NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 2020 – Night 8

Howdy!

Tonight, it’s the second-to-last night of action before we get to the Final! We’ve got a 4-way tie at the top of the leader board but only two spots available, so let’s see what happens!

Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?

   

SHO (10 Points) vs Yuya Uemura (0 Points) – BOSJ Match

So there’s a backstory to this match that SHO talked about in an interview, as he, YOH, and Yuya were at this building and it was the last time that SHO’s brother saw him wrestle in before he passed on. “Uemura and I are both from Ehime, and I know his old wrestling coach. So there’s a lot that connects us. I think my brother will be looking down and keeping a close eye on this match.”

Good wrestling sequence, something that Yuya excels at, starts us off. They really wrestle each other too, muscling each other down and making it look like grappling for position and the like. They trade shots on their feet and Yuya drops him with a lariat as they both struggle for gutwrenches, won by SHO into a slam. SHO goes to a Camel Clutch and he really cranks it back, but Yuya scoots to the ropes. Uemura tries a comeback with forearms, so SHO hits him with one of his own and almost ends Yuya’s life.

SHO off the ropes, but a Uemura dropkick gets Yuya some space. Dropkick in the corner by Yuya gets two, but SHO counters the Crab attempt. SHO with a shoulderblock and some kicks, but Yuya catches one of them, slams SHO, and puts on a half-crab, then stomps the back and transitions it to the full Boston Crab. SHO works for the ropes and finally gets them to break. They slug it out and SHO just batters him down, as Uemura’s selling is absolutely off-the-charts terrific. More beatings ensue and SHO goes for a lariat, but Yuya reverses to the Deadbolt (his underhook overhead suplex), then goes for it again, SHO reverses it to one of his own! Lumbar Check by SHO and he puts Yuya in the Boston Crab, and my GOD, Yuya is insanely great as he screams and crawls and pushes up and reaches out and teases the tap and JESUS, he’s awesome.

He finally makes the ropes, countering a deadlift German from SHO, but running into a high knee and a SHO lariat. Powerbreaker hits for SHO, that gets two. Shock Arrow finishes off what will surely be Yuya’s best match in this tournament. (SHO over Yuya Uemura, pinfall, 15:02)

THOUGHTS: ***3/4. An incredible match for Yuya and a testament to how strong the Young Lions are trained. No one did anything fancy in this match, no dives or craziness, they just went out and told a story where two guys wanted to win desperately but only one could. SHO got a bit too full of himself and it almost cost him, but the passion and desire displayed by the wrestlers was insaneo great. I’m probably high on the rating, but I don’t really care, it was a great match.

   

DOUKI (2 points) vs BUSHI (8 Points) – BOSJ Match

DOUKI has certainly annoyed me less in this year’s BOSJ as he’s had a handful of sparkling performances, while BUSHI hasn’t really been great or bad, which is kind of BUSHI’s way.

BUSHI sees the sneak attack coming and leaps over a charging DOUKI, then ‘ranas him to the floor, then leaps over the top with a ‘rana on the floor, then takes off his tie. Now that’s some style right there. Back in for a neckbreaker that gets two. DOUKI gets a stungun and tosses BUSHI, then chokes away with BUSHI’s own shirt. Oooh, that’s just daring karma right there. He loads BUSHI up and posts him right in his ingobernables, so to speak.

BUSHI rolls back in at 19 and DOUKI chokes away. He puts BUSHI on the top and goes for the mask, but can’t get it off as the ref stops it. Running double stomp gets two for DOUKI. BUSHI comes off the ropes with a ‘rana to stop the bleeding. He goes up, hits the missile dropkick, then a DDT for two. Another dropkick in the ropes sets up the apron DDT, but DOUKI counters a neckbreaker into the Italian Stretch.

BUSHI makes the ropes, DOUKI goes out for a slingshot, but slingshots right into a BUSHI Codebreaker. Backcracker and BUSHI goes for another Codebreaker, DOUKI counters back into the stretch. BUSHI makes the ropes, DOUKI tries the slingshot again, this time the DDT hits for two. They trade enzuigiris and BUSHI gets a dropkick. Running Codebreaker gets two and BUSHI goes up, DOUKI grabs the arm to counter the MX and rolls him into a cradle, 1, 2, 3! (DOUKI over BUSHI, pinfall, 10:59)

THOUGHTS: **3/4. Not much here, as they went through the motions well enough. I didn’t really get a sense of urgency or story in the match, it was just guys doing moves to each other until someone lost.

