Wrestle Report: NJPW NJPW Best Of The Super Junior 2017 (Night 1)

NJPW Best Of The Super Junior 2017

Night 1 - May 17th 2017

This is going to be a huge year for NJPW. They have expressed interest in expanding their reach far beyond Japan. While they have taken Europe by storm in the past few years, they will now be focusing on the United States. Katsuhiko Harada, the President of New Japan Pro Wrestling, has said that his wish is to gather a roster, build a dojo and create a product for the US market. I could not be more excited. 

Just look at the competitors that we have competing at the Best of the Super Juniors this year! Old guys like Liger and Michinoku but also younger guys like ACH, Marty Scurll and Dragon Lee. 

I may not cover every day of the Super Juniors. But I will try to cover what I watch!

TAKA Michinoku vs. Jushin "Thunder" Liger

This one was exactly what I wanted to start things off. Good wrestling from two guys that I am really familiar with. I grew up watching TAKA on WWF television as he was the Light-Heavyweight Champion and leader of Kai-en-Tai. It appears that he still is. At least in some capacity. Jushin Liger looked good too. He is obviously slower than his first appearance on WCW Monday Nitro but still moves like he belongs. 

TAKA and Liger traded slow and calculated spots. Some of them were pretty sloppy but still got the crowd going. TAKA and Liger can still go. I would love to see these guys meet up again. It looked like TAKA was playing the jerk afterward and might have set something up for the future. The match ended when TAKA wrapped Liger up in a crazy pinning move. This gave TAKA the win. 

Tiger Mask vs. Volador Jr.

These two went out there with something to prove. I was actually impressed by whichever numer Tiger Mask this one is. Volador is always good. They beat each other in the ring and around it. The crowd was really into it. Volador did a pretty amazing dive to the outside and a really nice second rope moonsault that was met with knees to the chest. 

Volador Jr. pulled out the win with some amazing work. He took a really slow tombstone but couldn't stay down. He put up some great offense against Tiger Mask who met him at every advance. It was a Moonsault Side Slam that put Tiger Mask away and advanced Volador to the end. 

Ricochet vs. Taichi

I am not too familiar with Taichi. I had reviewed a match that he had with Atsushi Kotoge from 2015 and I liked it. I really liked his performance. The same is to be said with this match. It feels to me that Taichi has a lot of western influence in his wrestling. That mixed with Ricochet's high flying makes for a pretty awesome affair. Ricochet is awesome during this match too. Of course he is known for taking to the skies and he doesn't disappoint. He actually puts Taichi away with a Shooting Star splash. 

I am all for Ricochet going all the way this year. He has the push, he has the potential and the field is littered with older names. Admittedly, he is no spring chicken himself. But he has that crowd in his hand. 


I am the least familiar with BUSHI. I have seen him fight but nothing stands out. ACH on the other hand has been turning heads for a good while. He is no stranger to NJPW. At Wrestle Kingdom 11, ACH had put on the mask and performed as Tiger Mask the Dark. A win here would set him among the favorites to win. 

The story here shows BUSHI underestimating the new-ish ACH. ACH came in with the fury and the two traded spots both inside and outside of the ring. BUSHI was vicious and ACH played to the hope spots about half way through. The crowd started to fade and surprisingly so did I. I don't attribute this to ACH but more BUSHI. He seemed to take a slower and more methodical approach. It took some comedy spot shenanigans from ACH to get me into it again. From that point it was a moderately paced independent-style match. It had ACH coming back from the beatdown he had taken earlier and prevailed with a Michinoku Driver. 

El Desperado vs. KUSHIDA

KUSHIDA is in a groove right now. He is just coming off of the heat that he generated in the Best of the Super Juniors back in 2015. He wrestles matches all over the world including matches for Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and others. El Desperado comes from the stable Suzuki-Gun and has been really impressive from what I have seen. I wasn't expecting this match and was happy with what I had gotten. 

