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Charles (Loss)

[1992-02-08-NJPW-Fighting Spirit] Jushin Liger vs Norio Honaga

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This is the first time I can remember seeing Norio Honaga. He's a really surly, slimy heel. Liger really sells his ass off here and makes this a compelling match as a result. Honaga grinding his fist into Liger's ribs and Liger screaming is pretty awesome. He keeps pulling mini-comebacks out of nowhere, but can't string anything together because Honaga has really worked him over. The failed surfboard was what I was expecting as soon as he tried it, and I was glad to see it.

 

This is nice, basic wrestling. Honaga works over Liger's back, stomach and ribs with standard holds and moves that look great, which is a nice contrast to Liger's more exciting style. Liger squeaks out a victory, but it was a tough one.

 

Brilliant match, maybe the best of the year at this point, and immediately one of my favorite Liger matches even. I didn't expect to like this so much.

 

Top 20 NJ matches of the 90s contender.

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Honga kinda looks like a skinner version of the Saito brothers. This is worked way differently than usual Liger matches I've seen. I don't like it as much as Loss but it's interesting to see Liger take most of the punishment yet sneak in a win at the end.

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This is the first time I can remember seeing Norio Honaga.

It's interesting, for a guy who was around for quite a while and had a fairly succesful career (3x IWGP Jr champ, All Asia tag champ, 91 super jr winner) he really isn't talked about that much.

 

Looking though my own collection i've only got a tiny handfull of his matches including another sinles vs Liger in 96 which I kinda want to give a watch now.

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Given Honaga's style, not to mention current trends on "fandom", it wouldn't surprise me that his stuff holds up better 20 years later. I'm almost dreading revisiting the Liger/Samurai TOSJ Final.

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17 min. Excellent match. Norio Honaga defended his IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. Jushin Thunder Liger defended the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship, which he had won from Brian Pillman on 1991-12-25 in Atlanta, GA. So this match between Liger and Honaga was a double title match. Honaga was a member of the Blond Outlaws along with Hiro Saito and Tatsutoshi Goto. His style was different from most of the other junior heavyweights at the time. He worked a “less spectacular” and more methodical style. I loved how Liger was screaming when Honaga was working over his ribs. Honaga was in control for most of the match. I really like the pacing of the match and I really like Honaga’s style. I think it’s because of his style that this match ages a lot better than a lot of the other junior heavyweight matches from that time. I always really liked his work and I think it’s great that more people have discovered him. Liger won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.

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I thought this was an excellent match. It kinda had a blend of American psychology mixed in with some Japan style. Honaga even came across very rudo like with his stuff. I liked how Honaga worked over Liger's ribs, back, and stomach. I dug Liger's failed surfboard attempt. Like Loss I called that spot when it was developing. Liger screaming in pain was a nice touch when Honaga worked over the ribs. Honaga being a bigger Jr. allowed a lot of the cool little touches to show. Liger's dives were cool, and fit in with his comeback. Just an excellent match and somethng for both men to hang their hats on.

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I never saw that match, but I'm pleasantly surprised to see Honaga get so much love. I'm a Blood Outlaw fan, and Honaga was a breath of fresh air after the days of pure workrate matches following the Sano feud in 90. Honaga was a terrific heel and he had a great chemistry with Liger. Added a lot of dynamic to their matches together. I should get back to NJ TV... or get those sets.;)

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I watched this two years ago and actually didn't think it was as good as the match I saw from them in 91. For me to think that same way now I'd pretty much have to think that one is a classic, because I just loved this. Yeah, Liger was excellent with the rib selling and he just went the extra mile every time he'd try to pull off a move. Loved loved loved the surfboard prevention, and every one of Liger's highspots came off as a spring of hope to get control of the match. Just awesome wrestling.

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This was pretty awesome, with Lyger bringing his A game in the selling dept, even when he was the one doing offense. Honaga wasn't as flashy a heel as Ohtani would become, but he more than held his own.

