New Japan Pro Wrestling‘s junior heavyweight division experienced a major shake-up when CMLL’s Dragon Lee won its championship from Taiji Ishimori in a triple threat at the G1 Supercard, and it could experience a few more in the next month with Ishimori and Lee scheduled for a one-on-one rematch and Shingo Takagi and Bushi challenging Roppongi 3K for the division’s tag titles. May is when NJPW’s juniors will really get to shine, though, when the annual Best of the Super Juniors tournament puts them in the spotlight for about a month.
NJPW said that the Best of the Super Juniors blocks would be announced on April 23 seems to have revealed the competitors about two weeks early through their LINE account. This was pointed out in a tweet that has since been deleted from a Twitter user who requested not to be named in this article. However, this person did provide With Spandex with a screenshot of the graphic, which you can view here.
According to the graphic in this ticket sale announcement, BOSJ 26’s lineup will be:
- El Desperado
- Yoshinobu Kanemaru
- Tiger Mask
- Ryusuke Taguchi
- ROH’s Flip Gordon
- ROH’s Bandido
- ROH’s Marty Scurll
- ROH’s Jonathan Gresham
- Shingo Takagi
- Will Ospreay
- Robbie Eagles
- Taiji Ishimori
- Yoh, currently one half of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions
- Sho, also currently one half of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions
- Rocky Romero
- CMLL’s Dragon Lee, the current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion
- CMLL’s Titán
- Taka Michinoku
While all of these wrestlers seem like probable BOSJ entrants this year (provided Scurll doesn’t join his dead friends in AEW before then), there are reasons to think this lineup might not be entirely accurate. First, with its two-block round-robin tournament format, Best of the Super Juniors requires an event number of competitors and the poster shows nineteen wrestlers. The twentieth could easily be El Phantasmo, who was teased (not by name, but fans familiar with him could clearly tell who it was) in vignettes for a new member of the Bullet Club, and is set to debut as “X,” a mystery partner for Ishimori, on May 4.
Another possible BOSJ entrant, depending on your theories, is last year’s tournament winner, Hiromu Takahashi. Takahashi has been out of the ring due to a neck injury sustained in July 2018, but whose imminent return was teased when his arch-rival, Lee, won the title the Ticking Time Bomb had to vacate. There’s no way to know for sure when Takahashi will return to the ring, but with Lee and Ishimori’s title match the main event of the May 3 Wrestling Dontaku show, it seems like it could be soon, and that could affect Best of the Super Juniors 26.