The Best of the Super Juniors 26 opens up with five A Block matches in front of 1,630 fans at the Sendai Sunplaza Hall. The singles clash between Shingo Takagi and SHO is finally happening and in the main event we see a rematch from the first night of Wrestling Dontaku as Taiji Ishimori looks for revenge against Dragon Lee. I’ll only be reviewing the tournament matches, let’s get started!
Tiger Mask IV def. TAKA Michinoku @ 11:00 via Tiger Suplex – **1/2
They start off by trading waistlocks and wristlocks until TAKA lands a dropkick to the knee. Tiger bails but TAKA follows and continues the attack, applying a figure four between the ring post. He brings Tiger back into the middle and applies a kneebar but Tiger gets the ropes. Tiger comes back for a quick flurry of kicks that TAKA puts an end to with a dropkick to the back of his knee followed by a pair of knee strikes. TAKA again applies the figure four and refuses to break the hold. The referee frees Tiger and Tiger is quick to block a scoop slam. He catches TAKA running in with a tombstone piledriver but the damage to the knee causes a delayed pin that allows TAKA time to kick out.
Tiger immediately locks in the cross armbreaker and continues the attack on the arm after TAKA makes the ropes. TAKA pulls Tiger down on an Irish whip and traps him in a crossface. Tiger manages to escape but TAKA is ready with a springboard heel kick and channels Zack Sabre Jr. by applying the Jim Breaks armbar. Again, Tiger finds the ropes and is able to block the Michinoku Driver, hits a crucifix driver followed by a Tiger Driver but TAKA kicks out. TAKA catches Tiger with a jumping kick, Tiger responds with a jumping knee and finishes TAKA with the Tiger Suplex.
Titán def. Yoshinobu Kanemaru @ 11:01 via Immortal – **1/4
Kanemaru gets the jump before the bell and takes Titan to the top rope where he attempts to unmask the luchador. Titán elbows him off but Kanemaru is quick to choke him with his jacket and goes back after the mask. Titán sends Kanemaru off, dropkicks him out of the ring, fakes out a dive and lands a hurricanrana on the outside. He sends Kanemaru in for a two count, Kanemaru responds with a kick to the inner thigh and drapes Titán over the second rope for a running dropkick from the outside followed by a DDT to the floor. Titán breaks the countout at 13 but Kanemaru is there with the camel clutch.
Kanemaru gives up on the submission and tries a pin, only gets a two count and drapes Titán over the apron where he hammers him with elbows. Titan is sent to the corner and uses that space for a running lariat into the opposite corner followed by a tope con hilo for a two count. He looks for a moonsault but Kanemaru gets the knees up and sets up for Deep Impact. Titán cuts it off, lands an overhead kick and charges the corner but Kanemaru sends him off the ropes and lands Deep Impact, though only keeping him down for a two. They trade forearms for overhands, each ducking a lariat but Kanemaru catches Titán with a satellite DDT. Kanemaru misses with the whiskey mist, Titán catches his boot and ties him up in Immortal for the win.
Marty Scurll def. Jonathan Gresham @ 12:24 via Black Plague – ***
They start with a shake and a knucklelock. Scurll takes the wristlock but Gresham spins free and handstands out of a headlock. Scurll refuses a second handshake, tries for another headlock but Gresham again escapes and they both hit the ropes, leapfrog over the other before Gresham eventually lands a springboard hurricanrana followed by a dropkick. Scurll catches Gresham running in with a Gory Special, drives him to the corner and sets him up on the ropes. Gresham sends him off but Scurll is quick to fire back, landing an uppercut the sends Gresham to the floor. Scurll follows him out with a superkick before bringing Gresham back in for a Romero Special. He calls for a brainbuster but Gresham hits own of his own instead and follows with a pair of chops in the corner and a dropkick.
They trade waistlocks, Scurll ducks a lariat and turns it into a half & half, low enziguri and powerbomb for two. Gresham backdrops out of a double underhook, Scurll quickly comes back with a 619 and takes Gresham to the top rope for a brainbuster. Gresham traps Scurll’s legs in a pin and they begin trading pin attempts until a Scurll superkick. They run the ropes, Gresham lands a springboard moonsault and pulls Scurll into a backslide for two. Scurll stomps the hand, snaps the fingers looks for the chickenwing but Gresham escapes and they again trade pin attempts. Gresham’s leg clutch is turned into the chickenwing but he again escapes and charges in only to be turned inside out with a lariat followed by Black Plague for the win.
Shingo Takagi def. SHO @ 25:08 via Last of the Dragon – ***3/4
The match starts with a lock up and SHO backing Shingo to the corner. He gives a clean break which Shingo responds to with a pieface and they knuckle lock. Shingo backs SHO to the ropes, chops him in the corner and applies a headlock. SHO sends him off and they have a shoulder tackle exchange. Shingo puts the brakes on a hiptoss only to be shouldered down. He offers his hand to SHO, gives him a knee instead but SHO fires back with a dropkick and lays in the kicks. Shingo catches a kick, SHO catches a chop and turns it into an armbar, Shingo gets to the ropes and bails. SHO follows him out with a PK from the apron, puts Shingo on the apron for a German but Shingo counters and looks for a DVD but SHO escapes back into the ring. Shingo catches him with a lariat in the ring and lariats him outside to the floor with another. He follows SHO out and runs him into the post before sending him back in the ring.
