Wrestling and tournaments go hand in hand. Combatants grapple in successive matches accumulating wins and losses, until one warrior stands tall at the end. If you are a fan of professional wrestling, you’ve probably heard, at the very least, of New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). This Japanese based promotion, while offering stiff harding-hitting strong style action, is known for running tournaments all year round. Its most famous and notorious one being the G1 Climax, but my favorite has got to be the BEST OF THE SUPER JUNIORS tournament. This year, Somewhatnerdy.com will be covering the 24th edition of this Japanese wrestling tradition, making our own predictions on the outcomes and keeping up to date on who’s ahead. Check back here as we post regularly, but before you do that, here is all you need to know about this grueling tournament.
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT NJPW
While WWE may be the juggernaut of professional wrestling, laughing off all other promotions of the sport (yes sport) as mere pretenders in their game of monopoly, NJPW is no small fish. They have been running shows year round in Japan since its founding in 1972. Their annual pinnacle showcase, Wrestle Kingdom, draws record crowds to the Tokyo Dome every January, and the company has only been growing. With their partnership with ROH (an american wrestling promotion you should check out, if you haven’t heard), they now stream live shows with english commentary all throughout the year, which fans all around the world can access through their streaming service newjapanworld.com. Right now, its never been easier to access the amazing content this company is producing, and never has there been a better time.
The company is red hot, experiencing a renaissance of sorts over the last few years, as far as can’t-miss action is concerned. The company formerly promoted such mega stars as AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura: wrestlers who’s charisma and incredible athletic ability caught the eye of Vince McMahon and co., and now can be seen weekly on WWE’s Smackdown program. Kazuchika Okada leads NJPW now as its heavyweight champion, and is lauded with outstanding matches he continues to put out every month. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Minoru Suzuki, and Katsuyori Shibata are a few of the stellar athletes tearing each other apart with brutality over the company’s top prize. Most notably, Kenny Omega, a mop-haired canadian athlete, made waves with Okada this past January when their show closing epic encounter at Wrestle Kingdom 11 lit the internet on fire, earning high praise from peers and fans alike, particularly an astounding 6 star rating from renowned wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer.
Part of the appeal for the promotion is its contrast to its American counterpart, the WWE. WWE has always put the emphasis on its “E”; the Entertainment portion, utilizing over the top characters, story-lines and drama comes straight out of a soap opera or Comic Book. NJPW presents its showcase in a much more “realistic” way. The matches are presented and executed more like real athletic contests, and the combatants emphasize this with intentional use and practice of very physical holds and maneuvers, and devastatingly stiff strikes; in NJPW, you will squint and sometimes even grimace when wrestlers make contact, feeling like they are seriously hurting one another. The reason for that is because, quite often, they really are. NJPW is often not for the faint of heart. But if you enjoy real physical action, but also enjoy great displays of athleticism the Best of the Super Juniors is for you
ABOUT THE SUPER JUNIORS
New Japan implements two weight classes: Wrestlers over the weight of 220 lbs are considered heavy-weights, while competitors under that are considered Junior heavy-weights. Only wrestlers of the junior heavyweight class are eligible to compete for the prestigious NJPW IWGP (International Wrestling Grand Prix) Junior Heavyweight Championship. Due to their weight class being smaller and lighter, the action in this division is faster and implements a lot of high risk maneuvers and high-flying acrobatics. This, combined with the hard-hitting nature of puroresu, or Japanese wrestling, leads the super juniors to be some of the most exciting wrestling in the world. The best place and time to see this action is during the Best of the Super Juniors Tournament.
ABOUT THE BEST OF THE SUPER JUNIORS TOURNAMENT
The 2017 Best Of The Super Juniors tournament is the 24th iteration of this event. It takes place over two weeks (May 17th to June 3rd). Past winners include such wrestling names as Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit in their early careers. WWE’s Finn Balor is a two time winner. Standouts Ricochet and Kota Ibushi are also former winners. Will Ospreay won last year, and the legend Jushin Thunder Liger, who has been involved in every BOSJ save a couple, has the record of three different wins. There are 16 competitors entered into the tournament, who are divided into two blocks: A Block and B Block. instead of a sudden death elimination style, this tournament is a round robin. Each wrestler will have a match with all of the other eight in his block. wins count as 2 points, ties as 1, and losses as 0. and the end of the two weeks, once everyone has wrestled the others in his block, the person with the best score in A Block faces the best in B Block, and that final match determines the ultimate winner. In addition to a sweet trophy and place in history as the winner, the victor gets a Championship match at the following NJPW Pay-Per-View extravaganza, this year Dominion 2017.
