Satoshi Kojima had a shot at the CMLL World Heavyweight title on the penultimate night of Fantasticamania.
We had a fairly recent change to the card, as OKUMURA had successfully baited Stuka Jr. into putting his NWA World Historic Light Heavyweight title on the line in their already-scheduled singles match here. Mavs Gillis and Chris Charlton are back for English commentary…
Luciferno & Namajague vs. Audaz & Yota Tsuji
Namajague wanted to face off with Tsuji, and got his wish, but it wasn’t until we got to the CMLL regulars when the pace increased, as a corkscrew crossbody from Audaz nearly put Luciferno away early.
Namajague’s taken outside into a cameraman as Audaz follows him out with headscissors… in the ring, Luciferno’s met with elbows and clotheslines in the corner, before Namajague pulled his man outside for relative safety. Which ended when Tsuji faked out a dive, doing a handstand to blow my mind… and then Audaz just dives into a slap from Namajague.
Back in the ring, Luciferno stretched Tsuji by the ropes, as the rudos focused on the Young Lion, putting him in a Tree of Woe as they proceeded to charge in with a splash and a low dropkick. Audaz tries to switch things up with a pop-up dropkick to Luciferno as the lucha tags made for some fast-paced exchanges, featuring Tsuji ragdolling Namajague into a Boston crab, which Luciferno broke up with a running dropkick.
Audaz cuts him off with a superkick while Namajague gets wrecked with a Tsuji chop… only to return with a head kick and a bridging German suplex for the win. Decent stuff to open the card, and it’s interesting to see Tsuji trying out what passes for beginner’s lucha… ***
Tiger, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI vs. Soberano Jr., Flyer & Guerrero Maya Jr.
Tiger’s become a part time member of Suzuki-gun for this one, and we start with Tiger and Maya exchanging holds before Maya faked out a dive.
Flyer and DOUKI’s in next, trading leapfrogs before a springboard armdrags had DOUKI befuddled. Soberano and Kanemaru’s next, with Soberano tricking the “Heel Master” with an apron 619 ahead of a nice Sasuke special… only to get bumrushed by DOUKI and Tiger as all hell broke loose on the floor. Back in the ring. Tiger punts Maya, before a hattrick of superkicks had the bad guys ahead.
Soberano Jr. tries to change it up, but he’s triple-teamed and held while Kanemaru just booted him in the head. Guerrero Maya tags in, and suffers the same fate as referee Kenta Sato just… stood there. Maya needs to get himself free with three tiltawhirl backbreakers, before a tope suicida knocked Kanemaru into the front row. Flyer’s into hit a nice Asai moonsault to Tiger on the floor, before Soberano hits an apron gamengiri to DOUKI, following up with a tornillo… which DOUKI rolled through as he almost snatched a win. A bridging Widow’s Peak gets DOUKI a little closer, only for Soberano to return with a springboard legdrop and a Fire Thunder driver for the win. Solid trios stuff, even if refereeing nerds will loathe that middle part of the match. ***
Angel de Oro, Niebla Roja & Titan vs. La Sangre Dinamita (Sanson, Cuatrero & Forastero)
A rematch (of sorts) from Friday’s Family Tag finals… and a preview of tomorrow’s trios title match.
We start with Titan having his leg targeted by the Dinamitas, as Oro and Roja looked to pick up the slack. Dives get cut off by the rudos, but they’re met with a trio of topes anyway, before Oro came back in and found a way through with headscissors on the way to a hands-free handspring. Roja’s in next against Cuatrero, pushing away a monkey flip to hit a low dropkick before Titan took over with a multi-jump springboard ‘rana. He’s got to deal with Forastero and Sanson too, taking out the former with a crossbody before he dove outside into the path of some triple-teaming. He’ll learn eventually…
Titan’s triple-teamed some more as the refereeing was at best suspect, with an elevated stomp to the back getting just a one-count. Things turn around when the technicos took to the air, with Oro hitting a Sasuke special before a rolling forearm from Roja gets a near-fall on Forastero. Sanson stops the tide with an elbow to Titan, who them Matrix’s out of a clothesline as a Samoan driver looked to give Titan some space…
…but instead he leaps into Cuatrero on the floor! Oro takes over with a springboard Quebrada for a near-fall, only for Sanson to come straight back with a rack-bomb for a two-count. He tries again off the top rope, but Oro counters with a top rope ‘rana before making Sanson submit to a seated surfboard stretch. A decent enough match, but this for me felt a little too fragmented for my non-lucha fan eyes. The fact they’re rematching for the belts tomorrow tells me they’ll not be changing the titles… **¾
NWA World Historic Light Heavyweight Championship: OKUMURA vs. Stuka Jr. (c)
After unmasking Stuka two shows running, OKUMURA’s talked his way into a title match… for a strap that Stuka won back in August 2018. They like their long title reigns in CMLL.
