On May 12 on the 10th floor roof of Sendai’s E-Beans building, all 20 entrants into this year’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament delivered a press conference to the assembled media. Here are their comments.
‘I am the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. I’m honoured to have my third chance at the Best of the Super Juniors, and I swear to you that I will win this year.’
‘Hello everyone. I’m very grateful to be able to participate in my 18th straight Best of the Super Juniors. I did injure my knee at the end of the last tour. Only a week has passed, so I’m a little uncertain. I usually enter the ring over the top rope, but to not put a strain on my injury, I’ll be retiring that and just focusing on my match. There are a lot of high fliers gathered here today, but I will be wrestling my own style of match, and showing just how tough I still am. I’ll be giving it my all, and I look forward to your support.’
‘Being in A Block, I get to face all the people I’ve been wanting to wrestle for a long time, so I’m pretty lucky. I don’t want to waste this chance, and I’ll be giving it my absolute best. I’ll make sure there’s a happy ending to BoSJ 26.’
‘I’m very happy to be able to participate in Best of the Super Juniors for the second time. I want to show everybody just how good I am. I want the fans to know just how good CMLL’s Titan is. And if I get what I want, well, I’ll dominate BoSJ in the process.’
‘Hello everyone. This is the Best of Super Juniors 26. The revenge of the villain. This is my third BoSJ, and I wasn’t successful then. This year though, no distractions, no clubs. I’m just dependent on myself. Third time’s the charm. Also, since I’ve been here in NJPW last, I’ve started Villain Enterprises with PCO and Brody King, and Brody King will help me in my quest. We’re looking for a new member here during the tour, and when I win, Villain Enterpises’ stock will go through the roof.
‘I’ve worked very hard for a long time to get here and represent my country in BoSJ. I didn’t go it along. People around the world have supported me and sent me messages wishing me well in the tournament. To me, that means the world. I want to thank everyone individually, but I didn’t have time. There’s no better place and time than right here. Thank you for your support and inspiration to keep me going in the darkest of times. I feel I have the biggest heart of anyone here today, and with that support I can go all the way to the finals.’
‘Truth is, the junior heavyweight division is missing a true champion right now. I’m sick of these two guys. Dragon Lee? How many times are you going to throw Hiromu’s name out there, like a lovesick little puppy? I’m fed up with it. And Takagi? Talking to the press saying you’re more interested in the Intercontinental Championship than the Junior Heavyweight? Best of the Super Juniors isn’t some stepping stone for you to transition to heavy. You aren’t a monster, you’re just Doraemon’s big goofy friend in the cartoon. I swear I will knock Giant here on his ass. It’s Reborn.’
‘I’m the one guy in A Block you’d be stupid to count out. I’m going to give these guys some much needed spice and make something truly delicious. Just you watch, and watch with an open mind. Then you’ll understand just who the best is.’
‘Now I think about it, I have the longest career of anybody in the tournament. There is a current champion here, former champions, and Giant, who’s never lost. All of you guys, good luck trying not to be tied up and left laying by TAKA Michinoku.’
‘I’m the guy people are apparently calling Giant. So that makes Ishimori what? The pipsqueak, Nobita? Joking aside, we in BoSJ it’s all singles matches, so there’s no more messing around, no excuses, just sorting the men from the boys. When I came to NJPW last October, I said two things. First, I came to NJPW to make the wrestling world more interesting. Second, I came here to get results. Now if I look back on the last seven months, I’m not satisfied at all. So you’d better believe my mission is to get some results and make a hell of an impact. First try, first win, first BoSJ of Reiwa.. That’s a hell of an achievement, and I’m the only one to do it.’
Questions from the media
–SHO, in an interview conducted with Shingo recently (on njpw1972.com in the coming days), Takagi said that you were nothing more than a ‘checkpoint’ in his journey. Your reaction?
SHO: Lately, all I’ve been thinking about is how I can beat Takagi. I’ve been after him for a while. So if he thinks I’m a checkpoint, fine, but I’m not letting him past. Even if I have to pull on that party behind he has going on, I won’t let him get through me.
— And to Takagi, your response?
Takagi: ‘He’s young, he’s confident and I definitely feel he’s getting better and tougher all the time. For him, I’m the perfect rival. To me, he’s been the perfect playmate. Tomorrow though, we aren’t playing. We’re going to fight, and smash into one another as hard as we can. After that, well, we’ll see about the ‘checkpoint’ thing.’
–Dragon Lee, what’s it like to go into BoSJ as champion?
Lee: I’m truly thankful to be back in Japan and in the Super Juniors. I’m putting every ounce of passion I have into every minute, every second, and every match I have. I trained harder than anyone for this, to win BoSJ as the champion. I’m looking forward to facing Ishimori again, and to facing SHO, and showing how good I am. Thank you’
— Ishimori, you face Lee in the main event tomorrow in Sendai. Your thoughts?
Ishimori: I lost our title match last week. Tomorrow losing is not an option. I will win.
— Dragon Lee, your response?
Lee: Wrestling is like maths, it’s all a learned and applied science. I win, I learn, I lose, I learn. So for me, I’m not so hung up on winnning tomorrow’s match so much as putting everything I have into it. And I look forward to seeing Ishimori again in the ring tomorrow.
