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NJPW Best of the Super Jr. 25 match recommendations: Nights 5-8

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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.

Night 5 (May 24, A Block)

BUSHI vs. Tiger Mask IV (3): BUSHI, as is his wont, takes the fight to Tiger Dad early and puts boots to him on the floor. Back inside with a chair but referee Marty Asami regains control and gives Tiger a chance to get into it in his usual grumpy style. It doesn’t last, BUSHI takes control for a good long stretch of the match, a second comeback takes rather better, and we proceed inexorably to the finish.

This is a good solid match of the kind Tiger Mask is dependable for throughout BOSJ. Nothing too special, but it’s got a good vibe, good escalation and is just about worth tossing into your personal queue if you’ve got a spare fifteen minutes.

ACH vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (4): As usual, the Suzuki-gun man attacks at the jump and we get some extended beatdown on the floor to kick things off. ACH’s bad arm gives out on a cartwheel as he tries to come back into it and Kanemaru pounces, and that tells you all you need to know about how this match is going to go.

Kanemaru doesn’t really add anything special to the proceedings, but ACH’s performance alone makes this one to watch. Fantastic stuff from him here, from bridging back on his neck alone to counter a hammerlock to his epic one-armed comeback.

Flip Gordon vs. Taiji Ishimori (2): Feeling out gives way to a strike exchange before turning into high flying action after a brief trip outside, momentum winging back and forth between both men. Ishimori takes control, and the tone is set, back and forth from there, Gordon making comebacks, Taiji cutting him off, and so on.

This wasn’t a bad match by any means, but it’s a little “your move, my move” for my tastes, without a strong narrative developing, and the low production values of a mid-tourney show like this one don’t do those kinds of matches any favors.

Will Ospreay vs. YOH (4): Ospreay is dominant in the early goings, keeping YOH down but, but the relative rookie keeps his wits about him and keeps making openings until one takes, exploiting Will’s injured head and neck. This leads Ospreay to turn the heat up, back and forth, bigger spots, more escalation, Will’s neck gives out on him, YOH takes advantage and you start to think maybe this dude’s gonna put the champion away.

Suffice it to say, this isn’t quite on the level of Will’s best matches of late, but it’s still REALLY good and worth getting your eyes on for sure.

Night 6 (May 25, B Block)

Chris Sabin vs. Marty Scurll (2): Grappling is the order of the day early, quick exchanges and reversals into pinning predicaments, and even a bit of comedy before Scurll takes control for a while. Sabin back in, they go at it back and forth and this started well, but it becomes another solid match that kind of meanders along until it’s done. If you’re a big fan of either guy, definitely worth your time, otherwise it’s gonna be a pass.

KUSHIDA vs. Ryusuke Taguchi (3): Look, folks, if you stick around a while you know I absolutely love it when New Japan throw us a curve ball and do a sub five-minute sprint, and that’s exactly what happens here. When you have so many big matches going ten, fifteen, twenty minutes long (or longer!), this kinda thing is absolutely necessary to leaven the proverbial loaf.

That being said, this isn’t the most exciting example of this— it’s nowhere near as good as KUSHIDA/Hiromu from Sakura Genesis last year— but it’s still worth the five minutes if you’ve got ‘em.

El Desperado vs. SHO (4): Desperado in control early, putting a beating on SHO before taking things to the floor in true Suzuki-gun fashion. Back inside, he’s settled on the leg, wrenching and tearing, forcing a desperate Tanaka to desperate measures like tearing at his mask before eventually coming back off of a huge dropkick.

Things escalate from there, we lose track of the leg a little more than I’d like but it’s still a damn good match that’s worth setting aside some time for.

Dragon Lee vs. Hiromu Takahashi (5): Look, it’s Dragon Lee and Hiromu Takahashi, they’ve had nothing but insanely good, fast-paced, hugely innovative matches every time they’ve wrestled, go watch it. ‘Nuff said.

Night 7 (May 26, A Block)

Flip Gordon vs. Tiger Mask IV (3): Bit of lucha libre in the feeling out, Tiger Dad being a bit more generous and less grumpy today... at first. Sure enough, he’s grinding Flip down with submissions and just generally stretching him like a young boy. Gordon gets his comebacks (and his impressive athleticism) in, but all in all, this is prettymuch just your usual fine Tiger Mask BOSJ match.

