The best of the Junior Heavyweight Division battled it out, and now the best two stand tall to face each other! Taiji Ishimori came to NJPW to prove he is THE best Junior Heavyweight in the world today, but he’ll have to go through Hiromu Takahashi to do it! Who will win and earn a shot at Will Ospreay’s title?
This review of Best of the Super Juniors 25 will be as broadcast by AXS TV.
Therefore, all images are courtesy of AXS TV.
Gifs courtesy of http://frentique.tumblr.com
- Best of the Super Juniors Finals: Taiji Ishimori VS Hiromu Takahashi; Hiromu Takahashi wins and will challenge Will Ospreay for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship at Dominion.
PLAY BY PLAY
NJPW and AXS review what led to this final round.
“Bone Soldier” returned to Bullet Club, but it was revealed to be Pro-Wrestling NOAH’s Taiji Ishimori! Wrestling Dontaku would be where and when Ishimori attacked Will Ospreay, and making his claim to the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. Both Ishimori and Ospreay participated in the premier Jr. Heavyweight round-robin tournament, and ended up tied 5-2, but one of Ospreay’s two losses was a loss to Ishimori! Not only would that help Ishimori advance, that proved he could defeat Ospreay clean.
But on the other side of things, Hiromu Takahashi, another of Ospreay’s rivals, also went 5-2 and advanced with his win over yet another of Ospreay’s rivals in Kushida! Now they meet, both determined to get one more match with the Aerial Assassin! Will the Ticking Time Bomb blow up the Bone Soldier? Or will Ishimori drive-by Takahashi on his way to the top?
Best of the Super Juniors Finals: Taiji Ishimori VS Hiromu Takahashi!
It’s a first-time-ever match-up of two of the best. Ishimori did everything there is to do as a Junior Heavyweight in Pro-Wrestling NOAH, from being a Three-Time GHC Jr. Heavyweight Champion to being a Six-Time GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion. Meanwhile, Hiromu has only just begun his legacy. Whose legacy will grow with adding the Best of the Super Juniors trophy?
By the way, that sketch pad Hiromu has is given to commentary, and Jushin Thunder Liger takes a look inside. It seems Hiromu has written notes on his opinion of the other Super Jr. competitors. Clearly he prefers ACH more than he does Ishimori, going by that smiley face.
Hiromu’s opinions aside, Red Shoes does his check of both men and see they’re clear of anything prohibited. The bell rings, and the match begins, after the break.
NJPW on AXS returns and the fans are strongly behind Hiromu. Hiromu and Ishimori stare down, then slowly start to circle. They tie up but then back off. They approach again, but go back to circling. Finally they tie up, and are evenly matched in strength. Hiromu manages to back Ishimori up, but Ishimori turns it around to put Hiromu against the ropes. Red Shoes calls for the break, and Ishimori backs off, only to swing! Hiromu dodges and whips but Ishimori reverses. Hiromu stops himself to whip again, and reel Ishimori in for a forearm. He puts Ishimori on the second rope to then kick the rope, jacking Ishimori’s jaw. Hiromu runs and blasts Ishimori with a dropkick!
Ishimori ends up outside the ring, and Hiromu builds speed, but Ishimori comes back to headscissor Hiromu down! Ishimori goes after Hiromu in the corner for a whip, but Hiromu slides out. The chase is on as Ishimori pursues, but Hiromu leaps over! Ishimori holds ropes to prevent the sunset flip bomb. He backflips and now they start brawling with forearms! The brawl ends up going through the crowd! Hiromu knocks Ishimori down at the entrance, then drags him back up. Hiromu tosses Ishimiro over the railings, and now they go up the stairs! Ishimori breaks free of the headlock and they brawl again! Hiromu rakes the eyes, then stomps Ishimori down. Hiromu gets plenty of distance, and then runs back in for that John Woo Dropkick!
Ishimori gets blasted, and fans fire up for Hiromu. Hiromu wants everyone to clear the steps, and he brings Ishimori up by his hair. Hiromu brings Ishimori into bomb position, but Ishimori huricanranas Hiromu down those stairs!
