Best of the Best: Facts About NJPW Best of the Super Juniors

On Wednesday, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) made the sad (but understandable) announcement that this year’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament was being canceled due to the COVID-19 shutdown. “In response to the continuing Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, and in light of the extension of state of emergency measures across Japan,” NJPW said in a statement, “New Japan Pro-Wrestling has arrived at the decision to cancel all events on the Best of the Super Junior 27 tour that was scheduled between May 12 and June 6.” Since 1988, New Japan has been celebrating its Junior Heavyweight division with an annual tournament and is only the third time since the tournament started, originally as Top of the Juniors, in its inception (no tournament was held in 1989 or 1990). With no tournament this year, there’s plenty of time to dive into past tournaments on New Japan World and read up on some facts and stories from the tournaments 32-year history.

Facts About NJPW Best of the Super Juniors

Top of the Juniors, 1988

The first tournament was established in 1988 and ran from January 4 through February 7 of that year. Originally called Top of the Juniors, it initially stood as a stand-alone event until restarting again in 1991. In 1994, it was rebranded to its current name, Best of the Super Juniors. Going into the tournament, Hiroshi Hase was the reigning IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and was joined in the tournament by talents such as Owen Hart, Hiro Saito, Nobuhiko Takada, Kuniaki Kobayashi, and a Young Lion named Keiichi Yamada before becoming the masked Jushin Thunder Liger. It was won by Shiro Koshinaka, who would go on to challenge for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title in June of 1988 against Owen Hart, who had defeated Hase a month prior.

Best of the Super Juniors, 1994

Since making its return as a now annual tournament in 1991, Top of the Juniors had gotten bigger each year. For 1994’s edition, it was rebranded as the Best of the Super Juniors and opened up to outside participation from other Japanese promotions. It ran from May 26 through June 13 and was won by Jushin Thunder Liger. With the win, Liger became the first two-time winner of the tournament and did so as the reigning IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion.

Shiro Koshinaka, The First Winner

Shiro Koshinaka had originally been a product of All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW), starting training with Giant Baba in 1978 and debuting in 1979. He was loaned out to Mexico frequently and in 1985, he jumped to NJPW. In 1986, he was crowned the inaugural IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. He won it again later that year for the second time, but 321-days later in August of 1987 he had to vacate the title due to injury. His comeback was capped off by winning the first Top of the Juniors tournament in 1988 and going on to reclaim his IWGP Junior Heavyweight title for a third, defeating Owen Hart during the IWGP Champion Series in June of that year. Koshinaka left NJPW in the mid-2000s, but continues to work with promotions like DDT Pro, Pro Wrestling NOAH, and Pro Wrestling FREEDOMS at 61 years old.

Tony St. Clair & Owen Hart, The First Gaijin Participants

The tournament has had an international presence ever since the very first Top of the Juniors in 1988. Tony St. Clair was already a 20-year veteran from the British wrestling scene, having debuted with World of Sport in 1966. In 1977, he won the British Heavyweight Championship, and in 1979, made his debut with New Japan. He became a regular with NJPW in 1983 and became one of the top gaijin stars of the company. He would stay with New Japan until 1995, before concentrating on the Catch Wrestling Association (CWA) in Austria, where he’d debuted in 1984. Owen Hart had become a regular with New Japan since 1987 when his father Stu Hart‘s Stampede Wrestling would trade talent on excursions. He was a top star in the Junior Heavyweight division in 1988, and two months after Top of the Juniors he would defeat Hiroshi Hase to become the first gaijin to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title. By default, St. Clair and Hart would become the first British and Canadian entrants in the tournament respectively.

Chris Benoit, First Gaijin Winner, 1993

Another of Stampede Wrestling’s stars, Chris Benoit, became a sensation in New Japan, first as the masked Pegasus Kid, then Wild Pegasus (when he unmasked). In 1993, the final tournament under the original Top of the Juniors mantle, Pegasus Kid defeated El Samurai in the finals to become the first gaijin to win the tournament. In 1995, now as Wild Pegasus, he would become the second man to win two tournaments when he defeated Shinjiro Otani in the finals. Despite winning the tournament twice, Benoit failed to capture the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title in either of his guaranteed matches (vs Liger in 1993 and vs Koji Kanemoto). His only reign came one year before he entered the tournaments (1990) when he defeated Jushin Thunder Liger on NJPW TV that August for a 74-day reign.

