NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 2020 – Night 2
By Rick Poehling on 20th November 2020
Tonight, our main event features Hiromu Takahashi vs El Desperado as the Best of the Super Juniors continues!
Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
Yuji Nagata & Gabriel Kidd vs Tomoaki Honma & Satoshi Kojima
And here’s your undercard opener for the day. Liger is on commentary and I want his sweater. It looks so very comfy. Anyway, this is very much a typical warm-up tag, nothing offensive to watch but nothing very good either. Kidd is there for one reason and he does the honors to a Kojima lariat. (Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma over Yuju Nagata & Gabriel Kidd, pinfall, 8:24)
BUSHI (0 Points) vs Yuya Uemura (0 Points) – BOSJ Match
Much like the first night, Yuya goes nuts at the bell, charging BUSHI and going on offense with a shoulderblock. He follows that with a series of rollups and close twos before BUSHI gets a dropkick to catch a breath. BUSHI beats on him in the corner, then chokes away with the boot after some stomps. Young Lion Killer Boston Crab from BUSHI now, and Uemura makes it an epic struggle, getting dragged back to the center more than once before finally making the ropes.
Belly-to-back suplex from BUSHI gets two. Blind charge and Yuya gets the boot up to stop BUSHI. Uemura shows some life and fires away, including a dropkick into the buckles, and now it’s Yuya with the Crab. He hangs on for awhile until BUSHI makes the ropes, then goes for the double hooks, but BUSHI escapes and they slug it out. Neckbreaker gets two for BUSHI, but he runs right into a Uemura dropkick. Release German suplex from Yuya gets two. He tries for the hooks again, but BUSHI escapes and hits a lungblower for two. Fireman’s Carry into a Codebreaker finishes for BUSHI. (BUSHI over Yuya Uemura, pinfall, 9:57)
THOUGHTS: **1/2. Perfectly cromulent match here, with Uemura just bringing excitement to everything he does with his facials and selling. He’s going to be something, no doubt. BUSHI is always reliable for something decent, if not spectacular.
Master Wato (w/ Hiroyoshi Tenzan) (2 Points) vs Robbie Eagles (2 Points) – BOSJ Match
Slick wristlock reversals start us off in this one as they work off that for a bit, transitioning from that into armdrags and simultaneous dropkicks. Wato fires with kicks after that and elbows to the back of the head. Eagles comes back with a ‘rana and a somersault tope through the ropes onto Wato. Back in and it’s a kick to the back of Wato’s knee and a lariat to the back of Wato’s head.
Eagles with some nasty kicks, but a springboard jumps into a dropkick from Wato, who then goes for a twisting plancha that Eagles barely catches. That could have gone wrong, but don’t worry on that front, because there’s more match to come. Gorgeous flying uppercut hits from Wato as he springboards back in from the top rope. Wato goes for a powerbomb, almost drops Eagles on his head, then Eagles is SUPPOSED to go over the top of him and into a sunset flip, but Wato doesn’t go over and everyone just kind of crashes to the mat and Eagles does his best to roll through it for two.
But we’re not done as Eagles comes off with a wheelbarrow that he’s supposed to roll through into a Ron Miller special, but their signals cross a bit before Wato goes into the move. Yikes. Eagles kicks Wato in the small of the back, but Wato makes the ropes. They slug it out now, then switch to kicks. Wato goes for a big kick that I think Eagles was supposed to jump over, but he either doesn’t get high enough or Wato kicks too high, but either way, the kick hits Eagles, who ignores it and fire kicks of his own. They’re on different planets out there.
Wato back with a head kick and both guys are down. Eagles with a springboard dropkick to the knee of Wato. Turbo Backpack gets two for Eagles. Robbie goes up, 450 hits the knees of Wato! Tombstone Driver leads to Wato going up and the RPP hits to keep Wato undefeated. (Master Wato over Robbie Eagles, pinfall, 12:38)
THOUGHTS: **. I had issues throughout this one. Botches aside, my primary problem here is that the match felt to me like a bunch of small connected sequences with no cohesion. While I was watching it, I never felt like either wrestler was in the moment of the match, where they were reacting and trying to figure out how to beat the other guy – it felt like ‘okay, we did that series, let’s lie around for a second then do the next series of moves’. It’s not like I hate Wato and I like Eagles, but nothing about this worked for me, especially watching it a second time. Wato is young and will get better, but this was not his finest hour, nor Eagles’.
SHO (2 Points) vs DOUKI (0 Points) – BOSJ Match
DOUKI attacks before the bell, choking with his boot in the corner. SHO comes back with a dropkick while still wearing his hoodie, because SHO is a real man, baby! He works the arm into a wristlock, with DOUKI making the ropes. SHO charges, but DOUKI ducks and sends him to the floor, then introduces him to a barricade or two. The ref tries to stop that so DOUKI throws him down and then hits a pipe-assisted neckbreaker to SHO on the floor, giving us the unintentionally funny Kevin Kelly line of the night: “The referee didn’t see it as he’d been slung down, therefore can’t disqualify DOUKI.”
