Fantasticamania finally hit Korakuen Hall as the tour began the first of its final three days.
Jushin Thunder Liger, Ryusuke Taguchi & Audaz vs. Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori & Gedo) & Templarino
My God, the cacophony of noise that Liger’s theme set to airhorns makes…
Liger and Gedo start us off, as a shot of the commentary crew just about masks an eye rake from Gedo. How’s that work through the mask?! A series of Shotei from Liger stops all that though, taking his opponents to the outside as Liger fakes out the dive ahead of Audaz’s step-up flip plancha!
Ishimori takes Taguchi into the crowd – which has been a theme that makes me think we’re getting Taguchi vs. Ishimori down the line, but only once Taguchi beats the guy who slapped him in the crowd! Back in the ring, Templarino and Ishimori combine to put down Taguchi for a two-count, before Liger’s attempt to make a save ended with him getting tossed outside.
Taguchi’s back, but he’s facing a 3-on-1 mugging as Ishimori removes the Pharaoh’s mask. Oh no, we didn’t know it was him before… Unmasked, Taguchi tries to make a comeback with hip attacks, then had more luck with a dropkick before he baited Ishimori in with those darned hip attacks. Another hip attack gets a two-count on Ishimori, before Liger takes care of Gedo with a cannonball off the apron.
The luchadors come in next, with Audaz catching Templarino with a 619 in the corner, ahead of a body press that Templarino dropkicked away for a two-count, before Audaz snatched the win with a headscissor takedown into an armbar for the quick submission. I’m not a fan of these quick “first fall” finishes that we’ve been getting here, but at least the match managed to get in some build for an Ishimori feud down the line. **¾
After the match, Taguchi and Ishimori have a pull-apart over the Pharaoh mask, but set to the overdub it just looks like real bad dancing.
Forastero & OKUMURA vs. Angel de Oro & Titan
I have to say, the CMLL overdubs today aren’t particularly well done – or at least the fading between them!
Forastero jumps Titan before the bell with a shotgun dropkick, which led to a weird staredown as they face off in a trios title match later in the tour. The match actually starts with OKUMURA and Oro, with the latter matching OKUMURA’s ground game early before he whipped off his mask.
Oro ups the pace to avoid a clothesline before taking OKUMURA out with a superkick… then fakes out a dive with a neat hands-free handspring off the ropes. Yeah, that’s an oxymoron. Forastero and Titan come in to light up each other with chops, before Titan handwalks over a lucha roll, and into some satellite headscissors that take Forastero to the outside. Titan does a Sasuke special for no reason, intentionally landing away from Forastero before hitting some headscissors as Oro and OKUMURA renew their deal in the ring, with Oro landing some headscissors before baseball sliding into trouble on the floor.
Oro’s posted by OKUMURA as Forastero tries to unmask Titan back in the ring – and he succeeds too, with Titan barely protecting his modesty before Forastero jumped away. A baseball slide dropkick in the corner connects, before OKUMURA caught Oro with a rope-hung cutter. Titan’s back to have to fight for his mask again, before he flew through the corner with a high-speed Miz-like clothesline. Christ, that could have gone badly wrong for him!
Still, Titan’s able to come back and take Forastero to the outside with headscissors, then follow up with a top rope Asai moonsault, while a double-jump Quebrada back in the ring almost got Oro the win. He’s quickly caught with a rope-hung DDT as OKUMURA countered what looked to be a slingshot spear, but Oro’s able to return with a Sasuke special as the two masked men return to the ring.
Forastero’s caught and lifted up top, where Titan lands a kip-up overhead kick before running into a missile dropkick. Titan counters a pop-up into a Dragon screw, then traps Forastero in what looked like a trapped armbar before rolling him to the mat for the pin. This was easily the most entertaining of the lucha tags (for my money anyway) on this tour so far. See what building to something does? ***½
Satoshi Kojima, Toa Henare, Fujin & Raijin vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI, Shingo Takagi & Terrible)
This was the annual tribute match to Black Cat Victor Mar, which again had Raijin dishing out mochi to the live crowd. Oh, and Tetsuya Naito getting wound up at the CMLL ring announcer not drawing his name out for long enough…
Setting up their match later in the tour, Kojima and Terrible opened up by slapping each other silly, before we moved up to shoulder tackles that eventually took Terrible to the mat. Tags bring in BUSHI and Henare (ooh, Toa has a chance!)… and just as I say that, Henare’s caught in the corner for a one-on-four beatdown. D’oh! Naito comes in next to put some boots to Henare, but the Kiwi comes back with shoulder tackles and armdrags on the Intercontinental champion.