Negro Casas, First Mexican Participant, 1991

Now a 40-year veteran with Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL), Mexico’s Negro Casas was just over a decade into his career when he became the first representative of lucha libre to enter the annual tournaments. He entered the tournament in 1991 as the reigning Universal Wrestling Association (UWA) World Middleweight Champion and made it to the semi-finals before losing to Jushin Thunder Liger. Casas would return to the tournament the following year in 1992, but that would prove to be his final appearance in the annual tradition. But since then, Best of the Super Juniors has seen plenty of Mexican stars showcased in the tournament, including Villano IV, Dr. Wagner Jr., El Felino, Shocker, Silver King, Bárbaro Cavernario, Volador Jr., Dragon Lee, and Bandido. Dr. Wagner Jr. is the only Mexican wrestler to make the finals of the tournament (1998) but lost to Koji Kanemoto.

2 Cold Scorpio, First American Participant, 1991

The 1991 edition wasn’t just the debut of the first Mexican entrant into the tournament, but also the debut of the first American wrestler. 2 Cold Scorpio had debuted in various local promotions and territories in 1985 but headed to the New Japan Dojo to further his training with New Japan in the early 1990s. He made his debut with NJPW a week prior to the second Top of the Juniors, competing as Flying Scorpio, before becoming the first US wrestler to compete in the tournament. Scorpio also holds the distinction of being the first African-American wrestler to compete in the tournament as well. During his New Japan run, he would begin working with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 1992 and then Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) in 1995, before heading to WWF to become Flash Funk in 1997. He returned to Japan in 2000 but competed for Pro Wrestling NOAH until 2006. He still competes on the US indie circuit. Since Scorpio’s debut in 1991, many Americans have competed in the tournament, including Christopher Daniels (as Curry Man), Daniel Bryan (as American Dragon), Dean Malenko, Brian Pillman, and many more, as well as other African-Americans such as Jonathan Gresham, ACH, and Ricochet.

Best of the Super Juniors, 1994, Opening the Field

Michinoku Pro’s Super Delfin

The rebranding to Best of the Super Juniors wasn’t the only change to the tournament in 1994. New Japan had always allowed competitors from other promotions, such as CMLL and Stampede Wrestling, to enter the tournament, but in 1994 NJPW opened the tournament to other Japanese promotions, with the addition of Michinoku Pro Wrestling (MPW)‘s Super Deflin and TAKA Michinoku and Wrestle Dream Factory‘s Masayoshi Motegi. While the cross-Japan promotion has slowed in recent years due to the increasing ownership takeovers from large corporations, Best of the Super Juniors has seen a great many stars from other promotions enter the tournament, including Yoshiro Tajiri (Big Japan Wrestling), Tatsuhito Takaiwa (Pro Wrestling ZERO1), KUSHIDA (Smash), Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi (DDT Pro), PAC (Dragon Gate), and Taiji Ishimori (Pro Wrestling NOAH).

Alex Wright, First Mainland European Participant, 1995

While Europe’s first official entrant in the Best of Super Juniors tournament franchise was England’s Tony St. Clair in 1991, mainland Europe wouldn’t see their first entrant until 1995, when Germany’s Alex Wright entered that year’s tourney. Wright had competed for Austria’s CWA since his debut in 1992 but was picked to represent WCW as one of their competitors in 1995 (the other being Brian Pillman). The first European star not to enter through the majors would be a year later, in 1996, when CWA 3x World Middleweight Champion Franz Schumann from Austria entered that year’s field. A month after Best of the Super Juniors tournament ended, Schumann would win his fourth World Middleweight Championship in CWA.

Eddie Guerrero, First American Winner, 1996

While 2 Cold Scorpio entered Americans into the tournament, it wasn’t until 1996 that the United States had its first wrestler win Best of the Super Juniors. El Paso, Texas’ Eddie Guerrero was a rising star from CMLL in Mexico in the mid-1980s and had just started working with WCW in 1995. But while he was known as Eddie Guerrero in North America, in New Japan, where he’d competed since 1992, he was more prominently known as Black Tiger II, an identity he adopted in late 1993 (following original Black Tiger, Mark Rocco’s run from 1982 to 1990). A veteran of five tournaments (two as Eddie Guerrero, 1992 and 1993, and three as Black Tiger, 1994, 1995 and 1996), Guerrero would return to America and become a star in WCW and a World Champion in the WWE.

