NJPW BEST OF THE SUPER JUNIORS NIGHT 1 RECAP (5/11) : Lansdell’s analysis and recap of Desperado vs Titan, Hiromu vs Kushida, and all the first round action!

by Chris Lansdell. PWTorch.com contributor


May 11, 2024

Welcome to PWTorch.com’s BOSJ31 Recap! I will be recapping each round as we go along, with a full report once we reach the knockout stages. Night 1 took place in Chiba, with both A and B block getting underway on the ten-match card. Chris Charlton was on commentary, joined later by Robbie Eagles.

A Block


Hayata’s first BOSJ and NJPW match came against the elder statesman in the event, Bushi. Hayata is from Pro Wrestling NOAH and is their current GHC National champion. He has a dark, almost goth look to him.

Hayata wrestled the match as a heel, and he seemed to be very good at it. I hesitate to say this out loud, but he would be perfectly at home in House of Torture. He gave off a Douki vibe but more sinister. Bushi has adopted a modified figure four which he is calling Fable, and it does look pretty cool, but I fear it is destined to be his version of Yoshi-Hashi’s Butterfly lock…it’ll never get a win.

Bushi is not exactly a top-tier opponent, and I think that had an impact on Hayata’s performance here. We went from Bushi being in control to a pair of modified DDTs from Hayata, the second being a delayed implant DDT which got the win. Decidedly average match that did nothing for me, and was not at all surprising in the outcome.

WINNER: Hayata via pinfall in 7:00. (**)


Ichiban Sweet Boy had new music and new tights for the tournament, a sure sign he is going places this year. I found myself hoping against hope that we could avoid any House of Torture Shenanigans (TM) or at least keep them to a minimum, but that is very much wishful thinking.

Kanemaru of course jumped Fujita before the bell. He attacked the leg of Fujita early, including a cool spot where he jumped off the apron with Fujita’s foot and slammed his knee down to the mats on the outside. After three minutes of pretty standard leg work, Fuiita rallied but was cut short by a ref bump. Shocking. The subsequent whisky-spitting did not work, fortunately. It did lead to more leg work, including a protracted figure four application, but Fujita was able to tough it out and hit Abandon Hope (a suplex lift into a cutter) for the big win.

A match does not have to be a technical classic to be good, and it does not need to be good to be important. Fujita getting a win over an experienced campaigner to open his account was important, but so was the way he did it. He sold like a Young Lion for a large chunk of the match, but showed he has developed beyond that stage by actually completing his comeback. Toughness and resilience are standard fare in NJPW for the new recruits, but they never win and their hope spots never work. Fujita pulled off a shift in perception here for many who have not been watching his development in multi-man matches, and he did it in a match that was not great by match quality standards. For the story and psychology though, this delivered exactly what was needed.

WINNER: Kosei Fujita via pinfall in 9:00. (***¼)


Christian, who is representing RoH in the tournament, looks like a complete throwback. He’s also the GCW champion. When I say he looks like a throwback, I mean he would not look out of place on an 80s Crockett card. The Shawn Michaels-inspired tights did not hurt the impression either.

Christian definitely wanted to be the heel here, starting off with a Shinsuke Nakamura spot in the corner and followed up with Shinsuke’s trademark pose. The crowd reacted to that, but positively. Connors did take control with a nasty pounce, and took a page from the Suzuki-gun playbook by using a ringside Young Lion as a weapon. I will always love that spot.

I think what felt off for me, aside from the lack of familiarity the two men had with each other, was perfectly encapsulated around the 5:30 mark of the match. With Connors on the outside, Christian set for a dive. He called to the crowd, who got behind him…then he told them to stop and asked them to boo him instead. I get that he is used to working heel, but when you have people behind you to that extent you should either go with it, or make them change their opinions with your work.

That said, Christian is clearly highly talented. With the exception of a bad mistake on a dive to the floor, which led to Connors bumping for nothing, he showed both aerial ability and more ground-based talent. My point about making the crowd boo you was proven with the finish, as Christian won by distracting the ref with an attempted belt shot (using Connors’ belt), then fished a pair of brass knuckles out of his tights. A rolling Burning Hammer and a curb stomp were academic at that point.

A good showing for Christian, and a good win, but hopefully he doesn’t continue the grating character work going forward. Connors, like his partner, will probably pick up a couple of wins but not compete for the top this year.

