First part of the B Block Breakdown
Best of the Super Jr. 30 is nearly upon us. An intense schedule this year sees 12 events spread over 16 days, with most nights seeing both blocks in action for massive ten match cards. This year, the top two points scorers from each block will advance to semifinals in Yoyogi before the grand finals on May 28 in Ota, so competition is sure to be at its fiercest until the bitter end. Here’s what to expect from the first half of B Block.
7th entry, 4th consecutive
A finalist in 2020 and 2022 against bitter rival Hiromu Takahashi, El Desperado will be looking to make third time the charm should he make the last two in Ota May 28. Based purely on past form, Despe looks the favourite in B Block to advance, but there’s a long journey for the former two time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion to make the semifinals, let along what lies beyond.
Key match: May 12 Korakuen vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru
El Desperado’s campaign starts on May 12 opposite his former Suzuki-Gun teammate in Yoshinobu Kanemaru. While the Heel Master went to Just Five Guys in the wake of Suzuki-Gun’s dissolution, Desperado stayed alongside Minoru Suzuki in Strong Style. Both will be looking to show their decision was the right one, while Desperado, made into the wrestler he is today with Kanemaru’s guidance, will be looking to show his mentor just how far he’s come on his own.
6th entry, 3rd consecutive
A finalist in 2021, YOH’s motivation as a wrestler and sense of place as a singles wrestler was nonetheless called into question well into 2022. It wasn’t until a Korakuen Hall main event win over Hiromu Takahashi that YOH started to tap into who he wanted to be in the ring, and started a journey that was completed by his partnership with Lio Rush during Super Jr. Tag League. Ever since pairing up with Lio, YOH has wrestled with a more relaxed mindset, and a newfound confidence that brought him close to the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title against Hiromu in Sapporo this February. Could he earn himself another shot at the singles gold, and his first BOSJ trophy?
Key Match: May 21 Korakuen Hall vs Kevin Knight
YOH’s reinvigoration alongside Lio Rush resulted in the Super Jr. Tag League trophies, and a shot at IWGP gold at Wrestle Kingdom. That shot against Catch 2/2 would see the CHAOS side come oh so close to the gold, but a nasty cut to Rush would help put paid to the challenging team, with TJP and Francesco Akira retaining. Ironically enough, their own reign would be ended by Kevin Knight and KUSHIDA after a freak accident caused a nasty cut for TJP; it would be poetic indeed for YOH to get a win over the Jet and earn a potential second crack of the whip for he and Rush.
4th entry, 4th consecutive
Master Wato has had a difficult path to maturity through his four Best of the Super Jr. appearances during the pandemic. Yet with his first championship gold to his name last year alongside Ryusuke Taguchi, a steady progression in ring, and a key win over Taiji Ishimori that put him into the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title mix at Wrestle Kingdom, Wato is finally approaching that goal, and doing so right as crowds and their support are full in capacity and voice. This year should be his best yet- but can he make his way to the grand master status by winning the tournament?
Key match: May 14, Nagoya vs El Desperado
El Desperado has long been a vocal critic of Master Wato while the masked man was in Suzuki-Gun. May 14 will see the two lock horns for the first time since Desperado joined the same Hontai side as the blue haired prodigy. Will Desperado be just as harsh in his appraisal of Wato, or will Wato take a big step toward the BOSJ trophy in Nagoya?
Debut entry. IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion
From his debut at short notice on the empty arena Super J-Cup 2020 card, through NJPW STRONG and into Japan, Kevin Knight has been given progressively larger opportunities, and capitalised on each one. His first trip to Japan during Super Jr. Tag League 2022 saw him take the unprecedented step of ‘graduating’ from Young Lion status mid tour, and his callback saw him and KUSHIDA capture the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championships on their first attempt. Now, a chance to show a whole new side of himself in singles competition- can the Jet soar to the top of the table?
Key match: May 13, Nagano vs Francesco Akira
Kevin Knight and KUSHIDA were able to best Francesco Akira and TJP as a team, but will the Jet be able to prove that his win was more than a flash in the pan with a win over the Fireball one on one? We find out night two in Nagano.
6th entry, 3rd consecutive
Heel Master Yoshinobu Kanemaru heads into his sixth BOSJ tournament, and first as a member of Just Five Guys, a fortnight after his first time challenging for IWGP Junior Heavyweight gold against Hiromu Takahashi in Hiroshima. Kanemaru came up shy of completing the rare AJPW/NJPW/NOAH junior grand slam, but proved more than capable of taking the gold, and now he’s had a taste, would be more than happy to go in for a second.
Key match: May 17 Sendai vs Robbie Eagles
Yopshinobu Kanemaru and Robbie Eagles have always had a similar disposition when it comes to their in ring style- a mix of scientific precision and athleticism right where it counts the most. That alone would make this a match to circle on your calendar- only the second time the two will have met one on one and the first with a vocal crowd. Add in plenty of connective tissue when it comes to their respective factions’ leadership with Zack Sabre Jr. at the TMDK helm and Taichi with J5G and it adds up to plenty to get stuck into.