Koji Kanemoto, Triple Threat Finalist, 1999

For nearly two decades, Koji Kanemoto was not only one of the top stars in the IWGP Junior Heavyweight division, but in New Japan itself. Debuting in 1990, he would become Tiger Mask III in March of 1992, before being unmasked in 1994. He would go to appear in seventeen (17) Top of the Juniors/Best of the Super Juniors tournaments, beginning in 1992 until his last tournament in 2011. In 1997, he made the finals of the tournament for the first time, losing to El Samurai. He would return again in 1998, defeating Dr. Wagner Jr. to win that year’s tournament. In 1999, he became the first man to appear in three straight finals but lost out to Kendo Kashin. He would go to reach the finals an astounding eight times in total, winning three of them, and would do another three-peat in the finals in 2002 (defeating Minoru Tanaka), 2003 (losing to Masahito Kakihara), and 2004 (losing to Tiger Mask IV). His last two final appearances were also back to back, in 2008 (losing to Wataru Inoue) and 2009 (defeating a debuting Prince Devitt). Kanemoto would head to All Japan in 2011, but he left NJPW a 5x IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and 4x IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, and one of New Japan’s greatest competitors. For curiosities sake, Jushin Thunder Liger became the first wrestler to appear in back to back finals in 1991 and 1992 (winning in 1992 defeating El Samurai).

Jushin Thunder Liger, Undefeated, 2001

Jushin Thunder Liger is not only one of New Japan’s greatest stars, but one of pro wrestling’s greatest legends. And his multiple accolades in Top of the Juniors/Best of the Super Juniors are unparalleled. In 1992, he became the first reigning IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion to win the tournament, and he competed in 26 of the 30 total tournaments held, winning three of them. But in 2001, he became the first man to sweep the entire tournament, while passing Chris Benoit as the only person to win the tournament on three occasions in the process. In the 2001 tournament, he swept his block against El Samurai, Silver King, Chris Candido, Gran Naniwa, and Wataru Inoue, before defeating Minoru Tanaka in the finals.

Tiger Mask IV, Only Back to Back Winner, 2004/2005

While many men had returned to the finals in back to back (or three-peat) attempts, only one wrestler has ever won the tournament in two successive years. Tiger Mask IV debuted in 1995, with Yoshihiro Yamazaki succeeding Koji Kanemoto in the role, and entered his first Best of the Super Juniors in 2002. He would win his first in 2004, defeating his predecessor, Kanemoto, in the finals and would win the following year in 2005, when he beat Gedo in the finals, becoming the first and only man to win the Best of the Super Juniors tournament in back to back years.

The Three Faces of Black Tiger, 2005

In 2005, Rocky Romero, as Black Tiger IV, became the third different wrestler to portray the Black Tiger persona in a Best of Super Juniors tournament. Eddie Guerrero competed in three tournaments as Black Tiger II (1994, 1995, and 1996), while Silver King donned the outfit as Black Tiger III for the 2002 edition. Several months after the tournament, Black Tiger IV would win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. Romero would remain Black Tiger until losing against Tiger Mask IV in early 2009. Following the loss, he was attacked by a new Black Tiger (Tatsuhito Takaiwa as Black Tiger V) and unmasked, and would go on to become a staple of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team division, winning 2x with Davey Richards in No Remorse Corps, 2x with Alex Koslov in Forever Hooligans, and 4x with Trent Beretta as Roppongi Vice.

