New Japan Pro Wrestling
Fantastica Mania 2020 – Night 7
January 19, 2020
Watch: NJPW World
Luciferno & Namajague def. Audaz & Yota Tsuji
A fun opener blending high-flying talent in Audaz, NJPW young lions (Yota Tsuji) and grumpy veterans in Luciferno and El Desperado playing his CMLL character, Namajague. Tsuji’s relative comfort in being the monster big man and playing off the luchadors definitely makes an excursion to Mexico seem like a real possibility for the young big man. Tsuji very briefly appeared to have the match in hand but c’mon, you know better. He locked the Crab in the middle of the ring but Luciferno broke up the submission, Audaz took out Luciferno while Tsuji looked to finish off Namajague in the ring. Unfortunately, it was not to be for the young lion and Namajague just about kicked his head off and pinned Tsuji with a german suplex. ***
Flyer, Guerrero Maya Jr. & Soberano Jr. def. Suzuki-gun (DOUKI & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) & Tiger
You blinked and this one was over. I much preferred the opener as with only four men and a more calm pace you could get into the match and into the individual performers. Here, guys just flew around a bunch until Soberano finished DOUKI off with a piledriver. The action was solid and the flying from Flyer, Guerrero Maya and Soberano was a nice contrast to Suzuki-gun grit and grind. Still, there just wasn’t enough time to get a real feel for the match and it was over before it really got good. **3/4
Angel de Oro, Niebla Roja & Titan def. La Nueva Generación Dinamitas (Cuatrero, Forastero & Sansón)
So there’s a lot going on with this match and the booking/schedule. Two members of the Nueva Generación Dinamitas team (El Cuatrero & Sansón) won the annual CMLL Family Tag Tournament defeating interestingly enough Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja. Now today these teams have added partners for some trios action but there’s more than that as these two teams are going to battle tomorrow for the Mexican National Trios Championship, so this match acted as both a non-title warmup and a rematch of sorts from the night prior.
You’d think with a rematch the next day these teams would take a little off, give you 75% then tease things for the next day, right? You’d be wrong. These guys worked their asses off flying all over the ring and showing everyone just how good trios wrestling can be when done well. There was fantastic work throughout this entire match and I highly recommend checking it out. ***1/2
The trio of Angel de Oro, Niebla Roja & Titan emerged victorious a sure-sign that they will be winning Nueva Generación Dinamitas’ Mexican National Trios Championships the next day! (Spoiler: nope)
NWA World Historic Light Heavyweight Championship
Stuka Jr. (c) def. Okumura
The NWA World Historic Light Heavyweight Championship is a fascinating title with linage to the former NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship that was originally held by none other than Gypsy Joe, who won it over Johnny Balbo in Des Moines, Iowa in 1952. Joe lost the title to Frank Stojack in Spokane, Washington all the way back in August 1953. Then, after Stojack was stripped of the title due to a lack of NWA mandated defenses, Dory Dixon won the title defeating Al Kashley in Mexico City, Mexico. The title would for all intents and purposes not leave Mexico again outside of brief title switches in towns like El Paso and Los Angeles. Roddy Piper, interestingly enough, is a former champion winning the title back in 1977 and holding it for exactly two days.
In 2010, the original title was deactivated and sent back to the NWA with CMLL creating a new title in its place the very originally named NWA World Historic Light Heavyweight Championship.
That brings us to this match with Stuka Jr. in the midst of a 500-day run with the title against NJPW’s primary CMLL contact/liason Okamura who last challenged for this title back at Fantastica Mania 2015.
On paper, I was not excited about this match at all but, guys, I’m here to tell you: this RULED. It’s a notebook match. I’m serious. Some of the highlights include Stuka doing a beautiful no-hands tope suicida. A missed cannonball attempt from the 40-year-old, not very thin Stuka right onto the crash pads. We also saw Stuka attempt a splash and later a suplex on Okamura’s wife (and former wrestler) Mima Shimoda. We saw Omakura unmask Stuka for a nearfall and roll through Stuka’s Torpedo Splash for another nearfall. Finally, after some tremendous back and forth action Stuka put him away and retained his title. This ruled. ****1/4
Los Ingobernables de Japón (BUSHI, EVIL & Shingo Takagi) def. Dulce Gardenia, Fuego & Ryusuke Taguchi
This was a lot of fun with Dulce Gardenia fitting in perfectly on a team with the fun-loving Ryusuke Taguchi. For those who have never seen Gardenia, he plays an exotico character and spent the first half of the match trying to get the members of LIJ to kiss him. They weren’t very interested. Gardenia isn’t a one-trick pony though as when the action started he was able to show off his silky smooth in-ring work and impressive high flying. Gardenia is no stranger to big-time matches either as he defeated NJPW’s very-own Kawato earlier this year in a hair vs. hair match.
Anyway, Gardenia went for one kiss too many and got a fast full of BUSHI mist allowing the LIJ junior to roll up Fuego for the win. There wasn’t a lot of actual work that you need to go out of your way to see but the interactions between Gardenia and the LIJ trio are worth a few minutes of your time. **1/2
CMLL World Heavyweight Championship
Ultimo Guerrero (c) def. Satoshi Kojima
God bless the Fantastica Mania tour for giving us a now-rare Satoshi Kojima singles match two years in a row. Last year, it was the visiting El Terrible defeating the former IWGP Heavyweight Champion and this year, the leader of BREAD CLUB goes for the CMLL World Heavyweight Championship against first-ballot Mullet Hall of Famer Ultimo Guerrero.
Unfortunately, I’m left very disappointed by this match that featured long bouts of crowd brawling and slow, plodding action when in the ring. Neither Kojima nor Guerrero appeared to be in great shape and the crowd never fully bought into the match. Guerrero won with the Guerrero Special and even then the crowd barely reacted assuming that there was a kick out in store. Instead, Kojima falls in just over 13 minutes. **1/4
Black Cat Memorial Match
Carístico, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tiger Mask IV def. Euforia, Bárbaro Cavernario & Negro Casas)
Before the match, there was a brief memorial for Black Cat featuring his family. We then got a very fun but not spectacular match with Tanahashi getting the win over Negro Casas. Despite the match not being a blow away you should absolutely take a few minutes to watch the sequences between Casas/Tiger Mask (two grumpy assholes slapping the hell out of one another) and the back-and-forth between Casas and Tanahashi that felt surreal at times.
Otherwise, the match was a nice showcase with a lot of guys doing some fun moves but unfortunately with these shows so packed together and so many names involved, there wasn’t much time to create a story or narrative in the match and ultimately it leaves you somewhat underwhelmed. **¾
At just over two hours, Fantastica Mania 2020 is a nice change of pace from overly-loaded unnecessarily long wrestling shows. Not everything is great but Okamura vs. Stuka and Angel de Oro, Niebla Roja & Titan def. Nueva Generación Dinamitas are two matches well worth your time.