A slam leaves Naito down for a standing moonsault that gets a two count, before the tables turn as he’s taken into the corner and waffled with a barrage of palm strikes from Terrible. Shingo’s next, as he wins a chop battle, then suplexes Henare for a near-fall to continue the rather methodical beating. BUSHI’s back with a missile dropkick on Henare, before Naito’s corner dropkick led to a delayed two-count. Henare tries to chop his way back in, but instead he has to catch a tornado DDT and counter with a suplex to finally stem the tide.
Fujin gets the tag in as he takes out BUSHI with a Dragon screw, then with a neckbreaker, before Raijin comes in to help with a drop toe hold/low dropkick combo. BUSHI dispatches of Raijin with a DDT, only for him to come back in with a suplex on Shingo. That degenerates quickly into a striking battle, as a Pumping Bomber took down Raijin, before tags take us back to Kojima and Terrible, with the latter eating some machine gun chops in the corner. Terrible stops Kojima up top with a press slam as LIJ fill the ring, leading to a top rope splash from Terrible for a near-fall.
Terrible goes for a powerbomb, but Kojima fought free and counters with a Koji cutter before eventually landing the Cozy Lariat for the win! Considering Kojima faces Terrible in a singles match on Sunday, I’m surprised Kojima got the win, but this was another solid tag match to build up to that. ***
Gran Guerrero & Ultimo Guerrero vs. Atlantis & Atlantis Jr.
The Guerreros face the winners of the Family Tag tournament later in the tour, but they’re apparently a little sore about not being included in it at all this year. Before the bell,. Ultimo Guerrero whacks Atlantis with his smock, as he’s want to do…
Atlantis Jr. starts off with Gran Guerrero, whipping him into the corner before rebounding off the apron with headscissors. An armdrag finds its mark, taking Gran to the outside ahead of a dive that Jr. fakes out, before he tagged in his father who hesitantly accepted a handshake from Ultimo Guerrero. A dropkick takes Ultimo outside, where he whacks Atlantis in the head with a chair as all four men end up brawling around ringside, with Atlantis getting thrown into the metal wall at the bottom of the raised seating.
Back in the ring, Atlantis Jr. takes a huge flapjack from Gran Guerrero, before Ultimo tries to unmask Atlantis Sr. Heck, the mask’s off, but Senior holds it on by the chin, and manages to save his identity before the Guerreros catch him with low dropkicks. Jr returns but gets caught with a clothesline from Gran as Ultimo then dropkicks him off the apron as the Guerreros were double-teaming both the father and the son.
Atlantis Sr. avoids a splash in the corner before they took the fight to the Guerreros on the outside, with Ultimo tasting that metal dividing wall, before Sr. took a slow-mo hiptoss back into the ring. The double-teaming backfires as Jr’s popped up into a ‘rana on Gran Guerrero, with following up with topes suicida from father and son!
Ultimo Guerrero leaps to the top rope and dares Jr. into joining him… and of course, the rookie’s caught in a front superplex for a near-fall. He’ll learn. He tries again, but this time takes an avalanche powerbomb for a near-fall, before a ‘rana nearly pinned Ultimo Guerrero. Atlantis Sr. tags in and rolls up Gran Guerrero out of the corner for a two-count, but he gets met with a short-arm clothesline from Gran for another two-count as the Atlantis family were putting up more of a fight than expected.
