NJPW 「BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. XVIII ～Bring it on!～」, 5/26/11 (Thur) 18:30 @ Korakuen Hall
1.) KUSHIDA vs. Daisuke Sasaki - G: 3 B: 3
G: With a tad bit of time allotted, this match didn't exactly go places. KUSHIDA's fan following and presence in the ring in quite cool, as is his awesome hairstyle. Sasaki is a guy who I've only seen one other time and he seems rather green, but given time, I can see him going places. What we got in the small amount of time given wasn't exactly stellar, but it wasn't necessarily "bad" either. I particularly enjoyed the drop-kick spot. Not the strongest way to open the tournament, but not necessarily a bad way to do so either.
Brian: Believe this was my first look at Sasaki who'd fit in an an '80's hair metal cover band. I know karaoke is all the rage in Japan so sure Daisuke has done "Bloody Luxury" at least once. Watching a Super Jr. show while my son is running around with an Ultimo Dragon toy in his hand is surreal and wonderful. Sasaki slows it down like a guy turning on the R&B slow jams in attempt to wine, dine, and 69 their new girlfriend. I approve of both. Not the most riveting way to kick this thing off as Geo stated but better than most 2011 Raw output so I'm not complaining (yet). The finish (KUSHIDA's corkscrew moonsault he's dubbed "Midnight Express" like a true Condrey fan boy) was pretty.
2.) Taichi vs. Kenny Omega - G: 4 B: 4
G: The match went nine minutes, but what we got in those nine minutes was pretty good stuff. Omega and Taichi tore it up in that they hit their big moves, took their time, and made everything count. Taichi plays the asshole gimmick really well and comes off as a complete douche. Omega's in-ring and selling were up to snuff and looked good.
Brian: The Taichi I knew and tolerated used to wear all angelic white garb like the fallen snow on Christmas morning. Now he's got on black and a new attitude and why the hell not? Taichi chokes Kenny with a chair like Abdullah choking on a spare rib. The most dangerous thing in touring Japan isn't the physical in-ring style but the steak -- just ask David Von Erich. Kudos to Omega's selling as Geo noted as he's making it look like he's fighting for his life in there which is impressive considering Taichi's offense doesn't come off particularly devastating or anything. Omega gets his first points with the Croyt's Wrath.
3.) Mascara Dorada vs. Jushin Thunder Liger - G: 3 B: 4
G: So I will give this match one thing: Dorada is quite the impressive luchador. His movement in the ring is extremely smooth and, in my opinion, looks better than Mistico ever did. We got a crappy finish that knocked the match down a peg. Combined with the extremely short duration, it garnered this rating.
Brian: I think young Geo's underselling this one a tiny bit. Granted, it's less than 4 min. but as a showcase of the fliers (which is what BoSJ should be all about) this had a few gorgeous aerial displays. The countout finish didn't really bother me -- with nine or so nights of these shows I imagine it's difficult for a booker to develop 50+ finishes that are all unique as a snowflake.
Geo: Good point about the booking. I still really wanted to see the match go longer, though. We'll see more Dorada, though -- tonight was just a taste.
4.) Tiger Mask vs. TJP - G: 4 B: 5
G: This was fun. TJP obviously knew who he was going against as he took TM's offense well and was quite cooperative. I really wish we would've gotten some more TJP goodness as he took the brunt of TM's offense. TM's offense was fluid as always. Some decent mat wrestling from TJP complimented TM's high-flying style. Enjoyable overall.
Brian: TJP looked as slick as the oil spills in Spy Hunter. I wonder if TM IV will ever leave the mask behind in pursuit of stardom? I'm guessing not. Perkins with the neon orange and green, checkered print, and dyed tips is doing a totally radical '90's homage. Perkins' 450° splash was sweeter than anything you'd find by the Willy Wonka Candy Company. Tiger's match-ending scissored armbar looked sick as hell and just absolutley disgusting not to mention the way it was transitioned into was really cool. Great finish.
G: The scores given here (so far) are strictly due to time issues. I'm positive they would've been higher given more time, but hey, it's only night one.
5. Yuji Nagata, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Wataru Inoue vs Masato Tanaka , Yujiro Takahashi & Tetsuya Naito - B: 4 G: 4
Brian: Tanaka's forehead, yikes, looks like Ringo Starr if he'd had gotten shot in the face. Yujiro and Inoue's opening section was acceptable. Nagata tags in and stands erect like the surly old man he is. A decade ago Tenzan looked like a tank now he looks as formidable as a Razor scooter. I loved Nagata throwing kicks right into Naito's face. No denying Naito has charisma going for him but not sure why he's working in a t-shirt here as he doesn't have any unsightly bulges like Tommy Dreamer. Inoue picking up the win with the "Spear of Justice" made me do a spit-take with my dry roasted sunflower seed kernels.