SHO elbows out of a backdrop, Shingo sends him to the corner, SHO gets his boots up but Shingo throws them down and follows with a lariat and top rope back elbow drop. He pie faces SHO and they trade chops. Shingo put the breaks on a spear, looks for a brainbuster but SHO counters into one of his own, ducks a lariat and hits the spear. SHO applies an armbreaker but Shingo is quickly on the ropes. SHO pulls Shingo to his feet and dishes out a series of elbow breakers before hitting the ropes where Shingo catches him with a punch and lariat. Shingo sends SHO to the apron and deadlift suplexes him back inside. They trade forearms, corner lariats, suplexes and begin charging at each other with lariats. SHO catches a Pumping Bomber with a knee lift and takes Shingo down with a lariat. He follows with a trifecta of German suplexes, bridging on the third and dropping Shingo with a powerbomb onto the knees.
Shingo fights out of Shock Arrow and lands combination forearms ducks a lariat, hits a German and Pumping Bomber for two. Noshigami and another Pumping Bomber again for two. SHO escapes Last of the Dragon and counters Shingo into the Hoverboard Lock and pulls him into a cross armbreaker. Shingo rolls him up but SHO kicks out while managing to keep the hold and turns it into a triangle. Shingo pulls him up for a powerbomb but SHO brings him right back down with the armbreaker. Shingo makes it to the ropes, SHO continues the attack on the arm, Shingo catches a kick and lands a lariat. SHO elbow free of his hold, they trade slaps, forearms and chops before a Shingo punch, headbutt and Pumping Bomber. Once again, SHO kicks out. Shingo immediately picks SHO back up and finishes him with Last of the Dragon.
Taiji Ishimori def. Dragon Lee @ 18:32 via Bloody Cross – ***1/2
The match starts with the two staring holes into each other. Lee invites Ishimori to make the first shot. They have a long exchange of forearms before Lee collapses and Ishimori sends Lee to the ropes and lands a dropkick that sends Lee outside. Ishimori follows with a plancha and teases throwing Lee into the fans but sends him back in instead. He cranks on the neck and takes Lee to the top where he tries unmasking the luchador, traps him in the tree of woe and lands a dropkick. Ishimori applies a headlock, Lee finds the ropes but Ishimori stays on the attack with chops. Lee sends him off, catches a springboard dive and drops Ishimori with an STO. Ishimori tries for the handspring enziguri but Lee sidesteps it, lands a hurricanrana that sends Ishimori out and follows with a tope con hilo.
They break the count at 19 but Lee stays on the attack, hitting a John Woo followed by a corner dropkick. He sends Ishimori to the ropes, Ishimori fires back with a handspring enziguri but Lee sits up in the Shibata pose. Ishimori charges in and locks in the crossface, Lee finds the ropes and bails outside. Ishimori looks to follow him out with a moonsault but Lee hops the apron, trips Ishimori and dropkicks him while he’s draped over the second buckle. They trade forearms and boots on the apron, meet forehead to forehead and make their way back in the ring to continue trading shots. Lee ducks lariat, Ishimori flips through a German, can’t flip through a second but he’s back with a Destroyer followed by a DDT. Ishimori looks to finish Lee but Lee drives him into the corner and takes him to the top for a draping double stomp but only gets a two count. Ishimori turns Desnucadora into a crucifix driver for two, they’re both down for a while but make it back up, charge at each other and trade poison ranas. Ishimori hits Cipher UTAKI and finishes Lee with Bloody Cross.
Ishimori celebrates his opening day win in his hometown and says he will make the tournament reborn.
A strong opening day but I can’t help to be a little underwhelmed. The crowd didn’t give the energy to put any of the matches over the top despite the match quality itself being strong. It doesn’t help that we saw a better version of Lee and Ishimori just a week ago. I don’t think anyone expected them to top that performance but with that classic still fresh in everyone’s mind it felt underwhelming all the same. SHO and Shingo had the clear match of the night but I came away thinking they could do better than what we saw tonight. Shingo brought the juice with ease but SHO seemed a little too over the top and goofy at times. He didn’t need to be that animated, just bring the heat with your strikes. Gresham showed great technique but his matches with guys of opposite skill sets will be more exciting than the matching skills of Scurll. Titán wasn’t able to showcase much but he had flashes that should be exciting for when he faces Dragon Lee, Ishimori and Shingo later in the tournament. It was fun to see TAKA channel his inner Sabre. Hopefully that’s something he continues doing throughout the tour. I think with more energy I would’ve liked this show a lot more but as it is I’m walking away a little disappointed. Hope for some better crowds as the tournament continues.
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