Editor's Note: Every day this week, we'll take you back to one of Dave Meltzer's top-rated matches of the past year, starting with No. 10 and going through No. 1. What follows is an edited version of Dave's writeup of that match from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
KUSHIDA vs. Will Ospreay
NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Finals | June 3rd
With the worldwide boom in quality lighter weight wrestlers, this year’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament looked to have potential to be the best one ever. Between the ridiculously loaded A block and a solid B block, the tournament largely lived up to that. Not every match was great, but most were good, and almost all the dream matches lived up to and, in some cases, he exceeded expectations.
It came down to 24-year-old Will Ospreay trying to become only the second repeat winner (Tiger Mask in 2004-05) and 34-year-old KUSHIDA doing his comeback storyline. KUSHIDA had suffered a number of losses including the two minute loss to IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi on April 9th at the Sakura Genesis show. Then after winning the ROH TV title from Marty Scurll, the simple story was that he developed a new finisher: a small package power bomb called Back to the Future.
Then in the tournament, he pulled a Cleveland Cavaliers, going down 3-1 in the best of seven before pulling out the win for his block and then beating A block winner Ospreay in what may have been the greatest match in the history of the tournament with a history that dates back to 1988.
The match featured great wrestling, tremendous selling, body part working and blow away moves that made it probably one of the top four matches at this point o of an amazing year. It was held before a sellout crowd of 3,454 fans at the smaller Yoyogi Gym in Tokyo, Japan.
KUSHIDA beat Will Ospreay in 27:59 to win the Best of the Super Juniors tournament
This was an incredible match that blended in so many different facets and so many different styles. Ospreay did a great stepover toehold escape when they were trading holds early. Ospreay was bleeding from the mouth right away. There were a great series of misses leading to both guys missing a dropkick at the same time. They traded hard elbows with Ospreay getting the better of it, but KUSHIDA used a koppo kick to knock Ospreay out of the ring and did a flip plancha off the top rope to the floor. He then started working on both the right arm and the knee and clamped on the figure four. Because of AXS and New Japan World, there are a lot more American fans who fly over for the big shows which was evident by the noticeable “Whoo" for that move.
Ospreay did two running dropkicks into the corner and the Octopus hold, a tribute to Katsuyori Shibata. KUSHIDA came back with Divorce Court off the middle rope. Ospreay later did his dropkick where he landed on his feet and followed with a step-up enzuigiri. That knocked KUSHIDA out of the ring and Ospreay did a Fosbury Flop, followed by a springboard forearm. However, he missed the Robinson special (the spinning kick he uses just before the Oscutter, named after British wrestler Paul Robinson).
KUSHIDA used a Pele kick which Ospreay followed with a standing Spanish fly for a near fall. He went for the Sky Twister but KUSHIDA got his knees up. Ospreay got out of Back to the Future, but KUSHIDA used a Dragon suplex. He went up for the moonsault, but Ospreay got up and dropkicked him. Both were standing on the middle rope when KUSHIDA put on the Hoverboard lock. Ospreay hit a shooting star, then a reverse huracanrana on the ring apron, but KUSHIDA managed to get in just before the 20 count. Ospreay followed with the Essex Destroyer, a crazy move that ends up as a DDT, for a near fall.
Ospreay came off the ropes for his Oscutter, but KUSHIDA caught him in an armbar. He was arching his back while applying it with the idea of added pressure to it. He switched to the triangle, but Ospreay then broke it with the one arm power bomb into the turnbuckles. Later, when KUSHIDA came off the top rope, Ospreay hit the RKO (a tribute to Randy Orton) with perfect timing and then hit the Robinson special. He went for the Oscutter again, but KUSHIDA moved and Ospreay fell on his ass.
KUSHIDA hit a handspring diamond cutter and put on the hoverboard lock but Ospreay punched him in the face to break it. Ospreay delivered a series of Kawada kicks, and KUSHIDA came back with Kawada kicks of his own. They traded elbows, leading to Ospreay throwing a punch and KUSHIDA coming back with a punch. In every long KUSHIDA match, he throws exactly one punch, and his timing of when to throw it is impeccable because the crowd always goes crazy. Both were down.
KUSHIDA went for the hoverboard lock, and then went for Back to the Future which Ospreay reversed into a stunner. Ospreay hit the inverted 450 for a near fall. The key is that was the move Ospreay used on Taguchi last year to win the tournament. Ospreay used Sami Zayn's helluva kick in the corner, and then tied up KUSHIDA in the corner and threw seven hard kicks to the face. Ospreay went to the top rope again but KUSHIDA pulled him off with the Back to the Future off the ropes and did a second one for the pin.
Adding to the atmosphere was Dragon Lee, Tiger Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi, Ricochet and Volador Jr all kneeling around the ring watching the match. They kept the heels away so there would be no interference. Jushin Liger was also at ringside doing commentary. After KUSHIDA and Ospreay hugged after the match, they presented KUSHIDA with the trophy and he told all the wrestlers at ringside to get in the ring, thanking them. He then told Liger to get in the ring. Liger wrestled his final Best of the Super Juniors match of his career a few days earlier, and was the most over wrestler in every city except on the final night. He then addressed the different guys in the tournament, led the crowd in a big wave, and they had a confetti celebration and trophy presentation that gave the feeling you just saw something noteworthy, which, in fact, we all just did.