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    Wednesday, December 14, 2016

    31 Days of Wrestling (12/14/16): Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay, Best of the Super Juniors Tournament 2016

    Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. It's that time of year again when we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match a day for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling this calendar year produced for us.

    Today, we're taking you back to May 27, 2016, when a Best of the Super Juniors Tournament match reached a level of virality brands would kill to have.

    The Best of the Super Juniors (BOSJ) Tournament has been known as a platform for young, up-and-coming stars to take that next step and evolve as performers. Names like Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Kenny Omega, and Finn Bálor all achieved a level of notoriety in the BOSJ before ascending to their respective levels of stardom.

    This year's BOSJ was supposed to be the coming out party for both Ricochet and Will Ospreay, so when these two young guns finally met up during the course of the tournament, it was already a matchup that NJPW fans were looking forward to. What nobody expected was just how much this match would be talked about all around the world.

    It started with the flips—a series of acrobatic moves and counters that took the laws of physics and flushed them down the toilet. It was as if the wrestling gods experimented with two Create-A-Wrestlers and maxed out the athleticism and agility attributes and then put them in the ring to see just how crazy their match would be. 

    The way these two went back-and-forth—throwing everything they could at their opponent, while masterfully countering whatever moves came their way—was simply astounding to the point that Japanese fans started chanting, "THIS IS AWESOME!" and "HOLY SHIT!" That's something that just doesn't happen because Japan.

    Here's why this match is so important in 2016: it drew a line in the sand between those who would call themselves part of the "old guard" and those who fall under the "new school." It was best exemplified in the heated Twitter exchanges between Ricochet, Will Ospreay, and Vader—with the latter insisting that the match told no story and was just a display of "blatant acrobatics." Meanwhile, Ricochet and Ospreay—along with those who took their side of the argument—rebutted that this is simply the style in this day and age, and that wrestling—like all art forms—just evolves.

    The most level-headed take on the match comes from NXT General Manager William Regal, who recognized the point of view of wrestlers from his generation, while acknowledging the fact that there is merit in the high-octane style that Ricochet and Ospreay brought to the table because of the talent and skill they brought to the dance.

    It's amazing just how viral this match went, attracting attention from mainstream news sources in the Philippines (lookin' at you, GMA News) and all over the world. Following the match, Ricochet would continue to be one of the best junior heavyweights in the world as both himself and as Lucha Underground's Prince Puma. Meanwhile, Will Ospreay would go on to win the BOSJ Tournament, defeating Ryusuke Taguchi in the finals.

    As for the Ospreay/Vader beef, it would culminate in an actual match at Revolution Pro UK's Uprising event last August 12.


    GIFs from Cageside Seats

    31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2016.

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    Item Reviewed: 31 Days of Wrestling (12/14/16): Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay, Best of the Super Juniors Tournament 2016 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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