NJPW Fantastica Mania (20/1/19) Review

Look big brother, I can fly! Credit: NJPW

I know I kicked off Fantastica Mania bursting with enthusiasm, but I have to admit that it’s starting to run low. These shows have been repetitive, so I’m going to keep it short and sweet for the bulk of these matches. It just ain’t worth the effort of doing more.

The Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori and Gedo) defeated Ryusuke Taguchi and Flyer

According to Chris Charlton, Gedo almost got his head blown off by a shotgun-wielding Mexican when he wrestled over there. That’s a story I want to hear.

Anyway, this was more of the same from Taguchi vs Bullet Club. He continues to dress like Tutankhamen while Bone Soldier continues to get the best of the feud. Old Ryusuke has had his moments, but on the taped shows, his teams have only picked up the one win.

On top of that, Flyer hasn’t had a standout tour, and despite not doing much here, he still managed to hit an awkward looking ‘Rana. Even if he’d been great, The Bullet Club’s chicanery prevented this from getting going.

Verdict: Two Stars

Angel de Oro and Titan defeated Templario and El Cuatrero

Titan and Angel de Oro are all kinds of fun to watch. They are smooth as hell and look incredible as they dive in and out of the ring. Templario and El Cuatrero, meanwhile, worked as the perfect opponents. While they had moments of flash themselves, they generally worked a more grounded style. Using their power to cut off the tecnicos’ flurries.

After the more of the same nature of the opener, this was like a breath of fresh air. A whirlwind blast of entertaining wrestling with all four men bringing something to the action. If you skip the first match and treat this as the opener you’ll start this show off in the right mood.

Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi and BUSHI) defeated Raijin, Fujin and Toa Henare

You know the match they’ve been having all tour? Yea, it was that, without Kojima and Terrible. It was good, it just wasn’t new.

After winning, LIJ unmasked Fujin and Raijin who, to everyone’s shock, were revealed to be SHO and YOH. Who saw that coming?

Verdict: Three Stars

La Sangre Dinamita (Forastero and Sanson) and Okumura defeated Jushin Thunder Liger, Atlantis and Atlantis Jr.

Meh, this was what it was. Mima Shimoda got involved at one point and ate a Liger Brainbuster. Unlike the incident with Titan from the previous show, I had no issue with that. A wrestler came into a wrestling ring and ate a wrestling move. It’s all in the presentation, and this one had no connotations of domestic abuse.

Anyway, the rudos dominated large portions of the match, going after masks and generally being disreputable meanies. Atlantis Jr, meanwhile, continued to look good and his Dad and Liger did what you’d expect them to do. It was decent! I just struggled to get excited about it.

There was more mask related shenanigans after the bell as both Dad and Jr lost their’s to build up to the next day’s bouts.

Verdict: Three Stars

Caristico, El Barbaro Cavernario and Namajague defeated Volador Jr., El Soberano Jr. and Audaz

This was more like it. Perhaps I’m just in the mood for people doing cool shit because there was a lot of cool shit in this one. When the likes of Cavernario and Volador face off it becomes nearly impossible to figure out what they are doing, you just know that you like it.

It’s also one of those matches where there isn’t much to say (I promise it isn’t just laziness). They went out and put on a show. Rather than reading me blab about, why not go watch it? Please do continue to read my writing, though. That would be nice.

Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars

El Terrible defeated Satoshi Kojima

If you like the sound of two fuckers beating the shit out of each other, then you are going to love this. Kojima doesn’t get the chance to wrestle many singles matches now, and when he does, he goes all out. He was even getting into the Fantastica Mania spirit as he threw himself out of the ring with a Tope.

Once again, there’s not much to say. It was a hard-hitting and gruelling match-up where both men worked hard. The only shock was the decision to put Terrible over, cleanly, in Japan. Whether that’s in service of future plans, a favour to CMLL or none of the above, I don’t know. I am intrigued to find out, though.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Dragon Lee and Mistico defeated Los Guerreros Laguneros (Ultimo Guerrero and Gran Guerrero)

I’ve only just realised that every tag team in this tournament is a family. Damn, I feel stupid. It’s literally called the Family Tag Tournament. Ignoring my dumbassery, this is a match-up between this year’s winners and last year’s.

There was a lot of showboating at the start of this one. At one point, Mistico looked like he was going to ape Ultimo by taking his mask off, only to reveal a second mask underneath. Even Dragon Lee seemed to be caught off-guard by that one.

After all the silliness, things kind of exploded. Suddenly, Mistico was leaping off platforms to hit Hurricanranas while Dragon Lee was being launched into metal barriers. What had started with a cheeky smile on its face, got violent.

This then broke down into a damn good tag team match. Two high flyers vs two powerhouses, with both teams also capable of dipping into the world of the other. It was worked at a quick pace, with plenty of action to keep everyone gripped. I can’t pretend I picked up much of a story, but lucha plays by its own rules with that shit, so I’m not going to worry about that. It was fun, watch it.

Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars

Overall Show

There were a lot of fun matches on this show, alongside a lot of stuff that I couldn’t give a shit about. None of it reached a level where I’m going to want to go back and watch it, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable, so if you’ve got time make an effort to check them out.

Watch Fantastica Mania: https://njpwworld.com/

If you enjoyed this review, please consider contributing to my Ko-fi, even the smallest amount is appreciated.


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