365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
When it comes to sheer longevity and maintaining quality over an extended period of time, is there any wrestler who can match the legacy of Jushin Liger?
Liger spent more than three decades in the character he adapted from anime. He’s one of the most influential ever in terms of popularizing the cruiserweight style that you can now see throughout wrestling in all promotions, at all levels, in all weight classes. Even as his retirement approached, he was still going out and having good matches. In fact, just a few months removed from his final matches at the Tokyo Dome at Wrestle Kingdom 15, Liger had a fantastic match with Minoru Suzki at New Japan Pro Wrestling’s King of Pro Wrestling event in October of 2020.
While other long-tenured wrestlers stand out through their ability to reinvent themselves, it’s the durability and consistency that jump off for the page for Liger. His track record also led to this amazing statistic and graphic that was posted on Twitter back in 2018:
Simply stunning. Liger’s longevity is a major reason why I consider him one of the top 10 pro wrestlers, ever. In this installment of the 365 Wrestling project, Liger is in action against another beloved masked wrestler, El Generico. This match went down in 2010 as part of PWG’s Kurt Russellmania event in California.
You can check out this match, along with pretty much the entire archive of PWG and a bunch of other content, on the Highspots Wrestling Network.
Even here, 10 years before his retirement, Liger is more of a novelty act than a title contender. At the time of this match, it’s been 10 years since his 11th and final run as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion — an astonishing statistic. Meanwhile, Generico, who you also might know as Sami Zayn, is on the rise.
If you’ve ever been to an independent show with a big name on the lineup, you know you’re going to see said name “play the hits” and deliver their signature moves. That’s the way this match starts. Liger runs Generico through some of his better-known mat work and submission holds, like the Mexican surfboard. The crowd is engaged, everyone seems happy and nobody’s having to do anything particularly dangerous or crazy.
But that doesn’t last long!.This match hits a different gear when Generico clocks Liger with a leg lariat, leading the legend to roll out to the floor. Generico quickly springs to the top rope and off with a picture-perfect moonsault (some call it a Spaceman Moonsault, a name I dig) to the floor. Seeing Generico here, and how much he was universally beloved by audiences in the gimmick, it’s amazing to reflect on his transformation into the smarmy, scuzzy, conspiracy-theory-spouting heel that Zayn has become on WWE programming.
After that big dive, both guys are still “playing the hits” but the tempo sure has quickened. Generico busts out a Blue Thunder Bomb and multiple iterations of his running big boot in the corner. In another impressive feat of aerial derring-do, he goes coast to coast on a somersault legdrop across the back of Liger, who’s hung up on the top rope in the adjacent corner.
Liger brings it during the finishing stretch as well: a brainbuster, a release German suplex, a shotei and a Liger Bomb are all on the menu, with the latter move disrupting Generico’s attempt at the always spectacular and dangerous-looking top rope brainbuster. That sets up Liger to hit a second brainbuster on Generico and end it.
Final Rating: 6.2
A strong finishing stretch elevates this from “amusing curiosity” to a match you should seek out, especially if you’re a fan of either wrestler.
We head to England for some vintage action, taking place one round at a time.