Wrestlers from the home NJPW will compete, as well as competitors representing Ring Of Honor and CMLL, among others. The NJPW Junior Heavyweight Champion also will be competing in the tournament.
The competitors for the BOSJ XXIV are:
NJPW Junior Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi, Dragon Lee, Jushin Thunder Liger, Marty Scurll, Ricochet, Taichi, Taka Michinoku, and Will Ospreay
ACH, El Desperado, KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taiguchi, Tiger Mask IV, BUSHI, Volador Jr., and Yoshinobu Kanemaru.
The tournament will run on 14 different shows. Several of these will air live on NJPW’s streaming service newjapanworld.com. Due to the time zone difference, these shows will air around 5:30am eastern time. A few of the shows won’t air live on the network, but will be recorded and be presented via VOD shortly after. Here we have a list of the events and the BOSJ matches that will take place on these dates.
NIGHT 1 MAY 17th LIVE:
NIGHT 2 May 18th LIVE: (A BLOCK)
NIGHT 3 May 20th (VOD Only) (B Block)
NIGHT 4 May 24th (VOD) (A BLOCK)
NIGHT 5 May 22nd Live: (B BLOCK)
NIGHT 6 May 23rd (VOD) (B BLOCK)
Marty Scrull VS Taka Michinoku
Jushin Liger VS Will Ospreay
Hiromu Takahashi vs. Taichi
Dragon Lee vs. Ricochet
NIGHT 7 May 25th (VOD) (B BLOCK)
Tiger Mask IV vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
El Desperado vs. Volador, Jr.
BUSHI vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
ACH vs. KUSHIDA
NIGHT 8 May 26th (VOD) (A BLOCK)
Marty Scurll vs. Taichi
Jushin Liger vs. Ricochet
Hiromu Takahashi vs. TAKA Michinoku
Dragon Lee vs. Will Ospreay
Night 9 May 27th (VOD) (B BLOCK)
ACH vs. El Desperado
BUSHI vs. Volador, Jr.
Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Tiger Mask IV
KUSHIDA vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
NIGHT 10 May 28th (VOD) (A BLOCK)
Ricochet vs. TAKA Michinoku
Dragon Lee vs. Jushin Liger
Taichi vs. Will Ospreay
Hiromu Takahashi vs. Marty Scurll
NIGHT 11 May 29th LIVE! (B BLOCK)
El Desperado vs. Tiger Mask IV
BUSHI vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
ACH vs. Volador, Jr.
KUSHIDA vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
NIGHT 12 May 31st (VOD) (A BLOCK)
Jushin Liger vs. Taichi
Marty Scurll vs. Ricochet
Dragon Lee vs. TAKA Michinoku
Hiromu Takahashi vs. Will Ospreay
NIGHT 13 June 1st (TBD) (B BLOCK)
BUSHI vs. Tiger Mask IV
ACH vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
KUSHIDA vs. Volador, Jr.
El Desperado vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
NIGHT 14 June 3rd LIVE: FINALS
Block A winner vs. Block B winner
As you can see, this is a long and grueling tournament, and the winner clearly deserves to be acknowledged for his victory. There are several favorites. The IWGP Junior Champion Takahashi has been on quite the roll since defeating KUSHIDA at Wrestle Kingdom 11 this past January. Former winners Ricochet and Will Ospreay will look to rekindle the magic they created in this tournament last year, when their tournament match sparked much debate online over the current state of wrestling versus the status quo. Jushin Thunder Liger is looking to win his 4th BOSJ, and has declared this will be his final entry into this tournament. Can the Veteran pull it out one more time? we will see.
Who do YOU think will win? The Nerds of the Squared Circle will be giving our thoughts on our podcast, which you can check out here. One thing is for sure, though: This tournament is shaping up to be one for the ages.