Feedback to the final Fantastica Mania iPPV
Thumbs Up (But not as up as they were for the previous night's show)
Best Match: Volador Jr. vs. Mascara Dorada in the Main Event
Worst Match: Mascara Don/Maximo vs. Taichi/TAKA Michinoku
Another night, another fun show. Though the opening tag match between Mascara Don/Maximo and Taichi/TAKA Michinoku was pretty dreadful. What is a comedy match if there is no comedy? Well, a match I guess. But this one was not particularly good. I found the constant targeting of Maximo's groin area to be really off putting. It was probably no different to any of his other matches, but in this particular match it really seemed to stand out. Maybe it was due to the lack of comedy moment that I was expecting to see. Without the comedy to balance it out it just felt a bit off.
Similar to the previous night's show, (almost) all of the matches were good. Mostly just short, fun bouts. The quality did feel a touch lower than it was the night before. Maybe it was just a matter of seeing the same guys perform, for the most part, the same moves in such a short time span. Still, it was a really fun show with a lot of great high flying action.
The main event between Volador Jr. and Mascara Dorada was quite spectacular. If you're not a fan of spotfests you would probably hate it. But it you want to see two guys try to dive, flip, headscissor and top rope hurricanrana each other to death, I would definitely recommend this match. Both guys looked determined to outdo the each other, which led to an endless number of crazy maneuvers. To each guy's credit, for a match with so many high risk spots, there was a surprisingly low number errors made. The final few minutes were excellent.
This match was a fantastic ending to a really enjoyable Fantastica Mania series. Great stuff.
rating--- thumbs up
best match--- Mascara Dorada vs Volador Jr.- they pulled out all the stops
worst match--- Rey Cometa & Stuka Jr. vs. Yoshi-Hashi & Okumura- entertaining but under 5 minutes
Tetsuya Naito/Rush vs Tomohiro Ishii/Rey Escorpion was very good too. Rush is a superstar to me. Good looking, big, great body, stiff, athletic. WWE should love this guy
Best Match: Mascara Dorada vs Volador Jr.
Worst Match: Maximo/Mascara Don vs Taichi/TAKA
Opening comedy match went ridiculously too long. Especially considering the next match only got sub 5 minutes.
Cometa/Stuka vs Okumura/Yoshihashi was way too short but they did go all out considering the time they had. Cometa looked amazing. It's crazy to think AAA had this guy and couldn't find anything to do with him. It got a little awkward at the finish with Mima Shimoda being thrown around and the crowd not cheering as they would in Mexico.
10 man tag was really fun and full of action as you'd expect. Everyone got a chance to shine and the dive train was insane with Niebla Roja & Titan in particular doing out of this world dives. My only complaint about this match and generally the tour is Titan not getting a chance to do a singles match and stand out of his own. He was clearly way more over than his position on these shows.
Rush/Naito vs Escorpion/Ishii was great when the Mexicans were in, a little dull when Naito was using his weak offense on Ishii. Escorpion is one of the best opponents for Rush since he'll give it right back to him which he did here with some brutal slaps and chops. You had to feel bad for Escorpion at the end when he took the crazy corner dropkick and Rush Driver for the loss. He seemed shaken up afterwards but was fine post-show.
Sombra vs Ultimo Guerrero was a typical Ultimo Guerrero singles match but with some extra cool matwork at the begining. Crowd was really into this since both guys are over. Near disaster when Sombra went for his imploding 450 and if not for Ultimo Guerrero's diving catch we could have had a bad injury. Finish came off well even though they had a miscommunication a few seconds earlier when UG didn't move from a Sombra moonsault.
6 man tag semi-main was exactly what I expected. Mistico never got in the ring with anyone except Mephisto which is probably for the best. The Ibushi/Nakamura exchanges were amazing and really made me want to see them in a singles match. Again we almost had near disaster at the end as Mistico's shoulder popped out just before the finish but he still managed to do La Mistica somehow and get the win. He should probably fix that shoulder at some point.
Dorada vs Volador Jr. in the main event was an absolute insane spectacle. I feel like people are either going to love this or hate this. Bobby Heenan had a great line from the Rey Jr./Psicosis WCW Bash at the Beach '96 match that applies here: "They haven't really been using the ring much, they've just been passing through it." That perfectly sums up this match was pretty much a 'Can You Top This' series of highspots that the crowd was eating up. Way too many awesome moments to mention but the highlight had to be Dorada busting out his Brillo Dorada where it looked like he was floating in the air. A few minutes later he walked the ropes because... why not? Mascara Dorada is amazing. Sadly he went down in defeat after getting spiked on his head twice with Canadian Destroyer variations which are all the rage in Mexico right now. Crowd gave both guys a huge ovation.
Overall I think my favorite show from the iPPV's was Day #4 mainly because that night focused on the Mexicans while this final night had a little more focus on advancing New Japan feuds. The main event of this show is definitely worth going out of your way to see if you want to see state of the art high flying.
Best Match: Main Event
Worst Match: n/a
The best of the the three FM ppvs. Tonight's show had a very good 6-man, and an awesome main event. Just a very enjoyable show overall. I'm partial to last night's six man, as it brought me a lot of what I've been looking for, but this was really strong front to back. I'm sure we'll get another ppv befor 2/9, and we're looking forward to that. A good time, which is pretty much a guarantee when you buy an NJPW show.
San Francisco, CA
Fantastica Mania 1/18 - Thumbs up
Best match: Tanahashi & Sombra & Naito beat Ultimo Guerrero & Okada & Ishii (great action)
Worst match: Maximo beat Jado & Taichi (comedy was lame)
Fantastica Mania 1/19 - Two Thumbs up
Best match: Volador Jr beat Mascara Dorada (highspot fest but a great one)
Worst match: Mascara Don & Maximo beat TAKA Michinoku & Taichi (comedy was still lame)
In my opinion, tonight's show was better than yesterday's show overall but the trios match I voted for as best match from yesterday was the best match of the two shows. The Arena Mexico show from Friday was noticeably weak in terms of depth on the card with so many CMLL stars in Japan. The two shows from Japan were far superior to what I saw of the Arena Mexico show on Friday but, since the stream cuts out after only the undercard, that could be an unfair assessment. Compared to the last Tokyo Dome, this show was vastly different in style and presentation. What the Wrestle Kingdom show had and the Fantastica Mania shows lacked was over-the-top spectacle and grandiose presentation. However, Fantastica Mania shows made up for that with a better, more heated atmosphere in the smaller venues and a different, more highspot-heavy style that gave the shows a different vibe.
The downside to the NJPW/CMLL joint shows was the dead sound during many of the entrances because of music rights issues. It is quite annoying when the sound goes dead for several minutes. Also, the luchadoras were almost never featured on the joint shows except for Marcela presenting flowers before a match and maybe a few other cameos. New Japan never seems to feature women's wrestling much anyways so I guess that has something to do with it. Still, the shows were action-packed and most of the matches were decent to good and even great in some ways.
The one question I have about the shows: Why was Volador Jr. wearing a mask during his matches? He unmasked after his matches but it seemed odd a promotion like CMLL rooted in tradition would disregard his loss of the mask at the Anniversary show in Mexico just this summer. Nevertheless, the whole situation could have been explained on commentary or in promos and I could have missed it due to a language barrier on my part. Speaking of CMLL being rooted in tradition, I did notice the matches on the shows from Japan with the luchadors were arguably better under one fall rules instead of two-out-of-three falls like most matches in Mexico with CMLL.
Chris Aiken (@lariatrope
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