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Charles (Loss)

[1992-02-10-NJPW-Fighting Spirit] Jushin Liger vs Pegasus Kid

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Flashier than the Honaga match. Not sure which is better, as both are pretty fucking great. This is more heated and Benoit has more offense than Honaga, but that match has a charm in its simplicity that this one doesn't quite have. The positives and negatives probably cancel each other out either way, and this is another awesome match for Liger within a two-day period.

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I can't believe those top rope dropkicks to the outside. Such a long bump to take on the floor. A move I can do without. Really good match though. A tad better than the Honaga match.

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Lyger is apparently defending both the IWGP Jr. Title and the WCW Light Heavyweight Title here. This another great match, although different from the Honaga match in that Benoit worked more of a Lyger style than Honaga. They both pulled out some huge bombs, Benoit's dropkick from the top was especially nuts, but Lyger once again pulls it out in a clinch. This is the Benoit that was lacking in Mexico.

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Absolutely loved this, an early MOTYC. It started off similarly to Liger/Honaga with some fun matwork that led to Liger selling his ribs and back. Things kicked up a notch when Benoit delivered a completely unprotected Toyota-style dropkick to the floor. The closing stretch is superb as well, with both men pulling out a ton of highspots that fit well within an IWPGP Jr. HW title match, including Benoit reversing a tombstone and hitting his flying headbutt for an awesome 2 count before Liger rolls him up for the win. A disgusted Benoit tosses Liger from the ring after the match.

 

What a difference from lucha Benoit.

 

****1/2

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Great match, probably the best in this particular series and a shade better than Liger/Honaga from a few days earlier. The ribs play another role in this bout--less of a focus than the Honaga match, but enough to give Benoit something to focus on and to heel it up a bit as well, as the crowd is not appreciative of his mode of offensive attack. Liger weathers Benoit's big moves and has to resort to a flash pin victory, and Benoit trashes him after the match just because. MOTYC to this point, though Jumbo/Kawada is still sitting at #1.

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I've seen this type of match plenty of times and this wasn't stand out or particularly memorable. Which isn't to say that this wasn't solid work and easy to watch. The build was adequate. Nothing went anywhere and there were 3 separate head scissor spots. That was the Junior rest hold du jour. The stretch was a little short. I think they had more in the tank.

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I liked the Honaga match better because it seemed at times like Benoit wanted to get his moves in rather than simply attacking Liger's ribs and back. Still, the injury played enough of a role that Liger seemed in danger because of it and had his offense affected by it, so I can't complain too much. I loved the ending, where Benoit hits every top rope move in his arsenal, but still can't put Liger away. You can tell how much damage Benoit did throughout the bout, because Liger's bridge into the winning pin is just about the sloppiest I've seen, In this case, though, that's a good thing.

 

The dropkick off the top to the outside is just more proof that Benoit was a maniac long before he started having problems. The man would do literally anything to pop a crowd, no matter how much damage he ended up doing to himself in the process.

 

If I'd been WCW, I would have gotten the rights to this match and shown it on TV to really put over Liger as a phenomenal athlete worthy of being the light heavyweight champion of the world. It's a pity that they only seemed to want him as a means to get the belt to Pillman. (I'd use this match because Benoit was a little more relatable to the average American fan at this time than Honaga was.)

 

A Pillman-Benoit bout at SuperBrawl would have been something to see. I'm sure the two of them met somewhere along the line, since they both came up through Stampede, but I've neither seen nor heard of any footage of a match between the two.

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Good juniors style match with lots of good action. Not a fan of the style and I much preferred the Honaga match. I will mention that 1998-2003 me would be telling me how insanely wrong I am for thinking that as Benoit was one of my gateway drugs to becoming a wrestling fan. That dropkick was completely insane, and you can see how little he did to lessen the impact when he did his diving headbutt every time.

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WCW Light & IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Jushin "Thunder" Liger vs Wild Pegasus - NJPW 2/10/92

Is Benoit wearing lipstick or is his lip busted? 

The Beast God takes this match on short rest as he has just won back the IWGP Jr Championship from Honaga two days prior, but it is also important to remember that he re-aggravated a rib/abdominal injury. I had visions of Benoit hanging Liger out to dry with his front suplex on the top rope before the match even started and I was not disappointed. This is basically the Honaga match but Benoit can actually carry his end of the work. Liger gives two of the best selling performances of all time in these two matches. It would be easy to say he did better in the Honaga match, but it just stood out more because Honaga is so bland. Here the subtly was the key. The way he comes up favoring the ribs after an innocuous bow and arrow.  Blink and you miss it. Hell, I am not even sure Benoit knew he had injured ribs for like five minutes. Another good one was on the first round of shoulder tackles. Liger wins, but at what cost. I was really enjoying this nuanced performance. Benoit hits a missile dropkick from the top rope to the outside and then whips him into the railing, gotta hurt those ribs. Benoit figure-4s the head and this is my one complaint. I dont mind a hold being used, but why not an abdominal stretch. Liger transition into a upside down surfboard, but his ribs give out. Now he is in a full sell! Benoit smells blood. He buries the knee deep into the midsection and then hangs him out to dry. Yes! Liger hits a desperation Kappo Kick, which is go to bail out move. Then he suplexes him from the ring to floor, which is a crazy spot, but he collapses in the ring and cant follow up. Liger needed that to catch his breath and inflict some damage to Benoit. That was his first real offense. Rapid fire Shotei to the face, Liger figure-4s the head, which I am a proponent of. Liger needs to sap Benoit's energy and regain his breath. This is excellent strategy by Liger to land big blows and then try to control Benoit. Benoit uses the Electric Chair Drop to finish and Liger is agony. Stuff like Benoit forearming Liger when he could kick in the midsection is kind of bumming me out. He gets a German and Belly-to-Belly to get a couple nearfalls. Then he goes back to figure-4 the head, which only seems to exist so that Liger can Man Up and get the surfboard to show he can fight through the pain, but ultimately Liger succumbs to the pain and releases the hold. Great selling by Benoit. Liger hits a shoulder tackle and again that sell after the tackle is so friggin' good. For all the shit I was giving Benoit he makes up for it with a gutwrench gutbuster that is just beautiful and then instead of a diving headbutt hits a BEAUTIFUL SPLASH on the ribs. I wish he kept doing the splash instead of the headbutt. He only gets two so he does the reasonable thing and tries it again, but wrestling is not reasonable and eats knees. He gets dumped on the outside and Liger hits his wicked baseball slide and Asai Moonsault. Ultimo Dragon would be jealous. That was a great sequence. Benoit looked like he had it won with the splash and it is Liger that ends up wowing with the Asai Moonsault. Benoit is committed to the aerial assault as he hits a beautiful top rope leg drop. He is getting very frustrated. Benoit makes the cardinal mistake of putting his head down and Liger hits a powerbomb for two. They do the tombstone reversal, Benoit nails it and Diving Headbutt...1-2-NO! Another great nearfall for Benoit. Liger gets that cool rollup for the win...the one Marc Mero would do. 

If Benoit had Honaga's commitment this would be an all-timer, still as is, this is their best match together and one of the best matches of each man's storied career. Liger's selling was ***** again, just exquisite. Benoit is a machine on offense. I loved Liger's hope spots and how they were timed. The finish run was perfect with Benoit pouring it on and Liger escaping with the victory. ****1/2  

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