We return to New Japan for a show built around showcasing junior heavyweights. The last time we covered Delfin in New Japan, he was the dastardly villain for Jushin Liger to dispatch in the finals of the Best of the Super Juniors. Much has changed on this go around. For the first time in the project, we get babyface Super Delfin as he’s joined the forces of good against Kaientai Deluxe, represented here by TAKA Michinoku.
TAKA gets the early advantage in this with a big top rope springboard moonsault to the floor. He’s far better suited to controlling the offense of this match as he’s a far more aggressive and gritty worker compared to Delfin. While I’m not in love with his work on the mat, he does hit hard, and even his high flying has the edge on Delfin here.
The latter’s especially noteworthy as TAKA’s predilection to show off by making multiple jumps on the ropes costs him when Delfin catches him and crotches him. It’s a great way for Delfin to make his comeback as it emphasizes his cleverness and cunning–something a little more in line with his rudo roots.
Really, the match becomes about Delfin not only trying to survive TAKA but then working to solve the riddle of how to put him away. This means that the later stages of the match turn into a big bombfest as the two try to outdo each other. But as with a lot of the best Michinoku Pro-style stuff goes, it’s a really great bombfest that has me biting on several nearfalls. It really speaks to the mastery of pacing that these guys have that they make those finishing stretches feel so urgent and tense to the point that each new move could conceivably be the one to get the win.
Delfin endures, surviving the Michinoku Driver among many other big moves from TAKA. What gets him the win though is an innovation on his part. His typical rolling German Suplex gets slightly modified into a rolling German transitioning into a bridging Tiger Suplex to finally get the win. It’s a real feel good victory, one that feels earned by a worker adapting to get the final decisive edge over the opposition.
It’s great, but not perfect. Much like the Liger BOSJ final, there’s a leg work section that exists just fine in the moment but evaporates from significance as soon as it’s over. Delfin’s also fun in his role here, but it is a bit of a struggle to see some of his signature mischief go away with the babyface turn. He’s still charismatic but if he’d found a more expressive and cheeky way to get this new role across, I think this could have been even better. Still, what we do get is a great match that shows Delfin can work babyface and heel.
I just prefer him as one over the other, for now.