Sunday, January 22, 2017

CMLL/NJPW Fantastica Mania Night Seven Review

NJPW/CMLL Fantastica Mania 2017 Night Seven
January 22nd, 2017 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan

It’s the final night of the NJPW/CMLL joint series of events!

Barbaro Cavernario, Gedo and Jado def. Blue Panther Jr., Henare and Soberano Jr. in 7:45
Man, Jado just sucks. He did his shitty Shawn Michaels poses throughout this match and was never entertaining. Shit talking Gedo was around, so that helped. Henare took the heat for his guys, which was expected. When Soberano got the tag, the match finally got interesting. He’s been my favorite CMLL performer on this tour, along with Dragon Lee. It came down to Panther and Barbaro inside and Panther tapped out to a surfboard style submission. More dull stuff from Jado, fun antics from Gedo and great work by Soberano. **

Jushin Thunder Liger, Stuka Jr. and Tiger Mask IV def. Hechicero, Okumura and Raziel in 6:58
After some back and forth to start, Mima got involved again. She was quickly disposed of by Liger. Raziel went after Tiger Mask’s mask, so Liger went after his. That led to a train of guys trying to removing the mask of the guy in front of them. Tiger Mask and Raziel both had theirs come off, and they ending up swapping masks. In a funny moment, Liger thought his partner was Raziel and hit him with a backbreaker. Stuka continued to deliver his cool “I don’t give a fuck” dives outside. Tiger Mask won it with a tiger suplex. As decent as the opener, but I give it the slight edge for the funny mask swapping spot. **¼

BUSHI and Hiromu Takahashi def. Dragon Lee and Titan in 9:04
This was the match I was most looking forward to today. Hell, possibly for the entire tour. I loved that instead of Los Ingobernables attacking before the bell, the babyfaces hit them with dives in a nice twist of fate. LIJ still took over and tried to remove Lee and Titan’s masks. There’s been a lot of that on these shows. There was only a bit of leg work on Titan today, so him still hitting his high spots was fine. He had some great interactions with BUSHI, while Takahashi and Lee did their expected awesomeness. Just as things truly got going, BUSHI used a low blow to score a backslide pin on Titan and win. About what I was hoping for, though it might have been better with a bit more time. Still, a fun tag match featuring four guys I enjoy. The hatred between Lee and Takahashi has been expertly handled on these shows. ***½

Dragon Lee and Hiromu Takahashi brawled and had to be separated after the bell. Takahashi stole his mask to gain the upper hand.

Ephesto, Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay def. Juice Robinson, Maximo Sexy and Ryusuke Taguchi in 8:17
Pharaoh Taguchi was back. Okada came out dressed as King from Tekken, complete with Tekken clips in his tron. It’s the most I’ve ever liked him. Ospreay and Juice started things before Sexy came in to have some fun. Sexy attempted to kiss Will but got Juice instead. Taguchi and Okada had fun as well. Sexy got a thrill when his three opponents took turn slapping his ass. He tried to kiss Will again only to get kicked. Sexy finally got him, leading to Juice kissing him again. Taguchi picked up a few near falls on Okada before falling to the Rainmaker. Good old fashioned fun. A match that wasn’t meant to be taken seriously and is enjoyable if you look at it that way. Plus, Okada as King is dope. **¾

Despite the loss, Maximo Sexy kissed a commentator and Okada after the match.

Los Ingobernables (EVIL, Rush, SANADA and Tetsuya Naito) def. Atlantis, David Finlay, Hiroshi Tanahashi and KUSHIDA in 9:58
Tanahashi again had his half mask on (or paint, I couldn’t tell), while KUSHIDA entered in a mask of his own. As usual, an NJPW heel stable attacked before the bell. We got the standard brawl around the ring involving everyone before KUSHIDA got left alone with Naito inside. He took the heat and had work done on his shoulder throughout. Rush went after Atlantis’ mask. It’s officially overused on this tour. Tanahashi got the hot tag and did his thing before the match broke down. Nearly everyone got involved in the closing stretch, with KUSHIDA taking out SANADA and EVIL with a plancha. In the end, Finlay got left alone with EVIL and Naito, who hit a double team press slam that got the 1-2-3. Another strong effort from a multi-team match. Lots of action here and almost no dead spots. ***¼

After the match, Naito and Rush worked together to try and destroy KUSHIDA’s arm.

Mistico def. Euforia in 11:22
There was a quick opening exchange that ended with Mistico hitting an Asai moonsault. Euforia came back with a buckle bomb inside before Mistico got in a great springboard SSP. It’s as if he was making up for the tag match where he was mostly grounded yesterday. They continued to do a good job in the power against flight battle. Mistico climbed into the stands and jumped over a few rows to deliver a great flying head scissors. He added another by coming off the top rope and snapping it off outside. Mistico was on his game here. Both guys picked up near falls down the stretch. Euforia missed a big swanton, which allowed Mistico to slap on mistica and make him tap. They did a strong job of playing off previous matches on the tour. Mistico was on fire and the crowd was invested in everything done.***½

Volador Jr. def. Ultimo Guerrero in 15:50
These two had awesome exchanges in the tag match yesterday. On the past few shows, Guerrero has attacked Volador with his leather jacket, so Volador does it back to him here for revenge. Guerrero tossed Volador around outside for a while, but Volador came back with a rana. His next high risk attempt ended badly when Guerrero caught him with a powerbomb on the floor. I appreciate angry old man Guerrero. He hit a dive of his own, just to show he can. Volador knocked him outside and followed with a diving rana. The intensity picked up when the match moved back inside. Volador used several big ranas, while the Guerrero special wore him down. Volador captured the victory with a top rope Spanish Fly. They saved the best for last because that was the best match of the tour. They seemed to go all out, had some great spots and played off their previous matches on the tour. ***¾

Overall; 7.5/10. The best of the three shows that aired on NJPW World. Several matches came in at over three stars and the ones under were mostly enjoyable. Okada as King was awesome, as was the tag between BUSHI/Takahashi and Lee/Titan. The final two matches were a fitting end considering how they were built up. A strong end to a fun series of shows.