Well, here we are. Tonight, two men meet to settle this whole thing, as El Desperado takes on Hiromu Takahashi in the Finals of the Best of the Super Juniors 2020 tournament!
Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
First things first, and that’s to say thank you to Michael Bradley, who took on World Tag League this year. I expect he will be by with his review of the Final soon. He did excellent work and as we ramp towards Wrestle Kingdom, I hope that all of us who have been covering NJPW this year will have a hand in reviewing that show.
As for tonight, I’m going to skip the undercard/co-main event and only review the Final, mainly because it was such a great match (spoiler and stuff) that I’d like to deep dive that one. The undercard was fine, and here’s a brief bit on it:
- Bullet Club (Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale, Taiji Ishimori) over CHAOS (Toru Yano, Robbie Eagles, SHO) – the main takeaway here is that Yano hooked it up with Fale, attempting to body slam him, which he was unsuccessful at. This has led to Fale challenging Yano to a bodyslam match for the KoPW title.
- The Empire (Will Ospreay, The Great O-Khan, Jeff Cobb) over Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, & Toa Henare.
- Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, SANADA) over Bullet Club (EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi) – SANADA and EVIL hooked it up here and may be heading towards Wrestle Kingdom. After the match, Jeff Cobb came down to further the NEVER openweight title situation, as it looks like he will be the challenger for Shingo at WK.
- Kota Ibushi & Master Wato over Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI) – mostly about the Naito/Ibushi interactions, Naito worked noticeably heel against babyface Ibushi, which is probably the direction they’re heading for WK.
- The Guerillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga, Tonga Loa) over FinJuice (David Finlay, Juice Robinson) to win World Tag League – I’ll refrain from a full review, but the fallout is pretty much that the GoD finally win WTL after many tries, denying FinJuice the back to back. The match with the Tekkers may be interesting, I must admit.
El Desperado vs Hiromu Takahashi – Best of the Super Juniors 2020 Final
Desperado defeated Takahashi during the Block rounds, but now that we’re down to two, it’s winner takes all. These two have a bit of a history that isn’t just these personas – both were Young Lions at the same time, when Desperado was known as Kyosuke Mikami. They wrestled each other and even tagged together before Desperado left for excursion in CMLL. Desperado finished his excursion before Hiromu arrived – Despy was in CMLL until December of 2013, while Hiromu didn’t arrive in CMLL until 2014, debuting in January of that year.
Desperado is wearing his mirror universe white outfit, so you know he means bidness! Unlike a lot of matches in this tournament, they don’t rush each other to start, taking a brief second before the lockup. Wristlock reversal into a headlock takeover and we have a stalemate. To the mat we go and they do a nice sequence there. Hiromu steps on Despy’s head and here we go, as they start to unleash on each other with palm strikes. Hiromu off the ropes and Desperado turns a ‘rana into the Stretch Muffler, causing Takahashi to dive for the ropes. Despy uses the ref for distraction and dropkicks the knee of Hiromu, then tosses him out and sends him to the railing.
Back in and Desperado undoes one of the corner pads as he waits for Hiromu to get back in. When Takahashi does, Despy sends him to the exposed corner twice, then hits a suplex for two. And now it’s time to get to work, as Desperado goes after the knee of Hiromu with a vengeance, splashing it and dropping a leg on it. He tosses Hiromu and slams him on the floor, then slams the knee to the floor. Hiromu rolls back in and the torture continues, as Desperado splashes the leg and puts on an Indian Deathlock. Hiromu tries a comeback and hits a ‘rana to slow Desperado down, then a dropkick sequence that ends with Hiromu grabbing his leg in pain.
Hiromu with a crazy attempt to hit a poison ‘rana over the top rope to the floor ends up with Desperado essentially being caught in a hangman against the ropes before Hiromu hits the floor. Hiromu follows that up with a face-first wheelbarrow slam to the floor. Jesus. Hiromu off the apron with a shotgun dropkick to send Desperado to the railing, then back in with a Falcon Arrow for two. A few counters later and it’s Desperado hitting a kneebreaker and going for the Muffler, and Hiromu DIVES for the ropes again. He’s really putting that move over as hard as he can. Charge from Desperado and Hiromu hits the overhead throw into the buckles. Good God.
They have a crazy fight over a fireman’s carry, then Hiromu takes his head off with a superkick. Death Valley Driver to the corner by Hiromu hits, then another one in the center of the ring. Takahashi goes for the Time Bomb, but Desperado counters that to the Muffler. Hiromu makes the ropes and this time, Desperado keeps the hold on and cranks it until the ref counts to 5. Hiromu to the floor and Despy teases a dive, but Takahashi comes back in and Desperado ends up on the apron, Hiromu goes for apron bomb to the floor and absolutely SAILS over him, landing back first on the mats outside. JESUS CHRIST, this man is insane.
