Best of the Super Juniors 2019 was a gift to fans of New Japan Pro Wrestling. With the biggest and arguably most talented field of competitors ever, we were presented with some absolute gems throughout the three week tourney, and these are the best of the best (at least in my opinion). These are the Top 10 Best of the Super Juniors Matches 2019. (Non-tournament matches not eligible)
10. Robbie Eagles vs. Will Ospreay – Night 10
Robbie Eagles was put on the map because of his matches with Will Ospreay, and were practically the reason why he was brought into New Japan in the first place, so there were certainly a lot of eyes looking towards this one in BOSJ 2019. While I don’t think it quite captured the magic of their previous encounters, I think it was a great taster of the chemistry they have together.
Eagles looked fantastic in this match, and if he doesn’t get to wrestle in New Japan on a more permanent basis after this tournament then there’s something definitely wrong there.
9. Bandido vs. Will Ospreay – Night 8
No real story here to be told other than two young stars with endless amounts of ability trying to outshine each other in victory. Now I don’t rate this match as highly as certain others have in the last week or so, but come on, it’s Ospreay vs. Bandido, of course it was good. If we get to see them fight again a few years down the line when they’re somehow even better than they are now, I can’t imagine what spectacular show we would get to see.
8. El Phantasmo vs. Will Ospreay – Night 7
Going into the tournament, no match during BOSJ had me more excited than this one. Knowing how well these two match up with their styles, it was inevitable we would be in for a match of the tournament candidate. Throw in the fact ELP got a win over Ospreay on his very first night in New Japan after joining Bullet Club at Wrestling Dontaku, and that’s a story I wanted to see play out.
Although I believe these two could have an even greater bout together, I definitely wasn’t disappointed by this BOSJ match. Ospreay brought a wealth of aggression towards his betrayer, while ELP responded with his trademark brand of gorgeous flips and power moves. The visual highlight of the match was certainly ELP tight rope-walking up a staircase banister and moonsaulting from the top of it: beautiful stuff.
It’s inevitable that ELP and Ospreay will face again in New Japan, most likely several times as long as they remain in their separate stables, and perhaps they can build upon this 27 minute fight, and craft something even better in the future.
7. Dragon Lee vs. Shingo Takagi – Night 8
Dragon vs. Dragon. Undefeated behemoth vs. IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. It was an exciting clash that was without question the highlight of A block for the week. Following on from Bandido vs. Ospreay would be a tough task for anybody, but somehow they managed to keep the crowd invested for the entirety.
Two powerful juniors went at each other with everything they had. Shingo was made to look like an absolute beast in this match, especially when he kicked out at 1 after a big time flurry of offence. Dragon Lee continued to come back from the punishment, at one point hitting one hell of a suicide dive, but alas, the unbeatable continued to be undefeated.
6. Will Ospreay vs. Rysuke Taguchi – Night 14
Starting off in somewhat foolish fashion, it was clear Ospreay wasn’t taking his opponent all too seriously in this block-deciding bout as he wiggled his hips and consistently tried to use his butt as a weapon, or perhaps Ospreay was just trying to bring out the seriously talented side of Rysuke Taguchi.
Despite the silly start, the tension built to an epic conclusion worthy of the final match of BOSJ block competition. The last five minutes were a phenomenal thrillride that felt like it could go either way. Once again, Ospreay showed that he really is one of the best in New Japan today, whilst Taguchi reminded everyone that he is certainly much more than just a top quality butt wrestler.
5. Shingo Takagi vs. Taiji Ishimori – Night 10
BOSJ 26 will be defined by the performance of Shingo Takagi. The undefeated beast made history by gaining the most points in any single BOSJ tournament. His impressively dominant run of the A block culminated in one of his best NJPW matches to date. Taiji Ishimori showed what an insane athlete he is, displaying his impressive strength, explosiveness and speed, however whatever Ishimori managed to throw at The Dragon, Takagi had an even more devastating response for him.
At one point, Ishimori hit a running Canadian Destroyer, and Takagi used the momentum from being dropped on his head at high speed to immediately pop back up, bounce off the ropes, and hit a beautiful Pumping Bomber. This match is worth watching for the lariats thrown by both men alone. By the end of it, it was clear why both men were brought into New Japan in 2018 with so much fan fair: two of the very best that I cannot wait to see collide again.
4. Rocky Romero vs. Will Ospreay – Night 4
BOSJ 26 was the greatest performance of Rocky Romero’s career. 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 in this match 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 have been sat behind a desk during BOSJ and why he deserved to be in that ring.
3. 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.
2. Rocky Romero vs. El Phantasmo – Night 9
In his first main-event inside Korakuen Hall in 14 years, Rocky Romero brought the fire to ELP in an effort to once again prove why he still belongs to take off his headset and step foot inside the ring. The story was an undefeated, cocky stud trying to better a veteran that refused to fall. Some doubted Rocky returning to BOSJ as a competitor when he’s mostly sat behind the commentary desk these days, but his matches throughout BOSJ 26 certainly put those doubts to rest.
In the longest match of BOSJ, the crowd came alive to will Rocky on to a shock victory. But the most energy came from the commentary team, with all three men practically screaming for Rocky to pull out the win. The enthusiasm from everybody inside that venue was infectious, you couldn’t help but be pulled in by this fantastic main event.
Going into the match, you were expecting another notch on the undefeated streak of El Phantasmo, as was ELP when he stated this was going to be his easiest match before the tournament started, but the longer this match went, the more Rocky made it feel believable that he could be the first to put away ELP, until eventually right before the 30-minute time limit, he managed to make ELP tap after a sensational war. A great story capped off by an emotional celebration with the rest of Roppongi 3K.
- Shingo Takagi vs. Will Ospreay – Finals
This tournament couldn’t have ended in much better fashion than it did with this epic final clash between the winners of each block. Takagi vs. Ospreay is not only the best match of BOSJ 2019, it’s one of the best matches of the entire year. Both men brought out tricks and moves in their repertoires that we’ve never seen in New Japan, some of which nearly had me falling out of my seat through pure amazement.
It was a physical brawl helped along by fantastic commentary provided by Kelly, Gambino and Charlton, that each added their own layers to develop the story and excitement. Takagi came out looking like that a devastating final boss of the juniors that hits harder than any other member of the division, and Ospreay continued to show why he’s heralded as one of the best.
I cannot describe how much brilliance took place within these 33 minutes and 36 seconds. By the end of 2019, I can easily see this being in my top five bouts of the year. I seriously hope we don’t have to wait another year to see Takagi and Ospreay destroy each other once more, their chemistry was instant and overwhelming. What an incredible end to one hell of a tournament.
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