   

El Desperado (10 Points) vs Robbie Eagles (6 Points) – BOSJ Match

Desperado is in prime position with a win here, as his tiebreakers are fantastic, while Robbie is mathematically eliminated and is just playing out the string at this point.

We trade wristlocks to start and go to the mat. Back up and Robbie trips Despy and goes for the Ron Miller, to which Desperado makes the ropes immediately. Back up and Robbie snaps off a ‘rana and a spinning heel kick, so Despy rolls out and invites Robbie to join him there. Eagles does, which proves to be a poor decision, as Desperado goes to the eyes of Eagles before Robbie hits an arm drag off the post.

They head back in, but Desperado attempts to kick the middle rope low to ensure Eagles can get in without harming himself, but Eagles is clumsy and ends up getting crotched. And now, Despy goes to work on the leg, punishing it unmercifully, with kicks and kneedrops. Legdrop to the knee and it’s a deathlock. One of the best things about Desperado in this tournament has been watching him turn into a submission-based terminator, seriously. It’s really been such a huge part of his game in this tournament and he’s executed it so well.

Eagles slips out of a suplex and hits Despy in the back of the knee, then hits a sliding lariat to the back of the head, but comes down clutching his knee and this is the point of the match where things start to turn awesome. Eagles throws kicks, but has very little behind them because he can’t plant, and Desperado kicks him in the leg to take him down. From there, we get a game of cat and mouse as every time Eagles hits an offensive move, he either hurts himself or Despy takes him back down by nailing him in the knee. Eagles gets a crazy cool 619 to the legs of Desperado on the apron, then his somersault tope right after to put both guys down.

Double knees in the corner by Eagles and he goes up, taking his time to gingerly plant the leg in ways that aren’t showy, but really add to the idea that the leg is hurt in much more subtle ways. 450 misses because he takes too much time and he tries to roll through, but ends up not being able to stand after, then he tries a springboard and crashes to the mat, so Despy pounces and stomps the knee. Robbie tries some desperation rollups, but he doesn’t have the strength to keep Despy down and Desperado hits a dropkick to the knee and it’s Stretch Muffler time. Eagles cradles him to break, but Desperado just rolls him right back into it.

Desperado traps both arms, but Eagles manages to free one of them and make the ropes, but now the knee is gonzo. Pinche Loco attempts and Eagles escapes them, continuously going for pins because he needs to end this match NOW. They fight over a Turbo Backpack and Despy goes to the eyes, but Eagles rolls through into the Ron Miller Special, Desperado goes to the eyes and breaks it. Eagles tries to fire up one last time, but Desperado absolutely PASTES him with a right hand before hitting Pinche Loco for the pin. (El Desperado over Robbie Eagles, pinfall, 14:48)

THOUGHTS: ****1/4. I cannot praise the performance of Robbie Eagles enough in this match. He sold and sold and sold that knee, letting it affect every aspect of his performance and not ignoring it for any significant length of time in the match. The story turned from Eagles being able to hit his big moves off the top to him getting his legs taken out and having to fight tooth and nail to try to get a pin to win the match, and just not having quite enough to hold Desperado off. Meanwhile, the evil mariachi looks more and more like a master of destruction when it comes to setting up for the Muffler as he’s been destroying body parts this entire tournament, and this may have been his masterpiece. This was brilliant.

Intermission!

Kota Ibushi, Satoshi Kojima, & Tomoaki Honma vs Los Ingobernables De Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, Shingo Takagi)

Kojima must be SUPER confused to look across the ring and not see a Young Lion for him to lariat. It’s nice to see that now that we’re closer to Wrestle Kingdom, it must be time to at least minimally start the build. Although Naito is in a t-shirt tonight, so we’re not going to go TOO crazy.

Ibushi and Naito start and the crowd is JACKED. At least, as jacked as they’re allowed to be, but you can absolutely feel the anticipation coming off them. I’m not planning to spend a ton of time on this match, as it’s non-tournament, but there is absolutely electricity in the air as these two face off. Naito plays heel as you’d expect, taking the first cheap shot against the ropes and tagging out first after they break.

