The Best And Worst Of NJPW: Best Of The Super Jr. 25, Part 1


Previously on NJPW: Okada ace-clipsed Tanahashi, Cody got stuck in a table, and Will Ospreay got jumped by a sexy skeleton.

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And now, the Best and Worst of Best Of The Super Juniors 25 from May 18-19, the first round of matches for Blocks A and B at Korakuen Hall.

Worst Ever: This Will Ospreay Entrance Attire


Is he a squire and also an idiot? Is he the knight they were going to send to slay the dragon before Saint George showed up, and when Saint George showed up they were like, “Oh, thank god this guy’s here because this other dude was definitely going to get fried?” Is this like a Sexy Santa thing?

Best: Of The Super Juniors 25, May 18 and 19 at Korakuen Hall

I put the gear thing at the beginning because I don’t have any other worsts for these two nights of wrestling. I liked some of the matches more than others, and some of the opening tags were just okay, but those matches weren’t really important, so this installment of this column is going to be positive as HECK.

If this is your first BOSJ and you’re not sure how it works, check out our preview article here. Something I didn’t mention there was the absence of the usual barricades at these shows, which is to make extra room for dives. Because there’s going to be a lot of dives!

These two shows kicked off the first, round robin portion of the tournament. In this section, on the A Block tourney match day, the B Block wrestlers compete in the opening tag matches (the first four out of eight matches on the card), and vice versa. Not every show will air live on New Japan World, but the unaired tourney matches will be put up later. (The ones from the 20th and their post-match comments are already there.) You can keep up with the points gained in the matches we won’t be able to see until later here.

The True Heel Was Alcoholism All Along


Our first tournament match is a battle of the mean uncles, Tiger Mask vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru. This was the slowest paced and least athletically impressive match of both nights by far, but it was still good and enjoyable.

The biggest and craziest moment was Kanemaru bodyslamming a Young Lion ONTO Tiger Mask outside of the ring, then getting back in the ring and THROWING Narita at both Tiger Mask and this poor kid. Does Suzukigun workshop this stuff together? Do they have a scoreboard for the most creative ways they’ve hurt Young Lions in that dark garage where they hang out?

Tiger Mask, after picking up the win with a smart clutch hold win out of a superplex, says backstage that while the high fliers focus on “jumping around,” he’ll focus on winning. This… might actually pick up some Ws for him, because some of these A Block dudes are kind of dumb showboats.

He Can Do Flips, But Can He Baka Them Up?


Speaking of Flip Gordon, it’s pretty great that he made “All In” his nickname for this tournament. I will give him that. However, Gordon is one of those dudes it’s almost impossible for me to get behind as a babyface because he (the wrestling character!) seems like such a douche. Part of that is those headshots that highlight his extremely groomed eyebrows, and part of it is “Flip Army.”

Flip’s whole gimmick, besides having limbs made of Silly Putty, is how he’s a troop, but he’s only in the National Guard. I’ve known a bunch of people in the National Guard, and none of them have been this hyped about it. I’ve met ex-Marines less into being Marines than Flip Gordon is into being in the National Guard.

ACH is a much more well-rounded wrestler and also a huge otaku. How much do you think Miz’s much higher profile Naruto headband is killing him inside? I think it’s a lot.

There was something very try-hard about both Gordon and ACH in this match. There was an element where it felt like they were both play-acting strong style passion without actually feeling it. That being said, it was still good. Flip’s athleticism is impressive, but the way he shows it off makes it fun to see ACH just chop the heck out of him. And congrats to Flip on being the first person in this year’s BOSJ to go all the way up to the Korakuen orange seats!


Gordon is up against Kanemaru next, so of course his May 19 tag match is against Kanemaru and a tag team partner from Suzukigun. And while all the other juniors just brought the jobbingest guys from their factions (except L.I.J., who doesn’t have any), El Desperado and Kanemaru are tagging with MINORU SUZUKI. The difference between wrestling Yoshi Hashi or Henare the day before a big match and wrestling Suzuki is the different between catching the common cold now and getting cholera in Oregon Trail. I’m starting to think Suzukigun might really be ichiban.

Lunatic Fringe

Yoh vs. Bushi was an incredible match for wrestling fashion. Yoh’s new singles gear is very shiny, pretty, confusing, and makes him look like a tube of Colgate toothpaste. Those bands look like they’re cutting off circulation in his arms. Bushi wore half a mask over his entrance mask over his regular wrestling mask, as well as a hat and a full suit.

Bushi, usually a tweener, worked fully heel this match, to the point where we didn’t get to see a lot of his cooler moves. Yoh got in much more normal offense, but he didn’t look particularly strong. He was extremely susceptible to chops, and his new finisher, the Five Star Clutch, just looked like a smart adjustment flash pin to me until he declared it his new finisher backstage. This isn’t a criticism of Yoh as a wrestler, who I think did a great job, but it’s an interesting direction for his character, especially compared to what’s going on with his Roppongi 3K counterpart in B Block.

Body Guy Heat

Sho vs. Dragon Lee was one of the most fun matches of both nights. Sho has gone for the cool jock look with his singles gear and it shows off his physique, while fan favorite CMLL guest Dragon Lee has about sixteen individually packaged abs. They have immediate chemistry that’s the definition of “body guy heat” when they meet in their preview tag match on May 18.


