Saturday, January 21, 2017
So I made a mistake yesterday and listed my review as “night one.” It was the first night posted on NJPW World, but actually the fifth Fantastica Mania show of the year. I’ve fixed that for this show.
I am just not a fan of Jado. I just wanted to throw that out there. The heels attempted to be sneaky at the start but Tiger Mask went on a hip tossing barrage. He seriously hit all opponents, teammates and the referee with one. It might have been the most fun I’ve ever had watching him work. The heels took over for a while, working heat on Henare. Liger got the hot tag and did his thing. Panther got the tag but didn’t do too hot and got rolled up by Ephesto to lose. Decent enough multi-man tag opener, but nothing special at all.
These two met in a tag match yesterday and it wasn’t bad at all. They went right after one another aggressively before Stuka nailed two suicide dives. Okumura DID THE DEAL but only got a near fall and Stuka came back with more high flying offense. He moves rather well for his size. He looked to take to the skies as often as possible. A woman, who I found is known as Mima, ran in but got suplexed and splashed by Stuka. She also took an accidental senton from Okumura and Stuka splashed them both off the top for the win. More fun than I expected. I even enjoyed the Mima run-in since it was something different.
Interesting that, as far as I can tell, everyone here is a babyface. KUSHIDA and Taguchi were dressed in ridiculous entrance attire, which I like since you can see how much fun these guys have on these shows. KUSHIDA had a giant watch on his head. Okada and Ospreay brought their belts with them today. Ospreay and Soberano got off to a quick start and showed their athleticism. Okada and Taguchi had fun together, with Okada being confused at his antics. Okada removing Taguchi’s pharaoh mask got a good pop. Barbaro didn’t do much since he banged up his shoulder yesterday. The amusing stuff continued, followed by high spots. We got some interaction between Okada and Soberano, which was appreciated. Barbaro won it by making Soberano submit. Exactly the kind of fun match I expect when watching a show like this. Nobody took it seriously, it’s the perfect environment for Taguchi, Okada looked to have a good time and I was impressed by Soberano again. Put him in the BOTSJ this year please.
Instead of making his typical entrance, Naito snuck around and attacked Milano Collection AT on commentary. The heels attacked before the bell and it led to a big brawl. I enjoyed the back and forth between Lee and Takahashi, as well as the short stint between Naito and Tanahashi. They’re no strangers to each other and the chemistry between Takahashi and Lee wowed again. It was cool to see Finlay and SANADA, two personal favorites in NJPW, mix it up. We don’t get that often. We got the typical NJPW tag frantic finish, ending when EVIL hit Finlay with a chair, leading to him tapping to SANADA’s dragon sleeper. Probably my favorite match on this tour so far. Nonstop action with fun interactions and great previews for upcoming matches.
An interesting thing to note is the entire second half of this show is all CMLL guys. Euforia and Guerrero were quick to attack (a theme on this show) and they brawled outside. Some of the shots delivered were intense. I assumed Euforia and Guerrero were the heels judging by their attack and the crowd loving Volador. The heels took time to taunt while on offense. The match went along at a decent clip until we got, arguably, the spot of the tour. Volador launched Mistico over the ring post and he connected on a smooth rana, leading to the babyface comeback. The final stretch saw the heels continue to try and use their power advantage, but see it slowly slipping away. Guerrero countered a super rana into a powerbomb, but Volador’s second attempt at it worked for a near fall. Flippy Mistico offense failed when Euforia caught him and slammed him face first into a table by the entrance. Guerrero hit a reverse superplex to get the 1-2-3. Right on par, if not slightly better than the previous match. The powerful heels trying to murder the flippy guys was great. They told a good story and set up some singles matches for tomorrow.
Rush came out with Atlantis’ mask on his hand, since he ripped it off yesterday. Rush attacked before the bell and why not, everyone else did it. He beat the hell out of Atlantis outside. Rush nailed the heel mannerisms like mocking Atlantis throughout and ripping at the mask again. Atlantis rallied with a suicide dive and they traded chair shots a bit. Atlantis ended up busted open under his mask. He hit a rana and more chair shots but ran into a trio of backbreakers. He slapped on a torture rack until the rest of Los Ingobernables ran in. That allowed Rush to hit the Rush Driver and win. Solid little match but I’m surprised Rush needed help to beat Atlantis. I know heels cheating is standard but I think a clean win would have been better.
Their interactions in yesterday’s tag were pretty good. There was some early stalling, involving some wacky Maximo antics. They fought outside for a bit, then Hechicero nailed a slingshot senton back inside. Each time it looked like Sexy would get going, Hechicero had an answer. I liked that he continually went for covers because it showed how much he wanted to win the title. It’s a little thing, but it added a fair amount for me. He got a close near fall on a muscle buster before Maximo fired up. They traded some shots before Maximo accidentally kissed the referee. To be fair, he was going after Hechicero. The referee’s sell job led to him missing a Hechicero pin. They fought to the top, where Maximo scored with a rana to retain. Like yesterday’s main event, I found this good but nowhere near great. The crowd was into it but it missed something. There was no drama down the stretch and I never believed the title would change hands.
Overall: Very similar to night five. The two main events were underwhelming, but there was a fair amount to like here. The tag match involving Okada was good fun, the Los Ingobernables tag was better and the Volador & Mistico vs. Guerrero & Euforia one was my favorite of the shows so far. The shows fly by and are rather enjoyable, which is all I can ask for.