Desperado performed most of the offence during the match. He even had a really impressive dive to the outside that took out some ringside officials. Desperado worked on the knee of KUSHIDA as he had been favoring it all match. KUSHIDA would get these windows of reversals and offense and at times took the reigns. But, El Desperado continued to attack the knee. How would KUSHIDA go on in the tournament with a bum knee? However, KUSHIDA would answer Desperado's attacks with jumping DDT's and quick kicks, jabs and hope spots. The ref even went down at one point. Surprisingly this would all lead to El Desperado upending KUSHIDA and beating him! I was stunned! 

Marty Scurll vs. Will Ospreay

Wow. Marty Scurll is on a tear. In Ring of Honor, Scurll had officially played a part in literally kicking Adam Cole out of the Bullet Club and replacing him. Now a full fledged member, Marty Scurll is looking to bring home the Best of the Super Juniors for this evil gaijin team. Across the squaredcircle from Scurll is Will Ospreay, last year's winner of Best of the Super Junior and quite possibly the wrestler in the business at the moment. Ospreay would really turn heads if he could win the BOSJ twice in a row.

These two are not strangers in the ring. However, I believe that this is their first meetup in Japan. It's a great show. Scurll lives up to his nickname and makes for a terrific villain. The Japanese crowd loves Ospreay. Every move he makes is met with oohs and ahhs. They fly around the ring at each other giving a good performance but nothing that we haven't seen before. I suggest you go back and watch their match at Revolution Pro from last year. That one was a Barn Burner. 

I guess the biggest difference between that match and this one is the viciousness that both guys exerted. Unfortunately, most of their spots felt too rehearsed. They are too comfortable in doing the same thing. They did add some variety though so that was nice. It was one of the more entertaining matches of the night. The Villain put Ospreay out with a leaping, catching rear naked choke. 

Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru

After that last match this one would have to be something special. Taguchi is great. I like him just fine. But it's the comedy that hinders him the most. I am not familiar with Kanemaru and this is my first impression of him. Dark. He looks like a cold motherfucker. The crowd is clapping for that outrageous Funky Weapon music and this Yoshinobu just stands there like he could care less. He is intimidating. 

I feel as if Taguchi is the Dolph Ziggler of New Japan. Everyone loves him. They just don't want him anywhere near the main event. This match was another example of Taguchi's genius. He has no issue getting the crowd behind him. But can he cut it when Kanemaru wants to go toe-to-toe? Of course he can. 

Something about that hard exterior that Kanemaru brought to the ring is lost when Taguchi butt bumps him in the head. The match starts to go in a serious direction but it still has that comedy vibe. I spied people leaving their seats too. Most likely to get a bathroom break. They ended up going into a pretty decent match but it was far from great. Taguchi came up with the win. 

Dragon Lee vs. Hiromu Takahashi

The main event of the evening saw CMLL star Dragon Lee competing against the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi. This is a match that I was really excited to see. Takahashi has been another wrestler that is tearing it up at the moment. He is exciting in and out of the ring. Definitely a performer that gets it. Dragon Lee is a really impressive upstart that turned heads against Kamaitachi at last year's CMLL/NJPW show Fantasticamania. 

The crowd is on their feet for this match. What a main event! They trade blows, exchange spots and beat the crap out of each other much to the delight of the very vocal Japanese crowd. Their chop and slap exchange in the beginning is enough to get an ovation. Dragon Lee is a viable future threat to Takahashi's title. That is something that has to be in the mind of the Time Bomb. 

The match is just what I expected. Fast paced vicious action all the way through. Dragon Lee is a huge star. The crowd was screaming for him. He made me a fan. Lee and Takahashi traded a suspenseful exchange of German Suplexes. Great stuff. They really put it all out on the canvas. They even had another great mask spot like the one during their match at The New Beginning In Osaka 2017 back in February. The end got a bit sloppy in a few spots. But it wasn't enough to knock it. This is a Barn Burner. These guys have got something with this feud. Fantastic. 

Best of the Super Junior 2017 - Night 1 was fantastic. A great introduction to the Junior Heavyweight scene. I loved that Dragon Lee vs. Hiromu Takahashi match and even the Scurll vs. Ospreay bout. Such a great show and I hope that you all get to see it. 

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