NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
NJPW & CMLL FANTASTICA MANIA 2020 – NIGHT 6
JANUARY 16, 2020
KORAKUEN HALL
TOKYO, JAPAN

Watch: NJPW World

After a nice little start of the tour, FANTASTICA MANIA 2020 heads to Tokyo for the first of four nights of lucha libre action in Korakuen Hall. Will this be as boring as a weekly CMLL Friday show? Let’s see.

FUEGO & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI DEF. DOUKI & NAMAJAGUE

The Fuego-Taguchi tag team always makes me smile, and it’s a shame their matches in this tour have been meaningless. Naturally, Fuego is not as over as he once was in Tokyo and he’s never been an outstanding wrestler, so his confidence is not where it once was. This was mediocre at best and it did nothing to get me excited about the rest of the night. Fuego pinned DOUKI while an angry Taguchi was trying to penetrate Nakamajague’s anus with DOUKI’s pipe. **

AUDAZ & GUERRERO MAYA JR. DEF. LUCIFERNO & YOSHINOBU KANEMARU

A fun match where all three luchadores worked hard to impress. Luciferno got a ton of offense and did a good job heating the match with his villainous actions; Guerrero Maya made the most of his limited time and Audaz hit a couple of much needed cool dives. The end came out a little flat with Audaz hitting a weak moonsault for the three count. ***¼

BUSHI, SHINGO TAKAGI & EVIL DEF. DULCE GARDENIA, FLYER & HIROSHI TANAHASHI

By putting him alongside Tanahashi in many tag team matches, this tour is really trying to get Dulce Gardenia over in Japan. And it already succeeded. The Korakuen crowd loved him, chanted his name and popped for this kickouts in the last portion of the match. And all of this was made possible by Gardenia’s performance: he stood out with his fun moveset, was super confident and even tried to kiss Shingo Takagi. 

The match had a basic, yet perfect structure. The técnicos started hot with a flurry of offense highlighted by Gardenia’s charisma, then the Ingobernable rudos took control of the match by overwhelming Flyer, who already looks better than last year. Finally, Tanahashi got the tag and the match kicked into its third act, finishing up with Gardenia surviving some of Takagi’s offense, but falling to a Pumping Bomber at the end. A good match that put me in a good mood for the rest of the show. ***½

FORASTERO & OKUMURA (w/MIMA SHIMODA) DEF. STUKA JR. & TITÁN 

This was the Titán show: he dove, kicked and jumped his way to a great performance in front of a crowd that already knows and likes him. His performance made this an entertaining affair. I expected Okumura to drag the match down but thankfully he had Mima Shimoda by his side and that means we get a goofier side of him, which always helps. (If he tries to be serious, he’s always bad). 

Forastero played his part perfectly and for the second year in a row, submitted Titán with a Triangle Armbar. Forastero keeps getting better and I can’t wait to see the Nueva Generación Dinamita title defenses later in the tour. ***¼

BÁRBARO CAVERNARIO & ÚLTIMO GUERRERO DEF. CARÍSTICO & SATOSHI KOJIMA

A match designed to build the Kojima/Guerrero and Bárbaro/Carístico singles matches that will come later in the tour. Weirdly, the Bárbaro/Carístico interactions here didn’t do much for me, while Kojima and Guerrero tried some fun stuff that really landed, including a Kojima plancha to the outside of the ring an awesome strong style exchange that was just enough to hype me up. The finishing stretch saw Bárbaro blocking the mística to apply the Cavernaria hold for the submission win. This was entertaining but ran too long. ***

SEMI-FINAL OF THE CMLL FAMILY TAG TOURNAMENT 2020
CUATRERO & SANSÓN DEF. SOBERANO JR. & EUFORIA

This was very underwhelming. Cuatrero was sloppy and looked out of his depth, which is something you don’t see every day: he’s usually great alongside Sansón. I guess this wasn’t his night. Euforia wa just there and there’s not much to say about him. Soberano was easily the standout here: he did a bunch of dives and refused to slow down the pace, giving the match a much-needed sense of urgency. He also did a Swanton Bomb from the Korakuen stands, which got a huge pop. In the end, Cuatrero caught a Soberano dive and made him submit with an inverted bearhug. Overall the match wasn’t bad, but it could have been so much better. ***

SEMI-FINAL OF THE CMLL FAMILY TAG TOURNAMENT 2020
ÁNGEL DE ORO & NIEBLA ROJA DEF. NEGRO CASAS & TIGER

The Chávez brothers (Niebla & Ángel) are a couple of obnoxious babyfaces that are always pushed by CMLL. They’re good but they should be rudos at this point: everything about them is annoying and they are usually heavily booed in México. They had a nice little match here that ended just when it was getting exciting. The beloved Negro Casas had a nice showing, joked a little bit and hit hard, showing that he still has some gas in the tank. I thought Tiger was going to carry most of the match, but that wasn’t the case, in fact, he had an underwhelming showing that ended with some very awkward interactions with Niebla Roja. An okay match that felt disjointed and whose sole highlight was Negro Casas being awesome. ***

FINAL THOUGHTS

The first Fantastica Mania 2020 night in Korakuen Hall was a nice palate cleanser with nothing must-see in it. I’d say that Dulce Gardenia was the biggest highlight of the night and it made me look forward to his performances in the rest of the tour. If you don’t watch lucha and want something different, this is a good show to put as background noise.