It’s getting to be that time again, and New Japan Pro Wrestling have announced the field for Best of the Super Jr. 26. This year’s tournament boasts an increase from the usual field of sixteen to twenty of the finest junior heavyweight wrestlers in the world, including a couple of first timers who are just out of this world. The block structure hasn’t been announced yet, but let’s not let that stop us from listing ‘em out and breaking ‘em down, shall we?
- Bandido (Participating in his first BOSJ)
- BUSHI (Participating in his seventh BOSJ, representing Los Ingobernables de Japon)
- Dragon Lee (Participating in his third BOSJ, the reigning IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion)
- El Desperado (Participating in his fourth BOSJ, representing Suzuki-gun)
- Flip Gordon (Participating in his second BOSJ)
- Jonathan Gresham (Participating in his first BOSJ)
- Marty Scurll (Participating in his third BOSJ, representing Bullet Club)
- Robbie Eagles (Participating in his first BOSJ, representing Bullet Club)
- Rocky Romero (Participating in his seventh BOSJ, representing Chaos)
- Ryusuke Taguchi (Participating in his sixteenth BOSJ, and the winner of the 2012 tournament)
- Shingo Takagi (Participating in his first BOSJ, representing Los Ingobernables de Japon)
- SHO (Participating in his second BOSJ, representing Chaos)
- Taiji Ishimori (Participating in his third BOSJ, he was a semifinalist in 2010, representing Bullet Club)
- TAKA Michinoku (Participating in his seventh BOSJ, representing Suzuki-gun)
- Tiger Mask IV (Participating in his eighteenth BOSJ, and a two-time winner, in 2004 and 2005)
- Titan (Participating in his second BOSJ)
- Will Ospreay (Participating in his fourth BOSJ, representing Chaos, and the winner of the 2016 tournament)
- X (Participating in his first BOSJ)
- YOH (Participating in his second BOSJ, representing Chaos)
- Yoshinobu Kanemaru (Participating in his third BOSJ, representing Suzuki-gun)
So, what a talented batch of new guys, eh?
Jonathan Gresham is the one I’m most excited to see get a real shot in New Japan. If you’re not familiar, Gresh is a real best-in-the-world-level technical wrestler who’s equally at home in the air and throwing strikes, and with KUSHIDA off to WWE, he should slide right into that same kind of niche this year.
Coming up right behind the Octopus for me is Shingo Takagi, who we’ve had in New Japan for about six months now but mostly as a tag partner for BUSHI. And as much as I’ve enjoyed the tag division over that time span, I cannot wait for Shingo to be able to sink his fangs into a month’s worth of singles matches.
Of course I wouldn’t want to leave Bandido or Robbie Eagles out of the hype, would I? Exceptionally talented, they bring international flavor and should round out our expanded field quite nicely.
And then there’s X.
Again, this is just the Japanese equivalent of “???” or “luchador sorpresa”, and past clues leading to the tag match he’ll also be in at Wrestling Dontaku point to El Phantasmo, but until that tag team match happens, we won’t know for sure.
Other than the field is prettymuch as expected with one big exception— Will Ospreay’s dipping back down after a few months competing for the NEVER. While I wouldn’t assume the Aerial Assassin is making a full-time return to the junior heavyweight division, his presence in BOSJ is always welcome and could serve to make this year’s tournament quite special.
There you have it, folks
What’s your wishlist for block allocation look like with this hype field of dudes, Cagesiders?