NJPW/CMLL Fantasticamania 2011 Night One
January 22nd, 2011
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
January 22nd, 2011
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This is the big two night interpromotional show that New Japan held with the CMLL lucha libre promotion from Mexico, and it's NJPW's first big event of 2011 after the fallout from the annual 1/4 Tokyo Dome show and the first event both New Japan and CMLL have EVER co-promoted, making it a bit historic. Tonight we've got some great matches including Jushin Liger vs. La Sombra, and a big six man tag main event of Mistico, Prince Devitt, and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Tetsuya Naito, and Averno. Should be a fun card, so let's get to it.
Taichi vs. Maximo
Maximo is from CMLL, while Taichi is a curtain-jerker for New Japan. No special rules or titles here, just an interpromotional opener. Maximo evades a few lock-up attempts and then backs Taichi off a waistlock by rubbing his ass into Taichi in a suggestive manner. Oh so it's going to be a comedy match then from the looks of it. Taichi continues trying to wrestle Maximo who just keeps scaring him off with homoerotic moves. Taichi slaps on a chinlock for a bit. Taichi misses a splash into the corner and Maximo rips his pants off, leaving him just in his trunks. Taichi is clearly offended by this, so he gives Maximo a wedgie and a spanking, which Maximo seems to enjoy. This match may single-handedly be setting the pro wrestling industry back 20 years. Finally Maximo shows something resembling wrestling with a nice hurricanrana and a diving ass-bump off the second rope for a two count. Taichi gets taken outside with an armdrag takedown and Maximo follows him out with a nice tope to the floor. He hits another tope, this time flying out of the ring with his arms locked to his sides, strongly resembling a fat little Mexican torpedo flying out at Taichi. We get a dual count by both Japanese and Spanish ring announcers and both men make it back into the ring at 19. Death valley driver from Maximo and he tries to follow it up with a top rope senton, but Taichi moves just in time. Nice bridging rollup gets Maximo a two count. Taichi just pokes him in the eye, garnering boos from the crowd, and then delivers a big roundhouse kick for a close two count. Maximo blocks another kick attempt and just straight-up kisses Taichi on the lips, distracting him for a rollup and a two count. Sitdown powerbomb gets Maximo another two. Taichi comes back though with the Celtic Cross finisher out of Fit Finlay's playbook for the win at 12:39. Odd match, way too much homoerotic comedy when both guys showed they could just wrestle and have a good match towards the end. Strange choice for an opener. *¾
After the match we get a few words from both Taichi and Maximo backstage in a post-match promo.
CMLL Welterweight Title 2/3 Falls Match
Mascara Dorada (C) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
This is a CMLL title match, so it's CMLL rules with the match being 2/3 falls. Dorada is a rising star in Mexico while Taguchi made a name for himself in New Japan tagging with Prince Devitt in the extremely successful Apollo 55 tag team. We get your usual epic Mexican ring announcements for both men, always adding a bigger feel to a title match. Feeling out process to start with both men attempting to grab the other's leg and wrench away on it. Dorada tries to apply a Mexican surfboard submission but Taguchi quickly breaks it. Taguchi botches an inverted atomic drop for a two count. They trade open-palm slaps for a bit, with Taguchi winning the battle. Nice rapid armdrag exchange and both men attempt and miss dropkicks simultaneously. Taguchi bails outside and Dorada meets him with a tope to the floor. Taguchi springboards back in with a dropkick for a two count. Dorada hits a Death Valley Driver for a 3 count and the first fall at 4:29. The second fall starts after a brief rest period and they trade chops again. Dorada springboards in but gets met with a dropkick from Taguchi who follows it up with a big gourdbuster for a two count. He puts Dorada into the Gory Guerrero special and Dorada immediately submits, giving the second fall to Taguchi at 7:23. Dorada's trainers put an ice pack on his knee during the rest period and we're off with the third and decisive fall. Taguchi immediately applies a half Boston crab and then follows it with a modified STF on Dorada in the middle of the ring. They trade weak