FantasticaMania 2013 was one of the first shows that Sam & Billy reviewed together for 4CRwrestling.com last year and now they’re back to review the 2014 edition! The co-promoted NJPW/CMLL event has expanded to 5 shows this year,including debuting on iPPV! There’ll be a joint review of the 1/14 & 1/18 show and Billy will be reviewing the shows in between solo (as they come available). Here’s the guys’ thoughts on the opening event of FantasticMania 2014!
Titan y BUSHIROAD vs Taka Michinoku y Taichi
Billy: Bushi looks to start the match but tags out to Titan, who flips into the ring to a pop. Taichi feigns doing the same but thinks twice. He implores Titan to do it again before attacking and then the match gets going. Titan hits his handstand/headscissors combo, sending Taichi out to the floor and following it up with a hurricanrana on the outside. BUSHI & Taka in but Taichi trips up BUSHI and los rudos take advantage. They work on taking the masks of both Titan & BUSHIROAD throughout the match. Los tecnicos regain the upperhand with some LUCHA~! though, as BUSHI hits a tope suicida and Titan hits a big Asai moonsault! Back in and Taichi pulls off BUSHIROAD’s mask and gets the roll up fpr 3! Post match, they attack Titan and take his mask as well. Good fun, but too short. Titan is a personal favorite though so this gets a little extra love from me. **½
Sam: Well this was fun. Wasn’t fun in an action packed nonsensical sort of way but a Taichi and Taka sort of way. Taichi ripping off the pants gets a pop out of me every damn time. Taichi and Taka are really fun heels and them going after the masks really was that swell heel tactic. Disappointed that Titan isn’t getting a more prominent match over Fantasticamania because he seems to be one of the better flippy technicoes. Bushi, or Bushiroad if you want to be that person, is a fun talent who should have a more solid role in the junior division but doesn’t because I don’t know why. Rather normal Taka and Taichi shtick match but that doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable whatsoever. **
Stuka, Jr./Fuego/Rey Cometa vs Vangellys/Okamura/Niebla Roja
Sam: Watching this made me realize I’m not exactly comfortable with lucha trios with only one fall. I’ve gotten used to the ebbs and flows that go with a three fall format. Trying to adapt to the situation though I thought this was another pretty fun match. This was more though the popcorn fun variety. I’ve watched a decent amount of Stuka Jr. and for some reason I never realized how pudgy the man is. That fact may have increased my enjoyment of the luchador. I actually thought Stuka Jr. was probably the best man in the match. Seemed like he got the most opportunities to shine and had fun with it. A like quite a few of these wrestlers but the crowd didn’t seem to know how to react all night and in this match in particular with it being an all CMLL match. I’m a bit scared about the all CMLL show on the 17th. Was hoping for a bit more here but still had some fun stuff in there. **
Billy: Significantly faster pace than the opener and this was super fun. I won’t even try and recap like I did the first match as guys were in & out at a super pace. Lots of high flying and fun spots, with the highlight being Stuka, Jr. & Fuego hitting a really cool tope/asai moonsault combo on Vangelis & Niebla Roja. Finish came abruptly, as Okumura counters a ‘rana attempt from Ray Cometa for the quick 3. I would’ve loved another 5 minutes or so, but this was fun for what we got. Balls to wall and a classic lucha-style exhibition. ***
Jado y Gedo vs Maximo y Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger
Billy: Maximo & Liger skip to the ring together and Liger just looks like he’s having alot of fun. Fun comedy spots throughout, including Jado & Gedo playing rock/paper/scissors to see who’d have to face Maximo. Jado hits the Flair chops on Maximo before getting hit with a kiss…Jado with the Flair Flop! Woooo! J&G take over for a bit before Maximo gets another kiss on Jado. Dropkick to the knee followed by La Magistral get the win for los tecnicos! Maximo & Liger celebrate post-match with a little dancing. I’m not the biggest fan of comedy matches but this was pretty good. A nice blend of comedy mixed with hard work from all 4 made for an enjoyable little match. **¾
Sam: Not a fan of Maximo a vast majority of the time and that would apply here. You can only imagine how much I enjoyed the beginning portion of the match being worked around Maximo’s gimmick. Luckily they eventually got away from that in the back half with Gedo and Jado in control and actually doing this wrestling thing. Didn’t HATE this because of Gedo and Jado, a lot because of the awesome Gedo, but Maximo and the way the workers decided to react to it just took me out of this a bit. *1/2
Tetsuya Naito y Volador, Jr. vs Mascara Dorada y KUSHIDA
Sam: So this was good fun. Was a little taken aback at first seeing Volador Jr. with his mask since he had lost it in a rather high profile match rather recently. This match made me want to see Naito give it a go back in the junior ranks because he just meshed so well in there with these cats. It was nice to see Kushida in there mix it up with a main event talent in Naito and a Mexican star in Volador Jr.. Dorada is fun to watch and his hurricanrana from the apron to the floor was him working at that super speed he can. These guys had a few clunky moments but that really didn’t take away from the fun this match delivered. The ending with Volador Jr. hitting an organic looking Canadian Destroyer was absolutely bonkers. I don’t think I’ve seen the move ever hit without looking stupidly choreographed but here it just looked like momentum at work. **3/4
