Hello and welcome back to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. Now that the Wrestlekingdom coverage is over we get back to business. This week we take a look at some of the matches from the Best of the Super Juniors XXIII tournament.
Like the G1 Climax and the World Tag league, the BOTSJ tournament takes place over several days. The Juniors are split into and A block and B block and whoever gets the most points after wrestling all the other guys in their particular block goes into the finals against the winner of the other block. The tournament winner gets an IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title shot if the champion doesn't win it himself.
Block A: Gedo, David Finlay, Bushi, Rocky Romero, Kushida, Kyle O'Reily, Matt Sydal, and Ryusuke Taguchi
Block B: Chase Owens, Baretta, Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask, Bobby Fish, Ricochet, Volador Jr., and Will Ospreay
So with that, let's go back to June 6, 2016, at the Sendai Sun Plaza to see who goes into the finals.
We open with a greeting from Taguchi! Also, we have the new opening and theme song.
Block B: Will Ospreay vs. Volador Jr.
Ospreay is the British phenom who is storming around the world and quickly becoming a big star everywhere. Volador is a vet of Lucha Libre and a name south of the border having won a bunch of lighter weight division titles for CMLL.
For this match, Volador Jr. is tied with Ricochet and Bobby Fish. If he wins he gets the block. Will Ospreay is just behind those guys in points, but if he wins, he will tie all of them but go to the finals since he would have beaten all three.
Will enters the arena first and it is an odd setup. The floor of the arena is small with fans on all four sides of the ring, but only two of the sides have barriers. Volador Jr. enters wearing a red bodysuit (think Deadpool) and a mask, making him look like Rey Mysterio Jr. He takes off the mask when he gets in the ring. JR and Josh explain how things stack up point wise for these guys.
Bell rings and as they go for the lock up Will goes low and scoops out Volador's leg. Volador leaps right back up and Will goes for a half nelson but Volador flips through it. A lot of lucha arm drags and hip tosses to start. Volador gets a double rotation on a rana to send Will outside the ring. Volador starts running for a dive but Will slides in and tries for a clothesline but Volador ducks and gets in a rana but Will cartwheels through it and lands a dropkick to send Volador outside. Will then comes off with shooting star press from the apron and lands on his feet! We skip ahead as Will is in the ring and Volador is on the apron, landing a kick to Will's head. Will stumbles back and Volador lands a slingshot body press for a two count. Will stumbles back into the ropes and Volador clotheslines him to the outside. He goes to the apron and lands an Asai moonsault to Ospreay on the floor!
Back from the commercial, as both guys are outside on the floor. Will is sent in first Volador gets in a back stabber right into a pin attempt for a two count. Kicked by Volador, Will whips him into the corner but meets the luchador's boots. Volador slingshots him into the corner but Will lands on the middle rope and flies back into a flip into a reverse DDT on Volador! Will goes for the pin but only gets two. Will goes up again but gets caught. Volador goes up and gets a super rana off. That gets a two count. Volador scoops him up and sets Will on the top rope before going up. He grabs Will for the top rope Spanish fly! Will lands on his feet! He nails the cutter and scores the pin!
Backstage, Will says tomorrow night his dream comes true and he will be the first Englishman to win the Best of the Super Juniors tournament.
Block A: Kushida vs. Bushi
These two do not like each other. Kushida is pretty much the standard bearer for the Juniors at this point. He's been the top guy in this division more often than not. Bushi is a member of Los Ingobernables de Japon and a big challenger for the Junior Heavyweight Title.
If Kushida wins, he ties for first place with Matt Sydal. Bushi is a spoiler here as he is already eliminated.
Bushi comes out first with the goofiest overmask I've ever seen. He looks like a black version of Darwin, the goldfish from The Amazing World of Gumball. Thankfully he takes that crap off to his regular mask. Kushida comes out as JR goes on about the Great Kabuki and Gary Hart. The title is not on the line.
Bushi dropkicks him immediately and then hits a suicide dive to the outside of the ring. He grabs Kushida and smacks him against the wall and walks back into the ring. Kushida just rolls in at 19 and Bushi catches him and throws him throat first into the ropes. Kushida outside again as Bushi strolls into the ring. Kushida is gagging and is in at 19 again. Bushi chokes with his t-shirt. Bushi sends Kushida on the top rope Kushida goes to the apron but when Bushi goes for him he nails Bushi with a kick and then a springboard dropkick. He nails Bushi with the inverted atomic drop and then the cartwheel dropkick right to the arm. More kicks to Bushi's arm. Bushi yells in pain. Whip in the corner and Bushi gets a foot up, then the second charge gets a flip kick., Bushi goes up and lands a kick. Kushida counters and hits a flying dive to the outside.
Back from break with Kushida in the ring, Bushi gets in at 15 and gets a dropkick as he gets in. Kushida tries a moonsault but lands on his feet as Bushi moves. He goes for the double wristlock but Bushi gets into the ropes. Kushida gives him a kick for that. He tries the wristlock again but Bushi blocks it on the ropes. Kushida just snaps the arm on the top rope anyway. As Kushida comes back in the ring Bushi lands a lungblower! He hits Kushida with a knee to the face and then a swinging neckbreaker but only gets a two count.