Both men are down, but Ishimori is up first while Red Shoes checks on Hiromu. Ishimori walks down and fetches Hiromu, and the 20 count finally begins. It reaches 6 as Ishimori stomps on Hiromu. Ishimori leaves Hiromu at the mercy of the count, and he returns to the ring at 14. Hiromu scrambles to beat the count by 19! But Ishimori is upon him again, putting on a cravat hold to focus on that neck. Ishimori cranks on it, but Hiromu fights out. Ishimori snapmares, and grips Hiromu’s head with his feet. He spins around, and tweaks Hiromu’s neck! Hiromu rolls away but fans rally up for him. Ishimori just tunes it out while Hiromu gets away. Ishimori pursues and throws Hiromu into a post. Fans and Young Lions have to be careful as Ishimori bowls Hiromu into chairs!
Ishimori uses one chair to grind Hiromu into the ground, a wicked grin on his face. Ishimori backs off and returns to the ring, but Hiromu stands. Hiromu returns at the count of 9, but Ishimori is on him again. Ishimori chops Hiromu in a corner, then whips him corner to corner. Hiromu boots but is turned sideways for the swing kick! Ishimori runs, and hits Hiromu with a sliding German Suplex! Fans do applaud, giving credit where credit is due. Cover, TWO, and fans rally again for Hiromu. Ishimori drags Hiromu up, snapmare into chinlock. Hiromu endures while fans rally more. He stands up and fights out of the hold. Hiromu runs, but into the sleeper!
Ishimori gets a takedown, and turns his sleeper into a bully choke. Hiromu endures the wrenching and stretching, while also reaching and crawling for ropes. Hiromu uses his legs for the ropebreak. Ishimori lets go, but keeps his cool. He stalks Hiromu to a corner, and chops him again. He whips Hiromu corner to corner but Hiromu reverses with speed. Hiromu runs in but Ishimori slips out then back in, and then out again to shoulder Hiromu back. Ishimori springboards, but Hiromu trips him up. Hiromu runs, and gets the sunset flip powerbomb this time! The Bone Soldier just got blown up, and we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns, and the 20 count begins again. Hiromu is up at 6, and in the ring at 10. Ishimori stirs at 13, and manages to beat the count at 19, though gingerly. Ishimori stands in a corner, but Hiromu runs in for a big clothesline. Hiromu rolls Ishimori out to then run and basement dropkick him. Cover, TWO. Hiromu keeps his cool while fans cheer for him. He stands, and toys with Ishimori. He brings Ishimori up to chop him into the corner. Then he whips Ishimori, but Ishimori reverses. Ishimori runs in, but into a boot! Hiromu grabs Ishimori for a hanging triangle headscissors! Red Shoes counts, and Hiromu lets go at 4. Then Hiromu drags Ishimori out, wheelbarrow facebuster on the floor!
But Hiromu has more in store as he gets on the apron. Ishimori stands up, and Hiromu blasts him with another John Woo Dropkick! Ishimori ends up bowling into chairs! Hiromu catches his breath before firing up. He fetches Ishimori from the front row and brings him into the ring. Hiromu climbs up, Ishimori stands, and Hiromu hits a flying cannonball! Cover, TWO, but very close. Hiromu stands while Ishimori stirs. He drags Ishimori up, fireman’s carry, but Ishimori slips out. Hiromu elbows Ishimori off the waistlock, then runs, but Ishimori follows. Ishimori handsprings, but Hiromu clobbers him out of the air! Hiromu’s seen Ospreay do that enough times to know how to counter.
Hiromu and fans fire up again, and he brings Ishimori up again. He brings Ishimori up in the fireman’s carry again, but Ishimori pops out to victory roll! TWO, into a crossface! Hiromu endures, but then Ishimori turns it into the Lebell Lock! Ishimori has that arm threaded, but Hiromu won’t quit. Hiromu drags himself with one arm and both legs, even as Ishimori wrenches back. Hiromu keeps going, and uses those legs to get the ropebreak again! Ishimori lets go, but he stomps Hiromu before bringing him up. Hiromu hits Ishimori, but Ishimori hits back. Ishimori dares Hiromu to hit him again, so Hiromu does. They brawl with forearms again, going back and forth. Hiromu hits, Ishimori hits harder, but Hiromu comes back to hit again and again and again. Hiromu runs, misses, Ishimori runs and tilt-o-whirls Hiromu into the Lebell!
