With the first of back to back nights in Korakuen Hall (which in a weird time zone glitch both take place on 1/18 in North America, at 4:30am & 10:00pm EST) to close out the expanded five night Fantasticamania tour, New Japan Pro Wrestling & CMLL looked to follow up on what was a very fun tour opener in Osaka on 1/14.
While the 1/14 card featured a bunch of fun tag bouts, this show was highlighted by two huge singles bouts. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rush featured two of the biggest stars in each of the respective promotions, and in the main event, Mistico challenged Mephisto for the National Light Heavyweight Title.
1. 3WAY Match: Maximo vs. Taichi vs. Jado – Maximo always gets over with his exotico gimmick, and Jado does the homophobic act very well. With TAKA Michinoku no longer a New Japan full timer, I’m not sure where this leaves Taichi, who between his broken leg and uninspired performances had a very lousy 2013. Lots of comedy as expected. Maximo kissed one of the announcers, who sold it as if he was dead and had to be carried to the back. This match got a decent amount of time. Maximo ripped Taichi’s tear away pants off, kissed him, and pinned him with a la magistral for the win. This one was better than it looked on paper. **
2. Stuka Jr. & Rey Cometa vs. OKUMURA & Yujiro Takahashi – New Japan fans haven’t been able to find Yujiro with a search party lately, so it was good to see him here. At this point, I guess we have to assume OKUMURA is never coming back to Japan, as he’s very happy in Mexico and has been there for years. This had some minor communication issues early, but ended up being a fun bout. The technicos were doing all sorts of wacky flying and dives, including Cometa doing a corkscrew plancha where he ended up laying out his own partner. Yujiro hit the Tokyo Pimps on Stuka Jr for the win. Everybody here looked good. ***
3. Titan, Fuego, Tiger Mask & KUSHIDA vs. Rey Escorpion, Vangelis, Niebla Roja & YOSHI-HASHI – Crowd was hot for this, especially for Fuego & Titan who did some great flying. Vangelis hit a bridging suplex on Fuego for the win. A fun collection of spots. **3/4
4. Volador Jr. & BUSHIROAD vs. Mascara Dorada & El Desperado – As noted in the Osaka review, BUSHI is now BUSHIROAD. Volador Jr had the spot of the night in Osaka when he drilled Dorada with a gorgeous Canadian Destroyer in what was an incredible finish. For some reason, Volador Jr worked with his mask on again. This was worked at an incredible pace early, and the crowd was into the innovative flying. All four guys brawled into the crowd and Volador hit a cross body on Dorada over a staircase. Back in the ring, Desperado hit his finisher, which he calls El Guittara del Angel, for the win. This is the second time he has used it, and both times he nearly killed the guy taking it. Strong match. ***
5. Special Singles Match: Rush vs. Shinsuke Nakamura – This was arguably the most anticipated match of the entire tour, and it was set up well in Osaka. Nakamura was covered in body paint similar to Prince Devitt from WrestleKingdom. This was a good back & forth match that could haven went longer. Good intensity from both guys.
For the finish, Nak rolled through a roll up attempt and missed a knee, but hit a dropkick and then a Boma Ye for the win. Finish was a little flat, but a good match. ***1/2
6. Special 6 Man Tag Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tetsuya Naito & La Sombra vs. Kazuchika Okada, Ultimo Guerrero & Tomohiro Ishii – This featured six pretty awesome workers and a boatload of charisma, so it figured to be good. Tanahashi once again came out with both the IWGP Intercontinental Title and the CMLL Universal Title that he won last year. Okada, who as some may recall was originally trained in the Toryumon system, did some lucha inspired offense early.
Ishii & Naito did the big forearm exchange, and then brawled into the crowd. Everything Sombra did was sharp.
For the second straight iPPV, Guerrero beat Sombra with the Guerrero special. Another match that ended up being a lot of fun. Guerrero cut a promo that got zero reaction because nobody understood it. I kind of felt bad for the dude. ***1/4
7. National Light Heavyweight Title: Mephisto (c) vs. Mistico – The big question for me — would Korakuen respond to an all-CMLL main event? Also, how are these men the same weight class? I demand to see the weigh-ins. This was an odd match. Mistico did some flashy flying to start, before a long Mephisto control segment. Crowd was chanting for Mistico, who looked a little better on the Osaka show than he did here. Then things got weird. Mistico took a scary bump on a springboard shooting star press, and appeared to knock himself silly by landing on his head.
La Sombra looked very concerned, and unless he completely fooled me with some great selling, Mistico was out of his feet and possibly concussed. After gaining his bearings a bit, Mistico went after Mephisto with some hard kicks, but when things got back into the ring they rushed right to the finish, which was Mephisto hitting the Demon Driller off the top rope. Match was okay, but very awkward in spots and the SSP bump was terrifying. Mistico looked okay after the match and walked off on his own power. ***
Top to bottom, another really fun NJPW & CMLL Fantasticamania show. This tour has already topped the 2013 version, and we still have the finale yet to come a few hours from now. Both iPPV shows have been loaded with action, and the crowds have been great.
Special thanks as always to @SenorLARIATO for the gifs!