TAKA MICHINOKU def. JUSHIN THUNDER LIGER [A]
This was a solid opener and the crowd was ready for it. This is Liger’s last Super Juniors tournament, and while they didn’t do anything mind-blowing, he can still put on great matches when he turns it on. It was nice to see a TAKA Michinoku match without the distractions of Suzuki-Gun coming into play every few seconds. Liger actually blasted him with a chair early on. He hit the Liger Bomb after a good back and forth match, but Michinoku barely kicked out and won it with a rake of the eyes and a roll-up
VOLADOR JR. def. TIGER MASK [B]
This wasn’t the prettiest match, but boy did Tiger Mask put his heart into it. They started slow and worked a lot of holds, really building up to the bigger spots. Volador did a big tope con hilo to the floor, and kicked out of a Tiger Driver later on. Tiger locked in an armbar and they teased a submission but he eventually got to the ropes. Volador hit a big kick in the corner and pinned him off a top rope Spanish Fly.
RICOCHET def. TAICHI [A]
Probably the worst match of the show, but it still had its moments. Taichi stalled forever at the start, bailing to the outside, until Ricochet finally nailed him with a suicide dive. Taichi was really sloppy in certain spots, and just couldn’t get it together. His seductress valet got involved and caused a distraction, allowing him to choke out Ricochet with his microphone stand. The last few minutes with Ricochet in control were good, and he won it with the Benadryller and a Shooting Star Press.
ACH def. BUSHI [B]
The best match of the first half, with ACH looking great doing move after move. The crowd is really behind him. Bushi controlled it early on after tricking him into a handshake, and put the boots to him in the corner. ACH mounted his comeback after causing a distraction and smacking him in the balls, then hit a dropkick sending Bushi to the floor and a springboard crossbody that actually turned into more of a leg lariat. It looked cool. Bushi hit a backbreaker from the second rope, but ACH countered the top rope Codebreaker with a standing dropkick, then hit a wicked lariat and a Michinoku Driver to pick up the win.
EL DESPERADO def. KUSHIDA [B]
A bit of an upset here, but this will probably be one of the few losses KUSHIDA suffers throughout the tournament. He was attacking the arm and going for the Hoverboard Lock the entire match, which always adds a great dynamic to his matches. There were a lot of submission attempts and transitions, with Desperado hitting a big spinebuster right into a Stretch Muffler at one point. Desperado did eventually tap out, but the referee had gone down so nobody saw it. He ended up winning with the Guitarra de Angel on top of the ROH World TV Championship. Great match.
MARTY SCURLL def. WILL OSPRAY [A]
Go out of your way to see this match. This was Scurll’s debut in a NJPW ring and he came down with a Bullet Club umbrella and said he was going to “make the Best of the Super Juniors his b—h.” The crowd was super hot for this, going back and forth between Ospreay chants and doing the Scurll “woop woop” call. You could tell it was a personal rivalry that had gone from the UK to the US and now finally made it to Japan, and they were anxious to beat the crap out of each other. They did back and forth exchanges early on, with some really excellent chain grappling. Just big move after big move, with Scurll doing the broken fingers spot, and Ospreay hitting the Sasuke Special. The finish was just awesome, with Ospreay dodging a lariat, hitting his corkscrew roundhouse kick, then came off the ropes looking for the OsCutter, but Scurll caught him out of the air with the Chicken Wing for the submission.
RYUSUKE TAGUCHI def. YOSHINOBU KANEMARU [B]
This was actually a really fun match, and the crowd was surprisingly being it despite the matches it had to follow. Taguchi gets a lot of crap, but at his worst he’s still a beloved comedy character, and with matches like this he shows he can still turn it on when it’s called for. Kanemaru controlled the bulk of the match and even hit his diving DDT finisher, which Taguchi kicked out of at the last minute to a big pop. Kanemaru hit a low blow while the ref was distracted by TAKA Michinoku, but as he fell down Taguchi kicked him right in the groin to return the favor, then dropkicked him into TAKA and snuck a quick roll-up for the win.
DRAGON LEE def. HIROMU TAKAHASHI [A]
This was the match of the night, depending on who you ask. It was also the first loss Takahashi has suffered since coming back in November with the new gimmick. They started out with a sick exchange of chops that went on forever; when they were done both guys had big red welts across their chests. Lee hit a sunset flip powerbomb to the floor, which something the champ has been doing since beating him earlier in the year. Just like the chop exchange, they went back and forth with a dozen German suplexes, gradually getting more and more tired and falling over with each one. Takahashi took control back after ripping a large section of Lee’s mask off. They both kicked out of a half dozen big moves with nearfall after nearfall, and the crowd was electric throughout the entire thing. Lee eventually won it with a Death Valley Driver into the corner and the Phoenix Plex.