[Please note: to save us all some time, I’ll only review the tournament matches themselves. There may be incidental spoilers for previous nights, but I won’t go out of my way to spoil things.]
New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) annual junior heavyweight round-robin tournament, the Best of the Super Juniors 26 continues. Day 9 is the third of three days where every competitor will be in action, with the main event featuring Rocky Romero, in his first ever Korakuen Hall main event, facing off against the current leader of the B Block, El Phantasmo. On the other side of the bracket, Dragon Lee and Titan will face off in the semi-main event, in a battle between two of the top luchadores on the planet. Shingo Takagi, Will Ospreay, Ryusuke Taguchi and Robbie Eagles are all also in action, looking to improve their standings as the tournament begins to come to a close.
+ El Phantasmo vs Rocky Romero (BOSJ B Block Match): I didn’t think I would enjoy this, at the opening, but it really drew me in. Romero and Phantasmo fought all over the building, in a match full of shenanigans hearkening back to some of the all time greats of the industry. This was well and truly worth of the main event
+ Titan vs Dragon Lee (BOSJ A Block Match): this was a really good lucha libre match, with only a little bit of sloppiness, entirely because of just how fast these two were going. If this was Titan’s biggest match in the tournament, then it was a great showcase for him, against a close friend in Dragon Lee. For Lee, this was another in a long line of matches where he looked great
+ Taiji Ishimori vs Jonathan Gresham (BOSJ A Block Match): Gresham’s comedy timing is perfect for NJPW, in line with Rocky, Taguchi and Yano to name but a few. Ishimori is so quick, and his offence always looks so good, and these two had another good match
+ Bandido vs Ryusuke Taguchi (BOSJ B Block Match): this went from comedy to a banger really quickly. Bandido has looked really good in this tournament, perhaps outside of the very ending of this match. Tauguchi had a great run early, and his match recently against Romero was fantastic, so these two had a good chance of having a good match, and they did
+ DOUKI vs Robbie Eagles (BOSJ B Block Match): I’ll admit it, I was int he wrong to be unimpressed with Eagles in this tournament so far. Eagles has shown that underdog, babyface fire too many wrestlers are lacking, and the way he has endeared himself to the NJPW crowd is admirable. DOUKI is a fantastic scumbag, and the match he wrestles El Phantasmo is going to be a joy
+ Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Marty Scurll (BOSJ A Block Match): this was a wild brawl, with a few fun shenanigans,. This was exactly what I wanted after the bonkers main events from the last few days
+ Ren Narita vs Will Ospreay (BOSJ B Block Match): Ren Narita will most definitely finish the tournament on zero points, assuming he didn’t beat Ospreay in the biggest upset in BOSJ history (wink wink). But the fact he is not expected to win a single match, and the fact I didn’t expect him to win a single match, just makes all of his matches that much more captivating. Being in the ring with one of the best juniors in the world certainly doesn’t hurt, either
– BUSHI vs YOH (BOSJ B Block Match): I love me some BUSHI, but YOH has been so bland this tournament, after me having nothing but praise for him last year. This was a plodding match, and frankly I was disappointed
– TAKA Michinoku vs Shingo Takagi (BOSJ A Block Match): this is not a typo: this was a TAKA clinic. To say this was a one sided affair would be an understatement, but overall it was not very good as a competitive match
– SHO vs Tiger Mask (BOSJ A Block Match): this was not bad, but didn’t really match any of either man’s previous efforts. This was more of a ‘well, they are in the same block, so they have to fight at some point’ match
Should you watch this event: Overall, as the above positive/negative split may imply, this was a really good show. Rocky/Phantasmo was a really solid main event, with Lee/Titan serving as a solid topper tot he A block side of things as well. Otherwise, Robbie Eagles, Bandido and Ren Narita all impress once more.