So the ref couldn’t DQ DOUKI for, I dunno, PHYSICALLY THROWING THE REF DOWN? I just can’t with this sometimes.
Anyway, I suppose I can because we’re back to it with DOUKI hitting an elbow and a chinlock in the middle of the ring. They slug it out and DOUKI hits a DDT for two. They fight over a suplex and DOUKI goes to the eyes, SHO escapes and spears DOUKI. Kicks from SHO now. DOUKI counters that nicely into Italian Stretch 32, but SHO makes the ropes. Slingshot DDT attempts, SHO catches it, they trade clotheslines won by DOUKI, SHO back with a suplex. They’re making up nicely for a slow start here.
Another slugfest, won by SHO, so DOUKI throws the ref in front of him because, why not? Nothing’s going to happen. Indeed, nothing does as DOUKI hits an enzugiri and slaps the Italian Stretch back on. SHO attempts to powerbomb out of it, DOUKI hangs on, SHO lifts him up, Powerbreaker! SHO covers and gets two. Shock Arrow time, but DOUKI flips through it and gets the Italian again! That was SLICK. SHO falls down and has the greatest glassy-eyed stare to sell passing out, but finally manages to reach a boot out to get the rope for the break.
Slingshot DDT gets two for DOUKI. SHO blocks a suplex, so DOUKI hits a spinning Torture Rack slam for two. DOUKI goes for the suplex again, SHO counters into a high-angle German. Back up now and they lay into each other, SHO just DROPS him with a lariat. Straightjacket piledriver gets two for SHO. SHO doesn’t let it bother him, as he then loads him up for Shock Arrow, hitting it this time for the pin. (SHO over DOUKI, pinfall, 16:26)
THOUGHTS: ***1/4. This was like a tale of two matches, where the beginning was really slow and frankly kind of boring, and then they just started laying in on the second half with big moves and shots to build to a conclusion. Overall, the dumb shit with the refs is probably just something we’re going to have to accept in NJPW, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it (unless Jay White does it. Then it’s a brilliant heel move that showcases his pro wrestling bonafides, because I’m a massive hypocrite and stuff). But there was a lot of good here, it just took awhile to get there.
Ryusuke Taguchi (2 Points) vs Taiji Ishimori (0 Points) – BOSJ Match
Taguchi wants to dance, but Taiji is not feeling the beat as he rolls out. Ishimori rolls back when Taguchi stops paying attention and attacks, but Ryusuke moves on a senton to send Ishimori crashing. Ishimori avoids a hip attack and snaps Taguchi’s neck on the top rope, sending him to the floor, where the champ lays in the beatdown.
Silliness ensues as Taguchi rolls back in and goes from one side of the ring to the other, threatening to roll out again before Taiji chokes him. You know, I’m not sure that Taguchi has his serious boots on tonight. Just a hunch. Neck crank by Taiji, who is in firm control, now a chinlock on the mat. Taguchi tries a comeback with the hip attack, sending Taiji outside, and a springboard crossbody by Taguchi puts both guys down on the floor. Springboard hip attack back in (are you trying to take his HEAD off, Taguchi? C’mon!) gets two, and it’s two of the Three Amigos and an inverted DDT for two from Taguchi.
Bumaye hits and it’s anklelock time. Ishimori stretches for the ropes, then shits his weight to take Taguchi over into the Yes Lock. Taguchi reaches for the ropes, Taiji rolls him back to the middle, Taguchi manages to stretch out just enough to break on the bottom rope. Double knees to the chest of Taguchi gets two. Bloody Cross is countered into the anklelock and Taguchi cranks on it. Dodon attempt by Taguchi, they trade rollups and Ishimori yanks Taguchi’s pants almost halfway down to hold him down for the pin. (Taiji Ishimori over Ryusuke Taguchi, pinfall, 11:33)
THOUGHTS: **3/4. This one didn’t work for me, to be honest, even though the finish was funny as hell. Both guys had better matches on the first night. This wasn’t BAD, per se, but outside of said funny finish there was nothing memorable here and I’ll have forgotten the match by the next show.
Red Shoes tries to cover up Full Moon Taguchi as best he can.
El Desperado (0 Points) vs Hiromu Takahashi (2 Points) – BOSJ Match
I expect this to be good, especially in the main event slot, so let’s see if I’m right. A few sequences and then they tie up strong, with Despy giving Hiromu a slap against the ropes. Well, Hiromu can’t let that stand, so he responds by dumping Desperado and running him from barricade to barricade, then rolling him back in for open-handed slaps as they’re tearing into each other with intensity that has me sitting here with my mouth open. They head back out to the floor and toss each other from rail to rail, slapping each other along the way. Like, seriously, they’re just wailing on each other and it’s really great.
They barely even notice the count, diving in at 19 to break the count, then Despy pulls Hiromu back to the floor and runs the ropes, somersault tope from Despy sends Hiromu crashing to the rail! Despy back in and he rips off a corner pad as Takahashi recovers, then runs Hiromu into the exposed buckle when the latter rolls back in at 19. Again! Desperado goes to work on the knee of Hiromu now, with kicks and a splash. Hiromu back up and he wants to fight, so Despy trashtalks him and chops him back down, then splashes the knee again.
