We continue our countdown to Jyushin Thunder Liger’s retirement.
1993 was a year of ups and downs for Jyushin Thunder Liger. His momentum going into the summer was stopped, along with his chances of back to back Top of the Super Juniors wins, by a left ankle injury that necessitated time off. On his return however, he would make an ally out of his enemy Pegasus Kid, now Wild Pegasus ever since Liger unmasked him. The two would take part in the S-G Tag league, a precursor to today’s World Tag League, and even though they could only score a 2-7 record, the concept of Liger battling heavyweight competition would open doors going into 1994.
Elsewhere, much of Liger’s 1993 was a microcosm of NJPW at large. New Japan would be constantly battling Genichiro Tenryu’s WAR promotion through the year, and Liger would be at the front lines. In September, that meant wrestling the legendary Mil Mascaras for the first time, in a WAR tag match; he teamed with El Samurai that night, while Mascaras partnered with the icon of the cross cultural ‘lucharesu’ style: Ultimo Dragon.
Much like Liger, Dragon had designs on the NJPW dojo ata young age, but with size being a factor, would take a longer route through Mexico to eventual stardom. While Liger would go from Mexico into the New Japan Dojo, Dragon would wrestle in what is now CMLL before returning to Japan under Genichiro Tenryu’s watch, wrestling in the SWS promotion before transitioning with Tenryu to WAR.
As tensions between WAR and NJPW escalated at the end of 1992, Dragon would wrestle and defeat El Samurai that November to lift the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. With promotional pride at stake, Liger, remembering Top of the Super Juniors and his victory over Samurai, stepped forward as NJPW’s best junior heavyweight.
Representing the cerulean blue mat, Liger would don a special blue suit for January 4 1993’s Fantastic Story event in the Tokyo Dome. After high paced arm drags and dropkicks saw both evenly matched early, each man tried to out wrestle the other on the mat, still with neither gaining a huge advantage. That was until Dragon found enough of an opening to leverage Liger out to the floor and unleash a high risk dive to the tables below.
Dragon would take control at with some devastating moves in ring, but Liger was adept at taking advantage of every advantage, and a momentary hesitation from his opponent led to a rolling kick and a Ligerbomb out on the floor. The huge Dome crowd was uproarious as both men’s offence escalated in risk and impact, before Liger unleashed three devastating moves in succession; a top rope DDT, followed by a Ligerbomb in ring and a top rope Frankensteiner to put Dragon away and become IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion for a sixth time.
<–30 Years of Liger in 30 Days: 1992 30 Years of Liger in 30 Days: 1994–>