forearms briefly and then Taguchi get's pancaked into the mat and dropkicked for a two count. Hurricanrana sends Taguchi out of the ring and Dorado follows him out with a beautiful somersault senton! Taguchi hits the ring and then hits a flying body press over the top to take Dorada out on the floor, returning the favor. Three rolling snap suplexes from Taguchi gets him another close two count back inside. Monkey flip into a rollup gets Taguchi another two but he misses the follow-up dropkick. Taguchi hits a bridging Tiger Suplex for another near fall, and then finishes with a gourdbuster for the win and the CMLL Welterweight title at 11:20 total. This was just an awkward match up as both men didn't gel very well together, they botched several moves, and they simply weren't given enough time to make the 2/3 falls stipulation matter. Taguchi celebrates with a goofy little dance and his new title after the match. *¾
CMLL Middleweight Title 2/3 Falls Match
Jushin Liger (C) vs. La Sombra
Liger won the CMLL Middleweight title back in May of 2010, defeating Negro Casas on PPV in Tokyo. La Sombra is one of the most popular new stars in CMLL and has been getting heavily pushed in Mexico lately, which is in part a reason why Mistico (who appears later on this show) would finally leave CMLL shortly after this, signing with the WWE. Liger comes out with an all-white take on his usual ring attire, making him look almost mystical. Feeling out process to start with the usual exchange of wristlocks and takedowns. Liger applies a modified Mexican Surfboard but Sombra counters into a pin, only for a brief one count. Crowd is strongly behind Liger, chanting his name in unison. Liger clotheslines Sombra out of the ring but he springboards back in with a dropkick and then follows Liger to the floor with the tope suicida! Back inside Sombra hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for only a one count. He hits two quick Asai moonsaults and wins the first fall on Liger at 4:33. After a brief rest period we're back and Liger hits a weak tilt-a-whirl backbreaker of his own. Liger is looking uncharacteristically frail out there, has his age finally caught up to him after nearly 30 years in the business? Sombra gets knocked outside again and Liger comes off the top rope with a big body press to the floor, killing my theory about Liger's age finally catchung up to him. Back inside Sombra almost steals the second fall with a sneaky rollup. Big powerbomb and then an Octopus stretch from Liger forces Sombra to submit and lose the second fall at 8:05. La Sombra takes his time coming back into the ring for the final fall, but immediately misses a dropkick in the ring anyways. He does hit a hurricanrana however, and then dropkicks Liger to the outside. Sombra climbs to the top rope and hits a beautiful standing moonsault on Liger on the hardwood floor! Wow, picture perfect execution from Sombra there. Back inside the ring Sombra springboards in but gets powerbombed by Liger for a two count. They exit the ring again and we get a somersault senton from Liger to Sombra on the floor. Back inside Sombra tries a few rollup combos on Liger but can't quite get three. Indian deathlock from Sombra now, but Liger won't quit. He toughs it out and gets the rope break, then rolls up Sombra for two. Sombra counters out of that though into a modified bow-and-arrow submission, which again Liger breaks. Sombra tries a lionsault but Liger gets the knees up. He gets dropkicked outside again and Sombra does a springboard reverse cannonball and wipes Liger out on the floor! Well that was creative. Liger barely makes it back inside at the count of 19. Sombra hits Liger with what can only be called a variation of John Morrison's Starship Pain off the top rope, but even that won't put old cranky Liger away! He tries a twisting phoenix splash, but again Liger kicks out before the three! Sombra is getting pissed, and Liger hits him with a Lou Thesz press of all things. He hits two quick rapid-fire frog-splashes off the top rope! 1-2---NOO! Sombra kicks out. Liger finishes him with the brainbuster to win the third and final fall and retain his title at 16:28(officially)! Very good match here as Liger looked a bit rusty in the beginning but picked it up towards the end and Sombra hits a plethora of incredible aerial maneuvers that made him look excellent even in the loss. Solid stuff. ***½
After the match we get backstage interviews with both Liger and Sombra in their native languages.