A standing spinebuster from Atlantis Sr. leaves Gran laying, only for Ultimo to catch him in the corner… Jr. makes the save as the pair land duelling crossbody blocks for two-counts. Lariats from the Guerreros keep the stereo offence going, before they counter ‘ranas into stereo powerbombs for more two counts. Atlantis hits a nice wheelbarrow roll to propel Ultimo to the outside, following through with a crossbody to the floor, while Jr’s finished off with a powerbomb in the ring. This was all kinds of fun, with Atlantis Jr. showing some potential, but my, that name is a big millstone around the neck! ***
Caristico & Namajague vs. Volador Jr. & Flyer
There’s something very soothing about Caristico’s overdub. So we’ve the other losing semi-finalists from the Family Tag tournament against the mis-matched pairing of Caristico and Namajague…
Volador and Caristico try to outdo each other with handsprings early, but a ‘rana from Caristico led to Volador going outside… so Flyer could try to do the same. His wasn’t as crisp, but he did manage to take down Caristico with a tope con giro before returning with a springboard crossbody to cut off Namajague.
A lucha armdrag takes Namajague outside, where he’s met with a rebound headscissor takedown that forces him to beg off from Volador’s nephew. At least Namajague had more luck kicking the rope into Flyer as he re-entered the ring… Up in the corner, Namajague unmasked Flyer, whose face was visible for a second or two, before pulling him into a Tree of Woe.
Flyer almost gets the tag out, capitalising on Namajague and Caristico messing around with a double-team, but they manage to spot the risk and sort it out before a wheelbarrow splash on Flyer got a near-fall. The rope’s kicked into Volador as he got the tag in, which led to a comic fall as Volador really couldn’t get into gear. He needed Flyer to leap in as the pair baseball slide to the outside… and into more offence as their mis-matched opponents were actually outperforming them.
The fight heads towards the stage, where Flyer’s lifted up so he could launch into a crossbody. Back around the ring, Volador lands a gamengiri before another crossbody nearly pins Caristico, whose attempt to fight back ended with another gamengiri from Volador, and a top rope ‘rana that left him down for a near-fall thanks to Namajague’s interference.
A monkey flip to Namajague nearly ends badly, but Volador repeats the trick with better luck before heading outside with a tope con giro. In the ring, Flyer boots Caristico then rolls up into an awkward Code Red for a near-fall, only for Caristico to catch him out of nowhere with La Mistica for the flash submission. This was fun, especially with the “family team” looking rough – particularly Flyer, but he’s still young in his career I guess. ***¼
Barbaro Cavernario vs. Soberano Jr.
The sight of Korakuen Hall waving plastic bones in time to Barbaro’s overdub was certainly good timing!
You know we’re into the final stretch of this tour when they start busting out the special singles matches. Barbaro’s got a drawing on his back – a suitably primative one of him eating Soberano!
We start with a big dropkick from Soberano, before a lucha sequence led to Soberano taking a rebound armdrag off the ropes. He replies with a gamengiri on the apron before heading up top for a missile dropkick, sending Barbaro outside for a Sasuke special! Rolling Barbaro back in, Soberano gets a near-fall before he’s taken into the corner and slapped stupid, with Barbaro following up with a running lungblower into the corner for a near-fall.
Barbarbo then pulls a Yano as he removes the turnbuckle padding, but he’s quickly slammed to the mat as Soberano climbs the exposed corner… and gets trapped for a rope-hung backcracker for another two-count. He follows up with a crucifix buckle bomb (not into the exposed corner) for another two-count, before one into the exposed corner’s countered with headscissors to take Barbaro to the outside.
On the apron, Barbaro’s up first to lift Soberano to the outside as he then teases a German suplex to the floor, before an attempt at a stomp on the apron ended with Barbaro monkey flipping Soberano across the corners and to the floor. Things get turned up a little more when Barbaro dove through the corner ropes into a tope, before he posts Soberano once more, returning to the ring for a Vader bomb-like splash off the ropes for another near-fall.
Barbaro takes too much time going up top and misses a frog splash as Soberano’s able to get back into the match, only to see the caveman do the worm after taking a big boot. Another gamengiri puts him down though, as does a tornillo and a Quebrada after Barbaro was hung into the ropes, but Soberano can only pick up a two-count from that.
An attempted springboard ‘rana from Barbaro’s quickly countered into a powerbomb for a two-count, before a second one followed as Barbaro was looking in trouble. The favour’s returned when a flying ‘rana’s countered into a powerbomb by Barbaro, who then avoids a second Quebrada before getting kicked to the outside, where Soberano followed with a Tornillo to the floor!
