Tonight, it’s arguably the most anticipated main event of the tournament since Night 1, as Hiromu Takahashi tangles with SHO, while evil battles evil as El Desperado fights Taiji Ishimori!
Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma vs Gabriel Kidd & Yota Tsuji
Kojima’s arm is taped up, because it’s hurt since he’s been using it to continually lariat Young Lions over and over again for pins on this tour. So there’s no way that’ll happen today!
Kojima with the lariat on Kidd. (Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma over Gabriel Kidd & Yota Tsuji, pinfall, 8:58)
DOUKI (0 Points) vs Yuya Uemura (0 Points) – BOSJ Match
Barring something very, very weird here (double countout or DQ), someone’s getting their first points here. Both guys have had excellent tournaments by their standards; Uemura as a Young Lion has shown that he belongs with these guys, while DOUKI has definitely stepped up his game by every metric in this thing.
Yuya starts fast here, attacking DOUKI before the bell because he’s a smart Lion who has actually seen Suzuki-Gun matches before. They end up on the floor and Yuya hits a bodypress off the apron onto DOUKI! Well, that’s not part of the normal Young Lion repertoire, is it? Back in, Yuya gets two and DOUKI finally turns the tide with a stungun, then it’s out to the floor as Yuya gets thrown from railing to railing. DOUKI tosses the ref and then destroyed DOUKI with his metal pipe while the ref is down.
Back in and DOUKI stomps away and hits a jumping foot stomp for two. He swats away a Yuya dropkick attempt, but comes off the ropes and this time it hits. Uemura with forearms in the corner, then a dropkick for two. DOUKI hits a lariat to get some space. Slingshot DDT is caught by Yuya, double underhook suplex hits! And now it’s time for the Boston Crab! He sits on it hard, pulling DOUKI back to the center more than once, but DOUKI finally claws enough for the ropes.
Suplex is countered this time by a Greco-Roman hairpull, and from there it’s the Italian Stretch 32 for DOUKI. Yuya struggles and makes the ropes, so DOUKI hits a slingshot DDT for two. Suplex De La Luna finishes for DOUKI to finally put him on the board. (DOUKI over Yuya Uemura, pinfall, 12:54)
THOUGHTS: ***. Uemura is just great for his level and DOUKI was solid. Perfectly cromulent wrestling here, without being a show-stopping classic. Just a solid match that was enjoyable.
Robbie Eagles (4 Points) vs Ryusuke Taguchi (6 Points) – BOSJ Match
Both guys are pretty much out, even with Taguchi having the slightest of mathematical chances to make it.
They go to the mat to start, and Taguchi controls there until Eagles makes the ropes. Back up and we do the drop down sequence from Taguchi, and even though Eagles avoids crashing and burning at first, he does it the second time and Taguchi fires off hip attacks. Eagles counters one with an atomic drop, and a lariat to the back of the head drops Taguchi.
Eagles tries a sunset flip, but Taguchi threatens to take his ass out of his pants to block. Naw, I’m not making that up. And you though Japanese wrestling was all serious and shit. Anyway, Taguchi sits on him for two. They trade runs against the ropes and Taguchi misses a hip attack, allowing Eagles to hit a 619 to the posterior! Second jumping hip attack gets Taguchi some breathing room as Eagles rolls out to the floor, and Taguchi comes off the apron with a flying hip attack.
Back in it’s a springboard hip attack from Taguchi (Good LORD, are you trying to kill the man? How many hip attacks can one man withstand?) and he follows that with the Three Amigos for two. Anklelock time from Taguchi, but Eagles escapes and fires off double knees in the corner for two. Eagles with kicks and he gets two, but Taguchi blocks the Turbo Backpack and they exchange rollups for two before they roll all the way around the ring. Taguchi escapes that with the anklelock, Robbie returns the favor by rolling through it into the Ron Miller Special….and Taguchi can’t escape! (Robbie Eagles over Ryusuke Taguchi, submission, 13:04)
THOUGHTS: ***1/4. I really enjoyed the second half of the match a lot, but they had a bit of a slow start.
Master Wato (w/Hiroyoshi Tenzan) (8 Points) vs BUSHI (6 Points) – BOSJ Match
BUSHI needs this one to have even a remote shot, while Wato probably also needs a win here, but his situation isn’t quite as dire, as he still has both Ishimori and Hiromu left to wrestle even though SHO does hold the break over him.
Wato leads with kicks to start and BUSHI rolls out, Wato goes for a plancha and BUSHI counters that by dropping him facefirst on the apron, then hitting a tope. He sends Wato from railing to railing, then back in the ring it’s a neckbreaker for two. Snapmare into the chinlock, then the legs wrap Wato up on the mat, Wato makes the ropes.
BUSHI chokes away with the shirt as the first 5 minutes have been ALL BUSHI. Suplex gets two for BUSHI. Wato finally catches BUSHI with a kick, then a strike combo sends BUSHI out to the floor. Tornado press over the top is almost missed by the cameras, but Wato hits it on BUSHI. Wato flys in with an uppercut for two. Tilt-a-whirl from Wato and some kicks get two. BUSHI comes back with a vicious dropkick, then another after hanging Wato on the top rope.