From there it delves into a relatively typical 6-man tag in New Japan. Honma misses a headbutt off the second rope, and it’s always fun to see him land on his big stupid head, and LIJ goes to work on him. They beat on him for awhile, and Naito once again really is playing a much stronger heel than he normally does. It appears that we’ve got our heel/face alignment worked out for Wrestle Kingdom. Tag to Ibushi so he and Naito go at it again to the delight of the crowd.

It all breaks down as is wont in these matches, and it’s Kojima, who had been lariating Young Lions into oblivion this entire tour, that ends up taking the moonsault from SANADA and getting pinned. (Los Ingobernables de Japon over Kota Ibushi, Satoshi Kojima, & Tomoaki Honma, pinfall, 14:20)

THOUGHTS: ***. A typically good 6-man tag, we got our first opening of hostilities between Ibushi and Naito here, with Naito definitely adopting the heelish persona. I mean, it really couldn’t have gone any other way.

Post-match, Naito targets Honma for some abuse, then the ref after that. Could do worse than trying to give him a bit of an edge before WK, I have to admit.

   

Master Wato (8 Points) vs Taiji Ishimori (10 Points) – BOSJ Match

Wato has come crashing back to earth after a blazing start and now finds himself on the bubble, facing Taiji and Hiromu tomorrow. With both SHO and Desperado making their way to 12 points, he can’t lose here. Ishimori isn’t in much better shape – he’s got two losses and they’re to Hiromu and Desperado and he has SHO on the last night, so he pretty much needs to win since tiebreaks are not going to be his friend.

Wato with a shotgun dropkick after some rope running, but Ishimori lures him into a baseball slide to turn the tide. From here, it’s the Ishimori show as he just dominates after a brief Wato flurry. Elbow to the arm of Wato, then kneedrops onto it. Hammerlock into the buckles for Ishimori, then a cartwheel arm snap and a double wristlock. More arm work with the fallaway snap by Taiji.

Wato finally makes a comeback and hits a fairly insane tornado press over the ropes onto Ishimori. Damn, dude. Wato with the flying uppercut for two back in. They exchange rollups after some Wato kicks, but Wato gets caught and there’s the shoulderbreaker (so awesome that Ishimori has gotten that move over) into the crossface. Wato makes the ropes to break. Shotgun dropkick sends Wato the buckles, then a corner Meteora gets two for Taiji.

They slug it out now, won by Ishimori with a pump kick and elbows, but Taiji comes off and gets caught with a tilt-a-whirl. Crucifix slam gets two for Wato. Tombstone Driver is blocked by Ishimori into double knees, then a Wato rollup is countered into the GargaNO escape, Wato rolls though that, Bloody Cross hits for Ishimori! 1, 2, 3. We’re done here. (Taiji Ishimori over Master Wato, pinfall, 15:34)

THOUGHTS: ***. This ends Wato’s tournament with the Hiromu match looming tomorrow. Ishimori really dominated most of the match as all of Wato’s comebacks were short bursts. Wato’s selling was problematic, as he seemed to forget his arm multiple times in match. Overall, a slight disappointment for me here.

   

Hiromu Takahashi (10 Points) vs Ryusuke Taguchi (6 Points) – BOSJ Match

So, which Taguchi do we get here? Serious, main event Taguchi, or ‘my bare ass is my greatest weapon’ Taguchi? He’s eliminated from contention no matter what, so let’s see what he decides to bring to the ring tonight.

We get a danceoff to start, so at least we’re starting out with some light heartedness tonight. From there, it’s an absolutely epic rope running spot, as they switch directions and Hiromu runs the ropes for what feels like forever before dropkicking Taguchi to the apron. Ryusuke sits on him to block the sunset bomb and they fight up the aisle, with Taguchi putting him in the anklelock, then running back to the ring to try to win by countout. Taguchi tries to keep him out with a hip attack through the ropes, but ends up hanging himself in said ropes and Hiromu comes back in to take advantage, dragging him back to the floor for a beating.

Back in and it’s a seated dropkick into a headscissors from Hiromu. He continues to control the match, countering the hip attacks with atomic drops and getting more visibly frustrated with each moment that passes. Taguchi finally connects with one and then hits a plancha to the outside, then a springboard hip attack into a tope con hilo, which was super-nifty. Taguchi hits the bumaye for two back in the ring. He fakes out Hiromu into going for the corner throw, and Hiromu crashes to the mat.

