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Jushin "Thunder" Liger

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There's a good chance Liger will be the top NJ worker on my list. And if he isn't it will be a close run thing between him and Fujinami.

 

Quietly has been probably the biggest beneficiary of my recent 90s revisits / explorations.

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I initially had him in the 30's on my list and fairly quickly realized that is selling him WAY short. Don't have my spreadsheet in front of me but he's top 20 now. His match with Virus a month ago made me think he could easily move to Mexico and work maestro matches with Navarro, Terry, Solar, etc. for another 5 years

Eh. I enjoyed it but Liger was clearly out of his element and lost at several points in the match.

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Liger is going to be in my top five. I absolutely consider him the greatest junior heavyweight of all time, but also, he's developed an almost age-proof style without seeming like yesterday's news. It's easy to forget he's been performing at a high level for nearly 30 years. He will not be my #1, but I do think one could definitely make a #1 case for him and it wouldn't be far-fetched at all.

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I initially had him in the 30's on my list and fairly quickly realized that is selling him WAY short. Don't have my spreadsheet in front of me but he's top 20 now. His match with Virus a month ago made me think he could easily move to Mexico and work maestro matches with Navarro, Terry, Solar, etc. for another 5 years

Eh. I enjoyed it but Liger was clearly out of his element and lost at several points in the match.

 

 

Can you elaborate?

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Will easily slot in at 5-10 here. Hopefully he's not overlooked due to a lack of discussion compared with other top of the ballot names, but it seems as though there's just not much to argue about here.

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I initially had him in the 30's on my list and fairly quickly realized that is selling him WAY short. Don't have my spreadsheet in front of me but he's top 20 now. His match with Virus a month ago made me think he could easily move to Mexico and work maestro matches with Navarro, Terry, Solar, etc. for another 5 years

Eh. I enjoyed it but Liger was clearly out of his element and lost at several points in the match.

 

 

Can you elaborate?

 

He wasn't nearly as fluent in his escapes and transitions as Virus.

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Liger's going to finish in my top 5. As stated above, he's got three decades of great performances - I'd strongly recommend the 2014 Liger/Robbie Dynamite match from All Star (it's on YouTube), where Liger did a small family show in Croydon and turned back the years with a great performance.

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Liger was a guy I never really got until recently, but once it clicked and I started enjoying him he shot WAY up in my esteem very quickly. He should be in my Top 20 or so. One of my highest ranked Japanese guys for sure.

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I initially had him in the 30's on my list and fairly quickly realized that is selling him WAY short. Don't have my spreadsheet in front of me but he's top 20 now. His match with Virus a month ago made me think he could easily move to Mexico and work maestro matches with Navarro, Terry, Solar, etc. for another 5 years

Eh. I enjoyed it but Liger was clearly out of his element and lost at several points in the match.

 

 

Can you elaborate?

 

He wasn't nearly as fluent in his escapes and transitions as Virus.

 

 

Completely disagree. Don't know what you are seeing.

 

Virus is usually on another level and Liger had no problem keeping up with him, at least for an eight minute match. With the way guys like Navarro and Solar have really started to slow down in the last year or two on the mat, Liger would look spry and would easily hold up his end of the match. Now Liger vs Hechicero would be another thing, though I don't think it is fair to put Hechicero in the maestro category since he still does a lot more flying and non-submission holds.

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Liger's absolutely a guy whose stuff I intend to revisit before the deadline. Six/seven years ago he'd have been a contender for my top 5, but when I started to lose interest in the juniors stuff I sort of lost interest in Liger by extension (I'm not the only one in that boat, of course). I've watched hardly anything from him over the last five years, though I did re-watch the New Japan/NOAH feud and he was still amazing in those interpromotional tags where he was just hating everybody to death and being a violent bastard. I've gone through the '96 yearbook in that time, though, and not a lot of the juniors stuff on that did a ton for me, including things like Liger/Ohtani from March and other highly pimped juniors matches that haven't otherwise seemed to be affected by the "junior revisionism" or whatever (Ohtani/Dragon comes to mind, and to a lesser extent so does Ohtani/Samurai. In fact the only match that REALLY held up to me was Pegasus//Black Tiger). Then again, there were a couple tags and multi-man matches from that year that I thought Liger was really fun in. The last Liger match I watched was the Rey match from Starrcade, and while the match isn't all that great I did start to wonder during it why Liger was only sitting around the middle of my ballot when a little over half a decade ago he'd have been about forty sports higher. So I guess I'm conflicted and not entirely sure where I stand on Liger at this point. Honestly, he probably suffers right now from being a guy I just haven't thought much about it a long, long time, while in that same timeframe a handful of other guys have really jumped to my attention (which kind of goes back to the "fresher versus better" point Loss has brought up about Flair in the past).