Apron DDT from BUSHI, Wato with a weak spin kick to get some time. They slug it out and Wato wins that with a backhand. Crucifix slam gets two for Wato. He goes up, but misses the RPP. Backcracker by BUSHI, but Wato counters the Codebreaker. Enzuigiri by BUSHI and this time he hits the Codebreaker for two. BUSHI to the top, MX is countered by a Wato dropkick! BUSHI hits a rewind kick and a Canadian Destroyer, then heads to the top to hit the MX, and this time Wato doesn’t have a counter. (BUSHI over Master Wato, pinfall, 13:15)
THOUGHTS: **3/4. This one didn’t work as well for me on the rewatch, and I’m just kind of wondering if it’s because Wato hasn’t progressed to the point that I thought he would have by now. He seemed hesitant with a lot of really soft work here, and while that’s not terrible or anything, when you stack him up against the work of the other guys in this tournament, he’s been behind. He has more than enough potential to get better and I wouldn’t bet against it, but I’m not feeling like this is his time yet. I don’t get a sense of his character and his ringwork just doesn’t get past it for me. BUSHI was his usual reliable self, but there was nothing to carry the match beyond reliable here.
El Desperado (8 Points) vs Taiji Ishimori (10 Points) – BOSJ Match
This one is as important as it gets. A win here from Desperado and all of a sudden, he’s got wins over SHO, Hiromu, and Ishimori for tiebreak purposes as we head into the last two shows. Ishimori, on the other hand, can be the first to 12 points and put all the pressure on Hiromu to keep up with him by winning the main event.
Both guys show each other their belts before the match starts, but Desperado also wants to give Taiji a shirt….in his face. Well, that’s really quite thoughtful. The dropkick to the knee that follows isn’t quite as thoughtful, but what can you do? To the railings go Ishimori as Desperado takes him on a tour of the outside, and then Taiji gets sent to the post. Back in and Desperado rubs Ishimori’s face into the junior belt just to be a dick.
Ishimori avoids contact in the corner and hits a standing senton, then it’s Despy’s turn to see railing land as they head outside. Back in and Taiji goes to work on the arm of Desperado, who screams like a bitch as Ishimori cranks on it. More arm punishment as Ishimori wraps the arm of Despy around the middle rope and just throws elbows at it over and over. More arm work including a snap over the shoulder get two for Taiji. Shoulder first to the corner 3 times goes Despy as Taiji is taking him apart. Rolling pin combos turn into Ishimori snapping the arm back as Taiji is in total control.
Despy tries to put the ref in front of him to reduce the beatings, but Taiji avoids that and cranks Despy’s neck, then back to the arm. Despy finally gets a spinebuster. Dropkick in the corner to the knee by Despy and he hits a SNAP Dragon-Screw that I audibly winced at before he puts Ishimori into the Stretch Muffler. His arm is gone, though, and Ishimori makes the ropes quickly. Despy continues to work the knee and back to the Muffler, but he gives up his arm at a key moment and Taiji slaps on the crossface. That was great.
Desperado makes the ropes to break. He kicks the leg of Ishimori and comes off the ropes, but Taiji catches him with the shoulderbreaker, but it’s on the bad knee and both guys are in agony. Taiji hooks the crossface again and tries to pull him back to the center, but Despy shifts his weight and rehooks the arm back into the Stretch Muffler. Oh man, how awesome. Ishimori makes the ropes to break that.
They slug it out as the match has turned great now, then they trade positions coming off the ropes. Taiji goes for the crossface again, but Desperado hits Guitarra de Angel for two. Ishimori counters Pinche Loco with a ‘rana, then double knees and both guys are down again. Taiji goes for the Bloody Cross, but Desperado runs him into the corner….taking out the ref. Dropkick to the knee of Ishimori and Despy goes for the belt. Ishimori counters the belt shot with a jumping knee and goes for the Bloody Cross, but only now does he notice that the ref is down, so he goes for the belt shot instead. But the ref is back up as Taiji is waiting for Despy to rise, and he takes the belt away from Ishimori….allowing Despy to hit a low blow while the ref’s back is turned! Straight right from Desperado! Pinche Loco! 1, 2, 3! (El Desperado over Taiji Ishimori, pinfall, 17:18)
THOUGHTS: ****1/4. I cannot praise that finish enough – if you’re going to do a ref bump, THAT’S the way you do it – you do it in a way where it affects the story and puts both wrestlers over both with their individual characters and in the match context. They’re both heels, but they are specific kinds of heels – Desperado was naturally going to be the first one to try to cheat when the ref went down, while Ishimori was foolish enough to not just hit his wrestling move, instead going for the belt shot, and he ended up hoisted on his own petard. And the match was really good up to that point as well, with everything making sense as both guys punished body parts but didn’t have enough to put the other guy away, thereby leading to the ending where one guy had to cheat to win. I really, really enjoyed this a ton both on the initial and the rewatch as it covered all the parts of wrestling I tend to like and it took something I normally don’t like, ref bumps, and turned it into something that contributed to the story in a good way. Thumbs way up.
