Wrestling Review: NJPW Best of the Super Junior 29 (2022) (Night 8)

[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.]

There’s no rest for the weary, as all of the competitors in both the A Block and B Block return for the second straight night of tournament action. In the main event, just 24 hours after having his leg destroyed by Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Hiromu Takahashi must face YOH, who is coming off an upsetting loss of his own to Ace Austin. Hiromu and YOH faced off in the finals for the BOSJ 28 last year, so it is sure that YOH will bring the fire more than ever in this huge rematch. For the B Block, El Desperado will seek to avenge his loss to El Lindaman when Desperado faces off with Master Wato in the semi-main event. As the tournament enters the midpoint and the end, mathematical eliminations become possible, beginning with tonight’s event: any competitors in the A Block on 2 points at the end of the show (Ryusuke Taguchi, Clark Connors, SHO, Clark Connors and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) will be eliminated if Taiji Ishimori wins in his match against the aforementioned Kanemaru.

+ Hiromu Takahashi (6 points) vs YOH (4 points) (A Block Match): I really did not like the idea of this match going on last, but in the end i Was proven wrong. Hiromu was playing the wounded animal here, unable to do his crazy moves, and that meant YOH had to be a bit more aggressive compared to usual. That change in dynamics was really interesting, and it ended the show in a big way
+ El Desperado (6 points) vs Master Wato (2 points) (B Block Match): I was absolutely hooked on this, but perhaps not for the reason NJPW wanted me to be; I did not want Wato to win this match and was on the edge of my seat that my boy Despy would pull out the win. To that extent, this was the match I was most invested in all night, and I can’t fault them for that
+ TJP (2 points) vs Robbie Eagles (4 points) (B Block Match): much like Eagles/BUSHI a few days ago, this was a fantastic back and forth match. Both guys are quick and technical, and it made for a really exciting match. I liked this a lot, and I it’s possibly time for a lot of people to change their old minds about TJP
+ Yoshinobu Kanemaru (2 points) vs Taiji Ishimori (8 points) (A Block Match): Ishimori was undefeated, but he’s never beaten Kanemaru. That is all the drama you need
+ Ryusuke Taguchi (2 points) vs SHO (2 points) (A Block Match): Taguchi always brings the best out of the super serious opponents, and this was no exception. It was almost the case I did not enjoy this, but in the end it was all worth it
+ El Phantasmo (6 points) vs El Lindaman (6 points) (B Block Match): ELP is just the best, isn’t he? I find him hilarious, and then he backs it up with wrestling, as well. Lindaman has some crazy power and speed, and his small stature makes him stand out in a tournament like this. There were a lot of call outs to previous tournament matches, and this was better for it. Really good
+ BUSHI (4 points) vs Douki (4 points) (B Block Match): there were two crazy dives here that I truly thought might take out a chunk of the audience, but thankfully not quite. This was relatively short, but I enjoyed it for what it was and I really liked the ending
+ Ace Austin (6 points) vs Alex Zayne (6 points) (A Block Match): I was really excited for this one, both the match itself and the outcome, because both men have really endeared themselves tot he NJPW crowd. It was also the right time for both guys to counter their opponent’s best offence, which they did incredibly smoothly. This was good, and it’s disappointing it was not higher on the card

Titan (2 points) vs Wheeler Yuta (4 points) (B Block Match): some early lucha libre soon gave way to a incredible chop battle. I don’t know how long this one went, but it felt short, even as Titan was diving like a mad man into the crowd. This was good, but perhaps not quite great
Francesco Akira (2 points) vs Clark Connors (2 points) (A Block Match): as both men entered on only one win each, this was do or die. I didn’t quite feel that intensity, and while the match was perfectly adequate, I was left disappointed

> More than ever on this show, I have some issues with the match order of NJPW shows. It just made no sense for Hiromu/YOH to be the main event, considering they both lost on the previous night, and that Yoshinobu Kanemaru (the one who beat Hiromu) is facing the undefeated IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Taiji Ishimori. I understand fully that it’s pre-determined before the tournament even begins, but it was just silly here
> Kevin Kelly mentioned Pentagon Jr. on commentary in Wheeler Yuta’s match. What a time to be alive when Penta is talked about in NJPW

Should you watch this event: It is unfortunate that there were two not-so-good matches on this show, because otherwise it was an absolute banger of a show. These ten-match shows are proving to be a great idea.

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