While WWE have only just rediscovered how to do tournaments well on the WWE Network, New Japan have been running exciting, action-packed tournaments for years. Their junior heavyweight tournament "Best of Super Juniors" or BOSJ for short, kicks off on May 18.
The format is simple. There are two blocks of eight wrestlers. Everyone fights everyone in their block and gets two points for a win, one point for a draw, and none for a loss. The two block winners then face off for the right to challenge the Junior Heavyweight champion at Dominion in June.
In recent years BOSJ has turned out some of the most incredible action imaginable. With current IWGP Junior Heavyweight champ Will Ospreay, NXT's newest star Ricochet, and ace of the division KUSHIDA all making their mark in big ways.
Those three are the winners of the last four tournaments, and whoever takes the crown this year will have some very big shoes to fill. Let's start by taking a look at the blocks.
Tiger Mask IV
There are several notable names here. Firstly there is Ospreay, who has fast become one of the best wrestlers in any weight class and any promotion in the world. As the current champion it is unlikely he wins the whole thing, but all his matches will be must-watch.
The latest threat to his title, Taiji Ishimori, was recently revealed as "Bone Soldier" and the latest member of Bullet Club. He is perhaps the favorite to come out of A Block because of that, but BUSHI will also be a threat, as will the debuting Flip Gordon who is primed to win over the crowd.
There is also one half of the Junior Heavyweight Tag Team champions YOH, who is competing in his first BOSJ. There is a mouthwatering prospect of YOH getting through and facing off against his tag partner SHO, but that is perhaps more fantasy booking than anything.
B Block may be the most exciting of the two. Firstly you have KUSHIDA, who has won two BOSJ's, including 2017's, and is one of the best wrestlers in the world. Along with Hiromu Takahashi, Dragon Lee, and Marty Scurll there is some incredible matchups here. Hiromu and Dragon Lee's matches are always wild, scary, and brilliant, but there is also the return of Chris Sabin.
Last seen in NJPW in 2010, Sabin's return is something of a surprise and perhaps is to make up for the lack of western talents like Ricochet, Kyle O'Reilly, and Bobby Fish who have all signed with WWE in recent years.
Ryusuke Taguchi is the old hand in this block, and like his tag partner, SHO is the sleeper of this block. With four former Junior Heavyweight Champions here there is plenty of intrigue over who could come out of B Block.
It would seem unlikely that KUSHIDA will take a third BOSJ, especially after his most recent defeat against Ospreay. Only Koji Kanemoto and the great Jushin Thunder Liger have won three BOSJ's, and while KUSHIDA is nearing their level it is very unlikely he goes back-to-back. It is also very unlikely that Ospreay wins as he is champion.
With those two out it looks very much like we will get a new winner this year, but who? Hiromu Takahashi must be the favorite. He needs some rehabilitation after becoming something of a comedy player of late and pushed to the sidelines. He was champion this time last year and a return to the top of the division is certainly coming.
There have been very few gaijin BOSJ's in recent history, with Ospreay, Ricochet, and Prince Devitt (now Finn Balor) being the only ones in the 21st century. That seems to exclude Marty Scurll as well as Flip Gordon and Chris Sabin.
What they do with Ishimori will be very interesting. He takes on Ospreay on the opening night of the tournament, and a win there could well set him up to take the whole tournament. With Ospreay having gone through Hiromu, Scurll, and KUSHIDA it seems like BOSJ 25 is a perfect time to establish a few new contenders for his title in Ishimori, BUSHI, and perhaps even SHO and YOH.
If I had to put money on it I would say that Hiromu beats Ishimori in the final and gets the next shot at Ospreay's title.
Schedule & key matches
May 18 (2:30AM PDT / 5:30AM EDT / 10:30AM BST / 6:30PM JST)
A Block: ACH vs Flip Gordon
A Block: Will Ospreay vs Taiji Ishimori
May 19 (2:30AM PDT / 5:30AM EDT / 10:30AM BST / 6:30PM JST)
B Block: KUSHIDA vs Chris Sabin
B Block: Hiromu Takahashi vs Marty Scurll
May 22 LIVE @ 2:30AM PDT / 5:30AM EDT / 10:30AM BST / 6:30PM JST
B Block: Ryusuke Taguchi vs Dragon Lee
B Block: KUSHIDA vs Marty Scurll
May 24 VOD
A Block: Flip Gordon vs Taiji Ishimori
A Block: Will Ospreay vs YOH
May 25 VOD
B Block: Dragon Lee vs Hiromu Takahashi
May 26 (2AM PDT / 5AM EDT / 10AM BST / 6PM JST)
A Block: ACH vs.YOH
A Block: Will Ospreay vs BUSHI
May 27 (12AM PDT / 3AM EDT / 8AM BST / 4PM JST)
B Block: Chris Sabin vs Dragon Lee
B Block: KUSHIDA vs SHO
B Block: Hiromu Takahashi vs Ryusuke Taguchi
May 29 VOD
A Block: ACH vs BUSHI
A Block: Flip Gordon vs YOH
A Block: Will Ospreay vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru
May 30 VOD
B Block: Dragon Lee vs Marty Scurll
B Block: Chris Sabin vs Hiromu Takahashi
May 31 VOD
A Block: Flip Gordon vs BUSHI
A Block: ACH vs Taiji Ishimori
June 2 VOD
B Block: SHO vs Hiromu Takahashi
B Block: KUSHIDA vs Dragon Lee
June 3 (2:30AM PDT / 5:30AM EDT / 10:30AM BST / 6:30PM JST)
A Block: Tiger Mask IV vs ACH
A Block: Flip Gordon vs Will Ospreay
A Block: YOH vs Taiji Ishimori
A Block: BUSHI vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru
B Block: Ryusuke Taguchi vs Chris Sabin
B Block: KUSHIDA vs Hiromu Takahashi
B Block: Dragon Lee vs El Desperado
B Block: SHO vs Marty Scurll
June 4 (2:30AM PDT / 5:30AM EDT / 10:30AM BST / 6:30PM JST)
Winner of A Block vs Winner of B Block
Who do you think will win this year's Best of Super Juniors? Let us know in the comments below!
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