Wrestling Review: NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 25 (2018) (Day 1)

It is time once again for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) to present it’s annual junior heavyweight tournament, the Best of the Super Juniors 25. The first four matches of the tournament, and the first four matches from the A Block are on the cards, and will be:
– Tiger Mask vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru
– ACH vs Flip Gordon
– YOH vs BUSHI
– Will Ospreay vs Taiji Ishimori

[Please note: to save myself a bit of time, I am only reviewing the tournament matches. There will be a spoiler warning where applicable, usually for the preceding rounds from that block.]

+ Will Ospreay vs Taiji Ishimori (A Block Match): this was easily the most anticipated match of the block, if not the entire first round of tournament matches, and it delivered in every single way. There were a handful of strikes that were either so perfectly timed, but still fake, or were straight up kicks to the face that I couldn’t tell even after watching in slow-mo. Ospreay will have a good match with anyone, and Ishimori is so, so good that this has set the bar high for the rest of the block
+ YOH vs BUSHI (A Block Match): despite YOH being known as a tag team guy (in some ways, so is BUSHI, but not to the same extent), this was a great match between the two. It’s not a secret that I am a huge BUSHI fan, but both guys were just great. I can’t even say there was anything particularly standout, but the whole thing was smooth, well worked and had a good finish
+ ACH vs Flip Gordon (A Block Match): I am sometimes torn on what I think of Flip Gordon; he is great on the Being The Elite Youtube show, but in the ring he is such a generic flippy guy that it has literally become his entire character in a sort of meta-gimmick sort of way. This was an absolute bonkers match, and both men were at their absolute best, but ACH was on another level entirely. Everything ACH did looked fantastic, and this was a fantastic first showing for Flip Gordon in Japan as well

Tiger Mask vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru (A Block Match): Tiger busted out a kneeling figure four leg lock, which was certainly interesting, but otherwise this was a lackluster match-up. Tiger’s age and Kanemaru’s intentionally not-flashy offense made this a bit of a slog, and even less notable once the following matches were all complete

> one of the tag team matches on the undercard featured opponents for Day 2, Dragon Lee and YOH, and dammit it has me hyped for their BOSJ match

Should you watch this event: Three out of four isn’t bad, and even then the Tiger/Kanemaru match may not be as bad as I am making it out to be. Go out of your way to see Ospreay/Ishimori, but you’ll probably enjoy all four matches with the right mindset.

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