We’re back to Korakuen Hall for the second of three days of the Fantasticamania tour – this time we’re looking at the Saturday show.
Ephesto, Raziel, Gedo & Jado vs. Blue Panther Jr, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask & Henare
Tiger Mask was cornered early on with some four-on-one offence that quickly went awry, as Tiger landed a series of nonchalant hiptosses to everyone. Including his team mates… AND THE REF!
Jado mocks them by slapping his own team mate, whilst Gedo charged at a pair of fans in the crowd as he seemed to threaten chopping two women. Back inside, Henare went to work, but was tripped by Jado, which opened the doors for the defacto heels to beat on the Kiwi for a while. Eventually, Henare tagged out to Liger who hit back with a double DDT to the Bookers, then took out Raziel with a body press of the apron. Back inside, Blue Panther made light work of Ephesto with tiltawhirl back breakers, before he was caught with a roll-up as he went for some headscissors, and that ended things out-of-nowhere. A decent opener, but not much more to it. **½
OKUMURA vs. Stuka Jr.
Slow paced stuff at first, before Stuka broke out a handspring and a ‘rana to take OKUMURA to the outside, where he received a pair of head-first torpedo-like topes.
OKUMURA took over after a slam back inside, but his baseball slide outside only served to put him in harm’s way as Stuka landed an Asai moonsault right next to the timekeeper’s table. A leaping body press off the top sees Stuka follow-up with a ‘rana, but OKUMURA keeps on rolling for a near-fall. Stuka’s sent flying with a cutter off the middle rope, before the pair slide outside for some cat and mouse that gives way to a ‘rana on OKUMURA on the floor.
For some reason, OKUMURA’s wife came in and was laid out with a Wasteland, before Stuka hit another backflip body press to the floor. That move looks so cool and is always like dicing with danger. Back in the ring again, OKUMURA gets a draping DDT on Stuka, but the tables turn as another Wasteland takes down OKUMURA, whose wife then gets suplexed onto him. What on earth am I watching?
Stuka hits a big splash, but OKUMURA rolls away, so his missus gets the brunt of it… before OKUMURA misses Stuka with a back senton. You can guess who ate that. Stuka goes back up top and connects with a big splash to both of them, and that’s the match. That ending was uncomfortable as all hell to watch… **¾
El Soberano Jr, KUSHIDA & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Kazuchika Okada, El Barbaro Cavernario & Will Ospreay
It was dress-up day again at Korakuen, as Taguchi’s still a Pharaoh, whilst KUSHIDA had a massive helmet on that looked like an oversized digital watch. He couldn’t get through the ropes with it on, so I’m guessing it’ll be used to headbutt folk with?
Cavernario had his shoulder taped up after injuring it in the Friday match with Dragon Lee – and for some reason, they showed a close-up of the Rev Pro Cruiserweight title next to Okada’s IWGP title. Soberano and Ospreay started off, and we got the see-saw kip ups from Willy, whose blonde dye has washed out now, before we get the flippy lucha we all expect from these two. Duelling missed dropkicks lead to a stand-off, and part of me really wants to see Will in CMLL for a spell.
Taguchi comes into arse around, something that Okada has no interest in putting up with… but after faking out a dive, Taguchi rolls into the ring and lays down. Like a Pharaoh. Okada tries to pin him, but Taguchi rolls one shoulder up. Then the other. Then he rolls up Okada for a near-fall. Comedy!
Ospreay returns to blast Taguchi with a standing moonsault, as Cavernario boots Taguchi in the thigh. Okada comes in to rip off Taguchi’s paper Pharaoh mask, and the crowd actively boo him! Ospreay and Taguchi come back in, and Will eats some big boots out of the corner, then a hip attack and a Kokeshi-like falling headbutt. KUSHIDA’s in next with hiptosses and a cartwheel dropkick to Okada, before finally dishing one out to Ospreay. Barbaro and Okada audibly make plans in the ring, but it goes awry as they’re whipped into each other as Taguchi and Panter works a leg spreader, which ends with KUSHIDA catching Ospreay in a Hoverboard lock in the middle of that fun stuff. A handspring overhead kick from Ospreay leads to a Space Flying Tiger Drop as KUSHIDA went to the floor, and now we’ve got Panther and Okada!
