If you’ve been keeping score, we’ve been watching a fair bit of Japanese wrestling. Indeed, the Dragon Lee vs. Kamaitachi match from the New Japan/CMLL jointly-promoted “Fantasticamania” show on January 24 has been one of our favourite matches of the year so far. This past Friday night, back in Mexico, they went at it again… did it match their efforts in Tokyo?
Thanks to ClaroSports, you can watch this match online for free at http://www.clarosports.com/lucha-libre/cmll/detalle/epico-mano-a-mano-de-dragon-lee-y-kamaitachi-590322/ – but let’s have a quick look to see whether Arena Mexico or Korakuen Hall got the better outing here. Of course, Kamaitachi’s win in Japan saw him win the CMLL World Lightweight title from Dragon Lee, and this past Friday’s match was Lee’s rematch – this time under traditional CMLL 2-of-3-falls rules.
Dragon Lee vs. Kamaitachi (CMLL Super Viernes, March 4, 2016)
This being CMLL, the entrances focus more on the ring girls than anyone else… and for some reason the former Mark Jindrak (now Marco Corleone) is accompanying the 20-year-old Lee to the ring, whilst the champion Kamaitachi is seconded by compatriot (and CMLL mainstay) Okumura.
Kamaitachi leaves the ring at the bell and heads back up the aisle, where he’s met by Lee, who promptly gets thrown head first into the stage steps, before Kamaitachi lands a cross-body block from the video wall down to the stage. As the first spot of the match, they’re already setting the bar high. Back in the ring, Kamaitachi goes for a lateral press, but pulls up Lee at the count of two, so he can work choke Lee in the corner. Lee changes the tide with a huracanrana that sends Kamaitachi out of the ring, but he makes it back in before Lee can dive, only to connect with a C4 (standing moonsault/slam), dumping Kamaitachi on his head to win the first fall.
The second fall starts with the pair running the ropes, and Kamaitachi gets taken to the floor with some headscissors, before Dragon Lee connects with a suicide dive through the ropes to the outside. Lee breaks the count, and returns to the outside to whip Kamaitachi into the barrier, but a second attempt sees Kamaitachi reverse it and send Lee into the crowd. Kamaitachi goes into the crowd, but that’s only to get a run up for a dropkick over the barrier to Lee, and Kamaitachi barely clears the top of that crowd barrier on his way. Kamaitachi throws Lee back in the ring and connects with a diving double knee drop to the grounded Lee, and that ties things up at one fall apiece.
Kamaitachi starts the third fall by missing a shoulder charge into the corner, then blocking a headscissors on the apron and powerbombing Dragon Lee onto said apron. Kamaitachi then picks up Lee for a body slam, but tosses him into the crowd instead, then into the announcing position before the pair return to the ring. They then go onto the raised aisleway, with Lee getting suplexed on the stage, only to hiptoss Kamaitachi into the ring as he charged at him. Lee follows up with a springboard huracanrana that sends Kamaitachi back to the floor, and Lee’s not long after him with a tope con hilo to the floor. They do know they’re allowed to stay in the ring, right?
Back in the ring, Lee sets up Kamaitachi for a Fisherman’s suplex turned into a powerbomb, but that gets a near-fall, as does a diving dropkick to a seated Kamaitachi. Lee lands on his feet from a Kamaitachi huracanrana, but Lee gets dropkicked to the outside (on the second attempt!), and Kamaitachi follows it with a senton to the outside looked horrific on first sight, but replays made it look a little bit safer.
Kamaitachi throws Lee back in and goes for the diving double knee drop again, but Lee kicks out at two as the CMLL referee switches to the suspense-building-ultra-slow counting. Kamaitachi keeps up the offence with a Falcon Arrow before going into the aisleway again, giving him a run up for a diving dropkick over the top rope, getting him another near-fall. They trade German suplexes before Lee catches Kamaitachi in a Crossface, which he rolls through – but Lee keeps the hold on (albeit nowhere near as graceful as Chris Benoit at WrestleMania 20), before turning it into a Rings of Saturn which forces Kamaitachi to use his legs for a rope break.
The pair sneak under the bottom rope and end on the apron, where they trade kicks, but an attempt from Lee to hit a running move on Kamaitachi ended with it being turned into something resembling a monkey flip that sent the challenger to the floor. Lee drills Kamaitachi with a German suplex as the champion tried to make it back into the ring. Kamaitachi makes it back onto the apron eventually, but gets sent back to the floor with another huracanrana from the inside-out by Lee.
Lee sends Kamaitachi back inside, and dumps him on the top turnbuckle, and oh joy, it’s the Del Rio double foot stomp for the nearest of near (slow-count) falls for the challenger. Lee sets Kamaitachi on the top rope again, but he tries to fight it, ultimately with the champion able to superplex Lee into the ring for another two count. A rapid series of roll-ups follow, all for near falls, until Kamaitachi hits a Canadian Destroyer-like move, jumping off the middle turnbuckle before flipping through into a piledriver. Nevertheless, that’s only a two-count, and Kamaitachi exits the ring for another run-up, but this time his diving front dropkick into the ring is met with a regular dropkick in midair, which gets Lee another near fall.
Kamaitachi switches a powerbomb into a Canadian destroyer – the same finishing sequence that won him the title at Korakuen Hall in January – but that gets a muted response from the two-count. Lee then hits a C4 as Kamaitachi comes off the ropes for a clothesline, but that too gets a near-fall. A Shining Wizard knee to the chest stuns Kamaitachi, which sets up Lee for the package fallaway powerbomb, and there’s your three-count – and a new champion to boot!
Compared to their match at Korakuen Hall in January, this was like night and day… and not in a good sense. Whilst this match was definitely a spectacle, the two-out-of-three falls set-up did it no favours; and even if we looked at the final fall, it was more of a stunt show than a wrestling match. Whenever a wrestling ring is used more as background than a stage, then you know you’re not looking at “wrestling, as we know it”. Still, this was a good match, but not the same classic as they put on in Japan.