Jushin “Thunder” Liger just finished up his last show at Arena Mexico this week, and it was a pretty big spectacle. Not to say that their shows aren’t always special, as you get to see some of the best wrestling in the world week in and week out at the same venue, which is a rarity these days, but CMLL went out of their way to make Jushin’s last match really amazing.
It’s really strange to think that Jushin “Thunder” Liger will no longer be wrestling after this year. I have grown up watching a lot of his matches. When I think about it, his match against Flyin’ Brian Pillman is probably one of the first matches I have seen that had a Japanese wrestler in it. It would be either him or The Great Muta.
He’s had an amazing career, and I am so glad that CMLL gave him such a great send-off. They brought out their dancers and had Asian drums that looked really cool, and for a guy like Liger, who is so original and so insane, it was really appropriate. Now that the months are winding down, you should really appreciate these moments like this, because they won’t be around much longer.
As for the rest of the show, it was decent. I haven’t watched an Arena Mexico show on Friday night in a long time, but this was one of the decent ones. I really liked the Rush and L.A. Park brawl. L.A. Park does the Brody gimmick so well, and he always puts on a good show. Mistico is also one of those guys who always put on a good show when I see him. The rest of the card isn’t too bad, and I would say that checking out Arena Mexico weekly should be included in a lot of wrestling fans schedule. Even if you don’t speak the language, you can still pick up on a lot of what is going on. Some things can be a little jarring at first, like the 2 out of 3 falls aspect, but you get used to it after a while and you get to see some really amazing stuff.
Back to the L.A. Park match, Rush started working on his mask during the show, and it may be a set up for a match for a mask vs. hair match with Rush at some time. Park had been floating the idea of putting up his mask for a while, even setting up an angle some time ago that never came to fruition. He probably has the highest asking price in Mexico for his mask, so with him getting up there in age, I wouldn’t blame him for cashing in on that right now.
The main event was Liger, Negro Casas, who is also up there in age but looks great, Carístico, and Último Guerrero. It wasn’t the greatest match, but the theatre and the atmosphere surrounding it was really something to see. If you haven’t seen a CMLL show, especially a Friday night show, this would be the one I would suggest you watch to let yourself get into the product, because at least you get to see Liger’s last time there and you also get to see how the wrestlers set up for some angles in Mexico regarding their masks, which are highly regarded.
We now sit one third through the G1 Climax for 2019, and we have had some amazing matches along the way this week. Really, this year differs from years past, because there is more of an emphasis on stories rather than insane match quality on its own. While this may be a bit weaker with the amount of really great matches in it, and I mean a tiny bit, it has made up for it by telling a different story every time. Everyone does their part and gets over the little things that make all of these matches come across great, and Kevin Kelly has done a great job on expanding upon those issues as well.
I don’t know if you can find a better production than New Japan in that aspect. While the WWE does a great job of making each event seem larger than life and as clean as possible, they really overlook those little stories that could be capitalized on. I guess you could argue that those things don’t matter, and they aren’t the reason why fans buy tickets, but at the same time, we should really try to expect the best product that one company can present to us, we are the ones paying for it. NJPW does a great job of setting themselves apart and presenting an amazing product.
The MVP for the tournament so far has to be Will Ospreay, but Kota Ibushi isn’t far behind. In fact, everyone is really putting on their working boots and giving some impressive performances. But, I can’t stress enough how far Will Ospreay has come in the past year, and he was already among one of the best wrestlers in the world before.
I am going to go in-depth later this week and break down the tournament so far before they come back on Wednesday, but I just want to mention that both Ospreay matches this weekend got 10/10 ratings for me. I make it a point to almost never give out 10 ratings. Those matches seem way too special to be liberal with a rating that is essentially saying, hey, this is one of the best matches I have ever seen, but I can’t deny how much I loved these two matches. I would say the Ibushi one was better in my eyes, but it wasn’t by much. They both told an amazing tale of Will trying to prove that he not just belonged at the top of the card, but could also beat big names in New Japan, and he lost both of them. Even though he still has some way to go on his journey, he has really turned into a legit star in Japan, and his work is really top-njotch. This all was done after fearing that he would miss time due to a neck injury, and they even let that play into the story as well. Just spectacular. Please check out those two matches if you see any this summer.
The funny thing is we aren’t even done with the G1 yet. We still have the rest of the tournament to go through…
Starrcast has announced that CM Punk will be appearing in Chicago for the Memorial Day weekend event. This has really started the rumor mills talking about him possibly making an appearance at AEW that weekend, and a lot of fans are saying that if he doesn’t it may be a huge waste of an opportunity.
