The penultimate night of the Fantasticamania tour saw CMLL hit Korakuen Hall for the start of the Brother Tag Team Tournament.
Puma & Disturbio vs. Drone & Star Jr.
Instead of silence, we’re getting the Fantasticamania theme dubbed over the copyrighted music. It’s better than the awkward mutes… Star Jr’s got a new mask after his old one was ripped and turned into a neckerchief by Los Ingobernables de Japon on Friday.
Once we got going, Disturbio and Drone kept things simple, with Disturbio biting away at Drone as he took him onto the mat. There’s more nibbling as he tries to bite Drone’s backside, forcing him to the outside as tags brought in the other halves of each team.
The pace quickened a little between Star and Puma, with the feline pulling into a bow-and-arrow hold early, before falling to an armdrag when his monkey flip didn’t quite go off. The rudos took over though, with Drone taking a punt to the thigh before Puma’s stalling suplex ended up forcing him outside… Star’s back in then, and quickly flapjacked before Puma distracts the ref so Disturbio can take another bite. It’s quickly shrugged off, but Puma’s able to block a top rope ‘rana as he powerbombed Star down hard. There’s a wonky moment when Drone tries a baseball slide but instead he just drops onto his arse as Disturbio and Puma try to rip his mask off instead.
Things pick up when Star returns, scoring a headscissor takedown to Puma before a top rope Asai moonsault to Puma left the cat – sorry – licking its wounds on the outside. Disturbio stuffs a wheelbarrow roll-up by spiking Star on his head, before a low dropkick got rid of Star… Puma and Drone just stand by each other as the former went for a dive, before eventually Puma trapped Drone in a La Magistral cradle for the win. This had its moments, but even through tired eyes there were some moments that plainly looked off. Lucha! **
Ryusuke Taguchi, Fuego & Soberano Jr. vs. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) & OKUMURA
Fuego seems to have dug up Emu from 70s and 80s British TV… and while it’s no Funky Pharaoh, but we’ve got Taguchi in a sparkly Fedora. Will that do this year?
OKUMURA has trouble doing the Roppongi 3K hand sign, and being honest, he looks like he’s a reluctant dad who’s gone out with his kids. He opens up with Fuego, going through the traditional armdrag stuff before Fuego hits a springboard crossbody before faking out a dive with some shoulder shuffling. Tags out take us to SHO and Soberano, with those two having a fun exchange, with SHO stuffing a headscissor takedown before eventually taking a superkick. A springboard ‘rana takes him outside, but Rocky Romero trips Soberano as he went for a dive… meaning the Black Tiger mask wearer’s in for a ‘rana of his own on the outside!
More tags bring in YOH and Taguchi, with those two keeping it simple as YOH scoots his way out of a headlock before egging on Taguchi in a long rope running series, ending when Taguchi collapses through exhaustion. He’s quickly back with hip attacks for all, before taking some from OKUMURA’s wife who comes in for the hell of it… and gets her rear end bitten for the hell of it. She responds by spanking Taguchi, which is a better run than she had last year.
Things settle down when a triple-team to Soberano led to him getting bulldogged onto two knees, as SHO, YOH and OKUMURA begin to wear down Fuego. It quickly backfires as the former junior tag champs end up chopping OKUMURA, who then eats a Sasuke special on the outside. Taguchi keeps up with more hip attacks to SHO and YOH, but he takes too long and ends up falling into a back cracker.
We built up into a Tower of Doom, with YOH taking the worst of it before Fuego’s big splash almost led to way too many pins at one time. More dives follow as we’re left with Soberano and OKUMURA, with the latter almost winning with a sunset flip, before a tornillo off the top from Soberano picked up the win. Lots of fun here, plenty of flips and shtick from the more established New Japan guys – the perfect undercard match for a mash-up show like this. ***
Satoshi Kojima, Atlantis, KUSHIDA & Hirai Kawato vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Rush, BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi)
Extra marks to KUSHIDA for finding a 1994 Mexico football jersey for his entrance… marks off for Hiromu for his lack of commitment to the LIJ merch game!
