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Charles (Loss)

[1994-04-16-NJPW-Super J Cup] Wild Pegasus vs Great Sasuke

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Another great match from the J Cup, probably the finest moment for Benoit. It's a shame that Benoit being one of the wrestlers complicates things a little, because this was tremendous and is the type of thing that should really be fondly remembered. Obviously, it was the recommended starting point for people getting into Japanese wrestling for a long time, so it might have worn out its welcome anyway. Still, I think I like the Liger/Sasuke match just slightly better, but almost everything good I said about that match could be said here as well.

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It does seem random that this was the gateway drug for puro when it was probably only the third best match in Tokyo that night. I guess it was just a matter of timing and the intense admiration for Benoit among hardcore fans. Anyway, it was an excellent match, especially in the context of Sasuke's overall attempt to defeat the NJ establishment in one night. He got through the Liger door only to find one last foe who was even stronger. Some of the early work just felt like guys doing neat stuff. But once the underdog vs. powerhouse dynamic kicked in, it was great. The execution was top-notch, which you'd expect from Benoit but not necessarily from Sasuke. Both guys came out of this night looking like a million bucks.

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J Cup definitely delivered. I wil have to go back someday and watch whole tournament again. Pretty darn good day overall for wrestling in Japan. Great match that I still favor over the Sasuke/Liger match. Felt like Liger was a step above in that match and here it is a bit more even between the wrestlers. Really crisp between the two. Sasuke had a strong run in the tournament but would have been somewhat unrealistic for him to win the whole thing. By getting to the finals and losing he still comes off looking like a star.

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This was pretty great. I like the Liger match a little bit more but this was still top notch stuff. I really like the underdog story of Sasuke in these matches because it keeps an interest throughout the entire tournament. The J Cup delivered for sure and I enjoyed these last three matches.

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I've always had trouble with this one--and that goes back to getting a tape of this show around 1999 or so, so it's not a "it'd be good without the dude who offed his family" thing. It's well-worked, but I never found it to be a perfect climax to an all-time great show as is its rep. It's not as good as Liger/Sasuke and definitely not as good as the CC final. I do get its appeal, though--watching North American guys that you're familiar with is a very good gateway to puroresu, juniors have always been a gateway in and of themselves, and there's also the underlying Dynamite-Tiger Mask tributes paid during this match. Regardless of how you feel about Sayama, he was a pivotal figure, and these two do just enough to get the point across without coming off as cosplaying and without overwhelming the match. Plus with Benoit there it only seems more fitting. I also love Liger (in evening wear) being so gung-ho and encouraging of the guy who just beat him. This is a very good match, but I simply can't see it placing in the top 10 for the year--it may not be in a top 10 if I had to break off and rank matches as of right now.

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These days you can pick your poison from the thousands of Japanese wrestling matches on Youtube and elsewhere. Back when I started you generally began your journey into Puro by purchasing a tape of the Super J Cup. Several generations down the pecking order IIRC. At the time I thought Chris Benoit was the greatest wrestler in the world and yes, I shamefully was a Scott Keith fan. It's the event that helped many fans, including myself get into Puro. So it will always hold a special place in my heart, no matter how far away it is from being "the greatest wrestling show of all time".

 

Even the first time I watched the card I can remember noticing that every match had the same structure. Thankfully there wasn't much body part work for Sasuke to not sell. He actually hit all his spectacular moves as well. Benoit did a good job of keeping it all together. Exhaustion selling and bonzo gonzo with a hot crowd made this a good 'un. The top rope gutwrench suplay makes Wild Pegasus the inaugural champion. Great finishing move.

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Not easy to follow the Liger match. It shows during the early minutes. As it goes along, I think, this is very good, excellent even, but not better. Something too stern about Benoit's work, too much of a machine. Then it starts to make sense when the balance cracks up and Sasuke can't keep up. Sasuke's body language tells stories too. Crowd is fucking hot for this junior match. Sasuke's coming back and he's insane, I forgot how much he was. Some of this spots, no wonder no one does them anymore (that flying kick to the outside !). Escalation and exhaustion and it passes over the "greatness" line. But not brillant like the Liger match. Still MOTYC level probably at the end. Quite eerie to see the celebration for Benoit, him hugging Eddie just like at Mania 20, ten years later (only a month apart). Funny detail though, Malenko making fun of his missing teeth.

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Wild Pegasus vs The Great Sasuke - NJPW Super J Cup Finals 4/16/94

Probably one of the most famous puro matches, Stateside, pitting the 90s North American wrestling Idol against the Upstart Junior who just beat the Beast God of Juniors Wrestling. Fun Fact NJPW World translates "Jushin" as "Beast God" well thats just the best thing ever! I think this is a great match, but I am worried this sends the wrong message about how to have a great match and what it means to be over. I saw this match a lot as a teenager as I think it is on the Benoit DVD or it was one of the early Youtube videos. I used to enjoy it for what it was "FLYING SPACE TIGER DROP!" "SUPER GUTWRENCH SUPLEX!". This is probably the first time I have watched it in ten years and I really enjoyed it as an exhibition, but they missing that struggle. The Liger/Sasuke suffered from the same problem, but it had a much stronger underpinning story. Sasuke as the Cinderella Darling of the tournament taking down Liger and now going up against the Top Gaijin is a great story, but when it came time to execute that story I feel that just went for I'll hit my spots then you hit yours. In fairness, they are great spots. 

The beginning of the match, they do try to establish power vs speed. I really liked how Benoit how yanked that snapmare only for Sasuke to do a front flip and land on his feet that sent a good message. Benoit was wary of Sasuke's dives and avoids that early. Can Sasuke not properly do a leapfrog? Benoit catches Sasuke with badass lariats twice on criss cross sequences where Sasuke got too fancy for his own good. This opens up the Benoit portion of the asskicking. German & Dragon Suplexes, THUNDEROUS POWERBOMB (Benoit may be the greatest Powerbomber ever and I love a good powerbomb), Sharpshooter (but he just releases the hold) and the top rope diving headbutt. There is no struggle it is just Benoit kicking ass. Benoit misses a dropkick and this leads to a contested sequence. Sasuke does the worst leapfrog ever with a even shittier lariat. Benoit hits a wicked German for two. Now Sasuke gets a reverse crossbody and a reverse jumping karate kick to the floor. Guess who's turn it is now? The crowd is HYPED! FLYING SPACE TIGER DROP! CROWD LOSES THEIR MINDS! Sasuke then suplexes Benoit from the apron to the floor in a gnarly spot and then a TOP ROPE MISSILE DROPKICK TO THE FLOOR! I remembered the Flying Space Tiger Drop, but I forgot about that spot and I lost my mind on that one. I dont think Sasuke is selling his hip. I think he is in a lot of pain for a shoot. Sasuke hits an ugly moonsault for two. Then Benoit meets him up top for a SUPER GUTWRENCH SUPLEX! Ok that spot needs to be stolen ASAP. 

The finish comes out of nowhere. It is Benoit kicks ass. Sasuke Wows The Crowd! Finish. Nothing wrong with that, but Sasuke was already over from the Liger match and his spots were next level. You shouldnt think just because you have highspots you will get over. It is still a great match to watch, but not a contender for the Greatest Match Ever. ****

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