Wrestling Review: NJPW Best of the Super Junior 29 (2022) (Night 7)

[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.]

Hot damn, here we go. All ten tournament matches – five from the A Block and five from the B Block – will take place here on night 7. In the main event for the B Block bracket, the undefeated El Desperado will faces the GLEAT wrestling G-Rex Champion, El Lindaman. In the main event for the A Block side of the tournament, the Bullet Club implodes as the reigning IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Taiji Ishimori defends his undefeated tournament run against SHO; though technically a Bullet Club member, SHO identifies himself as the Murder Machine of the House of Torture, a subgroup of the Bullet Club not entirely well received by the BC OGs. Hiromu Takahashi also enters Night 7 undefeated in the A Block as he faces Yoshinobu Kanemaru, who is looking for his own first win of the tournament. Meanwhile El Phantasmo defends his undefeated run against the ever dangerous DOUKI in the B Block, while Master Wato seeks his first win of the tournament against Robbie Eagles. All of this and much more on Night 7 of the Best of the Super Junior 29.

+ El Desperado (6 points) vs El Lindaman (4 points) (B Block Match): in what was easily Lindaman’s biggest NJPW match to date, he definitely did not disappoint. It obviously helps to be wrestling Desperado, who is just so damn perfect in everything he does, but Lindaman more than held his own. The crowd was incredibly into this one, as they should have been, but I was still surprised after the long night of wrestling it had been
+ Yoshinobu Kanemaru (0 points) vs Hiromu Takahashi (6 points) (A Block Match): frankly there were a lot of ways this one could have gone, and I did not expect it to go the way it did. I liked this one
+ El Phantasmo (6 points) vs DOUKI (2 points) (B Block Match): god almighty, these two were trying to kill each other and themselves from the minute the match started and it ended in perhaps the most unexpected way you would imagine. Hot damn this was great
+ YOH (4 points) vs Ace Austin (4 points) (A Block Match): hot damn this Korakuen crowd loves Ace Austin. This started off a bit slow, but it soon picked up and really did end on an exciting note. YOH in particular had a few great fire up moments, and some incredibly slick transitions between moves, but Austin is on a different level this tournament
+ Ryusuke Taguchi (2 points) vs Clark Connors (0 points) (A Block Match): I’ll be honest, I did not see this match going the way it did, with so much ass-based offence but holy smokes was the crowd into it and that made me get really into it. I truly can’t stress how exciting this was, and it was all butt stuff
+ TJP (2 points) vs Titan (0 points) (B Block Match): this was a really solid lucha style match, including a dive where one guy almost landed in the crowd, and another where one nearly broke his own legs. TJP had some smooth transitions and submissions, but both guys looked good, even if Titan didn’t hit that sick DDT I’ve loved so much over his last three matches
+ Francesco Akira (2 points) vs Alex Zayne (4 points) (A Block Match): Zayne is clearly really pushing up against that junior heavyweight limit. There were quite a few moments where one guy was clearly waiting for the other, but overall this was still really exciting. A few big dives from Akira was really something to see with an excited crowd

Taiji Ishimori (6 points) vs SHO (2 points) (A Block Match): I was really looking forward to this one, but I can’t help but feel disappointed. There was the expected ‘two bad guys fighting’ stuff that did give me some Taichi/TAKA vibes from a few years ago, but I really was hoping for something better
Robbie Eagles (4 points) vs Master Wato (0 points) (B Block Match): this match did have the biggest crowd gasp of the tournament so far, but the ending was not particularly thrilling. I really was expecting more, but Wato is just not good enough. Eagles did some crazy cool stuff, though
BUSHI (4 points) vs Wheeler Yuta (2 points) (B Block Match): I’ll be honest, I really didn’t care for this match. I spent more time trying to remember the members of Bullet Club

Should you watch this event: I was nervous that 10 matches over ~3 hours was going to make things either rushed, or go on far too long and tire me out. I was wrong, as this was easily the best night of action so far. DOUKI/ELP is a must see, as were Despy/Lindaman and even Connors/Taguchi, though the latter is for a different, ass-based reason.

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