PREVIEW: NJPW BOSJ 25 Block B

Added by Lloyd Barrett

Following on from my “Best Of The Super Jr. 25” Block A preview,which can be found at HERE I will now be giving an in depth look in to Block B and it’s 8 competitors. The tournament gets underway this Coming Friday,May 18th kicking off with Block A action and Block B gets started the following day,May 19th. So let’s jump in and take a look at the remaining 8 men vying to win the B Block and winner of “Best Of The Super Jr. 25”.

Chris Sabin

Despite limited appearances for NJPW Sabin is a former IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion as part of The Motor City Machine Guns,a Title he and longtime Tag Team partner Alex Shelley won by defeating the time of Tetsuya Naito and Yujiro Takahashi back at Wrestle Kingdom 3 in back in 2009. However since this appearance Sabin has very rarely been seen in Japan and this is his first time in BOSJ and really his first attempt in to a single run with NJPW. However despite a lack of experience in Japan Sabin makes up for this with tons of experience across a 17 year career,a former TNA/Impact World Heavyweight Champion and a 8 time X-Division Champion Sabin brings tons of accolades to the table in an accomplished career. As far as tournament experience goes the Detroit native has won the TNA Super X Cup in 2003 and the TNA World X Cup in 2004 and 2006. Sabin is definitely one to watch in this year’s competition and I wouldn’t be surprised if he right there in the thick of it making a push for a spot in the final.

Dragon Lee

The 2 time and current reigning CMLL World Lightweight Champion enters his second BOSJ this year,making his competition debut in last year’s event he made an immediate impact picking up 4 wins in his 7 matches. With big victories over fellow B block competitors Marty Scurll and long time rival Hiromu Takahashi,Lee and Takahashi have been embroiled in a feud since Takahashi then under the Kamaitachi name was on excursion with CMLL in Mexico a rivalry the has seemingly culminated in a Luchas de Apuestas with both men’s masks up for grabs. Lee would be victorious however that would not be the last of it between the heated rivals as Dragon Lee made an appearance at the CMLL and NJPW Fantastica Mania event in January 2016 where despite a successful Championship defence against Virus he was ambushed by Kamaitachi. The following day Kamaitachi was successful in dethroning Lee of his championship however the run was short lived as Dragon Lee would regain the belt in March in Mexico City. On January 5th 2017 Lee made a surprise return to NJPW attacking Takahashi and posing with the IWGP Jr. heavyweight Championship then held by Takahashi,however he would go on to unsuccessfully challenge for the championship at New Beginning In Osaka. Lee would pick up a win over Takahashi in their opening Block contest in 2017’s BOSJ,ending Takahashi’s undefeated run with the company. The final meeting between the 2 came in the 2017 Super Junior Tag Tournament,where Takahashi and Bushi defeated Dragon Lee and Volador Jr.,this rivalry will be renewed on May 25th in Osaka. Lee has some tough challenges ahead of him in this year’s B Block and I’m not sure if he’ll replicate last year’s points total,however I think he has the ability to put on some of the matches of the tournament.

El Desperado

Suzuki Gun’s masked man is currently one half of the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions with Block A’s Yoshinobu Kanemaru,he enters his third BOSJ having been an entrant in 2014 and 2017 both times picking up 3 wins and being on the losing end on 4 occasions. One of his victories in last year’s competition was against eventual winner Kushida who then went on to win the Jr. heavyweight Championship,which meant Desperado was in line for a shot at the Championship this match took place September 16th at Destruction In Hiroshima where he was unsuccessful in dethroning Kushida. Desperado will look to improve on his current tournament record this year and has been in impressive form heading in to the competition as one half of the Jr. Tag Team Champions,the match quality Desperado is able to deliver is never in doubt however I feel he may end up very close to replicating his previous BOSJ outings.