Milano Collection A.T., First Attempt, 2007

When the tournament series first debuted in 1988, the eventual winner of the tournament went to Shiro Koshinaka. Koshinaka, by default, became the first man to win the tournament on his first attempt at the tournament. But since then, it has been experience that has guided tournament winners, with winners coming from multiple attempts at the pace and grind of the tournament. But in 2007, Milano Collection A.T. became the first man since its inception to legitimately win Best of the Super Juniors in his first appearance in the tournament. A student of Ultimo Dragon, he debuted with Ultimo’s Toryumon promotion in 2000, before joining Dragon Gate in 2004. In the summer of 2006, he debuted with NJPW and entered his first Best of the Super Juniors the following year in 2007. He was runner up in Block A, but after upsetting Block B winner Ryusuke Taguchi in the semifinals, he continued the Cinderella tournament by defeating Block A winner Wataru Inoue in the finals. He was forced to retire in early 2010 due to an ocular injury, but he remains part of the IWGP Committee and as part of New Japan’s Japanese commentary team. Since Milano’s feat, only one other person has won their inaugural Best of the Super Juniors, being England’s Will Ospreay in 2016.

Prince Devitt, First European Winner, 2010

Ireland’s Prince Devitt had been competing in Europe since 2001 (as Fergal Devitt), before joining NJPW in 2006. The 2x NWA British Commonwealth Champion was used primarily in the tag team division, where he excelled – he was a 2x IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion with Minoru Tanaka and then won two more alongside Ryusuke Taguchi in Apollo-55 in four years. Devitt had been an annual entrant in Best of the Super Juniors starting in 2007 (although injury forced him out in 2007 and 2008), but it wasn’t until 2010 that Devitt finally broke out as a singles star in New Japan. In 2010, Devitt won the tournament, defeating DDT Pro’s Kota Ibushi in the finals, and at NJPW Dominion that June, Devitt beat NOAH’s Noamichi Marufuji for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. He would continue in the tag division as well, adding two more reigns in Apollo-55, before founding Bullet Club in 2013. As Bullet Club’s leader, he would storm through the Best of the Super Juniors that year, becoming only the second man to go undefeated in the tournament, defeating Alex Shelley in the finals (although, when Liger did it in 2001, he only had six matches, while in 2013, Devitt fought in 10). He would depart New Japan as a 3x IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion in 2014, heading to WWE to become Finn Bálor. Along with so many New Japan accomplishments, his first win in 2010 cemented Devitt as the first European to win the Best of the Super Juniors tournament.

Kota Ibushi, First Non-NJPW Star Winner, 2011

Up until 2017, Kota Ibushi’s primary promotion was DDT Pro, where he was a former KO-D Openweight Champion. But thanks to far more open borders, Ibushi had been making appearances regularly in New Japan since 2009, even capturing the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles in October of 2010 with DDT Pro tag partner Kenny Omega in the Golden Lovers. In 2009, he made his first appearance in the Best of the Super Juniors tournament as a representative of DDT Pro, and would make the finals in 2010 before losing to Prince Devitt. He returned again for DDT Pro in 2011, and this time, the emerging superstar won the entire tournament, defeating Ryusuke Taguchi in the finals to become the first non-New Japan affiliated wrestler to win the tournament.

Ricochet, First African-American Winner, 2014

Ricochet was one of the US indies bonafide superstars in the 2010s, making his Japanese debut with Dragon Gate in 2010. In 2013, he competed in his first Best of the Super Juniors as a representative of Dragon Gate, but in his second appearance a year later, he would shine on the international stage. He defeated KUSHIDA in the finals to become not only the second competitor representing another promotion (Dragon Gate) to win the tournament but the first African-American winner as well. In 2015, Ricochet would move to New Japan as his primary Japanese promotion, forming a tag team with Matt Sydal that won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles twice. Ricochet would also become 3x NEVER 6-Man Tag Team Champions, and capture a third IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team title with Taguchi. He joined WWE in 2018.

Will Ospreay, First British Winner & Youngest, 2016

Not only did Will Ospreay become only the second wrestler to win Best of the Super Juniors in their first attempt when he won the tournament in 2016, but he also became the first British wrestler to win the tournament as well. If that wasn’t enough, he was the youngest wrestler ever to win the tournament, at only 23 years old. Ospreay, a top star from the UK indies who debuted in 2011, had only joined New Japan the month previous and has since become one of New Japan’s biggest international stars, winning last year’s edition of Best of the Super Juniors, a 3x IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, and the reigning RevPro British Heavyweight Champion.

