Friday, May 29, 2015

NJPW on AXS - Season 2 Episode 1 Review - 2014 BOSJ Finals

After a few weeks away, NJPW returns to American television and what better way to start than with action from last year's Best of the Super Juniors tournament? It's awesome timing considering this year's BOSJ tourney is taking place as this airs. I'm a week late reviewing this episode due to missing it when it originally aired. Thankfully they replayed it prior to this week's edition so I got to catch it and give my thoughts.

1) KUSHIDA vs. Taichi - Semi Final Round Match
I'm still somewhat new to NJPW so this may be why, but I've never seen a match like this one in my time watching New Japan. It featured alot of interference that started before the bell even sounded. Taichi portrayed his sly, almost Eddie Guerrero like character by using a chair prior to the match and then taking every advantage to cheat behind the ref's back during the bout. Everyone from Alex Shelley to Taka Michinoku made an appearance to interfere here and it was enjoyable while it lasted, just not something you typically get from NJPW. It was what it was.

Match rating - **1/2

2) Ricochet vs. Rysuke Tagachi - Semi Final Round Match

Super fun match here. They cut out a few minutes of it though so I'm not sure what exactly I missed. Therefore, I'll just give a rating for what I saw. The action here was all crisp and there were some sweet exchanges between the two. It didn't have an epic finishing run or anything, just felt like a nice little exhibition and that's something I can't complain about.

Match rating - ***

3) Ricochet vs. KUSHIDA - 2014 BOSJ Final Round Match
UNBELIEVABLE! That's honestly all I can say as I type this just moments after I finished watching this match. These two absolutely pulled out all the stops and proved why they were worthy of being in the finals. They also delivered a match that reminded me of why I love this style of wrestling. It was a perfect representation of the junior heavyweight style by two men who do it better than anyone else. The match started with Ricochet & KUSHIDA going back and forth in a battle of oneupsmanship with neither man getting a clear advantage although KUSHIDA would soon begin implementing his game plan of working on the arm of Ricochet as a way of setting up for his submission finisher, the hoverboard lock. KUSHIDA got the upperhand for a few moments and while it didn't last long, it had a lasting effect because Ricochet continued grasp his arm despite regaining control of the match. He was clearly in pain. Oddly enough, strikes are what earned Ricochet the advantage about mid-way through the bout as he nailed KUSHIDA with kicks and other offense maneuvers to maintain control while he tried to rehab his arm. KUSHIDA wouldn't stay down though and he made his comeback which saw him hit a massive swanton bomb off the top turnbuckle. This is where things went from very good to absolutely epic. The final 10 minutes or so took this match to the entire next level, in my opinion because it's where everything they had been building towards came together. They not only had more flashy counters and big spots, they also had call backs to earlier happenings in the match as KUSHIDA continued taking it to Ricochet's arm. It was during this time that I actually realized why he had been working over the arm as he repeatedly began going for his finishing submission hold which is a variation of the kimura lock. Every counter felt epic, the crowd was hanging on every move & near fall, this was just a spectacle to see. Amazing match and without a doubt a must see.

Match rating - ****3/4

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