WINNER: Blake Christian via pinfall in 11:00. (***1/4)


Kevin Knight is extremely hit or miss. He shows flashes of being a quality wrestler with insane leaping ability, but he also shows a lack of timing and believability from time to time. It almost seems like he relies too heavily on his natural gifts and has not put in the hard work to augment them. A run through BOSJ against the likes of TJP and Kanemaru will help him refine some things, as long as he is willing to learn.

TJP might have been the perfect starting point for Knight, as he’s capable of keeping up athletically while also having a very sharp mind for the psychology of the match. That talent was on display here, and at times I could almost see TJP physically holding Knight back and trying to slow him down. A particularly memorable spot came with TJP reversing a spike DDT attempt into a northern lights suplex, a natural counter that still looked good in practice.

The pacing was good throughout. With Knight on offence it was predictably quicker, and TJP slowed it down somewhat while still showing he can move with the best of them. As I said above, you could almost hear the teaching moments as TJP took Knight through the match. They picked up the pace as we approached the close, with Knight picking up the surprise win after a spike DDT.

He’s openly talked about moving to heavyweight but still being Akira’s partner, so it would surprise me a great deal to see TJP win the tournament. That said, Knight is nowhere near ready for anything more than a big win or two. He’s going to learn to slow down, but he also needs to stop screaming before every big spot. He did well with a quality opponent, but his real test will be against other young guys like Connors and Fujita who are in his block. Credit where it’s due though, this was a good start.

Winner: Kevin Knight via pinfall in 16:00. (***½)


Last year’s defeated finalist against the most recent former junior heavyweight champ. Titan grew on me last year, and Desperado always seems to have a good match despite not really being flashy or remarkable in any way…except that ability to be good always.

Both men are conceivable winners of the whole thing, let alone the block. Giving them the main event slot on the opening night was a good choice, and they delivered an excellent match. Their styles meshed well and the match flowed beautifully. Desperado has this ability to always know what is needed and when. His offence is varied, he can play face in peril but also knows how to go a little darker. Titan is the complementary piece to that, and they just rose and fell perfectly with each other’s shifts.

That said, a 15-minute main event is practically unheard of for an NJPW show. I would not have been surprised had this gone to a draw, but instead the finish seemed to come out of nowhere with Titan getting the tapout victory. I expect both men will be in contention up to the last night, but this match had to happen at some point. Titan winning in relatively short order is something of a surprise, but it might well be because he won’t win the block overall.

WINNER: Titan via pinfall in 15:00. (***¾)

B Block


Dragon Dia was making his NJPW debut, normally competing in Dragon Gate where he is known as the Infinite-Carat Diamond. He has a skateboard and wears a lucha mask around his neck. He was trained by Dragon Kid, who of course was trained by Ultimo Dragon, hence the mask.

Akira was one of my favourites coming into the tournament, so I had him as the heavy favourite here. He’s been bubbling under the surface of a big push in the juniors, and with TJP moving up to heavyweight this seems like the time to start it.

Early on Charlton brought it to our attention that there are no barricades at ringside, which I had forgotten was a thing for BOSJ. Dia looked quick and smooth but there was a fair amount of daylight on some of his strikes.

Both men are very quick, but the match never felt chaotic or rushed even with the quick finish. Akira picked up the win with the Fireball double knee strike to the back of the head. Nothing special, but it served its purpose in starting the tournament with a high-octane match and getting Akira a good win. I will be surprised if Dia manages to win many matches in the tournament.

WINNER: Francesco Akira via pinfall in 5:00. (**½)


Ninja Mack could not look more generic. Plain black outfit with a blue sash and a mask that is…well, blue and black. A generic theme, no distinguishing appearance in any way. He has a reputation as a high flyer, so hopefully his wrestling speaks the volumes his outfit does not. He has wrestled for ROH and GCW, and is currently working for NOAH.

The match revolved around Eagles going after the leg of Mack. Wise when facing a guy who has performed with Cirque du Soleil but also wise to set up the Ron Miller Special. Mack’s offence fell into the trap that I see a lot from people with gymnastic backgrounds: pretty but ultimately lacking in impact because they have not learned to make it look physical. He did show his agility a couple of times, but the landings were uncontrolled and it just looked bad.

The finish came after a protracted rollup exchange, which was easily the best past of the match. Each man countered the other about a dozen times before Mack was able to apply extra leverage and pick up the clean win. A letdown for people hoping to see the spectacular, but otherwise a solid match.

