Days removed from WrestleKingdom, New Japan’s back on the road for a spot of lucha!

We’re at the Edion Arena in Osaka… or the smaller room inside it as New Japan’s annual tie-in with CMLL got going. Yeah, we’re just days removed from WrestleKingdom, but New Japan’s not stopping…

We’ve got some familiar music to start on the Japanese-only track – Jushin Thunder Liger’s here! Did his wife and son get sick of him already?! He doesn’t say much, and joins commentary…

Fuego & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Suzuki-gun (DOUKI & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
It’s the land of the overdubs here, as Taguchi is blowing out the feed with his sparkly tassles.

Fuego and DOUKI start us off trading wristlocks and armdrags, eventually taking DOUKI outside as tags bring in Kanemaru and Taguchi. Taguchi just leaps into some boots before a hip attack was easily countered with a knee as Kanemaru proceeded to let Taguchi just tire himself out in the ropes… except Taguchi hits the hip attack anyway. Some missed dropkicks get Suzuki-gun back in, as they took the match outside, with DOUKI throwing Fuego into the ring post while Taguchi tasted chairs. Of course they go for the mask, as Fuego’s laces are loosened, while back in the ring a slam and a running stomp from DOUKI got him a solid two-count on Taguchi.

Taguchi fought back with a regular/reverse DDT combo, before Fuego came in and went wild with headscissors. He Matrix’s away from a Kanemaru clothesline, before he psyched out the former junior tag champion. DOUKI’s back in to take Fuego down for a near-fall, following up with a falling backslide for another two-count, before he ran into a flapjack from Fuego… who then took the win with a wacky crucifix-like roll-up. Decent enough to start us off with, although this felt like it was lacking a little spark… **½

Yeah, I’m beginning to wonder why Fuego and Taguchi did the Honma pose after the match…

Euforia, Luciferno & Namajague vs. Audaz, Guerrero Maya Jr. & Yuya Uemura
Namajague looks a little, erm, desperado?

Euforia gets Jay Lethal’s replacement theme as there’s only so many overdubs to go around, and we start with Luciferno and Maya scrambling on the mat, before the lucha rules led to Euforia and Namajague storming the ring. Things calmed down as Namajague and Audaz traded shots and roll throughs until Namajague got caught with some headscissors from Audaz… and in comes Luciferno again.

A nice springboard corkscrew senton splash from Audaz takes down the evil one, while Euforia’s back in to take a spinning armdrag from Audaz. Euforia’s pop-up knee and Luciferno’s shoulder-buster has Audaz on the ropes, as Uemura came in to tro and make a save, only to get beaten down. Chops from Luciferno stagger Uemura, who’s then poked in the eye and met with a Namajague spinebuster, as a rebound hiptoss/splash got the sometimes-desperate Namajague ahead. The triple-teaming continues on Maya, who’s put into a Tree of Woe for more running assaults, before Audaz became an impromptu part of a display team as the rudos stood on him.

It remains one-way traffic as Uemura was back in, but he finally lands an elbow to take out Namajague, while Audaz’s springboard plancha and an assisted ‘rana helped turn up the tempo quickly. Guerrero Maya pops him up for a kick while a corkscrew Asai moonsault and a tope took out Luciferno and Euforia on the floor. Back in the ring, Uemura’s trying it on with Namajague, coming close with a dropkick before pinning attempts like backslides and roll-ups racked up near-falls. In the end though, Namajague picked up the relatively-easy win with a bridging German suplex… and that was a pretty straightforward day at the office for the rudos, all told. **¾

Negro Casas & Tiger vs. Soberano Jr. & Flyer
Not Tiger Mask, just plain ol’ Tiger. This was Negro Casas’ first appearance for New Japan since Power Struggle in 2012, and he looked thrilled to be back.

Casas and Soberano start us off with some roll-ups and mat wrestling, featuring a camel clutch sleeper from Soberano. He loses his grip as Casas slips out and trips him into a crossface, before tags bring in Flyer and Tiger, with the latter swinging and missing before he slid into the path of an Asai moonsault on the floor. Casas and Soberano return to trade shots, with Negro’s stinging Soberano, who then missed a Fosbury flop to the outside, leaving him prone for Casas to just fling him into the ring post. Tiger takes over with chops to Soberano, before Flyer tried to trade chops with Negro Casas. That didn’t go well, but he did manage to take down the veteran with a ‘rana before Tiger tossed him outside to counter a back body drop.

A seated senton off the apron sees Negro Casas fly into Flyer, while Soberano also took to the air, hitting a tornillo before Tiger pancaked him. Soberano’s quickly back with a stomp and a springboard legdrop… and that’s your sudden finish. It sure did feel like the first fall of the usual three-fall CMLL outings, but I’m not gonna complain. Some decent action, but so far this card is just simmering on. ***

We’ve got an interval – which is rarer than hen’s teeth these days…

Angel de Oro, Niebla Roja & Titan vs. La Sangre Dinamita (Sanson, Cuatrero & Forastero)
By the power of Greyskull, it’s Niebla Roja!

Since we last saw them last year, Sanson, Cuatrero and Forastero have bought some new vests that are half Stone Cold leather vest, half Shield riot gear in terms of their look. Niebla Roja starts us off with Forastero, going for pinning attempts before Roja looked to trap Forastero in a leg spreader, before the pair bridged up for some World of Sport style upside-down slapping. They stop as tags bring in Sanson and Titan, who look for submission attempts early before they flipped away into a stand-off.

