NEW JAPAN PRO-WRESTLING

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JUN.2.2019

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Best of the Super Juniors night 14 at a glance

After a grueling schedule of tournament matches, ZIP arena Okayama is now gearing up for the final night of B block action. Shingo Takagi has already booked his spot in the main event at Ryogoku Sumo Hall, and on Monday June 3, we will find out who will attempt to slay the dragon on this historic stage. Will the charismatic Taguchi Japan coach find his way back to the junior heavyweight limelight, or will the driven British flier top the headlines once again?

 

Ryusuke Taguchi (6-2) vs Will Ospreay (6-2)

Only the third singles meeting between Will Ospreay and Ryusuke Taguchi sees the Coach on a decided back foot. Taguchi and Ospreay first met in the finals of Best of the Super Juniors 23 in Sendai; a bout Taguchi lost in front of his home crowd, as Ospreay became the first ever British BOSJ winner. 

Since then, the two met once more, in RPW in 2017 as part of the British Super J Cup. On Ospreay’s home turf this time, Will was still successful. It may be hard to imagine Taguchi defeating Ospreay to make it to the finals opposite Takagi, but ‘big match Taguchi’ has played a huge role in this tournament so far. B Block will have main evented BOSJ cards seven times this tour; when all is said and done, Taguchi will have been in that top spot five out of the seven times. What’s more, in his four prior main events, he has won every time, and sent the crowds home happy if slightly confused by his innuendo laden comments. 

In a tournament that has seen several underdog victories, Taguchi heading to Sumo Hall may not be as big an upset as all that, especially if he’s able to target the damage done by Ospreay’s opponents in several matches over the course of the last three weeks. 

 

El Phantasmo (5-3) vs DOUKI (1-7)

Where the early tournament narratives surrounded El Phantasmo standing tall as the arrogant undefeated block leader, the past few days have not been kind to ELP. Rocky Romero pulled off a thrilling upset in Korakuen Hall on Friday May 24, which started a heavy slump for the Canadian. YOH and then Ryusuke Taguchi both beat the Headbanger, in a series of harsh losses that, one would think, would finally take the edge off ELP’s distinctly abrasive ego.

Outwardly at least, Phantasmo is as confident as ever, but one last win will be of vital significance to him as he completes his first full tour in NJPW. In DOUKI’s case, winning was never the goal so much as ruffling feathers; ruffling ELP’s feathers could put him in the rare position of de facto fan favourite in Okayama.

YOH (5-3) vs Robbie Eagles (5-3)

 

There’s no love lost between Bullet Club and CHAOS, but both YOH and Eagles will be pulling for the winner of Taguchi and Ospreay in Ryogoku Sumo Hall. YOH has factional connections to both men, while Eagles, even if he has put his friendship with Ospreay aside, has critical wins over the Brit and Taguchi to boot. Should either one win BOSJ, and then the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship in Osaka at Dominion, Eagles is in a strong position to make a title challenge.

First though, a chance for both YOH and Eagles to finish the tournament on a high note. Of interest will be the different leg submissions that the two favour; YOH with his Stargazer variant of the calf crusher, and Eagles with the Ron Miller Special. It’s likely only the winner of this match will be walking tall out of Okayama, while the loser will likely be limping. 

Rockey Romero (3-5) vs Bandido (4-4)

Neither Romero or Bandido will be finishing BOSJ with the points record they might have hoped for. Still, both have put in performances to be hugely proud of in their individual matches. Romero might have had five matches end in defeat, but is an unsung contender for MVP of the tournament in the eyes of many. Bandido, too, had phenomenal matches whether in victory over the likes of Robbie Eagles, or defeat against Will Ospreay. Romero will fight to show once more he still belongs in the BOSJ field, while Bandido will be fighting to leave a mark that can see him come back to NJPW again and again.

Ren Narita (0-8) vs BUSHI (5-3)

BUSHI’s 5-3 record may have seen him talked about in a different light had his three losses not all come in succession at the start of the tournament. His impressive streak of five wins sadly came too late for the jet black deathmask as a seemingly annual tradition of three opening losses again struck BUSHI. 

Narita meanwhile followed his opening three losses with five more. He was never expected to pull out a win against competition he is largely outclassed by, but has been able to make his opponents sweat, and deal some heavy damage in his matches. The possibility remains for Nairta to score a huge upset against BUSHI, but his masked opponent will be looking to complete an undeniably impressive closing stretch to end on 12 points. 

 

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