Jushin Thunder Liger & Gran Hamada & Gran Naniwa
A true highlight reel with more action than anyone could keep up with, but still under enough control it wasn’t chaotic. It was one of those matches where someone involved was always running in or saving, usually both, and everything would just continue without hesitation. Wrestlers were hit with perfectly executed moves before they knew it, without pause and free of screw-ups.
This Michinoku crew was so outstanding. Maybe not individually, maybe not in singles, but in tag it was pure magic. They had awesome chemistry and perfect timing, the kind that only comes from excellent wrestlers working together consistently. They knew each other so well that they just reacted.
I always enjoyed Liger’s forays into Michinoku. The matches against Michinoku pro-wrestlers in New Japan were of course more famous, particularly the memorable series against Sasuke and the Skydiving J match against Dick Togo, but it’s really refreshing to see a big star work their butt off on a small show.
The Michinoku Puroresu audience was appreciative of Liger’s presence, chanting his name at the outset. They let the balloons fly for Naniwa, and were reacting to all the impressive spots, which was just about everything from the 5 dive sequence to the wicked released German suplex Liger gave to Funaki.
From the get go you could tell the wrestlers were motivated. Everything had a certain spark to it, a quickness that only comes from being excited about what you are doing. This was a short match, but they packed every spot they could into it and wrestled with urgency. When you get this kind of effort, and they do it in a way where they aren’t just rolling out spot after spot, you’ll take whatever length they can give you.
Togo might have pinned Liger with his diving senton, which would have been important revenge for him from their great 6/17/96 match, but Naniwa made the save. Naniwa stopped TAKA’s swandive move by dropkicking him in midair and used TAKA’s own Michinoku driver II on him. Instead of going for the pin, he followed up with his own gutwrench powerbomb for the win. Naniwa got the push, but everyone had to be totally on for this match to work, and they were. 13:23. ****1/4