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Sometimes its helpful to read what others thought about a match as it can give you some perspective and things to look for. On other occasions it can set unrealistic expectations and can create an almost unnatural viewing of the match. I didn't remember a ton about Honaga after burning through a ton of NJ '90s junior HW stuff a while ago, so after reading some of the comments by Loss and others I was really looking forward to this and almost planning on being blown away.

 

Unfortunately, that just didn't happen. I certainly enjoyed this, from Liger's palm thrusts sending Honaga to the floor to them working heavyweight style with Honaga grinding Liger's ribs before setting up some typical high spots. It felt a little slow and less explosive than the classic jr. HW matches I recalled and nowhere near as epic as some others. We'll see if I'm selling the whole division short as things progress (I'm a couple weeks away from my all time favorite Liger match) or if this was simply no better than a pretty good match.

 

***1/2

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There are some interesting perspectives here, with the majority of these '92 comments coming before anyone has seen the 1990 Yearbook. It's most pronounced in the Lightning Kid multi-man match for the UWF, where that was most people's first chronological glimpse of the Kid, unaware of the greatness of his PWA work. And it's seen here. This was very good with an incredible selling performance by Liger (actually a lot of it isn't really selling--the injured ribs that are the focus of the match were a legit injury). Honaga was almost a novelty for Loss and the others here but now I've seen him a bunch. So, I thought the '90 and '91 matches these two had smoked this. Still this was a very WCW television-style bout with intense, methodical focus on body part work and Liger making a babyface comeback to win. That's a compliment, since it's a fun contrast to the 2.9 bomb-fests that a lot of the big Japan matches were at the time. But it didn't keep me guessing the way the earlier matches did, where Honaga kept finding ways to steal victories--here, the great sympathy selling from Liger seemed almost designed to set up his big comeback instead of setting up a scenario where Honaga could pull off yet another shocker.

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I just rewatched this to see if my views on this match had changed after seeing the Liger/Honaga series from 1991. And this was definitely a different match from those in the sense that the feud was clearly over and this was more of a one-off than a continuation of that. But I still loved it just as much as I did the first time. I also watched Liger/Pegasus from two days later and the matches are definitely an interesting comparison because they are laid out almost exactly the same. The Honaga match has more attitude. The Benoit match has more athleticism. But they are basically the same template. I think this really comes down to personal tastes, because from what I can tell, there isn't a huge gap between the matches. It's all about what excites us individually as wrestling fans. In my view, they are equally great, but for different reasons.

 

I think I'm going to compare/contrast these in the e-book, and I would recommend that anyone who wants to watch either match just watches both next to each other because it makes for really interesting side-by-side viewing.

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A rare title vs title bout here, and as a featured Junior contest it certainly brought the goods. Honaga was a solid, unspectacular wrestler. He won't often be the centre of attention but it's great to have workers like that on the roster. Liger had his ribs worked over and did an excellent job of selling the damage. An enjoyable battle was finished with conviction by the new double champion. This shaded their 1991 matches.

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I loved the '91 series between these two, and this one was a more than worthy addition. Honaga is Liger's kryptonite in a sense; he isn't as athletic as Liger, so he works a basic American heel style that Jushin doesn't see a lot of and thus can't readily counter. He works over Liger's ribs and back splendidly, but in the end Jushin finally puts the puzzle together and relies on his gymnastics to get the win, closing things out with a top-rope Frankensteiner.

 

Kudos to Liger for allowing his ribs to be worked over like that when they were legitimately injured. A lot of guys would have insisted that Honaga stay away from the ribs, especially since Liger's big date with Pillman in the States was just three weeks away.

 

I'm fairly sure that WCW wanted no part of Honaga as champion, but I think watching him go against Pillman would have been interesting to say the least, since Honaga's style figured to be more accessible to the American audience than Liger's.

 

After getting a refresher glimpse of him in Japan, I'm left to wonder again how the hell Dusty thought that the way to push Liger in the States was as a stereotypical sneaky Jap. Jushin had the crowd on his feet here, and given the chance to let loose he and Pillman could have really torn the houses down when he first toured the States back in December.

 

I'm looking forward to the Benoit match, and of course SuperBrawl.

