On Friday, May 18th New Japan Pro Wrestling presents the 25th annual Best of the Super Juniors Tournament. This year's event will be held over a couple of weeks, reaching its completion on Monday, June 4th. Once again, an impressive collection of talent from around the world are slated to take part.
Best of Super Juniors 2018 Lineup
There are two separate blocks, each featuring eight competitors for a total of sixteen. The participants include those that are a regular part of the New Japan roster and others that have just returned for this event. The names are a who's who of talent, all vying to capture the coveted crown.
In Block A the eight men listed include current IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion and 2016 tournament winner Will Ospreay. However, he is just the tip of the iceberg, as the block also includes two-time BOSJ winner Tiger Mask IV, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Ring of Honor's Flip Gordon, ACH, Roppongi3K's Yoh, BUSHI of Los Ingobernables de Japon, and Bullet Club's newest member Taiji Ishimori.
Block B includes another Bullet Club member in Marty Scurll, El Desperado, 2012 tournament winner Ryusuke Taguchi, current CMLL Lightweight Champion Dragon Lee, Hiromu Takahashi (also of Los Ingobernables de Japon), Roppongi3K's Sho, Chris Sabin, and last year's winner KUSHIDA. These sixteen competitors are not only some of the greatest wrestlers in the country, but the world.
The bar has been raised, and a number of participants could be considered favorites to walk away as the winner. For one, there is current IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion, the aerial assassin Will Ospreay. The rest of the field will be looking to take this perennial favorite out of the mix to help try and level the playing field.
However, that theory goes out the window because this field is so rich and deep in competitors a number of men could be considered threats to walk away the winner.
Pit Against Themselves: Will These Stables Implode?
Given that several members from different factions are taking part, the odds of a winner coming from the likes of Los Ingobernables de Japon, Bullet Club or CHAOS are quite high. However, that also means we could eventually see stablemates face each other in the final. For instance, the Bullet Club is represented in both Blocks A and B.
'The Villain' Marty Scurll has become someone that resonates with the fans and thus may be a sentimental favorite to walk away as the winner. Meanwhile, the latest addition to the Bullet Club, Taiji Ishimori, is immediately swimming with sharks but is someone the others will have to contend with.
In comparison, Roppongi 3K's Sho and Yoh are competing for the same prize, again in separate blocks. Could the former IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team champions come to blows in the finale of the tournament?
The same could be speculated about Los Ingobernables de Japon members Hiromu Takahashi and BUSHI. Will there be animosity amongst them if Takahashi and BUSHI are forced to come to blows with one another?
Super Juniors 2018 Winner: Does Past Success Mean Future Success?
While the factions represent something to keep an eye on, there are several former winners in the tournament, experienced competitors who may play a major part.
Whether it is the likes of former two-time winner Tiger Mask IV, the winner of the 2012 tournament Ryusuke Taguchi or reigning Best of the Super Juniors winner KUSHIDA, their experience could play a pivotal part in their succeeding in the tournament.
There are other experienced veterans, too, such as former world champion Chris Sabin, current CMLL light heavyweight champion Dragon Lee and ACH.
While some may not have the stamina to rack up the wins in this grueling tournament, these veterans know all about pacing themselves and being able to sustain their performance over the course of three weeks. It will be a grueling competition leading to a monumental occasion when someone is crowned the 25th-anniversary winner.
Dark Horses of the Tournament
Within the tournament, there are also dark horses, performers from whom not much may be expected, but who could surprise. Examples are Suzuki-Gun, member the Japanese luchador El Desperado, and Ring of Honor's budding superstar Flip Gordon.
In the case of Gordon, this will be his first time competing in the tournament, as part of the talent exchange with Ring of Honor. He should prove to have highly competitive matches, and because there are no expectations for him to win any stress or pressure he may be feeling going into this competition is alleviated.
34 years of age and an eight-year veteran, El Desperado flies under the radar but has the ability to surprise anyone he steps into the ring with. Much like Gordon, Desperado may not have any pressure on him. However, he can easily draw on his experience in the 2017 tournament and will see how that will help him this year.
Our NJPW Super Juniors 2018 Winner Prediction
There are unquestionably a number of potential winners for this tournament. However, if any one person may appear to be the biggest threat to walk away as the winner, based on his recent success, it would have to be KUSHIDA. 2017s Best of the Super Junior winner is primed to repeat as a back-to-back winner of the tournament, and we can’t wait to see what he has in store this year.
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