It's been a whirlwind few weeks, and featured one of the more talked about non-WWE matches in recent memory, as Will Ospreay and Ricochet's showing from New Japan's 23rd Best of the Super Juniors (BOSJ) tournament became the focus of a debate on what pro wrestling is, and could or should be.
Action in the tournament's two blocks began on May 21 and - as you'd expect from a worked event - the finals weren't determined until the last day.
In A Block, Rocky Romero defeated many people's pick to at least reach the last match, Ring of Honor's Kyle O'Reilly, to deny him a spot. Matt Sydal beat someone who never stood a chance but who opened a lot of eyes in BOSJ, David Finlay (son of Fit). The former Evan Borne had a chance to represent in the finals, but a win by Ryusuke Taguchi nixed that, and 2012 winner Taguchi advanced after Los Ingobernables' BUSHI cheated his way to a win over IWGP Junior Heavyweight champ KUSHIDA.
On the other side, the story was about Ospreay. He came from behind in the standings, and with help from a Chase Owens upset of Ricochet, defeated Volador Jr. to win Block B.
Here's a chart running down BOSJ XXIII, courtesy of Thauros on Twitter:
Earlier this morning, New Japan continued to back Ospreay in a big way, as he defeated Taguchi to become the youngest man to ever win BOSJ at the age of 23. The Brit will now challenge KUSHIDA for his belt at the Dominion pay-per-view (PPV) in just under two weeks on June 19 in Osaka.
「アリガトウ！」オスプレイが田口に“劇的勝利”で「SUPER Jr.」初出場＆初優勝！そして KUSHIDAに挑戦状！— 新日本プロレスリング株式会社 (@njpw1972) June 7, 2016
6.7仙台をスマホサイト(https://t.co/7xh3nqaLQZ)で独占詳報中！ #njbosj pic.twitter.com/kyPg1ZMcQT
That'll be a rematch of another praised-yet-divisive Ospreay match, as he came up short trying to take the title from KUSHIDA back at April's Invasion Attack.
Love him or hate him, you can't say New Japan isn't trying to make new stars in the wake of the exodus of guys like AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura to WWE earlier this year. The aerial assassin Ospreay is poised to join IWGP Heavyweight champ Tetsuya Naito and new Bullet Club leader and IWGP Intercontinental titleholder Kenny Omega as the top of a card which looks very different from a year ago.
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