Kojima jumps LIJ at the bell as we start with the (technically) rudos on the back foot. Kojima’s gone straight for Rush, which makes sense as they have a singles match tomorrow. Meanwhile, Kawato and Hiromu are fighting throughout Korakuen, only for Kawato to be saved by his Mexican dad Atlantis.
In the ring, Kojima busts out the Machine gun chops to Rush and BUSHI, then to Hiromu, before setting Rush up for the top rope elbow that almost never works. It didn’t here as instead everyone ends up fighting around ringside again as a precursor to Kojima getting isolated for the usual LIJ routines. Eventually Kojima hits a Koji cutter after stopping Naito in his tracks, before Atlantis comes into take down BUSHI with a clothesline. The veteran avoids a triple-team as he sidesteps Rush’s dropkick into BUSHI and Hiromu, before we headed into a faster-paced series between BUSHI and KUSHIDA… which ended with a Naito trip.
Kawato flies in with a missile dropkick as order was restored, with KUSHIDA trapping BUSHI in a cross armbreaker. A handspring back elbow keeps KUSHIDA ahead, but he falls to the tag by Kawato as the Young Lion took one of his last chances – for now – to shine at Korakuen, landing a ‘rana before taking Hiromu into the corner. Takahashi absolutely leathers Kawato with chops and strikes there, but the youngster fires back, before getting a paltry one count for his efforts.
Takahashi drops him with a lariat pretty quickly thereafter, and once the LIJ team fills the ring, it’s pretty clear that Kawato’s taking a pasting once again. Another dropkick gets Kawato away from Rush, but he can’t quite make the tag to Kojima thanks to BUSHI, and it leaves him open for Rush’s Praying Mantis Bomb as the LIJ quartet pick up another win. Not at the same level as Friday’s tag, but this was all kinds of fun – with the expected stuff at the end to set up tomorrow’s Rush/Kojima match. Hey, a pull-apart set to that Fantasticamania theme is really jolly viewing… ***¼
CMLL Brother Tag Team Tournament – Semi-Final: Gran Guerrero & Ultimo Guerrero vs. Angel de Oro & Niebla Roja
The gimmick here is self explanatory – every team in the tournament is a pair of brothers. They start on the mat with Ultimo and Oro trying to grab the other’s leg, but it’s Ultimo who gets the first bit of success as he’s able to work the recently deposed world middleweight champion into a Romero special.
Somehow, Oro escapes and flips over into a STF, but Ultimo counters away from that too as the toll began to show on Angel de Oro’s knee. Some headscissors from Oro get countered into another leg grapevine, before we finally get tags out as Oro continued to sell the knee. Gran Guerrero tries the same trick on Niebla Roja, but it’s quickly spun out of, as the favour is sort-of returned, with Niebla pulling Gran into a bow and arrow hold.
Gran Guerrero flips out and eventually hits Niebla with a chokeslam, as the Guerrero clan looked to be comfortable – until Oro and Roja combined to land a pair of to dives – first a tope, then a tope con giro – to send the crowd wild. Back inside, Niebla’s able to spring off the ropes into a crossbody before going tit-for-tat with strikes in the corner on Ultimo. Angel de Oro does the same, faking out a dive as the Guerreros scattered… but they recover and come back as Ultimo Guerrero nailed a dropkick/leg lariat off the top to the floor.
Back inside, Ultimo’s able to drop Angel with a front superplex, but a thrust kick on the apron and a springboard Quebrada almost ends things as Ultimo’s taken back outside for a Sasuke special from Oro! Niebla tries to follow up, but Gran Guerrero delays it before he’s rolled into a Boston crab that he Niebla can’t hold onto. Instead, Gran tried to head up top, but gets caught in a chicken wing facebuster off the middle rope for a close two-count, before Gran countered a top rope ‘rana attempt and lawn darted Niebla for the pin. This was fine, but it dragged for me at times – I get starting slow, but it felt like it took an age to get into gear and lacked that spark that you need to grab a casual fan. **¾
CMLL Brother Tag Team Tournament – Semi-Final: Sanson & Cuatrero vs. Dragon Lee & Mistico
There’s a jump start as Sanson and and Cuatrero dropkick Mistico and Lee to the outside… and they get repaid instantly with dropkicks and topes con giro from the technico opponents.
