Night 15 of the Best of Super Jr. 26 tour. It’s been long, gruelling and exceptional fun but the final was finally upon us. With Will Ospreay vs Takagi Shingo at the top of the card, we were in for an exciting night. The main event however blew everyone away and the famous Ryogoku Sumo hall exploded that muggy Wednesday night in Tokyo. Also on the card was the debut of Jon Moxley, making his first non-WWE appearance in 7 years and the return of Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Match 8: Best of the Super Juniors Final Match – Will Ospreay defeated Shingo Takagi with a Stormbreaker
In the most anticipated match of the evening, Shingo Takagi faced-up against a Will Ospreay in new ring gear. Both men started cautiously, testing their opponent’s resolve. Both men were able to keep up with the other and whilst moves were exchanged lighting fast, it was clear that this would be a match between two peers. Soon though, Ospreay’s speed proved too frenetic for Shingo and he attempted to slow the pace. The tactic worked and the Dragon was able to turn the match into a more hard-hitting affair, just as Ospreay was able to grow more accustomed, the Dragon took flight as an extremely rare tope con giro flattened the aerial assassin. From there, Shingo was able to successfully bully Ospreay into submission. Whilst Ospreay was able to land a few chops of his own, a pop-up death valley driver was brutal.
Will Ospreay isn’t the B-Block Champion for nothing though and he came back strong and a series of high-flying, high energy moves was able to take Takagi by surprise. By the 15-minute mark they were back to parity, but Takagi’s strength seemed to grow to new heights. Takagi had clearly been holding back until now, tossing Ospreay around like a rag doll. A top rope death valley driver from Takagi seemed to finish the Aerial Assassin, but he was able to recover and the two men transitioned into a series of blistering attacks and counter attacks. Ospreay managed to eventually perform an immense sit down power bomb on the Dragon, a move that caused the ring-side Jyushin Thunder Liger to swell with pride. Ospreay followed-up with an Oscutter on the ring Apron, but whilst Ospreay able to keep up with the dragon power move to power move. Each had proven they were the complete package when it came to being a junior heavyweight.
At the 25-minute mark, Takagi almost counted out, Ospreay went for a shooting star press and another OsCutter, whilst he wasn’t able to pin the dragon, it was clear that Takagi was tiring and out of desperation he resorted to a dangerous head butt. A flawless “Made in Japan” came next and despite the sheer power of the move, Ospreay could not be defeated. Ospreay countered a pumping bomber into a spanish fly and after hitting a hidden blade and unveiling the Super OsCutter in New Japan for the first time he slew the dragon. Post match, Ospreay thanked the fans and announced his move to Japan which was met with rapturous applause.
Match 7: IWGP US Heavyweight Championship Match -Jon Moxley defeated Juice Robinson with a double arm DDT
Making his debut in New Japan Pro-Wrestling Jon Moxley came out first, emerging from the crowd. When Robinson came out, he removed his signature cap, revealing a short cropped new look. The mach devolved into a brawl, Moxley was especially violent, biting and striking Juice. It was all Moxley, until a back drop from Robinson stopped him in his tracks. Robinson took advantage and dove 10 meters onto the entrance ramp, but only grazed Moxley, landing on the floor hard. Juice had opened himself up somewhat. Coming back to the ring, Moxley attempted a cannon ball onto Moxley in the railings, however Moxley dodged and Robinson was sent careening into the barricades.
Moxley continued to cheat, punching with closed fists and biting Robinson, but it seemed as if referee Red Shoes Unno was giving him some leeway for his first time. Moxley mocked Robinsons “Juice punches” with ones of his own, but a Spinebuster from Robinson stopped the onslaught. Juice was obviously angered but bloodied and bruised, Robinson was a wild animal at one point hitting a plancha to the outside. By the ten minute mark, Moxley and Juice were reeling from the frenetic onslaught. Moxley baited Robinson to go to the turnbuckle and knocked him to the floor, brawling ringside again and as Robinson straddled a table set-up by Moxley, the flamboyant one went through it.
