[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 13 will prove to be the lucky number for half of the competitors in their final tournament matches, as the entire A Block decision comes down to the final match when Taiji Ishimori looks to slay The Dragon, Shingo Takagi. If Ishimori wins, he will defeat Takagi via tie breaker and win the block, but if Shingo wins, he will win the A Block and be the first man to go undefeated since Prince Devitt in 2013. Again, due to the injury to TAKA Michinoku, his opponent will get the win by forfeit, with Suzuki-gun stablemate Yoshinobu Kanemaru being the fortunate recipient (which is a shame, because I really wanted to see the match).
+ Dragon Lee vs Marty Scurll (BOSJ A Block Match): this was fine, propped up by some solid high spots. For only the second time I really felt like Brody King had a purpose to being with Scurll, aside from just looking pretty – King was involved against Shingo, which led to that lariat that proved Shingo should definitely be in the heavyweight division. Nonetheless, Scurll looked pretty good against the champion, and Scurll himself has held the title before, and Lee looked to be the champion he is. Both guys looked good, and it’s a shame these two had to wait for this match to be on last, with virtually nothing on the line
+ Jonathan Gresham vs SHO (BOSJ A Block Match): I enjoyed this, again because of Gresham’s skill set. SHO’s power was for the most part saved in the back pocket, so to speak, as Gresham out-wrestled SHO, but it was the moment when the two played to their own strengths that the match really began to shine. As far as I am aware, Gresham is not actually contracted to ROH, so I really hope he can join this Junior Heavyweight division full time
– Taiji Ishimori vs Shingo Takagi (BOSJ A Block Match): all in all, this was not really a negative, despite where I’ve listed it. Truthfully, though, i was really disappointed in this. Of all the matches that should and could have been the ‘main event’ style match, this one felt far too tame, especially considering the huge stakes on the line. My only thought is that they are saving this match as a “big match” down the line, and didn’t want to bust out the big guns here
– Titan vs Tiger Mask (BOSJ A Block Match): a perhaps botched ending left a really poor taste in my mouth. I wasn’t high on Tiger Mask in last year’s tournament, and unfortunately that has not changed here. This was disappointing, but I will say I want some more from Titan, if he is allowed to let loose like he did against Dragon Lee
Should you watch this event: On the show that the winner of the A Block was crowned, I’m sad to say the match in question was one of the less-good matches of the tournament. Overall, in fact, despite the high hopes I had for the A Block (or perhaps because of them?) the A Block has unfortunately proven to be the weaker of the two. Gresham, however, has proven to be a standout, and I would gladly put him with Bandido and Robbie Eagles as having a breakout two weeks.