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

NJPW Tadakai no Wonderland ~Jushin Thunder Liger Story~
#3 4/23/00

8/10/89 Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Jushin Liger vs. Naoki Sano 15:38. A totally different match from 7/13/89, much more toward later (peak) Liger. Having shown no particular aptitude for selling since he donned the hood, Liger suddenly shows why he'd soon be known as the king of the junior sellers, doing a beautiful job of putting over the shoulder Kantaro Hoshino & Sano destroyed in a tag match two days earlier. Liger wears football shoulder pads, but they, like everything else, do little to aid his injured left wing, which Sano continues to attack mercilessly throughout. Liger can't seem to get out of his own way, injuring himself performing his own offense such as a shoulderblock. He winds up doing a lot of stomps because they are among the safest things he can do, but even with these, he's selling his shoulder between each and every one. Still, Liger manages to bust Sano open. One big change here is they are breaking each other down, so the match is much slower paced. It isn't nearly as high flying or insane as 7/13/89, it's more a traditional, even leaning toward a heavyweight match despite their athleticism, with crisp technical wrestling and badass hatred spots. They get a lot out of the flying they do use, and just about everything else for that matter, as we can see them not only knowing how to counter, but beginning to counter with reasoning and timing. I loved the spot where Liger countered a go behind, but Sano then dropped down into a wakigatame. Basic stuff, but it worked perfectly within the context of the match. I'm guessing the shoulder injury is all about NJ not having confidence in the fans willingness to accept Liger's mortality, but luckily the fans wouldn't demand he be essentially undefeatable as Tiger Mask was. They understood Liger gave all he had, and took it as a heroic showing even though only Sano got up from his avalanche backdrop this time. ****3/4

1/18/90 Yamaguchi Toyama Shi Taiikukan, IWGP Junior Next Challenger Decision League Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Hiro Saito 12:53. The 3rd generation of the Liger character with the red mask, red and white body suit, and Thunder as his middle name is the one that would stick (I suppose partly because Go Nagai's anime went off the air on 1/27/90). Hiro heels it up, introducing a chair, and Liger is more than happy to give it back to him, even piledriving Saito on a table. Hiro is not the least bit spectacular, but nonetheless effective on offense as he sometimes was in the early 90's, having enough impact on his suplexes and senton to be credible. He will never have a match of the year, but he's fine for minor matches, the thing is they should be minor heavyweight matches. The downside of Hiro is woefully apparent here, as he doesn't possess nearly enough athleticism for the junior division. He can't take a decent bump off the middle rope, and more importantly, he lacks the flexibility for even simple counters into basic pins, which by the way kills the finish of this match. Despite Liger having to dumb down and Hiro's girth getting in the way a few times, the match was both effective and entertaining. Unfortunately, it just kind of ended when you thought it was about to take off. **3/4

1/25/90 Hokkaido Sapporo Nakajima Taiiku Center, IWGP Junior Next Challenger Decision League Match: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Akira Nogami 11:59. Nogami had the athleticism, and Liger was of the mindset to carry him. Nogami wasn't wrestling with a great deal of confidence, slowing down to make sure he knew the next spot, but he generally faired well. Liger sold a lot for him, especially early on to give him credibility. The fans weren't reacting, but I thought it was a fun little match. It was weird seeing Liger win with an Argentine backbreaker, as it was not only out of nowhere, but I don't recall him even using the move before. ***


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