishimori over Robbie Eagles, pinfall, 17:22)
THOUGHTS: ****. What a fabulous sprint we had here, as the match felt half as long as it was, featuring wonderful work from both guys. They really went out to showcase their skills against each other and they were perfectly matched, with their speed and their styles complimenting each other so strongly. Good pacing kept this thing spry as well. The kicks and leg work were in concert with each other – the blocked 450 by Taiji was perfectly executed and sold as an example – and that kept the story of the match strong throughout.
SHO (6 Points) vs El Desperado (4 Points) – BOSJ Match
Arguably my 2 favorites in the tournament, I’m READY for this.
Despy goes to the eyes to start ’cause he’s EVIL and stuff. From there, they head to the mat and grapple a bit, with Desperado blocking an armbar and making the ropes to break a kneebar from SHO. Back to the mat they go, and more grappling ends up in the ropes as Despy has to avoid a SHO armbar. Sweep of the leg by SHO as he’s been in control the entire opening portion of the match.
SHO tries a baseball slide to send Despy out, but Desperado avoids that and grabs SHO to send him to the railing a few times. Despy posts the leg to further be a dick, then slams the knee of SHO into the floor before stealing the mallet from the bellkeeper as the ref’s back is turned to check on SHO. Despy gets in a few whacks with the hammer to the head and knee to continue his awesomeness. Back in and he continues to punish the knee of SHO, stepping on it and grinding into it. Legdop to the knee, and it’s Indian Deathlock time. To continually remind us how awesome he is, Desperado starts melodramatically falling backwards as SHO fires palm strikes, which further tightens the pressure on the lock. Seriously, the Indian Deathlock is such a stupid-looking move on its face, but Desperado laughing manically while SHO desperately claws for the ropes is just great and makes it look like a million bucks.
SHO finally makes the ropes, so Despy forces the ref to be the one to break the hold because he can’t figure out how to untangle his legs. Seriously, how can you NOT love this man? SHO can barely stand, but gets a suplex to buy some time. More comeback from SHO with kicks, which, I’m gonna let it go because I’m enjoying this match a bunch. But yeah, he shouldn’t really have much on them. Spear from Despy gets blocked by SHO, so he dropkicks the knee of SHO instead.
Two Dragon-screws on the mat later, it’s Stretch Muffler time. He absolutely cranks the knee, but can’t catch the other arm in time to stop SHO from making the ropes. Despy kicks the knee and now SHO fires up, so they slug it out. SHO wins that and dares Despy to keep coming with the forearms, so Desperado kicks him in the knee instead. Outstanding. Guitarra de Angel hits for two from Despy, but SHO blocks Pinche Loco with a backdrop. SHO reverses a whip and fires a knee to the midsection….but it’s the bad knee and he collapses in pain right after.
Still, SHO manages to put together a few moves and he hooks the Hoverboard Lock, but Despy makes the ropes. 15 minute call, and it feels like it’s only been 5. Arm snaps by SHO, but he runs right into a spinebuster from Despy. Desperado goes for the Stretch Muffler again, but SHO pulls the arm through into an armbar, then kicks out of a cradle into a cross-armbreaker and that forces Despy to make the ropes. SHO with a corner lariat, then another one that flattens Desperado in the center of the ring. Last Ride Powerbreaker hits for two from SHO. He signals for Shock Arrow, Despy escapes, SHO goes for it again, Desperado with a rollup for two. SHO charges, but Despy avoids him and just PASTES him with a right hand, then follows up with Pinche Loco to get the pin. (El Desperado over SHO, pinfall, 18:41)
THOUGHTS: ****1/4. Fantastic match, as Desperado and SHO tore it down out there in the main. The pace of this thing was great and once SHO settled down and started selling the leg, it turned great in a hurry. SHO is so good for his level and Desperado is so underappreciated, it was nice to see them get the chance to really let loose in a long singles against each other and show what they’re capable of. Great match.
STANDINGS AFTER NIGHT 5:
Master Wato: 8 Points
Hiromu Takahashi: 8 Points
Taiji Ishimori: 8 Points
SHO: 6 Points
El Desperado: 6 Points
BUSHI: 6 Points
Ryusuke Taguchi: 4 Points
Robbie Eagles: 4 Points
DOUKI: 0 Points
Yuya Uemura: 0 Points
FINAL THOUGHTS: This one turned around in a hurry, with 2 **** matches to save it in the last two. If you skip the rest of the show, you should at least watch the final two matches minimum, as both were great. We can see a bit more taking shape now, as Wato is getting the big push for the first half of this thing, but we’ll see if he maintains it in the 2nd half. My gut tells me he falls just a bit short. I still think that SHO/Hiromu is a good shot at the final, although with Despy holding the break against Hiromu, I won’t complain in the slightest if he sneaks through. Skip the first part of this show, but watch the last two.
4 shows to go before the Final! See you for Night 6!
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
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