Jushin Liger vs. Dave Finlay (NJPW Best of the Super Junior I Night 1 5/26/94)

Match Reviews

This review was commissioned by CJ over on my Ko-fi account.

Liger in Japan really is something else. Having just watched him perform in one of his most famous US matches, going from that to this is such whiplash. In the most complimentary way possible, there’s an almost Hogan-esque quality to Liger in this match. Not just cupping his hand to his ear to hear the roaring crowd, but just how damn animated he is behind even the smallest moments. Watch the way he complains to the referee when Finlay pulls his hair, or the way he stomps in pain when Finlay punches him in the nose. It’s really just a stunning physical performance from Liger here, in a match that actually asks very little of him.

Finlay’s very good in this too, mostly delivering in finding small mean ways to punish Liger. It’s a lot of punching, but also just stretching out Liger on the mat, going for nerve holds, and the like. Even in the early moments too, there’s something as bullying as stomping on Liger’s hand as they struggle over an abdominal stretch. I wish this had spent more time on the mat to explore as Finlay busts out some great stuff on that front too. My favorite would be a headscissors escape that sees him uses his legs to tie up Liger’s own and force them up off Finlay’s head. Beautiful stuff.

NJPW, GIF-ed by Joseph Montecillo

That being said, it’s a mostly low stakes affair. It’s both men’s first match in the block stages of the 94 Best of the Super Juniors, and it plays out as the classic early upset with Finlay getting the win after a low blow followed up with some nasty piledrivers. Never blowaway, it’s still wrestled exactly to the occasion, and there’s something to admire in how sound everything is without too much ambition.

Rating: ***1/2

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