Every year, New Japan Pro Wrestling‘s junior heavyweight division is in the spotlight for the month-long Best of the Super Juniors tournament. This year’s 26th iteration of BOSJ is its largest, featuring a record number of twenty competitors and holding the tournament final in Ryogoku Sumo Hall, a bigger and more prestigious venue than in the past.
It will also be broadcast more than any other Best of the Super Juniors tournament, with every show listed on the schedule here broadcast live on NJPW World with commentary in both Japanese and English. This is a departure from past years when some tournament shows were televised and others were live events that, in the streaming age, were uploaded to NJPW World later.
For new or old, casual or hardcore NJPW fans and fans of wrestling in general thinking about checking out this tournament, this article breaks down who is in it and what they’ll be doing from May 13 to June 5, 2019.
How Does Best Of The Super Juniors Work?
Though BOSJ 26 is on a larger scale than usual this year, the tournament works like it has in the past. Competitors – NJPW wrestlers and guests from partner promotions ROH and CMLL – are divided into two blocks, A and B. Everyone in each block wrestles each other, round-robin style, earning two points for every win, one for every draw, and zero for losses. The wrestlers who win their blocks by accumulating the most points go on to face each other in the final.
The tournament winner joins a prestigious list of BOSJ victors that includes Jushin Thunder Liger, Eddie Guerrero (as Black Tiger), and Finn Balor (as Prince Devitt), gets a big shiny trophy, and, most importantly, wins a match for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, which will take place this year at Dominion on June 9. (If the champ wins the tournament, he gets to choose his own challenger.)
Something that sets Best of the Super Juniors apart from heavyweight tournaments like the New Japan Cup and the G1 Climax is that the way venues are set up changes slightly. The usual metal barricades between the ring and the audience are removed to give high flyers more room to show off their skills. BOSJ isn’t all flips and dives but it does feature a lot of flips and dives and the lack of barricades allows wrestlers to use their environment to do them in more creative ways.
The last thing to note about the format of all of this is that the four BOSJ shows on May 22-24 at Korakuen Hall and May 26 in Chiba have cards of just ten tournament matches, five from each block, rather than the usual mix of tag matches including wrestlers about to face each other in block matches and block matches.