Barbaro hit back with a springboard dropkick to keep Soberano on the outside, where he sets him up for a brutal big splash from the top rope to the floor, which instantly had me worried over Barbaro’s shoulder, given his history of injuring in on these tours. Still, both men beat the count-out, and started teeing off on each other before the Owen Hart sit-out tombstone from Soberano connected for a near-fall.
A Destroyer off the ropes looked to have Barbaro ahead, but Soberano comes right back for a second tombstone, only for Barbaro to flip it into Kurtis Chapman’s Sega Mega Driver for a near-fall! Barbaro runs into the exposed corner as Soberano looked to finish him off, heading up for a moonsault… but he lands on his feet as Barbaro pulled him back into La Cavernaria – think of a modified/folded back Dragon sleeper for the win. This one blew me away and was easily the best thing on this tour so far. If you’ve skipped the tour thus far, go back and make time for this match – an under-watched gem, no doubt. ****
CMLL Family Tag Tournament – Final: Sanson & Cuatrero vs. Dragon Lee & Mistico
We wrap up with the finals of the Family Tag tournament, and we start with Sanson and Cuatrero flying into their opponents with topes before the bell!
Dragon Lee and Mistico get thrown into that dividing wall as Cuatrero throws chairs at them – and it looks like we’re in for a long spot of crowd brawling before we hit the ring. Mistico’s thrown in as he’s already feeling the effects of the beating before a double-team press slam leaves him laying.
Double arm-wringers came Dragon Lee’s way as he avoided a similar fate, spiking Sanson with a standing Spanish Fly before bringing Mistico back in. A springboard body press awaits, before Cuatrero accidentally struck Sanson, who then took some headscissors as the pair headed outside for a Mistico tope con giro. Another springboard from Mistico, this time a springboard senton bomb, nearly ends it for Mistico, as did a Dragonrana as the referee was stacking up those two-counts.
Cuatrero trips Mistico in the ropes, allowing Sanson to hit a low dropkick as the match turned around, with Mistico receiving some double-team offence, including a double-team facebuster for a near-fall. A double-team spinebuster and superkick takes Dragon Lee awkwardly to the outside, before the focus returned to Mistico, who managed to get free with a ‘rana to Sanson as we set up for dives! Firstly, Dragon Lee tope’d through Mistico’s legs before he lands the Asai moonsault to the floor…
Back in the ring, Mistico and Dragon Lee kept up the pressure, trading chops with their opponents, before Mistico’s series of forearms ended with him being waffled by Cuatrero. A superkick finds its mark, before the pair refused to tag out, preferring to settle things themselves. More chops follow as my feed gave out… returning to see Dragon Lee take a nasty headlock driver as the momentum swung all over the place.
The Shibata-ish dropkick from Dragon Lee takes down Cuatrero for just a one-count, but a bicycle knee and a reverse ‘rana sent ol’ horseshoe mask spilling to the outside, only for Sanson to boot Dragon Lee back outside. Mistico tries for another headscissors, but it’s countered into a powerbomb for a near-fall, before Mistico gets kneed in the gut and met with a spinning rack bomb for another near-fall.
Mistico and Sanson remain in the ring, with the latter looking for a superplex… only for Mistico to block it and get some help from Dragon Lee who pulled Sanson down. A moonsault from Mistico takes care of Cuatrero on the outside while Dragon Lee’s double stomp to a hanging Sanson gets a near-fall, before he followed up with a Desnucadora that looked a lot like a Falcon arrow for the win. This didn’t quite live up to the prior match, but a hell of a finale to the brief tag tournament! ***¾
Post-match, Ultimo Guerrero comes out to cut a promo on Mistico and Dragon Lee ahead of the Guerrero’s tag match with them on Sunday.
After some shows that were solid-to-middling, the first stop at Korakuen Hall on this tour was a solid thumbs up. Whether it was the atmosphere of Korakuen, or the wrestlers settling into a groove, everything on this show landed – in spite of the customary slip-ups that you’ll get with the lucha style. The tour has another day off before returning to Korakuen on Sunday for a show with a partial card, seemingly headlining with Terrible vs. Satoshi Kojima, as well as the Guerreros vs. Dragon Lee/Mistico tag.