New Japan "Best of the Super Jr. XXII" Day 1
A Review by Kevin Wilson

Date: May 22nd, 2015 
Location: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 1,580 (Super No Vacancy)

The Best of the Super Jr. Tournament has begun! And thanks to NJPW World we won't have to wait forever to see the events. This first one is an odd show, as we get Taguchi vs. Gedo in the main event. Who'd a thunk that. These match-ups are all pretty random though, here are the current standings:

Block A Block B
Chase Owens 
El Barbaro Cavernario 
Jushin Thunder Liger 
Kyle O'Reilly 
Ryusuke Taguchi 
Yohei Komatsu 
Alex Shelley
Bobby Fish 
David Finlay Jr. 
Máscara Dorada 
Nick Jackson 
Rocky Romero 
Tiger Mask 

And today's card:

- Best of the Super Jr. - Block A: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Yohei Komatsu 
- Best of the Super Jr. - Block B: Nick Jackson vs. Tiger Mask
- Best of the Super Jr. - Block B: Alex Shelley vs. David Finlay Jr. 
- Best of the Super Jr. - Block A: Chase Owens vs. El Barbaro Cavernario
- Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto, Togi Makabe, Katsuyori Shibata, and Honma vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Sakuraba, Toru Yano, Ishii, and YOSHI-HASHI 
- Best of the Super Jr. - Block B: Bobby Fish vs. Rocky Romero
- Best of the Super Jr. - Block A: Barreta vs. Kyle O'Reilly 
- Best of the Super Jr. - Block B: KUSHIDA vs. Máscara Dorada 
- Best of the Super Jr. - Block A: Gedo vs. Ryusuke Taguchi

Let's get started.

Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Yohei Komatsu 
This match is part of the Best of the Super Jr. Tournament. Komatsu dropkicks Liger before the match starts, sending him flying out of the ring. Missile dropkick off the apron by Komatsu and he slides Liger back into the ring. Komatsu goes up top and he hits a cannonball, picking up a two count. Elbows by Komatsu but Liger levels him with a Shotei. Powerbomb by Liger and the legend throws Komatsu out of the ring. He goes out after him before picking him up and dragging him out to the floor so he can drill him with a brainbuster. Jesus, don't piss off Liger. Liger returns to the ring but Komatsu beats the count, so Liger grabs him and puts him in the Romero Special. Liger picks up Komatsu and hits a Liger Bomb, but Komatsu kicks out of the pin. Camel Clutch by Liger and he then applies a single leg crab hold, but Komatsu makes it to the ropes. Liger chops Komatsu into the corner but Komatsu kicks him back and hits an elbow. Komatsu goes off the ropes but Liger kicks him, Liger goes off the ropes but Komatsu delivers a dropkick. Single arm suplex hold by Komatsu, but it gets two. Liger slaps Komatsu but Komatsu ducks the Shotei and applies the rolling single leg crab hold. Liger gets to the ropes to force a break, Komatsu picks him up but Liger blocks the suplex. Waistlock by Liger but Komatsu elbows out of it. Tilt-a-whirl Backbreaker by Liger, he picks up Komatsu but Komatsu reverses the powerbomb with a hurricanrana for two. Falcon Arrow by Komatsu, cover, but Liger kicks out. Komatsu goes up top but Liger recovers and joins him. Superplex by Liger, Komatsu pops up but Liger nails a Shotei for a two count. Liger hits another Shotei, but again Komatsu kicks out. Liger drags up Komatsu and he drops him with the brainbuster, and this time he gets the three count. This was a lot of fun, few things in life are more entertaining than grumpy veteran Liger. I didn't seriously think Komatsu was winning but the crowd stayed behind the young lion from start to finish and Liger did a good job looking incredulous that Komatsu was keeping up at all. Short and to the point, a good way to start off the show. Recommended

