NJPW & CMLL
FANTASTICA MANIA 2019
JANUARY 21, 2019
KORAKUEN HALL
TOKYO, JAPAN

Watch: NJPW World

We’ve arrived at the last date of the 2019 Fantastica Mania tour and our main dish is a singles match between Volador Jr. and Carístico. But the match that looks more attractive is the National Trios Championship match between Nueva Generación Dinamita and the team of Ángel de Oro, Titán and Atlantis. Also, this is the last shot of every luchador on the tour to try to impress in order to get a place in next year’s tour or even in this year’s Best of the Super Juniors.

Reviews of other Fantastica Mania 2019 shows and preview:

BÁRBARO CAVERNARIO & TEMPLARIO DEF. AUDAZ & FLYER

A fun lucha spotfest to kick things off. I think everyone—especially the debutants—saw this as their last chance to impress and went all out. Lots of flying and yet another confident performance by Audaz, who I was very surprised to see submit to La Cavernaria: I thought Flyer would be the one taking the loss… so it was nice to see Flyer having his best match on the tour, finally looking good and connecting well with everyone. Templario had a good display and Bàrbaro was as efficient as always. ***½

ATLANTIS JR. DEF. OKUMURA

A perfectly solid display by Atlantis Jr. that was stained by the bad finish: the young luchador had serious problems locking the Atlantida, and couldn’t do it until the third try. As for the rest of the match, Atlantis Jr. used his ‘greatest hits’ of the tour: tijeras, a splash from the top, tope suicida and some backbreakers. He looked good for his level but there’s still a long way to go in order to consider him a serious threat to the CMLL midcard. ***

TETSUYA NAITO, TERRIBLE, BUSHI & SHINGO TAKAGI VS. TOA HENARE, SHO, YOH & SATOSHI KOJIMA ENDED IN A NO CONTEST

The best of these long series of matches: everyone put effort into the action, we got to see a great flurry of Ingobernables tag team offense and without the masks, Roppongi 3K looked motivated. Shingo had an incredible exchange of moves with YOH this time, and after developing a little storyline enhanced by backstage comments, Henare fought valiantly against Naito, but once again proved to be several steps below the champion. The match was kicking into high gear when a hooded Taichi appeared and hit Naito with the IC belt. Kanemaru and Desperado showed up too and beat the heck out of BUSHI and Shingo. SHO and YOH tried to stop the attack, but got beaten too. That last bit worries me: please, no more triple threats for the junior tag team championship. Please. This is worth watching because of the fun action and the post-match Suzuki-gun attack. ***

MEXICAN NATIONAL TRIOS CHAMPIONSHIP
CUATRERO, FORASTERO & SANSÓN (C) DEF. ATLANTIS, TITÁN & ÁNGEL DE ORO

Great work all around. Despite his age, Atlantis served his purpose, heating up the crowd with his signature backbreakers and hip tosses, meanwhile Titán was doing tijeras all over the place, flying like a madman and Ángel de Oro closed strongly with more sweet sequences against his rival Cuatrero, but ultimately was overwhelmed by the Dinamitas teamwork and got pinned by Cuatrero’s Spinnig Crucifix Powerbomb.

The Nueva Generación Dinamita brothers have been good throughout the tour but they really outshined their previous performances with this match, where they showed their chemistry and tremendous teamwork, cutting the ring in half, torturing Atlantis and controlling the match. They even got a big pop after their signature tag team monkey flip spot. Look, I love these guys and I think no other trio in the world can work as well as them, and while this is no Match of the Year Contender, I think it’s worth checking out. ***¾

ÚLTIMO GUERRERO, GRAN GUERRERO, NAMAJAGUE DEF. DRAGON LEE, MÍSTICO & SOBERANO JR.

Another crazy trios match that is worth your time. Before the craziness, Último Guerrero made sure to heat up the crowd and that allowed for a better atmosphere throughout the match. Soon, we witnessed tremendous dives: topes suicidas, topes con giros, quebradas, moonsault and many beautiful huracarranas; also, the Guerreros had their best showing of the tournament, using many moves they didn’t get to do in previous matches. Soberano had another great presentation, with at least four GIF worthy moves that popped the Korakuen crowd: I’m glad to see him improve so much after his woeful 2018 Super Junior Tag Tournament display. Desperado and Dragon Lee had a short but fiery strike exchange that reminded me of their 2018 BOSJ match: I would like to see them one-on-one in 2019. Despy was limping after the match but hopefully it wasn’t anything serious. The closing stretch saw Soberano taking a vicious Guerrero Special seconds after Dragon and Místico had taken Namajague and Gran Guerrero out with fantastic dives. ***¾





SWEET GORILLA MARUYAMA & DRAGON GEORGE DEF. GOKIBURI MASK & GINBAE MASK

Those treacherous, evil fiends called Gokibuki Mask and Ginbae Mask tried using an array of spine-chilling weapons such as plungers and toilet brushes to stop the beloved Sweet Gorilla Maruyama and Dragon George, but ultimately the heroes managed to overcome the odds, and after a mammoth sized effort, Dragon George used the Dragon Maker to defeat their masked foes. **

Note: I don’t have a clue on what the plot of this ‘My Dad is a Heel Wrestler’ movie is, but now I want to see more of Hiroshi Tanahashi using that awesome cockroach mask.

VOLADOR JR. DEF. CARÍSTICO

While I found the first half of this match a bit too generic and even disconnected, the second half made up for it with many nearfallas and a touch of cool storytelling: Carístico had been using La Mística to beat people left and right throughout the tour and that included Volador in a couple of tag matches, therefore the move was already over… and when Carístico tried applying it for the first time in this match, the crowd popped big. Volador managed to escape, but a couple of minutes later he wasn’t so lucky and Carístico managed to lock the lethal Mística; the crowd roared—maybe the loudest they had roared in the entire tour—as Volador struggled to get to the ropes. What a simple, awesome thing: you take a week of matches to build your move as a lethal weapon and you have a tremendous payoff in the form of a hot crowd going nuts for a couple of seconds. This detail enhanced the experience of watching the match. At the end, Volador managed to pull out the Spanish Fly for the victory. ***½

Carístico cut a generic promo after the match: “Volador, you were better than me tonight and I recognize it. I love this wrestling style because you are the King of the Air. You know what? Tonight, I bow my hat to you. Congratulations.” Then, he continued shouting: “Only thing left to say is: thank you for everything, thank you for support CMLL and Fantastica Mania 2019. Thank you very much, Japan!”

FINAL THOUGHTS

The final night of Fantastica Mania was very fun to watch, it didn’t have a Match of the Year Contender or even the best match of the tour, but every bout had interesting elements to keep you watching: whether it was the younglings pushing hard to impress, a lucha spotfest, a rookie trying to shine, an outstanding display of tag team work, a dastardly villain attacking the beloved Ingobernable or a man dressed as a cockroach using insecticide against his opponent, this was a good show all around.

New Japan seems to be a bit ‘americanized’ when they run shows in the US, but Fantastica Mania tour is almost the exact opposite: they try their best to bring an authentic lucha libre experience from an average CMLL friday show to the japanese fans; and they seemed to enjoy the heck out of it because attendances looked good and you could see the enthusiasm of the flag waving, masked fans in the crowd. And overall, the Fantastica Mania tour was a breath of fresh air that allowed you to sit back, watch a lot of masked guys soar through the air and enjoy the color that lucha libre brings.