NJPW BEST OF THE SUPER JUNIORS NIGHT 2 RECAP (5/13) : Lansdell’s analysis and recap of Hiromu vs Douki, Desperado vs Fujita, and all the second round action!

by Chris Lansdell, PWTorch.com contributor



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 2 took place in Korakuen Hall, with both A and B block in action. As we now have points on the board, I’ll put each wrestler’s total after their names in the header.

Chris Charlton was on commentary, joined by Callum Newman. That should be interesting…

A Block


Blake Christian was still trying to stop the crowd from getting behind him. Knight on the other hand has done a good job of getting himself over, and had a lot of crowd support in the early going. With both men being athletically gifted we started with an acrobatic exchange, and two his credit Christian kept pace.

One gorgeous spot saw Christian fly over the top to the floor with a Fosbury flop, and land holding Knight in an inverted DDT position before dropping him with a final cut. Even with all the flying and the annoying contradiction of the crowd, Christian managed to get them to boo him. I’ll admit to being wrong there.

The finish of the match was a perfect encapsulation of the previous paragraph: after some back-and-forth on the apron, Christian kicked the middle rope up into Knight’s groin, curb stomped him on the apron (which is the hardest part of the ring), and hit a springboard 450 for the win.

While I can’t see Christian winning the block, he looked impressive here as the rare high-flying athletic heel. Knight played his part in the show, producing between them an excellent opening match that told a very good story.

WINNER: Blake Christian (4) via pinfall in 9:00. (***1/4)


Ijam going to keep saying it: Hayata looks like if Douki joined Judgement Day. He won his first match with feet on the ropes, as Blake Christian won with brass knuckles. The Christian-Hayata match should be interesting…

This was for the most part a straight brawl. Clark Connors once again used a Young Lion as a weapon, slamming poor Shoma Kato on top of Hayata on the outside. Later on Hayata would do the same to Kato, dumping him on top of Connors. The life of a New Japan trainee must absolutely suck.

Hayata focused much of his offence on the neck of Connors, a refreshing change. People should focus on body parts more, especially ones that are relevant to their finisher. Hayata managed to kick out of a Spear, and from there the match went up a gear. Things were starting to settle into a more traditional wrestling match when Connors blocked a Shiomi Impact DDT and connected with No Chaser for the win.

An interesting result here with Connors getting a win over a GHC champion. Gabe Kidd is already in a feud with GHC Heavyweight champion Kaito Kiyomiya, and has stolen his belt. With Connors now in line for a title shot at Hayata’s national championship, there’s a real War Dogs invasion on the cards in NOAH. Decent match, intriguing finish.

WINNER: Clark Connors (2) via pinfall in 8:00. (**3/4)


Kanemaru is, was, and will always be Kanemaru. TJP on the other hand decided to become the long-lost third member of Deuce and Domino for this bout. That was a choice.

It took fewer than 90 seconds for a ref bump here. A minute later, TJP was rolled up with whiskey in his eyes for the three count. There are always a couple of matches like this interspersed through New Japan tournaments, usually involving Toru Yano (who is a heavyweight) or Ryusuke Taguchi (who is injured). When there are ten matches on a card it’s hard to be too upset about this sort of thing,

I’m curious if the 0-2 start for TJP will lead to more questioning of his leadership role in United Empire. He’s one of the bigger names in the tournament, so this is an interesting way for him to start, to say the least. Kanemaru is not on anyone’s list of likely winners, but you can usually count on a big upset in these tournaments. Watch this space.

WINNER: Yoshinobu Kanemaru (2) via pinfall in 2:00. (*1/4)

BUSHI (0) vs. TITAN (2)

Titan’s mask of the night had enough rhinestones on it to be considered a foreign object if you ask me.

The stablemates started off with a bunch of avoiding each other’s attacks. That did not last long, as they soon found themselves in the crowd slugging it out. Hardly what anyone expected from these two.

I really could not get into this match. Titan doesn’t exactly wrestle a lucha style, but the chemistry just didn’t seem to be there between them. Bushi matches are like a dive with a low degree of difficulty: even if you execute it perfectly, it is not going to score as highly as it otherwise might have.