Geo: That forehead has crevices Bear Grylles couldn't cross~! You set your DVR for the next season yet?! Anyway, what's with Naito wrestling with a shirt? I saw his match vs. Goto from this year and he was shirtless. Odd. His performance was pretty good, though. Tenzan is looking a bit jelly-like now, but it's all good- he still rocked it, especially the little things like arching his back after a slam. He got the crowd behind him while he was getting whipped, too. Loved Nagata coming in and spitting on his hands like a coal miner getting ready to dig into a mountain. Were Tanaka and Takahashi being dicks to the Young Lion by leaving the mat??
6. Best of the Super Jr. - Block A: Koji Kanemoto vs Fujita "Jr." Hayato - G: 6 B: 7
Geo: AWW YEAH. Hayato is a punk with a chip on his shoulder the size of Utah, and we all know Kanemoto has had to shut kids like this up before at the NJPW Dojo. Loved the stiff start, with Hayato not even letting Koj take off his ring jacket. He's such a prick, yet enjoyable to watch. Koj gave it right back, though, taming the Young Lion in a way that I'm sure PETA would not approve of. Sweet ankle lock variation by Koj, too. How would you like to get kicked in the chest so hard it hurt the guy doing it? DIZAMN! So stiff, so fun. Loved how they resorted to closed fists, too.
Brian: This was just great. These two have proven in the best they work splendidly together -- like root beer and ice cream. Right out the gate they were drilling each other and the intensity never let up. Hayato had some of the best facials of the show and I especially enjoyed him selling the own damage in his legs from kicking Kanemoto so damn hard. Nice finishing stretch and the guillotine choke counter out of Koji's German suplex attempt was creative and tenable.
7. Best of the Super Jr. - Block B: Great Sasuke vs TAKA Michinoku - G: 5 B: 4
Geo: How about a blast from the M-Pro past? Damn, two of my faves. Loved Taka being an asshole to Sasuke with the little kicks to the face while he was down. Sas looked good, too -- I especially loved that sweet kick to the back of the head. Taka still looks great, too -- how about that counter from the rana into the crossface?
Brian: I liked how TAKA changed the tide of the match with something as simple as an eye poke. I always thought when Tommy Dreamer did that somersault off of the apron he looked foolish but strangely always like it when Sasuke busts it out. Geo, I dug that counter, too! Even more so because of Michinoku's facial, like, "Wow, I guess I did just pull that off." I would have liked the submission finish more had Sasuke actively done any damage to TAKA's arm preceding it. This was decent but minimal and doesn't touch their match from 6/9/09 (which I reviewed here) and birthed this winner of a line: "TAKA socks Sasuke in the face like a guy coming home only to find out his dog took his last condom."
8. Best of the Super Jr. - Block B: Ryusuke Taguchi vs Kota Ibushi - G: 6 B: 6
Geo: Your boy, Kota, B. I'm a Taguch fan myself. Love that sweet ass mat wrestling to start. How ripped is Kota looking? Looks more legitimate now. I was happy to see them slow it down too, with Taguchi locking Kota's arms behind his back. Talk about tit for tat -- these guys were back and forth more than my choices between an eel roll and a spicy salmon avacado roll at the sushi bar. Taniguchi's finisher is nuts!
Brian: Yes, the Milano–saku Dodon's Throne is a great finisher, and even more importantly, how awesomely did Ibushi take/sell it? I dug some of Taguchi's facial recations. Kota's got the goods and has to be considered a potential candidate for winning it all. These two worked nicely together and my only reservation is we didn't get more.
9. Best of the Super Jr. - Block A: Prince Devitt vs Davey Richards - G: 6 B: 5
Geo: Hell to the Yeah. This is what I've been waiting for! Richards took it to Devitt once the bell rang and looked intense and looked to be in Japan to work his ass off. Speaking of which, he took that Bloody Sunday dive hard on the floor and that suicida was nuts! He also took that back bump on the stage and hit haaard! Davey is such a prick. Shoving the ref, drawing such great heat. Devitt is the complete opposite: he's adored by the fans and everyone gets behind him. Everyone loved his double stomp on Richards chest cavity. Nice finishing stretch to boot.
Brian: Geo made mention of many of the highspots and I particularly enjoyed the stuff out on the floor and stage as a change of pace. Richards' excesses weren't as glaring as normal. Looking at into the front row, nothing I like more than a girl in a summer dress and Great Sasuke mask. The finish seemed flat with Davey doing a powerbomb after some strikes and felt more like a transitional spot than a definitive match-ender.
Bonus Match: Kyosuke Mikami vs. Hiromu Takahashi - B: 2
Brian: Geo! You forgot a match. This is the pre-show contest as fans mill in tiredly. Some basic grappling and limb work. I always enjoy a missile dropkick. Mikami looks like a yard sale mark. Boston crab finish isn't as succulent as butter dipped crab leg.
Geo: A successful night one. Can't wait to dig into these other bad boys~!
Brian: Indeed. And we haven't even got the first matches from Jado, Liger, and Gedo yet! I'm glad we'll get to see all the BoSJ this year.