Jushin Liger vs. Super Delfin (NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Final 6/13/94)

Match ReviewsSuper Delfin

After two more lowkey efforts, we get big match Delfin back for this. It sure doesn’t get much bigger than the finals of the Best of the Super Juniors against none other than Jushin Liger. Ever the consummate heel, Delfin commemorates the occasion by wearing customized gear to mock Jushin Liger. It’s such an audacious get up from this dirty rudo, I can’t help but find it incredibly charming all these years later.

What we get here is a real great super junior heavyweight bombfest, as was the style at the time. Anchoring that is the dynamic of Delfin being this outsider heel taking on the New Japan junior heavyweight god in Jushin Liger. Just looking at the match on paper, the purpose of everything is clear. Delfin will put up a fight, be a nuisance, but it’s all about Liger asserting his clear dominance in the end.

To that end, it’s really the Jushin Liger show. All the best moments really do stem from him, such as his vicious open palm strike that floors Delfin early on, or even the wonderful top rope dives that we get in the finishing stretch. Delfin doesn’t look bad or out of his depth at all in this, everything he does still works mechanically and he’s still using the same mindfulness to let the babyface shine, but this is an example where the babyface just shines so goddamn bright that it can’t help but overwhelm everything in its path.

Despite how great this is, it is a little frustrating and flawed at parts. It flirts with some really interesting ideas that just don’t go anywhere. For one, Delfin’s attire which I would have liked to see trigger just a tad more aggression from Liger. Later on, Delfin even tries to go for Liger’s mask and it felt like an easy plot thread to amp up the intensity of this thing but it settles into something a little more familiar and less interesting instead.

There’s also the absolutely brutal leg work Liger initiates one of his comebacks with. Two truly disgusting dropkicks to Delfin’s ankles followed up by a middle rope knee drop to Delfin’s leg. It’s offense that’s gross enough to make it a bit annoying when Delfin basically shrugs that off and never really acknowledges it again. Give us a bit of a limp out there, Delfin, come on.

Flaws and all still pretty great, but I can’t help but get the feeling that there’s an all-time classic here that both men denied themselves from having.

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