Ishimori wrenches back but Hiromu drags himself around again. Hiromu inches closer and closer, but Ishimori rolls him away from the ropes! Ishimori keeps that Lebell on, but Hiromu refuses to quit! Fans are thunderous for Hiromu, and he claws at the grip. Hiromu drags himself around again, and grabs onto Red Shoes to keep himself from tapping. He then scrambles, only for Ishimori to make it Rings of Saturn! Ishimori even grabs at the legs, but somehow, Hiromu still gets the ropebreak! Ishimori lets him go, but both men are down from exhaustion. They catch their breath while rolling away from each other. Fans rally as both men drag themselves up to their feet.
Ishimori takes aim, runs in, but misses! Hiromu runs in but misses, but then he ducks Ishimori! Hiromu goes after Ishimori on the second rope, German Suplex! But Ishimori lands on his feet! He gets running, but runs into Hiromu’s overhead throw! Hiromu catches his breath while Ishimori is down in the corner. Ishimori slowly stands as Hiromu runs, and Hiromu runs Ishimori over with a powerful lariat! Hiromu drags Ishimori up, fireman’s carry, Time Bomb! Cover, TWO!? Ishimori survives?! Fans are thunderous while we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns, and both men slowly stir. Hiromu sits up first, but Ishimori gets himself to a corner. Hiromu runs in, hits the clothesline, then hoists Ishimori up. He climbs up to join Ishimori, and hits a super wheelbarrow! Cover, TWO!! Hiromu grits his teeth as he stands up again. He brings Ishimoriu up, fireman’s carry, and then he Death Valley Drivers Ishimori right into buckles! Hiromu drags Ishimori up again, another fireman’s carry, and spins, but Ishimori slips off! Ishimori deflects the superkick but Hiromu deflects the knee strike. Hiromu SUPERKICKS this time, but then runs into a boot. Ishimori Poison-Steiners Hiromu! But Hiromu springs right up to do it back to Ishimori!
Both men are down from such damage to their heads. Fans are at a fever pitch, and still cheering Hiromu on. Both men stir and Red Shoes checks on them. They’re okay to continue, so a count begins. Hiromu and Ishimori stir, they’re up at 7. They crawl towards each other, and brawl with forearms from the mat. Hiromu hits, Ishimori hits, then back again. Hiromu grins with wild eyes as he hits Ishimori again, but Ishimori shakes his head and hits back. They brawl while standing up, and now it speeds up. Hiromu runs out of gas, and Ishimori brings him up for another shot.
Hiromu manages to stand and gets his second wind as he hits back with forearms from both sides. He spins around, but into Ishimori’s jumping knee! Hiromu staggers back, fires up, but runs into a clobbering clothesline! Cover, ONE?! Hiromu shocks Ishimori, but he’s still pretty tired. He slowly stands, but Ishimori is ready. Ishimori runs and blasts Hiromu with a dropkick, then runs corner to corner for double knees! Ishimori drags Hiromu up and into Tombstone position, but turns it into a modified code breaker! Hiromu is dazed, Ishimori covers, TWO!! The superhuman effort is keeping the fans at that fever pitch.
Ishimori gets up, and says BANG as he staggers over. He drags Hiromu up, and lifts Hiromu for a brainbuster, but Hiromu arm-drags out of it! Hiromu goes to headscissor but Ishimori counters with a powerbomb! High stack cover, TWO, and Hiromu gets Ishimori with a triangle hold! Ishimori cartwheels but Hiromu holds on. Ishimori endures, deadlifts, but is brought down again! Hiromu squeezes as tight as he can, but Ishimori tries for a cover. It doesn’t stay, so he deadlifts again, buckle bomb! Ishimori is free, but both men are out of breath. Ishimori rolls away, then runs back in, for a big clothesline. He yurinagi slams Hiromu, then fires himself up. Ishimori climbs up, takes aim, but his 450 hits knees!
Ishimori writhes in pain, but Hiromu’s legs took some damage, too. Both men slowly get up, run in, Hiromu gets around to headscissor Ishimori into the triangle hold! Ishimori deadlifts again, but Hiromu lets go to double underhook! D DRIVER!!
Hiromu can’t make the cover, he’s just too tired. So he goes for the triangle again! Ishimori fades, already dazed from that driver. Ishimori tries a second effort as he grabs at Red Shoes. He keeps moving, reaching, and gets a ropebreak! Hiromu lets him go, but he’s still focused. He brings Ishimori up, fireman’s carry, but Ishimori slips out. Ishimori wants his brainbuster but Hiromu resists. Hiromu lifts again, for another Death Valley into buckles! Hiromu drags Ishimoro up one more time, and swings him for THE Ticking Time Bomb! Cover, Hiromu wins!!
