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[2019-05-24-NJPW-Best of the Super Juniors: Night Nine] El Phantasmo vs Rocky Romero

paul sosnowski

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Talk about a surprise! This absolutely knocked my socks off. I think what really made this match was how the drama really drove home the overarching narrative. Rocky is the sentimental favorite getting his first Korakuen singles match main event. Phantasmo is the obnoxious, hotshot asshole who's been cheating to win matches the entire tournament despite being talented enough to not have to resort to such tactics. Knowing that Rocky was behind the 8-ball really made the struggle that much more emotional and made it easier to be invested in the match. The submission teases and Phantasmo's dirty tricks had me on the edge of my seat and pulling for Rocky to humble this douchebag.

Incredible match and one of the best in-ring stories this year. ****3/4

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This was one of the feel-good matches of the year. El Phantasmo has established himself as a big-time heel over the course of the tournament, and Rocky is such a likable guy who's been on a great little run. Add to that the potential impact on the block standings and the atmosphere in Korakuen, and you had a killer set-up. To their credit, they milked every bit of drama. The finishing stretch, with Rocky's lucha-esque fakeout using the phantom belt shot, was perfect. I was rooting out loud as I watched on my laptop. There's stiff competition for match of the tourney, but this my leader in the clubhouse. Like the Dustin-Cody match, it generated authentic emotion. 

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The middle-section of the match drags quite a bit, but by the end, they had me 110% into it. They told a pretty damn great underdog tale of the veteran in Rocky Romero looking to get a big win in his first Korakuen singles main event, and El Phantasmo was a great dance partner, as he played the role of the overly arrogant asshole looking to spoil the party excellently. It's good stuff the whole way through, but things kick up to another level or two when the Red Shoes bumps happen - after that's it's pure Korakuen underdog magic & it just rules. The best match of the tournament up to this point. ***3/4

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