ACH vs. YOH (2): Ducking and dodging in the feeling out and we get a stalemate, but soon enough ACH is in charge and working the former junior tag champion over. The bad shoulder inevitably ends up being a target, however, and a double stomp turns the tide, but either inexperience or unwillingness to fully exploit it keeps YOH from dominating as hard as some of ACH’s previous opponents in the tournament.

And so, this is a lot more of an even fight than those, and also, unfortunately, less compelling. It’s solid stuff, but in light of just how good ACH’s other matches have been thus far, I’m bumping this one down a notch and recommending it only for big fans of either man.

Taiji Ishimori vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (1): Ishimori on the offense from the jump, getting a good long control segment going until Kanemaru slips a baseball slide to the arm and takes Boner out mid-handspring. To the floor for Suzuki-gun antics, back inside for nearfalls, veteran smarts keep Taiji from coming back at first but eventually he gets back into it and we’ve got an even fight to the finish.

This one just falls flat. Two dudes from heel stables going at it is always a little iffy and while there’s nothing exactly wrong with this match, it’s simply not compelling. Pass.

BUSHI vs. Will Ospreay (4): Ospreay in control and showing off a bit to start, so of course BUSHI plays dirty to try and scrape an opening, almost immediately going for a DDT on the apron to spike Will’s injured neck into the hard edge of the ring.

So, again, a very good match built around Ospreay’s injured neck. It’s definitely a bit formulaic at this point in the tour, but they’re all a little different (here he makes his comeback a bit earlier than usual, plus BUSHI is more inclined towards cutting corners and not just straight neck work and that all breaks the pattern up) and all basically worth watching. Although this one, much like the YOH match, is just a click or two below his best work.

Night 8 (May 27, B Block)

El Desperado vs. Marty Scurll (2): Striking hot from the jump, first Scurll pulls ahead and then Desperado on the floor. Back and forth they go and while it has a hotter, more exciting start, this ends up bogged down by the same heel/heel matchup issue that bogged Ishimori/Kanemaru down. It’s a bit more compelling overall, so I’m not going to give it the hard pass, but watch accordingly, folks.

Chris Sabin vs. Dragon Lee (3): Unsurprisingly we’re right to the lucha libre in the feeling out, and they stalemate off a double dropkick sequence. A trip out and back in and Sabin’s in control, that status quo doesn’t last for too long and Lee takes flight to make his comeback. To the apron, the action really heats up with a cool twist on Dragon’s tope Frankensteiner and things proceed from there.

This isn’t a blowaway match by any means, but it heated up well enough and had some really cool counters and escalations late, so it’s worth the time if you’ve got the time.

KUSHIDA vs. SHO (4): Mat grappling to start as both dudes play to their strengths, but neither man can grab a hold for very long and seriously begin to wear the other down. KUSHIDA finally manages to pry SHO’s arm away from him for long enough to go to town, but the former tag champion knows what a tight spot he’s in and manages to get his own leg damage in, giving us a good old-fashioned grappling contest!

So, like, cards on the table, this is catnip for me. Two top-shelf grappling lads each picking a limb and going to town on each other? That’s my jam! I’m not gonna go the full must-watch, just because it IS a little niche and the single-cam, no commentary production really doesn’t do this style of wrestling any favors, but it’s very good and you should watch it.

Hiromu Takahashi vs. Ryusuke Taguchi (5): Hiromu playing hard to get in the feeling out because Taguchi really wants to end it early with Oh My & Garankle, they each counter big spots on the floor, and Takahashi pulls ahead at the end of it all. Good long control segment, Ryusuke eventually gets back in courtesy of his Funky Weapon, and Big Match Butt Man is in full effect as he starts diving around the place!

And so the match heads to its conclusion as an even fight between our valiant butt-oriented underdog babyface and the viciously intelligent assault of the man once called Kamaitachi. Shock, this is really good! Taguchi always steps up when it’s needed of him, Hiromu is Hiromu, go watch it!

There you have it, folks

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