NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
NJPW & CMLL FANTASTICA MANIA 2020 – NIGHT 8
JANUARY 20, 2020
Watch: NJPW World
The final night of NJPW & CMLL Fantastica Mania 2020 is upon us and we’ve got some interesting matches to look out for: a Trios Championship defense by the always reliable Nueva Generación Dinamita and a singles match between Bárbaro Cavernario and Carístico.
And in case you’ve missed some of the action, here are our Fantastica Mania reviews of the shows that made tape:
RYUSUKE TAGUCHI & FUEGO DEF. DOUKI & YOSHINOBU KANEMARU
Finally, after teasing us throughout the tour, Fuego delivered a star-making performance for the ages. From the unbelievable 640° splash to the triple figure 4 death lock, Fuego was exactly that: a hot fireball running through everyone on sight. His performance was so incredible that everyone on the announce desk started crying and all the children ran to the ring to dance alongside the masked luchador. It was truly magic.
Okay, none of that happened, but what do you want me to say? If you watched one Taguchi & Fuego match on this tour, you watched them all and I ran out of things to say. There was absolutely nothing new or remarkable about this one. The best part was when it finished and both Taguchi and Fuego danced, with the latter genuinely looking happy to be on the tour. **½
TIGER MASK DEF. TIGER
I watched this with a cat sleeping on my lap so I was in the perfect feline mood to love it. Unfortunately, this was far from a purr-fect match rather it was a generic 5-minute effort that is already fading away from my memory. Tiger Mask brought some intensity but Tiger was in a completely different tune, in fact, this was a perfect little encapsulation of his Fantastica Mania performances: underwhelming. Even my cat didn’t bother to watch this match in its entirety and left me alone just as Tiger Mask was hitting a Tiger Bomb and a Tiger Suplex to put Tiger away. **½
GUERRERO MAYA JR., FLYER & AUDAZ DEF. NAMAJAGUE, LUCIFERNO & EUFORIA
This match was tailor-made to appeal to the Korakuen crowd and it worked very well because you could see everyone was having fun. We got comedy, nice pace and some weird lucha spots designed to pop the fans. The rudos had some communications issues and the técnico team got the advantage off that by unleashing a barrage of attacks to put them away, including a beautiful tope con giro from Audaz and a Leg Drop from Flyer to pin Luciferno.
I really liked Guerrero Maya Jr. this tour. He wasn’t going out there having epic performances, but he used his time wisely and always looked confident, which is something that we saw again during this particular match. He’s a guy I’d love to see more of, but unfortunately is completely lost in CMLL’s midcard (which is CMLL’s fault). And talking about bad booking, Audaz is another guy that hasn’t been handled well in Mexico and it showed in this year’s Fantastica Mania. Twelve months ago, he was one of the standouts of the tour but in 2020, he failed to break out from the pack and I’m convinced this is due to how little confidence CMLL has in him.
Anyway, this was an entertaining match and a nice farewell from the CMLL guys. I’d love to see more Audaz, Luciferno and Guerrero Maya in NJPW, but I don’t think that will happen anytime soon. ***½
SHINGO TAKAGI, BUSHI & EVIL DEF. HIROSHI TANAHASHI, DULCE GARDENIA & YUYA UEMURA
Dulce Gardenia is a joyful ball of charisma that has been a complete success in Fantastica Mania 2020. Every night, Gardenia has been trying to kiss Shingo Takagi. He’s done everything in his power to achieve this goal, and has been getting closer and closer but Takagi just wouldn’t let it happen. It’s been a recurring bit that has been building some anticipation and is driving the crowd nuts. This was Dulce’s last shot.
After a solid start of the match that saw Los Ingobernables dominating and BUSHI trying to get away from Dulce, the young exótico became the main focus and the bout kicked into high gear. People started chanting ‘Beso’ (‘kiss’) and Dulce was happy to oblige: he made Tanahashi and EVIL accidentally kiss, then kissed the referee, then kissed EVIL who desperately ran to the corner and tagged Shingo. Jushin Thunder Liger started chanting ‘beso’ from the commentary desk. It was beautiful.
Uemura got in the ring, looked tremendous exchanging moves with Shingo and even managed to put him in the Boston Crab while Dulce took everyone else out with a tope con giro. The crowd was going wild and just when the match was reaching its peak, the tour-long kiss storyline paid-off. Dulce Gardenia fooled Shingo and countered a clothesline with a kiss… which made the Korakuen explode. Uemura took advantage, and with the crowd going ballistic, he used a sunset flip on Shingo to get a very dramatic two count. Uemura continued the attack with a ferocious combo of dropkick and belly-to-belly, but Shingo kicked out. Then, the Dragon stopped the young lion with a backdrop and destroyed him with a Pumping Bomber for the win.