Stuka had Audaz out to corner him (and give Audaz a chance to shill his t-shirt too), and we start with Stuka hitting a nice bodypress to OKUMURA on the floor. Back inside, Stuka and OKUMURA trade armdrags then clotheslines before Stuka got caught in the corner with a cutter off the middle rope. A Michinoku driver’s next for a near-fall, before both men pull down the straps so they could throw chops… but OKUMURA’s a step ahead. Stuka takes OKUMURA outside as a tope suicida took OKUMURA into the front row, but there’s a quick turn around when OKUMURA simply sidesteps a senton off the apron as Stuka crashed and burned. Back in the ring, Stuka’s rolled over for a two-count, before OKUMURA began to loosen the laces on Stuka’s mask. Will he make it a hattrick?
On the outside, Mima Shimoda held Stuka for a chop, but Stuka gets free and she gets chopped for her customary bump… which looked to get added to as Stuka Jr. rolled Shimoda into the ring and teased a big splash… only to turn around and catch OKUMURA on the floor with a torpedo plancha. Back on the top rope, OKUMURA heads into the corner, but ultimately crotched Stuka in the turnbuckles ahead of a superplex, before Stuka’s mask got ripped off on the way to a near-fall. He kicks out and puts the mask back on, before a tiltawhirl backbreaker and a Fireman’s carry slam left OKUMURA down for the big splash… but Stuka bounces off of OKUMURA, who pounced on him for another two-count!
Mima Shimoda’s back in for reasons, and she gets suplexed onto OKUMURA, as a second splash off the top has rather less recoil… and Stuka gets the win. So Stuka’s reign continues, and OKUMURA’s left rather winded after having taken two big splashes off the top. ***¼
Dulce Gardenia, Fuego & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI)
Given how much LIJ are supposedly talking about “improving the status” of those NEVER trios titles, they sure aren’t defending them here, huh…
Dulce Gardenia’s got a thing for BUSHI, who isn’t interested… but as soon as Gardenia realised he’d be starting with EVIL, he suddenly wasn’t so bothered. At least until EVIL used the braids to wring his neck with. Fuego’s in to Matador Shingo on a handshake, before some headscissors took down Shingo. Fuego continues to confound Shingo ahead of a springboard armdrag, before Gardenia turned into Taguchi, and had Taguchi and Fuego thrown into his arse. A punch takes Gardenia outside, where the ring post was waiting, while Taguchi had a similar fate as he got crotched into the post by EVIL.
Back in the ring, BUSHI simply stamps on Dulce’s Gardenia, as LIJ were in firm control. EVIL just swipes away Taguchi’s attempted comeback, before a superkick to the arse was retaliated to with an ELP-like low blow and a Bummer-ye. Dulce’s back to spank Shingo, before he indulged in a spot of dancing and a springboard armdrag, but LIJ quickly recover, using the braids as a weapon, before Fuego came back with a roll-through for a near-fall. Fuego keeps going, launching into BUSHI with a tope con giro as the ring cleared… Gardenia’s Orihara moonsault finds Shingo on the floor. Fuego just hits a Quebrada into BUSHI’s boots, which looked nasty, before Taguchi held up BUSHI for a peck… which accidentally finds is way to Taguchi. Second time wasn’t the charm as BUSHI just mists Gardenia, which is some reptile-like defence, as a BUSHI-roll puts Fuego away. This lucha-style refereeing is making for some jarring viewing, but I guess it fits! ***½
CMLL World Heavyweight Championship: Satoshi Kojima vs. Ultimo Guerrero (c)
This was Kojima’s first singles title shot since he was put up against Jay Lethal on the final night of 2016’s G1 Climax. Remember when that ROH title was a regular fixture on these shows?