Desperado smells blood and sends Hiromu to the railing, then distracts the ref before slamming a chair into the leg of Hiromu 3 times. Back in and Hiromu fights off the Muffler, so Desperado hits Guitarra de Angel, forcing Hiromu to kick out…..right into the Muffler. He wraps Takahashi up, but can only trap one arm. Hiromu fights and fights for the ropes, but Despy rolls him back to the center and now he’s got it in good. Hiromu tries to leverage his weight as Despy shifts his weight to sink the move in, and somehow manages to use that leverage to hit a Canadian Destroyer to break the hold. INSANE. He somehow made that look as natural as possible without TOO much contrivance.
Desperado manages to shove Hiromu off into the ref, and it’s a Greco-Roman ballshot. Desperado gets Hiromu to his feet…..and Hiromu promptly hits a huge right hand to drop Despy! And now, Hiromu goes for the mask of Desperado and rips off the entire top half of it, and you can hear the crowd’s stunned reaction. Desperado slowly gets to his feet….and voluntarily tears off the rest of his ruined mask! The crowd forgets they’re not supposed to say anything and the audible reaction is crazy. Desperado doesn’t cover his face, he doesn’t back down, he simply stands toe to toe because this tournament means much more to him than the mask does in this moment. He has to defeat Hiromu, it’s all he can see. Wild palm strike battle as they simply go to war, the match taking on even more of a personal tenor than any we’ve seen in this entire tournament. They roll around on the mat firing at each other and Hiromu absolutely ETHERS Despy with a palm strike!
Hiromu gets Despy back up, and now it’s Despy’s turn to destroy Hiromu with a right! Pinche Loco is blocked, headbutt by Hiromu! Takahashi with the Victory Royal, but Desperado blocks and rolls him into a crucifix! 1, 2, 2.9999999999999999999!!!!!!!!!!!! I audibly SWORE on that two count live. Superkick by Takahashi! Pinche Loco attempt by Desperado, countered by Hiromu into the Death Valley Driver on the exposed buckles! Time Bomb by Hiromu! 1, 2, NO! WHAT?! Desperado is bleeding from the back after hitting the exposed buckles. Hiromu hits another Victory Royal, hoists Desperado up, Time Bomb #2!! 1, 2, 3!!!!!!!! Hiromu Takahashi is, for the second time, your BOSJ Champion! (Hiromu Takahashi over El Desperado, pinfall, 30:15)
They made them forget.
In this year, in 2020, the rules of attending these shows in Japan dictate that certain rules be followed, and one of them is that spectators are only allowed to clap to show their approval. But these two men went out there and built a story in that ring. A story that culminated so beautifully that when El Desperado removed that mask voluntarily, when he put himself on the line and declared that he refused to lose that match because he would have to hide his face because the match meant too much to him, they made the crowd forget the rules. They pulled them into a vortex where the only thing that mattered was the match, the two men under the lights crafting a narrative that would be remembered. Their voices could not, would not be silenced once they saw what was unfolding in front of them, which is frankly the greatest testament that any performer can hope to hear.
I cannot praise this match enough, frankly. Desperado using his cheating tactics throughout the match but in the end showing that he could stand on his own two feet and go toe to toe with the best elevated him to a level that puts him in the top tier of the juniors in New Japan. Before this match, he was a good worker with a bitching mask, and now he’s become something more than that. This was the literal definition of elevating someone in a loss – Hiromu won, but the indelible image that will remain from this match will be the rising of Desperado to his feet, slowly removing his mask and showing his true visage to the world, fighting until there was nothing left.
And what can you say about Hiromu Takahashi? Has anyone even come close to the post-comeback 2020 that he’s had? The run in the New Japan Cup, the excellent match against Ishimori at Jingu, the great matches in this BOSJ, he’s evolved into arguably the single most complete performer in the entirety of New Japan Pro Wrestling. His abilities are almost unmatched by anyone else in the world in this moment in time, and he gave us an absolute classic here, unselfishly giving Desperado all the shine in the match while continuing his brilliant work.
All I can say is that, in a BOSJ that had a lot of ups and down, they saved the best for last in every possible way.
FINAL THOUGHTS: And so we come to the end. I want to say thanks to everyone who read any of my bullshit, whether you commented or not. I truly enjoy recapping this company so very much, and I truly enjoy the fact that I get to do it here. Thanks to Scott for allowing me to post my thoughts, thanks to the wrestlers of New Japan, thanks to all of it. I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoy it.
Up next…..Wrestle Kingdom.
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
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