Their singles match is immediately established as a TOUGH MUSCLE GUY BATTLE with those shoulder tackle no-sells. The crowd gets super hot super quickly, and it helps take the match to the next level. With that epic test of strength and that slugfest, we get to see a side of Sho we haven’t seen in R3K matches. He takes full advantage of not looking like (or being billed as) a relatively small dude on the card.

Both Sho and Lee come out of this very competitive match looking great, with the Lee an important guest star for this tournament, and Sho, no matter his W/L record here, a big star for New Japan’s future.

Shelleys Of Their Former Selves?

B Block also saw two former tourney winners start BOSJ 25 off on the wrong foot, with both Taguchi and Kushida losing their first matches.

We saw Business Taguchi return during his opening tag at Dontaku, but it is very much #69 Uncle Creepy who showed up to BOSJ. Taguchi Japan lost four out of four championship matches on the Dontaku tour, he’s not at his fighting weight (though he lost 4kg overnight,) and his shoes are too tight. Coach is not in a great place, but he’s still not an easy win for El Desperado.


This was a fun comedy match that benefited from the still super hot crowd from Sho vs. Lee. It combined actual good wrestling with Desperado ruthlessly targeting the Funky Weapon itself, first with the above chair shot, then by trying to LITERALLY STAB TAGUCHI IN THE BUTTHOLE.

Chris Sabin later then defeated Kushida in a much more dignified, technically excellent wrestling match. Where Ospreay was a very stylistically different opponent, this match sees Kushida go at it with much more similar grappler.

Sabin currently tags with Alex Shelley, Kushida’s former fellow Time Splitter, in the Motor City Machine Guns, and all three men trained together (shoot and kayfabe) in Canada. For some reason, this really seems to psych out Kushida, especially after the loss. He points out that he knows Sabin better than anyone else in this tournament does, which could mean this is the start of a winning streak for Sabin or a losing one for Kushida.

Will Ospreay Gets Boned

A Block’s first main event, Will Ospreay vs. Taiji Ishimori, absolutely lived up to the hype. Ospreay started the match hot with dropkicks, strikes, and that crazy run/jump up to the second level of seats and subsequent flip off of it.

But while Ospreay is the Aerial Assassin, Ishimori actually had the air of an assassin. This tiny muscleman killer displayed a great mix of tactical efficiency and heel arrogance. The neck twist looked brutal! And then he had about a million other super cool moves!

There were multiple sequences that showed off both men’s athleticism and presence of mind as competitors. I also liked that Ospreay hit Ishimori, whose new finisher is called the Bloody Cross after Prince Devitt’s Bloody Sunday, with his own Devitt-tribute Reverse Bloody Sunday that he breaks out every once in a while.

The victorious and super over Bone Soldier gives speech that shows off his Character Choices. The crazy eyes, the deranged mugging at the camera, the staggering around, and the so many finger guns made me even more excited to have his guy around.

I love how immediately dedicated he is to Bullet Club! It has completely changed his life, personality, and fashion sense. He only acknowledges people in BC gear and those Two Sweeting in the audience. The “Bone Solider… reborn!” catchphrase adds to the I Just Joined A Cult And I’m Loving It vibe. I think Tama locked him in a room for a couple days and made him watch tape of Devitt and the Core Four over and over to make sure he was fully indoctrinated.


His tag match with Chase Owens against Sanada and Bushi was the least skippable of all the undercard tag matches so far too. Chase is once again on the case of tagging with/integrating into Bullet Club a very beautiful Japanese man (see also: his tagging with Ibushi during New Japan Cup.) Owens delivers on the loveable loser front here when he goes up against Sanada, tries to put in him the Paradise Lock, tries to get advice from color commentator and noted Paradise Lock expert Milano… and still can’t do it. We also get some fun, faction-typical tag team action from both L.I.J. and BC.

Bad Brains Vs. Bird Brain

Even before this main event, Hiromu Takahashi was the MVP of BOSJ. He has been hyping it up in promos longer than anyone else this year, and he debuted his strategy scrapbook (this time with homemade subtitles!) on Twitter. He’s OBSESSED with winning this tournament, and when Hiromu gets passionate about anything it’s so infectious we should probably all get tested just in case.

The singles match, for which the crowd is hyped, starts with fun character stuff (Hiromu referring to his strategy book, pysching Marty out by stealing the bird taunt and pretending to lick up his body, etc.) Marty gets in a lot of offense out of the ring, focusing on the little things as is his style. It’s kind of a weird vibe because Hiromu’s recent matches have been so much more faster paced, but it helps establish him as the Main Hero Of B Block (in contrast to Ishimori’s Main Villain Of A Block.)

The pace picks up when Hiromu starts to get his offense in (That diving senton! That powerbomb!), and he picks up the win with a new finisher: straight up choking Marty out with a triangle. He laughs crazily on the ground and doesn’t release the hold for a while, because, oh yeah, he’s not just loveable crazy, he’s also scary violent crazy.

The Ticking Time Bomb gets on the mic and says he’s going to make BOSJ better than the G1 this year. He urges the other junior heavyweights to help him, because he really loves the whole division. But in a very Lemmy with rabbits way where they should all be terrified to get in the ring with him.