This was excellent. Shingo and Dulce took a simple, dumb storyline involving a kiss and developed it throughout the tour to get a big pay off and make the fans go wild. This allowed Dulce to get even more over, and gave Uemura a chance to shine: everything was executed to perfection. ****
??CMLL FANTASTICA MANIA 2020??最終日‼️
第4試合、@tanahashi1_100 & ドゥルセ・ガルデニア & @YuyaUemura_njpw ? @151012EVIL & @Takagi__Shingo & @BUSHI_njpw‼️
登録＆視聴?https://t.co/CcdQ1XrpWA#njcmll #njpw #njpwworld pic.twitter.com/TZ3dY97Ksb
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) January 20, 2020
ÚLTIMO GUERRERO, NEGRO CASAS & OKUMURA DEF. STUKA JR., SOBERANO JR. & SATOSHI KOJIMA
Another entertaining bout that wrapped up some of the tour’s biggest storylines and gave us another cool Soberano performance. Kojima and Último once again had a fiery strike exchange that only reminded me about their disappointing singles match last night. Stuka and Okumura gave us another glimpse of their unexpected fun chemistry. Props to Stuka, who despite being 40 years old, showed some tremendous athletic skills and was consistently good throughout the tour. The star of the match was Soberano, who got all his stuff in and looked very confident: he might be my favorite luchador from this tour and I wouldn’t be surprised if he lands a BOSJ spot. The finishing stretch saw Negro Casas pinning Stuka with the legendary Casita, which of course, got a huge pop. ***¼
??CMLL FANTASTICA MANIA 2020??最終日‼️
第5試合、 @cozy_lariat & @CmllSoberano & @JrStuka ? ウルティモ・ゲレーロ & @NegroCasascmll & OKUMURA‼️
登録＆視聴?https://t.co/CcdQ1XrpWA#njcmll #njpw #njpwworld pic.twitter.com/IvpQNLarrE
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) January 20, 2020
CMLL NATIONAL TRIOS CHAMPIONSHIP
LA NUEVA GENERACIÓN DINAMITA (SANSÓN, CUATRERO & FORASTERO) (C) DEF. ÁNGEL DE ORO, NIEBLA ROJA & TITÁN
Maybe it’s because I’ve seen way too many matches between NGD and the Ángel/Niebla duo but this didn’t feel special and left me very disappointed. This was a standard tag team match spiced by Titán’s athletic skills… actually, Titán was easily the highlight of the match: he was flying and bumping all over the place, and tried some different things.
In the finishing stretch, NGD took out Niebla Roja with a chair and Titán took himself out with an Asai Moonsault. Ángel de Oro was left alone trying to fend off Cuatrero and Sansón, who used a Catapulta Dinamita to finish him off and retain the trios championship. It’s a shame that this was all over the place, nothing felt connected and the finish felt very flat. ***¼
NWA HISTORIC MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
CARÍSTICO DEF. BÁRBARO CAVERNARIO
Carístico and Bárbaro went all out in the final match of the tour. From start to finish we saw these guys working very hard, busting out their best moves and diving all over the place. We got lots of topes, a couple canadian destroyers and many huracarranas. Around the 15 minute mark, we got into a fantastic finishing stretch where Carístico resisted La Cavernaria submission hold, then counter-attacked with a top rope Spanish Fly for a nearfall. Finally, Carístico hit la Mística and Bárbaro immediately submitted. Huge pop for this last spot.
This was fun to watch, but it had some pace issues during its first half and I didn’t really fell in love with the spotfest nature of this particular match. It’s worth your time, but don’t expect anything extraordinary. ***¾
Carístico took the mic and claimed that CMLL is the #1 company in the world (LMAO) and challenged Bárbaro Cavernario to a Mask vs. Hair match. Bárbaro just walked away. It was a very, very dumb and unnecessary promo. Afterward, Carístico spent 30 hours in the Korakuen Hall asking for applause from the fans.
Night 8 of Fantastica Mania 2020 was the best of the tour. We got Negro Casas scoring a win, a frantic lucha spotfest with Bárbaro/Carístico and an excellent comedy match that had a nice build. If you don’t watch lucha, this is probably going to be a fun, different watch.
The most interesting thing for me was Dulce Gardenia, who was the breakout star of the tour and got himself over every single night, provided some nice storytelling to his matches and always delivered great performances. Will he get a spot in Best of the Super Juniors? The popularity is there and I think his matches would be a fun change of pace in the tournament, but I think he’s still sloppy and since CMLL has huge plans for him, I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t allow him to work in it.
Other guys that impressed in the tour were Soberano Jr. and Titán. I can see either of them getting a BOSJ spot: Soberano would be a fresh face but he has fallen flat before, while Titán is a sure, trustable luchador. We’ll see if New Japan rewards their strong performances on the tour.