Oro’s in, taking out Cuatrero briefly, before Forastero was taken outside with a Titan dropkick… only for Titan to dive outside and get triple-teamed by the boots of the rudos. In the ring, Niebla Roja takes a kicking as Sanson held him in the ropes for duelling splashes, before Roja recovered and found his way through with some rolling elbows. A pop-up kick to the gut sends Forastero outside, as tags bring in Titan and Cuatrero. Titan goes for a rope-walk ‘rana, but gets kicked in the back by Sanson before he could go for a dive… in the end, Niebla Roja goes for a tope con giro… then got met by a tope as we entered dive season, with Titan hitting a springboard moonsault to the floor.

Oro’s in a crossbody before he dropkicked Cuatrero away… only for a lungblower from Cuatrero and a spin-out suplex to nearly end the match. A roll-through from Angel de Oro took him into a seated surfboard, before a pendulum swing forced Cuatrero to give up. Some good action here, but again, these finishes are really coming out of the blue. ***

Dulce Gardenia, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Yota Tsuji vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI)
Judging from the commentary, Liger was a little enamoured with the exotico Gardenia…

We don’t have t-shirt Naito on this tour… instead it’s football shirt Naito as they’ve got new merch to shift, and we start with Dulce Gardenia and BUSHI in the ring. BUSHI’s not quite sure what to make of Gardenia, eventually cheapshotting him on a handshake as the lucha tags quickly took us to Naito and Tanahashi, before Yota Tsuji came in and was quickly stopped by a BUSHI dropkick. Hiromu’s in too, while BUSHI almost lost Tanahashi on the see-saw sunset flip as LIJ took a commanding lead. Jushin Thunder Liger’s talking about Nacho Libre on commentary as Yota Tsuji’s dragged into headscissors… Dulce Gardenia tries to break it up, but he’s just pancaked before Tsuji got a foot to the rope.

Tsuji eventually fought back with a slam on BUSHI, before bringing in Tanahashi to clear house, taking everyone down with Dragon Screws before Gardenia came back. Dulce’s first move was a dropkick and a tope con giro that wiped out some poor sod in the crowd. Back inside, Dulce mounts Hiromu ahead of a facebuster, then brought in Tsuji for some more offence, which included a leaping elbow and a big dropkick for a near-fall on the junior champion.

A Boston crab’s next for Tsuji, but Hiromu gets to the ropes to break it up… and some quick triple-teaming from LIJ looked to have Tsuji in trouble. He’s able to avoid a Time Bomb, but runs into a superkick as Hiromu pushed back, rolling Tsuji into a Boston crab of his own to force the humiliating submission. Why waste one of your big finishers when the Young Lion finisher will do, eh? This was pretty solid stuff, although Naito was kept to a minimum here, which I’d expect for the whole tour… ***¼

OKUMURA, Ultimo Guerrero & Barbaro Cavernario vs. Satoshi Kojima, Caristico & Stuka Jr.
This was OKUMURA’s anniversary match, marking a little over 26 years in wrestling… which meant he was presented with a ceremonial plaque from New Japan president Naoki Sugabayashi. It’ll look good on his mantlepiece…

They try (and fail) to overdub Van Halen for Stuka, and we start with OKUMURA and Stuka trading armdrags, kip-ups and takedowns. Tags get us to Caristico and Cavernario, but it’s Caristico who’s flying around effectively… landing a kick from the apron before a springboard ‘rana took the caveman outside for a faked-out dive. Kojima and Ultimo Guerrero are in next to trade chops, before a shoulder block knocked Guerrero down. Guerrero tries to charge at Kojima in the corner, but misses his knee and sails outside, as the rudos begin to triple-team Kojima, holding him in the ropes for a pop-up seated senton a la the Beverley Brothers.

They target Caristico next, with a spinebuster from Cavernario leading to a springboard splash off the ropes, while Stuka came in and took a nasty wheelbarrow DDT. Stuka eventually avoided some triple-teaming as Caristico looked to mount a comeback, getting popped up into a ‘rana before he hit a tope suicida on the outside. Kojima’s back with Machine Gun chops for Ultimo Guerrero, along with a top rope elbow for a near-fall, but Guerrero’s back with a clothesline to trap Kojima in the corner for the senton de la muerte (slingshot Bronco buster). A Koji cutter restores order, before an avalanche front suplex almost gets Guerrero the win as those two kept on fighting keenly.

OKUMURA and Stuka are back in to throw chops, before Stuka caught him with a tiltawhirl backbreaker. Heading outside, OKUMURA’s caught with another backbreaker, before Cavernario took a Stuka spinebuster… while Stuka faked out a splash so he could land on OKUMURA on the floor. Back in the ring, the caveman does the worm before Caristico hit the ropes for a springboard armdrag on Guerrero. Kojima gets inspired and hits a pescado too, as the technicos were on the ascendancy, with Caristico hitting a plancha to the outside, before Stuka got lifted up top by OKUMURA for a diving cutter… and that’s all folks. They kept this relatively pacey, which made for a cracker of a main event. ***½

Strictly speaking, this was a bit of a skippable show – as Fantasticamania tends to be a non-canon comedown after WrestleKingdom. But unlike World Tag League, there’s always a lot of GIF-able moments to grab your attention! If you’re looking for an easy, speedy watch, this two-hour show (with interval) should make your list. The Fantasticamania tour picks up on New Japan World next Thursday for day five of this tour. That’s where the Family Tag tournament starts up, as New Japan begin a four-day stay at Korakuen Hall.