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NJPW Best of the Super Jr. 24 match recommendations (Nights 7-13)

New Japan Pro Wrestling

It’s Best of the Super Jr. time, so that means it’s time for me to take my match recommendations format to tournament mode! We’re going to be in and out on these, folks, in the hopes of getting the block stage of BOSJ covered in two posts, and you can check out the first one right here.

But as always, I've got a very simple five point scale laid out where a 1 is total skip, 2 you can probably skip unless you love one of the folks in it, 3 is a match that's worth watching but not necessarily worth making time for, a 4 is a solid recommendation to make time for if you can, and a 5 is a must-watch.

Mind you, these are not star ratings. They're not meant to be absolute ratings in any sense, but rather a simple (and hopefully sensible) way to determine if a match is worth your time. A one is not necessarily a bad match, but rather just one I feel like you're best off skipping. I have my biases, of course, but hopefully I can make it easy for you to adjust for them.

On with the shows!


Tiger Mask IV vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (1): Kanemaru sticking to the Suzuki-gun formula here, jumping Tiger Dad early proceeding to beat the crap out of him. Tiger keeps his fire going but it's just not quite enough to save this one.

El Desperado vs. Volador, Jr. (2): And here we see the Suzuki-gun formula executed by someone who can bring a bit of excitement to the proceedings. It's still not exactly great, but it has a bit more life to it, and Volador brings a nice comeback run into the mix, even with a bit of weirdness late where Desperado hits a spinebuster and sells what I think was meant to be a counter DDT that didn't quite happen.

BUSHI vs. Ryusuke Taguchi (4): Taguchi's butt stuff meets BUSHI's Ingobernable ways early and Annoying Butt Man buckles down and fights back hard. A good match made better by the way BUSHI is smart to all the butt stuff and takes time to try and damage the Funky Weapon to pre-emptively cut a comeback off.

ACH vs. KUSHIDA (5): Pyrotechnics early give way to KUSHIDA working on the arm. ACH returns the grappling and pulls ahead as the temperature heats up. Some really epic stuff in here-- KUSHIDA busts out what is effectively a moonsault armbar, ACH counters a cross armbar in the ropes with a deadlift avalanche powerbomb(!), it's a good time. Really wish it had been on a show with the full production treatment, though.

May 26

Marty Scurll vs. Taichi (1): Hey, Marty flips the script and gets to be the one taking the beatdown to a Suzuki-gun dude! It's not nearly enough, but it's something. Still, this match is very much full of Taichi doing Taichi things, pass.

Jushin Liger vs. Ricochet (3): Like all of Liger's matches this BOSJ, this one is built around him doing his damnedest to hang with these kids only to fall short, and this is a fine example of that, even if maybe it doesn't quite rise to the heights I was hoping for when I started in on it.

Hiromu Takahashi vs. TAKA Michinoku (4): Some good shenanigans early, with TAKA "injuring" his leg on a leapfrog, which turns out to be a ruse to get Hiromu in a position where he can be taken outside for a beating. He keeps it interesting out there, too, with a ringpost figure four leglock to try and destroy the champion's base. Also enjoyed that once Hiromu had an opening he just went for flash pin after flash pin because of how much Michinoku had beat him up. Good match.

Dragon Lee vs. Will Ospreay (5): This is, as expected, all kinds of wacky. Early pyrotechnics give way to Will stretching Dragon in the ring following a wicked forearm and a shooting star press off the apron, but Lee has plenty of gas left in the tank and nails Ospreay with bomb after bomb and it just keeps going from there. The flippy shit hoot of the season, folks, don't miss it.

May 27

ACH vs. El Desperado (4): ACH has been watching the tournament and has the initial attack scouted, which is nice. But Desperado is wily and gets things his way eventually and goes to town on ACH's knee. From there, ACH has to grit his teeth and fight through the pain and it all adds up to a good match that's worth watching.

BUSHI vs. Volador, Jr. (4): One of the things that's disappointed me here in this year's BOSJ is that Volador hasn't really had a chance to shine, spending rather more time getting his ass kicked by the likes of Tiger Dad and Kanemaru than he has really getting an opportunity to do his thing, but here, he gets a decent amount of the match against a game opponent. Not gonna set your world on fire, but good stuff.

Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Tiger Mask IV (2): There are a lot of standoffs in this. Anyway, once the match really gets going it's all about Tiger Dad taking the Funky Weapon's arm apart and Taguchi trying to make a comeback any way he can. Pleasant work from two vets, but nothing you haven't seen before.

KUSHIDA vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (3): Standard Suzuki-gun formula stuff early, but KUSHIDA injects a bit of life into it. Once the match breaks past those first steps, it's never great, but it has its moments, like KUSHIDA reversing the diving DDT into an Air Raid Crash.

May 28

Ricochet vs. TAKA Michinoku (3): Good classical matchup here, TAKA cutting corners to get ahead and Ricochet pushing back whenever he can. Nothing too special but it gets in and out quickly and it's not a bad time at all.

Dragon Lee vs. Jushin Liger (4): Another entry in the "Liger tries to keep up with the kids" collection. Lee has Liger outpaced early on, but the wily vet catches him with a Shotei on the apron and is able to take a lead from there, but nothing he can do is capable of putting the CMLL star away. And, in a nice touch, after hitting the Tree of Woe double stomp, he hit a followup diving double stomp, just to show how shook Liger's comeback left him. Good stuff.

Taichi vs. Will Ospreay (2): Again, the formula takes hold, attack and beatdown and the match is pretty thoroughly average for the most part. I will give it a slight bump because it had good drama in the finishing stretch, though, with Suzuki-gun yanking Red Shoes and Taichi nailing a relatively well-timed superkick to counter OsCutter. A pass for sure unless you love Will or are feeling like a completionist all the same, however.

