A card like this from New Japan usually means they’re highlight something, which in this case is Ospreay/KUSHIDA for the BEST of the Super Junior Finals. All the tag matches are usually quick, and just give the rest of the roster a chance to get their “stuff” in, while building huge anticipation to a TRUE main event. The first hour before the intermission featured 26 wrestlers in-action. Not a lot of wasted time.

The main event is worth the wait… as always.

*I watched the show with Japanese commentary because Dud Callis ruins the fun.


Yuji Nagata, Tomoyuki Oka, Shota Umino vs Manabu Nakanishi, Katsuya Kitamura, Tetsuhiro Yagi

Kitamura is to NJPW what Aaron Judge is to the New York Yankees, and that’s a gigantic youthful monster who is going to be changing the game for years to come. He and Oka got this match going with some Young Lion HOSS style. Shota Umino, who is apparently Red Shoes’ son, took the pace up a notch when he was tagged in. I just love how the NJPW upcoming talent system is implemented.  For instance, Nagata wasn’t coming hard at Nakanishi, but he almost kicked Kitamura’s head off just because he’s a Young Lion.

The finish was Oka making Yagi tap-out to a Boston Crab. It was a legit struggle, and is another step in the direction of making Oka look like the master grappler he truly is.

Togi Makabe, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Hirai Kawato vs Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Jado

Three of my favorite NJPW stars in this one (Yano, Ishii, Makabe), so I was pulled in from the start. I’m not huge on Jado, but even I would “WOOOO” while he does his Ric Flair impression chops. Kawato took his beating like a good Young Lion, and then Yano took his dropkick, so Kawato could give Makabe a chance to kill something. Makabe reminds me of Silicon Valley’s T.J. Miller for some reason, so he’s funny without even trying to be.

The crowd got right behind Kawato as soon as he took down Ishii for the first time. At that point it seemed like he went from Young Lion to one of Ishii’s peers, and their in-ring action took a more back-and-forth pace from there. Ishii took Kawato’s head off with a lariat to get the victory, even though it didn’t look like one of Kawato’s shoulders were actually down for the pinfall.

Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Taka Michinoku, El Desperado vs Jyushin Thunder Liger, VOLADOR Jr., Tiger Mask

Quick pace to start. Suzuki-Gun get outmatched 1v1, so they gang up on old man Liger to take control. Once Liger fought them off, and tagged in Tiger Mask, the match lost some cohesion. It felt like Tiger Mask was just a bit off, and everything just looked overly choreographed while he was doing his thing. He hit a Tiger Bomb, and then seemed to realize he should sell all the damage he hadn’t been selling previous to that.

Volador Jr. got the victory with an ugly Spanish Fly on TAKA, as Suzuki-Gun continues to fail in every way.

Raymond Rowe, Hanson, David Finlay, ACH vs Tama Tonga, Tanga Roa, Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi

Tama wouldn’t let War Machine pose with their titles on the ring apron, which I loved. Bullet Club causing trouble is always a good time. Bad Luck Fale reminds me of Tursas from CHIKARA, who used to just be a monster, but also the worst part of his own stable. They did a good job of getting you hyped for an ACH spot, and then having someone from BC interrupting it.

Tama Tonga went full prop comic, as he stole a camera from ringside, and started snapping shots of ACH, while still beating him up. It’s cool that the fan whose camera it was has some one of a kind shots. Heel in-ring, but still good to the fans, which probably makes for the best kind of moment. Tama is light years ahead of the rest of his teammates here, as even Tanga Roa just didn’t know what to do when ACH was trying to toss him around with his legs.

When ACH finally gets his DIVE in he’s completely eclipsed by Hanson’s somersault senton off the top to the outside. David Finlay hit a few high speed European uppercuts, and took a mean DDT and pinfall from Yujiro “The Tokyo Pimp”. Bullet Club allows the babyfaces to work their tales off, and takes the win, just like n.W.o.!

INTERMISSION

Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI vs Taichi & Minoru Suzuki

For my second Aaron Judge reference of the night, I’m going to have to refer to my man Taichi’s gavel. Taichi and Minoru are my favorite possible combination of Suzuki-Gun members because of how they’re total opposites. Minoru Suzuki is possibly the baddest mother in the world of wrestling, and Taichi is practically the goofiest type of cocky heel you can find. Goto/YOSHI are a good babyface version of the same dynamic for them to go heads-up with.

I’ve realized that YOSHI-HASHI is the Tyler Breeze of New Japan, or at least looks-wise he reminds me of Officer Breezy. It really felt like YOSHI/Taichi and Minoru/Goto really paired off against each other, and never really changed up dancing partners. Suzuki-Gun’s interference failed once again via Kanemaru’s mist, and YOSHI-HASHI hit KARMA to nearly drive Taichi through the mat for the victory.