Ryusuke Taguchi and Luciferno were out as seconds, with Taguchi only having time to put on a shirt before he came back out. We eventually start with a lock-up as Kojima and Guerrero trade holds, then ended up in the ropes as the pair traded shoulder tackles. Kojima eventually edged out there, but got caught with a sunset flip out of the corner for a near-fall as Guerrero tried to take over, taking Kojima into the crowd as that fabled East sign came into play.
Guerrero takes the match into the seating decks too, chopping Kojima on the walkway before he charged across with a lariat. Back in the ring, Guerrero mocks Kojima with Machine Gun chops, then came back with some of his own before a DDT dropped the champion. Kojima takes him onto the apron for a second DDT, eventually rolling Guerrero back inside as he looked for a Koji cutter… but instead he’s pushed off into a tiltawhirl backbreaker. A senton de la muerta hits in the corner, as did the Guerrero special (front superplex), before a brainbuster from Kojima landed for another near-fall. Kojima tries to push ahead with a top rope ‘rana, but get again he’s caught before he freed himself and hit the move anyway for a near-fall.
Kojima keeps up the pressure with a swivelling lariat, but a clothesline from Guerrero stops all that momentum. Kicks open up Kojima for a powerbomb, before he was thrown onto the top rope for an inverted superplex that proved to be too much for Kojima. That was a finish and a half, with both men putting on a killer showing, especially given how they’re mostly kept to tags these days… ***½
Caristico, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tiger Mask vs. Negro Casas, Euforia & Barbaro Cavernario
This was the annual memorial match for Black Cat, which had the usual pre-match ceremony with his widow, cousin and son present.
Caristico and Barbaro Cavernario start us off as they play to the crowd, before Cavernario dribbled on the mat and ate it up. Yuck. Caristico replies with some kicks, which sets off a worm, before a ‘rana trook Cavernario outside ahead of a faked-out dive. Tanahashi and Euforia are in, with the latter charging through the Ace before Tanahashi replied with a crossbody out of the corner. Euforia clotheslines Tanahashi to the outside before Negro Casas and Tiger Mask came into play… and Tiger’s already looking salty, trading chops before Casas grounded Tiger Mask with a chinlock. A tiltawhirl backbreaker stops Casas, but the rudos combine to drop Caristico ahead of a slipped monkey flip legdrop. A trio of big boots drop Tanahashi, before Tiger Mask found himself cornered… but Tiger Mask manages to find a way free just as Caristico flies in with headscissors to Euforia.
A big ol’ Parade of Moves breaks out as Tiger Mask looked to hit a Tiger Driver to Cavernario, doing so at the second attempt, before Caristico hit armdrags and headscissors at the same time. A rebound pair of armdrags follow as Euforia and Cavernario just had no answer for him, taken outside ahead of topes suicida. Back inside, a Dragon screw from Tanahashi yanks down Casas, who replied by tripping Tanahashi, before he got caught with a Slingblade for barely a one-count. Caristico’s back to take out Euforia with headscissors, as Tiger Mask joined in with a crossbody to Euforia on the floor, while Caristico did the same to Cavernario… allowing Tanahashi to pick up the pieces with a slam and a High Fly Flow to Casas for the win. Decent enough, but man, Caristico did a LOT of the legwork here, huh? ***
The post-match comments saw Caristico challenge Cavernario into making tomorrow’s main event a mask vs. hair mask… the OKUMURA vs. Stuka Jr. match had that tease too, but I have a feeling the lucha apuesta won’t be stakes added to tomorrow’s show, going by Cavernario’s response…
Another slight improvement on the prior show, Fantasticamania’s certainly picking up steam as the “important” matches begin to appear on these cards. Perhaps the best standalone show of the tour so far, but if you’re cherry picking, I’d say go for Kojima/Guerrero and the LIJ trios tag – and with tomorrow’s card having some more title matches, those may well be the “must sees” as well. Even if there’s little to no chance of those belts changing.