Hiromu comes back with a ‘rana but can barely stand. He hits a seated dropkick to send Despy to the floor, then a shotgun dropkick off the apron to the floor, hurting the knee even further. Back in a Falcon Arrow gets two for Hiromu. Awesome sequence follows as Hiromu charges Despy in the corner but stumbles just a LITTLE bit (I mean it was meant to be seen but still barely perceptive) and that allows Despy to change up his speed and catch Hiromu in the corner, then dropkick Takahashi’s knee and dragon screw it.
They trade reversals and then trade strikes, just slapping the ever-loving shit out of each other. It’s glorious. Desperado finally changes it up by kicking the knee, avoiding a Hiromu superkick and then dropkicking the knee into the Stretch Muffler. Even after Hiromu makes the ropes, Desperado makes sure to crank the leg until the ref forces the break at five. Takahashi hits a lariat to buy time, but he’s moving slowly now. Dynamite Plunger gets two for Takahashi, then he hits the throw into the buckles as Desperado charges. Superkick by Hiromu is noticeably lower than normal, and they trade reversals as Despy grabs the ref before Takahashi drops him with a lariat.
On each of these sequences, whenever Hiromu runs for any period, he hits a move and then the adrenaline wears off and he sinks to the mat as a result. He’s SO good at this, just building sympathy. They both trade lariats now as Despy has taken more big moves recently but Hiromu’s knee is in too much pain to hit his followups fast enough. Facebuster gets two for Takahashi. Takahashi comes off the ropes, but Despy switches directions and hits a spinebuster, smoothly transitioning into the Stretch Muffler. He calls his Numero Dos, if you were curious.
Hiromu makes the ropes and blocks Pinche Loco, then backdrops out of it. Both guys slug it out from their knees and frankly, I believe it. This has been a spectacular match. Back to their feet and they’re wobbly, with Hiromu getting a pair of superkicks to drop Despy. He goes to get Desperado, who pops up and just punches Hiromu in the face. Like, he nailed him. They trade counters and Hiromu somehow powers through the knee and hits the Death Valley Driver into the exposed buckle. Yeeouch. Hiromu charges, but Desperado sidesteps him and Takahashi ends up sandwiching the ref against the exposed buckle, and that allows Despy to kick a goddamn field goal to the nuts of Takahashi.
Ref is down and Desperado gets a chair, whacks Takahashi three times in the knee with it, goes and gets the ref, then puts Takahashi in the Stretch Muffler again, this time in the center of the ring. Hiromu tries to fight it, but he’s got nothing left and he verbally submits to end it. (El Desperado over Hiromu Takahashi, submission, 23:11)
THOUGHTS: ****1/4. Man, slap a non-screwy finish on that thing and it’s even higher. Good God, I loved this match SO much. They just beat the holy crap out of each other the whole way through and had a story to go with it. Not a ton of highspots in this one, but they didn’t need them, as the psychology of the match was just fantastic, as Desperado worked the knee but took all the big moves. Even the end of the match was great, with Desperado just clocking the knees of Takahashi instead of going for a more normal chairshot, to set up the Muffler for the actual submission. I’ve watched this match twice now and I think I’ll probably watch it a few more times, which is a mark of a good match to me. In fact, even though I hate the finish, ****1/2. I just really enjoyed this whole deal and I thought it was better than the Night 1 main event.
Desperado’s promo may shed some light on this – here’s a transcription:
“How about it? A three count and nobody would remember anything about it, but you having to say you quit…..that’ll stay with you for a while. (Laughs) How about it? You said you used to hate me and don’t anymore? Even though I’ve always told you that I’ve loved you, this whole time. What will you say now? You don’t care? That’s as good as saying you don’t care about me at all. After today, am I intriguing to you again? If you think you can win this Super Jr with that leg the way it is, then go ahead and do it. All I have are who? Taguchi? Wato? Ham and eggers. That’s too bad. If I have to fight you again, I’ll make sure you stay down. I’m going on to win this thing. What are you gonna do?”
Take it for what it’s worth, but that almost jilted lover speech from Desperado gave new context to the match and their angle down the line if they decide to go that route.
STANDINGS AFTER NIGHT 2:
Master Wato: 4 Points
SHO: 4 Points
El Desperado: 2 Points
Hiromu Takahashi: 2 Points
Taiji Ishimori: 2 Points
Ryusuke Taguchi: 2 Points
Robbie Eagles: 2 Points
BUSHI: 2 Points
DOUKI: 0 Points
Yuya Uemura: 0 Points
FINAL THOUGHTS: I thought this was a lackluster show with a spectacular main event, so that makes it a one-match show. What I will say, though, is that these shows are almost a perfect length if you just need a good show to watch, as they’re all done in 2 and a half hours or less with six matches. But go out of your way to watch the main even if you don’t watch the rest, as El Desperado really broke out in this one tonight and I hope that they take it somewhere.
Night 3 looms! See you then!
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
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