Wrestling Review: NJPW Best of the Super Junior 29 (2022) (Night 12)

[New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) annual light heavyweight tournament enters the home stretch. 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 Junior Heavyweight Championship match against the defending champion, Taiji Ishimori at Dominion.]

On this final night of tournament block action, three men from each side of the Best of the Super Junior 29 remain in contention to win, and all will have at least some control of their own destiny.
For the A Block, only three men remain in contention, and their path to victory look like this:

  • Ace Austin will win the A Block if he win his match against Francesco Akira, AND Taiji Ishimori and Hiromu Takahashi are both counted out or disqualified and earn 0 points in their match;
  • Taiji Ishimori will win the A Block if he defeats or time limit draws against Hiromu Takahashi;
  • Hiromu Takahashi will win the A Block if he defeats Taiji Ishimori.

Meanwhile, for the B Block side of the bracket:

  • Robbie Eagles will win the B Block if he defeats Titan, AND El Desperado defeats El Phantasmo;
  • El Desperado will win the B Block if he defeats El Phantasmo, AND Robbie Eagles loses to Titan;
  • El Phantasmo will win the B Block if he defeats or time limit draws against El Desperado

With the final unable to be determined until the end of the final match on tonight’s show, and with even those who are eliminated looking to finish strong, this final night of block action for the Best of the Super Junior 29 is one that cannot be missed.

+ El Desperado (10 points) vs El Phantasmo (12 points) (B Block Match): the crowd was really quiet for this match, but I think it’s clear they were playing such close attention to everything that was happening. ELP was perhaps at maximum dickhead, though I do think that some of that was lost on the non-English speaking crowd. Despy is my boy for a reason, though, because he makes these big matches into huge matches, and never looks out of place
+ Ace Austin (10 points) vs Francesco Akira (6 points, eliminated) (A Block Match): Akira was pulling out all the stops here, and it was awesome to see. Ace has been more than a standout in this entire tournament, and this was no exception either. I really liked the intensity Akira showed, and it made this a really unpredictable match between the rookie and the X-Division Champion
+ Robbie Eagles (10 points) vs Titan (6 points, eliminated) (B Block Match): some early technical lucha libre stylings soon gave way to attempted one-upsmanship for high flying, but Eagles won that one in my mind. This was a really back and forth match that really showed what both guys can do, even if I was terrified for both of their safety at one point or another
+ YOH (8 points, eliminated) vs SHO (8 points, eliminated) (A Block Match): I actually liked this a lot more than I thought I would. These two are very much ‘career rivals’ at this point, and I imagine will be for a long time to come. SHO was at his slimiest, and YOH was at his fan favourite best, and as you would expect they just worked really well together
+ Wheeler Yuta (8 points, eliminated) vs TJP (8 points, eliminated) (B Block Match): hot damn I absolutely loved this one. This was far and away Yuta’s best match of this tournament, and that is thanks in large part to TJP’s impeccable ground game. Don’t miss this one
+ Clark Connors (6 points, eliminated) vs Alex Zayne (8 points, eliminated) (A Block Match): this was a really good match, with lots of really hard hitting stuff, including one apron spot that looked incredible and probable hurt like hell. Connors has really stepped up this tournament, and I look forward to the powerhouse he will surely become. Zayne is one of the standouts, though, and he completely won me over after not much caring for him in the beginning
+ Master Wato (6 points, eliminated) vs DOUKI (6 points, eliminated) (B Block Match): DOUKI has been killing himself all tournament and I was expecting him to either do the same here, or destroy Wato. What we got was somewhere in the middle, as Wato put up a hell of a fight, and looked better than in several of his other matches so far. This wasn’t great, but it was probably one of Wato’s better showings

Hiromu Takahashi (10 points) vs Taiji Ishimori (12 points) (A Block Match): this started off relatively slowly and “methodical”… but seemingly forgot to kick into any sort of second gear. It stayed the same way until a really anticlimactic end that put a damper on not just the match, but the separate stories that both Ishimori and Hiromu were each going for. I was really disappointed in this
BUSHI (6 points, eliminated) vs El Lindaman (8 points, eliminated) (B Block Match): this match did nothing for me. I’m not familiar enough with Lindaman to really want him to succeed once the tournament aspect if over, and BUSHI is an underdog because he always loses. I dunno, too late for this match for me
Ryusuke Taguchi (6 points, eliminated) vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru (6 points, eliminated) (A Block Match): I didn’t really care for this one. Taguchi’s ass and Kanemaru’s grizzled cheater status has worn thin for me

> Apparently the crowds can make noise again starting for Friday’s final? Holy smokes, I can’t wait.

Should you watch this event: Aside from the main event, this was a surprisingly good show. I’m not usually a big fan of the matches where so many are already eliminated, but there were enough side stories or personal grudges here to make things interesting outside of the scope of the tournament. Desperado/ELP both looks like mega stars, but frankly all of the positives above were worth seeing for one reason or another.


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