Minoru losing led to ring crew being destroyed, so I guess it was all for a good cause… my entertainment.

Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, EVIL, BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi vs Satoshi Kojima, Juice Robinson, Ryusuke Taguchi, Richochet, Dragon Lee

Naito smacking Liger, who was on commentary, with the IC Title just further showed how little Naito respects the belt (or anything/anyone). Some fun posturing by both teams before the bout. SANADA and Juice began the match, but Naito ambushed Robinson, and the most stacked match on the card was underway.

Taguchi works his ass-based offense a lot like HONMA worked his headbutts. He takes a few atomic drops from Takahashi, and then BOOM with the “funky weapon”. Richochet went wild on Naito and EVIL, and during this he mistakenly kicked poor BUSHI right in the head. BUSHI hit his double-legged Codebreaker to get kayfabe revenge, but I’m not sure he ever recovered from the headshot.

Kojima’s old school style was much appreciated, even in such a small dose. He represents the old-guard well. He also took the pin like a champ after eating a DESTINO from Naito. L-I-J take the dubya.

Tanahashi interrupted Naito & Co.’s celebration, and I hear he basically called Naito “Captain Monkey Mountain” (translation by @ByLucha)!

Kazuchika OKADA & GEDO vs Kenny Omega & Marty Scurll

Kenny Omega came out in his brand-new Bryan Fury/Tekken 7 shirt, and he had some crazy long hair(extensions). Okada/GEDO didn’t take any time getting to the ring, and the match was on. The Cleaner and The Rainmaker squared off, both escaped one another’s finishers, and then Kenny spit right in Okada’s face. Hell of an opening sequence before deferring to their teammates.

It then became a GEDO beatdown, as Marty and Kenny took turns being as ridiculous as they are awesome, while putting the hurt on GEDO. It took Scurll’s umbrella and Red Shoes to get some momentum back for CHAOS. The two best members of Bullet Club getting their heat on GEDO is good television. Okada cleaning house like he’s Cena is nothing new, but it’s also not something I’m tired of seeing.

The false finishes came with a quickness. GEDO didn’t tap to the first Chicken Wing, and nearly pinned Scurll, but Kenny broke up the pin (even though he was super late), and Marty finished GEDO with a second Chicken Wing. Everyone came out of this looking tough, except GEDO, which I’m always fine with.

BOSJ 24 FINALS: Will Ospreay vs KUSHIDA

Ospreay’s lip getting busted in the early going added another layer of depth to the match, with color dripping from his mouth. I’m a big fan of the fact that Will wore black, and KUSHIDA rocked white, as opponents should always wear opposite colors, especially in a main event. Little details like that go a long way in this wrestling game.

Ospreay with the best salesmanship of the entire evening with his knee (and later in the match shoulder/arm). KUSHIDA was picking him apart early, but the focus on the knee made so much sense considering Ospreay’s aerial strategy. Willie O. threw in a limp, or an extra little hop, at just the right moments. KUSHIDA showed in this match that his technical skills are underappreciated, or at least overshadowed by his high-flying capabilities.

These two were hitting everything they had, and THEN SOME, on each other. Ospreay’s reverse frankensteiner on the apron was probably the nastiest looking move of the match, but the ESSEX DESTROYER (a flipping DDT) just added to how much it looked like KUSHIDA could’ve had a concussion. A lot of people probably think this one isn’t going to be as hard-hitting since both dudes are known to fly, but they were like flying hosses tonight.

KUSHIDA hit a SUPER Back 2 the Future, and then rolled into another Back 2 the Future, for the win. You knew as soon as it hit that the match, and tournament was sealed, but it’s because the moves seemed THAT damaging. I couldn’t be more impressed by both of these wrestlers, especially on such a stacked card.

Fun little speech, ceremony, and celebration for KUSHIDA. The crowd was loving it.


Top 3 Stars of BOSJ 24 Finals

  • * KUSHIDA: The winner of the tournament, and just overall one of the best wrestlers in the world. He’s come a long way from carrying Alex Shelley around on his back, and I never tire of seeing him do well.
  • ** Will Ospreay: The guy who blows minds. I love that he can play the heel even while doing all of his insane “flippy” maneuvers.
  • *** Kenny Omega: New shirt, took the victory over OKADA, and just looked like he was having a good time while pal’n around with Marty Scurll.

–Jeff

NJPW – Wrestle Kingdom 11