 

I need to do something about that before the deadline.

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I thought lot of those matches you mentioned held up perfectly fine: http://prowrestlingonly.com/index.php?/topic/31793-jvk-reviews-pimped-matches-from-late-90s-10s/page-16&do=findComment&comment=5727370

 

I'm hardly a juniors type fan, but it strikes me that (as I so often think) revisionism went too far. So, y'know, not five-star all time classic or whatever they were pimped as at the time, but still damn good matches.

 

Although I will say that Black Tiger tag you mention (if it was that match) was my fave out of that batch.

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Nice to see all the praise for Liger, someone I thought was being overlooked. Currently he and Satanico are battling for my #2 spot so he is a lock for Top 3 (possible high vote). Easily the best body language ever, maybe the best seller ever, his top matches are all time classics for me (given more of his matches five stars than anyone not named Misawa), brilliant as face or heel, could work his style against anyone, incorporated some comedy into his matches as well as anyone. Consistently good for 30 years as noted with an amazing 1989-2003 run.

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I thought lot of those matches you mentioned held up perfectly fine: http://prowrestlingonly.com/index.php?/topic/31793-jvk-reviews-pimped-matches-from-late-90s-10s/page-16&do=findComment&comment=5727370

 

I'm hardly a juniors type fan, but it strikes me that (as I so often think) revisionism went too far. So, y'know, not five-star all time classic or whatever they were pimped as at the time, but still damn good matches.

 

Although I will say that Black Tiger tag you mention (if it was that match) was my fave out of that batch.

 

I actually wouldn't say we're a million miles apart on those juniors matches, honestly. I don't really think about star ratings so I'm not sure what I'd give Ohtani/Dragon, but I would probably have it at...something like ****, or just shy of it, I suppose. So I liked it less than you, but not to the point where I didn't think it was still really good. I also mainly brought up Ohtani/Samurai because I seemed to like it less than pretty much everyone else who commented on it in its yearbook thread, but again, I still thought it was really good. And because of how long it takes me to go through a whole yearbook it's now been five years since I last watched it. Some peoples' tastes will change dramatically in that amount of time, so my take on it now might end up swinging all the way back to my original from when I first watched it about fifteen years ago (which was that it was probably a 'best juniors match ever' candidate).

 

Basically, I'm not really a juniors fan either at this point, but even when I started to lose interest in the style Liger was always a guy that would keep me coming back, because on the whole he still did lots of things that my tastes were beginning to shift towards even within a style I was becoming less interested in. It's just that at some point over the last six/seven years I stopped thinking about him or paying any attention to what he was doing, and I'm not entirely sure why.

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Is juniors wrestling really out of vogue? People sure seem excited for the global cruiserweight tournament. It's like when people talk about Joshi being out of vogue but love Sasha Banks. It's double talk I don't quite get.

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Is juniors wrestling really out of vogue? People sure seem excited for the global cruiserweight tournament. It's like when people talk about Joshi being out of vogue but love Sasha Banks. It's double talk I don't quite get.

Are Japanese Junior style and American cruiserweight style really the same thing? It has similarities but it doesn't feel like it's a total apples to apples thing.

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I wouldn't necessarily say it's out of vogue now, although I really don't pay enough attention to know for sure. It might be for all I know. I got the impression it certainly was a few years back, though; or at least aspects of the style, like early matwork "not going anywhere"/feeling perfunctory, the first half of the match being disconnected from the second half, etc. Those criticisms don't only apply to New Japan juniors matches, but it felt like those juniors matches copped the most flak for it.

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Is juniors wrestling really out of vogue? People sure seem excited for the global cruiserweight tournament. It's like when people talk about Joshi being out of vogue but love Sasha Banks. It's double talk I don't quite get.

Are Japanese Junior style and American cruiserweight style really the same thing? It has similarities but it doesn't feel like it's a total apples to apples thing.

