Wednesday, July 3, 2019

NJPW: Best of the Super Juniors 26 Review Thread

Starting off behind as usual, going to be keeping this an archive for all the matches from the 2019 BOSJ that I watch/review.

Marty Scurll vs. Jonathan Gresham - Night One - 5/13/19

I'm so glad Gresham got this opportunity and although I was super sour on Scurll near the end of his run in BC, he's back on his own and actually pretty enjoyable again especially in matches like this. Gresham keeps everything grounded and from being wacky and it's great. Just a pure back and forth wrestling match. The crowd seems to be taking really kindly to Gresham so I think he came out of this looking well despite taking the loss.

Match rating - ***1/4

Shingo Takagi vs. SHO - Night One - 5/13/19

This is a match that had extreme heading in. R3K and Bushi & Shingo have been embroiled in an awesome feud for the junior titles for the past few months. Shingo is undefeated and SHO is determined to beat him despite having the disadvantage in experience, size & momentum. This made for an incredible match that more than delivered in the expectations that everyone held for it. In fact, it's my favorite NJPW match this year so far and that's saying something. Matches like this make the BOSJ feel so important and matches like this make stars. SHO is the future. And Shingo? If his Dragon Gate and independent resume didn't already solidify him as one of the best in the past decade, his run in New Japan right now most definitely is and I think that will be one of the big stories of this whole tournament.

Match rating - ****3/4

Dragon Lee vs. Taiji Ishimori - Night One - 5/13/19

Crowd was completely burnt out heading into this one and so was I. Sho & Shingo tore it down in the semi-main and there was no way they were going to follow this. None the less, it was still a good little match. Ishimori gets his win back over Dragon Lee finally, but BARELY. Lee hit a dvd on Ishimori in the corner that was NASTY as fuck. I honestly don't see how Ishimori came out of it unscathed.

Match rating - ***1/2

Rocky Romero vs. Robbie Eagles - Night Two - 5/14/19

I mainly watched this because I'm excited to see Rocky Romero back in high stakes action. He's so underrated. This is Rocky's first BOSJ appearance in three years and Robbie's first apperance ever. They work a pretty smart match here showcasing Eagles' tunnel vision ability as he focused on Rocky's leg from the jump. They went back and forth and played that into the finish with a 450 on Rocky's leg before locking him in a submission to tap him out. Big win for Robbie.

Match rating - **3/4

Will Ospreay vs. BUSHI - Night Two - 5/14/19

This started off slow, but picked up for the second half. Ospreay's neck was the focal point of things and they milked a 20 count really well following a brutal DDT on the apron. Ospreay fights back and hits all his stuff on BUSHI for the win. My prediction is Ospreay and Shingo in the finals of this whole thing.

Match rating - ***

Bandido vs. El Phantasmo - Night Two - 5/14/19

A really fun sprint that gave both fairly new talents a chance to properly showcase what they could do and I think it went over really well.

Match rating - ***1/4

Dragon Lee vs. SHO - Night Three - 5/

Another banger from SHO here. Huge match for him as he's challenging the champion and even though he doesn't take the win, it felt like he was going to on several occasions due to how well they executed everything and the atmosphere the crowd created.

Match rating - ****

Bandido vs. YOH - Night Four - 5/16/19

Neither of these men had won in the tournament at this point so there was a real sense of urgency in this one. Both guys kept it simple and crisp and this was a perfect little undercard match. Bandido rules, YOH rules. The depth of this tournament RULES. Fun stuff.

Match rating - ***1/4

Will Ospreay vs. Rocky Romero - Night Four - 5/16/19

Okay, here we go. So the first few days of the tournament were fun and had a banger or two, but as we crawl closer into the tournament, we get a number of must-see matches that I think are on the level they are due to the stories built and told within the tournament itself, including this one. Rocky is in this tournament with something to prove after a few years away and he takes Ospreay to the absolute brink here and it's nuts. This would be just the start of an inspirational run from Rocky and god damn it's awesome. Ospreay triumphs in the end after a clinic.

