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[1996-12-01-Inoki Festival] Jushin Liger & El Samurai vs Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto


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This feels like a pretty nice taster of where the New Japan juniors division would go heading into '97 and beyond. They got extra TV time and started to show the juniors with a lot more regularity pretty early on in '97, right? The division certainly never had the same exposure in previous years and I remember looking through match listings from '97/'98 and finding a ton of tags and six-mans that looked interesting, usually with these guys on opposite sides. That stuff isn't really my cup of tea anymore, but I have fond memories of it and if I'm going to go back and watch a bunch of juniors stuff I'd go back and watch Ohtani and Kanemoto acting like punks towards Liger and his old buddies. Anyways, this is along the lines of what would come in the near future, with plenty of chippiness and dickish behaviour from Ohtani and Kanemoto that eventually leads to Liger blasting someone in the face with a shotei. Ohtani's had that chip on his shoulder almost the whole year and his progression from the Samurai match in January through to now has been really great. In the Samurai match his hesitation cost him, then in the Liger match in March he got ahead of himself and tried to do too much, and that ended up costing him as well. He lost against Ultimo in August, but there was clear progress there -- he lost not because he tried to do too much or second guessed himself, but rather because his opponent on the night was just a step better. Now here he is at the end of the year, totally assured and fully aware of what he's capable of, but that chip on his shoulder is even bigger. Kanemoto's always been an asshole and acts accordingly here. He gets better the following year, though. There was one bit here where he took a spike piledriver and three seconds later decided he wanted to go back on offence (although Sammy shut him down promptly enough), but I think the whole "piledrivers in Japan" horse be well and truly fucking dead at this point, so whatever. Fun match, and a cool look at what's coming next year.

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  • 1 year later...

I guess I am the high man here as I thought this was pretty great and a good preview of the strong style junior tags we have seen from this point onward. Otani in particular was very dickish and really had gained a lot of confidence being right there on Ligers level and above Samurai as positioned here. I enjoyed the moonsault of Kanemoto for the finish and Otani coaching him along the way. ***3/4 (7.8)

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  • 6 months later...

I do love this kind of contentious juniors wrestling. I love Otani and Kanemoto as a team; and I quite like Liger and Samurai as a team too. Otani's out of nowhere springboard dropkick was incredible and the ending was good too. Extended post-match beatdown, Otani even makes the ref count a pin on Liger! Very good match all around.

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  • GSR changed the title to [1996-12-01-Inoki Festival] Jushin Liger & El Samurai vs Shinjiro Otani & Koji Kanemoto

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