Wrestling Review: NJPW Best of the Super Junior 29 (2022) (Night 13 – The Final)

[New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) annual light heavyweight tournament concludes. Throughout the tournament, 20 competitors were split into two even blocks of 10. Each competitor faced the other in their block once, earning 2 points for any win, 1 for a draw, and 0 for any loss (and both wrestlers got 0 if there is no clear winner, such as a double countout). The overall winners of each block will face each other tonight in the final, and the winner here will receive an IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship match against the defending champion, Taiji Ishimori at Dominion.]

After a gruelling tournament, two block winners have been determined, and they will face off tonight to decide who will win the Best of the Super Junior 29 tournament. Both men finished at 12 points, a total of 6 wins, and both Hiromu Takahashi and El Desperado will be seeking to earn a championship match against Taiji Ishimori at Dominion, just over a week away. Hiromu will be looking to make two types of history in this rematch of the 2020 BOSJ final, as Hiromu looks for his third BOSJ win in a row and fourth win of all time, a history making effort on both accounts. Kazuchika Okada returns to in-ring action for NJPW as he leads the team of Jado, Tama Tonga and Toru Yano (replacing the injured Tanga Loa) against Jay White’s BULLET CLUB team of himself, Gedo, Doc Gallwos and Taiji Ishimori. Taichi and Shingo Takagi will go face to face in six man tag team action befor ethe KOPWhe bullet Club trio of Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens and El Phantasmo will battle the heavyweight threesome of United Empire (Great-O-Khan, Aaron Henare and Jeff Cobb). The reigning IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, Team Six or Nine (Master Wato & Ryusuka Taguchi) will also be in action when they face two of their opponents from the BOSJ, the duo of TJP and Francesco Akira of United Empire. Eight of the competitors who competed in the BOSJ will get one final chance to impress the native NJPW crowds, as well as potentially earn a victory over a reigning champion across the ROH, Impact or GLEAT promotions. Finally, some late changes to the show did result in a few new matches, including young lion Ryohei Oiwa facing Tomoaki Honma in the opening contest.

+ Hiromu Takahashi (A Block Winner) vs El Desperado (B Block Winner) (Best of the Super Junior 29 Final): this started great, then lulled in a really big way to the point I could feel myself getting distracted. Thankfully it did pick up once again, and by the end I can safely say this was a really good match. I wasn’t a particular fan of the immediate ending, but both men put on a hell of a show with at least a few gasp-out-loud dives, strikes or slams. This was a good cap off to a good tournament, but this was not the best match of the tournament
+ Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI & Shingo Takagi) vs Suzuki-gun (DOUKI, TAKA Michinoku & Taichi): this was mostly about Taichi/Shingo interactions, but I got a real kick out of DOUKI and Naito having some action as well. TAKA had some good comedy stuff with Shingo, including one laugh out loud reversal. This was relatively basic, but I enjoyed it for what it was
+ United Empire (Aaron Henare, Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb) vs BULLET CLUB (El Phantasmo, Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale): this match was good, and certainly very interesting, albeit mostly about the ending of the match more than anything else. O-Khan and Cobb are a good team, and I admit Henare has improved since I last gave him any real attention. I don’t know how much I care for Owens and Fale being back, as Bullet Club’s roster is already so far and wide across the world and various companies. It’s worth nothing that United Empire are clearly the fan favourites when compared to the Bullet Club, which establishes some sort of unexpected ranking of bad guy factions
+ Suzuki-gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs House of Torture (SHO & EVIL): it is just so good to see Sabre back again, even if he was not teaming with Taichi as he usually would. But the Heel Master and Submission Master duo was just as much fun, thanks in part to the clever ways they would evade (or attempted to evade) the now expected, and always boring House of Torture garbage. This was fun
+ Clark Connors, Titan, YOH & Robbie Eagles vs Alex Zayne, Wheeler Yuta, Ace Austin & El Lindaman: this was full of fantastic action, all at a million miles an hour. It’s rare that the exceptional NJPW cameras cannot catch all of the action, but that was the case here. This wasn’t an important match, but it was a very fun match

Jado, Tama Tonga, Toru Yano & Kazuchika Okada vs BULLET CLUB (Gedo, Taiji Ishimori, Doc Gallows & Jay White): I didn’t care for this match. I think Karl Anderson and Tanga Loa’s withdrawals hurt this one a bit more than might have been expected, and Jay Whit really didn’t do anything to re-announce himself back in NJPW before Dominion. I’m not a fan of Gallows, and once again struggle to see why he is part of this outside of the nostalgia factor. A pre-match surprise was also fun, but went nowhere
Team Six or Nine (Master Wato & Ryusuke Taguchi) vs United Empire (Francesco Akira & TJP): Akira kept up that intensity from his big tournament win over Ace Austin, and TJP was smooth as ever. The champion team did not impress; I mentioned Taguchi’s shtick had run its course for the time being, and Wato is just not very good. The UE half of this match was good, but overall it didn’t do it for me
Tomoaki Honma vs Ryohei Oiwa: this was as standard as standard gets, and clearly put together with a very limited time frame. Oiwa will be good, though. You can tell just by looking at him

> Juice Robinson was meant to be on the card against Honma, as stated above, but apparently he has appendicitis. Surely that means he won’t be at Dominion in just a week. I can only presume that means we will have the title vacated, and a new champion crowned?
> I really hope the crowd can make some noise again by Dominion. I need to hear it again. Please.

Should you watch this event: With only the main event being of any real significance going in, the rest were essentially just previews for the upcoming Dominion show. In that regard the main event was fine and well worth watching. I am certainly looking forward to White/Okada, and especially Taichi/Shingo, but otherwise it will take some special match ups to win me over


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