NJPW Fantastica Mania 21/1/18 Review

Our favourite caveman. Credit: NJPW

Night two of the televised versions of Fantastica Mania and we have a tag tournament alongside another title match. At this point, as long as these shows deliver a dose of fun I will be happy. Give me flips and ridiculous characters all day, please. Let’s dish out some stars.

Disturbio and Puma defeated Star Jr and Drone

Those crazy luchadors. Credit: NJPW

Holy shit, I watched this show live, and the dubbed themes are incredible. What the hell were they thinking about when they chose this music? I don’t know if I can review this. I want to track down the person who wrote this song and write a creepy Max Landis style dossier on their creative influences. They are clearly either a psychopath or a genius.

I need to calm myself down a bit and try to talk about the action. I’m getting too worked up. This was precisely what you’d expect from a Lucha opener. Fast-paced, all over the place and as far as I could tell completely lacking in story. Maybe it was there, but I couldn’t pick it out. Drone was a mess (you might have seen some clips going about), but if I’m honest that just added to the entertainment.

I don’t think there’s much more to say, I’m too busy boogying to the music.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Ryusuke Taguchi, Fuego and Soberano Jr defeated Roppongi 3K (SHO and YOH) and OKUMURA

Oops. Credit: NJPW

Oh my god, they are using the music for all the wrestlers. I can’t handle this. I’m going to explode with excitement. It’s even better when Fuego and Taguchi are getting down to it. I hope those two are best friends. I hope it was them who wrote it. It sounds like the kind of thing that would come from Taguchi’s mind. Perhaps it plays on a loop in his head?

Right, forget about the music. Focus on the wrestling. Roppongi 3K and OKUMURA slipped into the heel role with even Rocky getting involved, grabbing at ankles while wearing his Black Tiger mask. It’s a role that might suit Roppongi long term. They have a slightly unlikable arrogance to them.

Much like on the previous night, OKUMURA’s wife (Mima Shimoda) got involved, doing some butt stuff with Taguchi. I want to explain why I had a problem with it on the previous night and not here. On the surface, this was even more sexual. However, there was a key difference. Mima was the one who chose to get involved, and she gave as good as she got. The agency that was removed the night before was given back. While I would still prefer not to see this stuff, this was an improvement.

Anyway, serious stuff aside, this was another fun match which would come to an end when Soberano Jr did what Soberano Jr does best and hit a tornillo on OKUMURA. And fucking hell here is that music again. It’s starting to drive me insane.

Verdict: Three Stars

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Rush, Hiromu Takahashi and Bushi) defeated Satoshi Kojima, KUSHIDA, Atlantis and Hirai Kawato

Poor Kawato. Credit: NJPW

Sorry, I will shut up about this music eventually but LIJ – the coolest gang on the planet – coming out to that ridiculous theme in my new kink. It’s ludicrous, and life is all the better for it. If Naito doesn’t adopt it, I’m going on strike.

This was another group of pure of heart babyfaces being sent into war with LIJ. Although it has to be said that they weren’t acting that pure when Kojima attacked Rush before the bell. Naughty old bastard. Those two are building to a singles match on the last night, which I am intrigued about. Kojima was getting the better of him until Rush played dirty to come out on top. In fact, this whole thing was LIJ playing dirty. They are very good at it.

It really came to life, though, when Kawato and Takahashi started going all Takahashi and Dragon Lee on each other. Kawato is off to CMLL on his excursion after this, and I would love to see him come back and feud with Hiromu. The evil punk rocker vs the fiery babyface. Oh, the tingles. He certainly owes Takahashi a few as it looked like his chest was opened up from the barrage of slaps he received.

Of course, Kawato would be the one to take the L as Rush drove him into the mat with a piledriver. The bell didn’t stop anything, as Kojima and Rush went right after each other with chairs and started slugging it out on the outside. Some Young Lions got involved so Rush smacked one of them with a chair in response. All to the sound of those sweet sweet beats.

Can New Japan always have CMLL talent working their undercard? It seems to have given these matches a touch of life that they sometimes lack. I usually enjoy them, but there is a feeling that some of the wrestlers go through the motions. A sprinkle of new talent looking to impress has removed that element.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Ultimo and Gran Guerrero defeated Niebla Roja and Ángel de Oro

Bloody hell, Ultimo. Credit: NJPW

I like that Niebla Roja has decided not to bother coming up with a gimmick and instead figured he’d just be He-Man. More wrestlers should be He-Man.

