Night seven of Best of the Super Juniors starts a grueling stretch of four events in five days that are entirely composed of tournament matches. Here’s what to expect from the ten tournament matches on night seven.
Will Ospreay (3-0) vs El Phantasmo (3-0)
Before El Phantasmo made his debut in NJPW at Dontaku, Will Ospreay had arguably the greatest claim of anyone to know the most about the breakout Canadian star. Yet Ospreay’s reaction when ELP did appear in Fukuoka to team with Taiji Ishimori against Ospreay and Dragon Lee said it all; this was the same athletic phenomenon that wowed audiences in Canada and the UK, but with an entirely new attitude that could charitably be described as ‘abrasive’.
In the past , we could expect this to be a legendary athletic display along the lines of the classics Ospreay had with Ricochet in the 2016 and 2017 tournaments. Yet with ELP laying out Ospreay with the CR2 in Fukuoka, and spending the intervening fortnight apparently actively trying to be as despicable as possible to the great fans in attendance at the BOSJ events, this might take on a violent grudge match feel.
Ospreay and Phantasmo wrestled each other in the UK twice this year, with a 1-1 record, but both have changed in a short period of time. These new attitudes and how they clash will be the key, as will the arrogance of ELP against the justifiably confident Ospreay, who is having the best start to the tournament of his career.
Shingo Takagi (3-0) vs Marty Scurll (2-1)
Shingo Takagi and Marty Scurll have never faced off one on one before, and while any match against Shingo is an extremely tough prospect (as of Wednesday night, Takagi will be 227 days and 87 matches undefeated), timing might work out for the Englishman. Takagi is hurting after a brutal assault on his knees from Yoshinobu Kanemaru on night five, and if an assault on the kneecaps doesn’t work for Scurll, he has another frightening weapon that might break Takagi physically and mentally.
‘I like working out,’ said Takagi in our pre BOSJ interview. ‘If he breaks my fingers and I can’t lift dumbbells, he’s be breaking my heart in the process.’ If hearts and minds are the key, Scurll might be up for causing Takagi quite the spot of bother.
Ryusuke Taguchi (3-0) vs Robbie Eagles (2-1)
Taguchi’s 3-0 run in the Super Juniors is surprising even the Coach himself. Taguchi racked up his third successive win in his third successive main event over the weekend, defeating BUSHI despite a face full of poisonous mist. It seems as if the Funky Weapon has left his fun loving and somewhat- shall we say- ‘risque’ side for his post match comments, and has focused on getting the job done in ring. Taguchi has now racked up 61 career wins in Best of the Super Juniors, and some competition with Tiger Mask in A block is bound to be the talk of the Taguchi Japan/hontai locker room (Tiger Mask is sitting at a career record 63 wins).
Could Taguchi Keep on Journeying at the top of B block? Or will the Sniper of the Skies take accurate aim at the Funky Weapon?
SHO (1-2) vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru (0-3)
Having had a difficult draw in his first two matches opposite Shingo Takagi and Dragon Lee, SHO is finally on the board in this year’s BOSJ after a win against TAKA Michinoku. It’s a tremendous confidence boost to the SHOstealer, but in Kanemaru he has a stiff test. SHO will feel incredibly lonely in his position as sole Roppongi 3K representative in the A block here, as Michinoku will have undoubtedly passed on a complete scouting report to Suzuki Gun teammate Kanemaru before this match gets underway. Given Kanemaru’s ability to assault body parts by both fair and foul means thus far, SHO may be in trouble.
BUSHI (0-3) vs DOUKI (1-2)
BUSHI’s slow start may seem surprising given his record for consistent performances through the Best of the Super Juniors, but it’s actually on form for the Jet Black Deathmask: BUSHI has gone 0-3 in his first three matches every year in the tournament from 2016. He’ll be motivated to get out of his rut against DOUKI however, especially as DOUKI will be motivated to dole out a huge beating over the LIJ member.
BUSHI was at one point the dormitory leader in AJPW’s dojo system before he went on a learning excursion to Mexico and transferred to NJPW on his return. To the bitter DOUKI, BUSHI represents the very kind of ‘hipster lucha’ that he despises so viciously. While both will adopt rudo stylings in their matches, DOUKI seems to be on another level of brutality thus far in the tournament, even if his viciousness results in mistakes and losses.
Tiger Mask (2-1) vs Dragon Lee (2-1)
This first singles meeting of dragon and tiger is one that will likely see handshakes and mutual respect at its opening, but as Lee has said ‘respect goes out of the window when the bell sounds’.
Sportsmanship between Tiger Mask and Dragon Lee may extend to either man working around the injuries to their opponents, rather than working over them, but with Tiger now suffering from a bad knee and a hurt hand thanks to his wars with Marty Scurll and the Suzuki Gun representatives, and Lee seemingly having a new body part wrapped up after each match on the tour, there’s arguably little free to attack. The winner here may be the one that leaves respect at the door to get the job done, and that may well be the salty tiger.
Rocky Romero (1-2) vs YOH (1-2)
Complex emotions will run wild in this match, as we have an all Roppongi 3K bout. Romero got on the BOSJ points board after beating Ren Narita on Sunday, and had some stern words for his his Young Lion opposition after the match; Romero can be a strict teacher, and we will likely see that side of him with YOH.
YOH followed Romero’s classic against Will Ospreay last week with a phenomenal outing of his own against the Briton Sunday, but like his mentor, came out on the losing end. Contrasting weekend fortunes may play into this match where head games may reign supreme. At the end of the night, it’s a fairly safe bet that the two will shake hands and make up, but it’s doubtful a trip to Roppongi will be in order; it’s a school night after all.
Titan (1-2) vs Jonathan Gresham (1-2)
Expect to see a clinic in Mexican style submission work in this one; Titan is well versed in the llave style and could well look for Titanics or Immortal. Gresham will seek to use his diverse experience to clinch a much needed win here; the American star is going through somewhat of a crisis of confidence after some high profile losses in this tournament.
Bandido (1-2) vs Ren Narita (0-3)
After getting on the scoreboard after a win over his former pupil DOUKI this weekend, Bandido vowed to win out for the rest of B block. That might be a tough task, but it’s extremely likely he will move to four points here. For Narita, pride is the most important thing, and the Young Lion is keeping his head up, vowing to win all three of his Korakuen matches. Easier said than done, especially as Rocky Romero tortured his left arm during Sunday’s match to add to problems that already existed with his right.
Taiji Ishimori (3-0) vs TAKA Michinoku (0-3)
Michinoku is the only member of the 2019 Best of the Super Juniors field to have been in the first tournament in 1994. He’s also having his worst performance thus far in the tournament since 1994 with three straight losses. Ishimori meanwhile seems to have runaway momentum thus far, and will be hard to deny.
This is the first singles match between the two in NJPW, but they have met before, while Michinoku and Suzuki Gun were competing in NOAH. There they had a 1-1 record, but it’s a different and more vicious Ishimori in the Bone Soldier than the one Michinoku is familiar with. During a tag match in Yamagata, Michinoku and Kanemaru both attacked Ishimori’s neck with a steel chair; exploiting that damage may be the only key to victory for TAKA.