Robbie Eagles, First Australian Entrant, 2019

Australia’s indie wrestling scene became one of the global booms in the past few years, and the Aussie scene finally saw one of their own enter the prestigious tournament when Robbie Eagles, who had joined NJPW (and Bullet Club) in October of 2018, was one of Bullet Club’s entries in the 2019 tournament. Two weeks after the 2019 tournament ended, Eagles would turn on Bullet Club, and join Will Ospreay in CHAOS.

Best of the Super Juniors 26, 2019, Most Participants, 20

Photo: NJPW

When Top of the Juniors first launched in 1988, it sported a field of 12 competitors. Over the years, the field has fluctuated from 7 competitors (1991) to its more common presentation with 16 competitors (two 8-man blocks). Last year’s Best of the Super Juniors 26 expanded even further, with 20 men (two 10-man blocks) supplying the field.

Will Ospreay, Tournament Grand Slam, 2019

(Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

In 2019, Will Ospreay became the first wrestler in NJPW history to complete the Grand Slam of competing in New Japan’s three biggest singles tournaments – the New Japan Cup, Best of the Super Juniors, and G1 Climax – in the same calendar year. While he faired well in all three, he would only win the Super Juniors.

Kota Ibushi, Tournament Grand Slam Champion, 2019

Photo: NJPW

In the same year that Will Ospreay would become the first man to compete in the New Japan Grand Slam of tournaments in a calendar year, Kota Ibushi would do him one better, becoming the first man to actually win all three tournaments to become the first-ever New Japan Grand Slam Tournament Champion. Ibushi won the 2011 Best of Super Juniors, the 2015 New Japan Cup, and on August 12, 2019, won the G1 Climax.

Jushin Thunder Liger, 26 Entries

Photo: NJPW

Jushin Thunder Liger’s career is full of legendary highlights, many of which have come from this tournament. A big reason for that is due to the fact that Liger has competed in twenty-six (26!) tournaments, beginning with his entry in the original 1988 Top of the Juniors as a Young Lion. He would retire from the tournament following 2017’s edition, having competed in 17 in a row (he missed the 2000 edition). In his final match in BOTSJ action, he defeated Taichi on May 31, 2017. Earlier in the tournament, he put over new stars Will Ospreay, Ricochet, and Dragon Lee in losses. He retired fully from in-ring action this past January at Wrestle Kingdom 14.

Gateway to Heavyweight Greatness

Many wrestlers would find early success in the New Japan Junior Heavyweight division before “declaring” for Heavyweight status and moving up to challenge for NJPW’s top prize, the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. But not all of them went through Best of the Super Juniors as an acclaimed Junior Heavyweight like a few did. In 2001, Katsuyori Shibata would enter his first BOTSJ, and again in 2002. His New Japan Cup win in 2017 was his launch into an elite level star with NJPW, but sadly his career was cut short by head injury. Before he got all tranquilo and became a 2x IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Tetsuya Naito fought as a Junior Heavyweight, competing in the 2006 and 2007 Best of the Super Juniors tournaments. And before he conquered New Japan and Kazuchika Okada as IWGP Heavyweight Champion and joined All Elite Wrestling (AEW), Kenny Omega got his entry into New Japan as a representative from DDT Pro into the tournaments, starting in 2010 until 2015. And lastly, before joining his brother, Tanga Loa, to form 6x IWGP Tag Team Champions Guerrillas of Destiny, Tama Tanga earned his stripes in the 2010 Best of the Super Juniors.

Gaijin Invasion at Best of the Super Juniors

Tyson Kidd (as Stampede Kid) and X-Pac (as Lightning Kid) have both competed in Best of The Super Juniors tournaments

Gaijin – the Japanese term for “foreigner” – have been a part of the tournament’s history since it started in 1988. And you’d be surprised how many future stars competed in the tournament in their earlier days. Here’s a quick list of notable gaijin (as well as a few non-affiliates who went on to bigger things) who have competed in the tournament over its 32-year history.

