New Japan Best of the Super Juniors final report

Hey Dave and Bryan,

Here's my running play-by-play and some quick notes on the New Japan Best of the Super Junior XX Finals at Tokyo Korakuen Hall which I just got home from.

I got to the show 1 hour before the opening bell only to find the show completely sold out and the box office closed.  Luckily I found someone outside with an extra ticket and was able to buy one.

The building is packed and everyone is really excited.  This crowd seems ready to see Taguchi beat Devitt to become the king of the junior division.

As the show started, they showed a video of Taguchi getting hurt in a match against Tiger Mask and he will be replaced in the semifinals by TAKA Michinoku, who finished third in the group.  This is a big letdown as I thought this tournament was built around Devitt being awesome so he could move up to the heavyweight division, and Taguchi beating him in the finals to become the new face of the Juniors.

1. Jyushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask, KUSHIDA, BUSHI, and Titan beat Rocky Romero, Alex Koslov, Brian Kendrick, Ricoche, and Baretta when KUSHIDA pinned Kendrick in 7:39 after the Midnight Express (corkscrew moonsault) where it looked like he landed right on Kendrick's face.  Crowd was really into this.  ***1/4

2. Manabu Nakanishi and Hiromu Takahashi beat Yuji Nagata and Takaaki Watanabe when Takahashi made Watanabe submit to a Boston Crab in 9:18.  This was a good match and really one of the reasons New Japan is great.  The young guys got to shine in a match with the veterans and didnt get buried but it was also clear they weren't at the top level yet, but they got enough where you could really get behind them.  After the match, Takahashi gave a goodbye speech as I believe he is heading to the U.K. for a while.  He got a nice send off and will come back a bigger star.  ***1/2

3. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, and Captain New Japan beat Toru Yano, Takashi Iizuka, and Jado when Tenzan made Jado submit to the Anaconda Vice in 9:49.  This was no good.  Crowd always likes Tenzan and Kojima but I don't know why, since as always, they did nothing.  The highlight was Iizuka ripping off one of the announcer's shirts before the match and chasing him to the point the announcer ran up to the balcony and called the match from the upper deck, shirtless.  After the match, Iizuka tried to use the iron fingers but he hit Yano by accident instead, and TenKoji handcuffed Iizuka and Yano together and they left cuffed together.  *1/2

4. Prince Devitt pinned Kenny Omega in the first Best of the Super Junior Semi-Final in 9:09 after a reverse Bloody Sunday DDT.  In a 9-minute match, the Bullet Club interfered 3 times including putting Omega through a table.  It's clear where this is heading, but yet again, it ruined Devitt's match.  This gimmick really sucks. The match was good but it can never get to the next level with the constant interference.  ***1/2

5. Alex Shelley pinned TAKA Michinoku in the other Best of the Super Junior Semi-Final in 10:14 after the Automatic Midnight (Emerald Frosien). Fun match and a surprising finish as this meant an all foreigner final where I thought for sure TAKA was put in the spot so it would be Devitt against a foreigner in the final.  Good match but the crowd was on fire when the show started and has gone down with each match and this one wasn't so heated.  ***1/4

Just before they announced intermission, they showed a Bruce Tharpe and Rob Conway interview, where they again layed down a challenge to anyone in New Japan for the NWA title .  Nakanishi accepted Conway's challenge to have the worst match on the June 22nd iPPV show from Osaka and possibly of the year in Japan unless they plan to do a 3-way with KENSO later in the year which would be worse.

6. After intermission, they came back with Yujiro Takahashi and Tomohiro Ishii beating Minoru Suzuki and Taichi when Ishii pinned Taichi after a vertical drop brainbuster in 11:13.  Match was a lot of fun, but not great. After the match, Takahashi called out Tetsuya Naito who was sitting at ringside doing commentary and it seems they may add this match to the iPPV in Osaka. ***1/2

7. Hiroshi Tanahashi and Hirooki Goto beat Karl Anderson and Tama Tonga in 8:07 when Tanahashi pinned Tonga after a Slingblade and then a High Fly Flow.  Very fun and entertaining match.  ***1/2

8. Kazuchika Okada and Gedo beat Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma when Okada pinned Honma after a Rainmaker in about 11 minutes.  After the bell, Makabe tried to attack both guys but got laid out with a tombstone by Okada. ***

9. Prince Devitt pinned Alex Shelley in 18:25 in the Best of the Super Junior Final after the Bloody Sunday DDT.  The first 10 minutes was the Devitt heel match where they do some good things but there's non-stop outside interference. It was 10 minutes of non-stop interference by the Bullet Club which was killing the match, and Shelley's seconds were jut standing in the corner doing nothing which made them look like fools.  Finally, 10 minutes in, they had enough and a huge brawl broke out between the Bullet Club (Anderson, Tonga, and Bad Luck Fale) and Tanahashi, Captain New Japan, and KUSHIDA.  The ref threw them all out of ringside which I guessed is where this whole tournament was headed.  But then 2 minutes later there was a ref bump, and Devitt tried to use the title belt but was thwarted and Shelley tried to DDT him on the belt but missed by about 2 feet.  I think he tried to do it on the belt anyway.  The last 4 minutes were great and the crowd was really into it, but it took us 14 minutes to get here.  There were a lot of near falls and the crowd was really pulling for Shelley but in the end Devitt pinned him.  It seemed the whole tournament was set up for Devitt to win every match with outside help, then in the finals, the guys would get booted out, and then Taguchi would pin him.  Due to the injury, this made no sense, in that the Bullet Club was kicked out but he still won.  Entertaining last 4 minutes. ***3/4
Final thought is that I went to this show thinking it would be a star-making performance with Taguchi pinning Devitt in the finals.  Sadly that wasn't possible, but hopefully Taguchi recovers soon.  A very fun show with only one out of nine matches that was less than 2 stars, but I also don't think anything hit 4 stars as outside interference ruined both Devitt matches in a sense.
Andrew Kessler
"Southern Style"

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