Robinson returned to the ring into a power suplex of some sort, but the Death Rider was unable to pull it off. At one point, Moxley threatened to break Robinson’s leg via a chair, but Robinson was able to get up and threw it as Moxley’s face. Powerful and brutal lariats were exchanged, and elbows exchanged. This was never a war, but now the brutality increased. Moxley set-up a table, but was soon incapacitated. A canon-ball from Juice failed to break said table, so a clearly frustrated Juice put Moxley through it via a pile driver. Juice attempted a Boston crab – Young Lion. Moxley reversed and in returned employed a Texas Clover leaf on Moxley. Juice tried to end it early with a Pulp Friction and Left Hand of God, but he was not able to finalize the blow. A brace of brutal double-arm DDTs from Moxley won him the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship in his debut match.
Match 6: Hiroshi Tanahashi Comeback special -Jay White defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi with a Neck Lock
Jay White jumped Tanahashi ahead of the bell, taking advantage of Tanahashi’s turned back. Relishing the crowd’s disapproval, Jay had clearly gained an advantage. Tanahashi attempted to come back but the Switchblade was in clear control, deliberately targeting Tanahashi’s recently healed elbow. As Jay, beat Tanahashi outside the ring, there was a risk of him being counted out, but the ever-crafty Jay was able to slide out of the ring and stop the count. Jay continued to dominate and target Jay’s elbow using a series of brutal and calculated strikes to disable the Ace.
The hammer lock was a particular favourite of the Switchblade as the sadistic White was able to isolate and cause as much pain as possible. Jay even managed to remove the surgical brace from Tanahashi’s elbow, exposing the bare skin. Tanahashi had received too much damage to be able to fight back effectively but was able to finally execute a dragon screw leg-whip. Whenever the ace semmed to get aghead, White seemed to have an answer. On the 11th minute he was able to crush the ace slamming a deadlift german, but it wasn’t able to hit the final blow. DDTs, Uranagis, Kiwi Crushers, White was completely dominant, but nothing seemed to break the Ace’s Iron Will.
Jay cranked Tanahashi’s arm back in one of the most brutal arm locks seen on the cerulean blue and the match threatened to end in a Ref Stoppage. In shades of Tanahashi’s loss to Suzuki, once again it seemed like Tanahashi’s Iron Will would lead to his undoing as pride trumped self-preservation. Tanahashi was damaged, but was able to hit two Slingblades on White. Tanahashi saw his chance and went for a High Fly Flow, but White was quick and the Ace in his tracks. Tanahashi wasn’t done yet and landed a straight-jacket German suplex on White. Gedo attempted to reverse the momentum with the brass knuckles but proved useful to disrtract for a low bvlow. The two traded low blows behing a Marty Asami’s back, Tanahashi attempted ab clover leaf but White Rolled the Ace up, ruining his comeback special
Match 5 – Rocky Romero & Kazuchika Okada defeated Brody King & Marty Scurll when Okada pinned King after a Rainmaker
A few fans would have been forgiven for expecting Chris Jericho to disrupt the match, given his track record, but the match started without major incident. Brody King and Okada started the match, with Okada in control, but King’s frame proved a different challenge for Okada. Rocky came in for Okada, but King dwarfed the Jr. Heavyweight knocking him down easily. Scurll took dvantage of the weakened Romero to come in, but it was a couple of minutes later when King flipped on the ropes and expertly slid out that he showed incredible dexterity for a man of 130kg.
King continued to dominate and soon the Sumo Hall crowd were chearing the man from ROH. After a sustained period of offence from Scurll, Okada came back to body slam King onto Scurll, proving his credentials. Brody King however was able to pull off a Rainmaker as Villain Enterprises continued their fantastic teamwork. Okada was able to pull of a series of fantastic dropkicks. Okada pulled off the Rainmaker with style.
As Okada and Jericho were celebrating in the ring, the lights cut out and Jericho’s spooky video played. Okada was undeterred and mocked Jericho’s use of the term “Painmaker” channeling his former manager’s stylings in his response. A clearly cautious Okada looked around, but it seemed Jericho was nowhere to be seen.
