The field is set.
NJPW announced the 12 man field for the 28th annual Best of the Super Juniors tournament. The tournament is set to begin on November 13 and ends on December 15.
You can view the full lineup below:
El Desperado (5th entry, 2nd consecutive, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion)
Freshly crowned IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion El Desperado will be looking to be the first champion since Prince Devitt in 2013 to win the Best of the Super Jr. trophy. After a gutsy and determined showing in last year’s final against eventual winner Hiromu Takahashi, Desperado would take advantage at Takahashi’s exit to injury in February, entering a three way for the vacant IWGP Junior Heavyweight tile and winning his first singles championship. Now in his second reign after defeating Robbie Eagles at Power Struggle, is Desperado’s hot hand enough to see him to his first BoSJ victory?
SHO (4th entry, 4th consecutive)
The Murder Machine makes his first BOSJ entry as a singles player, and also his first as part of BULLET CLUB’s HOUSE OF TORTURE. With SHO having aligned himself with the most underhanded elements of the club, it’s obvious that he will stop at nothing to gain victory in the tournament. SHO clearly has all the tools, together with a newfound aggression, to succeed on his own merits, but will his victories in the tournament instead be ill-gotten?
Hiromu Takahashi (6th entry, 3rd consecutive. 2018, 2020 winner)
Two time winner Hiromu Takahashi has to be one of the tournament favourites in 2021, but questions will loom over a ‘BoSJ curse’ for the Time Bomb. Both of his tournament victories have seen the trophy break either the same night or in the weeks following, and both have seen him pick up significant injuries in the ensuing months. In 2018, a tournament victory and IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship win was followed by a devastating neck injury in San Francisco, while his 2020 victory and title win would see him vacate with a torn bicep in February of this year. After his return to in ring competition saw a hiccup in a failed challenge to Robbie Eagles in the MetLife Dome this September, will Hiromu be able to put the pieces together for his a Best of the Super Jr. hat trick?
YOH (4th entry, 1st in two years)
What mindset will YOH bring to the ring in this first BoSJ appearance since 2019? Last year, a torn ACL put paid to his participation, YOH eventually returning to the ring in April of 2021, but lacking a half step. After a string of losses, tag team partner and loyal friend SHO turned his back on their allegiance, and defeated his former partner in MetLife Dome this September. As SHO joined HOUSE OF TORTURE, YOH has not been seen or heard from since, and the physical and mental shape of the Stargazer will be subject to a lot of speculation.
Master Wato (2nd entry, 2nd consecutive)
Master Wato’s journey to the forefront in NJPW’s junior heavyweight division has not been entirely smooth over the last 18 months, but it has seen steady progress from the blue haired prodigy, and Wato will look to march ever further in BOSJ 28. Nothing would define reaching grand master status like a Super Junior trophy and a spot in the Tokyo Dome with IWGP Junior Heavyweight gold at stake. Can Wato get there?
El Phantasmo (2nd entry, 1st in two years. 2019, 2020 Super J-Cup winner)
El Phantasmo heads into his second BoSJ having won back to back Super J-Cups. The single elimination format of the J-Cup is a very different one to the marathon league of Best of the Super Juniors, but it’s safe to say ELP has all the tools to get the job done, whether that be through fair means or foul.
Ryusuke Taguchi (18th entry, 16th consecutive, 2012 winner)
The veteran entrant to BoSJ 28, Taguchi is the only competitor with more than ten years of Super Junior experience, and in fact with the exception of BUSHI has at least a ten year edge on any of his opposition. Not only does he know how to compete in the tournament, he knows how to win as well, with a 2012 victory, and a reputation for being in the running when the league reaches its final stages. Can King of Coach Taguchi once again reign in 2021?
Robbie Eagles (3rd entry, 3rd consecutive, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion)
The recently deposed IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Robbie Eagles will no doubt be gunning for El Desperado during this league, and their rubber match for 2021. Yet his campaign has the potential for much more than mere revenge. As this year saw the Sniper of the Skies make history as the first Australian IWGP, and then double champion, Eagles knows how to perform in high pressure spots, and could easily be booking his place in his second high profile Tokyo Dome match in a six month span.
Yoshinobu Kanemaru (4th entry, 1st in two years)
After a knee injury shortly before the start of last year’s Best of the Super Jr. put paid to Kanemaru’s entry, the Heel Master returns to BoSJ 28. While his New Japan career has seen him predominantly focus on the tag team ranks, the Heel Master is one of the most decorated junior heavyweights in Japanese history as both a singles and tag wrestler. Expect Kanemaru to remind the world just who he is starting this Saturday night.
Taiji Ishimori (5th entry, 4th consecutive)
2018 finalist Ishimori was high in the mix when it came to 2020’s Best of the Super Jr., and very much in the hunt until the final day of league action. After a failed challenge for the IWGP Junior heavyweight Championship during the Summer Struggle tour though, the Bone Soldier has been away from the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for close to a year. Fresh off some electric interactions with Lio Rush in the US, there is no doubt that he’s looking to be in the mix come Ryogoku on December 15.
BUSHI (9th entry, 6th consecutive)
Veteran tactician BUSHI is always a force to be reckoned with in Best of the Super Jr. competition. Now in his ninth BoSJ, a challenge for the vacant title back at Castle Attack this February has made BUSHI hungrier than ever for the gold he hasn’t held since the autumn of 2016.
DOUKI (3rd entry, 3rd consecutive)
Last but not least, DOUKI rounds out the 12 man field this year. After his debut in NJPW saw him as a last minute replacement for the injured El Desperado in 2019, DOUKI has made massive strides with each intervening tour, and each intervening tournament. Late this summer, DOUKI was the first opponent for the returning Hiromu Takahashi and sacrificed life and limb to push the Time Bomb to the very limit; if he goes as hard during BoSJ 28, we may see a surprise winner, and doubtless some classic matches.
Fightful will have results from each night of Best of Super Juniors as the tournament unfolds.