NJPW & CMLL
FANTASTICA MANIA 2019
JANUARY 18, 2019
Watch: NJPW World
We’ve arrived to Korakuen Hall for the last three nights of the NJPW/CMLL Fantastica Mania tour. This first Tokyo show looks good on paper, with Bárbaro Cavernario facing off against Soberano Jr. in the first singles match of the tour, followed by an attractive Sansón/Cuatrero vs. Dragon Lee/Místico tag match.
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JUSHIN THUNDER LIGER, RYUSUKE TAGUCHI & AUDAZ DEF. GEDO, TAIJI ISHIMORI & TEMPLARIO
There’s been a variation of this match in every night of the tour, the focus always being building Ishimori vs. Taguchi for the junior championship and also giving the luchadores some minutes to shine. Once again, the closing stretch featured both mMexicansfacing each other but this time, Audaz submitted Templario with an armbar for the win. Audaz has been solid so far but Templario has been a big disappointment: I feel as if he’s barely been featured.
I enjoy Taguchi and I know he can go, so I’m okay with the Taguchi-Ishimori upcoming match, however, these Fantastica Mania matches have done nothing to increase my excitement: they’ve been completely unremarkable. **¾
ÁNGEL DE ORO & TITÁN DEF. OKUMURA & FORASTERO
A really nice match with great heat between Titán and Forastero, some spectacular dives and Ángel the Oro looking good. We got some nice dives, including moonsault variations and a Sasuke Special. Forastero and Titán had a solid closing stretch that included dropkicks, superkicks and Titán getting the victory with a fantastic pinning combination. Loved the pace of this one. ***¼
BLACK CAT MEMORIAL MATCH
SATOSHI KOJIMA, TOA HENARE, FUJIN & RAIJIN DEF. TETSUYA NAITO, BUSHI, SHINGO TAKAGI & TERRIBLE
The Black Cat Memorial is a Fantastica Mania annual tradition to honor Victor Mar: Gringos Locos’ member in the 90’s, wrestler and referee for New Japan who passed away in 2016.
My favorite part of this was Naito telling the announcer to make a shorter introduction. Look, if you’re wondering what this guy says during his long, useless intros it’s something like: ‘Making his way to the ring, an epic competitor that is looking to get the win to satisfy every fan… he has come to Japan to impress everyone. A man that enjoys winning, a great wrestler, he is… [insert name of luchador]’. I gotta give it up to him, he has to find different ways to say literally nothing important about lots of luchadores every night.
I don’t care about the Terrible-Kojima feud, I’m starting to hate SHO & YOH in masks and I’m certainly not enjoying these series of matches (we got the exact same match at Night 1). Kojima hit Terrible with his Lariat to pick up his team’s first win of the tour, just in time for their singles match on Sunday. The match featured sweet Shingo/SHO action but there’s nothing more to say about it. **
ÚLTIMO GUERRERO & GRAN GUERRERO DEF. ATLANTIS & ATLANTIS JR.
I absolutely hate when wrestlers randomly try to take each others masks in the middle of the match: I think it’s a dumb, uncreative and usually unnecessary way to get heat, so Útlimo almost unmasking Atlantis early in the match put me in a bad mood for the rest of it. Atlantis Jr. looked solid again as he helped his father get through the match, also Último trying to be a prick to him was enjoyable. Overall, a fun tag match that used the old but beautiful Atlantis/UG rivalry to pump up the crowd and that included some smart Guerreros action to take advantage of Atlantis Jr.’s lack of experience. ***
NAMAJAGUE & CARÍSTICO DEF. VOLADOR JR. & FLYER
An okay match that was dragged down by Flyer’s bad timing and nervousness: the young man isn’t having a good Fantastica Mania but here’s hoping he recovers for the last two shows. Volador Jr. had a few interventions that helped his nephew, building up the pace and keeping things moving. For the third time of this tour, Carístico got the win with La Mística and I’m starting to get very excited for his singles match with Volador. I’m enjoying Despy here, who looks like he’s having great fun with the Namajague gimmick. **½
BÁRBARO CAVERNARIO DEF. SOBERANO JR.
The first must-see match of the tour. Bárbaro and Soberano started with frantic pace, creating some hard-hitting spots and using the corners to land creative moves. Soon, Bárbaro was doing his usual crazy dives, including a tope suicida near the corner and the big splash from the top rope all the way to the floor. Cavemen have strong knees. Soberano popped the crowd by using his beautiful tornillo a couple of times and scoring some important nearfalls. My favorite spot was Bárbaro reversing a Tombstone Piledriver into a fast and painful looking variation of the same move. Minutes later, Soberano got the control back and tried a top rope moonsault, Bárbaro moved and quickly locked in La Cavernaria for the win. Soberano has very long arms and it looked like Bárbaro was squeezing a freaking octopus there. We’re used to an awesome Bárbaro Fantastica Mania every year and this was easily Soberano’s best performance in Japan. ****
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) January 18, 2019
CMLL FAMILY TAG TOURNAMENT 2019 – FINAL
DRAGON LEE & MÍSTICO DEF. SANSÓN & CUATRERO
By having high pace, numerous cool dives and even some drama, these four gentleman managed the tough task of successfully follow a tremendous singles encounter. The Dinamitas were – as usual – superb in the rudo tag team department, making things difficult for the Muñoz brothers but never allowing the quality of the match to falter. There was a great strike exchange followed by luchadores not wanting to tag their partners because they were so pumped up by the intensity of it. Dragon and Místico unleashed some beautiful huracarranas, with the former looking particularly impressive. And it was Dragon Lee who got the win with a Desnucadora moments after Místico had taken Cuatrero out with a moonsault to the floor. Another awesome lucha match that had enough things to keep the energy levels up and some tremendous team work in display. ***¾
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) January 18, 2019
Último and Gran Guerrero walked out to cut a standard promo. The former went first: “Místico, Dragon, you have boarded the victory train but we are the destination. And with us, you’ll hit a stone wall. I’m telling you right now, the winners will be Gran Guerrero and Último Guerrero.” Gran took the mic and resumed the promo. “We faced off last year, and this time the result will be the same. Remember, the Guerrero Laguneros are in the next level (‘De Otro Nivel’)”
Dragon Lee thanked the crowd: “You have no clue how happy I am to be in my home, Japan. I love all these people, thanks for supporting us. We’re facing the Guerreros on sunday and we’ll get the victory because, remember, just as my brother Rush says: Whatever happens, at the end, nothing happens. (Pase lo que pase, al final, no pasa nada)”.
Korakuen Hall means we finally get the good Fantastica Mania stuff. Both Soberano Jr. vs. Bárbaro Cavernario and Lee/Místico vs. Cuatrero/Sansón are matches that I would recommend watching. And, to be honest, everything was at least good – maybe the Flyer match being the exception – and I feel that this night was a good ‘translation’ of a standard CMLL show in Arena Mexico.
Sunday’s show has another great looking tag match between Dragon Lee/Mísico and Último/Gran Guerrero plus a Terrible vs. Kojima encounter that will mercifully put an end to that rivalry.