Let’s be honest, and I say this as a pretty big Elite fan, this AEW thing has not been perfect. There has been a lot of growing pains, and a lot of people see Punk as the bandaid that would be able to cover that up as best as possible. But, the biggest hurdle and question with this entire thing is Punk. No one really knows where his head is at regarding wrestling. I think people have some ideas, but with all the mystery surrounding it, I wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails on it. Maybe he is in the same boat as well. It is totally realistic to think that CM Punk hasn’t decided if he is going to wrestle for a big promotion again or not.
I think people are going to speculate and unless Punk does show up at All Out, people are going to have the perception that AEW dropped the ball, which I don’t know if that is fair or not. Yes, AEW should sign up any big name like CM Punk they can get, because that is going to be a huge part of where they can go with a mainstream audience, what stars they have, and how big are they. Jericho is one of those types. Having another big, established name that can sell tickets is ideal.
But, one thing that people seem to not realize is that Punk is kind of the only one who can make that decision. It could be that with these lawsuits and court fees his bank account isn’t looking as good as it was years ago, but I would imagine that his commentating gigs pay decent and he isn’t a guy who needs a lot of money. He seems to enjoy time with his family and enough to buy his comic books. The other issue is that wrestling hurts, and it breaks you down. With an older body, it is going to be a lot different when it comes to taking those bumps and bruises.
But hey, he could show up and it would be the biggest thing since Luger showed up at the Mall of America, right?
I guess I would say, just don’t hold your breath, but it would be amazing if it happened.
It seems like every time I get a look at house show crowds on Twitter, it gets worse every week. With TV starting to slowly turn around, it could cause the crowds to start to turn, but we probably won’t see that for a couple of months. It’s worrisome, with WWE on their way to network television and having this type of excitement level. I would think that wrestling fans would be as excited as I am that we are going to have a product on a station with the biggest visibility in a very long time, and our biggest barometer as far as an American audience, the WWE, is struggling to fill up house shows.
I know house shows have suffered since John Cena stopped working regularly. That, bad luck, and the ignorance of not establishing some stars in the past few years have really impacted live attendance. I would also think that Becky Lynch would have drawn some people in, but she has largely cooled off and I find the reason behind that would be having her involved in really poor booking. She built herself up organically with the crowd, and the way that the WWE has handled the entire thing has been subpar. Don’t get me wrong now. The WrestleMania main event was amazing, but I always felt like Becky should have won her way into the main event rather than Ronda giving it to her. I also felt like the finish being kind of botched and muddled never gave Becky that decisive win over Rousey that she needed to look like she was bigger than life. But there is time. I hope they don’t drop things because of house show attendance. I solely blame how this has all gone down on Vince and creative.
Kevin Owens is being booked how you should book guys like that. Those are the changes that needed to be done. We need a babyface that is likable and relatable sometimes. Kevin doing his “I’m going to tell it like it is and stick it to the boss’s son” program right now is really good. I hope they continue on with things like that. Even if ripping on a McMahon and beating them up has been done so many times that it is no longer fresh, you still like to have some fun while watching wrestling. I felt like a good amount of the past few months didn’t have much fun to WWE programming besides the 24/7 Title.
We’ll keep an eye on this as it continues to develop, but I hope the rumors of guys like Finn Balor getting a shot and with the minor improvements done with the show, we can start seeing returns on those changes and getting a different product that keeps us invested.
Sendai Girls released their entire show from 07/19 on YouTube, and I am going to be doing a review of it because it is something easy for people to find to watch. That should be posted on Tuesday along with a G1 recap that will get you set up for the remaining part of the tournament. This is going to be a lot of work, but Sendai Girls has been great lately, and I am really excited to see how the rest of the G1 shapes out. The stories this year have really gotten me vested, which isn’t always the case, to be honest.
I have watched every G1 for about 10 years straight, and before that, I watched the finals of years past. This one may be among my favorite. I have seen a lot of people online dunk on this year, and I have had some friends tell me that they think this year is a bit subpar, but I haven’t felt that way. I think I can understand how others see that, and the reasoning is that there is so much good wrestling everywhere, that New Japan doesn’t feel as unique as it did before. That’s totally understandable. I just think this year has some cool stories, and I really can’t wait to see how they all are fleshed out. As for Sendai Girls, Sareee, Meiko Satomura, Chihiro Hashimoto, and DASH Chisako are all tearing it up right now. Please, if you haven’t seen them perform, do a quick search on YouTube and have a fun evening. Anyway, that’s it for this time. See you this week for more Sendai Girls and New Japan coverage.