Billy: KUSHIDA still rocking the Marty McFly vest from WK8. Volador in a mask? Assuming this is just for the Japan shows, and after talking to Sam on Twitter that seems to be the case. Naito & KUSHIDA start off with a lucha style exchange before the masked men make their way in. A ‘rana and a HUGE somersault plancha to the outside by Volador gives his team the advantage. Some double teaming by Dorada & KUSHIDA and this match seemed to kick into another gear. All 4 were everywhere, with Naito & KUSHIDA & Volador & Dorado paired off. Somersault dive to the outside by KUSHIDA on Naito. Dorado & Volador, Jr. back in and HOLY SHIT that was the snappiest Canadian Destroyer I’ve ever seen! Made me sit up a little. That gets the 3 and Volador, Jr. unmasks again post-match. Good stuff. ***½
Shinsuke Nakamura y Ultimo Guerrero vs Rush y La Sombra
Billy: Rush & Shinsuke to start. Too much charisma on my screen right now. After a brief exchange La Sombra & Ultimo Guerrero come in and bring the lucha goods with them. Nakamura & Rush’s strong style exchanges are alot of fun too,and everything in this match is working for me. Nice contrasting styles between the lucha and the strikes. Ultimo hits the Guerrero special on La Sombra for the win in what’s so far the match of the show. This was paced really well too and was given some good time. Everything post-intermission has been really good. ****
Sam: You probably could tell by looking at my Twitter that I’m a pretty big Rush fan and I’m also a fan of Nakamura so I was hoping for some great exchanges between the two leading into their big singles match. Sadly their exchanges while certainly at least enjoyable, their second exchange probably the best of the bunch, didn’t reach the holy shit levels that I was pulling for. Rush wasn’t made to look like the world level ass kicker that he is but more a guy that throws a mean dropkick which he also is. A lot of this match was built around La Sombra and Ultimo Guerrero which really isn’t something I’m majorly into. Contrary to popular belief ,which is based on my belief that Sombra didn’t have a good performance against Nakamura at last year’s Fantasticamania, I don’t think Sombra is a bad wrestler. Would I say he was great or really good? Probably not. Moving back into the match, the big Sombra moonsault to the outside really cancels itself out by being sweet looking while being awkward with Guerrero having to wait for Sombra to actually do the move which is the fault of the idea being in place even in the first place. In the end I found this to be yet another fun match on the show. **1/2
Kazuchika Okada/Rey Escorpion/Mephisto vs Hiroshi Tanahashi/Mistico/El Desperado
Sam: The main event is the best match on the show, admittedly not by a big margin or anything, which is usually a nice bonus which applies here. Wasn’t a great match but it kept the theme of being fun and coming at you in short bursts. Want to note that Desperado and Mephisto both look incredibly bad ass. Desperado definitely backed it up in the ring. I’m in love with his wreckless cannonball dive. Desperado continues to look good out there and was happy to see him in the main event on opening night. I would say Rey Escorpion is one of the most underrated luchadores out there but at this point it seems that most lucha fans hold the man in high regard. He rarely phones it in and he didn’t here throwing some good grappling at Desperado in the early going. Escorpion was also the base for the big Mistico hurricanrana form the top rope to the floor which wasn’t an easy task I can almost assure you. Speaking of Mistico, this version can still go high in the air if you were wondering. The most fun match on the show in a card full of them. ***
Billy: Escorpion & Desperado start with a nice back & forth exchange. Mistico in now and he squares off briefly with Mephisto and his badass getup before Okada comes in. This leads to Mistico tagging in Tanahashi after hitting a snap ‘rana and the crowd comes alive. Guys coming in and out but the rudos gain the advantage. Escorpion gets monkey flipped to the outside and Tanahashi goes up and hit the High Fly Flow on Rey! Okada ends up in the ring with Desperado. He goes for the Rainmaker but it’s countered. Okada to the outside but here comes Desperado with a somersault dive through the ropes! Mistico and Mephisto and Mistico has the upperhand before Escorpion comes in. Rey sent out and Mistico up top–’rana to Escorpion from the top! Mistico is off the charts in this match, looking insanely crisp. Tanahashi & Okada have an exchange that sees Okada hit the plancha to the floor on Tanahashi! Back in, Mistico catches Escorpion in La Mistica for the win! Really good stuff. ***¾
Billy: Fun show with everything after the intermission being pretty good. Last 2 matches were great and I’m looking forward to the Nakamura/Rush match on the 18th. Since moving across the state in October, I haven’t caught hardly any lucha so this was a fun way to start to get back into the swing of things. This show is on YouTube and is worth a watch if you have the time and clocking in at just 2 hours & 45 minutes, it’d be easy to find the time.
Sam: FUN! Not a ton more to say really. Almost every match seemed more like an attraction match compared to a competitive contest. I’m not sure if the card is worth the $15 NJPW was charging when there is a sea of fun, and legal, matches on YouTube that one could watch from recently. Happy the card peaked when on top and happy to see Escorpion being one of the CMLL wrestlers still giving it 100% and Desperado putting his best foot forward in a main event slot, even if it probably was given to him based on his CMLL past. With no match breaking the 15 minute mark the show is a real breeze.