Match 4 – BUSHI, SANADA, EVIL & Tetsuya Naito defeated Toa Henare, Tomoaki Honma, Togi Makabe & Kota Ibushi when EVIL pinned Henare after a Magic Killer
Naito and Ibushi started in the ring and it was a display of high-speed skill and dexterity. Henare and Honma were able to get BUSHI in the ring by himself, where Henare pulled off a Maori version of the Kokeshi. Honma tried to give the “ready-salted crisps” version of the Kokeshi but was unable to hit BUSHI. He was able to hit it on SANADA however, where Makabe entered the ring and brawled with EVIL and SANADA for a while. Once Ibushi and Naito found their way back the crowd went wild as their high-energy electrified the audience.
Ibushi’s modern style clashing with Naito’s unorthodox school in spectacular fashion leaving the crowds salivating for their championship match in Osaka on June 9. Henare managed to vertical suplex EVIL and Honma and Henare went for stereo Kokeshi. Henare’s enthusiasm almost proved his undoing as LIJ isolated the Maori warrior in well practiced fashion. EVIL and SANADA used their finishing move, the Magic Killer to emerge victorious. Years of history and pent-up rage caused Naito to take his frustrations out on Ibushi post-match. What the ramifications could be for their championship match none can say, but the match promises to be excellent.
Match 3 – Tiger Mask, Jyushin Thunder Liger, YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii defeated Suzuki-Gun (DOUKI, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Zack Sabre Jr., Minoru Suzuki & Taichi) when YOSHI-HASHI pinned DOUKI with a Karma
With so many larger than life personalities crowded in the same ring, it was all the referee could do to start the match without a brawl. DOUKI called in Liger to start the match, but it quickly descended into a brutal brawl. DOUKI took centre-stage flattening half the opposite team with a frog splash before attempting to remove Liger’s mask. Suzuki then decided to come in and get his licks in. Ishii and Taichi clashed and Ishii was able to demonstrate his toughness with his bruising style, making Taichi take his trousers off & kick Ishii in the face, potentially weakening him ahead of their title match.
The next two in the ring were Zack and YOSHI-HASHI whose bright start was soon smothered by the British Submission Master. Zack was able to isolate YOSHI-HASHI, allowing his stable mates to take turns ab using the head hunter. Finally it was DOUKI who was left in the ring, but the headhunter was able to come back and pin DOUKI. The post-match was equally chaotic with Zack taunting YOSHI-HASHI with his belt, Suzuki and Liger squaring off and Taichi taunting Ishii.
Match 2 – BULLET CLUB (Robbie Eagles, El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori) defeated SHO, YOH & Ryusuke Taguchi when Phantasmo pinned SHO after a CR II
The match started with Eagles and Phantasmo robbing Taguchi of his cap and ball, Phamtasmo punting it into the 2nd tier. Phantasmo and the other member of BULLET CLUB were completely dominant taking every opportunity to mock and humiliate their opponents. Taguchi was able to fight back with the aid of a few tactical hip attacks. From there YOH was able to leverage the advantage Taguchi provided to take the fight to Eagles. SHO and YOH were able to team up to take full advantage and a powerful Lariat from SHO demolished Eagles, but Ealges proved strong, pulling off a Turbo Packpack. Eagles was set to pin SHO, gaining in status but El Phantasmo stole his thunder hitting the CR II. Post match, a clearly frustrated Eagles remonstrated with Phantasmo, expressing his dissatisfaction to the English commentary desk, much to colour commentator and BULLET CLUB affiliate, Gino Gambino’s displeasure.
Match 1 – Shota Umino, Titán & Dragon Lee defeated Ren Narita, Jonathan Gresham & Bandido when Lee pinned Narita after a running knee
Umino started out strong, trying to engage with Gresham with his straight-forward, Young Lion style, overpowering the wily Gresham. Titán came into the ring in spectacular fashion, as he faced off against Bandido he was able to demonstrate the strength that separates him from his Lucha peers. With three luchadores in the match, we were bound to see some spectacular moves, as proved when both Lee and Bandido launched themselves in spectacular fashion. After a couple of aerial moves from Bandido and Gresham, Narita was finally able to pull of his bridging front suplex on the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion, only being broken up by Gresham. He tried again later but was less successful this time. The champ came out on top however and Narita was pinned.