WINNER: Ninja Mack via pinfall in 7:00. (**¼)


Ostensibly these two men are aligned, with House of Torture being part of Bullet Club (at least in name). Moloney had only recently come off a win over Naito, albeit with a massive assist from NOAH’s Jake Lee. It might be worth pointing out that Lee is now listed as a member of BC War Dogs, though there is no belief he is leaving NOAH at this point.

Sho came to the ring with what seemed to be an alien corpse and an autograph of some sort. It was never explained, but it made Moloney happy at least. He was also wearing a War Dogs shirt under his trench coat.

Both men shook hands, the bell rang, and they tried to hit each other with their respective belts. It looked for all intents and purposes like this would be the comedy break of the night, as they both tried the same moves a few times. Sho made it weird by going to the heel tactics, but the match got much better once Moloney got on offence and tried to make it into a clean(ish) wrestling match.

I was just about to say that the match weirdly worked for me when the HoT Shenanigans started…although it was Gedo who instigated it. He low-blowed Sho, Yujiro low-blowed Moloney, the referee was clueless, and eventually Sho waffled Moloney with the wrench for the win. It was fine for what it was, heels trying to outcheat each other can be entertaining, but for me I am just tired of it with HoT. We got glimpses of what these men can do if they actually wrestle, but instead we had to deal with interference and inept referees.

WINNER: Sho via pinfall in 8:00. (**¾)


This match was a great illustration of the value of chemistry and familiarity. Everything they tried looked good, and there was no awkward feeling-out period. Douki has really grown from a job guy brought in to make up the numbers to a true contender, and it’s not just down to fan support. He has improved a great deal in the ring as well.

Ishimori on the other hand has been something of a forgotten entity in the junior division. He was injured, came back, and has done basically nothing except interfere on behalf of Chase Owens and Kenta. He did have a run with the KOPW provisional title, but that’s not taken seriously. He could do with a move to heavyweight, probably in a consistent tag team to start with.

The finishing sequence was silky smooth, both men rolling through each other’s finishing submission and ending in a Bloody Cross for the win. I could watch Ishimori wrestle all day, and Douki more than held his own. If this tournament signals Ishimori’s rise back up the ranks, I will be one happy recapper.

WINNER: Taiji Ishimori via pinfall in 12:00. (***½)


Ah, a classic junior heavyweight feud revisited. Hiromu was on something of a losing streak, as Charlton pointed out: he was without a singles win in 2024. Having said that, Kushida is now more in a mentor role. He works in the LA Dojo and is the regular partner of Kevin Knight. With Hiromu needing a win and Kushida not really in the picture as a winner, the result would have seemed easy to call.

The thing about NJPW tournament booking is that this is precisely the sort of match that would end in an upset. Kushida and Hiromu have significant history, and continuing Hiromu’s losing streak until he is in a must-win is a typical New Japan booking strategy.

They were in the midst of another classic between them when a Victory Royale attempt by Hiromu ended badly. Kushida landed on his head and face, and I thought he was legitimately out cold. Fortunately it looked worse than it was, and the match played out pretty much exactly as I described above – Kushida picked up the win by tapping out Hiromu with the Hoverboard lock. The losing streak continues, and now Hiromu needs something to turn him around and get him off the slide. They did a similar thing with Sanada in the G1 right before he won the title and formed Just Five Guys. Then it was Taichi making the difference. Who will it be for Hiromu?

Although definitely a step below their usual classics, largely due to having about half the time they would usually get, this was still very enjoyable. Hiromu is always great and Kushida still has what it takes.

WINNER: Kushida via submission in 13:00. (***3/4)

Final thoughts

In A Block Titan, Kevin Knight, Blake Christian, Hayata, and Kosei Fujita started with a win and their first two points. In B Block we have Kushida, Sho, Taiji Ishimori, Ninja Mack, and Francesco Akira picking up wins. It’s too early to tell what the stories and patterns will be, but I think Hiromu will be on the redemption arc and Desperado will be fighting from behind. I still think Desperado, Titan, Fujita, and Akira are the likely top 4. Hopefully the match quality picks up a little, as there was nothing remarkable in round one. There was also nothing awful, so we’ll call it a draw.

I’ll be back in a couple of days to cover the next few rounds. As always, thanks for stopping by. You can find me on Twitter @lansdellicious .

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