Titan picked up the win with Llave Immortal, an inverted Indian Deathlock with a straightjacket choke. It looks great, at least. Bushi really feels like he’s here to make up the numbers, which is OK when there is one per block but less so when the tournament is already lacking in stars.

Winner: Titan (4) via submission in 9:00. (**1/4)


A good test for the young upstart Fujita, as Desperado tends to rise to the level of his opponent. A solid chant for Fujita rang out before the bell. That’s an interesting development, as Desperado is usually very popular.

Unlike most matches on the night, these two started off at a deliberate pace with a series of mat exchanges. Both men applied a heel hook at the same time, neither wanting to relinquish the hold as they rolled to the floor. They finally let go and scrambled back into the ring as the ref counted 18. Again the crowd chanted for Fujita, and Desperado showed some frustration.

And so the match would go. Desperado would punish Fujita’s leg, Fujita would fire up, Desperado would go back to the leg They really told a story of experience versus youth, with Desperado almost playing the Minoru Suzuki sadistic role.

In a very cool segment of the match, Fujita fought off Numero Dos and turned it into an inverted armbar, then pulled a page from the Zak Sabre Jr playbook and switched through a variety of unique holds until Desperado made the ropes. The best part of it was how natural Fujita looked doing that.

Chris Charlton really made this finish seem important. Fujita locked in a submission, Charlton counted the seconds and at the count of six he mentioned the need to try a new one as his mentor would. As if on cue, Desperado escaped and locked in Numero Dos. Fujita fought, but Desperado stepped through to increase the angle and Fujita tapped.

Desperado loves to take matches long, and this seemed to be a test to see if Fujita could go with him. I think he passed with flying colours. He’s not often talked about as part of the next generation of New Japan, maybe because he is a junior heavyweight, but he has a great package of skills and has got himself over. He looked strong in defeat and held in well with a top name in the division. Desperado needed the win, but making it this competitive did both men a favour.

WINNER: El Desperado (2) via submission in 17:00. (****)

B Block


Both blocks started the night with a battle of two winners from night one. Akira was definitely the more over of the two, but Ninja Mack had his fans too.

Akira came out of the corner like a bullet and blitzed Mack early on. Both men exchanged some stiff strikes and clotheslines, really laying into each other. Mack managed an Ospreay-esque flip out of a top rope Frankensteiner, only to get absolutely planted by a snap half-and-half suplex.

The pace of this match built well, then ebbed, then built again. Akira hit Speedfire out of a backslide position by flipping Mack over to the front and then dropping him on his fool head. His attempted Fireball follow up ran into a superkick, and one 630 spiral splash later Mack had his second win.

Another athletic encounter that I thought was paced better than the previous match, and relied less on apron work. No lack of memorable moments though.

WINNER: Ninja Mack (4) via pinfall in 8:00. (***1/2)


Moloney was channeling some serious Khal Drogo energy with his look in this one, topknot and all. Eagles tried to get the crowd behind him early with his “Robbie Robbie Robbie” chant, which for some reason always works.

It would work too well about a minute into the match, with Moloney on the outside. Eagles prepared for a dive, but went through the whole chant routine first which gave Moloney more than enough time to recover and hit a sweet dropkick. Nothing worse than a dumb babyface.

The first four minutes of the match were pretty routine fare, Moloney in the ascendancy with nothing special to point out except some VERY loud chops. Once Eagles mounted a comeback the pace picked up (as you might expect) but so did the quality of the action. Eagles had a beautiful counter where he turned a flying knee from Moloney into the Ron Miller Special. It looked even better than it sounds.

After Eagles again spent an eternity calling to the crowd, Moloney literally picked him up from the mat one-handed and hit a one-arm powerbomb. Just ridiculous. It was not long after that spot though that Eagles was able to lock in the Ron Miller Special for the tapout win.

The match had two themes: Eagles taking too long to play to the crowd, and Eagles needing to avoid the Drilla Killa. I love it when matches contain mini-stories like that, even if the rest of the match was just OK.

WINNER: Robbie Eagles (2) via submission in 9:00. (**3/4)


Dragon Dia is very very fast. Chris Charlton described him as a less-emo Darby Allin and I laughed entirely too much at that. He is also very young, and that was evident in his first match.