‘Hello everyone! This year’s Best of the Super Juniors is upon us, and of course, it’s only normal to be nervous. There are lots of great wrestlers here. This year with all of them, I want to have serious matches and get serious wins. That’s the theme, seriously. My chances may be fairly low.’
‘There are a lot of new members in the field this year, and perhaps it’s time for a new ace in the division to be born. I won my first BoSJ, was a finalist the net year. Outside of the junior heavyweight division, I’ve beaten Lance Archer, beaten Bad Luck Fale, beaten Kota Ibushi. There’s not anybody in the junior heavyweight division that can stop me.’
‘Hello Sendai. What an honour it is to compete here again. I had a break for a couple of years and now I’m very fortunate to be back. I may not be the top choice to be the winner. Maybe I’m the lowest pick, maybe I’m already being counted out, but this is my chance to show all the wrestlers and fans that I still belong here. Thank you for your support. It’s because of you fans that I’m in this tournament. Thank you, and B Block, watch out because it’s gonna be ‘nakasuzo, kono yaro!’ (I’m gonna make you cry, punks!)
‘Well, hellooo everyone. It’s me, Roppongi 3K’s YOH, in my home town of Sendai! This year, it’s a tough tour. The blocks are bigger, there’s more matches, and the level of competition is insanely high. But there’s also something special about all this. It’s the first BoSJ of Reiwa, the finals are in Ryogoku, and it all starts in my home town. I’ve got the wind at my back, the good vibes are coming my way, and I believe I’ll reach the final and have a match with a very special opponent. I’m going to breathe new life into the New Japan juniors.’
‘Hello everyone. I’ve always had an interest in this tournament, and I came here to show everybody what I can do. I belive I’ll be even more amazing than the others in this tournament, and I think we’ll be seeing an all- Mexican BoSJ final. And of course, I’ll be winning. Thank you.’
‘Hello everyone, I’m the Young Lion Ren Narita. I’m in this tournament as a last minute substitution. But even as a young lion, I plan on winning. I don’t plan on losing at all. I will do my best to be the first Young Lion to win BoSJ.’
‘Well, well, well. How does a guy show up to NJPW and after one match become the odds on favourite to win the Best of the Super Juniors? Could it be that after weeks of a pretty dope hype video, I defeated the current and former Junior Heavyweight Champions? Or that I’ve won tournaments in Canada, Germany and England? By beating I might add, Bandido, Rocky Romero, and an old fart called Jyushin Thunder Liger? Or that 24 hours ago in a brutal ladder match I became RevPro Cruiserweight Champion? Face the fact I’m going to Sumo Hall and winning Best of the Super Juniors.’
‘We’re just under a day away from the first tournament matches happening and I am ready for battle. I’ve faced some of these guys before when I was teaming with my senpai Taiji Ishimori. I’ve learned what it takes to get a win. Whether it’s getting into a gun fight with Bandido or kicking the crap out of Rocky for not knowing who my family is. I’m the sniper of the skies, and I just need one shot to take anyone down. Me and Will Ospreay are one and one in singles competition. The Sky King will fall to a bullet from the Sniper of the Skies. It’s hard to think of the finals in Ryogoku without a Bullet Club member holding that trophy. That’s not a thought, that’s for real.’
‘Interest in Best of the Super Juniors is at an all time high, and this year the final is in Ryogoku. I wonder who will make it to the final opposite me? At any rate, in this awesome situation, on that awesome stage, I will be calling out. En serio! For. Real.’
‘My brother El Desperado is injured and I will take his place. It is an honour. But make no mistake, I am no mere pinch hitter. Most of you have no idea of who I am. But I’m the guy to knock down all your superheroes. How many people here are ‘hipster lucha’ types? In Mexico for a cup of coffee but you think you know lucha libre. BUSHI, YOH.. You make me sick. I’m going to tear this tournament apart.’
Questions from media
–To Ren Narita, your thoughts on DOUKI’s comments, and on facing him as a fellow debutant.
Narita: I don’t have any particular thoughts about what he said. I don’t really care about him debuting alongside me. For all my opponents, my thoughts are the same, that I have to win.
–DOUKI, your response?
DOUKI: Third string pinch hitter over here? I don’t have any interest in what snot nosed kids have to say.’
–To BUSHI, your first tournament match is with Ospreay, who has battled heavyweights, and has been NEVER Openweight Champion. How do you feel about that?
BUSHI: ‘Congratulations. It’s a great thing, to have held that NEVER belt. But to come and boast about all the heavyweights you’ve beaten.. don’t take us juniors lightly.’
–Ospreay, your response?
Ospreay: ‘I get it, you’re confident because you beat me in the BoSJ last year, but if you give me your back for just a second, I’ll show you how dangerous I can be.’
–To YOH, your first tournament match will be the main event Tuesday against Taguchi, who is also from Miyagi prefecture.
YOH: ‘You know, my goal in life is to make people smile, give people energy. And I think with Taguchi, I’ll be able to do that. In the end, will it be about good vibes, being spread, or something more… lewd? We’ll find out.’
–Taguchi your response?
Taguchi: More than YOH’s comments, what has me most riled up at the moment is that I came here in short sleeves. I’m badly regretting that decision. I’m bloody freezing. My physical condition is deteriorating with every second this press conference continues. To send some feel good vibes? Main event will be about 9PM Tuesday right? I recommend you open your window at 9PM that night. Let the sea air hit you. Salty.’