June 13, 2015

Best of the Super Juniors 22

Hi Fellas,
Here's a brief introduction: The Best of The Super Juniors tournament is round-robin style, so the 16 wrestlers were split into two groups (called blocks) of 8.  Each wrestler in each block wrestled every other wrestler in that block, and after that, the guy with the best win record from each block met for the final match.  The winner of that match gets a shot at the Junior Heavyweight Champion, Kenny Omega, at the next big NJPW show.  I enjoyed the tournament, I thought just about everybody in it were great, and several wrestlers really exceeded my expectations.  Here's a list of the competitors, ranked very generally from good to best (IMO) with notes on them and the tourney along the way.

"Record"s in red are from A Block, blue from B Block. 

Alex Shelley:  Injured after the first match.  Everyone in his block got a free win when he dropped out.  The same thing happened with him last year.  I'm really not into his NJPW character, but it sucks that he didn't get the opportunity to change my mind.  Record: 1-6

Mascara Dorada:  Maybe the only wrestler in the tourney who I feel like I couldn't describe.  I enjoyed his matches, but I can't remember anything about him specifically.  Weird.  Record: 5-2
Nick Jackson:  Only half of the Young Bucks in the tourney.  Seems to be going after 'X-Pac heat' with incessant, high-pitched "Suck it"s throughout each match.  Still, a fun aerial performer and there were some cool heel antics with his enforcer Cody Hall.  Record: 3-4

Tiger Mask:  Seeing this guy in singles matches only happens once a year, so I did enjoy seeing his ability to pace a match and stand on his own.  Record: 4-3

Baretta:  It's strange seeing Trent? in NJPW, because his style seems so light in comparison.  He still had some solid matches, but didn't come off as much of a threat.  Record: 4-3

Barbaro Cavernario:  For a guy with a Flintstones gimmick, he was fairly impressive and really ingratiated himself to the Japanese crowds.  I don't think they're retaining him as a regular roster guy, I think he was just brought in for the tourney.  Record: 3-4

Chase Owens:  The Crown Jewel of the NWA was one of the guys who exceeded my expectations.  I usually think the NWA guys are kind of boring or stale, or just plain suck (in the case of the inimitable Big Daddy Yum Yum), but maybe that opinion is informed by how they're generally used to facilitate lukewarm feuds with NJPW vets who need something to do.  Owens had a really good tourney, and his matches seemed to get better every night.  In the beginning, I was apathetic, but by the end I was a fan.  Record: 4-3

David Finlay:  New to New Japan, and new to most North American viewers, this is Dave "Fit" Finlay's young-looking son.  His style is very much in the vein of his Dad, which makes sense since he's been training and working in the same places (Germany, UK).  Like Owens, his matches seemed to improve every night, and I went from being curious to being a fan.  The NJPW powers-that-be were impressed too, as he was invited to join the dojo and added to the roster right after the tourney.  This kid does a Finlay roll so wham-bam, you'd never even think of calling it a rolling senton.  Record: 0-7  (Alex Shelley's only match was to beat him)

Yohei Komatsu:  The ropey-muscled rookie has been showing more and more character, and I've been enjoying his development over the past year.  I was disappointed that his frequent opponent Sho Tanaka wasn't in the tourney, but Komatsu has been standing out and deserved the extra attention.  The kid's got heart!  Record: 0-7

Rocky Romero:  I can't think of any other wrestlers who do the same spots in every match and it's always fun.  Oh, yes I can, Ric Flair.  Maybe Azucar is secretly a Nature Boy clone, and nobody's noticed yet.  Record: 4-3

Jushin Thunder Liger:  This dude is the man, I love how supportive of the younger talent he is, he really gets people over, whether they're actually going over or not.  I also saw him wrestle Dalton Castle on ROH last night.  Legend with a capital L.  Record: 4-3

Ryusuke "Funky Weapon" Taguchi:  I've never been on this guy's bandwagon, but he had some impressive outings, and made me more of a fan.  His oddball humor has grown on me too.  He seems to have abandoned his Eddie Guerrero schtick, and is now focusing more on just changing every wrestling attack move so that his butt is the striking force.  He had a lot of good matches, and almost won A Block, but lost his final match to Owens.  It was one of the most dramatic matches of the tournament, and main-evented the last show before the finals.  Record: 5-2

Gedo:  This dude always cracks me up, and the fact that he's a booker makes me admire his creativity all the more.  Since he's usually only in tag matches, it was a treat to see him work whole matches.  Record: 2-5

Bobby Fish:  Of course this dude kicked ass.  He's been wrestling in Japan for so long that you can tell he's communicating really well with his Japanese opponents, and his matches were all really fluid and cool.  Record: 5-2

Kushida:  The deserving winner of the tournament.  I was rooting for him last year, too.  He's got a great ground game, and is as quick as just about anyone with strikes and aerials.  Add in to the mix the fact that his self-confidence seems to be exploding to near-heel levels, and it's obvious he's a real star in the making.  He ruled in the ROH tour, was totally over with that crowd, and brought all the bravado back with him.  Record: 6-1 (loss to Nick Jackson)

Kyle O'Reilly:  The show-stealer of the tournament.  It was Kushida's to win, but my guess is that Kyle will be coming back to New Japan for a long time, for increasingly greater prizes.  Kelly and Corino often say "future world champ" about the guy, and following his journey has been every bit as rewarding as that prediction implies.  Record: 6-1 (loss to Taguchi)

That's a wrap!  Hope that was somewhat enlightening.  I was gonna invite you guys over for the ROH PPV next weekend, but I'll be working extra days and won't be available.  Nuts!  It would have been really fun to root for Jay Lethal with you guys. (He's in the main event for the world title versus Jay Briscoe, with Lethal's TV title also on the line.)  I'm really excited, if Lethal wins I'll go bonkers.  Tomorrow is MITB... I hope Kevin Owens wins clean over Cena again... what are the odds?  I read that Cena's only ever lost clean 10 times, and then I think it was 9 of those times he got revenge wins within a week or month or something.  Crazy. Looking forward to your preview, Poncho, so that I can have some kind of idea of what the hell is going on.  I haven't watched Raw since the Chamber.  I should go watch the Owens segments, though.  Anyway, Q M signing out

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