Winner: Hiromu Takahashi, by pinfall; wins the Best of the Super Juniors 25, and will challenge Will Ospreay for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship
For the first time in his career, Hiromu Takahashi is THE Best of the Super Juniors! The award ceremony will begin after the break.
NJPW on AXS TV returns…
Ishimori is helped out of the ring and to the back. Fans applaud, showing respect to him for his valiant effort. Meanwhile, Hiromu is presented with the Best of the Super Juniors trophy, poses for pictures, and sits down before taking the mic.
“I don’t like it. I don’t like it much at all.” That is to say, he doesn’t like saying this after the tournament. So he must apologize first. But Ospreay! Accept his challenge for that IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship! Will Ospreay comes out! He joins Hiromu in the ring, his title in hand. Aerial Assassin and Ticking Time Bomb stand, and Ospreay congratulates his rival. Everyone is so proud, even Ospreay. Hiromu won Best of the Super Juniors, well done. But that doesn’t mean a thing compared to the belt, because that means Ospreay is the real best Jr. Heavyweight.
Ospreay reminds everyone that he is already up two wins on Hiromu in the past, so Ospreay knows that Dominion will be easy. Ospreay vows to leave with his title, and proves he really is the best in the world. Champion raises his belt, challenger raises his trophy, who will be raising their hands after Osaka?
Ospreay takes his leave, and Hiromu says, “Ospreay. Thank you meow.” The Ticking Time Bomb is not intimidated, and continues to say “Did you all just see that?” Even those watching at home on TV, did they see it? For that matter, did all the Heavyweights see that? Even Liger saw that, right? This is how SUPER JUNIORS do it! Liger has to applaud for that one. “Five years ago today, in this same spot, I still remember what I said.” Hiromu still feels that way. His dream is to hold that IWGP J. Heavyweight belt, and to be a Jr. Heavyweight main event, prime timer!! “Nothing has changed! I’m exactly the same as I was then.” But even more, more, more, more, more, “Let’s have fun!” With everything he has to say already said, Hiromu finally celebrates.
But not just him, the rest of LIJ joins him! Naito, Bushi, EVIL and Sanada appear, and Hiromu shows off his trophy to them. And together, LIJ celebrate.
Hiromu kneels while Naito, Bushi, EVIL and Sanada move aside. Oops, the wing…
Well, that tarnishes the win a little bit. Hiromu kneels in apology to the hurt trophy. Is this a bad omen of things to come?
Taiji Ishimori admits defeat. Today, Hiromu was the better man. But, Ishimori knows there’s more for him to show. There’s unfinished business. Ishimori agrees, though, it’s tough, but fun. Ishimori wants more, more, more! “New battles, exceeding our limits.” He wants to have more fun with Hiromu. “It’s reborn!”
Hiromu said this in the ring, but this tournament is more than just to name a #1 contender. He’s said it all along. Hiromu does apologize, he’s already challenged and lost to Ospreay many times this year. But just one more chance, that all he needs. Ospreay is the best, but so is Hiromu. They’ll settle this once and for all! Dominion is coming, who will truly be THE Best of the Super Juniors?
I was surprised to see AXS TV bring up the finals of the Super Juniors, but I suppose it really is the most important part of the tournament. At the same time, this does help AXS speed up their coverage of NJPW so that they can get to Dominion sooner. This is also the match that THE Dave Meltzer award 5.5 stars, thereby breaking his 5 star system, again. While Meltzer is right in giving this the best rating out of all the BOSJ matches, going over 5 stars seems a bit much. Just reaching 5 stars is more realistic, because it really did have great action and even great character and story work. They went all around the arena, and Ishimori was dead set on a submission victory, but Hiromu showed two can play that game.
It’s really great for Hiromu to go over here because his rivalry with Ospreay has been longer standing, Ishimori only just got to NJPW, and Hiromu is vastly more popular, as the fans showed tonight as they did not sway in their support of him. Hiromu’s interaction with Ospreay was great, but I’m a little sad AXS cut out the interactions with the rest of LIJ. There’s a great little bit where Naito and Hiromu were childishly fighting over the trophy until Naito hands the trophy back with a bow. It means a lot in story for Naito to give that sign of respect to his protege.
My Score: 9/10