By Bryan Rose, WrestlingObserver.com
After roughly a month of downtime, tonight New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV returns for a second season. Last night, we kicked off this years Best of the Super Juniors tournament, so how fitting tonight we’ll take a look at last years Best of the Super Junior semifinals and finals! Taichi, Kushida, Ricochet and Ryusuke Taguchi have all made it to the semifinals, and on tonight’s show we’ll be seeing not only who advances to the finals, but who takes the whole tournament.
This took place June 8, 2014 at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Japan.
First up we have Taichi versus Kushida in the semifinals. Originally it was supposed to be Shelley taking on Kushida in a battle of tag team partners, but unfortunately Shelley injured his arm and was put out of the standing. Having not seen Taichi in months due to Suzukigun invade NOAH months ago, it was refreshing to see Taichi’s heel tactics. Say what you want about him, but he’s a terrific midcard heel in this division and is a perfect foil for Kushida. Their seconds, Shelley and Taka Michinoku, freely interfered throughout the match, but it fails for Suzukigun as Shelley wipes them both out with superkicks and Kushida taps out Taichi with the hoverboard lock (kimura). Not a blow away match by any means, but it told a nice story.
The next semifinal is Ricochet taking on Ryusuke Taguchi. This was cut due to time constraints, but what was shown was a great showcase for someone who’s never seen Ricochet before. The dude is straight up incredible. He not only has some great high flying moves, but the way he controls himself in the ring, his presence, his precision ON TOP of his ability is something to witness. He wins the match with the Benadryller (fireman’s carry into a roundhouse kick).
Kushida is interviewed for the main event segment. He started using the hoverboard lock from Kazushi Sakuraba. He recalls using the move on Liger in a singles match and getting the win. After the match, he told him to become the leader of the tournament. He remembers beating Ricochet with the move during the regular season as well. He says he is ability is incredible and he felt like he was facing an olympic level wrestler. He knows he has to show him something different from last time.
The main event aired. It started out slow, but by the end this became a really well done worked match. Lots of crazy spots including Kushida unleashing a big tope con hilo from the turnbuckle to the floor. Ricochet hit the Benadryller and a 630 splash but Kushida managed to kick out and actually get the hoverboard lock in at one point. Kushida fighting desperately out of a second Benadryller was a highlight of the closing moments of the match as well, but unfortunately for him he couldn’t avoid it after a roundhouse kick by Ricochet. He landed the Benadryller for the second time and pinned Kushida to win the Best of the Super Juniors tournament.
After the match, Kushida was upset about the outcome. He questioned what he lacked to win it all. He said he’d be back on top soon.
In in the ring, Ricochet cut a promo thanking the fans. He also challenged Kota Ibushi to a match. He came out and they had a staredown. After Ibushi left, Ricochet celebrated as confetti emerged.
Kushida reflects on the match. He really wanted to win, so it hurt him to lose. He had to meet the crowd’s expectations so he had to prove himself to the fans and tho the wrestlers. He said he’d like to bring the tournament back to the Ryogoku Kokugikan arena. He’ll continue to do what he does to show everyone the future of pro wrestling.
A terrific hour of wrestling, probably one of the best that have aired so far on AXS. It might not be running first run content, but New Japan on AXS is quickly shaping up to be one of the best wrestling television shows around. Next week on the show we’ll have the big Junior Heavyweight match between Ricochet and Kota Ibushi, the Young Bucks taking on the Time Splitters for the Junior tag titles and Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka face Toru Yano and Kazushi Sakuraba in their best of ten million series.