1) Liger v. Kuniaki Kobayashi (Liger's Debut- 04/24/1989)- 3
2) Liger v. Hiroshi Hase (IWGP Jr. Title Match- 05/25/1989)- 5
3) Liger v. Black Tiger (IWGP Jr. Title Match European Rounds- 07/12/1989)- 5
4) Liger v. Akira Nogami (07/28/1989)- 6
5) Liger v. Takayuki Iizuka (11/03/1989)- 4
6) Liger v. Naoki Sano (07/13/1989)- 5
I am pleased and honored to be able to look back at the career of this amazing talent, a guy I personally inducted into 2nd class of NHO Hall of Fame. In his debut, Liger was wearing a vastly different costume than he's known for now. It was a full bodysuit but with a mask that had no face and was red with gold stripes; he looked like a member of the short lived and probably even less likely remembered VR Troopers show. Kobayashi, who i'm quite sure has disappeared into the ether, was a pretty green guy at this time. Liger relied on stiff kicks and pin point dropkicks as offense, but this match featured little else. Both guys seemed a little overwhelmed on this big stage. Hase was really young here too but still had that fire he's known for. He competed a lot like an amateur wrestler would breaking into the business, he concentrated on awkward throws and suplexes and a lot of his stuff looked really unpolished. These two had very good chemistry though and near the end of the match they pulled off a devastating back superplex that had me cringing.
This match features the original Black Tiger (complete with fancy cape) whose style seemed very lucha based mixed with some showy technical stuff. Liger worked to Tiger's strengths and I'm sure the match was better for it than Liger's sometimes stiff, prickish style. This didn't go long but did feature several neat reversals and a great dive spot that would highlight Liger's somersault plancha from this point forward that could literally land anywhere and hurt to a varying degree, on both opponent and himself. Nogami came in looking like any other dojo boy in nondescript black trunks and white boots but damn that boy can wrestle! His strength was definitley technical and submission style and he took the agression to Liger for a good portion of the match. Liger pulled out a lot of high impact moves to stop the young sensation including his suicidal flipping plancha outside. This match also featured (at least on this dvd) the first Ligerbomb we'd see and it was a beauty!
Iizuka was in the pink trunks and looked pretty lost- obviously another young boy. Liger took no mercy on him for his inexperience and dealt out the same kicks and palm strikes on him as he had done on every other opponent. They picked up the pace near the end and finished stronger than they had began. This match didn't do a lot for me but was not a lot inherently wrong with the work, pretty basic. Sano was a fireplug, built well but wearing track pants and gym shoes so he didn't look like much. He and Liger were really competitive, hitting big moves like sliding dropkicks and planchas outside while working hard inside the ring too. Both guys were using submission moves along with power moves to try and throw each other off their game, but Liger in the end got the duke with another back breaking Liger bomb.
The first disc was fun but featured Liger against a lot of younger guys yet already in the beginning of his career he looked like a ring leader. Most of the matches had a lengthy time to them showing Liger can work with most of the guys fairly competitively and well. Onto the next disc.....