New Japan Pro Wrestling kicked off the B Block of the 25th Best of the Super Juniors tournament Saturday in Tokyo's Korakuen Hall.
The strong tournament bouts delivered, and the undercard, while short on star power, provided some good action as well, particularly in the opener which featured Young Lions Shota Umino and Yota Tsuji.
The tournament continues on Sunday in Shizuoka, with IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay set to headline with ACH, capping a night of A Block action.
Below are the results from Saturday's show.
Shota Umino defeated Yota Tsuji by submission
Good fundamental work here from both guys. Tsuji's selling brought the crowd into the match at the end, and Umino's top rope Shotgun Dropkick is a thing of beauty. Umino submitted Ysuji with the Boston Crab.
Will Ospreay, YOSHI-HASHI & YOH defeated ACH, Tiger Mask & Tomoyuki Oka
I covered the Lions Gate Project show earlier this week and came away more impressed with Oka than any of the current group of Young Lions because of his charisma. That was on display here as well, but the work in the match itself was nothing special. Oka tapped out to a butterfly lock.
Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru defeated Toa Henare & Flip Gordon
Suzuki is much better suited to working tags than long singles bouts at this stage of his career, and looked better here than in his main event with Naito earlier this month. Suzuki pinned Henare with the Gotch piledriver.
SANADA & BUSHI defeated Chase Owens & Taiji Ishimori
A good action match. The crowd was really into Ishimori. A lot of focus in the ring and in the post-match was on BUSHI and Ishimori, who will face off in a singles bout tomorrow. SANADA submitted Owens with the skull end.
BOSJ B Block Matches:
Dragon Lee defeated SHO
This was great. They got the crowd into it right away with a strong exchange of strikes. SHO went for a cross armbreaker, but Lee made the ropes. SHO continued to focus his attack on the arms of Lee. Lee hit a sweet tope con hilo, which led to another strike exchange.
They traded belly-to-back suplexes, and Lee hit a standing Spanish Fly for a nearfall. Something tells me we're going to see that move a lot in this tournament. SHO went back to working the arms, but Lee countered by striking the right arm and applying a Kimura. SHO was able to reach the ropes, and both men sold exhaustion.
Lee went for a rana from the apron to the floor, but SHO caught hi and powerbombed him into the ring. SHO hit a Last Ride onto his knees, got a nearfall, then used a cross armbreaker. They teased a top rope German, but Lee turned it into a double footstomp and a nearfall.
They traded knee strikes, but Lee grabbed an arm, and hit the Desnucadora for the pin.
El Desperado defeated Ryusuke Taguchi
This was excellent in spots, and a wacky comedy bout in other spots
Desperado jumped him before the bell. Taguchi came back with hip attacks and a 619. He went for another 619, but Desperado crotched him on the middle rope and threw him outside. Desperado wedged a chair between Taguchi's legs and hit that with another chair. Ouch. Lots of groin attacks in wrestling, lately.
They teased a countout, but Taguchi made it back in. Desperado whipped Taguchi into an exposed buckle, and tried to hit him low again with an international object, but the referee cut him off. Desperado worked on the legs.
Taguchi made a comeback and hit a springboard dropkick, and used an ankle lock. Desperado cut him off with a spinebuster. Both went for double underhooks, but Taguchi was finally able to get them, and hit a slam, and a hip attack for a nearfall.
The finish saw Desperado kick Taguchi low while the referee's back was turnned, and he picked up the pinfall.
Chris Sabin defeated KUSHIDA
This was a solid, fundamentally sound, strike-based match. It was different than I expected. Sabin was never quite the same guy after tearing his knees up a few years ago, but he makes up for that in other ways. KUSHIDA had to slow his usual pace to allow Sabin to keep up, but that is by no means a shot at Sabin. Few guys in the world can work at KUSHIDA's pace.
They started slow, working holds. KUSHIDA attacked the left arm, while Sabin went to work on KUSHIDA's right. Sabin used a headbutt, and followed up with strikes to all of the limbs. They traded strikes, and Sabin used a La Magistral for a nearfall. He went for another, but KUSHIDA turned it into a Kimura. Sabin reached the ropes.
Sabin went for a springboard Tornado DDT, KUSHIDA coutered, but Sabin was able to hit it on the second try. KUSHIDA hit a handspring into a kick. Sabin hit a top rope German and an All Hail Sabin for a nearfall. He followed up with another All Hail Sabin, and got the pinfall.
Hiromu Takahashi defeated Marty Scurll
These are two of the best wrestlers on the planet. Scurll has some of the best ring psychology in the business, and Hiromu is so spectacular. All of that was on display in the opening sequence, as they traded moves, counters, and bird taunts. Hiromu went for a Sunset Bomb, but Scurll countered, bent the right arm back, and hit a superkick on the apron.
Scurll continued to target the right arm on the floor, and sent Hiromu into the first few rows of seats. Back inside, he stomped on Hiromu's right hand, and hit a backbreaker. Scurll attacked the head and neck with uppercuts and double sledges. He hit a Backstabber, but Hiromu countered with a suplex into the corner pad.
A lengthy strike exchange ended with Hiromu hitting a flying headscissors and a Shotgun Dropkick off the apron to the floor. He hit a top rope standing senton for a earfall. Scurll teased the finger break spot, but Hiromu hit a pop-up powerbomb, and the momentum shifted to him.
Scurll countered with a top rope DDT. Hiromu came back and hit the Sunset Bomb. Back inside, Hiromu hit Dynamite Plancha for a nearfall. He wet for a headscissors off the apron, but Scurll turned it into a powerbomb off the apron, and Hiromu landed hard. They traded strikes on the apron, and Scurll hit a Tombstone on the apron, leading to a nearfall.
Scurll went for the Chicken Wing, Hiromu powered out, but Scurll was finally able to apply the hold. He gave it up, but did the finger break spot and hit a pair of superkicks. He stomped on Hiromu's head, but Hiromu countered with a Time Bomb attempt. Scurll countered into a cradle, but Hiromu countered, locking in a triangle choke.
Scurll tried to break the hold with a powerbomb, but Hiromu held on, and Scurll passed out in the hold. A great main event.