NJPW BEST OF THE SUPER JUNIORS 26 [BOSJ 2019 Finals Review]: Dragon vs. Assassin.

Shota Umino, Titan, and Dragon Lee v Ren Narita, Jonathan Gresham, and Bandido – Really fun opening 6-man with a crowd-pleasing frenetic pace. Neither Young Lion, Umino or Narita, looked out of place, and Lee and Bandido lit it up, as you’d expect; while Titan, who didn’t have the best tournament, excelled at this multi-man situation with awe-inspiring highspots like a springboard plancha and devastating ‘rana. Don’t skip this. – 3.5/5

Bullet Club (Tajai Ishimori, El Phantasmo, Robbie Eagles) v Sho, Yoh, and Ryusuke Taguchi – This was fine and set up what it needed to do– give Roppongi 3K fresh, legit contenders for their Junior Heavyweight tag straps in Bone Soldier and ELP, while also dutifully teasing Eagles defection from the Club. Only sour note: both Sho and Ishimori–who had great BOSJ’s–hardly did shit in this match. – 3/5

Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI, Jushin Thunder Liger, and Tiger Mask v Suzuki-gun (DOUKI, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Zack Sabre Jr, and Minoru Suzuki) – Your usual Gedo-booked, ridiculous 10-man tag. Sure, it sets up a bunch of singles matches but I kinda only care about one of them: Liger v. Suzuki. That thought for Dominion, even at their age, is a dream. Ishii v Taichi might actually be good since Taichi has improved, but it still doesn’t excite me knowing the Stone Pitbull can do so much more; while ZSJ v. YOSHI-HASHI will be well-wrestled, but how is YOSHI-HASHI still on the roster? Meh. – 2.75/5

LIJ (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, BUSHI, and SANADA) v Toa Henare, Tomoaki Honma, Togi Makabe, and Kota Ibushi – Ibushi v. Naito: let’s just hope no one dies at Dominion. The rest of the match was good and nothing you need to go out of your way to watch. – 3/5

Kazuchika Okada & Rocky Romero v Marty Scurll & Brody King – It was CHAOS vs. Villain Enterprises and it was a ton of fun. Congrats to our local LA guy Brody who looked great in the spotlight, and worked very well with Okada. The big man has so much skill and has vastly improved over the past year. It’s insane! I’d like to see Scurll and King actually become somewhat of a presence (if not PCO and King) in the tag team championship circuit here, as it’s been hurting for a moment; yes, I know Marty if a Junior Heavy, so what. In this match, King hit a great black hole slam on Rocky and a follow-up driver on Okada before succumbing to a top rope elbow and Rainmaker. I wouldn’t mind an Okada v. King match, actually, while the resurgent Rocky against Marty underneath the Lee’s, Takagi’s and Ospreay’s of the Jr. Hvywt division could be interesting. – 3.25/5

Jay White v Hiroshi Tanahashi – Originally the main event for BOSJ 26, White and Tanahashi took the backseat to the US title once Moxley in NJPW became a thing. Glad to see the US strap finally get placed in the spotlight. As for this grudge match, it was as you’d expect: really good. I’ve just seen it too much to care too much. Then again, this is the rubber match with both IWGP Heavyweight Contenders winning a pair against each other; White was especially aggressive, attacking the arm throughout the 20-minutes, while Tana looked more vulnerable but fought ever so valiantly. He’s just so damned good down the stretch. I did like the exchange of low blows before the finish, a pleasant surprise to see Tana resort to such matters, with White pulling off a cool cradle win. – 3.75/5

IWGP US Championship: Jon Moxley v Juice Robinson – Wait. This is fuckin’ DEAN AMBROSE? That same guy who was, more times than not, a bad immitation rip-off of Roddy Pipper and “Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman? Holy shit. Jon may have just had one of the matches of his life–at least his best match in a super long time–against Juice. And props to the other former WWE guy, an underrated worker, who battled through what looked to be a left calf injury against the explosive Mox. It’s hard to review this match without going on a rant against Vince and how effing dumb the WWE is for not presenting “Dean” like this; Jon came off like a gritty hybrid of both Steve Austins–showing the flair and agility of the younger “Stunning” Steve and the classic, charismatic brawler of “Stonecold”. To quote my pal Robert, “it’s wild.” Sure is. This IWGP United States title match was pretty wild, too, but nothing that would have chased away sponsors in WWE. Some of the stuff they’ve done lately has been just as, if not more, hardcore than this; Juice and Mox just do it better. There were wild dives (Juice pulled a senton off the top of the entranceway onto Mox and a bunch of Young Lions!), the use of teeth (well, hi, Juice), big table spots (Mox hits a vicious Cactus Jack/chair elbow drop; Robinson later would cannonball into a table-laden Moxley), huge chair shots, submission wrestling, and even a mean dragonscrew from Moxley. It was a beautiful mash-up of hardcore and normal wrestling match, just dangerous enough to give the match — with Moxley’s known indie background in tow — an extra edge, but both guys executed big moves and well-timed counters–leading to a Dirty Deeds, followed-up with a devastating Spike Death Rider for the finish. New champ! This was awesome. – 4.25/5

NJPW BOSJ 26 Finals: Will Ospreay v Shingo Takagi – Hot off the heels of the Cole/Gargano II classic from Saturday was the Best of the Super Juniors 26 Finals between the undefeated 9-0 Shingo and two-time BOSJ winner Ospreay. If you haven’t seen it, minimize this page, log on to NJPW World and watch this damn match! It was super. There was a point in the match where I was already thinking it was an “at least 4.75 match”, which then grew to a solid 5. Then holy shit, this wound up just.. everything. If you told me that you thought Shingo and Ospreay just had the MOTY, I wouldn’t argue. As far as moves, sliding and gliding and countering and dodging each other– no one‘s had a better match this year. If you want to factor storytelling, not too many can top Omega/Tanahashi from the Dome and the Rhodes brothers classic from a little over a week ago. If you’re a fan of high impact moves, insane strikes, heavy kicks and heavier clotheslines, you need to see this now. To think Will at one point teased doing a Super Stormbreaker off the top. NO. Just NO. Don’t KILL Shingo. Will nearly died a few times here, too, albeit safely — as in “safely dying” — nailing a top rope Oscutter and a 630 shooting star combo just before. Shingo was nearly as great, countering all of the Aerial Assassin’s fluid arsenal, hitting a pumping bomber and Last of the Dragon. Insane near-falls. Will eventually DOES kill Shingo with the Hidden Blade followed by a Stormbreaker. The BOSJ Finals went beyond perfection. – 5.25/5

Overall = 3.75/5 Bibles.

Pro wrestling hasn’t been this hot since Rock/Austin, and the BOSJ 26 Finals is just another show that helps solidify that notion. Ospreay and Shingo had one of the best matches EVER and Moxley, in one brutal 25-minute match, proved he can hang with the big boys overseas. And to think we have Dominion to watch in just a few days… #SpoiledSmarkEra

-Travis Moody

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