Current Watch List:
- KUSHIDA, Stuka Jr., Tiger Mask IV & Jushin Liger vs. Gedo, YOSH-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Okumura (CMLL/NJPW)
- Captain New Japan & Triton vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Tetsuya Naito (CMLL/NJPW)
- Stigma & Angel de Oro vs. Mephisto & Yujiro Takahashi (CMLL/NJPW)
- Rey Cometa vs. Cavernario (CMLL/NJPW)
- Mistico vs. Polvora (CMLL/NJPW)
- Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Volador Jr. & Atlantis vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Kazuchika Okada, Ultimo Guerrero & Gran Guerrero (CMLL/NJPW)
- Mascara Dorada vs. La Sombra (CMLL/NJPW)
- Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt (WWE)
- Seth Rollins, Big Show & Kane vs. John Cena (WWE)
KUSHIDA, Stuka Jr., Tiger Mask IV & Jushin Liger vs. Gedo, YOSH-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Okumura
Liger and TM IV went with the gold outfits for tonight. Tiger Mask begins the match with some nice lucha arm drags on Gedo. Rudos take turns working over each one of their opponents for the body of the match. It was a fun flow with a new guy coming in every so often every minute and getting mauled by the rudos. Stuka Jr. finally turned the tide for the good guys and hit a dive to the outside to a big pop. Tiger Mask added a tope for the second night in a row. He’s looked good on these shows and I am kind of looking forward to him vs. Liger, assuming that is still on the agenda. Mima Shimoda – who bumped for Liger earlier on – takes a suplex and splash from Stuka at the finish, as he pins Okumura for the W. Light hearted and fun opener; just as it should have been.
Captain New Japan & Triton vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Tetsuya Naito
A lot of mask-related comedy from Taguchi. After having his mask pulled off on the prior shows, he came prepared this time with a smaller mask under his “normal” one this time. Naito & Taguchi have been a fun team. Wouldn’t mind that being a more regular duo. Triton looked as good as he has on the entire tour (at least out of the other two shows that have aired) but wasn’t in the ring a ton. Typical Captain New Japan match for the most part otherwise. Okay, but nothing special. Naito & Taguchi have been fun this tour.
Stigma & Angel de Oro vs. Mephisto & Yujiro Takahashi
Couple of nice dives. Stigma hit a flip tope that Yujiro played by “catching” him off the side. Stigma mainly caught the ringside mat. Oro followed up with a Sasuke Special which is like the fifth one I’ve seen already in 2015. Yujiro was a burden on this match but sadly probably still a step up from whatever Mr. Niebla would have brought. At least Yujiro didn’t drunkenly fall on any of his opponents. Dives were the highlights; not much else otherwise. Mephisto wrestled his usual match so the rudo side did not have much going on.
Rey Cometa vs. Cavernario (CMLL/NJPW)
Basically, a really great third fall of a Sunday Arena Mexico show. That, or an En Busca de un Idolo match if they decided to forgo any mat work in favor of 2 to 3 additional dives. Just an all-out sprint that was really entertaining and got over huge in front of the Korakuen fans. It was the exact match they should have had in terms of style and pace given the spot on the card. Cometa looked awesome, particularly since he is on one knee. He hit two or three dives. He almost killed himself on the Brillo Cometa (his leg caught the top rope) but made it over without much incident. Cavernario did the through the ropes tope and of course, the big splash. Both guys got over to the point where it wouldn’t be surprising to see them back in Japan at some point during 2015. Canvernario won with his submission after it looked like Cometa might pull out the upset. Very entertaining sprint.
Mistico vs. Polvora (CMLL/NJPW)
This match wouldn’t get a second glance if it was part of CMLL’s regular TV. Mistico didn’t injure himself so that was a step in the right direction. He hit a few big moves and hit them all reasonably well. There were also several awkward down periods after Mistico moves that prevented the match from getting into any kind of flow. There are far too many flyers in CMLL that are far more impressive than Mistico for him to get by on his good (but not great) flying offense alone. It just doesn’t stand out like it used to relative to the competition. Better than expected but nothing all that great.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Volador Jr. & Atlantis vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Kazuchika Okada, Ultimo Guerrero & Gran Guerrero
The epitome of why the FantasticaMania tour is so great. You had:
- Nakamura & Okada doing Guerrero manerisms (raising the roof and the pre-match jumping huddle).
- Tanahashi flying around hitting nice arm drags from various angles.
- Ibushi and Ultimo Guerrero doing some fine opening mat work.
- Okada hitting dives.
- Okada and Volador Jr. teasing a future singles match.
- Great quadruple teams from the rudos.
- All the rudos doing Nakamura’s shaking boot to th e throat deal.
- A ridiculous ending sequence.
Just a lot of fun with guys who don’t always get to work together. That’s what this tour is about and what makes it one of my most anticipated events of the entire calendar year in wrestling. I thought this was one better than any of the mixed NJPW/CMLL multi-man matches from the last two tours.
Mascara Dorada vs. La Sombra (CMLL/NJPW)
An incredible display of agility, athleticism, and high flying. If you are a fan of spectacular flying (and who isn’t?) then this match needs to be seen. Move for move it was a better flying spectacle than the Dorada/Volador Jr. match from the 2014 FantasticaMania tour. It was also a bit more cohesive of a match. After an initial flurry, they slowed it down a bit (“slowed down” is relative of course) before bringing it back up for the last few minutes. Some other worldly big spots from Dorada in here. Sombra had some rope troubles early on and his leg appeared to be bothering him late, but nothing was outright blown which is incredible giving the high level of difficulty they were dealing with.
In terms of move for move big spots, this match will be hard to top even with eleven months to do it.
Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt
United States & Canada
Bryan and Bray’s match from last year’s Royal Rumble was among the best matches of the 2014. That match was near the height of both Bryan’s popularity and thus he had the crowd in the palm of his hand the entire match even when they did things like multiple (three to be exact) chin lock comeback spots in a single match. Wyatt also appeared a bit more game in that match (it was his first big singles opportunity) and while Bryan hasn’t show a lot of ring rust in his three matches back from injury, he is not in the same zone as he was last year at this time. I only mention last year’s match because save for a few of the bigger spots in that match (tornado DDT, Sister Abigail into the barricade), these two matches were worked rather similar. Same general layout with Bryan having multiple comebacks so that Wyatt’s offense wouldn’t drag onto long and possibly deflate the crowd, big bumps from Bryan, and even a clean Sister Abigail finish. They got the crowd into the match late, after they came back from the 2nd commercial break, but not to the same level as the Rumble crowd obviously. Still, this was as good of a match as anything on RAW in recent memory. Having Bryan back and wrestling in featured matches weekly will go a long way to making RAW a tad more watchable. Fun TV match.
I also don’t think it is a huge deal to pin Bryan. I wouldn’t have done it, but I don’t think it will kill him. Remember, he got so hugely over in the first place because the fans believed the promotion wasn’t high on him. I wouldn’t use that as a booking tactic now if I were them, but I also don’t think it will dramatically harm him.
John Cena vs. Seth Rollins, Big Show & Kane
United States & Canada
Not I was expecting much from a 3 on 1 handicap match but this wasn’t even good by the already incredibly low standards for that match type. Rollins worked most of the match which begs the question of why they just didn’t book Rollins vs. Cena with liberal interference from Kane, Big Show and company? It would have accomplished the same thing without the inherent messiness of a handicap match. Sting got a huge reaction which still makes the life long WCW fan in me smile. Bad match, fun post-match.