[New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) annual light heavyweight tournament continues. In this tournament, 20 competitors are split into two even blocks of 10. Each competitor faces the other in their block once, earning 2 points for any win, 1 for a draw, and 0 for any loss (and both wrestlers get 0 if there is no clear winner, such as a double countout). The overall winners of each block will go on to face each other in the final, and the winner there will receive an IWGP Championship match against the defending champion, Taiji Ishimori at Dominion.]
This second night of tournament action sees the B Block take centre stage, with two masked competitors, El Desperado and Titan facing off in the main event, while the “Public Enemy” of the United Empire, TJP battles Master Wato in the second-to-last contest. Robbie Eagles has endeared himself to the Japanese crowds over the past few years, but he will have his hands full when Eagles faces The Ring of Honor Pure Champion, and member of All Elite Wrestling’s Blackpool Combat Club, Wheeler Yuta. Meanwhile, El Phantasmo will represent the Bullet Club against a member of Los Ingobernables de Japon, BUSHI, in a tournament match, and finally DOUKI and GLEAT wrestler and reigning G-Rex Champion, El Lindaman will kick things off for the B Block. All of these and three multi-man tag team matches to act as preview for upcoming tournament matches.
+ Titan vs El Desperado (B Block Match): only two nights in and we have our first absolute banger. There was one absolutely incredible swinging DDT from one competitor, but the whole match was full of back and forth action, clean moves and solid good guy versus bad guy stuff. I loved it
+ TJP vs Master Wato (B Block Match): surprisingly good. I’ve been harsh on TJP in the past, but he looked like a million bucks in the ring, especially against someone who really has his ups and downs in Wato. That said, Wato did not look nearly as poor as he has in the past, so the two really clicked well when they were going for the big moves
+ Robbie Eagles vs Wheeler Yuta (B Block Match): I was really looking forward to this match, and while I can’t say that it was a match of the year contender, it was still really good. Eagles is so well-liked by the live crowds, and Yuta slotted into that de facto bay guy role so well, especially since his time with Danielson, Moxley and especially Regal has allowed him to do so
+ El Phantasmo vs BUSHI (B Block Match): another good match for both competitors. I like both guys, especially because Phantasmo is such a good dickhead but he always backs it up in the ring. BUSHI is just the coolest dude in wrestling, and his masks are always great. I hope that both of these guys are in the runnings toward the end of things
+ DOUKI vs El Lindaman (B Block Match): this was good. I’m a fan of DOUKI, and while I prefer T-Hawk to Lindaman in Strong Hearts, the simple fact that Lindaman is something different in this year’s BOSJ is a big plus. DOUKI has always been an underrated guy when compared to his Suzuki-gun stablemates, but he really shines when givne the chance
+ Alex Zayne, Jado & Ryusuke Taguchi vs BULLET CLUB (Dick Togo, SHO & Taiji Ishimori): as far as preview tags go, this was perfectly fine. SHO and Ishimori are two of the best in the A Block, and though Taguchi does get that spoiler role, it won’t be overly thrilling to see until later on. Alex Zayne is also here, but I’ve said my piece about him
– Ace Austin & Tiger Mask vs Suzuki-gun (TAKA Michinoku & Yoshinobu Kanemaru): the match itself was fine, but gosh it was weird to see Austin with Tiger Mask. Ace Austin is a notorious bad guy on Impact Wrestling shows, and he did not mesh at all with the beloved veteran. Kanemaru is good, though, and I expect Kanemaru/Austin to be a good match
– Hiroyoshi Tenzan, YOH & Yuto Nakashima vs Clark Connors, Kosei Fujita & Ryohei Oiwa: holy smokes Oiwa is looking jacked, and I was just not aware how big/tall Nakashima is until he was face to face with Connors. I doubt we’ll be seeing Nakashima in a BOSJ in his career. Otherwise, this was a very standard match
Should you watch this event: With the only negatives above being two of the preliminary tag matches, this was an easy show to watch. ELP, Despy, Eagles and Yuta have to surely be some of the favourites going in, and they all had great matches (with their opponents, of course). This B Block is going to be great.