This is the CMLL’s Brother Tag Tournament. No idea, what that means. Not even sure if it’s an accurate translation. Do I care enough to find out? Nope.

Ultimo and Ángel de Oro started out with some technical stuff. Ángel is still selling the leg injury that saw him lose yesterday which led to Ultimo going after said leg. You all know the drill, it’s pro wrestling.

This technical stuff continued for a while until Gran and Roja got in the ring and began to get the pace moving. Gran utterly destroyed Niebla with a chokeslam and considering she got her hip replaced last year I thought that was impressive… No? Fine.

This then bled into a sequence where Roja and Oro did some absolutely incredible things. I’m not even going to try to write them all down, but they were working at speed while totally in sync and it was lovely. It’s worth watching this just for that moment.

It was also when this match hit the switch. From there on it going a million miles an hour and I was having a lovely time. In my ignorance, what I want from Lucha is people flying around the ring doing incredible things, and that’s what this was. Right until Gran lawn-darted Roja from the second rope to get his win back from the night before. Great tag action.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Dragon Lee and Mistico defeated Cuatrero and Sanson 

Flying twins. Credit: NJPW

This was the other first round match of the Brother’s Tag Tournament. As the final was on the next show, the first round doubles as the semi-finals so it’s quite a short tournament.

NJPW briefly pause the music between CMLL entrants; presumably to fool you into thinking they are different songs.

This one started in fifth gear as Sanson and Cuatrero attacked before the bell only for Lee and Mistico to respond with simultaneous dives. I would love to see New Japan figure out a deal to get Dragon Lee for a whole year or something like that. The guy is one of the best right now, and I want to see more of him. Should I watch CMLL? It kind of sounds like it’s a mess? Is it worth it?

Back to the review. After the initial madness, this slowed down a bit as the rudos took over. They were working over Mistico before moving onto Dragon Lee. Thankfully, it didn’t go on too long, and he fired out with a hurricanrana off the apron to the floor.

That set up the theme of the match. Moments of Mistico and Lee excitement broken up by kind of flat heat sections. Mistico eventually locked in the La Mistica and got the win. I guess it wasn’t awful, but I wanted more of Mistico and Lee and less of Sanson and Cuatrero. It was a classic example of something that never clicked and left me feeling underfed. Still, it means we’re getting all the big names in the final so that will be fun.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Volador Jr defeated Barbaro Cavenario to retain the NWA World Historic Welterweight Title

CAPTAIN CAVEMAN! Credit: NJPW

Our main event is the caveman vs Volador Jr for the NWA World Historic Welterweight Title. I have no idea why they have an NWA belt. Again, I can’t be bothered figuring it out, sorry. I can tell you Volador has held it for over 1200 days.

After Cavernario was a bit tame on the first night, all I really wanted was for him to do something mental. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for the crazy stuff to start. Our caveman pal was leaping off chairs, doing the worm and hitting crossbodies to the outside. All while allowing Volador to fly around the ring in the way he does best. He would definitely be another reason to tune into CMLL. His work is ridiculously smooth. He hits top rope ‘ranas and lands on his feet as if it’s easy. Plus, look at the guy? Who doesn’t want to watch that bounce around a ring?

Homoeroticism aside, Volador’s speed did mean things slowed down when Cavernario was in charge. How could they not? Thankfully, unlike the last match, he had something to replace it with. The guy wrestles rough, and that stands out in among the other Luchas. While Volador is smooth and shiny Barbaro is the opposite, his work has dents and bumps, and he’s all the better for it. As long as he doesn’t injure anyone of course.

That rough style culminated with Volador lying on the ground outside the ring and Cavernario perched on the top rope. If you’ve seen him wrestle before you know what came next. To be honest, if you haven’t, you can probably guess. The caveman took flight with a splash that makes the Cactus Elbow look like a sensible career choice. That’s the kind of crazy we love.

Unfortunately crazy doesn’t win you titles. Although if I had the book, it definitely would. Volador hit a Running Canadian Destroyer, and this one was in the bag. Thankfully, it gave me everything I wanted on its way there.

Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars

Overall Show

Off to the finals. Credit: NJPW

All the fun. Again, I’m sorry if you were looking for a serious review filled with facts and so on. On that front, I’m not doing my job. But these shows are a laugh, and I think it’s okay to treat them like that. The CMLL guys are doing a great job at showing off what they can do, and they are slowly bringing me around to the idea of checking them out. Bring on the next show!

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