Panther lays out Okada with an enziguiri from the apron, before a tornillo off the top rope almost wins it. Okada comes back with a flapjack, before Taguchi sends him flying with a springboard hip attack, then with a Stuka-like body press. In the ring, Cavernario drops Panther with the backcracker-esque move into a seated surfboard, and that’s enough for the quick submission. Fun stuff – easily the best match on the card so far! ***½
Okada danced with a stuffed caveman monkey after the match, which was something… we even get Milano Collection AT out to dance with the monkey, which looked mighty weird without any backing music!
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, David Finlay, Titan & Dragon Lee vs. Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, EVIL, BUSHI & SANADA
Another Ingobernables tag! Before the match, Naito ripped off Milano’s headset, which continues the long-smouldering deal between those two.
A jump start sends everyone to the outside for my favourite sort of match – the one that’s hard as hell to follow with umpteen camera cuts! Takahashi and Dragon Lee quickly return to the ring to preview their match, which featured a lungblower and a tope con hilo to Takahashi, before the camera missed Naito seemingly attacking another commentator.
Back inside, Titan went in with Takahashi, leaning away to avoid a clothesline, only to be caught by BUSHI as the Ingobernables were, well, ungovernable. They all ended up on the outside again, with EVIL and Tanahashi staying in for the fun of it, as we had Naito and EVIL double-teaming the face-painted Ace for a near-fall.
Tanahashi came back with a Dragon Screw before bringing in Juice for a cross body and some Bionic elbows as he made this whole thing look easy. Dusty punches for Hiromu, then cannonballs for BUSHI and SANADA lead to a spinebuster for Takahashi again, as we go back to Dragon vs. Hiromu once more. A ‘rana from Lee, then a snap German suplex gets him an instant receipt, before Takahashi dumps him with a superkick to leave both men laying.
Finlay and SANADA look to finish us off as Young David scores a near-fall from a diving European uppercut, but he’s quickly caught in the Skull End as the rest of the Ingobernables clear the apron. Tanahashi ends the Skull End with a Cross Rhodes, but the ring continues to fill up until Naito runs into a uranage backbreaker from Finlay. We’re back to SANADA and Finlay now, and after Takahashi distracted the referee, EVIL was allowed to waffle Finlay with a chair shot which left him helpless for a Skull End for the eventual submission. Good stuff – Ingobernables mid-card tags are usually fun, and this was no exception ***¼
Volador Jr & Mistico vs. Ultimo Guerrero & Euforia
Ultimo whacks Volador with his ring gear, before Volador and Mistico get a whacking with some pleather as we start on the outside, as Volador is dropped by Ultimo on a crowd barrier. Euforia does the same to Mistico on the crowd apron, and I think it’s safe to say this isn’t going to be fast paced and flippy.
When they do return, Euforia boots Mistico, before Volador takes a popped-up boot to the midsection. Volador eats a double-hiptoss into a facebuster as the veterans do their bouncy “raise the roof” taunt, before threatening to walk out. They eventually turn around and head back, and we get Ultimo and Mistico.
Plenty of flips from Volador as Mistico waits for something, which happens to be a springboard rana before Euforia’s sent to the outside, where the veterans take a pair of tope con hilos! Euforia and Ultimo call for a time-out, before hopping around with a couple of fans as Volador and Mistico looked on in confusion. So they slid to the floor to chop away and whip their opponents into each other. Volador gives Euforia a ‘rana after Ultimo had popped him up, and then it was Mistico’s turn to fly as Volador elevated him over the turnbuckles, to the outside, where Euforia took another ‘rana. That was insane!
Back inside, Euforia lands a lucha staple – the tiltawhirl backbreaker – for a near-fall on Volador, before a version of Pete Dunne’s Drop Dead gets another near-fall. Ultimo comes in to chop away on a worn-down Volador, as a front superplex gets Ultimo another two-count as the match looked to be heading to its conclusion. Volador finally gets breathing room with a superkick, but he looks for a top rope rana instead of tagging out… and he gets caught and dropped with a powerbomb by Ultimo.