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match
Giant Bernard/Karl Anderson (C) vs. Atlantis/OKUMURA
Bernard is better known to American wrestling fans as Albert/A-Train, while Karl Anderson is like an even nastier Claudio Castagnoli. They're a team known as Bad Intentions and if you follow puroresu at all you know of their domination of the New Japan tag scene for the last several years. They defend against Atlantis, a legend of CMLL in the last 20 years, and OKUMURA who wrestled for All Japan briefly at the turn of the decade before touring extensively with CMLL. Anderson and OKUMURA start us off. OKUMURA tries working an armbar and then a headscissors but he can't keep Anderson down for long. Atlantis and Bernard both tag in now and lockup, with Bernard easily overpowering Atlantis. Atlantis misses a missile dropkick and then flies outside the ring taking out Anderson with a tope! Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker from Atlantis on the floor and then OKUMURA joins them with a somersault plancha to the floor! Atlantis joins the fun and dives off the top with a flying body press, wiping out both members of Bad Intentions. Back inside Atlantis hits another tilt-a-whirl backbreaker on Anderson for a two count, and then tags OKUMURA back in. He eats two big bootsfrom Anderson and Bernard though as Atlantis is laid out on the floor. Anderson tosses OKUMURA to the floor and Bernard follows him out, booting him right into the first two rows. Back inside Anderson hits a diving knee for a two count and then tags Bernard in. Big elbow gets Bernard his own two count. Anderson and Atlantis tag in and do a leapfrog-hiptoss sequence followed by a dropkick from Atlantis for two. Atlantis and OKUMURA double-team Anderson for a bit, trading quick tags. Bernard gets sick of this and hits the ring and splashes both of his opponents. Bernard tries a Vader-bomb out of the corner on both men but Atlantis gets the knees up and blocks it. They double-suplex Bernard for two separate one counts from each man and Bernard is just comically toying with his two smaller opponents. Anderson tags in now but OKUMURA gets a rollup and a DDT for two. Anderson hits the Stun Gun (ace crusher) though to finish OKUMURA off at 13:06 to retain the belts. Not a bad match by any means, it started off hot and then just kind of slowed down, but it was never dull. Unfortunately the outcome was never in question and it fell a bit flat overall though. **¾
After the match Bernard gets on the mic and brags about how the Tokyo Sports newspaper named Bad Intentions the best tag team of 2010, and then challenges Manabu Nakanishi, who's sitting in the front row, to a match with Nakanishi's partner Strong Man (imagine Rob Terry but on even MORE steroids somehow), which Nakanishi accepts. After the match we get a brief backstage interview with Bad Intentions.
Tiger Mask IV/La Mascara vs. Tomohiro Ishii/Dragón Rojo, Jr.
TMIV and Ishii have wrestled a few times while La Mascara and Dragon Rojo Jr. are two more youngsters from CMLL, giving us a promising looking interpromotional tag match. Rojo and Ishii immediately attack their opponents to start, Ishii choking Tiger Mask on one end of the ring while Rojo hits a big somersault plancha to Mascara on the floor! Back inside TMIV and Ishii trade kicks and forearms in the corner. Ishii suplexes TMIV and then tags Rojo in. Rojo hits a big hesitation dropkick right to TMIV's lower leg in the corner. Mascara tags in now and they do a crisp little lucha libre sequence complete with hurricanrana and tilt-a-whirl backbreakers. Rojo tags Ishii back in. who fights with TMIV outside the ring again while Rojo attempts to take Mascara's mask off! That's quite rude, isn't it? Mascara totally botches a tope suicida outside to Rojo and he knows it, hiding his face in his hands in shame. Wow that was ugly man. Inside the ring TMIV gets a two count from a standing moonsault. TMIV hits the tombstone piledriver on Ishii, but he kicks out at two. He tries for a tiger suplex but it's blocked and gets powerslammed by Ishii for a two count. Mascara tries to come off the top but can't put any weight on his leg with some incredibly bizarre, out-of-nowhere selling. Rojo worked the guy's leg for like 20 seconds 5 minutes ago, that was all. They trade slaps for a bit and then Mascara botches an attempt at a facebuster and Rojo just pins him there to put him out of his misery at 10:06. Holy shit this was botch-city from La Mascara, he was botching the most basic fundamental moves of lucha libre here and it was just flat out ugly to watch. Disastrous match. *½
Black Cat Memorial Six Man Tag Match
Mistico/Prince Devitt/Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Averno/Tetsuya Naito/Shinsuke Nakamura