Hiromu Takahashi

Former IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion and Los Ingobernables De Japon member Takahashi looks to win BOSJ at the 4th attempt. Takahashi first entered the tournament back in 2012,only picking up a single victory against Taka Michinoku. However he fared even worse the following year and was unsuccessful in picking up a single victory in 8 attempts! Takahashi returned to the competition after a 4 year absence in 2017 as the current IWGP Jr. Heavyweight champion and despite picking up 4 wins which included victories over Marty Scurll and Jyushin Liger,it was a disappointing return to the competition to as he lost he undefeated run in the promotion to long time rival Dragon Lee and was defeated by other top contenders Will Ospreay and Ricochet. Takahashi would soon drop the championship to eventual winner Kushida at Dominion. Since then Takahashi has been unsuccessful in trying to regain the championship in a 4 way at this year’s Wrestle Kingdom against Ospreay,Kushida and Scurll and lost a singles opportunity against current champion Will Ospreay at New Beginning In Osaka. Since then Takahashi has been embroiled in a feud with Suzuki Gun and mostly with fellow Block B wrestler El Desperado and Block A’s Kanemaru alongside Bushi,which has produced some fantastic encounters however in big match situations with Championship implications Takahashi has just fallen short. Despite his recent inconsistencies Hiromu has to be one of the favourites to get himself back on track and win the whole tournament,he has some tough asks along the way with his opening match on May 19th against Marty Scurll being one of those but a big win against the villain there could really set Takahashi on his way to success.

Kushida

The ace of New Japan’s Junior division,5 time Jr. Champion,2 time Jr.Tag Team Champion and a 2 time winner of BOSJ in 2015 and 2017 there is not much Kushida hasn’t accomplished. The accolades don’t stop there however and Kushida has fantastic tournament pedigree also winning the 2016 Super J Cup,2012 Super Jr. Tag Team Tournament alongside Alex Shelley,All Japan Pro Wrestling’s U-30 Tag Team Tournament alongside Block A’s Bushi who was then known as T28 and winner of the 2016 Cuadrangular de Parejas alongside Marco Corleone. Kushida’s tournament prowess doesn’t end with wrestling either as he won the ZST Genesis Light Weight Mixed Martial Arts Tournament In 2004! Kushida boats a 6-0-2 record in MMA. Kushida enters this year’s competition off the back of an unsuccessful challenge to current Jr. Heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay at Wrestling Dontaku in an albeit fantastic match,he’ll be looking to get back on track in a Block which does not contain the current champion and hopefully make a push for 3rd BOSJ title,I feel like Kushida could be a B Block contender but I expect him to fall short of overall tournament success . Kushida kicks things off on May 19th against Chris Sabin.

Marty Scurll

Despite only making his New Japan debut in last year’s BOSJ Bullet Club’s Villain has quickly tasted success in NJPW,currently one third of the NEVER Openweight 6 man Tag Team Champions Scurll is also a former IWGP Jr Heavyweight Champion too. The Villain even made his Wrestle Kingdom debut walking in as the Jr. Champ however was unsuccessful in that defence. Scurll has made a huge splash in Japan despite really not having the strongest win/loss record and being inconsistent at times,going 4-3 in last year’s competition picking up a big win over current champion and long time rival Will Ospreay along the way but also suffering a surprise defeat to Taichi. Scurll also failed to make a successful defence of the Jr. Championship and fell short in a rematch with Will Ospreay at Sakura Genesis. However Scurll recently captured the 6 man gold with Matt and Nick Jackson and an upturn in form may have come at just the right time as he kicks off his campaign against Hiromu Takahashi looking to avenge defeat in last year’s tournament. One thing that should not be overlooked is Scurll’s tournament pedigree as he is the winner of the 2016 PWG Battle Of Los Angeles,arguably one the most prestigious honours In independent wrestling. I expect Scurll to be in the mix in the B Block and maybe even a dark horse potential winner but with Takahashi and Kushida in his opening match that push could be quickly derailed and the Villain definitely needs to pick up a victory in at least one of those contests against top challengers to maintain momentum.

