Best of the Super Juniors is running on all cylinders as the second round of the tournament was action packed from top to bottom. Great matches and some interesting developments have already turned this into a real guessing game. Also, Will Ospreay is f&%$#@ amazing.
– Night 3: Block A (Second Round) Niigata/Tsubame Civic Gymnasium
Ryusuke Taguchi (2) forced David Finlay to submit: Taguchi cinched in the ankle lock after being leveled by Finlay for too much of his “Funky Weapon” shenanigans. I’ve never seen a junior heavyweight/cruiserweight that looks like a bruiser, but Finlay fits the bill.
Matt Sydal (2) pinned BUSHI: These are two of the fastest wrestlers you will ever see. Especially BUSHI when he swoops out of the ring with a suicide dive. Sydal won with a shooting star press after delivering a hurricanrana, from the canvas, while BUSHI was standing on the top rope.
Kyle O’Reilly (2) beat Gedo: New Japan’s booker fails to make it two straight as O’Reilly is just a submission machine. I tend to forget that the rules in Japan are a little lax as Gedo hit O’Reilly in the back of the head with the hammer that sounds the bell. O’Reilly finished the night with a brainbuster followed by an armbar. O’Reilly looked strong here and appears to be positioned as one of the favorites.
Rocky Romero (2) defeated KUSHIDA: This match had a lot of false finishes that fooled me. The story here was that Romero kept KUSHIDA off his game. Romero kicked out of the sliced bread number two and escaped the Hoverboard Lock. Romero came back with a running knee strike to get the victory.
Post-match, as KUSHIDA laid unconscious in the corner, Romero cut a promo declaring he was going to win the tournament and then take the championship.
– Night 4: Block B (Second Round) Yamagata/ Yonezawa Municipal Gymnasium
Jushin Liger (2) defeated Chase Owens: There was a lot of really good back and forth action here. Owens pulled off some heel tactics behind the ref’s back. The finish came when Liger escaped a package piledriver attempt and rolled up Owens with a crucifix out of nowhere for the pin. Yujiro Takahashi, who was in Owens corner, blindsided Liger after the match, which gave Owens the opening to deliver a package piledriver to Liger. Liger was taken out on a stretcher afterwards.
Trent Barreta (2) beat Will Ospreay: This might have been the best match of the tournament so far. Barreta planted Ospreay with an up and over german suplex on the apron. In what might be my favorite moment of the year, Ospreay came back with a springboard forearm smash and in mid-flight yelled “Cheerio motherfucker.” The finish oozed intensity as Barreta delivered a german suplex off the top rope, a shotgun kick that turned Ospreay inside out and hit the Dudebuster for the 1-2-3.
Volador Jr. (2) over Tiger Mask: Volador took off his mask, which was shocking because, well, luchadores don’t normally take their masks off all willy-nilly. Then again, I don’t know that much about Volador so maybe it’s his thing. They teased two count spots in a row where Volador laid out Tiger Mask with a couple of dives. Tiger came back with a Tiger Bomb for a close near fall. Volador hit a backstabber and forced the tap with a standing over armbar while kneeling. A by the numbers affair that did what it needed to do.
Ricochet (2) pinned Bobby Fish: Ok, this might actually be the best match of the tournament so far. Ricochet is an aerial poet. He jumped over two of Fish’s kicks on the apron, ran up the turnbuckle and connected with a moonsault. Fish kept trying to work the leg but couldn’t gain momentum as Ricochet would either quickly escape a submission or counter with something amazing. Ricochet landed a running knee strike and followed up with the Benadryller for the win. Fish was really good here, too.
|Block A||Points||Block B||Points|
|Rocky Romero||4||Jushin Liger||4|
|Kyle O’Reilly||4||Trent Baretta||4|
|Matt Sydal||2||Volador Jr.||2|
|David Finlay||0||Will Ospreay||0|
Final Thoughts: The second round was much better than the first. KUSHIDA having zero points puts the champion in the unusual position of playing catch up. If Jushin Liger is unable to continue, will there be an alternate who gets his points or will the rest of his opponents win by forfeit?
Kyle O’Reilly appears to be the man to beat and he’s playing that role very well. The engaging nature of the matches makes me quickly forget about the fixed camera view, which I thought I would hate.
I’m happy that I’m not as well versed about Japanese wrestling because I take the dramatic bait of the matches more often than not. I was researching New Japan Pro Wrestling over the last couple of years, and I’m might stop so I can enjoy being a fan instead of a pundit who has to know every nook and cranny of the creative process.
We have two rounds in the books and now it’s on to round number three!