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

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Jushin Thunder Liger Hen~
#6 5/14/00

9/30/90 Kanagawa Yokohama Arena IWGP Junior Heavyweight Challenger Decision Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Villano V 12:11. Rather than simply making former IWGP Junior Champion Liger the #1 contender, he was forced to defeat a formidable luchador to earn the rematch. Liger was the best junior even though he hadn’t really found himself yet, but this was an exciting time because he’d experiment and dabble into every style. The match was slanted about 15% toward Villano’s style, which was a nice mix since Liger is more proficient in lucha than Villano is in puroresu. Villano understands Japan enough to not go crazy with appendage grabs, but while he’s a good solid worker, he’s not particularly athletic, stiff, or powerful, so he simply doesn’t possess any weapons to use on Liger in a match of this magnitude. They ran around early with Liger eventually doing the majority of his best stuff to make the match. Despite the weak finish, it was a good match, it’s just not the sort of match you’d want to see Liger in repeatedly because while there’s little chance of it falling apart, there’s also very little upside. Pegasus & Liger had a post match staredown with Pegasus declaring he’d meet all comers. ***

11/1/90 Tokyo Nippon Budokan IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Pegasus Kid vs. Jushin Thunder Liger 12:32. Liger vs. Pegasus shifts toward Tiger Mask vs. Dynamite Kid in this exceptional sprint that put the Sano era to rest and ushered in the new era where you marked the upcoming Liger vs. Pegasus match on your calendar. Probably the best offensive match the junior division produced all year, delivering an exceptional mix of great brutal power with big suplexes off the ropes and exceptional flying, capped by Liger’s breathtaking shooting star press. Though the briefest IWGP Junior title change until the rightfully short Koji Kanemoto over Norio Honaga 2/19/95, they tested their now razor sharp reactions with one highly developed counter sequence after another. It was some of the greatest work of the year to be certain, but they didn’t really develop any story or address the rivalry in any way, so as impressive as it was it seemed a bit empty. They got me all stoked when Pegasus came right out establishing the kamikaze mode that helped make the Sano matches come off as a life and death struggle, but after the guerrilla press over the top followed by the suicidal missile kick to the floor, they followed with the brief mat portion then began attempting all their big spots. The fans had really taken to Liger, going nuts anytime his opponent was on the floor because they knew some amazing dive was on its way. I’d rate this slightly higher than their 8/19/90 match because their added familiarity allows them to further develop the match, but it seems a bit short and one-dimensional to bump up another 1/4*. ****1/2

12/26/90 IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Negro Casas 9:40 of 16:37. Liger’s rivalry with Casas was one of his more disappointing ones because Casas had established himself as arguably the top worker in Mexico in the late 1980’s, so it seemed to be the super dream match with both great juniors in their prime. Luchadors are primarily six man tag wrestlers who rely on the rare use of near falls the couple times a year they actually wrestle a singles match, so despite their best efforts they never seem to have enough variety and diversity to walk in and dial up a great 15 minute singles match in Japan against an unfamiliar opponent. Casas in 1990 is several notches better than even peak Dr. Wagner Jr., but Wagner made a much greater impact in late 1990’s New Japan because he worked their regularly, not only honing his style to puroresu but also and developing the timing and chemistry with his opponents that’s so important to the step oriented lucha style. Anyway, Casas faired far better than Villano V, but he’s also a far superior athlete with the charisma to immediately get himself over as a heel. The match was about 75% puroresu, and very well executed with nice but not blowaway offense. It was quite solid, but lacked anything to distinguish it as a big title match. It doesn’t help that the complete match seems to be lost, as they showed it from a distant camera from the top of the arena for a minute or so until the old TV version kicks in. ***1/2


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