Match rating - ****1/4

Dragon Lee vs. Jonathan Gresham - Night Five - 5/18/19

Simple little 10 minute match here. Mainly watched bc I'm a Gresham stan, it saddens me this didn't get more time, but you can't win 'em all and gotta keep the champ looking strong after he gave SHO so much the night before. Still good fun, though.

Match rating - **1/2

Shingo Takagi vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru - Night Five - 5/18/19

Shingo is looking to roll undefeated through this tournament so that story creates a lot of good matches. Kanemaru had Taichi run interference here and it made for a great comeback for Shingo that the crowd popped for. Another W for the Dragon.

Match rating - ***1/2

Will Ospreay vs. YOH - Night Six - 5/19/19

Ospreay's on a killer streak just like Shingo with something to prove. YOH has the pressure of how insane of showing SHO had against Shingo in his big main event and boy, he delivered. Not quite on the same level, but he was fiery as fuck and Ospreay gave him probably his best singles match.

Match rating - ***3/4

Shingo Takagi vs. Marty Scurll - Night Seven - 5/22/19

This was really similar to the Kanemaru match that Shingo had, except less good because it's Scurll and smh. But anyway, it still was good because Shingo is good and made me dislike Scurll a little less if he would work this way more often.

Match rating - ***1/4

Will Ospreay vs. El Phantasmo - Night Seven - 5/22/19

An absolute movezfest. Phantasmo's best showing in the tournament so far and another performance from Ospreay that makes him look like the ace that he is on a mission to become.

Match rating - ****

Will Ospreay vs. Bandido - Night Eight - 5/23/19

Dream match here and it fucking delivered. These two are just out of this world athletes and they were running at 100 here. This was everything you'd expect from these two. Ospreay is on a hot ass streak and Bandido more than pulled his weight in arguably his biggest match in the tournament.

Match rating - ****1/4

Dragon Lee vs. Shingo Takagi - Night Eight - 5/23/19

Shingo is undefeated. Dragon Lee is the champion of the division this tournament is based around. This is the most vulnerable Shingo has looked and it is a hell of a ride. Watch this match.

Match rating - ****1/4

Dragon Lee vs. Titan - Night Nine - 5/24/19

Korakuen Hall is hot and this was some fun friendly lucha that gave Titan an extremely good showing. This was a sleeper match in the tournament for me so definitely give it a look if you have a chance because these two have some history and you can tell they know each other well.

Match rating - ***3/4

Rocky Romero vs. El Phantasmo - Night Nine - 5/24/19

Okay. So. Phantasmo had a bombfest against Ospreay. That's fine. But this. I never expected him to be able to put on such a stellar match like this against Rocky Romero in the year 2019. Rocky and his run to prove himself to himself has won the hearts of Japan and they are screaming his name from start to finish and the drama he & Phantasmo created is unreal. One of, if not, THE best match of the tournament. Must watch.

Match rating - ****1/2

Shingo Takagi vs. Will Ospreay - FINALS - 6/5/19

Although, I don't review every single match of this tournament and still have a few I'm going to go back and watch, I think it's safe to say that you can tell who the two stand-outs were. Shingo Takagi and Will Ospreay. Every match they had was either must-see or worth a viewing and they elevated every person they stepped in the ring with, as well as themselves. Both men had something to prove. Shingo had his undefeated streak to keep in tact in his first big singles run in NJPW. Will Ospreay had mental battles to overcome and a mission to put Junior division back on the level it should be while also showing he could fill the void that Omega, Kushida, and others had left. And when time for the finals came, that mission also turned into proving that unlike everyone else, he wasn't afraid of Shingo Takagi. So with all that in mind, New Japan really picked the most perfect final they could to a tournament that is already an all timer and what would better way to end an all time great tournament than with the best match of the entire calendar year. With all the backstory and the ability of these two, there was virtually no way this could be anything, but amazing however I don't think many expected the absolute classic that this would become with a super hot crowd and big fight energy. This match will be a standard bearer for future Best of the Super Junior tournaments, a game changer for Takagi AND Ospreay, and a game changer for the entire junior division. My favorite match of the year and my first five star rating of 2019. Watch this match.

Match rating - *****


Be sure to check out my match rating archive with ratings for all the good-great matches I've watched this year by clicking here!

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