Nick Jackson vs. Tiger Mask
This match is part of the Best of the Super Jr. Tournament. Shoulderblock by Tiger Mask to start, Jackson elbows him off but Tiger Mask flips Jackson out to the apron before dropkicking him to the floor. Tiger Mask kicks Jackson as he returns to the ring, more kicks by Tiger Mask but Jackson kicks him back. Eye rake by Jackson and he rakes his face in the corner after a back flip. Tiger Mask and Jackson trade strikes, snapmare by Jackson and he rakes Tiger Mask with his boot. Tiger Mask goes off the ropes but Cody Hall pulls him out of the ring. Tiger Mask kicks Hall back but Jackson drops him with a springboard dropkick. Tiger Mask ducks Jackson's neck kick attempt and he avoids the moonsault, Jackson tries to kick Tiger Mask again but he kicks the ring post and Tiger Mask hits a tombstone piledriver on the floor. Tiger Mask slides Jackson back in and he applies a kneelock, but Jackson gets out of it and knees Tiger Mask in the corner. Tiger Mask goes back to the leg but Jackson gets to the ropes, Tiger Mask puts Jackson on the top turnbuckle and joins him, and Tiger Mask hits an avalanche butterfly suplex for a two count. Tiger Mask picks up Jackson but Jackson pushes Tiger Mask back into the referee. Crucifix pin by Tiger Mask but the referee is too hurt to make the count. Superkick by Jackson and he covers Tiger Mask for a two count. Scoop slam by Jackson, he goes up top but Tiger Mask gets his knees up on the 450 Splash attempt. Tiger Mask grabs Jackson and hits a Tiger Driver but he only gets a two. Tiger Suplex hold by Tiger Mask, and he gets the three count! This was short but fun. Jackson seems out of place without Matt around but he looked fine and Tiger Mask helped make the match seem important by hitting all his big moves to put Jackson away. A good tournament match. Mildly Recommended

Alex Shelley vs. David Finlay Jr. 
This match is part of the Best of the Super Jr. Tournament. Tie-up to start as as Finlay works the headlock but Shelley reverses it into a wristlock. Finlay reverses it back but Shelley hits a side headlock takedown. Finlay pounds on Shelley on the mat, he picks him up and goes off the ropes but Shelley hits an atomic drop. Finlay catches Shelley with a jumping elbow and he focuses on Shelley's neck, Shelley elbows out of it and he hits an overhead belly to belly suplex. Elbow by Shelley in the corner and he kicks Finlay from the apron. Shelley goes up top and he delivers a diving crossbody but Finlay rolls through it for a two count. Finlay kicks Shelley into the corner but Shelley hits a reverse STO into the turnbuckles. Shelley goes up top but Finlay avoids the footstomp, uppercut by Finlay in the corner and he covers Shelley for two. Finlay picks up Shelley but Shelley gets away and they trade strikes. Superkick by Shelley and he knees Finlay in the head. Automatic Midnight by Shelley and he picks up the three count! Not long enough to get a good feel of Finlay but it was a decent match. Some of Finlay's mannerisms are a bit goofy but his moves were on point, it will be interesting to see how he does in the tournament as it progresses. Nothing memorable but perfectly watchable.

Chase Owens vs. El Barbaro Cavernario
This match is part of the Best of the Super Jr. Tournament. They trade holds to begin the match but end up back on their feet, punches by Owens and he elbows Cavernario into the corner. Cavernario slides out of the ring but Owens sails out onto him with a plancha suicida. Owens slides Cavernario back in the ring and pushes him against the ropes before pushing him around with his boot. Lariat-like thing by Owens and he covers Cavernario for a two count. Owens elbows Cavernario and he hits a gutbuster for another two. Side headlock by Owens but Cavernario gets out of it and throws Owens to the mat. Reverse splash by Cavernario off the ropes but Owens kicks him back and throws Cavernario into the corner. Irish whip by Owens but Cavernario jumps up to the second turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick. Owens falls out of the ring, Cavernario positions him and then goes up to the top turnbuckle, hitting a diving body press down to the floor! Cavernario slides back into the ring with Owens slowly following, and Owens comes back into the ring with a swandive move for a two count. Slingshot backbreaker by Owens, he picks up Cavernario and hits a half nelson backbreaker. Owens goes for a Package Piledriver but Cavernario blocks it, hard elbow by Owens but Cavernario slides away and applies the Cavernaria for the submission victory! I didn't really like this one much even though I enjoy Cavernario, it just felt really disjointed. A few of Owens's moves I don't even know what he was trying to do, and these type of issues are more glaring when it is a short match. They also had some really fast recoveries to some of the bigger moves of the match. Some good moments here and there but overall a disappointing match.