Hiromu Takahashi vs. Marty Scurll (3): Things are pretty even-handed until Hiromu goes for the sunset flip to the outside and Marty does his wobble, creating an opening and turning the tide. From there it ends up more even-handed, with the momentum swinging back and forth, and I'm gonna take this moment to note how crazy over Marty is in Japan. Folks everywhere making with the "Marty!" and the "Woop! Woop!", it's incredible. Anyway, I wasn't super into this, but I'm also not super into Marty in general, so if you're a fan, maybe it'll go down better for you.

May 29

El Desperado vs. Tiger Mask IV (4): Tiger Dad jumped out the gates, Suzuki-gun formula in full effect, but Desperado distinguishes it a bit by burying him in the front row and going after his leg with a chair. I really can't overstate how much him having a PLAN in these rather than just doing five minutes of meandering beatdown helps the proceedings. Anyway, Tiger fights through the pain, and through several comebacks and a ref bump manages to do the deal. Really dug this one.

BUSHI vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (3): And once again, the formula takes hold, but they take things into the stands at Korakuen here, which is fun. BUSHI hits a crossbody off one of the entryways! After the hot start it kind of settles down, but BUSHI goes hard enough and there are hot enough nearfalls that I can't pan it. Solid match.

ACH vs. Volador, Jr. (4): Volador shading heel a little here, which is interesting. Anyway, this one is dive-tastic, lots of cool stuff here and definitely worth a look if only because it's one of the only matches thus far where Volador doesn't spend most of the match getting beat up.

KUSHIDA vs. Ryusuke Taguchi (5): Taguchi comes to this one serious, game to beat KUSHIDA at his own game on the mat, but he's outpaced. KUSHIDA at one point throws a butt bump, however, and that lights a fire under the Funky Weapon, only for him to get caught by an armbar off a diving butt strike! From there it becomes a battle of who snaps first, as KUSHIDA goes after the arm and Taguchi the leg, a desperate struggle for victory with some incredible exchanges. Watch it!

May 31

Jushin Liger vs. Taichi (5): Three guesses how this one goes and the first two don't count, folks! But make no mistake, the story of Liger going winless and struggling against not just Taichi, but the full underhanded might of Suzuki-gun's junior crew makes for a pretty compelling match despite Taichi's weaknesses and how played-out the formula is. Especially when he starts busting out the scissors and cutting Jushin's gear up!

Dragon Lee vs. TAKA Michinoku (3): Again, TAKA applies the strategy he used against Ospreay, choking Lee out with the Just Facelock on the outside and trying to end things early. But Dragon inevitably gets loose and turns the heat up in a big way. Not essential, but some good stuff in here.

Marty Scurll vs. Ricochet (4): Marty looking for the cheap early advantage but Ricochet is able to stay right in it. A bit of Grapple Marty with a nice sequence built around a rolling Romero Special, but the match gets pretty excessive after that (including Ricochet dodging the "Just kidding!" low superkick by doing a front flip over it) so take that into consideration as you decide whether you're gonna check this one out. I enjoyed it more than I didn't, though.

Hiromu Takahashi vs. Will Ospreay (5): Violent from the jump, slugging it out, a good mix of brutality and pyrotechnics. Hiromu settles on Will's leg after a bit, putting the Aerial Assassin through screaming agony. Ospreay struggles through the pain, limping, fighting, busting every trick in his book out to counter the champion and take the win and with it, the block.

June 1

El Desperado vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (2): Fortunately, unlike TAKA and Taichi, these two got into it right away and played the match straight. Not to say that there weren't plenty of shenanigans (the other two Suzuki-gun juniors play almost as big a part of the match as the two men actually in it), but it wasn't nearly as goofy as I feared.

ACH vs. Ryusuke Taguchi (4): ACH indulging in his mean streak here, with several low blows early on, including his trademark "What's that?" chop to the gentleman's area. As well, he tries to steal the Funky Weapon's butt offense, and immediately pays for it as Taguchi snaps serious and starts dismantling his butt. I was set and ready to pan this given the goofy start, but it really heated up into something great.

BUSHI vs. Tiger Mask IV (3): Tiger Dad going hard, looking to end it ASAP, but BUSHI's Ingobernable ways put a stop to that and turn things around after a trip outside. Pretty standard fare for the most part, but there's a really excellent guillotine choke sequence where it seems like Tiger has it won only for BUSHI to just barely get his toe on the ropes.

KUSHIDA vs. Volador, Jr. (5): Fittingly, the last match of the block phase of BOSJ is among the best. Fast-paced, evenly matched, exciting stuff from two men who always work well together. And with our finals set for Ospreay/KUSHIDA, that should be a good time, especially if it's more like their Invasion Attack match than their Dominion match.


Perhaps my expectations were extraordinarily low, but I feel like this year's BOSJ largely exceeded them. While absolute instant classics were fairly thin on the ground, especially given how stacked the field was, it’s been an enjoyable tournament, aside from Suzuki-gun doubling down so hard on their formula, leaving it stale almost immediately. And even there, Desperado executed them well enough for the most part that it's not quite as bad as it seems at first glance.

I'd like to give a special shout-out to Jushin Liger's run here, too. A lot of folks seem disappointed he didn't have an epic last stand of a run in what he's said is his last BOSJ, and while that would have been no doubt awesome, the story they told was also really good. He came out hot against TAKA in his first match and got caught, which happens to the best of 'em. He went super hard against Hiromu and still failed, and that visibly took a step out of him for the rest of the tournament, leaving him just a hair slower, just a tick easier to get one over on. Really masterful physical storytelling from one of the greats.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to toss in your two cents below, Cagesiders.

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