[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. Following the injury to TAKA Michinoku, only nine matches will take place on Day 10, with Dragon Lee earning a win by forfeit. The main event will feature SHO and Taiji Ishimori looking to become the alpha-male of the Junior Heavyweight division, with the looming threat of an undefeated run for Shingo Takagi weighing on everybody’s mind. For the B Block, Will Ospreay and Robbie Eagles will do battle, and following the shock loss by El Phantasmo on day 9, the stage is set for the B Block to be blown wide open. The aforementioned Takagi will be in action, as will BUSHI and Bandido, as they face off for bragging rights.
+ Taiji Ishimori vs SHO (BOSJ A Block Match): this was good, but the lack of a personal rivalry between the two made it a bit awkward for it to follow Ospreay/Eagles, particular witht he story coming out of that match. In fact, all of the A Block matches are a bit wonky, simply due to the story they are telling with Shingo (which I have no issue with, mind you). One or two smaller mistakes didn’t mar an otherwise very technically proficient wrestling match
+ Robbie Eagles vs Will Ospreay (BOSJ B Block Match): I’m going to drop an embarrassing admission on you right now: I know who Robbie Eagles is, and I have known both through this entire tournament and beforehand, but I think some of my lacklustre reception of him has been because I’ve been comparing him to Mikey Nicholls, from the New Japan Cup. Eagles and Ospreay put on one of the best matches of the tournament here, not just because of the match itself, but the story going into, during, and coming out of the action between the ropes. This was fantastic, and probably should have been the main event
+ BUSHI vs Bandido (BOSJ B Block Match): I was looking forward to this one, and it didn’t disappoint. Bandido is so good, and no matter the respect he is given, I will always feel BUSHI is underrated. I did get a kick out of BUSHI, the Japanese wrestler, who came out with a Native American headdress on, hit a Canadian Destroyer on the Mexican luchadore, Bandido. Talk about an international flavour
+ DOUKI vs Rocky Romero (BOSJ B Block Match): DOUKI absolutely let loose in this match, and Rocky was a really good base for it. DOUKI showed much more technical skill than his previous matches, and it was probably the best DOUKI match of the tournament so far
+ Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Jonathan Gresham (BOSJ A Block Match): Gresham has had a good tournament, but without the comedy stylings, I felt I had seen all of this before. Kanemaru was a really good opponent for Gresham, though, and this was a standard, but still quite entertaining match
– Shingo Takagi vs Tiger Mask (BOSJ A Block Match): this may have been a fine match, but at this late stage in the tournament, no number of near pins or almost-but-not-quite submissions will fool me into thinking Shingo will be beaten, let alone by Tiger Mask of all people
– Marty Scurll vs Titan (BOSJ A Block Match): unfortunately, this match did nothing for me. Scurll has had a few bangers in the BOSJ this year, but for the most part he has looked a little but off, perhaps even a step out, but I couldn’t say why. Titan was great against Lee, but none of that shine was on display here
– Ren Narita vs Ryusuke Taguchi (BOSJ B Block Match): Taguchi needed a less high-flying opponent, and Narita needed more experience. You know how this one was going to go
> Phantasmo’s theme is just so damn good. I’d join the HDBNG CLUB
Should you watch this event: With only two matches for each competitor left, the stage is set for both brackets to have an interesting finish. I enjoyed this overall, but as we are getting to the final days, and with only a handful of relevant matches still on tap, it is hard to feel any excitement for the already-eliminated wrestlers’ matches. Nonetheless, Eagles/Ospreay and BUSHI/Bandido are well worth seeking out.