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto, Togi Makabe, Katsuyori Shibata, and Honma vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Sakuraba, Toru Yano, Ishii, and YOSHI-HASHI 
Shibata and Sakuraba start off and trade some holds. This is going to be an incredibly dull play by play so I'll try to just skip over the massive amount of basic-level action we will see in this time filler. Sakuraba ducks Shibata's PK attempt and he tags in Yano while Tanahashi is also tagged in. Wristlock by Tanahashi but Yano gets into the ropes. Yano tags in Nakamura so Tanahashi tags in Goto. Notice a pattern here? Goto and Nakamura trade shots, hiptoss by Goto and he tags Honma. Nakamura eats a double shoulderblock and Honma chops him into the corner. Jumping elbow by Honma and he hits a face crusher. Nakamura regains the advantage and he goes outside the ring with Honma so he can be double teamed. Back in the ring Nakamura taunts Honma and stomps on him before tagging in YOSHI-HASHI. YOSHI-HASHI chops Honma, he hits a lariat but Goto breaks up his cover. Ishii is tagged in, he picks up Honma and he hits a scoop slam. Single leg crab hold by Ishii but Makabe strolls into the ring and trades elbows with Ishii. Ishii gets the better of it pretty quickly and goes back to Honma, chops by Ishii but Honma goes for the Kokeshi. Ishii moves, he picks up Honma but Honma hits a vertical suplex. Nakamura comes in but Honma hits him with the Kokeshi and tags in Makabe. Makabe cleans house and powerslams Ishii, lariat in the corner and he hits some mounted punches. Northern Lights Suplex by Makabe but it gets a two count.

Ishii and Makabe trade elbows but Makabe hits a lariat for a two count. Makabe goes off the ropes but Ishii catches him with a powerslam. Lariat by Ishii in the corner and they both lariat each other back and forth. Nakamura and Goto are tagged in, swinging kick by Nakamura but Goto elbows him and they trade blows. Nakamura puts Goto across the top turnbuckle and he hits a running knee to the ribs. Cover, but it gets a two count. Lariat by Goto in the corner and he hits a heel kick. Backdrop suplex by Goto, but it only gets two. Goto picks up Nakamura, Nakamura goes for a sleeper but Goto hits an Olympic Slam for another two count. Nakamura finally knocks out Goto and tags in YOSHI-HASHI, his teammates come in too and Goto is ganged up on in the corner. Codebreaker by YOSHI-HASHI to Goto but the pin is broken up. Chop by YOSHI-HASHI and he hits a lariat for a two count. YOSHI-HASHI picks up Goto and he hits a hard elbow, powerbomb by YOSHI-HASHI with a jackknife but the cover is broken up. Makabe comes in and lariats people but YOSHI-HASHI sneaks in a schoolboy on Goto for two. YOSHI-HASHI goes off the ropes but Goto hits a fireman's carry onto his knee. Shibata runs in and hits YOSHI-HASHI with the PK, Shouten Kei by Goto and he gets the three count! There really wasn't a need to cram ten wrestlers into this match, especially since Tanahashi and Sakuraba did very little, but it achieved its goal of getting the heavyweight stars on the card so they could pair up against their rivals. Once they got past the basic start the ending stretch was solid, and its always fun to see Goto and Shibata beating up people. A forgettable match but not a bad one.

Bobby Fish vs. Rocky Romero
This match is part of the Best of the Super Jr. Tournament. They tie-up to start, Fish pushes Romero into the ropes and he gives a clean break. Hammerlock by Romero, reversed by Fish and they trade holds until Fish hits a shoulderblock. Fish goes off the ropes and he catches Romero in a kneelock, but Romero quickly gets to the ropes. Back up they trade elbows but Romero pokes Fish in the eye that doesn't have the patch on it and takes the patch off. Romero dropkicks Fish in the arm, Fish falls out of the ring and Romero hits a jumping knee off the apron. Back in the ring Romero applies an Octopus Hold with an armbar but Fish makes it to the ropes, punch to the stomach by Fish and he drives Romero into the corner. Stomp to the chest by Fish, snapmare, and he hits a senton atomico for a two count. Fish hits a snap suplex, Romero fights back but Fish knees him in the stomach. Gutwrench suplex by Fish and he covers Romero for two. Romero elbows Fish away, he poses in the ropes and moves when Fish charges in, sending Fish crashing out of the ring. Romero then goes off the ropes and sails out onto Fish with a tope suicida. Romero slides Fish back in the ring and he hits a swandive body press followed by a hurricanrana. Romero charges but Fish moves, uppercut by Romero and he hits a diving double knee off the second turnbuckle for two. Lariats by Romero in the corner and he hits another one in the middle of the ring, standing Shiranui by Romero but it gets a two count. Romero picks up Fish but Fish gets away and they trade strikes. Romero goes for his trick in the ropes but it doesn't work this time, he dropkicks Fish out of the ring anyway but O'Reilly gets on the apron to distract him. Fish kicks Romero in the leg back in the ring and hits a series of knees followed by an exploder into the turnbuckles. Powerbomb attempts by Fish, Romero tries to hurricanrana out of it but Fish catches him with a single leg crab hold. Romero gets to the ropes, Fish kicks Romero in the leg but Romero kicks him away. Fish grabs Romero's leg and hits a dragon screw, Fish goes off the ropes and he hits a jumping elbow strike. Falcon Arrow by Fish and he applies a cross kneelock for the submission victory! A good match but some of the stuff was just too contrived for me. I don't like Romero's spot where he freezes between the ropes, it is just too dopey, and some of the corner running made me roll my eyes. But I really liked the limb targeting by Fish, he has a good variety of moves that target the leg and he kept it entertaining. So definitely more good than bad but not without its issues. Mildly Recommended

