Looking Back Puroresu Reviews

DVDVR 1001 Matches #10: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. El Samurai (NJPW 4/30/92)

To those uninitiated the much respected website Death Valley Driver Video Review is putting together a list of 1001 matches to see before you die called the DVDVR 1001. This is my project where I am reviewing every match in the DVDVR 1001, continuing with #10,

This is the Final Match in the Top of the Junior III Tournament.

A tale of two halves; one outstanding and the other merely okay. The first half of this match is all kinds of great and feels like something truly special. The second half is okay, it’s not bad but it’s a decided step down from the first half. The controlled violence of the first half gives way to a bombfest lacking in flow in the second half. The match remains great, just barely, but the disparity between the first half and the second half is a major hurdle.

The match begins with El Samurai bumrushing Jushin Thunder Liger and Slapping him around while ripping at his mask. It was unexpected, to me at least. It set a tone for the match that was all about the immediacy of the violence on display. Liger is on the run almost immediately as even he is taken aback by the brazen attack of Samurai. The attack doesn’t let up there, as Samurai takes it to the floor, and then back into the ring. The entire time he beats the crap out of Liger and its clear this isn’t just any junior heavyweight match they’re putting on.

Liger’s comeback begins when he levels Samurai with a Shotay. He then proceeds to Shotay the piss out of Samurai some more. The tables have turned and now it is Liger who has Samurai on the run. Samurai made the mistake of messing with Liger’s mask and now Liger is taking out all of his fury on Samurai. This includes Liger ripping Samurai’s mask off of his head and in half. He’s exposed Samurai, ripped him clean of his identity in front of thousands of people. The message is clear; Jushin Thunder Liger isn’t in this match to mess around.

Up until this point the match is pretty awesome. It isn’t until after Liger hits a Diving Senton to the outside that the match starts to come back to reality. After that move the match loses a lot of its momentum. For whatever reason Samurai and Liger both shift to an offensive strategy that consists of hitting a move and then waiting to hit another move. I could possibly see an argument for this approach working based on both men simply wanting to hurt one another. I’m not accepting of that argument though, because to me it was clear that the hatred level in the match had dropped considerably.

The longer the match goes the more steam it loses. Liger and Samurai hit some impressive bombs down the final stretch. Still, they don’t connect those bombs in a truly meaningful way. They hit a move and after standing around for a short time move on to the next move. It’s not the worst approach in the world but it’s definitely a step down from the first half of the match. That’s ultimately the main problem with the second half of the match. It’s not bad, nor is it riddled with issues that drag the match too far down. The problem with the second half is that it pales in comparison to the first half. It’s a decent spotfest of sorts, but not the hate fueled brawling of the first half.

Though the second half is a step down, it doesn’t move the match into subpar territory. The first half is great enough that it helps to keep the match at a high enough level to still be considered awfully great. I can’t stress enough how much I loved the first half of this match. I do love me some hate fueled violence and the first half had that in spades. The second half is a letdown when compared to the first half, but it’s not an insurmountable negative against the match. Just be prepared to fall in love with the match and have that love tested as the match makes its way towards home plate.

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

About the author

Bill Thompson

I am the almighty Bill Thompson, father of a little girl, husband to an awesome wife, a paramedic/firefighter, and a fan of the Chicago Cubs. I've been writing about wrestling for some time now. You can find me writing about great matches at Blue Thunder Driver, or matches people have suggested I watch at Random Match Generator. I write about free matches legally available to watch online at Free Pro Wrestling and am a contributor to the Cubed Circle Newsletter. I'm also the Senior Writer for the magazine/website The Tag Rope. I'm happy to be on the Wrestling with Words ship, and have I mentioned I am a fan of the Chicago Cubs? Cause I am, like huge, as in they are my #1 priority. Just making sure we're on the same page...

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