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[1996-06-11-NJPW-Best of the Super Juniors] Jushin Liger vs El Samurai

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I loved this. My first instinct was to compare this to the legendary '92 match. This isn't that match. This is not in the same universe as that match. But this is still a really nice match. Samurai looks great here, doing an amazing tope suicida and generally dominating Liger, who does some great selling and lets some of that classic Liger personality resurface that I haven't seen in his matches in a few months. There's an even better example of that coming up in a few days in fact, but this one is really good too. Liger getting a flash pin is a little unusual for NJ juniors booking, but it works here, because the idea seemed to be put over that the match could have gone either way more so than making Liger the clear victor. I still wouldn't mind seeing Liger lose a few matches here and there, but I guess his being protected, like with anyone, is one of the reasons he became a star. These two are gold together.

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I still wouldn't mind seeing Liger lose a few matches here and there, but I guess his being protected, like with anyone, is one of the reasons he became a star.

I'm not sure what to make of that, as I don't think there's ever been a booker who protected himself *less* than Liger did. How many guys did he try to "make" by putting them over up to this point? Sano, Pegasus, Nogami, Honaga, Pillman, Sasuke, Kanemoto, Black Tiger. He would have put over Dragon if he could, and would a couple of months later in the J-Crown tourney. It's hard to quantify just how much he didn't put himself over, because people look at those 11 IWGP Jr. reigns from 1989-2000.

 

Some things to consider:

 

Look at the first five reigns and how quickly he moved to get the belt on someone else as a "rival". It wasn't until the 6th reign when he had a truly long run, and to a degree that was due to his prospective rivalry with Dragon being cut short. His 7th and 8th weren't terribly long either, with the 9th a long run to set up Kanemoto finally lifting the title from him.

 

In that long run of being the anchor of the division (May 1989 through July 2000), there were at least 15 tournaments that he was in, which be default he booked even when they were in other promotions (such as the 2005 Super J Cup). He won just 5 of the 15. The first he kind of had to: it was a #1 contender's tourney to set up his 1990 challenge of Sano to climax their feud. The other four all made sense in the context of the time, and where things went coming off/out of them.

 

In turn, how many bookers would put over an outsider like he did in the first Super J Cup and in the J-Crown. The second was a bit risky since Sasuke had flaked out a bit back in 1994, and Liger's "belt" would pass through the hands of two different promotions before New Japan would get it back.

 

The context of his strong run to start 1996 was:

 

* he'd been out from late 1994 through most of 1995

* this was his brief period of looking "strong" before...

* dropping the belt to Sasuke

* putting over BT in the Best of the Super Junior

* putting over Dragon in the J-Crown

* having Sasuke win the J-Crown

* having Dragon beat Sasuke for the J-Crown

 

Liger never was protected as much as say Jumbo or Misawa were. He walked a fine line of keeping himself strong enough so that things like BT's win in the 1996 Best of the Super Juniors or Sasuke's wins at the 1994 Super J Cup or 4/96 Tokyo down had "meaning". But in turn, there were people who thought he lost too much in the 90s, and that by the time he put over Sammy for the belt it didn't mean much: he'd already tried to create Sano, Pegasus, Honaga and Nogami... and Sammy was just 1992's version of those guys. On the other hand, when Otani finally got the belt for the first time, people kind of woke up to finding his title matches quite a bit less interesting than Liger's had been, and folks chasing Liger.

 

It's a tough line to walk. He was really giving, and I think as you work through more years you're going to find a ton of his losses. :)

 

John

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jdw made the same basic point I made in the last Liger match thread, with more to back it up. Yeah, just differing perspectives is all. Loss was watching this without having watched 6 other Yearbooks first.

 

Anyway, this is a nice little bout, but that's about all. It made me want to see it in full, though.

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Only about 10 minutes here which is a shame. Some cool kicks by LIger on dives from samurai and Samurai taking over with the nice tope to the outside were the highlights of the early going. Good back and forth action on the home stretch and this felt like we got an exciting ending to a really good match that I wish we could have seen the beginning to.

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