Taguchi with a dropkick to the knee and the anklelock now, Hiromu escapes. He fakes out Taguchi now, and Taguchi crashes to the mat going for the corner throw. Pop-up powerbomb gets two for Takahashi. DVD into the corner from Hiromu. Taguchi escapes a fireman’s carry by supermaning himself and crashing to the mat, then repeats it when Takahashi attempts it again. 3rd Amigo is countered into the anklelock by Taguchi. Dragon-screw legwhip and back to the ankle goes Taguchi.

Hiromu turns that into a triangle, which Taguchi breaks on the ropes. Hiromu slaps Taguchi a few times on the mat, but Taguchi slaps him back and now they get into it as Hiromu may have awakened a sleeping coach. Dropkick by Taguchi. Another one. Dodon attempt is countered by…..Hiromu pulling down Taguchi’s tights. And I mean all the way down. Luckily, Taguchi isn’t going commando tonight. Anklelock again, but Hiromu makes the ropes. Hip attack by Taguchi hits, and he goes for again, but Hiromu turns that into a German. Taguchi stands up right away! Strong Style Taguchi! Lariat by Taguchi drops Hiromu! Dodon attempt…..turned into a facebuster by Hiromu!

Hiromu with a lariat of his own for two, as he may be starting realize that he’s made Taguchi angry. Taguchi reverses into an inverted DDT and they slug it out, then they exchange kicks with Takahashi getting two straight superkicks before getting clobbered by a Taguchi lariat! Tiger suplex by Taguchi! Dodon hits for Taguchi! 1, 2, NO! Taguchi with the Death Vallely Driver in the corner! He’s going to hit Time Bomb and pin Hiromu with his own move! He hoists Takahashi up…..Hiromu floats over and stacks Taguchi up with a rollup! 1, 2, 3!! (Hiromu Takahashi over Ryusuke Taguchi, pinfall, 25:31)

THOUGHTS: ***. Crazy hot finish aside, this was WAY too long and was only saved by the skill of the two wrestlers telling the story. Taguchi goofed off, Hiromu wanted him to be serious and took it too far, Taguchi almost won and Hiromu went for a desperation pin because he needed to get the hell out of there. But that having been said, that story didn’t need this much time and they did a lot of filler in the match, mostly because it was a Hiromu match and apparently those have to go 20+ minutes no matter what. I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for long matches and if anyone is going to have them, it should be Hiromu, but sometimes less is more and you don’t need to use 10 words when 3 will do, know what I mean?

What?

Why is there a mirror in front of me now?

Whatever, I’ve gotta get back to identifying the color of that kettle as black.

STANDINGS AFTER NIGHT 8:

El Desperado:                        12 Points
SHO:                                      12 Points
Hiromu Takahashi:                 12 Points
Taiji Ishimori:                          12 Points
Master Wato:                           8 Points – ELIMINATED
BUSHI:                                     8 Points – ELIMINATED
Robbie Eagles:                         6 Points – ELIMINATED
Ryusuke Taguchi:                     6 Points – ELIMINATED
DOUKI:                                     4 Points – ELIMINATED
Yuya Uemura:                           0 Points – ELIMINATED

FINAL THOUGHTS: So, things are now in focus. We have 4 guys left tied at the top. The man at the very top of the standings, Desperado, holds the tiebreak over all 3 of the others having defeated each one. With that in mind, we’ll take a look at how things can go tomorrow:

Our matches are Desperado/BUSHI, SHO/Ishimori, and Hiromu/Wato.

Desperado has complete control of his destiny, as he controls all the aforementioned breaks. So for any other twosome to make the Final, he has to either lose or draw with BUSHI. Sadly, I think he’s going to lose. He doesn’t need to win anymore with wins over all the top guys in the tournament, he’ll get a title shot if he wants one. That leaves us with what will, in all likelihood, be a Hiromu/SHO or Hiromu/Ishimori Final, assuming that there are no draws and GEDO doesn’t go for the massive upset with Wato over Hiromu. My pre-tournament prediction was Hiromu vs SHO in the Final, and I’ll stick to it. I’d rather see Despy in the Final, and he could get there – Desperado wins, Hiromu wins, Ishimori and SHO draw. Despy wins, Hiromu loses, SHO or Ishimori wins. Could do a 3-way tie at the top, but that’s not what normally happens in these things.

Overall, there’s quite a bit of intrigue as we motor towards the final day of round robin competition. Can’t wait to see what happens!

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter
[email protected] for email