 

 

I wrote a post about a year ago about the homogenization of wrestling styles around the world that I do think rings true. And I don't even know what American-style cruiserweight wrestling is -- there is no such major league weight division, and most of the smaller guys on the indy scene also work Japan.

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I wouldn't necessarily say it's out of vogue now, although I really don't pay enough attention to know for sure. It might be for all I know. I got the impression it certainly was a few years back, though; or at least aspects of the style, like early matwork "not going anywhere"/feeling perfunctory, the first half of the match being disconnected from the second half, etc. Those criticisms don't only apply to New Japan juniors matches, but it felt like those juniors matches copped the most flak for it.

 

I think it was a few years back for sure. But lately, I've heard a lot of talk about how with the talent departures, New Japan should focus on their great junior heavyweight division, and Liger still seems pretty revered.

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Is juniors wrestling really out of vogue? People sure seem excited for the global cruiserweight tournament. It's like when people talk about Joshi being out of vogue but love Sasha Banks. It's double talk I don't quite get.

Are Japanese Junior style and American cruiserweight style really the same thing? It has similarities but it doesn't feel like it's a total apples to apples thing.


I wrote a post about a year ago about the homogenization of wrestling styles around the world that I do think rings true. And I don't even know what American-style cruiserweight wrestling is -- there is no such major league weight division, and most of the smaller guys on the indy scene also work Japan.

 

Well I guess when I think of cruiserweight style I'm thinking of WCW cruiserweight matches which feel like a different beast from the New Japan Juniors matches of the same time period, at least the handful of Juniors matches that I've seen from that period.

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That's true, but I'm speaking more about things being out of vogue *now*, which if that was true, it seems like reactions to WWE's international signings and the cruiser tournament would be very different.

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i think a lot of the excitement for WWE doing stuff is simply from wanting a change in their stale formula. pushing women & cruiserweights are both examples of that, for sure! just look at the buzz around the idea of the brand split coming back

 

also i think people look at how NXT "does indie wrestling better than the indies" and think WWE will work the same magic here

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Checking in on Liger after a few days where I've watched a lot of his work. I think the biggest takeaway for me is that his matches are never boring or bad. Ever. I'm sure I could find them if I looked, but he tends to go home early if he's not going to really kick into another gear, and when he does kick into another gear it also comes across as a good match at minimum.

 

The Hashimoto match is great. I love the 98 Kanemoto match and think Liger is the better guy in it. I think he was a very good Sasuke opponent and the semi-final of the 94 J-Cup holds up shockingly well. The 92 El Samurai match doesn't hold up that well and I think probably most closely speaks to the flaws OJ pointed to, but I don't think it was a bad match.

 

The two biggest takeaways from me with Liger are that I really like him as the clear king of juniors fucking with young punks, and I if anything I think old man Liger may be underrated. On these two points I would say that I absolutely loved the Liger v. Naniwa and Liger v. Delph matches, thought they had great psychology, great drama, and really great Liger performances in terms of giving and taking, pacing, body language, and helping to make those beneath him look great without hurting his status in the slightest. On the old man front, stuff like the Billy Ken Kid match from 07, the Steve Anthony match from last year, the Danielson match, et. are really, really good Liger performances. I'm not saying he looks like peak Liger, but the point is that he still had greatness in him in all of those matches.

 

I haven't rewatched the Sano matches in part because I know I think those are great, but I may go back to those before I make a final decision on where to place him. I want to see Liger v. Togo again too, but I'm not sure if it's online. That said, even though I think OJ has made same fair observations about bad things that Liger does at times, I don't see them as pervasive traits of his. He's a flawed wrestler like all other wrestlers, but probably less flawed in many respects than other people who are considered for the top spot. He could fall anywhere - and I do mean anywhere - in my top fifteen.

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Man, I really want to go back and rewatch his GHC Jr Title defense against Momota from '03. I remember really liking that match, but the first thing that jumps at you is Momota stepping up to the plate. Would be interesting to go back with an eye on what Liger was bringing to it.

 

Liger is another competitor for my all-time personal favorite with El Hijo del Santo, and like Santo, he feels like a top five guy to me, but probably not #1. Honestly, they're really lateral in my mind for reasons I can't quite put my finger on. I may just have to watch a bunch of their stuff next to each other to compare and contrast, though my gut says Liger is better if for no other reason than because Liger as heel invader in NOAH may be my favorite thing in wrestling ever.

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