Quebrada Pro Wrestling, Puroresu, & Mixed Martial Arts Reviews by Mike Lorefice

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Jushin Thunder Liger Hen~
#1~ 4/9/00

4/24/89 Tokyo Dome: Jushin Liger vs. Kuniaki Kobayashi 9:55. Liger made his debut about 6 weeks after Go Nagai's anime began on TV Asahi, with remarkable expectations as he was expected to not merely be a a flesh and blood incarnation of an imaginative super hero, but no less than the successor of the biggest star in the history of junior heavyweight wrestling, Tiger Mask. In order to follow in Tiger's footsteps, he changed his style considerably, focusing on speed, quickness, gymnastic based counters, and daring aerial manuevers. This is not to say Yamada by any means grounded before, but as he came up during the junior divisions UWF dominated era, kicks were a big part of his offense and flying was only one aspect of his well rounded game. Kobayashi was his opponent because he did the best job of carrying Tiger Mask. He was there to do all the dirtywork while being the afterthought, to set Liger up, provide a base for his flying, get some heat with a few questionable tactics, and give him a few breathers by momentarily grounding him. Kobayashi gave his typical unselfish performance, doing nothing to steal Liger's thunder. He got Liger crowd support by trying to rip his mask and giving him a low blow, standard rudo stuff, and Liger got Liger crowd support by awing them with his athleticism. Liger had a nice flashy start, but ultimately didn't do doing anything drastically different than he did as Yamada. He was simply performing the spots quicker and chaining them together in more rapid succession, which was good when it didn't cause mistakes. Kobayashi wrestled with confidence, and did everything that was expected of him, but the match wasn't awesome because it was rather short and Liger was understandable still trying to find himself. ***1/4

5/25/89 Osaka Jo Hall, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Hiroshi Hase vs. Jushin Liger 8:39. NJ wanted the title on Liger as soon as possible because he was the new sensation, yet they didn't seem to trust him, so Liger was pretty much protected in a short match that Hase totally carried. Hase surprised everyone charging at the bell with a dropkick and using a front suplex to set up a plancha, but soon showed it was going to be his style of diverse technical match rather than a Liger aerial assualt. Hase would have his way with Liger except when Liger would find an opening to use his speed and athleticism to counter, setting off a brief burst of flying before Hase countered back. Hase was precise and skilled as ever and Liger was all sorts of scrappy, so the match was fun, albeit not exactly developed or nearly as good as if Liger was simply Yamada. ***

7/12/89 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukaikan, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match 3Min 10Rd: Jushin Liger vs. Black Tiger R5 2:53. Liger was the new ultra athletic superhero, so it was only natural that Tiger Mask's arch rival Black Tiger would be brought in to help get him over. Though Rocco is a talented wrestler, Sayama's matches with Rocco were bottom rung of his main rivals, largely because Rocco tends to spend too much time being a rudo and not enough time showing his actual wrestling skills. Once again, I thought Rocco was again making decisions that were neither adding to the match nor doing their job of getting the opposition over in the manner they were being promoted. Dives were so much rarer in these days that the entire crowd seemed to stand when Liger ascended to the top for his plancha, but while Tiger did get the crowd to react, it was largely to his rudo techniques, which set up Liger to fight fire with fire rather than to showcase his athleticism, which at this point was what made him special. Tiger did wrestle technically in the first and they got spot happy in the 5th, but in between Tiger was content to employ such deadly manuevers as choking Liger with his towel and attacking him with a plastic bucket of ice. The other aspect that seemed to hinder the match from reaching it's potential was the rounds style, which, more often than not, prevented flow and rendered the action that much more random. I'd say this is the best match of the three because it's the only one with any real length and substance, but minute for minute, it's the worst of the three. ***1/4


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