With one week remaining, the 24th NJPW Best of the Super Juniors tournament still has a lot of twists and turns to sort out. While some competitors have already been knocked out of the tournament, many remain, and even some of those who are currently struggling can still pull it off given the right circumstances.
Here is everything you need to know leading into the last week of the tournament.
As of this writing, Will Ospreay, Dragon Lee, Ricochet, Taichi, and Hiromu Takahashi have eight points to lead Block A. Marty Scurll (six points), Taka Michinoku (two points), and Jushin Thunder Liger (zero) are mathematically eliminated from winning the tournament.
Block B has El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Ryusuke Taguchi, and ACH leading with six points each. Tiger Mask IV, Volador Jr., KUSHIDA, and BUSHI have four points.
Liger’s last stand?
Before the tournament, Jushin Thunder Liger shocked everyone by announcing that this would be his last BOSJ and after his loss to Michinoku, he vowed to win the rest of his matches. But that hasn’t come into fruition at all. In fact, he has a big ol' goose egg heading into the tourney's final week.
Liger is the most prolific wrestler to compete in the tournament, entering it every time since its inception with the exception of 1995 and 2000. He’s won it three times: 1992, 1994, and 2001. At 50, he’s still one of the best workers the company has as far as telling a story and overall solid workrate.
One wrestler to follow in this tournament is former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion KUSHIDA, who has been struggling to gain momentum ever since he lost his rematch to Hiromu Takahashi at Sakura Genesis back in April.
That struggle continues in this year’s tournament where as of this writing, he has only been able to rack up four points, defeating BUSHI in the main event from the May 22nd show and Yoshinobu Kanemaru on May 27th. Losses to Desperado, ACH, and Tiger Mask have impeded his path to gaining another tournament win.
KUSHIDA needs to win the rest of his matches to have a chance at winning his block and making it to the finals. If he is able to win the tournament, he’ll be able to get another crack at the title, which he’s been yearning to do since his humiliating April loss.
What you need to watch
Without a doubt, Ospreay and Ricochet have stolen the show this year, equaling, if not surpassing, their famous match from last year. They dished out every single move you could possibly imagine with Ospreay finishing things off with a dragonrana and his OsCutter finisher for the win.
Dragon Lee and Takahashi also continued their epic rivalry, capping off the opening day with a killer main event. It wasn’t as barbaric as their encounter back in February at New Beginning, but still managed to wow Korakuen Hall with some sick back and forth offense.
Lee is becoming the big MVP of the tournament and his other matches between he, Ospreay, and Ricochet are also highly recommended.
Most other matches on the card have ranged from solid to pretty good. I’d suggest avoiding anything involving Taichi as he goes out of his way to have bad matches, and I’m sure you have other things to do besides watching him stall for ten minutes.
The rest of the tournament
The tournament runs through June 3rd at Tokyo Yoyogi Gym, with the finals airing live on New Japan World with English commentary. Three other shows will air live before then:
- May 29th at Korakuen Hall will be a B Block night: El Desperado will face Tiger Mask IV, BUSHI takes on Yoshinobu Kanemaru, ACH will face Volador Jr., and KUSHIDA will face Ryusuke Taguchi in the main event.
- May 31st in Osaka will determine the A Block winner: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Taichi, Ricochet vs. Marty Scurll, Dragon Lee vs. Taka Michinoku will all take place, with Hiromu Takahashi vs. Will Ospreay headlining.
- June 1st in Nagoya will decide the B Block winner of the tournament: BUSHI vs. Tiger Mask IV, ACH vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, KUSHIDA vs. Volador Jr. and El Desperado vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru.