taped 2012-01-22 @ Korakuen Hall
Máscara Dorada vs Kushida for the CMLL World Welterweight Championship: a battle for survival for Dorada. He spent most of his last defense doing anything he could think of, while this match was more about surviving everything Kushida could do before slipping out a win. Both were about Dorada’s toughness, just different ways of going about it. Still, this felt more like a Kushida match than a Dorada match that I’m used to Mexico – Dorada only got in small bursts of offense at opportune times, and I wasn’t into it as a I thought. It was good but not especially so. I assume a rematch to come.
Hirooki Goto vs Rush: and this was kind of the opposite. Goto got less than the match than Dorada, easily so. Rush just crushed him for the first five minutes before Goto started getting anything in. This is so clearly what they were going for with the two Terrible/Rush matches, but haven’t been able to achieve yet (Goto is better at this than Terrible, which is not a big surprise.) Rush held his own as a luchador the whole way, the rookie mistakes long gone or at least just not showing up here, and seemed to impress the fans. This is about as good start as he could’ve had. Like everyone else, I’d like to see what Rush could do in a G1 situation; I don’t know that he’s got a lot more to show that he didn’t do here, but that kind of environment could force him to develop a bit more.
La Sombra vs Volador Jr. for the NWA World Welterweight Championship: Great. They worked this differently than every other match on the show – no chop fights, no slow down, really nothing but action. There was a minute or two of first fall work, but this was mostly the longest third fall possible with both guys pulling everything they had. I kind of would’ve liked to see three falls just so they – more so Volador – could get a pin with another finish to make it seem bigger later, but they fans did tremendously get into to the match. This was a complicated well executed match in their style, and it was one that seemed like it was better than the matches the previous two years. These two keep getting better together.
In the other matches: I thought Nakamaura wearing the Mephisto (which is actually the Kahoz) eyes and mouth on his hood was a really neat touch. The Japanese likely have a higher opinion of Diamante than the Mexicans. He wasn’t that much different, but here he was the singular super young future star of the company, instead of one of dozens who all might (or might not) turn out that way. Liger is the best. Yoshihashi actually seems worse off in NJPW than he was at the end of CMLL; just sort of lifeless and more limited. Anyone willing to spend a year and a half a hemisphere from home just to get better is someone who deserves to make it, but I don’t know that he will.