First third of junior league complete in Aichi
The opening phase of Best of the Super Jr. 28 comes to an end Sunday night in Aichi. As the first act of this epic league closes and the tense middle phase unfolds, who will lead the way?
Main event: Hiromu Takahashi (2-1) vs El Desperado (1-2)
Singles record: 2-2, BOSJ record: 2-1 Desperado
Long time foes Hiromu Takahashi and El Desperado collide in our main event in Aichi. Anyone who watched last year’s Best of the Super Jr. tournament will have been enthralled by the two battles Hiromu and Desperado had. When the two met in league action in Korakuen, a pinfall win was within reach for Desperado, but the Suzuki-Gun member would grab a chair and viciously attack Takahashi just so he could get a submission victory, something Desperado would say ‘couldn’t be erased’. As this strange blend of mutual respect and hate boiled over, the two met in a memorable final where Desperado would tear off his own mask before tearing into Hiromu, only for the Time Bomb to pick up his first BOSJ tournament win over the rudo; right where it mattered most.
Both favourites heading into this tournament, Hiromu and Desperado’s leagues have gotten off to turbulent starts. After losses to SHO and Taiji Ishimori, Nagano saw Desperado finally get on the board with a hard fought win over Master Wato. Hiromu too fell to SHO and HOUSE OF TORTURE’s antics before rallying against YOH and then Robbie Eagles, putting him at four points. Will this match be a crucial turning point for both men’s BOSJ?
6th Match: Robbie Eagles (1-2) vs El Phantasmo (1-2)
Singles record: 2-0 Phantasmo BOSJ record: 1-0 Phantasmo
Robbie Eagles and El Phantasmo have only met in singles action twice, but their careers in NJPW have been linked since ELP’s arrival in May of 2019. When Phantasmo teamed with Taiji Ishimori at Dontau in 2019, it instantly appeared that he was a better fit in BULLET CLUB than contemporary member Eagles, both in terms of his fluid teamwork with the Bone Soldier, and his propensity for drawing sheer vitriol from all around him.
When the two met in BOSJ 26, the result was anything but a spirited and sportsmanlike display. Phantasmo got the win by both hook and crook, and mere weeks later would jump from BULLET CLUB to CHAOS, something that only drew Phantasmo’s ire even more. At the Super J-Cup later that summer, ELP scored another win, on his way to the first step in back to back J-Cup victories.
ELP will always be able to laud that achievement over Eagles, but the Sniper of the Skies has been able to claim one major achievement of his own over the Headbanga. With a memorable win over El Desperado in the Tokyo Dome this July, Eagles became the first of the two to claim IWGP Junior Heavyweight singles gold. Yet he still has never beaten Phantasmo, and will be determined to prove his superiority tonight. ELP will be doing everything in his power to stop that from happening.
5th Match: BUSHI (2-1) vs SHO (3-0)
Singles record: 1-0 SHO
Last year’s Best of the Super Jr. saw BUSHI and SHO meet for the first time since the HOUSE FO TORTURE member was a Young Lion. SHO would come out with the win in a hard fought bout, just as he came out with the W in his first three matches during this year’s league. Yet while battles have indeed been hard fought, SHO’s wins have been anything but respectably gained.
Repeatedly SHO has been effective with strikes and submissions, but went down the HOUSE OF TORTURE shortcut path as soon as momentum seemed not to be going his way. Yet as he tripped along that shortcut, Dick Togo, EVIL and Yujiro Takahashi would frequently run in to collective groans from fans if they were allowed to vocalise in the crowds, and a loss to his opponent. BUSHI was handed his first loss in this tournament night one to DOUKI, and though BUSHI has rallied to four points, we know SHO can beat BUSHI on his own merits. But will he do that Sunday, or will he again look to help from the worst elements of BULLET CLUB and NJPW?
4th Match: Ryusuke Taguchi (1-2) vs YOH (0-3)
Singles record: 1-1 BOSJ record: 1-0 Taguchi
While Taguchi and YOH are one and one since YOH returned from excursion in 2017, YOH’s victory over the Coach, in RevPro’s British J-Cup back in 2018 came via countout. YOH has yet to pin former Dojo mentor Taguchi one on one in his career, and pinfalls have been exactly what he has been lacking through this tournament. First Hiromu Takahashi and then DOUKI saw to it that YOH had a torrid start to his campaign in Korakuen, before Nagano saw him fall once again, a victim of the BUSHI Roll by the Jet-Black Deathmask. Can Aichi see him get back in the hunt, or will Taguchi, at a negative record of 1-2, refuse to allow a Direct Drive to two points?
3rd Match: Master Wato (1-2) vs Taiji Ishimori (2-1)
Singles record: 1-0 Ishimori
Master Wato got off to a winning start in this year’s BoSJ, and despite a loss to Robbie Eagles to follow, has impressed many with his strikes and precision high flying in the early stages of this tournament. While his first year in New Japan had its setbacks, the bigger, harder hitting and more well rounded Wato is certainly showing the benefit of added experience so far in this tournament.
Yet Ishimori has shown the benefit of years of experience all around the world, and there’s no doubt that the relative rookie Wato will have a difficult task ahead of him here tonight as he seeks his fourth points and Ishimori fights to reach six.
2nd Match: Yoshinobu Kanemaru (2-1) vs DOUKI (2-1)
The first Suzuki-Gun derby of the BOSJ will see Yoshinobu Kanemaru go head to head with DOUKI for the first time. In separate blocks in DOUKI’s 2019 debut tournament, and after Kanemaru was taken out of the 2020 lineup with a knee injury, the two finally meet one on one here in Aichi. El Desperado has commented about how transformative Kanemaru has been in his own career, and that DOUKI needs a similar mentor figure. Could the Heel Master be as effective an opponent for DOUKI as he has been a partner for Desperado?
1st Match: Yuto Nakashima (0-0-4 this tour) vs Ryohei Oiwa (0-0-4 this tour)
Singles record: 0-0-4
None of the three Young Lions have been able to break the ten minute deadlock through any of their matches thus far on tour. Will all that change in Aichi? We’ll find out when action gets underway Sunday.