Jushin Liger vs. Flyin’ Brian (WCW SuperBrawl II 2/29/92)

Match Reviews

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

This is a match wrestled for an American audience used to American wrestling. It’s a showcase of the cool things that Liger and Pillman can do together in the junior heavyweight style that’s taking hold over in Japan but placed on a WCW pay-per-view instead. On that front, it makes sense why it might have left such a strong impression on audience from 1992. The high spots can’t help but pop here especially because these two know well enough to work some more grounded offense in at the start before ramping up to all their flashier tactics in the back half.

That being said, it’s a match that plays to a very limited audience in a specific moment in time. Hindsight does this match very few favors. It’s easy to point to this match and say that these high spots don’t do much for a modern viewer, but the broader view of the industry we’re all afforded in this digital age means that we can better compare this to similar stylings of the time as well. Liger’s done far better than this at this point in his career, even from just a pure fireworks perspective, and that’s just his own career. Nothing here would really pass the test held up against the best of other contemporary Japanese juniors or even the best of what’s happening in Mexico

All this is to say that this just doesn’t hold up as this industry trailblazer if one just widens their perspective a little.

There’s a few issues with the match itself too, outside of how we position it in history. For one, it does suffer a tad from being wrestled more as a babyface/babyface match. Brian really should be a de facto face here, and it might have even worked given that Liger starts to work over his leg early in the match, but Brian doesn’t commit nearly enough to that idea or selling to draw any kind of sympathy. We also get some early examples of the “evenly matched” exchange tropes here that aren’t as silly as they’d get in years to come but still don’t quite hold water. I especially don’t care for both men going for dropkicks and taking way too long to sell down on the mat.

This all sounds very dour so far, but the reality of what this is it’s just a very fun display overall. Everything’s hit rather cleanly, it all moves at a decent pace, and it never gets too absurd to insult the viewer. It’s a fun little appetizer to a particular style. Great for the time, but more just good in hindsight.

Rating: ***1/4

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