What You Need To Know Going Into New Japan’s Best Of The Super Juniors 25


Every year between Wrestling Dontaku and Dominion, New Japan Pro Wrestling has one of its most exciting events: the Best of the Super Juniors tournament. BOSJ gained a lot of attention in 2016 when gifs from Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay went viral and sparked discussion about the state of pro wrestling, and just how many flips is too many flips for good art.

From May 18 to June 4 this year, sixteen of the best junior heavyweights/cruiserweights/relatively small wrestlers, whatever you want to call them, will compete in the 25th iteration of this tournament, and if the lineup and already ongoing feuds are anything to go by, it’s going to be awesome.

How Best Of The Super Juniors Works


The Best of the Super Juniors wrestlers are divided into two blocks, A and B. They compete round-robin style against the others in their blocks in 30-minute time limit matches. A win is worth two points, a draw is worth one, and a loss is worth zero. The two top scorers in each block advance to the semi-finals, at which point BOSJ becomes single elimination. The tournament winner, if he’s not already the champion, gets an IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship title shot and a heck of a lot of prestige. Past winners include Jushin Thunder Liger (three times), Pegasus Kid, Tiger Mask IV (twice), Black Tiger II, Kota Ibushi, Prince Devitt (twice), and Ricochet.

Who Are The Super Juniors This Year?

Just like last year, they’re an exciting bunch, with a range of wrestling styles, backgrounds, and personas.


Tiger Mask IV, ACH, Flip Gordon, Will Ospreay


Yoh, Taiji Ishimori, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Bushi

In A Block, we have twenty-three year vet Tiger Mask IV, the only wrestler ever to win two consecutive Best of the Super Junior tournaments… although that was back in 2004-5. These days we mostly see him beating up Young Lions in opening tag matches.

After some epic bouts for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles, the junior tag teams from factions Chaos, Los Ingobernables de Japon, and Suzukigun will get opportunities for singles action here in BOSJ. Roppongi 3K’s Yoh will have his first singles matches since he returned from excursion in October 2017. Bushi and Yoshinobu Kanemaru will finally get the one-on-one payoff to their section of the LIJ vs. Suzukigun feud.

Two American wrestlers, ACH and Flip Gordon, are also interesting additions to this block. ACH has spent his career in the indies, ROH, Pro Wrestling NOAH, and recently in Impact, and has wrestled in NJPW Junior Heavyweight tournaments before. Notably, he has experience tagging with and competing against Ishimori in several promotions. Gordon is currently in ROH, appears at just about every indie you can think of, and frequently appears on Being The Elite. He made his NJPW debut at this year’s Honor Rising to positive reception, and it’s no surprise to see him show up here.

One of the most exciting and surprising entrants in BOSJ 25 is Taiji Ishimori. He’s best known for his work in Pro Wrestling NOAH and recently in Impact Wrestling, but Ishimori has wrestled in New Japan before. (The NJPW audience last saw him most tag with ACH in the 2016 Super Junior Tag Tournament.) Given that history, it may not seem like his arrival in NJPW is a crazy thing at all, but IT ACTUALLY IS, because ISHIMORI IS BONE SOLDIER NOW.

In an intergalactic improvement from the original Bone Soldier, Taiji Ishimori has donned the skull mask (or he did for about 30 seconds before that REVEAL) and is ready to mess up IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay. This is a smart strategic move for Bullet Club (possibly the only one they’ve made since before Wrestle Kingdom) since their only junior, Marty Scurll, lost to the champ recently.

But equally or more importantly, check out the abs on the man who has been repeatedly and aggressively described as a “beautiful specimen” by his… advocate? Tama Tonga:

How on earth is Will Opsreay supposed to compete with that? With wrestling? We’ll find out on the first freakin’ night of the tournament, and the hype is real.


Kushida, Ryusuke Taguchi, Chris Sabin, Dragon Lee


Sho, Marty Scurll, El Desperado, Hiromu Takahashi

B Block features 2015 and 2017 BOSJ winner Kushida, who recently failed to regain the Junior Heavyweight Championship after an epic bout with Ospreay at Wrestling Dontaku. Winning this year would help cement the former Time Splitter’s legacy as one of New Japan’s great juniors, tying records set by Liger and Tiger Mask IV.

Rysuke Taguchi, another former tournament winner, should provide some comic relief, and, of course, a lot of butt action. Chris Sabin, best known for his work in TNA and ROH, will bring some variety.

Roppongi 3K’s Sho and Bullet Club’s Villain Marty Scurll could both use BOSJ to capitalize on momentum and go interesting places with their characters. Scurll recently lost singles championship matches with Ospreay (in NJPW) and Dalton Castle (in ROH), but won the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championships with the Young Bucks on the first night of Dontaku. He presumably also has beef with Rey Mysterio after stealing his mask at Strong Style Evolved, and Mysterio will be facing a mystery partner at Dominion.

Sho gained the catchphrase “Sho Time” from his tendency to just go HAM and spear and German the living crap out of people in R3K tag matches. He also started down the path to a darker Sho-timeline on the Road to Dontaku when he snatched Iizuka’s Iron Fingers and brutally IRON FINGERED THE IRON FINGERER, seemingly became traumatized by this experience, and has now vowed to NEVER AGAIN let the Iron Fingers be used on anyone. I’m not entirely sure how this will translate to his BOSJ performance, but he’s a very talented wrestler and I’m excited to see where it goes.

It looked like Dragon Lee might not make it to BOSJ this year after he suffered an injury at a CMLL show, but fortunately he was able to make it. I can’t wait for he and Hiromu Takahashi to be within chopping distance of each other again. El Desperado is also in something of an insane blood feud with Takahashi right now, and the singles match payoff is much anticipated.

As the last paragraph might lead you to believe, the undisputed star of B Block is the Ticking Time Bomb himself, Hiromu Takahashi. Hiromu is an incredible wrestler and a really fun character, and his creativity really gets a chance to shine in Best of the Super Juniors. Last year he made a book about all the competitors:

This year he was driven to mania just trying to guess which block he’d be in. Once he found out, he immediately declared himself the embodiment of B Block.

Takahashi has also looked like a huge star lately, despite losing that tag championship match. He’s a favorite to win, or at least make it to the finals, by people being smarky and looking at booking, rooting for their fave, or doing a mixture of both.

Whether you’re a hardcore or casual NJPW fan, or you’ve never watched New Japan before and are looking to try something different , this year’s BOSJ should be a great watch. You can watch Best of the Super Juniors 25 on New Japan World, NJPW’s streaming service. The opening show of the tournament on May 18 will be free to non-subscribers. With Spandex will provide more in-depth tournament coverage as it goes on via the Best And Worst Of NJPW column.