Volador finally lands that ‘rana as he countered a top rope powerbomb, but Guerrero gets back up first and flips him onto the apron. A superplex from the apron follows, before Mistico comes in for some flipping headscissors and a moonsault off the middle turnbuckle… but he’s caught and dropped through a table by Euforia. Guerrero and Volador remain in the ring, and a back superplex is teased, but instead Ultimo lands the reverse superplex for the win. That was quite the match – after not being sold on the Guerrero/Euforia combination previously, this was something very special indeed! ***¾
Rush vs. Atlantis
After seeing Rush as part of December’s World Tag League, my hopes weren’t very high for this one. Rush jumped Atlantis during his entrance, choking him with his own cape, before throwing his head into the time keeper’s table.
Milano Collection AT gets up close and personal with an Ingobernable again as the commentary table collapses after Atlantis’ head is thrown into it repeatedly, and finally they enter the ring for Rush’s favourite move… the nonchalant kick to the face. After snapmaring Atlantis out of the corner, Rush goes to rip his mask off, before nearly throwing the ref out of the ring as he tried to bully the official.
Rush grabs a chair from the crowd and throws it at Atlantis, who returns the favour as they both collapse to the floor. When they return to the ring, we get duelling clotheslines, before Atlantis scores a crossbody for a two-count, then another near-fall out of a wheelbarrow roll-up. An overhead suplex gets Rush a near-fall as he mounted a comeback, before a Northern Lights picked up something similar. Rush covers Atlantis with some push-ups to get a near-fall, as the match seemed to slow down, but Atlantis wasn’t out of it yet, as he went up top and flew to the floor with a cross body! Another chair comes into play, which looks to bloody up Atlantis under the mask…
After beating the 20-count, Rush goes back in and launches into Atlantis with some stomps in the corner, before a tiltawhirl backbreaker (yes!) saw Atlantis come close to a win. Atlantis held up Rush with the Atlantida (spinning backbreaker rack), but in came BUSHI to cause a distraction. With the referee tied up, Tetsuya Naito came in to kick Atlantis low, but the veteran still kicked out of a superkick. One Rush Driver later though, and that was it as the Ingobernables won again. Not a bad match, but for me it just felt “there”. **¾
Doctors tried to tend to the bloodied Atlantis afterwards, but the Ingobernables chased them away as Naito, BUSHI and Rush rubbed their boots onto his head, as EVIL, SANADA and Takahashi came out to join in the fun.
CMLL World Heavyweight Championship: Hechicero vs. Maximo Sexy (c)
A tentative start opens us up as Hechicero forces Maximo down with a wristlock, then a dropkick after he’d Ospreay’d back to his feet with see-saw kip-ups.
They largely stay grounded as Hechicero grabs an ankle lock after tripping Sexy, who finally rolled free and pushed his challenger away. A springboard armdrag sent Hechicero to the outside, where he was met with a tope-like headbutt from Sexy, which ended up needing El Cavernario Barbaro (Hechicero’s second) to help make sure the match continued.
Sexy hits back with a springboard armdrag as Hechicero was perched on the top rope, with that armdrag getting him a near-fall, but Hechicero hit back with a dropkick before returning from the apron with a springboard lariat. A low dropkick sees Hechicero catch himself in the ropes, before he misses a charge in the corner and sails to the outside, where Maximo follows up with a rope walk flip senton to the floor!
Back inside, Hechicero took over with a muscle buster after catching Maximo on the top rope, but despite having an arm across, the referee didn’t make a count until Hechicero rolled on top of the champion for a near-fall. After the kick-out, Maximo took his shirt off to hulk up… and ran into a flapjack as Hechicero looked to follow up with a surfboard stretch that ended up almost pinning both guys in the end!
We get a ref bump after Red Shoes is accidentally kissed twice by Maximo – who was aiming for Hechicero – and that incapacitates him as Hechicero should have had the match won. After confronting the ref, the challenger’s rolled up for a near-fall as Red Shoes sells the two pecks like he’s been bumped badly. Still, Hechicero stays on top by ramming Maximo’s head into the turnbuckle, but the champion rebounds with chops as they’re standing on the middle rope, before a step-up rana off the top rope gets him the win! That felt like a real “outta nowhere” match, but a fun main event… even if it did feel mostly one-way! ***½
A massive improvement over Friday’s show, the “middle day” of the Fantasticamania cards on New Japan World were a breeze to watch, with only the main event going over the 15 minute mark. Even if there wasn’t much to write home about, this is a decent enough show to have on in the background.