Here are some results and a quick review from night one of New Japan Pro Wrestling & CMLL ‘s “Fantasticamania” from Osaka, which has been expanded to five shows this year.
The 1/18 show from Korakuen, a loaded show with Shinsuke Nakamura vs Rush, and a National Light Heavyweight Title match between Mephisto & Mistico, will also air on iPPV. We’ll have full coverage of that one as well.
1. Titan & BUSHIROAD vs. TAKA Michinoku & Taichi – BUSHI is going by the name BUSHIROAD now. There are rumors that he could be on the way out, to either Wrestle-1, or back to All Japan. Speaking of on the way out, TAKA will no longer be a New Japan full timer, and will only work selected big shows from this point forward. He’s going to concentrate on his struggling K-Dojo promotion, and presumably continue his produce shows with Taichi. Titan, if you recall, took part in last year’s Best of the Super Juniors. This was short but fun, which was sort of the theme of the night. Taichi pulled off
BUSHI BUSHIROAD’s mask, and got the easy pin with a roll up in a classic lucha finish right off the bat. TAKA then ended up with Titan’s mask, as the heels rudos celebrated. **
2. Stuka Jr., Rey Cometa & Fuego vs. Vangelis, OKUMURA & Niebla Roja – When decked out in his entrance gear, Fuego looks like a masked Macho Man Randy Savage. This was worked at a super pace, and I’d love to rate it higher but it was just too short. This was as good as it gets for a spotty match of this length. The highlight was Fuego & Stuka doing a cool double dive type spot, with Fuego diving between the ropes and between Stuka’s legs, then Stuka following up with an Asai moonsault.
The finish was Cometa going for what looked like a rana, which OKUMURA reversed into a roll up. The rudos were two for two after this one. Fun match. **3/4
3. Jushin Thunder Liger & Maximo vs. Jado & Gedo – Liger & Maximo skipped to the ring, arm in arm, like AJ Lee. Jado & Gedo did the homophobic routine, with Maximo trying to kiss them. Again, this was short, but everybody worked hard, with some fun comedy, and Liger channeling his inner luchador:
Maximo finally got his hands on Jado and delivered his death kiss, followed by a la magistral for the pin. First half flew by. I was surprised they took the intermission, as the show was not even an hour old. **1/2
4. Tetsuya Naito & Volador Jr. vs. Mascara Dorada & KUSHIDA – KUSHIDA came to the ring in his MARTY MCFLY VEST from WrestleKingdom, so I guess that’s going to be a thing — I have no problem with that. Volador Jr worked with his mask, which confused Twitter and I’m not exactly Mr. Lucha, so it confused me too. I’d love an explanation if somebody wants to send one. This was another good match, but it was better when the CMLL guys were in. Nothing wrong with the KUSHIDA/Naito stuff, but Volador & Dorada were more crisp. The problem was the New Japan guys worked the meat of the match. Volador Jr. hit a beautiful Canadian Destroyer type move coming off the ropes for the win. I mean, it just looked great. I added a half star for the finish alone. Volador took his mask off post match. ***
5. Rush & La Sombra vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Ultimo Guerrero – This felt like it had real star power, as there was a ton of charisma in that ring. Rush & Nakamura had some intense exchanges to set up the singles bout on the 18th. Sombra & Guerrero tagged in and did some good mat wrestling. Sombra did a crazy moonsault off the post on Guerrero.
The stuff with Sombra & Guerrero was real good, and Nakamura & Rush basically just beat the shit out of each other every chance they had, making for an cool dynamic. Guerrero caught Sombra on the top turnbuckle and delivered the Guerrero Special for the win. This was a really good match, the first one that didn’t feel rushed. ***3/4
6. Special 6 Man Tag Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Mistico & El Desperado vs. Kazuchika Okada, Rey Escorpion & Mephisto – Mistico in this case is Mistico II (actually Mistico III, but that’s a long story), the former Dragon Lee, as Mistico I (actually Mistico II, but again, don’t ask), who was the first Sin Cara (who ended up replaced by the first Mistico), sits in limbo now that Hunico (the first Mistico) is now Sin Cara (II). Got all that? They’ll be a quiz later. Mephisto was decked out like Jason Vorhees. I haven’t seen him in a while, but I don’t ever recall that look for him. Mistico was the standout here. He looked great, hitting all of his incredible spots. I saw him early on when he first took on the role, and he wasn’t this good. El Desperado looked better here than he did in his Korakuen debut.
Tanahashi largely stayed out of the way, which he tends to do these days in tag matches. Okada worked hard and did his key stuff, including the big dropkick on Tanahashi. There is always a special feeling when they face off versus each other. Mistico used the La Mistica on Escorpion for the win. Good match, worked at a more frantic pace than the semi. Tanahashi had his Universal title with him that he won in Mexico. I figured that had been forgotten. ***1/2
Overall this show was a lot of fun, with the fast paced action, good comedy, air horns & Spanish ring announcer for authenticity, and a hot crowd that ate everything up. The show on 1/18 will be more “serious”, but this was a fun diversion and I recommend it, especially the good main event and very good semi.
As always, special thanks to the great SenorLariato for the fantastic gifs.