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[1996-01-04-NJPW-Wrestling World 1996] Jushin Liger vs Koji Kanemoto


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  • 3 weeks later...

So we know the story with juniors and dome shows, but this match was pretty good and would have had way more heat in a smaller arena. No typical juniors feeling out period, as they started tearing into each other right away. Kanemoto dominates most of the match early on, working over Liger's knee, while Liger is pretty helpless. The crowd starts to come slightly alive when it's obvious they're building to the finish. Liger's release German is awesome, although obviously it's at best the second best German suplex on this show. Kanemoto is good here, but he can't compare to Liger, who between his selling and the offense he busts out to finally put away Kanemoto is on another level.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The (even for Tokyo Dome standards) complete absence of heat made this kind of hard to get through. I think I would have enjoyed this if they had wrestled in front of 20 people in some high school gym. Though Liger and Kanemoto are not completely innocent here, they didn't even try to interact a little bit with the crowd, which both are very capable of (and already were at this point).

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I don't think much NJ '90s Juniors holds up too well, but this was never really considered a classic and so doesn't bring with it the disappointment I've felt for Liger's more revered matches with El Samurai or Ohtani. It's good, but nothing ground breaking or revelatory or anything particularly special. And, yeah, juniors in the dome...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Count me another vote for hating the dead crowd. Was this one if those tennis crowds, only responding to big moves? Wrestle this match on a TNA ppv, and you'll see a much diff atmosphere. Or think about Pillman/Liger in Nitro to see the difference in a good but not great match that has an interested crowd.

 

Tough to make it through this one, though the movez themselves were good enough. As the Mutoh match is beginning, it's amazing how much louder the crowd is.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I would agree that it is simply ok. I still remain a novice at Japanese wrestling even after all these years of dabbling in it so all of the 96 stuff is new to me. The powerbombs at the end seemed a bit of an overkill for me. Some variety as well as the other stuff mentioned above would have made it more enjoyable. Nothing offensive at least.

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  • 2 years later...
  • 1 month later...
  • 3 months later...

In commemoration of this match I decided to write a very short song:

 

'Juniors in the Dome,

Juniors in the Dome,

Juniors in the motherfucking Dome'

 

The action had more of an aerial emphasis than normal. The execution was quite variable. Kanemoto's selling was atrocious. Liger followed up his Super J Cup victory to leave no doubts that he was back, and the ace of the division.

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  • 1 year later...

I have no problem giving the big FU to the dome crowd for junior matches so that didn't bother me here. What did was the fact that Liger didn't do nearly as good a job selling his limbs as he does at other times. Kanemoto as a spunky junior is a little unnerving too as he got much better when he ramped up the douchebag tendencies. A good match but not really the great one I was hoping for and overall I am ready to chalk this feud overall as secondary to Liger vs. Otani. (***1/4)

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  • 3 weeks later...

I do love Liger's special Dome outfits. Here he's rocking a Two-Face-style half-red and half-blue number. I think people seem to be overselling the deadness of the crowd--it didn't strike me particularly as such, and they were certainly into things toward the end. I liked the matwork, but in NJ junior fashion it didn't really go anywhere. And what struck me is that despite being the defending champ, Kanemoto never felt on Liger's level. There are two long, drawn-out sequences where Liger just repeatedly drops Kanemoto on his head for repeated covers, first with fisherman busters and then with Liger bombs. Outside of a few token moves, Kanemoto gets no such run of his own. He shows some grit and fire by kicking out, but this feels like Liger as established champion against Kanemoto as the in-over-his-head challenger. Not really an impressive Koji performance, but the belt is back where it belongs.

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  • 2 years later...

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Koji Kanemoto vs Jushin Thunder Liger - NJPW 1/4/96

 

One of those interesting dynamics where the champion is coming in as the underdog with something to prove. I think what makes this match interesting is that Kanemoto does not wrestle that way. He wrestles like he is already Liger's equal. Look at the difference a year makes. Here he backs Liger to the ropes and gives a clean break. In '97, he does not miss a beat in chopping Liger. In '97, he is wrestling like he has something to prove. It is because he was not on Liger's level and Liger proved that here. Kanemoto was the Junior ace for 1995 and the champion for the majority of the year only broken up by a short reign by Sabu of all people. :)

 

I think they made a conscious effort to skip the matwork and have Kanemoto throw bombs in order to get the notoriously difficult Dome crowd to react. I think there one misfire was not giving Liger the shine instead of Kanemoto. I think the crowd would have gotten behind Liger more readily. Once they realize that no one is resurrecting this dead as doornail crowd they return to their basics. They take it back to the mat and Kanemoto focuses on the knee. Liger's verbal selling is great here. The bright side of a dead crowd is we can hear Liger's screaming. Liger is single-handedly taking this routine match and making it great. Liger needs a Shotei and a Kappo Kick to turn the tide. Then it just becomes a Liger offensive display. HE'S BAAAAAACCCKKKKKK! He drops Kanemoto on his head like it is a Misawa/Kawada match. Gnarly stuff. I thought the long-term selling down the stretch could have been better. Kanemoto mounts a comeback fresh as a daisy even though he was dropped on his head a bunch. I did like the transitions like Kanemoto holding onto the ropes for second Top Rope Frankensteiner and holding up his feet for diving headbutt by Liger. Kanemoto gets his usual finish run with Tiger Suplex and moonsault which actually gets a pretty good reaction from the crowd.

 

Liger SWATS Kanemoto out of the sky with a Shotei, didn't look great but Liger sold his hand. Three Ligerbombs and some sort of crazy corkscrew moonsault (the camera crew totally missed it, like WCW's levels of whiffing) win him the match and the King has returned to his Throne.

 

It is two great offensive wrestlers running through their offense. Kanemoto looks strong in the beginning but is not wrestling with urgency and this bites him once Liger makes his comeback. It just felt very routine, but when you are as good as these two it is still enjoyable. ***

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  • GSR changed the title to [1996-01-04-NJPW-Wrestling World 1996] Jushin Liger vs Koji Kanemoto

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