Look alive sunshine; CMLL and New Japan Pro Wrestling’s FantasticaMania tour is coming back to a streaming service near you. The tour has actually continued since the kickoff show in Osaka last Friday but has gone unstreamed (you can find the results easily around the internet). Until tomorrow morning that is, when the next FantasticaMania show from Chiba will be taking place. We haven’t yet arrived at the big matches on the tour but we’re getting closer, with New Japan and CMLL upping the ante a bit with the return of the CMLL Family Tag Team Tournament. There are also a few cool matches besides that, as well as some more frustrating matches that have left lucha fans (myself included) puzzled. You’ll very much see what I mean as we get moving through this preview. Speaking of which, let’s start that now so I can go grab some grub.
KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi, Titán vs. Forastero, Gedo, Taiji Ishimori
What to Expect: If you enjoy watching FantasticaMania matches where the luchadores get only 60-90 seconds of action while New Japan builds to a Taguchi-Ishimori match for the next tour, then this match is for you! Sadly that’s not so much my speed, which has me hoping they switch it up and allow Titán and Forastero to do some cool shit. If not…well at least we’ve got KUSHIDA’s entrance music right? That may be the worst part of him going to the dark side; we don’t get to hear that epic song again!
Winners: Forastero and the Bullet Club win after Forastero pins Titán. At least part of that 60-90 second window will involve the two of them getting the finish I suppose.
Fujin & Raijin vs. BUSHI & Shingo Takagi
What to Expect: Can it get any more lucha libre than four Japanese guys wrestling each other? I get that CMLL is being cute by “bringing back” Fujin and Raijin from their long hiatus but this is definitely an example of New Japan kind of missing the point of this whole FantasticaMania thing this year. At least the match will be watchable though. Fujin and Raijin seem to wrestle exactly like those Roppongi 3K guys (always a good thing) and quite frankly I would watch Shingo Takagi lariat anything these days. The dude is money. Oh, and BUSHI is okay too.
Winners: Shingo and the Bush take this one after Shingo puts away Fujin with Big in Japan. Or is it Made in Japan? DAMN YOU EXACALIBUR FOR CONFUSING ME WITH YOUR BOLA COMMENTARY!
Ángel de Oro, Audaz, Soberano Jr. vs. Barbaro Cavernario, Namajague, Okumura
What to Expect: An honest to Grodd near pure lucha libre match on a lucha libre show?!
It took us three matches sports fans but that’s what we have. And yes I’m counting Okumura and Namajague (who I stupidly called Namajuge last time because I’m an idiot) as luchadores; Okumura only works in CMLL full time and Nama (can I call him Nama?) was big in CMLL many moons ago. They both count. Frankly it doesn’t matter if they do because Oro, Audaz, Soberano and Cavernario all count and they’re all really, REALLY good. Frankly that could be said about everyone in this match save Okumura (who remains ever so solid and ever so unspectacular) and it gives me hope that this will be the standout undercard match of this show. Even if it’s not though, we’re still going to get some nice Soberano/Cavernario sequences to build to their match (the secret weapon of this tour) and most importantly we’ll get some well needed Audaz sequences. I know he’s only gotten one streamed show and 60 seconds to strut his stuff thus far, but the dude is being outshined by Atlantis Jr.! If there’s ever going to be a time for Audaz to show everyone what he can do, this is it.
Winners: Could pretty much go either way here right? You know what that means; BRING ME THE COIN FROM CANADA! Heads technicos, Moose rudos…and its heads. Audaz, Oro and The Screw Master prevail.
Satoshi Kojima & Toa Henare vs. Terrible & Tetsuya Naito
What to Expect: And just like that we’re back to the New Japan of it all. Although this one is somewhat understandable at least as they are building to Terrible vs. Kojima at the end of the tour. I thought they looked alright the first time out and they’ll get more time to find some chemistry this go around, what with Shingo and the Bush elsewhere. We’ll also get to see more of Naito, which is never a bad thing. There are definitely things far more appealing on this card but it could be worse; it could be Okumura vs. Taichi. Always remember that.
Winners: Terrible and Naito pick up the W when LIJ’s leader puts Henare away with a Destino.
