Recap from Lee Goodfellow:
This is from the NJPW Best Of The Super Juniors 2009. Liger dominates the early mat exchanges, locking in a surfboardish chinlock thing in pretty early. Ibushi escapes and tries to work on the leg, but a Liger forces him to the ropes with a nifty crossface before resuming control. He continues to dominate, with Ibushi trying very hard to escape his headlock. Eventually he does and charges…only to receive a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Liger puts him in a surfboard, then switches to a choke. Liger decides to work the leg, casts him to ringside, then drops him leg first on a table. Ibushi beats the twenty count, and receives a pair of dropkicks to the leg for his efforts. Liger goes back to work. Pretty one sided so far, as you’ve probably noticed.
Ibushi’s fighting spirit eventually starts to kick in, they trade kicks, Ibushi crumbles! Ibushi is thrown the ropes, but backflips from the top! His comeback begins with a couple of kicks. Liger is sent to the outside, Ibushi nails a triple jump moonsault! Back in the ring, Liger receives a missile dropkick. He gets covered, but kicks out at two. Kick flurry from Ibushi, Liger ducks, goes for a german but Ibushi flips out, Liger ducks a jumping roundhouse, takes a spinning back kick, dodges another roundhouse but Ibushi lands a standing corkscrew moonsault! That was totally awesome. Two count for Ibushi. He ascends to the top rope, flies with a moonsault but meets Liger’s knees! The next exchange sees Ibushi downed with lariat. He receives another in the corner. Liger gets him up…Ligerbomb! One, two, Ibushi kicks out! They go to the top and Liger nails a superplex for another two count. Ibushi escapes a suplex attempt, runs but takes a low dropkick, then gets trapped in a figure four leglock! He manages to get the rope break. Liger tries to set him up on the top again, but Ibushi slips out and hits a sweet backflip kick. Full nelson into a german suplex for two! Ibushi calls for the Phoenix Splash! He flies but Liger is nowhere to be seen! Liger charges but gets nailed with a half tiger half dragon suplex! One, two, he kicks out! Ibushi plants him and reascends the ropes. This has to be it. Phoenix Splash! One, two, three!
Winner: Kota Ibushi
Lee’s thoughts: This was great. Solid story with the legend Liger grounding and dominating the youngster for ten minutes, which made Ibushi’s eventual comeback feel huge. It was touch and go all the way through the second half though, with Liger regaining control at some points, only for Ibushi to come back again. The sequence I described as “totally awesome” was the highlight for me. This was Ibushi’s first tournament in New Japan, and they put him over in a big way here. As you may or may not know, despite being an outsider (DDT is his home promotion) Ibushi is now a pillar of the NJPW junior division, a one time time BOTSJ winner and a two time junior heavyweight champion. So, this was a seminal match.
Match rating: ****