Ryusuke Taguchi

Taguchi enters his 15th BOSJ and seeks a second win since his 2012 triumph,where he defeated Low Ki in the final. Taguchi was also a losing finalist in 2011 and 2016 where he was defeated by Kota Ibushi and Will Ospreay respectively. Taguchi picked up 4 wins in last year’s BOSJ including victories over ACH and Volador Jr. Taguchi is a former one time IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion,however his more recent successes have come in the Jr. tag division and as part of the NEVER Openweight 6 man Tag Team champions. Despite Taguchi’s relaxed,almost comedy like style he has proved in the past in big time feuds and matches he can turn on the intensity and push himself and his opponent to their very limit. Most recently back in March 2017 were he was embroiled in a fierce rivalry with Hiromu Takahashi which culminated at the 45th Anniversary event,even though Taguchi fell short in that occasion he proved when he needs to be he can still be a real player in the junior division. I don’t expect the funky weapon to challenge in Block B due to its depth,but if anyone could pull off a major surprise in the competition it’s him! I think Taguchi will more than likely play spoiler in this year’s tournament and pick up some wins against top contenders and derail their hopes of being a finalist.

Sho

One half of the former 2 time IWGP Jr.Tag Team Champions Roppongi 3K,28 year old Sho enters his first BOSJ this year. Since his return to the promotion last October he has already has his fair share of success winning the Jr. Tag gold in his return match from the team of Ricochet and fellow B Block competitor Ryusuke Taguchi,being victorious in the 2017 Super Jr. Tag Tournament scoring wins against Hirai Kawato and Kushida,Hiromu Takahashi and Bushi and finally ACH and Ryusuke Taguchi. This tournament run is Sho’s first real tournament experience in New Japan after bowing out of the first round of the competition to crown the first ever NEVER Openweight Champion back in 2012,which was also his debut. What could hold the most importance from his Jr. Tag Tournament victory is that each team Roppongi 3K defeated had one member of the B Block in Kushida,Hiromu Takahashi and Ryusuke Taguchi,so despite his lack of experience in BOSJ Sho has scored to big wins over some of Block B’s top players. Since then Sho went on to lose and regain the Jr. Tag titles in a series of matches with the Young Bucks and eventually lost the championships at the 46th Anniversary show to Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado in a 3 way that also involved Hiromu Takahashi and Bushi. This is a loss he will look to avenge when he takes on one half of the champions,El Desperado on May 25th in Osaka. Sho comes in to the tournament as a very unknown quantity as a singles wrestler and I’m unsure where he’ll land in Block B when every is said and done in his June 3rd encounter with Marty Scurll,do I think he’ll make the final on June 4th,probably not but I think there is every chance of a few big wins and a very respectable points tally for the BOSJ debutant.

So there you have it,the final 8 men to contest the 25th BOSJ tournament,in a stacked and very unpredictable Block B it’s really hard to call a winner. The likes of Takahashi, Kushida and Scurll will all surely fancy their chances of the top spot but with extremely talented and capable wrestlers like Chris Sabin and Dragon Lee or even the debuting Sho all looking to prove a point this will be a very exciting 2 weeks of elite Jr. Heavyweight wrestling.

As with Block A here are a few Block B contests I recommend keeping an eye out for.

Kushida vs Chris Sabin-May 19th

Hiromu Takahashi vs Marty Scurll-May 19th

El Desperado vs Hiromu Takahashi-May 22nd

Dragon Lee vs Hiromu Takahashi-May 25th

Chris Sabin vs Dragon Lee-May 27th

Chris Sabin vs Hiromu Takahashi-May 30th.

And a final reminder that the final takes place June 4th at 10.30am GMT and the tournament kicks off this Friday morning,May 18th 10.30am GMT.

You can find a full tournament schedule HERE