Sunday, May 15, 2022

NJPW: Best of the Super Juniors 29: Night One Review - May 15th, 2022

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Best of the Super Juniors 29
Night One - Block A
May 15th, 2022
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan

Commentators - Kevin Kelley & Chris Charlton
Japanese Commentators - Milano Collection AT & Toru Yano 

1) Wheeler Yuta, Kosei Fujita, Ryohei Oiwa & Yuto Nakashima vs. Robbie Eagles, Tiger Mask, Master Wato, & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

I unexpectedly am hyped about this opener before it even begins. Yuta teaming with the young lions and looking like a star leader as he backs them out to the apron, volunteering to start first was so cool. Plus hearing commentary talk about Yuta’s mentor being Regal and his history was nice. Okay and yeah, the match RULES. Yuta begins with Eagles and that’s the thread that comes back into play throughout the match. They end up linking back up a number of times during this and it’s definitely the highlight. All of the lions get time to shine and particularly are able to beat up on Master Wato a good bit by isolating him. Fujita in particular stood out with a set of AWESOME dropkicks. Like.. damn. Wato ends up recovering and getting the win for his team after about 10 minutes. This was great and a blast. 

Match rating - ***1/4 

After the match, Wheeler Yuta & Robbie Eagles come face to face again outside. Eagles grabs a commentary headset and says 

“Is this guy CHAOS? Who is he representing?”

OHHH MAN I LOVE TNAT. The discourse already building toward their eventual singles match in the tourney. 

2) Shingo Takagi & BUSHI (LIJ) vs. Dick Togo & El Phantasmo (Bullet Club)

Man, I was excited to Shingo on this card, but this was cheeks. It’s mainly the fault of the BC House of Torture guys as always. Which I hate because I used to love Dick Togo. Phantasmo hasn’t been worth a shit in a while. He looked rough here. Shingo & BUSHI’s teamwork was good, but that’s about it. Shingo pins Togo with the pumping bomber. 

Match rating - *3/4

3) El Lindaman, TITAN, & Jado vs. El Desperado, DOUKI, & Taka Michinoku (Suzuki-gun)

The Linda/Titan/Jado trio is such a unique little pairing. The main story here is Despy & DOUKI’s tension and the fact that it will explode in a tournament match in about a week or two’s time. They get into a shoving match over who’s gonna start the match and bicker multiple times throughout. Lindaman’s charisma is a highlight here as well. He hits a big dive which allows Titan to hit the double stomp on Taka for the victory. This was fine.

Match rating - **1/4

4) Clark Connors vs. Ace Austin - Block A Tournament Match 

Clark Connors is wearing a cowboy hat now, for some reason. This is Ace Austin’s New Japan debut and a huge one as he comes into this tournament boasting the X Division Championship. I’m admittedly a little bitter Austin got this honor instead of Mike Bailey, but IM GONNA LEAVE THAT BEHIND STARTING NOW. They exchange holds to begin. Austin gets a bit of an advantage flying around with dropkicks and crossbodies etc. Basic juniors stuff. He takes out a card and cuts Connors fingers with it. I guess that’s a bit of his? First unique thing in the match thus far so I think I fuck with it? Connors begins his comeback and both men bust out some of their bigger stuff down the stretch. It’s a fun exhibition and introduction to both men. Ace Austin gets the win and I think it’s definitely the right decision and way to solidify him as a new face in this tournament. 

Match rating - **1/2

5) Alex Zayne vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (Suzuki-gun) - Block A Tournament Match 

“When you eat Taco Bell five or six times a week, you don’t normally look like Alex Zayne.” -Kevin Kelly 

Alex Zayne looks fucking insane in this red get-up that he's continued to sport recently. This is a pretty simple match to comprehend. Kanemaru goes after the leg of Zayne. Zayne still relies on his flying and mounts a comeback. He sells it fairly well even during that, though. Issue here is that there’s nothing to really grab you so it’s hard to care all that much. Decent first showing for Zayne though and a big win. 

Match rating - **1/4

6) SHO (Bullet Club) vs. Francesco Akira (w/ TJP) (United Empire) - Block A Tournament Match 

This is my first time seeing Akira. I’ve been down on SHO since he joined House of Torture as they’ve largely brought his match quality down. Luckily this didn’t have too much bullshit in it. Of course, there were some stupid spots and a ref bump, but this had some good moments, too. They have some great exchanges down the stretch that lead to some nearfalls. TJP prevents interference off the ref bump and Akira puts SHO away. 

Match rating - **1/2

7) Ryusuke Taguchi (Six Or Nine) vs. Hiromu Takahashi (LIJ) - Block A Tournament Match 

“Are you saying you don’t wanna see Taguchi put a plug up his butt?” -Chris Carlton 

This was… not for me. And that sucks because I love certain things these guys do. I can’t say I expected that much from it, though, so having low expectations and it still is below the bar is just bad. What they were going for was fine. It’s just with this being the semi-main, I wanted something else. They do largely comedy stuff until the closing moments. Hiromu beats Taguchi for the third year as he looks to make it to the finals and win the whole tournament for the third year in a row. 

Match rating - **

8) Taiji Ishimori (Bullet Club) vs. YOH (CHAOS) - Block A Tournament Match 

The story here is that YOH hasn’t done shit since last year’s tournament. Meanwhile, Ishimori is at the top of the game with BC back on the rise and having just regained the junior title from Despy a few weeks ago. Ishimori gains control almost immediately by targeting YOH’s left arm. He works him over for 5-6 minutes before YOH begins to try to mount a comeback with a huge plancha to the floor. This match is largely a struggle for YOH with Ishimori staying on top of him and countering any flurry he tries thanks to the work to the arm that he did early on. The work here is good, solid.. it's the best singles match of the night in that regard. However, the lack of investment in both men made it hard to hang on any of the near falls or truthfully care either way about who won. They were able to get me a little more involved than I anticipated thanks to the great work around YOH's arm and what not, but this was still missing that something it needed to take it over the top. Ishimori wins via submission. The champion starts the tournament strong!

Match rating - **3/4

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