New Japan Pro Wrestling: Who Could Win Best Of The Super Juniors 2017?
Adjust your TV sets for the flippiest wrestling you've ever seen. Here's who could win Best of the Super Juniors 24.
With New Japan’s second largest annual tournament, Best of the Super Juniors, just around the corner it seems like a good time to take a look at the lineup of competitors and have a crack at guessing the outcomes. The great thing about New Japan’s booking is that so much is left open for possible future storylines. Many matches within the tournament have huge amounts of backstory, like Will Ospreay vs. Ricochet, Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll or Dragon Lee vs. Hiromu Takahashi – which makes this year’s flip fest one of the most anticipated in years.
If you’re new to New Japan, Best of the Super Juniors (BOSJ) is a tournament that showcases Junior Heavyweights (wrestlers billed at under 220 lbs) in a round robin style tournament. There are two blocks of eight competitors each who all fight each other once in half a month’s worth of shows, all uploaded to NJPW World. The wrestlers accrue points in the group stage, earning two points for a win, one point for a draw (if the match exceeds the time limit) and no points for a loss. At the end of the group stage, the wrestlers with the most points from each block will face off in one final match to decide who is the Best of the Super Juniors. The winner also gets a shot at the Junior Heavyweight title belt, currently held by the bringer of big bouncing balls, Hiromu Takahashi, at NJPW’s July show, Dominion.
This year’s tournament features many past winners, legends, and wrestlers from Japan, Mexico, USA and the United Kingdom. There are many potential winners in this year’s tournament, each more exciting than the last. So let’s flip on through them (get it?).
This year’s field seems to be skewed very much in the direction of A block. If you removed Taichi, which you really ought to, there wouldn’t be a wrestler in there that I would dismiss. Okay, maybe TAKA Michinoku isn’t going to win but he’s still a good wrestler, which Taichi, well… isn’t. Anyway, this makes guessing the winner of A Block incredibly difficult, especially with current Junior Heavyweight champion Hiromu Takahashi being so dominant in singles matches since Wrestle Kingdom 11 in January. Takahashi has been running through New Japan’s roster of Juniors in unstoppable fashion.
One of the wrestlers yet to challenge Takahashi for his title is last year’s tournament winner and British hero, William Ospreay. In the past months, Ospreay has been picking up consistent pinfalls in tag matches looking particularly impressive, leading many people to favour the Aerial Assassin. His past credentials and abilities as a wrestler make him a clear favourite.
If Ospreay wins A block, I would be inclined to say that KUSHIDA wins B block. Ospreay and KUSHIDA have put on fantastic matches in the past year. The idea of another match in the BOSJ finals would not only be an exciting match up but also have a great backstory, with KUSHIDA triumphing over Ospreay in their past encounters. Not only that, their matches are often considered both men’s best, which is no mean feat for someone as consistently astounding as KUSHIDA. The more I think about this match, the more I want it.
I realistically don’t see anyone but KUSHIDA winning B block. Since he lost the Junior title to Takahashi at Wrestle Kingdom 11, KUSHIDA hasn’t done too much except, importantly, being beaten by Takahashi for a second time in under two minutes like some sort of chump. KUSHIDA has done almost everything a Junior can do in NJPW, being a previous BOSJ winner and a four time Junior champion. His recent weak performance says to me that he is going to come into this tournament with a newfound energy and just decimate the competition.
KUSHIDA could go up against anyone (who isn’t a member of Suzuki-gun) in the finals and I’d be happy. Him finally winning against Takahashi to go into a title match at Dominion would be incredible. Another Ospreay match would be great and KUSHIDA facing Ricochet would be a mind-bogglingly entertaining bout. In my opinion, the most likely outcome of the tournament would be KUSHIDA winning over Takahashi in the final, but that is not my preferred outcome.
If you remove Kazuchika Okada from the conversation, I would say that Hiromu Takahashi is the best wrestler in the world right now. Some wrestlers have what many refer to as ‘It’, and The Time Bomb has ‘It’ coming out of his ears, mouth and other, unspeakable, orifices. He does everything a wrestler does with aplomb. His attire is perhaps the best there is, his athleticism is near unparalleled and his insane character work is hugely compelling. His title defenses this year have all been match of the year contenders (except the one at Sakura Genesis because it was two minutes long).
Takahashi has been booked incredibly strong since his return to New Japan, having won every singles match he has had and rarely, if ever, taking the pinfall in tag matches. Not only this, he destroyed New Japan’s Junior ace KUSHIDA at Sakura Genesis in shocking fashion. In my mind, it’s a shame to sully the momentum Takahashi has built up over the past months. This is why I would put Takahashi as a favourite to win A block and in my personal opinion, shouldn’t lose a single match.
The reason why this is my favourite possible outcome is because of how huge it would be. It is incredibly uncommon for the Junior champion to win BOSJ and when they do, they often simply challenge for one of the Heavyweight belts. This could very well end up being Tetsuya Naito and his Intercontinental Championship.
The prospect of a cocky and deranged Takahashi leaving Los Ingobernables behind and taking on his former leader, one of the men who trained him, strikes me as a match that has endless potential. However, this pipe dream is quite unlikely – though it certainly should not be overlooked.
Rest assured I am missing out many strong contenders to win the tournament. Jushin Liger has said that this will be his last BOSJ, which actually makes me think he may perform quite well. Ricochet is a previous winner and had a very close match for the Junior title at Wrestling Toyonokuni. Dragon Lee has had a heated rivalry with Takahashi for years now, which makes the prospect of a Dominion match between the two enticing beyond belief. Also, in reality, this is wrestling and anything could happen. Taichi could win and Takahashi would probably still drag a great match out of him.
All I know is that we are going to see some top matches from this year’s tournament and that is what excites me the most.
Best of the Super Juniors begins on Wednesday, May 17.