Bushi goes to the middle rope but Kushida avoids contact and they just start exchanging elbows in the middle of the ring. Kushida just kicks him right in the arm. Kushida goes for the baseball punch but Bushi clocks him with a punch of his own. Kushida hits the running kick to the arm and then goes for the wristlock again but he can't quite get it. Kushida rolls over for a cross armbreaker. Kushida struggles but finally locks in the hold. Bushi counters by starting to BITE Kushida in the leg! Bushi finally shoves the ref down and sprays the black mist in Kushida's face! Bushi goes up and lands the MX (super lungblower) but only gets two! Bushi goes up top again and hits the MX again! He goes for the cover and gets it! Kushida is out of the tournament!
Bushi grabs the belt and looks at it before he blows the green mist on the belt. He grabs the mic and tells Kushida that the Juniors division is not just him. He then makes the challenge for the belt.
Backstage Bushi is vexed he isn't going to the finals but he is going to be the next champion. Kushida says this is a stain on his career.
We get words from Taguchi. He was motivated since the finals are in his hometown. Last year Gedo bested him after Taguchi acted goofy and Gedo went to town on him. This year he hopes for something different.
Block A: Gedo vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
Gedo is, of course, Kazuchika Okada's mouthpiece and a member of CHAOS. He usually puts the tights back on for this tournament since New Japan usually needs to put in a few guys to fill out the blocks. Taguchi is the comedy act known as "The Funky Weapon". He can put on some great matches but often times bogs himself down with comedy stuff and excessive use of his hip attack in lieu of actual offense.
Taguchi has to win here to win the block or else Matt Sydal wins on points. Gedo is dead last and in a spoiler position here. Okada is on commentary at ringside cheering for his mentor. Gedo comes out and his beard now has become quite epic. He and Michael Elgin should have a beard match. Taguchi seems to have learned nothing as he comes out with a bandana pulled really low over his eyes to mock Gedo again. And just like last year, Gedo kicks him right in the guts again.
Sorry, but damn that's stupid. And anyone who gets this reference is awesome.
Gedo goes to work as he nails a DDT. Gedo then takes off Taguchi's t-shirt and chokes him with it. Outside goes Taguchi. Gedo tags him with the bell ringing mallet. DING! He hits him again as Red Shoes is looking right at him. Head to the table for Taguchi. Gedo then slingshots him right into the ring post. As the ref counts Gedo goes in and pulls off the buckle pad. Taguchi goes in and gets whipped right into the bare buckle. Gedo tells someone to shut up and whips Taguchi into the bare buckle again. Gedo is nasty tonight.
Facelock into a neckbreaker by Gedo. Reverse chinlock but Taguchi gets a foot on the ropes. Gedo takes his time releasing the hold. Taguchi into the bare buckle AGAIN. He tries the whip but Taguchi reverses it. As this is going on JR makes another Bill Watts mention, this time spurred on by Gedo's shoes. Taguchi gets in the Funky weapon as Gedo goes outside. Taguchi comes off the apron with another Funky weapon!
Back from commercial, Taguchi rolls into the ring. Gedo rolls in and gets another hip attack. Taguchi gets Gedo on the bottom rope and grinds his ass on him. He hits a running hip attack and another and another. He tries a pin but gets two. Taguchi locks him in and goes for the three amigos but on the third Gedo locks in the crossface. Taguchi slips out and goes for the anklelock in a great counter. Gedo goes for the ropes but Taguchi gets a pin attempt for two. He goes after Gedo but gets a superkick to the face. Gedo for the pin but gets two. Gedo does the rainmaker pose and goes for the rainmaker but gets the hip attack instead. Taguchi goes for the rainmaker (?!) but Gedo ducks and gets a punch to the face. Taguchi goes for the tiger suplex but Gedo counters into a headlock and gets a low dropkick. Taguchi goes for the anklelock but the ref goes down. Gedo gets in a low blow. Gedo goes for the Gedo clutch but Taguchi counters into a backslide and gets the pin! I'll be damned.
Gedo throws a hissyfit and JR gets his weekly shot at Twitter in as well.
Taguchi, with words backstage, actually apologizes for someone like him reaching the finals. He jokes about being Taguchi-prey. He is ready for Will and winning the tournament. I... have many doubts.
Studio words from Taguchi, as he says that doing the parody of Gedo was intentional and was part of his plan. He admits to goofing around a lot lately but he showed newer fans that he actually can go. He also says he is really going to push the joking and see how far he can go with it. Yeah, I don't know about this.
Lots of quick action tonight! Although all three matches were clipped to some degree, a lot of that was just guys stumbling back into the ring. JR and Josh even did an admirable job in informing us how things stood with the points for these matches. Fun show and we shall see how things turn out next week!
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