Barreta vs. Kyle O'Reilly 
This match is part of the Best of the Super Jr. Tournament. They actually started brawling before the match started as a continuation from the previous match, which was cute. Headlock by O'Reilly to start and he hits a shoulderblock, he boots Barreta but Barreta hits a hard back elbow. Standing moonsault by Barreta but it gets two. Barreta slams O'Reilly near the ropes and he hits the slingshot bootscrape. Barreta chops O'Reilly in the corner but O'Reilly boots him back and hits a hammerlock face crusher for a two count. Armbreaker by O'Reilly as Barreta tries unsuccessfully to fight back, elbows to the arm by O'Reilly and he hits a running knee strike to it. Standing armbar by O'Reilly but Barreta elbows him off, Barreta goes for a sunset flip but O'Reilly blocks it and applies a cross armbreaker. O'Reilly kicks Barreta in the corner, he puts him on the top turnbuckle and joins him, O'Reilly applies an armbar but Barreta pushes him off. Missile dropkick by Barreta, he goes off the ropes but O'Reilly knees him in the chest. O'Reilly goes for a front necklock but Barreta reverses it into a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Big elbow by Barreta in the corner and he hits a tornado DDT for a two count. O'Reilly gets away from Barreta, he knees him in the face before hitting a capture suplex for a two count. O'Reilly charges Barreta but Barreta hits a double boot to O'Reilly's stomach. Barreta runs at O'Reilly but O'Reilly slaps on the guillotine choke, Barreta goes towards the ropes and over them, sending both crashing to the floor. Barreta chops O'Reilly but O'Reilly drives Barreta face first into a chair. O'Reilly goes out to the apron and he delivers a missile dropkick down to the floor, sending the chair flying as well. O'Reilly rolls Barreta back in and he goes up top, but Barreta springs up there and hits an avalanche belly to belly suplex. Running knee by Barreta, cover, but it gets two. Back up they trade elbows, chops, and kicks, but Barreta headbutts O'Reilly to break the cycle. Hard kick by O'Reilly but Barreta ducks the PK and hits a superkick. Barreta picks up O'Reilly but O'Reilly hits an armbreaker followed by a jumping knee. Hard elbow by O'Reilly but Barreta hits an enzigieri. O'Reilly hits a lariat, he picks up Barreta and he drops him with a brainbuster. Cross armbreaker by O'Reilly and Barreta has no choice but to tap out! This match was all over the place for me. I started out not liking it (and O'Reilly's silly selling) but the arm work and hot stretch run really brought me back into it. Definitely some transition issues here and there but overall a good match. Mildly Recommended

