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Looking ahead to this weekend's NJPW/CMLL Fantastica Mania lineup

There are few weekends on the Japanese wrestling calendar as fun as the one we have upcoming.

The stars of CMLL hit New Japan for what are traditionally some of the most feel-good shows you could find. Fantastica Mania is already underway with smaller events around the New Japan circuit but it’s when they hit Korakuen Hall in Tokyo for three shows in three days that things really heat up. The atmosphere is unlike any other as the Japanese fans really embrace the Lucha Libre culture, and get super into the presentation that CMLL & NJPW put on. It’s truly an authentic lucha experience but transplanted into a country which provides it’s own flavor to the proceedings.

The shows aren’t as stacked as previous years and there were some questionable matchmaking decisions made (e.g. Will Ospreay being kept away from some of the best CMLL guys) but there are so many great talents on show that there is no way they won’t be a blast. The key feud anchoring the shows is IWGP Junior Champion Hiromu Takahashi against Dragon Lee.

Ahead of their title match at New Beginning, they’ll be squaring off in several mouth-watering tags. They will also both see singles competition as Takahashi takes on Titan and Lee takes on El Barbaro Cavernario for the CMLL World Super Lightweight title. Those could well be the best two matches of the whole tour.

CMLL Heavyweight Champion Maximo clashes with the unorthodox stylings of Rey Hechicero in what should be a very interesting main event bout. Hechicero is a favorite of the hardcore lucha fans and he did really well on this tour last year. Maximo is someone who Japanese fans may remember as a purely gimmick wrestler but he’s now taken very seriously in Mexico and has had some great title matches.

It’s always a lot of fun to watch how the NJPW regulars mesh on this tour too. Some will change their entrances or gear (Shinsuke Nakamura was always great for this) to complement their Mexican partners, and some get to show different tools in their arsenal between the bells.

IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada is always a fun one to keep an eye on as it tends to be the one time of the year that he reaches into his old Toryumon playbook from his initial training under Ultimo Dragon and is always awesome. We are set for some fun shows no doubt!

The cards for the shows (which will be airing live on NJPW World) are:

January 20th at Korakuen Hall --

  • Ephesto & Will Ospreay vs. Blue Panther Jr. & Henare
  • Soberano Jr., Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask vs. Raziel, Gedo & Jado
  • Maximo Sexy & Stuka Jr. vs. Okumura & Hechicero
  • Tetsuya Naito, Rush, SANADA, EVIL & BUSHI vs. Atlantis, Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi & David Finlay
  • Mistico, Volador Jr. & Juice Robinson vs. Kazuchika Okada, Euforia & Ultimo Guerrero
  • Hiromu Takahashi vs. Titan
  • Dragon Lee vs. Barbaro Cavernario for the CMLL Lightweight title

January 21st at Korakuen Hall --

  • Ephesto, Raziel, Gedo & Jado vs. Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask, Henare & Blue Panther Jr.
  • Stuka Jr. vs. Okumura
  • Soberano Jr., KUSHIDA & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Barbaro Cavernario, Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay
  • Dragon Lee, Titan, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA, EVIL & BUSHI
  • Mistico & Volador Jr. vs. Ultimo Guerrero & Euforia
  • Atlantis vs. Rush
  • Maximo Sexy vs. Hechicero for the CMLL Heavyweight title

January 22nd at Korakuen Hall --

  • Blue Panther Jr., Soberano Jr. & Henare vs. Barbaro Cavernario, Gedo & Jado
  • Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask & Stuka Jr. vs. Raziel, Hechicero & Okumura
  • Dragon Lee & Titan vs. Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI
  • Maximo Sexy, Juice Robinson & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay & Ephesto
  • Atlantis, Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA & David Finlay vs. Rush, Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & EVIL
  • Mistico vs. Euforia
  • Volador Jr. vs. Ultimo Guerrero