Things settled down back inside as the NGD pair (“Nueva Generacion Dinamita”) double-teamed Mistico with a press slam that almost ends things, with Sanson almost unmasking Mistico… who wasn’t the WWE’s Sin Cara for those wondering. They keep Mistico in their corner as frequent tags helped them stay in front… but Mistico’s able to get the tag out as Dragon Lee came in and almost ended it with the Desnucadora (suplex powerbomb) on Sanson.
The tables continue to turn when NGD hit a pair of topes, which left all four down on the outside for a lot longer than you’d expect. Cuatrero almost nicked the win with a handspring lariat and a Downward Spiral, before Dragon Lee’s reverse ‘rana firmly put a stop to that offence… and then continued that with a flying ‘rana to take Cuatrero off the apron! Sanson came close with a side slam, only for Mistico to come straight with La Mistica to get the submission. Pretty decent, and this had its moments, but perhaps not the standout match you’d expect. ***¼
Tomorrow’s Brothers tournament final, then, will be Mistico and Dragon Lee vs. Los Guerreros.
NWA World Historic Welterweight Championship: El Barbaro Cavernario vs. Volador Jr (c)
Volador’s held this belt for over three and a half years, having beaten La Sombra for the title in August 2014. You might know Sombra now as NXT champion, Andrade “Cien” Almas…
It’s a rather fraught opening spell as Volador and Barbaro took their time feeling each other out, but it was the Skywalker Volador who left his feet first, landing a ‘rana before being taken outside by the caveman, who sprung off a chair and the apron into a Vader bomb-like splash on the floor.
Cavernario then does a Yano, untying the turnbuckle padding as referee Red Shoes just stared on in disappointment. Some wacky handsprings off the ropes eventually see Volador hit a ‘rana to take Cavernario outside for a springboard headscissors, but neither man can really keep hold of the offence for a while, as the momentum continually shifted.
A crucifix bomb into the turnbuckles put Cavernario ahead, but Volador was nowhere near done, as witnessed with his tope suicida that sent Cavernario deep into the crowd. Volador keeps him there with a tope con giro, before returning to the ring to hit a back cracker and then pausing for reasons as he took his time to follow up… which meant that Cavernario could dropkick him to the floor again.
The caveman burst ahead with a lovely tope from the apron, diving through the turnbuckles before landing on Volador. Inside again, Cavernario hits a dropkick to counter Volador’s springboard, before lifting him up into a hammerlock’d suplex and another springboarded Vader bomb, only to crash and burn with a senton bomb as Volador almost retained his title through a mistake. Volador whiffs on a moonsault, landing into Cavernario’s feet for another two count, before rebounding with a gamengiri and a top rope ’rana! A Romero special ends when Volador’s able to grab the rope, before he lands an Asai moonsault into the crowd to capitalise on Cavernario’s baseball slide to the floor.
Back inside again, Volador hits back with a superkick, before his attempt at a monkey flip sees him wildly dumped outside, where the caveman followed with another hammerlock suplex, then a thunderous big splash from the top rope all the way to the floor. They both narrowly beat the count-out, but it’s Cavernario who stays ahead, hitting a Spanish fly that looked more like a superplex… before Volador’s own Spanish fly nearly ended things.
Volador grabbed the ropes to try and avoid a back cracker, before he shrugs off an Ushigoroshi and begins a rather fraught strike exchange. Another Vader bomb-like slash is blocked, and Volador snaps straight back in with a running Destroyer, spiking Cavernario for the win. Wonderful stuff – and for once, that move actually wins a match. It’s slowly getting back to its roots! A fine main event to end a show that had been middle – go out of your way for this one! ***¾
Another solid New Japan x CMLL show, albeit one that lacked a “killer match” such as Friday’s eight-man tag. There’s one match left on the tour, headlining with the Brothers tournament final, and also featuring Hirai Kawato’s last match before he heads to Mexico on excursion.