NJPW Fantastica Mania (21/1/19) Review

I believe I can fly. Credit: NJPW

The final night of Fantastica Mania is like the end of an all-night party. You’ve had fun, perhaps done a few things you know you’re going to be ashamed of, but now the sun is coming up, so you just want to go home, drink some water and return to reality. Does that work? I’m going to say it does.

Barbaro Cavenario and Templario defeated Audaz and Flyer

I didn’t notice Flyer making any mistakes which made this his best performances of the tour. On that note, the English commentary team were praising him, which made me think they’ve been paying as much attention to Fantastica Mania as most New Japan fans.

Even mistake free, Flyer didn’t stand out as this was Templario and Cavenario’s match. They were an excellent team with Cavenario, in particular, standing out. He pulled off an insane step-up Tope where he seemed to be trying to hit the roof of Korakuen before crashing down.

It’s been a recurring theme during this tour that, a few bits and pieces aside, I’ve preferred the matches that have put all the focus on the luchadores. They seem to revel in showing off their skills to a Japanese audience, and this was a perfect example of that.

Verdict: Three Stars

Atlantis Jr defeated OKUMURA

Before ‘La Cucaracha’ had finished playing (New Japan’s dubbing choices are awful) Atlantis Jr threw himself at OKUMURA, revenge in his heart after the old rudo stole him and his Dad’s masks. This was a big test for the youngster, as not everyone gets to wrestle a singles match for New Japan in Korakuen Hall. Without his dad there to back him up, it was a chance for him to show just how good he is.

It’s a test that I’m going to say he passed. Atlantis Jr stuck to the moves he’s been doing all tour, but he’s got those moves down and who can blame him for doing what he knows? Sadly, the finish let him down as he really struggled to get the Atlantida on needing three attempts to do so.

Still, it wasn’t an awful way to finish up as they told the story of the plucky youngsters getting one over the crusty old heel. Post-match OKUMURA even went as far as shaking Atlantis Jr’s hand. The rookie is earning respect one fight at a time.

Verdict: Two And Three Quarter Stars

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, El Terrible and BUSHI) fought Roppongi 3K (SHO and YOH), Satoshi Kojima and Toa Henare to a no contest

SHO and YOH were obviously enjoying being Fujin and Raijin, but they’re much better without the masks. It felt like having those on allowed them to slip into holiday mode, with them off, they were back in business.

Not that it did enough to get me excited about this match. There were lots of small elements that were good. I’ve enjoyed Henare going after Naito, Shingo has great chemistry with both SHO and YOH while Terrible and Kojima have had a decent run. The problem is that I saw all that on night one, I didn’t then need to see it another fifty million times (that might be a slight over-exaggeration).

I’m not saying it was bad. In fact, parts of it were great, I’m looking at SHO and Shingo, but I struggle to get passionate about it. It’s like a lovely cake. One slice tastes amazing, so you indulge in a second slice and by the time you’re on your fifth all that lovely taste is gone and you’re just left feeling disgusted by yourself. Okay, that last bit doesn’t fit, but the rest is good.

Anyway, Naito looked to have Henare in hand when Taichi appeared out of nowhere to bash him over the head with the IC Title. He was quickly followed by Despy and Kanemaru who took out BUSHI, Shingo, SHO and YOH. God, we’re not getting another three-way, are we? Please, no.

Verdict: Three Stars

Nueva Generacion Dinamitas (Sanson, El Cuatrero and Forastero) defeated Angel de Oro, Titan and Atlantis to retain the Mexican National Trios Titles

Angel de Oro and Titan are fantastic. I’m also a huge fan of the dynamic they have with the Dinamitas. The rudo team works on the basis that if they can floor those two, they can win, which leads to these great shifts in pace as Titan and Oro explode into life when they’re able to escape their clutches.

They also used Atlantis well throughout, letting him hit the ring, pull out all the signatures moves and then vanish back to the apron. The guy is in his fifties, he couldn’t work at this pace, but they managed to get all the pops his moves have earned without letting his age show him up.

It wasn’t all high flying nonsense either. Titan loves a chop exchange with one of Cuatrero and Sanson (I’ve given up ever figuring out which is which, I know it’s lazy, sorry) while the Dinamitas work quite an old-school style, cutting people off and beating away on them. It’s quite a feat to bring that to the wild nature of lucha.

This was great. Everyone involved has had a good tour, and they ended on a high. Well done to them.

Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars

Los Guerreros Laguneros (Ultimo Guerrero and Gran Guerrero) and Namajague defeated Dragon Lee, Mistico and Soberano Jr.

Namajague joined the Guerreros in clapping along during their entrance. Despy is having a lovely time. Wait, no, it’s not Despy. It’s definitely Namajague… no Despy in sight.

Mistico pulled the wearing two mask tricks which made Ultimo’s attempts to remove his hood a waste of time. That played into a start which was more about showboating than it was wrestling.

Things picked up when Dragon Lee and Namajague hit the ring. In Namajague’s other form, they developed a bit of a rivalry during last year’s Super Juniors, as they battled for the affections of Hiromu. They channelled Takahashi here, as they went about chopping the shit out of each other.

The rest of the match was what we’ve come to expect from these six. If you love your high-flying, you’re in for a lovely time. Right up until Soberano found himself crashing down to the ground with the Guerrero Special.

This was nothing special, but I had a lovely time.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Dragon George and SweetGorilla Maruyama defeated Gokiburi Mask and Ginbae Mask

Well, they all had a lovely time, didn’t they?

If you are looking for a technical masterclass, you’re in the wrong place. No-one was taking the promotional match for a Tanahashi film seriously, and poor SweetGorilla Maruyama got a toilet brush dragged across his face. However, if you want to see two of the best wrestlers in the world having a laugh, then this is the place to go. They all leaned into the fun, and you’ve got to love that.

After the match, Dragon George actually challenged Kazuchika Okada. We’ll have to wait and see what Captain Kazu says, but there’s a chance this isn’t the last we’ve seen of these four.

Verdict: I’m not rating this

Volador Jr. defeated Caristico

Caristico and Volador is apparently a long-running CMLL feud. I’d love to tell you more, but I know fuck all about it.

Even without background knowledge, it was an exciting match-up, which made the fact it was a bit rubbish really disappointing. These two were doing spectacular things, but they were put together in a weird, disjointed style. There seemed to be little rhyme or reason to what came next, they’d do a spot, sell for a second and then do the next. The kids might even go as far as calling it a spotfest.

That made it hard to get into the action. Even as they flew through the air, I found my brain drifting. I’ve no problem with a wild spotfest, in fact, I actively encourage it, but this wasn’t even that. It was slow and uninspiring. Words you don’t associate with either of these guys.

The final minutes did pick up a bit. La Mistica has been a death move every time Caristico or Mistico has got it on. So, when he got it on Volador, the crowd reacted like it was over and cheered even louder when Volador escaped. Unfortunately, they then reverted right to type by going straight from that to a Avalanche Spanish Fly and we were done.

I don’t know if I’ll be out on an island with this one, but I thought that was average as fuck. It had the chance to be a hot closer, but instead, we fizzle out with a whimper.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Overall Show

This wasn’t an atrocious end to the tour, but it’s unlikely to get your nether regions all heated up either. It was fine, good in points, and average in others. If you’ve watched the rest, you might as well complete the set, but if you’re on the fence, give it a miss.

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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