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

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Jushin Thunder Liger Story~
#2 4/16/00

7/28/89 Toda Shi Sports Center, Jushin 5 Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Akira Nogami 10:42. Nogami has passed the point of being a good athlete with a lot of desire, and is beginning to show a good deal of promise. Although they debuted in the same year, Nogami is just beginning to show up on TV, and gets a star vs. promising youngster match with Liger, who goes out of his way to give him credibility, selling for him quite a bit, although he does ultimately dispatch of him with ease. Nogami's offense is somewhat lacking, but he's beginning to develop a nice arsenal of bridging suplexes. I liked his doublearm suplex hold, but the follow up where Nogami fully extends for a diving body attack only to have Liger put out his knee is totally badass. ***

11/3/89 Tokyo Korakuen Hall: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Takayuki Iizuka 14:11. Sambo Iizuka puts his newfound skills on display, destroying Liger's knee in this well focused technical match that's a treat for the hardcore fans. I don't remember caring for this match all that much when I first got into Liger, but it's a nice change of pace, and a rare example of Iizuka within his element, giving us a good indication of just how technically good he was even at this early stage in his career. This is basically Liger reverting back to mid 80's Yamada: there's minimal flying, and the basis is a quasi UWF shoot style. Liger sells for the majority of the match, doing a champion job of putting over Iizuka's kneebars. Given Iizuka had recently held the tag titles with Riki Choshu, I expected him to be a tougher out, but once Liger woke up in a desperate effort to stop the blizzard suplex, he quickly dispatched of Iizuka. ***3/4

7/13/89 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Naoki Sano 13:55. Liger & Sano kicked off their legendary fued that first announced their arrival at the very top level and soon made them household names with this futuristic aerial war, an insane battle of one-upsmanship that always ultimately proved how evenly matched they were because neither could sustain an advantage no matter what risks they took or how much they disregarded their safety. The match was way ahead of its time for highspots, athleticism, and daring, but although admittedly more of a spectacle, it did have some depth because they were able to get across the idea they were so evenly matched they were pushing each other to previously unattained levels of excellent. The fued was so notable for its intensity, starting before the bell even rang as they wouldn't take their eyes off each other, their stone-faced stare unbroken even by a reluctant pre-match handshake. They matched each other's athleticism at the outset to pop the crowd then technical skill exchanging Romero specials. When the ordinary was not enough, they began raising the bar for daring further and further including Liger doing a rolling senton to the floor, Sano vaulting himself over the top rope Kamikaze style with a body press then following with a missile kick to the floor. There was a Sano huracanrana that didn't quite work and then Liger was too close after Sano's backflip out of the corner for Sano to do his rolling sole butt, but otherwise their chemistry was awesome and anything that didn't hit perfectly added to the recklessness factor. The fault of the match is the double knockout finish came out of nowhere because there was no selling to lead up to it. I understand the idea that this level of opposition called for them to do anything they could think of until they succeeded or their body gave out, but because they couldn't really gain an advantage it didn't make sense for them to both suddenly be unable to get up from Sano's avalanche backdrop. The finish drew gasps from the stunned audience that had been going nuts for quite a while; you could sense their disappointment but they soon gave both a good highly appreciative hand. ****1/2


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