This year’s Best of the Super Juniors has one of the greatest fields of talents in tournament history. With the highest number of entrants, and every show being broadcast live globally for the first time ever, this is the perfect year to watch BOSJ. After the first week of competition, I’ve put together a quick list of five matches to go back and watch if you need to do some catching up.
Taiji Ishimori vs. Dragon Lee – Night 1
Going up after the show-stealing bout that preceded them (we’ll get to that later) was going to be a really hard task, but Lee and Ishimori managed to pull it off. It may get overlooked for that same reason, but it’s still a great match nonetheless. I still believe Ishimori and Lee have more to give in their rivalry than what we saw in this opening night match, as well as in their match at Wrestling Dontaku, yet their “not as good as they could be” is still fantastic by regular standards.
Marty Scurll vs. Jonathan Gresham – Night 1
Jonathan Gresham is a pleasure to watch in the ring. His lightning quick transitions, and inventive movements on the mat are a delight every single night. I can never get sick of watching him because he always brings out something new to impress me with, and Gresham found a great opponent to go against on night one.
Facing his fellow ROH roster member, Marty Scurll, the two had a fast, technical battle that gave everyone a taste of what they can do at the very start of the tournament. Based on what we saw in this one, and as well as in his matches on night three and five (that transition into a powerbomb, oh my), it’s fair to say Japanese fans will be crying out for Jonathan Gresham to come back to NJPW.
El Phantasmo vs. Bandido – Night 2
I feel like we still have a lot more to see from both of these men in the tournament, but this was still such a fun match. Just spot after spot from two seriously talented athletes. If you love flips, power moves and counter wrestling, definitely give this a watch.
Rocky Romero vs. Will Ospreay – Night 4
This may just be the performance of Rocky Romero’s career, if not in recent years. The fighting spirit he showed, the moves he kicked out of, the moves he brought out himself, it was a seriously impressive showing. The willingness of Rocky to stay in the fight and continue to bring the fight to Ospreay is what made this such compelling viewing, helped in part by the perfect reactions from his colleagues on the commentary team enhancing the excitement and tension of the story.
As good as Rocky is on commentary, he showed exactly why he shouldn’t be sat behind a desk during BOSJ and why he deserves to be in that ring, and now, I’m really looking forward to seeing more Rocky in BOSJ.
SHO vs. Shingo Takagi – Night 1
We knew we were in for one hell of a tournament when we saw one of the best matches of the year on the very first night.
Roppongi 3K member SHO impressed many during last year’s BOSJ tournament. Known predominantly as a tag team wrestler, it was SHO’s opportunity to display what he could be as a singles wrestler for the first time since returning from excursion, and he definitely took advantage of that opportunity.
SHO had some great matches during that tourney, particularly a bout against KUSHIDA, and it was during that event where he began to gain a reputation as a powerhouse in the junior division.
October 2018: Shingo Takagi entered New Japan. The new absolute unit of the junior heavyweight division. Since he debuted in NJPW, Takagi has not been pinned or submitted thanks to his overpowering size and strength within his division. Much like SHO in 2018, this year’s BOSJ is Shingo’s first opportunity to compete regularly as a singles wrestler, and SHO was obsessed with facing him.
Although he wanted it to be in the finals, SHO got his wish to face Shingo one-on-one on the first night of the tournament. It was powerhouse vs. powerhouse, CHAOS vs. LIJ, and it was impeccable.
At points, it seemed like neither man could suffer a defeat thanks to some extremely convincing false finishes. Just when it appeared Takagi’s size was too much to handle, SHO would kick out from the brutality and fight back to bring excitement out of the audience and the commentary team.
Once the bell rung on this one, I wanted NJPW to create a new tournament: BOSS – Best of SHO and Shingo. That’s how good this was. I need more matches between these two, but sadly that probably won’t happen until next year’s BOSJ, unless both of their tag teams disband. But if they ever do meet again some time soon, they will have a major task trying to top this one.
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