Jushin Thunder Liger vs. The Great Sasuke
Michinoku Pro opened in March of 1993, but not that many people knew about founder and top star The Great Sasuke until 13 months later when he made it to the finals of the Super J Cup tournament. Sasuke had to deliver of course, but it was Liger that made him by giving him that opportunity. Even though Sasuke didn't win the J Cup, he was suddenly all the rage. Everyone knew the great things Liger & Pegasus were capable of, but in comes this Sasuke guy and there he goes, flying all over the arena. He was the real winner because for his coming out party he happened to have the 3 best matches on one of the greatest shows in wrestling history (these days it's harder and harder to imagine that, on top of this, not far away in the same city Toshiaki Kawada was having a superb Champion Carnival Final with Steve Williams). Sasuke seemed something of a new Tiger Mask, not so much because he copied a few of Tiger's moves, but for being a superior athlete, so quick and graceful.
Though Liger has been upset so many times, the Sasuke upset is probably the one that stands out the most. I suppose mainly because Liger being eliminated should always make for a worse match to follow. The match Sasuke went on to have with Pegasus probably wasn't better than anything Liger ever did, though the argument has been made, but it was certainly better than anything Liger ever did with Pegasus, which is pretty amazing considering they are the two best juniors of their generation and that was a regular big junior match in NJ for the better part of 7 years. Sasuke vs. Pegasus was perfection on their first and only try, and I'm not sure what's rarer, that they got it so right initially or that they didn't then go back for encores.
If you know anything about interpromotional matches in Japan you'll know that Liger has to win this rematch. Again though, the match was more about Sasuke. Normally I'm not a fan of dives right away because that makes them that much less believable, but what Sasuke had going for him is he came off as suicidal. He jumps Liger before the bell with a dropkick, knocks Liger to the floor with his own shoteis then kamikazes him.
Sasuke puts on a great flying exhibition here with several trips to the top rope and dives to the floor including the quebrada over the guardrail. His craziest dive is certainly the plancha with Liger in the security rail gate because a little to either direction and Sasuke hits the rail while taking Liger out.
In spite of the initial dive, Sasuke spent the early portion taking away Liger's (left) shotei arm, which was injured during Sasuke's initial flying barrage. Liger's first comeback was still with the shotei, but he felt it and never went back to it. After Liger chopped with the right arm, Sasuke tried to put it in the udehishigigyakujujigatame. You could say that Sasuke was reacting to this and trying to take away both arms, but I'm pretty positive he just forgot which arm he was attacking because Liger said something to him and basically hooked his left arm himself.
Liger used some flying as well, but his attack was mainly power. With Sasuke's quickness and ability to counter he wasn't able to get as many moves off as Sasuke, so he had to make them count. Sasuke was getting big reactions for his flying, but you really knew he was over when you heard the pop he got for stopping Liger's pin after the nadare shiki no Frankensteiner with an ebigatame (in this case, he brought his legs up and hooked Liger's shoulders into a pin of his own). There were definitely more people rooting for him than I expected.
The match didn't have a long climactic sequence, but Sasuke exhausted most of his great moves anyway. This wasn't a match where you wanted Liger to decisively beat him; Liger had to go over clean but still look a little lucky. Sasuke dominated, but the one time Liger caught him on the top was all he needed, planting him with the nadare shiki no fisherman buster for the win. Another unselfish performance by Liger, allowing Sasuke to come off as the more dominant wrestler. Sasuke's day in and day out quality has held up remarkable well for a junior, especially one that takes so many risks, but one of the reasons he was never able to top that Pegasus match is he was pretty much never 100%. What shows he put on in '94 in these matches with Liger, as well as the singles vs. Pegasus, El Samurai, & Ultimo Dragon. When I think of someone really spectacular that is a top wrestler and really seems to be laying it on the line, it always comes back to Sasuke. That's not a totally good thing because it's a positive that's leading to a negative, but he's not a guy you'd accuse of just going through his routine. 15:15. ****3/4