KUSHIDA vs. Máscara Dorada 
This match is part of the Best of the Super Jr. Tournament. They go to the mat to start things off but Dorada wiggles away from KUSHIDA as they return to their feet. Back down KUSHIDA gets Dorada's back but Dorada gets out of it and they get back up. Dorada goes off the ropes and hits a hurricanrana but KUSHIDA cartwheels out of it, he catches Dorada when he springboards off the ropes into a cross armbreaker but Dorada gets a foot on the bottom rope to force a break. KUSHIDA rolls out to the apron and he snaps Dorada's arm over the top rope. He does it a second time, Irish whip by KUSHIDA and he hits an atomic drop before dropkicking Dorada in the knee. Armlock by KUSHIDA but Dorada makes it to the ropes. KUSHIDA continues focusing on Dorada's arm, Irish whip from the corner but Dorada kicks him back. KUSHIDA goes for a standing moonsault but Dorada gets his knees up, Dorada chops KUSHIDA into the corner and he hits a dropkick after running around the second rope. KUSHIDA falls out of the ring, Dorada walks the top rope and hits a moonsault down to the floor. Dorada chops KUSHIDA before sliding him back into the ring, and he hits a swandive crossbody for two. Dorada goes up top and goes for a moonsault but KUSHIDA gets his feet up. Dorada rolls out of the ring but KUSHIDA goes up top and flies out of the ring with a somersault plancha. KUSHIDA dropkicks Dorada as he tries to get back in the ring, he picks up Dorada and hits an armbreaker. Dorada comes back with a roll-up, but it only gets two, as does La Magistral. Scoop slam by Dorada, he goes up and he hits a senton after walking the ropes. Dorada picks up KUSHIDA but KUSHIDA gets away and kicks Dorada in the arm. Irish whip by Dorada, reversed, and KUSHIDA dropkicks Dorada in the face as he goes for a handspring. Tilt-a-whirl armdrag by KUSHIDA and he applies the Hoverboard Lock, Dorada can't make it to the ropes and he submits! The only thing missing from this one was a few more minutes of action, as everything they did was spot on. KUSHIDA's arm work was solid, Dorada hit all his flying moves and it was just smooth from start to finish. Definitely worth a watch, hopefully they wrestle again at some point with a bit more time. Recommended

Gedo vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
Gedo superkicks Taguchi before the match officially starts but Taguchi quickly rolls him up for a two count. Gedo stomps on Taguchi, he pulls him over to the edge of the apron and slides out of the ring so he can hit a DDT down to the floor. Gedo hits Taguchi with the bell hammer repeatedly before getting back into the ring. Gedo removes a turnbuckle pad as Taguchi slowly gets back in, Irish whip by Gedo and he throws Taguchi into the exposed corner. Gedo stomps Taguchi in the back of the head and throws him into the exposed corner before elbowing Taguchi in the back of the head. Crossface by Gedo but Taguchi gets a foot on the ropes. Snapmare by Gedo and he applies a chinlock, Irish whip by Gedo and he punches Taguchi to the mat. Gedo superkicks Taguchi and covers him, but it gets two. Gedo throws Taguchi into the corner, Taguchi reverses it but Gedo kicks him back. Sunset flip attempt by Gedo but Taguchi blocks it, Taguchi tries to sit on Gedo but Gedo moves. Gedo goes off the ropes but Taguchi hits a hip attack. Another hip attack by Taguchi, he goes out to the apron and he hits a diving hip attack to the floor. Taguchi slides Gedo back in and hits a few more hip attacks, cover by Taguchi but Gedo kicks out. Taguchi goes for the Dodon but Gedo blocks it, Gedo applies a stretch hold and then a crossface, but Taguchi gets out of it and applies an ankle hold. Gedo rolls out of it, Taguchi charges him in the corner and he hits a hip attack. Front suplex by Taguchi, he goes up top and he hits the diving hip attack for two. Taguchi picks up Gedo but Gedo blocks the Dodon again, jumping kick by Taguchi and he hits a sliding kick, but Gedo kicks out. Ankle hold by Taguchi, he picks up Gedo and he hits the Dodon for a two count. Taguchi picks up Gedo and gets him on his shoulders, but Gedo gets away and bails out of the ring. Taguchi goes out after him, he gets the ring bell hammer but he misses Gedo when he swings. Gedo slides back in but the referee stops him from using the hammer. This gives Gedo a chance to hit a low blow, followed by a Complete Shot. Gedo Clutch by Gedo and he picks up the three count! This was literally as good as it could have been. Gedo was great in it but while Taguchi was less Taguchi than usual, he was still Taguchi. I don't mind hip attacks but after about ten of them it was getting old, would be nice if he diversified his portfolio. But still an entertaining match, the middle portion dragged a bit but the beginning and end made up for it. Mildly Recommended

Final Thoughts:

This was a really good start to the tournament, with several matches I'd recommend and others that were solid as well. My main complaint is simply match time, which is always an issue with tournament matches. The wrestlers did the best with the time they had though and nothing was bad on the card. Definitely worth a watch for any fan of Jr. Heavyweights, as between the unique match-ups and quality wrestling this one is worth the time as an overall package.

Grade:  B

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event reviewed on 5/23/15