NJPW Fantasticamania Night 5 (January 20)
Watch: NJPW World
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan
Ah, the most wonderful time of the year descends upon us again. NJPW and CMLL’s joint tour Fantasticamania is one of the most fun tours that happen all year and has been for most of it’s existence. The luchadors you don’t regularly get to see in Japan mixing it up with the contracted NJPW talent who get to let loose a little bit creates some awesome dynamics that usually lead to some quality entertainment. This show is the first of three straight nights running in Korakuen Hall and the first show of the tour streamed on NJPW World. The top 2 matches on this show are Dragon Lee vs Cavernario and Hiromu Takahashi vs Titan, which made this night the most anticipated of the three for myself.
Blue Panther Jr. and Henare def. Will Ospreay and Ephesto
Fun opener. Coming in I was hoping for some Panther and Ospreay interactions. They did a little bit together, but not much. I’ll take what I can get though. Henare looked good and has gotten better pretty quickly since his first few matches. Something interesting here is that Henare didn’t take the fall. Not only did he not take the fall, his team won! Blue Panther Jr. made Ephesto submit.
Jushin Liger, Soberano Jr. and Tiger Mask def. Gedo, Jado and Raziel
Tiger Mask comes out in some super cool Mexico themed gear. Tiger Mask easily wins most fashionable on the show.
This was purely a Soberano Jr. showcase and that’s fine because he killed it with his athleticism and dives and seems like he left an impression on the crowd. Everyone besides Soberano and somewhat Raziel did the bare minemum. It’s skippable but happy the young guy got to display his skills like that. He got the win after hitting Raziel with a guillotine moonsault.
Hechicero and Okumura def. Maximo Sexy and Stuka Jr.
I enjoyed this a lot. Hechicero and Maximo had some very good interactions with each other. Sounded like the crowd was kind of in to them which is a good sign heading in to Hechicero and Maximo main eventing tomorrow’s show. Okumura got win after pinning Stuka Jr.
Post match Okumura and Hechicero attacked Maximo and Stuka, adding a little more heat to the matches taking place tomorrow.
Los Ingobernables (BUSHI, SANADA, EVIL, Rush and Tetsuya Naito) def. David Finlay, Ryusuke Taguchi, KUSHIDA, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Atlantis
Enjoyable match like most of the Los Ingobernables de Japon tag matches are. Got good down the stretch and EVIL put away Finlay with the EVIL. Highly entertaining post match beatdown on all the babyfaces. Rush ripped off Atlantis’ mask and proceeded to play soccer with his mask with Naito. Got a good chuckle out of me and builds to Atlantis vs Rush tomorrow.
Euforia, Ultimo Guerrero and Kazuchika Okada def. Juice Robinson, Mistico and Volador Jr.
Okada’s antics during Fantasticamania are always highlights of the tour. He’s the perfect example of a NJPW getting to have some fun on these tours. He does awkward and clumsy looking lucha spots and plachas and just has the biggest smile on his face when doing so. It’s an infectious thing to see him having such a good time.
Here he was raising the roof and jumping up and down with Ultimo and Euforia looking like a total goofball and having the time of his life. Other than Okada being a loveable dork, this was actually a very good match and the best one on the undercard. Volador and Ultimo did some cool stuff like them taking off each other’s masks and then swapping masks. Ultimo at one point caught Volador off a plancha and powerbombed him on the floor. Juice Robinson is interesting here too because I liked his interactions with Okada quite a bit and wouldn’t mind seeing them tangle it up more on house shows. Euforia would make Mistico submit to get the win for his team.
Hiromu Takahashi def. Titan
Instead of these two nutcases going out there and killing each other, this match felt like it told the story of Hiromu looking like a complete beast and tearing Titan apart. Early Titan was getting in some of his signature offense and then looked like he tweaked his ankle. Hiromu smelt the blood in the water and went after Titan’s leg. Hiromu was vicious, super cocky and dismissive here and as far as character work goes it’s probably his best performance in awhile. Titan sold well too and looked great getting his offense in for his comeback. Hiromu would win with the exact same sequence of moves that it took for him to put away KUSHIDA at Wrestle Kingdom 11. This wasn’t the insane car crash sprint myself and others were expecting, but this was still very good in the direction they went in and served a purpose. It had competitive moments, but it was essentially Hiromu domination and I have no problem with that when they’re trying to establish their new Jr. champ who’s just returned from excursion.
CMLL World Lightweight Title: Dragon Lee def. Barbaro Cavernario
A match between two of the brightest young stars in wrestling and a match that felt like it didn’t quite land. This match never hit that next level for me. It was fun as hell to see Cavernario and Lee bust out all their big bombs but the slower pace they worked didn’t feel necessary here and actively dragged down the match. I’m not saying I wanted a “sprint” between these two, but more that they didn’t use all the time very well. All in all I enjoyed it, but it under delivered for me.
Something worth mentioning is that it seemed like Cavernario hurt his shoulder and that caused them to maybe wrap it up a bit sooner than intended. Lee won with the deadlift Regal-Plex that he’s won matches with before, but the entire way it ended felt very abrupt and hurt the match as well. Hopefully Cavernario is good to go on the next two nights.
Post match Hiromu Takahashi came out and attacked Dragon Lee from behind, but Dragon Lee got the upper hand and hit Hiromu with a very painful looking Orange Crush that Dragon Lee couldn’t get Hiromu all the way up for. The show ended with Dragon Lee standing tall.
NJPW FANTASTICAMANIA NIGHT 5
Strong Effort - 7/10 - 7.0/10
A very easy to watch and fun show that I enjoyed top to bottom. Nothing on here that I thought reached great levels and a main event that did somewhat disappoint me keep the score from being a bit higher, but it's a show that flew by and set up the stuff on the next couple of shows well.