[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.]
Night six will see the final night of separate block action, when the B Block takes the spotlight. In the main event, the undefeated El Desperado battles All Elite Wrestling’s (AEW) Wheeler Yuta, a member of the Blackpool Combat Club in a first time meeting. Meanwhile, the undefeated El Phantasmo will look to protect that win streak against the currently winless Master Wato, while the only other winless entrant, Titan, faces BUSHI in a tournament match. Each with one win, El Lindaman will battle TJP and attempt to get some momentum rolling, and kicking off the tournament action, Robbie Eagles and DOUKI will meet for the fourth time in their careers, with Eagles currently holding the 3-0 win record over the crazy masked man DOUKI. This sixth night is also the final night to feature preliminary tags.
+ El Desperado (4 points) vs Wheeler Yuta (2 points) (B Block Match): I’ve been waiting for Yuta to have the big match many of us AEW fans were hoping for, and I think this was probably it. Though obviously with no title on the line or anything of the sort, this was Yuta’s biggest BOSJ match so far, and definitely worth the main event spot. Despy is so damn good, and I’m all for him being the (mostly) undefeated boss of the B Block. I really liked this, aside from one small issue after the fact
+ El Phantasmo (4 points) vs Titan (0 points) (B Block Match): the comedy and oneupmanship at the beginning here was some of the best you’ll see, because both guys can do physical comedy and then back it up with great wrestling. The ending of the match was a little bit confusing in the moment, but in the long term I’m sure it will make sense (or it was a mistake in the moment, but that seems unlikely). Still, this was a great match
+ Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & Shingo Takagi) vs Suzuki-gun (TAKA Michinoku & Yoshinobu Kanemaru): the wrestling in this was really good, especially as Shingo just murdered his junior opponents. But Hiromu and Kanemaru are top guys (one more than the other sure) for a reason. This also had a really simple but satisfying post-match
+ BULLET CLUB (SHO & Dick Togo) vs BULLET CLUB (Taiji Ishimori & Gedo): in general, I’m a sucker for these intra-faction battles, and this was no exception. SHO/Ishimori is going to be a really good match I’m sure, but more importantly it’s a really interesting match. Between you and me, I don’t think the House of Torture is going to be accommodated in the Bullet Club for much longer, and I think Jay White and EVIL will have strong thoughts about it
+ Ryusuke Taguchi, Jado, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & YOH vs Clark Connors, Ace Austin, Alex Zayne & Tiger Mask: I’m surprised to say that I thought this was really good, but I think that is because Tenzan and Jado did very little. Ace Austin is a star
– BUSHI (2 points) vs Master Wato (0 points) (B Block Match): Wato is just not very good. I truly believe he came back (as the Master Wato character) too soon, perhaps as a response to COVID closing down the borders for foreign talent, and he is only now getting to the serviceable stage. He doesn’t make as many mistakes, but he just doesn’t connect to me, and I think much of the live crowds feel the same way. BUSHI is BUSHI, and he can only do his best
– El Lindaman (2 points) vs TJP (2 points) (B Block Match): this was a perfectly average match, brought down by an anticlimactic ending. Neither guy would be a favourite of mine, but even in only three tournament matches it is clear they are talented. This is a very ‘early days, unimportant in the tournament’ match, and that is how it came across
– Robbie Eagles (2 points) vs DOUKI (2 points) (B Block Match): I’d happily call this fine, but too standard to get a positive mark. Both guys can go when they are with the right opponents, but I’d say this just didn’t click for the two of them. I really did think DOUKI would go on an unexpected tear this tournament. Eagles is still so quick and smooth, though someone I Was watching with pointed out his neck bandana makes him look like a perma-happy Golden Retriever, and now I can’t un-see it
> on this final night of preliminary tag team matches, we did get a winner crowned for the unofficial C Block of junior heavyweights not in the BOSJ tournament
Should you watch this event: How amusing that on the last night with prelim tags, they were three of the better ones? You can rest assured, any match with ELP, Titan or Despy in this B Block is guaranteed to be great, but I was disappointed in Wato once again. From here, on ten matches per show. Things could get wild.