Ishimori dominated most of this match. Early on he applied an innovative upside down stretch, then turned it into a shoulder breaker. It looked even more painful than you are currently imagining. To his credit, Dia kept selling even during his comeback, cradling his left arm to his body. Something I can only describe as an inverted Canadian Destroyer got him a near fall, and he hit a beautiful combo from the apron into the ring.

Ishimori would shove Dia into the referee soon after, and then use a pop-up low blow to set Dia up for Bloody Cross and the win. This was a better outing from Dragon Dia, however the selling was inconsistent. When he wasn’t actively performing moves he was protecting his arm, but then would show no ill effects when using it. Selling is an artform that takes time to learn, but Dia does seem to be on the right path.

A perfectly acceptable match for what was basically an extended squash. Ishimori did attempt to smack Dia with the skateboard after the match. I say attempt, because although it was sold like it connected there was significant daylight on the swing. Still, the expected result was achieved.

WINNER: Taiji Ishimori (4) via pinfall in 5:00. (**1/2)

KUSHIDA (2) vs. SHO (2)

For me the Kushida win over Hiromu on night one was one of the two biggest surprises, right up there with TJP losing to Kevin Knight. Somehow Kushida, at 41, manages to look 14 still. Sho on the other hand was still carrying the loot from his robbery of a sci-fi prop store.

Sho tried to get Kushida to forfeit, since he was only in the tournament as a replacement for Yoh. As Sho injured Yoh, it would only be fair. Kushida’s answer was a dropkick. After a brief period of Kushida attacking the arm, we had House of Torture Shenanigans (™) as Sho distracted the ref long enough for Yujiro Takahashi to drop Kushida with a reverse DDT.

The shenanigans continued as Yujiro distracted the ref while Sho waffled Kushida’s arm against the post with a chair. Sho tried to put Kushida away with Kushida’s own Hoverboard lock, but Kushida escaped and countered into an armbar.

Kushida came up with a beautiful counter, turning a Sho spear into an armbar, but Sho powered him up and dropped him with a powerbomb. Sho used the ropes to guillotine Kushida out of a Hoverboard lock, another nice spot. The finish came when more shenanigans occurred, complete with a cane shot and a rollup with the tights (for a near fall), a low blow that led to a Shock Arrow being reversed into a deep stacked rollup for a Kushida victory.

Despite all the interference and cheating, this was very enjoyable. Kushida seems to have tapped into a wellspring in the first two rounds of the tournament, and the waters are giving him some 2018 energy right now. I still didn’t see this result coming, as this all but guarantees a title shot for Kushida, but Sho is a heat machine right now and he can afford it. Smart booking and a good match.

WINNER: Kushida (4) via pinfall in 7:00. (***½)


There is a lot of history between these two men, and Douki is one of Hiromu’s four losses in this calendar year. They started off the match apace, and showed their familiarity with each other in the process. They very quickly ended up in the crowd, where they collided with each other halfway up the bleachers. Both men made it back into the ring late in the count, and that would be the last of the brawling.

What followed was yet another example of why Hiromu is my pick for most underappreciated wrestler. The man cannot have a bad match. I spoke about how these two have history and are very familiar with each other, but honestly most of his matches feel that way. It would not be too much of a stretch to say that Douki owes much of his surge in popularity to his matches with Hiromu.

The match was moving along so well that the finish was something of a surprise. Having spent the better part of three minutes in the Douki Chokie, Hiromu collapsed and was frothing at the mouth which caused the ref to call for the bell. For a move that has become something of a meme to finish a main event is a pretty new idea,

The losing streak continues for Hiromu, who was visibly upset after the match. I was convinced he would win this one and use it as a spark to turn him around, but it seems they aren’t ready for that yet.

WINNER: Douki (2) via submission in 17:00. (****)

Final thoughts

Looking back, we had an unusually high number of submissions tonight. I think this was much better overall in terms of match quality, as people found their strides and were able to be more natural in the ring. With so many outsiders in the tournament, it probably didn’t hurt that the crowd had more time to become familiar with the new faces as well.

Kushida and Ninja Mack starting 2-0 will very likely not last. Of the two though, Kushida is more likely to go deep. TJP and Hiromu at 0-2 are also surprising. It’ll be a couple of days before things start to settle, but hopefully more of the nights are like this and fewer are like night one.

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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