Here we arrive at the main event, with both your IWGP Heavyweight and Jr. Heavyweight champions in Devitt and Tanahashi on one team, alongside the always excellent Mistico. Before the match starts the Black Cat's wife comes out to the ring and recites a nice little speech in honor of her late husband. She's given flowers and a framed picture of him and they all have their photos taken by the Japanese press. Very nice sign of respect to the late Victor Mar Manuel (Black Cat). Mistico and Averno start us off and Mistico takes off his first, horned mask to reveal his traditional mask underneath. He teases giving the mask to a fan in the crowd but instead just drops it to the mat and stomps on it, which is strange since both of his teammates Devitt and Tanahashi are faces. They do a nifty wristlock-armdrag sequence and both men are nipping up and countering each other's holds at an incredibly fast pace. They slow things down slightly with a Greco-Roman handlock, but Averno monkey flips Mistico out of it. Mistico springboards off the top suddenly into a hurricanrana on Averno and then follows it up with a headscissors that takes him outside. Mistico of course follows him out with a diving tope, resembling a large white missile taking out Averno on the floor. This is lucha six man tag rules, so anytime someone is thrown from the ring two new wrestlers can enter the ring legally the same as if they were tagged. Devitt and Naito square off now, leapfrogging over each other before Naito dropkicks Devitt to the floor and Tanahashi enters the ring. He exchanges armrags with Naito and then hip-tosses him out of the ring, bringing in Nakamura, Tanahashi's longtime rival. Crowd is fired up now as they love these two going at it. Nakamura takes Tanahashi out with a roundhouse kick, and Mistico springboards in for a showdown. Nakamura boots Mistico and then drives a few knees into his chest, trying for a snapmare and missing. Mistico hits a hurricanrana sending Nakamura outside the ring and then Devitt and Averno tag in. Devitt hits a big missile dropkick off the top for a two count. Averno powerbombs Devitt and then all three members of the team gang up on Devitt with more powerbombs and knee strikes. Tanahashi hits the ring and gets a powerbomb of his own for a two count. The match has completely broken down at this point with everyone in the ring. Averno tries to rip Mistico's mask off, but of course he doesn't succeed. Nice heat from the Japanese crowd for Averno. Devitt evades a triple-team and Mistico springboards in with a big hurricanrana and then a wristlock-headscissors exchange that sends Averno to the outside where he quickly meets him with a somersault plancha! Mistico, you are crazy. Devitt then hits a somersault plancha of his own to the outside, taking everyone out, Back inside it's Tanahashi and Nakamura, with Tanahashi hitting his senton off the top for a two count. He eats a boot and a knee from Nakamura and then gives him a dragon-screw legwhip, and gives Naito one as well. Nakamura sends him outside and then does a twisting body splash over the top, taking Tanahashi out on the floor! Averno and Naito try double-teaming Mistico but he gives them a hurricanrana-619 combination (Vince McMahon is salivating at the thought of Mistico replacing a retiring Rey Mysterio right now). Mistico tries to rip off Averno's mask briefly and then hits a sunset flip for a two count. Mistico does the old-fashioned flying headscissors but Averno grabs him and drives him down with a huge Tiger Driver for the win at 14:33! Wow, excellent stuff here as you have some of the best workers on the planet currently in the same ring, going at it all the way in lucha libre fashion. Extremely exciting match-up that should leave the crowd wanting to come back for more the next night. ***¾
After the match Averno and Mistico argue for a bit in Spanish. This is where my high school spanish is supposed to be kicking in to help, but all I get the gist of is that both men are putting over lucha libre, CMLL, and New Japan and each other to end the show. However Averno then attacks Mistico and unmasks him! He steals Mistico's mask and leaves for the night, setting up the big Mistico-Averno match for tomorrow night.
Backstage Prince Devitt cuts a promo saying he's proud of Taguchi having won the Welterweight title tonight and that they'll both be winning the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team titles very soon.
Bottom Line:A successful if underwhelming cross-promotional debut here as we got a taste of what lucha libre meets New Japan is and it was excellent in the main event. Undercard, like many lucha libre cards, is very underwhelming, but Liger and Sombra had a very good match and the main event six-man tag was a whole lot of fun, so I can't rag on the show much. Let's go with the Thumbs Up.