Jushin Thunder Liger has always been a mystery to me. Growing up I never watched WCW, and I’ve only got into Japanese wrestling in the last six months. Liger, therefore, was a distant God. Someone who I caught glimpses of but who was shrouded in mystery beneath his mask. I respected his obvious talent, and I was sure there was a reason he was as loved as he was, but on an emotional level he was locked away under that full body suit. Cold and untouchable. That is until the last few weeks.
And strangely, what has kindled my love for Liger is seeing him getting beat every single night. In what will be his final Best of the Super Juniors Liger has finished with a record of 1-6. A booking decision by Gedo that has inspired many a fans anger. However, for me, it worked perfectly. I finally understood why Liger is a legend and it took him showing he was fallible to do it.
For while there maybe was a story to be told of Liger coming close in his final outing, the story of him being not quite good enough was just as fascinating. For a man with absolutely no flesh on show Liger’s conveying of emotion is incredible. And whether he was putting on an absolute barnstormer with Takahashi or a more comedic match with Marty Scurll he was always telling the story of being the slightly older man. Of being a step too slow and struggling to keep up with these incredible athletes.
Which made the final night all the sweeter. We all suspected that Liger would beat Taichi (unless Gedo had well and truly lost it and was planning on putting one of the worst wrestlers on the roster into the finals) but it was the style in which he did it that sealed my love. As Suzuki-gun beat him down a fire was lit under Liger. A fire that brought to mind his alter-ego Kushin and when he unleashed it on Taichi it was a sight to behold. Mask resting limply on his head and his suit ripped open he let loose on the microphone-wielding bellend and finished his final tournament on a high.
I, of course, can’t claim the same love of Liger as those that have followed him his whole career. There are many out there who see him as the greatest of all time, and this is just my first step into understanding that. Yet, whatever you think about the booking of BOSJ, the decision to have Liger lose nearly every match has turned Liger from the distant God into the Thunder God in the mind of this fan.