Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jushin "Thunder" Liger TV Special: Disc #3

1) Liger v. Negro Casas (04/19/91)- 5
2) Liger v. Owen Hart (04/28/91)- 7
3) Liger v. Norio Honaga (04/30/91- IWGP Jr. Title Match)- 7
4) Liger v. Akira Nogami (03/21/91- IWGP Jr. Title Match)- 4
5) Liger v. Pegasus Kid (07/04/91- Mask v. Mask Match)- 6

Casas switched up his Bigfoot jr. outfit for that of a snow leopard, still with the furry shoulder stripe. This match didn't have anywhere near the level of crowd heat the first did but it still contained that passionate hatred these two conveyed in their match on disc 2. Casas broke out some classic lucha spots like the kick off into the steel post from the ring apron. They both were guilty of some haphazard moves and some sloppy chair spots but Liger did put forth his usual perfunctory pissed off performance with a real spot-on dropkick to the teeth and a balls out front flip. It's so nice to be able to go back and watch Owen in his young days. He was a hell of an athlete, and he and Liger went back and forth with great spots, not really slowing down at all. Liger amazes me how much he can sell and connect with the audience. He was a truly great babyface in that way. Owen is flying all over hitting all his signature spots and taking Canadian all star bumps like back superplex from the top. I see so much of Bret in his performance here, as he throws every kick and punch like he's fighting in a decrepit alley in Manitoba. There's some great moments in this match but no one kills themselves; they just put on a very competitive match that was action packed from bell to bell.

Not familiar with Honaga's work, only the name and looking at him, he don't look like much of anything; skinny little dude with a greasy Isaac Yankem mullet, black leotard workout pants and tiny white boots. His strong point is aggressive attack, he stays on Liger and uses some high impact stuff (powerbombs & swank German bridges) to keep him down. He has a hell of a heart too, kicking out of tons and tons of big moves. His selling needs some help though, not just bodypart but overall, after taking moves and such. This was worked in classic style, lot of time, good build and the crowd was popping at every move near the end. The finish was sort of anti-climatic even though it looked good. This match, I believe is from the first WCW-New Japan supershow, even though it says Starrcade 91 on the mat. Akira turned into a living voodoo doll complete with headdress since his early days, very strange look. I think his work suffered as a result of the change- he was a tenacious mat grappler on the first 2 discs but here he's merely a passive guy, grabbing rest holds on the ground setting Liger up for his next offensive move. Liger lets himself be controlled on the ground a lot here, and this doens't add up to much at all.

Surely another classic in these two's canon of work- while this is still worth seeing, it's not the best of their series. The beginning starts out like any long Liger match, boring ground work that doesn't lead anywhere, such as Benoit hooking a scissors around Liger's legs for at least 3 min. then not attacking the legs again the rest of the match. The whole middle section is their ballgame- all the reversals and high impact moves, the dives outside, Benoit killing himself with a basement dropkick from the top rope to the outside mats. Liger is bumping his ass off and just folding himself like a Slinky for all of Benoit's moves. The end feels empty, and hollow, like the skull of Anna Nicole Smith, both when alive and now in a grave. It felt like whenyou're reading a "Who Done it?" book and you have your two or three suspects and then you find out it was a rare liver disease and no one killed the guy- just completely out of nowhere and unsatisfying but you can see their chemistry is completely in sync and I can't wait to see their next encounter on Disc 4.

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