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

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Jushin Thunder Liger Hen~
#5~ 5/7/00

3/19/90 Hiroshima Kenritsu Taiikukan IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Pegasus Kid 15:21. Liger vs. Pegasus would quickly be on its way to becoming the junior feud of the 1990’s, but Pegasus’ first title challenge was probably their worst Japanese match together and his least memorable IWGP junior title match. Both men were not only figuring out how to work together, but actually still deciding the wrestlers they wanted to be. Low dosage Benoit only threw 2 chops, instead trying to match Liger in quickness, athleticism, flying, and matwork, in other words trying to take the champion down on Liger’s own terms rather than crunch his bones. They hadn’t developed the great chemistry we’d see later in the year, so it was essentially the standard exciting Liger match of the period with a long mat sequence and no particular story that relies on the highspots to make or break it. Of course, Liger’s flying was tops in the world at that time, and Benoit was obviously no slouch in the days before his veins appeared ready to explode in some sort of chemically induced version of Scanners. Pegasus had his moments, but even though it was a little better than Liger’s big matches with Finlay, Villano V, and Casas, he didn’t exactly distinguish himself from the pack of junior contenders and the dropoff from the ultimate Liger vs. Sano to Liger’s first defense was immense. You couldn’t hope for the same atmosphere, but the lack of direction and unconvincing finish made it all the more disappointing. That said, if every feud started with a match this good... ***1/2

2/5/90 Hokkaido Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. David "Fit" Finlay 9:33. The matchup had a lot of potential, but they didn’t really develop it, instead essentially working as individuals with Liger mainly selling Finlay’s basic bashing. It was essentially a reprise of the lesser portions of Fuji Yamada’s UK tour with the roughhousing heel controlling the match, and the face doing almost all the spectacular spots during his brief hot comebacks. Finlay is unlike any of Liger’s other opponents; he’s the ultimate bruiser. The fans didn’t seem to know what to think of him repeatedly bludgeoning Liger with knees and elbows, but his arrogance turned them against him. There was a huge pop for Liger’s Neal kick comeback, but the audience seemed in a state of shock when Finlay almost immediately reasserted himself. ***1/4

8/19/90 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Pegasus Kid 15:02. When I first began watching Liger’s Japanese matches in 1992, Liger, Naoki Sano, and Pegasus immediately became my definition of top quality wrestling. While the Liger vs. Pegasus feud couldn’t quite match Liger vs. Sano, it became quite an amazing one in it’s own right, beginning to escape the mammoth Sano shadow with this second junior title match. There’s certainly a night and day difference between this early classic and their first try 5 months earlier. Liger & Pegasus seemed far more confident as individuals with Kid finding his stride, still displaying his athleticism, but adding the stiffness he became synonymous with. He asserted himself as a wrecking ball early by guerrilla pressing Liger over the top and whipping him into the guard rail. The chemistry they developed together was the huge difference from 3/19/90 though. The backbone of this encounter was their numerous explosive, perfectly timed counter laded sequences, allowing them to pull off the difficult match where they repeatedly went back and forth with every aggression liable to be immediately reversed. You could feel they were beginning to think alike, and that allowed everything to become crisper, to be performed more emphatically because there was no doubt in their minds. The first half was intense, but generally not extraordinary. However, they completely emptied their tanks in the second half, just going back and forth with lightning counters until someone finally successfully executed a spectacular maneuver. Pegasus won with his guillotine leg drop, establishing himself and allowing for a series by taking the title. ****1/2


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