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I haven't seen the earlier Honaga/Liger feud. I have a feeling I've seen Honaga before on a Liger comp, but I don't remember him looking like this. He didn't look like much of a junior but had an awesome scuzzy look. I'm guessing that juxtaposition made him an interesting Liger opponent. Liger's a guy who leaves me feeling pretty hollow these days. He strikes me as an offense first guy much the same as Angle, Benoit, or anybody you care to name. Here he put in a selling performance. It wasn't an all-time great selling performance but he stuck with it. I couldn't really gauge from this why Honaga had been such a thorn in Liger's side (other than they needed someone to be a thorn in Liger's side), but this was tidy.

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I liked the moment where Honaga decided to try high flying on Liger and ended up missing a plancha. Stick to the rudo stuff, Norio. Really good match and i always like watching these two wrestle. Maybe it's my disdain for the more highspot oriented style of juniors bouts, but Honaga as the American style heel works really well for me.

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WCW Light Heavyweight Champion Jushin "Thunder" Liger vs IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Norio Honaga - NJPW 2/8/92

The Beast God lives up to his name! (NJPW World translates "Jushin" as "Beast God"). His best selling performance since the clinic he put on in 1989 against Naoki Sano. It is not often the same man has the best selling performances for two different body parts (the arm against Sano and the ribs/midsection here). Also it is hilarious how he injures himself. It is on the taunt after the terrific, impactful baseball slide. He does one of his classic Liger poses and comes up favoring his right side. Now it is possible there was a pre-existing injury and just re-aggravated it, but still that might be the most unique way someone has injured themselves. It takes Honaga a bit to zero in on this injury as Liger does a good job protecting himself with Shotei but a kick to the midsection change the complexion of the match. Then when Liger tries to stop Honaga from coming off the top he eats a Super Front Suplex and Honaga comes crashing down on his midsection from the top. Brilliant! From there, we are off to the races. Liger is hollering in abdominal stretches, he is collapsing, Honaga is driving him ribs first into the steel post. It is all the good stuff. Liger times his hope spots (Kappo Kick, Surfboard that he cant complete due to his ribs) so well. Honaga deviates from the game plan when he leaves his feet on a plancha attempt and Liger side steps him. Liger hits a barrage of dives to the floor that are just breath-taking. I love the one where he puffs his chest out (Eddie always did this one well too).  After this burst of offense, Liger is back in the ring trying to catch his breath. I love the tilt-a-whirl backbreaker he does because as he does it he collapses to the mat as if every move is taking every bit out of him. The Top Rope Diving Headbutt was a dumb move to use with this injury but watch how he sells it and then how bad his cover is because of it. He goes for a Top Rope Elbow and MISSES! Liger is badly hurt and he was going for broke, but was coming up short. The problem with Honaga as he does not have much in the way of offense to make this section count where we should really believe he can win the match. It is really basic stuff. More on Honaga at the end. The best spot is during Liger's rollup onslaught, Honaga quashes a victory roll attempt with an Electric Chair Drop! I thought that was his best chance at winning, but he disagrees as he goes up top. Squandered that opportunity. Liger hits a clothesline as he is coming from the top, not the best version of that spot. Liger hits his Kappo Kick to the head, which is his prelude to the finish and a top rope Frankensteiner an exhausted Liger lays out and gets the 1-2-3 vanquishing Honaga into obscurity. :) 

The 1991 Liger-Honaga series is the lost great Liger series. It is predicated on the fact that Liger knows Honaga is not as good as Liger, the fans know Honaga is not as good as Liger and even Honaga knows he is not as good as Liger so he liberally, shamelessly cheats like a muthafucka to win. This match is the Liger show as Honaga shows not personality and really just contributes the offense for Liger to sell. He really does not do anything special, which is a shame because cheating, scuzzcall, Kenny Powers Mullet heel Honaga rules. However, this is right up there with Bret/Bulldog as one of the great one-sided carryjobs. Liger does it through selling and timing his hope spots so well. Jushin Thunder Liger is the Beast God! ****1/2

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