Hiromu Takahashi (10 Points) vs SHO (8 Points) – BOSJ Match
This was my pick for the Final before the tournament started.
They rush each other to start with shoulders, then run the ropes, exchanging lariats along the way. Blistering pace continues as SHO blocks a sunset bomb with a cross-armbreaker on the apron, then a Penalty Kick down the line. Yikes. Sounded like Hiromu got shot there. He returns fire by sending SHO to the railing and hitting a shotgun dropkick. Rail to rail from there as SHO tried to match Hiromu’s pace to start and it isn’t working. Another shotgun dropkick sends SHO back to the rail again. Back in and Hiromu hits a seated dropkick for two, then goes to a seated headscissors.
Hiromu slows things down, working on the neck with elbows. SHO comes back with a spear and some kicks, gets two. He goes to a cross-armbreaker, but Hiromu rolls to the ropes immediately. Jumping knee from SHO, but Hiromu comes back with a wheelbarrow into a flatliner. SHO charges Hiromu in the corner, Hiromu catches him and sends him flying into the buckle with an overhead throw. Dynamite Plunger from Hiromu gets two. Death Valley Driver into the corner by Hiromu. SHO blocks a superkick and catches Hiromu coming off the ropes with a snap German suplex.
Rolling deadlift Germans into an armbar for SHO, Hiromu makes the ropes. SHO hooks Takahashi’s arms into the top rope and just pounds away with shots. Hiromu comes back by sending SHO to the apron, then going for the sunset bomb and finally hitting it, sending SHO to the floor the hard way. SHO beats the count back in at 19. Back in and we slug it out and this thing is wildly disjointed, as they’re hitting big moves without having any type of thru line in their selling. It’s still good, but really all over the place. SHO finally just drops Hiromu with a big right, but walks into a ‘rana and from there a triangle from Hiromu.
SHO uses the last of his strength to lift Hiromu up and powerbomb him into the buckles to break. Time Bomb attempt is broken with SHO getting the double wristlock, then the full Hoverboard Lock soon after. Hiromu rolls through it into the DVD into the corner, but SHO keeps the Lock on the entire time! Okay, that was COOL AS FUCK. SHO rolls him back to the middle and Takahashi screams in pain, but manages to stretch one boot out to the ropes to break. Powerbreaker by SHO gets two.
Hiromu counters Shock Arrow, SHO fires away with rights, Hiromu gets a German but SHO rolls through it partly. Hiromu drops him with a lariat, SHO kicks out at one! SHO with a lariat, Hiromu kicks out at one! Pop-up powerbomb by Hiromu, facebuster, 1, 2, NO! SHO counters a suplex with a backcracker, then hits a nasty lariat to the back of Hiromu’s neck, then a huge one to the front! Straightjacket piledriver by SHO! 1, 2, NO! SHO wants the Shock Arrow, hits it! 1, 2, 3!! (SHO over Hiromu Takahashi, pinfall, 25:54)
THOUGHTS: ****. They clearly went out there with the intent they were going to have the best match of the tournament, and the last 7-10 minutes of this one most certainly lived up to that intent. I’m going slightly lower because they just kept throwing big bombs at each other and I didn’t get a real sense of a story to this match – they were just firing moves at each other until someone went down. I think that there’s a probably a version of this match with a slight bit of gaga taken out of it and maybe about 3-5 less minutes that hits higher on the scale, and it certainly wasn’t a BAD match by any stretch. Watching it, I just felt like they were doing a 26 minute match because it’s Hiromu in this tournament and that’s what he does, not like they got to that point organically. Overall, I thought it was really great, no question. I hope they tangle again soon.
SHO with the show-ending promo and we’re out.
STANDINGS AFTER NIGHT 7:
El Desperado: 10 Points
Hiromu Takahashi: 10 Points
SHO: 10 Points
Taiji Ishimori: 10 Points
BUSHI: 8 Points
Master Wato: 8 Points
Robbie Eagles: 6 Points
Ryusuke Taguchi: 6 Points
DOUKI: 2 Points
Yuya Uemura: 0 Points
FINAL THOUGHTS: A fabulous night of wrestling with two **** matches, we’ve got two nights to go, and who is in the unquestioned lead? The evil Mariachi himself, Desperado, who holds tiebreaks over SHO, Hiromu, and Ishimori, AKA the only other guys at 10 points. Can he go to the Finals? Does he even need to with wins over pretty much the entire top of the division? We’ve currently got 4 guys jockeying for the Finals on top, with BUSHI and Wato right underneath. It’s going to be a very interesting finish, to say the least.
See you all for Night 8!
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
@MrSoze on Twitter
[email protected] for email