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[1991-07-04-NJPW-Summer Struggle] Jushin Liger vs Pegasus Kid (Mask vs Mask)

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Weird that they did this stipulation randomly when Liger vs Honaga has been the focus of the division all year, but maybe they just wanted to get Benoit's mask off quickly for some reason. This was a very good match, but it also felt a little cold and tone deaf. It wasn't really as memorable as a match with this stipulation should be. I was hoping for a little more hate and desperation. I never got the feeling that they were fighting for anything more special than they normally would in any other match. There are some wild bumps from both, and the athleticism is pretty great, but the stipulation felt pretty meaningless in all of this. Liger pins Benoit with a top rope DDT, which has become his new hot finisher, and Benoit unmasks after the match.

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I get that a mask stip in Japan ain't what it is Mexico, but this lacked any sense of being different from their typical match. Liger and Benoit were always going to deliver a well-executed, state-of-the-art showcase. They just never seemed interested in going beyond that when matched up. God, Benoit was jacked to the gills at this point. And that missile dropkick to the floor was an unbelievably stupid spot to roll out match after match. Of course, one could make similar comments about Liger's unhealthy commitment to the craft.

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I don't really know what Liger's current physical or mental state is, but if he's presumably not a drooling amoeba, then he has to have had one of the better aging curves in the history of wrestling, honestly.

 

This was kind of fun, and to his credit Benoit does make a few token attempts to work the crowd, Liger, and the referee with some mannerisms here. But yeah, this was basically worked in a bubble and parts of it looked rather routine. Comparing and contrasting with the Honaga series would be Exhibit A in psychology and presentation over athleticism and hot moves in wrestling. Honaga was a low man on the juniors totem pole and barely even looked like an athlete, but he was a great foil for Liger and the matches were filled with pure desperation from both sides--Honaga because he was physically overmatched and Liger because he just couldn't find a way to beat the fucker. Benoit is a great pure athlete obsessively jacked to the gills here...but he's just a dude in a mask arbitrarily putting it on the line.

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I always cringe at the dropkick move by Benoit from the top rope to the outside. Match didn’t feel that much special with the mask versus mask stipulation. Might as well get the mask off Benoit. I’m really enjoying Liger’s top rope DDT though.

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Like Liger will ever lose the mask. Not that he isn't a good looking guy.

 

This didn't feel any different to their regular matches. I guess the stipulation didn't mean that much outside of Mexico. They did go full out though with some spectacular high flying. Justin won with the deadly top rope DDT. It's not a surprise he stopped using it as the move was just too dangerous. I think Benoit was legit hurt afterwards, it's very good selling if he wasn't.

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Very good match although I agree with the criticism that it didn't feel very desperate for each person to win to keep their mask. it mostly felt like an entertaining showcase which escalated into some crazy bumps.

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The match itself was par for the course for these two, which is to say brutally athletic, with both men taking incredible chances. I liked Benoit's clothesline off the apron, and Liger's dive from the top rope to the outside after Benoit got up from the tombstone was simply insane. I agree that Benoit was legit hurt by the top rope DDT; you can see Liger asking the officials how they're going to get the mask off of Benoit and making motions to do it while he's unconscious, but they insist on reviving him and making him do at least part of the deed himself. He still looked plenty glassy-eyed once the thing came off, and this had to have been one of the blows that led to his later problems.

 

As for the mask stip, it was pointless for two reasons: 1) No one seemed to know who Benoit was without it, so unmasking him doesn't mean a whole lot and 2) Everyone knows that Jushin Liger is really Keichi Yamada, and they also know what Yamada looks like without the mask. There's no suspense or shock factor at all, which makes the whole thing pointless. This is definitely one time when a good match by itself should have been enough. I'd definitely like to see these two hook it up again, in the States if possible.

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Standard juniors fare for the time. I'm not saying there's nothing good about it, but it's hard for me to see it as anything more than two guys showing how athletic and willing to do damage to themselves they are.

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