Super Delfin & Takehiro Murahama vs. Jushin Liger & El Samurai (Osaka Pro 5/29/01)

Match ReviewsSuper Delfin

More interpromotional action!

Once again, we have the invaders in Liger & Samurai coming into Osaka Pro to take on the home team. For his partner on this go around, Delfin’s got his famed rival from the year before, Takehiro Murahama. As I’ve made clear on the blog before, both in this project and beyond, I’m a real sucker for rivals turned partners. Great trope in romance, great one in wrestling too.

This follows a very similar structure to the previous match in that it’s about as close to a southern tag as you can get. While I enjoy Murahama as an offensive force more than Mandaro in the last tag, I find that he’s just a little less endearing and charming. That’s not his fault, he’s following a guy who had eyes literally popping out of his mask. For a second, it almost looks like Delfin might become the face in peril–a role he hasn’t played at all in this project–but that quickly transitions back to Murahama being the one worked over.

Liger and Samurai might be even more petty and violent in this match than the last. There’s some hints at really focused leg work on Murahama. That goes away before the heat segment’s done, so I don’t mind too much that Murahama shrugs that off. The leg work isn’t even the most interesting thing Liger and Samurai do. It’s more of the persistent scraping of the eyes of their opponents that really makes them come across as vicious bullies.

I enjoy how Delfin utilizes his best strengths to maximize the drama in this match. I’ve said time and time again that Delfin’s a great hot tag and that comes in handy here. But his ability for working convincing miscommunication spots gets played for drama here instead of comedy. At one point, Murahama and Samurai collide with an accidental palm strike and there’s some real tension there over whether the hero’s history as enemies could end up costing them.

I also think this is one of the better finishing stretches Delfin has. I think watching too much of him made me tire a bit of the standard nearfall stretch that we know well at this point. However, here, it feels justified. Even in 2000, Liger was an institution of junior heavyweight wrestling in Japan and when he kicks out of both the tornado DDT and Delfin’s palm strike, it feels entirely credible. It makes Delfin finally putting the guy away all the more impactful to know he had such a steep mountain to climb.

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