  • 2 Cold Scorpio, USA (1991, 1992, 1993 as Flying Scorpio)
  • ACH, USA (2017, 2018
  • Alex Koslov, USA (2012, 2013)
  • Alex Shelley, USA (2013)
  • Alex Wright, Germany (1995)
  • Andrade, Mexico (2010 as La Sombra)
  • Ángel de Oro, Mexico (2012)
  • Atsushi Aoki, Japan (All Japan) (2009)
  • Bandido, Mexico (2019)
  • Bárbaro Cavernario, Mexico (2015)
  • Bobby Fish, USA (2015, 2016)
  • Brian Kendrick, USA (2012, 2013)
  • Brian Pillman, USA (1995)
  • BxB Hulk, Japan (Dragon Gate) (2007)
  • Chase Owens, USA (2015, 2016)
  • Chavo Guerrero Jr., USA (1997)
  • Chris Benoit, Canada (1991, 1992, 1993 as Pegasus Kid; 1994, 1995 as Wild Pegasus)
  • Chris Candido, USA (2001)
  • Chris Jericho, Canada (1997)
  • Chris Sabin, USA (2018)
  • Christopher Daniels, USA (2002, 2004 as Curry Man)
  • Daniel Bryan, USA (2004 as American Dragon)
  • David Finlay Jr., USA/Germany (2015, 2016
  • Davey Richards, USA (2010, 2011
  • Dean Malenko, USA (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996)
  • Doc Dean, England (1997)
  • Dr. Wagner Jr., Mexico (1997, 1999, 2000, 2001
  • Dragon Lee, Mexico (2017, 2018, 2019)
  • Eddie Guerrero, USA (1992 as Eddie Guerrero; 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 as Black Tiger II)
  • El Felino, Mexico (1998)
  • El Phantasmo, Canada (2019)
  • Emilio Charles Jr., Mexico (1996)
  • Finn Balor, Ireland (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 as Prince Devitt)
  • Fit Finlay, Northern Ireland (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994)
  • Flip Gordon, USA (2018)
  • Franz Schumann, Austria (1996)
  • Fuego, Mexico (2006)
  • Gran Metalik, Mexico (2011, 2014, 2015 as Máscara Dorada)
  • Jerry Lynn, USA (1996 as Mr JL)
  • Jimmy Rave, USA (2008)
  • Jonathan Gresham, USA (2019)
  • Kenny Omega, Canada (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014)
  • Kid Romeo, Puerto Rico (2000)
  • Kikutaro, Japan (Freelance) (2003 as Ebessan)
  • Kyle O’Reilly, Canada (2015, 2016)
  • Low Ki, USA (2012)
  • Marty Scurll, England (2017, 2018, 2019)
  • Matt Jackson, USA (Young Bucks) (2014)
  • Matt Sydal, USA (2016)
  • Negro Casas, Mexico (1991, 1992)
  • Nick Jackson, USA (Young Bucks) (2014, 2015)
  • Owen Hart, Canada (1988)
  • PAC, England (2012)
  • Ricochet, USA (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)
  • Robbie Brookside, England (1997)
  • Robbie Eagles, Australia (2019)
  • Rocky Romero, Cuba (2004, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019; 2005, 2006 as Black Tiger IV)
  • Sangre Azteca, Mexico (2006)
  • Scorpio Jr., Mexico (1997)
  • Shocker, Mexico (1999, 2001)
  • Silver King, Mexico (2001; 2002 as Black Tiger III)
  • Taiji Ishimori, Japan (NOAH) (2010)
  • Tajiri, Japan (Big Japan) (1997)
  • Titán, Mexico (2013, 2019)
  • TJP, USA (2011)
  • Tony St. Clair, England (1988)
  • Trent Beretta, USA (2013, 2015, 2016)
  • Tyson Kidd, Canada (2003, 2005 as Stampede Kid)
  • Ultimo Dragon, Japan (Freelance) (2004)
  • Villano IV, Mexico (1996)
  • Volador Jr., Mexico (2016, 2017)
  • Will Ospreay, England (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
  • X-Pac, USA (1993 as Lightning Kid)

The Best of the Best

After 32-years of tournaments recognizing the best Junior Heavyweights around the world, only two men have conquered the blocks and playoffs to win Best of the Super Juniors/Top of the Juniors on three separate occasions. Five men have won the tournament twice – Chris Benoit (1993, 1995), Tiger Mask IV (2004, 2005), Prince Devitt (2010, 2013), KUSHIDA (2015, 2017), and Will Ospreay (2016, 2019) – but only Jushin Thunder Liger (1992, 1994, 2001) and Koji Kanemoto (1998, 2002, 2009) are three-time tournament champions.

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