We complete the BOSJ breakdown
Best of the Super Jr. 29 kicks off in just nine days in Nagoya, as twenty of the world’s premier junior heavyweight wrestlers do battle in the two block league. Here, we complete our look at the participants, and break down the key matches to get hyped for.
El Lindaman (Debut entry. GLEAT G-Rex Champion)
Making their first appearance at Wrestle Kingdom, and their profile bolstered through leader CIMA’s impressive New Japan Cup run, #STRONGHEARTS has been a revelation in NJPW in 2022. Representing the group, and the GLEAT promotion at large will be El Lindaman in his debut Best of the Super Jr. Lindaman is GLEAT’s T-Rex Champion; that’s a fact he will be glad to brag about in the face of the recently deposed El Desperado, but more importantly, it’s proof of his considerable skill and adaptability. Bringing a ton of confidence and in-ring charisma, Lindaman is also highly technically proficient and fundamentally sound, and his presence in B Block should be threatening to everyone in the tournament.
KEY MATCH: May 26 Korakuen vs Wheeler Yuta
AEW’s Wheeler Yuta will be walking into Best of the Super Jr. carrying the Ring of Honor Pure Championship, and this second of two singles champion versus champion meetings in the tournament is undeniably one to watch. Success in the ROH Pure division and in GLEAT is both dependent on adaptability to a range of opponents and situations with diverse rulesets, and Lindaman and Yuta will match exceedingly well on paper, leading to a treat for Korakuen fans on the 26th.
Wheeler Yuta (Debut entry. ROH Pure Champion)
Making huge strides through 2021 and 2022 on NJPW STRONG and All Elite Wrestling, Wheeler Yuta makes his Best of the Super Jr. debut. The Ring of Honor Pure Champion will also be representing the Blackpool Combat Club, and the teachings of another figure familiar to old school NJPW fans. William Regal’s influence will definitely be all over Yuta’s BOSJ run, and with Jon Moxley and Bryan Danielson also watching on from the US, Wheeler’s performance could give fans worldwide a sneak preview of Forbidden Door in Chicago June 26.
KEY MATCH: May 22 Akita vs El Desperado
Two skilled technicians, the junior heavyweight representatives of stables headed by certified sadists in Minoru Suzuki and William Regal, Yuta’s clash with El Desperado is a Suzuki-Gun vs Blackpool Combat Club battle not to be missed in Akita.
DOUKI (4th entry, 4th consecutive)
The story of DOUKI in Best of the Super Jr. has been one of consistent development. His 2019 entry, a short notice substitute for the injured El Desperado, saw him to just one win, over a Young Lion Ren Narita. In 2020, that grew to two victories, and in 2021, three wins to take him to six. Will this year see a fourth win? Or could it be more? Over the last three years, DOUKI has indeed consistently improved, and married his wild high flying and llave submissions to a more rounded ‘lucharesu’ style. 2022 has seen him make even greater strides though, and the potential exists for him to be a threat to the top contenders this year.
May 29 Ota vs Titan
Since his NJPW debut, DOUKI has derided the trend of ‘lucha hipsters’, NJPW wrestlers who receive star treatment in Mexico on excursion before returning with red carpet rolled out. DOUKI started his career by toiling for ten years on the Mexican independent scene and wholly embedding himself in the luchador culture; as a result this meeting with Titan will bring a taste of Mexico to Ota Ward and contested for two critical points.
TJP (2nd entry, 1st in 11 years)
TJP can take the prize for the longest gap in between a first and second Best of the Super Jr. entry, but despite eleven years of growth between BOSJ 18 and 29, the Public Enemy is far from an aged veteran- a veteran, yes, but one at the prime of his career, and who alongside Francesco Akira, completes a truly intimidating one two punch in the two blocks for United Empire.
TJP’s effortlessly smooth high flying combined with devastating technical and submission makes him a difficult foe indeed, and the breadth of experience he possesses, from NJPW STRONG to CMLL, IMPACT to WWE, means he can adapt himself perfectly well to any scenario in the melting pot that is BOSJ competition.
May 17, Sakata vs Master Wato
TJP has racked up a more than respectable list of achievements over the years, including the IMPACT X Division Championship, and becoming WWE’s first Cruiserweight Champion. Yet an IWGP title has eluded the Public Enemy thus far in his career. Could a win over one half of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions in Master Wato, with a potential United Empire partner in Francesco Akira over in A Block, go a significant step to rectifying that?
El Phantasmo (3rd entry, 2nd consecutive)
While a slow start to last year’s tournament saw El Phantasmo unable to make the final, the Headbanga’s latter half performances, including wins over teammates in Taiji Ishimori and SHO not only reaffirmed ELP’s status as in the junior top flight, but suggested to some he may have leadership potential within BULLET CLUB. As loyalties were tested within the group earlier in the year, Phantasmo would eventually come down on the side of Switchblade Jay White; the ‘catalyst of professional wrestling’ would do well to note that he has one of his most capable allies in Phantasmo. Over the crisis of confidence that came with the removal of his loaded Sudden Death boot, Phantasmo is now as mentally ready as he is physically dangerous, and would certainly not look out of place in the Budokan final June 3.
KEY MATCH: May 26, Korakuen vs Robbie Eagles
Key for ELP in the series is his May 26 meeting with former partner and years long rival Robbie Eagles. The duo are tied up at 1-1 in BOSJ competition, with last year’s tournament seeing a spectacular win for the Sniper of the Skies after Phantasmo pulled out every move in his offensive arsenal and some. This rubber match could be hugely significant in determining just who makes the June 3 Budokan final.