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By Matthew Macklin on 2019-05-13 18:55:00

Best of the Super Juniors Night 1, Sendai, May 13:

A Block

Tiger Mask IV defeated TAKA Michinoku.   This was a really good match between these two great veterans.  The story here saw TAKA work over the knee of Tiger, a knee he injured on the last tour. Tiger didn’t get back into the match until he hit a Tombstone. TAKA went old school with a springboard spin kick late in the match and locked on a ZSJ style submission, but Tiger got to the ropes. Tiger hit the Tiger Driver for a near fall and finished him with a Tiger Suplex. This was a really easy match to watch and a great start to the tournament.

Titan defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru.  Another good match. Kanemaru jumped Titan before the bell and went right after the mask. Titan picked up some momentum when he took to the air, but the DDT variations were the difference maker for Kanemaru. That was basically the story of the match. Kanemaru hit the Deep Impact DDT, but couldn’t make the cover. The finish saw Titan tie Kanemaru up in the Titan X and get the pin.

Marty Scurll defeated Jonathan Gresham.  This was a fantastic pure wrestling match. Gresham was built to wrestle in Japan and he’s finally getting a chance to showcase his incredible skills on the big stage. There was a lot of chain wrestling in this, with Gresham going from one pinning combo to another with seamless, silky transitions. Scurll hit a nice combo of moves with a half and half suplex, enzuigiri and powerbomb. The momentum went back and forth until Scurll attacked the fingers of Gresham, meaning that he no longer had the same grip when he went for pins.  The finish saw Scurll hit the Black Plague to pin Gresham.

Shingo Takagi defeated SHO.  This was sensational. 

This was the match of the tournament that I was looking forward to the most, because of how amazing this feud had been so far and the chemistry they have is good. They have met in many tag matches and the story has been SHO’s obsession with trying to beat the undefeated force that is Shingo. This was their first singles meeting and it was SHO’s chance to do it one on one. 

The storytelling here was incredible. SHO through everything he had at Shingo, but the power of Shingo was just too much for him to handle at times, but he kept fighting. He went after the arm of Shingo to weaken the Pumping Bomber lariat, not for a long time, but it was enough that you remembered when they got to the finish of the match. Shingo was able to hit left arm lariats, and hit the Pumping Bomber, but the damage to the arm meant that he was slow to get to the cover. There was an amazing sequence here with SHO doing everything he could to get Shingo up for a powerbomb. Those few moments summed up the entire story of this match. The grit and determination of SHO to overcome this massive obstacle.

Shingo was closing in on the win when SHO caught him in an armbar, and everyone in the building bought that Shingo might tap, because of those few minutes earlier where SHO went after the arm. They traded strikes again, but Shingo was just too much. Shingo hit one more ferocious Pumping Bomber and finished him off with Last of the Dragon. This was one of the best NJPW matches of the year. Go out of your way to see it. 

Taiji Ishimori defeated Dragon Lee.  I needed three paragraphs to talk about the last match, but I won’t need more than one here. This was two guys doing moves. The match had no story, it had no flow and it didn’t build to a finish. They had a huge task of following the previous match, but this wasn’t good at all. They had a great match last week in the main event of Wrestling Dontaku, and at times here they played off that and built on spots from that match, but that was as close as we got to any sort of story. Dragon Lee again no sold a Canadian destroyer, which is now something he is constantly doing. Every single time he does it, it completely takes me out of the match and makes him look like a bush league indie wrestler. This match ended extremely flat when Ishimori his Bloody Cross. Hopefully this was just an off night for these two really talented guys.

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