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Jushin "Thunder" Liger

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I have trouble with him as a top tier great as well because I find junior stuff especially when Liger was at his peak generally have zero story or psychology at all. Just cool moves. Which is cool, especially combined with a cool look. Like I'm always going to play as Liger in games because he's got brainbusters and powerbombs and SSP and palm strikes and koppo kicks and shit. But I often don't find much to sink my teeth into in his matches other than cool moves most of the time. 

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It's funny because one thing that surprised me when I really got into NJ juniors was how much actual wrestling there was and how much the matches built. There's a sameness to even a lot of the great stuff in the division, but where the deviations existed, it seems like unless it was an Otani vs Samurai match, it came from Liger. I'm thinking primarily of the brawls with Sano and Samurai, but also the more traditional face-heel matches with Norio Honaga in 1991-1992. To me, it's Liger's matches against Benoit that are the least interesting great matches he had.

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I agree with Loss here. I always agreed with your old point that Liger would have likely been an all time great if he'd gone to UWF 2.0 and been a shoot style worker instead of going the route he did and becoming an all time great. He was always going to be great. Too talented and too hard a worker. There's also some awesome stuff like the Aoyagi match and the Hashimoto match that occurs in his prime that are definitely not just mindless bomb fests.

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I voted Jushin Liger 13th in 2016 and I feel great about that. Its a little bit higher than I expect to rate him this time around but he'll be in my top 20ish area. He holds up better than any other 90s Junior. The matches vs Hashimoto & vs Aoyagi are two of my favorite NJPW matches of the 90s and they aren't worked like typical juniors matches at all. Liger could just do it all. I dunno. I look at some of the people below him on my list and above him on my list and low teens feels about right and then part of me is like "whats the argument that takes Liger out of the top 5" and I'm like hmmmm...I don't have one? Liger is great. He's the Daniel Bryan of his generation. 

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I had Liger at number 42 in 2016, which is probably too low, but I think he suffered from a couple things going into the last vote. One was that I hadn't really watched any Liger in years. The other was that I was sort of bored of him, probably because he was the very first wrestler from Japan I started properly watching back when I began seeking out footage. I'd deep dived Liger before I even knew who Kiyoshi Tamura or Yoshiaki Fujiwara were. I'd declared Liger the best ever before I knew the English for El Hijo del Santo. It's not exactly fair to Liger, but it is what it is. It's sort of difficult to get excited about revisiting stuff you loved in the past but then soured on. That said, I've watched more Liger again over the last couple years than I had in a while (despite saying in this thread before the last deadline that I want to revisit a bunch of Liger) and he was pretty fucking good, guys. I also think that the things I was annoyed by in 90s junior heavyweight wrestling at large don't really bother me as much anymore, so if I went back to that stuff he probably comes out moving up the list. I don't see him dropping out the top half either way; it's probably more a question of whether he lands at 42 or 32...or maybe 22. Ah who the hell knows. 

 

JUSHIN LIGER YOU SHOULD WATCH:

v Naoki Sano (New Japan, 8/10/89)

v Great Sasuke (New Japan, 4/16/94)

v Koji Kanemoto (New Japan, 2/16/97)

w/Wataro Inoue v Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (NOAH, 2/17/02)

w/Minoru Tanaka v Tsuyoshi Kikuchi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (New Japan, 8/29/02)

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I like watching Liger out of his element against non traditional juniors and would like to watch more. I loooooove the Hashimoto match. I think it was a brilliant performance from both wrestlers figuring out how to craft a logical and exciting match when the winner/loser would have been known ahead of time.  The Aoyagi match is one of my favorites. I remember some good stuff teaming with Benoit against the Steiners but its been at least 20 years since I've watched that. What's are some more Liger vs Heayvweights or shooty types or just non-traditional juniors to watch? 

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I wouldn't be surprised if it's mentioned somewhere in the previous 5 pages but the Kojima G1 match is a personal favorite. I'll certainly bring it up again when making the case for Kojima, who finished criminally low last time, but it's up there for me in Liger's career too.

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I think a big blank for me that I'd like to delve into would be his work in Mexico or against lucha workers. I know of the Casas 90/91 matches in Japan [title and tournament] as well as the match against Villano III in 1990.  I think I'm OK with his work post 2009 (and the match against Virus is already mentioned), but does anything else before that stand out? Does any of it exist?

I know we have:
vs Dr Wagner [1996 for Wagner's title]

vs Shocker [1999 for IWGP JH title]

Triplemania 2 [8-man]

Anything else?

 

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As recently as late 2019, he had his last singles match with Minoru Suzuki and that match rules. Not exactly the showdown I think the rivalry was building up to, but if you see it in a vacuum you won't be bothered by that. Great fight.

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Is the Virus match online? I never did get around to watching it. 

I actually should've put the Hashimoto match from '94 on the rec list, probably ahead of the second juniors tag. I should watch it again at some point as well. 

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6 hours ago, Clayton Jones said:

I wouldn't be surprised if it's mentioned somewhere in the previous 5 pages but the Kojima G1 match is a personal favorite. I'll certainly bring it up again when making the case for Kojima, who finished criminally low last time, but it's up there for me in Liger's career too.

Indeed, great match.

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19 hours ago, KB8 said:

I actually should've put the Hashimoto match from '94 on the rec list, probably ahead of the second juniors tag. I should watch it again at some point as well. 

I think its a real feather in both wrestlers' cap. Its probably not a top tier match for either guy if one were to sit down and rank their career best matches. But its a match that I'd recommend people watch for the purposes of this project before they watched the 2nd best Liger vs Ohtani match or the 2nd best Hashimoto vs Choshu. These are two great workers. The best NJPW wrestlers of the decade. So having a 4 - 4 1/2 match against each other should come as no surprise. But given how Japanese wrestling is worked, them having a competitive 20+ minute long satisfying match with each other is a real achievement.  

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On 5/11/2021 at 12:11 PM, KB8 said:

Is the Virus match online? I never did get around to watching it. 

Couldn't find it - so I upped it (really bad quality).

 

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On 2/29/2016 at 10:40 AM, Microstatistics said:

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.

There are a few guys I would likely put ahead of him in terms of number of great matches/all time classics and he probably won't make my Top 3 this time. But I stand by the rest, making him a safe Top 10 guy. The aforementioned list of post-2016 Liger matches further boosts his case. 

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