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Charles (Loss)

[1992-04-16-NJPW-Explosion Tour: Top of the Super Juniors] Jushin Liger vs El Samurai

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This isn't as good as the final, nor does it need to be. But I still love it. Early on, Samurai throws a chair in the ring and Liger throws it back at him outside the ring pretty recklessly in a great spot. Samurai does a somersault dive onto Liger at one point and overshoots and lands in the front row. There is a crispness to all the matwork here where even when the match is stationary, it's still enjoyable.

 

Where the final two weeks later is more about Liger, this is more about Samurai. While Liger does his usually great stuff, Samurai outwrestles him convincingly and scores the pinfall.

 

I enjoyed this quite a bit.

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This was really good. Samurai makes a a great rudo. The modified lucha arm drags that Samurai uses are really cool. The low blow at the finish really was icing on the cake.

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Samurai tossing the chair and Liger catching it in mid air was cool. Liger fired the chair back at Samurai who managed to get out of the way. Samurai playing up being heel was all fun with him trying to tear Liger's mask and the hitting the low blow. Antics were enough to get to Liger and win. Good match.

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Take all the movset and depth of Benoit/Scorpio add in a bunch of hate, and you have this match. It's scary to think that they would actually top this performance just a couple of weeks later.

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I've seen the final from two weeks later a ton and have always loved it as a classic. Somehow I'd never seen this one but it was just phenomenal and really primes you for the tourney final. Samurai slaps Liger before the match to establish the story and he continues heeling throughout the match, throwing chairs and again at the finish. Samurai tears at Liger's mask, a spot which would be prominent in the rematch. Liger's shine is great, with a jumping lariat, superplex, flying elbow and tombstone before Samurai hits a huge somersault dive to the floor. Samurai finally takes a a clean pin after a low kick and rana. This was awesome.

 

****1/4

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I'm almost terrified of trying to count how many Samurai matches I've seen.

 

(It's not zero...but I don't think it's been any since watching the '94 Super J-Cup, either.)

 

This is an awesome match, and it finally, for the first time since Sano's departure, seems as though Liger has a natural rival who's truly on his level--instead of semi-desperate attempts to create rivalries with Nogami or Honaga (as much as I love him). Samurai comes off as a guy who can match Liger hold for hold and aerial spot for aerial spot, and he provides some rudo dickishness to go with it. Seeing all the hype in this thread for the rematch has me drooling.

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This match was a perfect setup for the tournament final. Samurai needed to establish himself as being on Liger's level, and he certainly does here. He's Honaga with skill; most New Japan juniors don't heel, and Liger has trouble with those who do. That's what made the Honaga feud so compelling, and that's what made this match compelling too. Samurai can and will do everything to win, and Liger has no real answer, although he hits his usual compliment of nice moves and dives. Samurai also keeps most of his attack on the mat and focused on Liger's lower back, which is something else that Honaga did well. There's definite doubt going into the final over whether Liger can learn to cope with Samurai's style and pull out a win.

 

Why on earth would Samurai insist on trying to rip off Liger's mask? Hasn't he seen what happens when Keichi Yamada is unleashed upon an unsuspecting world? (The name of the guy I saw rip Liger's mask off escapes me at the moment, but Yamada made sure he paid for it with possibly the most savage beating I've ever seen a junior heavyweight take.)

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After two years of opponents not quite ready for prime Liger or just not truly compelling to the audience (Honaga), we get an opponent that can challenge Liger on his own level and add in the heeling tactics that set him off/vex him.  I'm all for it.  As mentioned above Samurai's focus is solely on Liger's lower back and it adds to the match.  The matwork somehow rises above the by-the-numbers juniors matwork that would dominate NJPW juniors as the decade went on.  Liger and Samurai both impress with their dives, Samurai's being more suicidal by far.

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