Carístico, Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV vs. Gran Guerrero, Templario, Último Guerrero
What to Expect: Poor Carístico; the dude finally makes it back to New Japan to bring his real life redemption arc to 70% complete (it’ll reach 100% if he gets and nails a shot in either AEW or ROH) and he’s stuck teaming with a past his prime Tiger Mask IV. If he were any unluckier he’d actually be Tiger Mask IV, a really good worker over his career who will never get his due because the other three Tiger Mask’s were either pioneers, all time great junior heavyweights or the guy who would’ve been the greatest wrestler ever if Kenta Kobashi never existed. You hear that sound; that’s the one Misawa fan who reads this column slamming their keyboard in disgust. To them I say…
In any event, Tiger Mask’s involvement here is the only real damper on what is otherwise a fun looking match. Carístico has been pumped ever since returning for this tour and he’s got three rudos in the GG, Templario and the UG that he knows very well to work with. It doesn’t hurt either that Templario and the Guerreros are a unit in Mexico (just starting out but still) and will definitely be showing off some fun double/triple teams during the show. All that and the still fun Jushin Liger should be enough to make this an entertaining match, even if it would’ve been better off with Titán and Tiger Mask switching places.
Winners: The Guerreros are in the Finals of this family tournament New Japan is doing (on account of them winning last year) so it makes sense to keep them strong till that then. In other words, they’re winning this match after the UG taps out Tiger Mask with Pulpo Guerrero. Speaking of this family tournament…
CMLL Family Tag Team Tournament, First Round Match
Atlantis & Atlantis Jr. vs. Cuatrero & Sansón
What to Expect: Here’s what you need to know about this (apparently) annual tournament New Japan does whenever CMLL comes over; there are two first round matches featuring four teams of related luchadores. The two first round winners move on to a semi-final, with the winner there then moving onto the finals to face whoever won the damn thing last year. And that’s the format for the CMLL Family Tag Team Tournament.
The bad news concerning this tournament is that it was very, VERY underwhelming last year, especially compared to the big singles matches between Soberano-Sansón, Volador-Cavernario and Niebla Roja-Gran Guerrero. There are two pieces of good news though. First, that was last year and this is this year; I know it goes without saying but things can change in a year’s time with some tweaking. Secondly, this match is interesting even without the tournament stuff strictly because it involves Atlantis Jr. We all saw the youngster’s debut a few days ago and, while I think we all agree there’s some refining to be done, everyone I know came away very impressed with the young Atlantis and his potential. I haven’t heard any bad reviews since and he’ll once again be working with Sansón, who no doubt was a big help for the kid in that last match. It’s another test but I’m hopeful we’ll get another promising performance from Atlantis Jr., as well as one from his father considering Cuatrero and Sansón have been two of the best at working with Atlantis ever since his injury. I don’t know if this will be a great match but it’s definitely one everyone will be watching for obvious reasons.
Winners: Frankly Atlantis and Atlantis Jr. winning this match and the semi-final would be the best scenario, if only because the two Atlantis’ taking on the GG and the UG would be fitting given Atlantis and Guerrero’s long history. Alas Atlantis Jr. is already booked for a singles match against Okumura on the day of the finals and he’s not pulling double duty this early. Thus expect Cuatrero and Sansón to pick up the W.
CMLL Family Tag Team Tournament, First Round Match
Dragón Lee & Mistico vs. Flyer & Volador Jr.
What to Expect: The Atlantis/Dinamitas tag match may be the most interesting of the two tournament bouts but this one is definitely the most exciting. Not only is this a chance to see a rare Dragón Lee/Volador match up but it features four guys who at their best can tear the house down at any given time. The question is will they be at their best? Lee and Volador are surely locks to be, but Mistico (despite stepping up his effort as he always does in Japan) is nowhere near the most consistent luchador around. And then there’s Flyer. Some will argue that the Gran Alternativa Final and maybe even the six man with him, Volador and LA Park against Los Ingobernables the week after (all from this past May) were the biggest matches of his career but this is the main event of a friggin New Japan tour. The thought of Flyer headlining any New Japan show a year ago, regardless of the size or stature of the show, would’ve been preposterous…and yet here we are. The pressure will be on him to stand out in a big way and, as much as I love Flyer and am very pleased with how he looked the first night in, he does have tendencies to let his nerves get the better of him. If he’s off then this match is topping out at just good, and maybe even a little less. If Flyer does what he’s capable of doing however, then this match is easily going to be the best match on this card. Hell it may be regardless; as a Flyer fan though it be better if it ruled while he delivered a great performance as opposed to a bad one.
Winners: Just like Atlantis Jr., Volador is booked on the final night of the tour in a huge match against Carístico. That means he and Flyer aren’t winning, which means Dragón Lee and Mistico are most certainly taking the W here to move onto a rematch against Cuatrero and Sansón from last year. Here’s hoping that match goes better than the last one.
There you have it sports fans. I’ll have a review of this show tomorrow morning, as well as results from tonight’s CMLL Tuesday show later this evening. TILL THEN!
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