NJPW/CMLL Fantastica Mania 2017: Sunday, January 22nd

January 22nd, 18:30 from Korakuen Hall, Tokyo

This is the final show of these joint NJPW and CMLL shows, and it’s topped by two big singles matches: Mistico vs. Euforia and Volador Jr. vs. Último Guerrero. Let’s get to it.

Again, we get two charro-suited ring announcers for these shows, one NJPW (Ozaki) and one CMLL (Ivan). They run down the card in Japanese and Spanish then alternately introduce the matches. The 20-count and ‘minutes passed’ announcements are also in Spanish.

Here we go…

Blue Panther Jr., Henare & Soberano Jr. vs. Bárbaro Cavernario, Gedo & Jado

Henare took advantage of some personal issues within the opposition team to hit a diving shoulder block, but Gedo raked the eyes to imperil the young New Zealander. Jado, then Bárbaro, then Gedo took turns wearing him down, before the hot tag was made to Soberano Jr. who connected with a corkscrew splash and followed with a double jump springboard moonsault to the floor. The comeback was short-lived, as Bárbaro soon trapped Blue Panther Jr. in the surfboard for the submission win. I like what I’ve seen of Soberano Jr. over the three shows. Even in a group of flyers he stands out as particularly graceful. **1/4

Jushin Thunder Liger, Stuka Jr. & Tiger Mask IV vs. Hechicero, Okumura, Raziel (w/ Mima Shimoda)

Stuka Jr. and Hechicero started us off, and I was more impressed with the latter here than with anything he did yesterday. Triple dive fake-outs from Liger & Co., but the rudos didn’t take kindly to this and it led to the five masked men stood in a row, trying to remove the person in front’s mask! Tiger and Raziel somehow managed to wear swap masks, which led to some amusing confusion. Liger delivered tilt-a-whirl backbreakers to everyone (including Mima) and Stuka Jr. did his backwards top-rope dive. Pumphandle driver from Ephesto to Tiger Mask for two, but Tiger replied with a Tiger Driver and Tiger Suplex for the win! This was a lot of fun. ***

Dragón Lee & Titán vs. Los Ingobernables de Japón (BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi)

The supposed good guys attacked before the bell, targeting Hiromu, but the Los Ingobernables pair were soon in control, ripping at the masks of their opponents. Bushi choked Dragón Lee with his t-shirt, then singled out Titán for punishment. Tag made, and Dragón Lee flattened Hiromu with a tope con hilo. Titán got the better of Bushi, following with a top-rope springboard moonsault to the outside, but back in, a strike exchange culminated in Hiromu superkicking Dragón Lee, then Bushi beautifully rolled-up Titán for the three-count. Strong heat for this one. ***

Post-match, Hiromu and Dragón Lee went at it, with the former removing the latter’s mask. Can’t wait for that single match.

Juice Robinson, Máximo Sexy & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Ephesto, Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay

Okada finally wore the ‘King from Tekken’ mask! Woo! Early on, Máximo “accidentally” kissed Juice for quite a while. Well, Juice does wear those rainbow trunks. Taguchi ran the ropes to the point of exhaustion as Okada watched on, then Okada DDT’d him. Máximo was singled out, only to comeback with a huge kiss to Ospreay, which Juice followed up with a right hand. Juice missed a dive, allowing Ospreay to hit a Sasuke Special, then Okada and Taguchi exchanged pinning combinations, and Máximo sent Ephesto flying with a suicide dive. The Dropkick from Okada to Taguchi, rolling elbow, Rainmaker! One, two, three. Another very good, very funny match. These matches have been a brilliant example of how well comedy can work in wrestling. ***1/4

Post-match, Máximo kissed the commentator, then the prone Taguchi, who didn’t have a clue what was going on. And, eventually, he had his way with Okada too!

Atlantis, David Finlay, Hiroshi Tanahashi & KUSHIDA vs. Los Ingobernables de Japón (EVIL, Tetsuya Naito, Rush & SANADA)

Atlantis dropkicked Rush, triggering a huge brawl, and leaving Finlay to fend off Evil and Sanada. Atlantis then got the better of every LIJ member until eventually, inevitably, Naito turned the tide. Kushida was attacked, triple dropkicked, and had his shoulder rammed into the post, then Rush ripped at Atlantis’ mask and struck with the fake-out corner kick. The force of Evil earned a two-count, but a spinebuster allowed the hot tag to Tanahashi. He and Evil exchanged strikes, Tanahashi skinned the cat and headscissored Evil to the floor, and a leapfrog dropkick from Sanada put Ace to the mat. Then all hell broke loose, culminating in Kushida landing a huge crossbody to Evil and Sanada on the outside. Finlay fought desperately to survive the attack of Naito and Evil, but their double team slam put him down for the three-count. A big step up in pace and intensity today. All-action, no downtime, great stuff. ***3/4

Mistico vs. Euforia

Mistico landed an Asai moonsault almost immediately and a sunset flip got two, but Euforia replied with a clothesline and bucklebomb. He was sent to the outside, however, where Mistico landed a springboard shooting star press to the floor! Back in, Euforia countered an attempted ‘rana to a powerbomb, and an attempted triangle hold to a spinebuster, then stayed on top with chops. A series of counters on the outside led to Mistico leaping off a raised platform in the middle of the crowd and nailing a hurricanrana! Crazy. ‘Rana for two, roll-up for two, then a trio of pumphandle drivers from Euforia for a near-fall. He was sent to the floor once more, and Mistico dived from the top-rope and connected with another ‘rana! Both men, visibly tired, attempted pinning combination, and Euforia was caught trying to use the ropes for leverage. Euforia missed the swanton bomb and Mistico twisted his was into the La Mística armbar for the submission win! A fantastic display of high-flying. Mistico was channelling 1996 Rey Mysterio here. ****

Volador Jr. vs. Último Guerrero

Guerrero bided his time before catching Volador with a forearm, press slamming him into the chairs, posting him crotch-first, and threatening a walk-out. Volador ‘rana’d him to the floor and followed with a suicide dive, then flipped and armdragged Guerrero to the floor once again and nailed a slingshot ‘rana (the margin for error on that one is tiny). Tope con hilo attempted, but Guerrero caught Volador in mid-air and powerbombed him on the floor! A diving senton from the top-rope then wiped out Volador and most of the young boys at ringside. Back in, Guerrero hit the second-rope gourdbuster for a two-count, Volador replied with a superkick, but Guerrero landed Senton de la Muerte in the corner. A second was blocked, and Volador hit a springboard ‘rana to the floor! Out in the crowd, Guerrero sat Volador in a chair and launched himself over the barrier at him, then back in the ring, he countered Volador’s attempted super ‘rana to a powerbomb for a near-fall. Lungblower from Volador for two, then he finally hit the super hurricanrana for a near-fall. With both men stood on the top-rope, Volador connected with another hurricanrana, again for a two-count. A rolling Romero special from Guerrero earned two, then the Guerrero special (reverse superplex) landed for 2.9! Up top again, Spanish Fly from Volador! One, two, three! They threw everything they had at each other until Volador finally claimed the big win. Great match. ****1/4

Show of respect post-match, then the whole CMLL crew (plus the NJPW babyfaces) came out to show their appreciation. This somehow culminate in Bárbaro Cavernario’s shoes being thrown to the crowd and Máximo Sexy smooching Tanahashi, much to everyone’s delight.

Final thoughts: They saved the best for last, and how! The three best matches of the tour back-to-back to close the show and everything in the first half was both fun and funny. Highly recommended.