KAGEKI Mask Meeting DX on 11/20/02
review by Ryan Mancuso

I have returned with this site's first, and probably only, ever review of Pro Wrestling KAGEKI. To give a very brief background on KAGEKI, it was started in the mid-1990's by a masked wrestler named Azteca. I am not sure of the exact year, but I know they were around since 1996. The reason is that there was a recent GAORA documentary on Yoshihiro Tajiri's return to Japan for good. He visited old friends, and Azteca was one of them. Also, GAORA aired an Azteca vs. Tajiri match from August 1996.

KAGEKI is a very small promotion based out of the Fukuoka area. They usually run one show a month, and draw a few hundred. Despite their small status, they managed to establish working relationships with Osaka Pro Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling. This relationship with New Japan is how they were able to get Jushin Thunder Liger to work on this show. This show took place on November 20, 2002 at a venue in the middle of a theme park in Fukuoka called Club BA-COO. The name of the show is "Mask Meeting DX." No, the name does not imply D-Generation X in masks. I think the DX here is supposed to mean deluxe. Time for the review:

Nasty Black Panther vs. TAIRA

Nasty Black Panther is current Apache Army member, GENTARO. He does not hide his identity well because he brings with him one-half of the WEW that he had held at the time. I am not sure who TAIRA is though. Before they make contact, Panther gets on the microphone. He does a little comedy and says goodbye. They play his music, and Panther celebrates like he already won. As he walked out of the ring, the ref stops him and tells him to get back. Panther obliges. The match was nothing special with GENTARO being the better of the two here. TAIRA top highlight was using the 619, which got a Rey Misterio Jr reference from the commentators. Panther got the pinfall with a low blow counter and a superkick.

Battle Ranger vs. KAZE

I am not sure if this Battle Ranger is the same guy who wrestled in WAR many years ago. Just like the first match, there was nothing bad about the match. However, there was nothing to remember either. There was a lot of laughing by the commentators during the match. Then again, KAZE was one of the commentators so it probably came off a DVD extra where the wrestler commentates on his own match. Ranger got the win with a Hawaiian Smasher then a tiger suplex hold.

Nobuyuki Kurashima vs. Cosmo*Soldier

Kurashima was a former New Japan dojo trainee who could not pass the initiation. He wrestles for smaller independents, like KAGEKI, but got called up by New Japan a few times to be a part of their MUGA shows. He tried his hand in MMA a few years ago, but lost at a DEEP show. Kurashima must not have known that this is a mask meeting show because he did not wear a mask. Cosmo*Soldier has been a regular for many small independents in Japan. He is currently a top heel in KAGEKI.

It was a battle of Kurashima using his size and strength advantage to keep Cosmo on the mat, and Cosmo using his speed to hit and run. Despite them trying to play off this story, they just did not have any chemistry here. It just felt like too much basic matwork by Kurashima, a big move or two by Cosmo and then the finish. The finish looked awkward because there appeared to be some miscommunication. Kurashima hit a German suplex hold, and Cosmo kicked out at 1. Cosmo stayed down, Kurashima covered and the referee counted to 3. The match felt like it ended abruptly with Cosmo forgetting to stay down because Kurashima was not losing his bridge with the German suplex.

Asian Cougar vs. Diablo

Asian Cougar is probably one of the more well known wrestlers on the smaller independent scene. This is due to him using many variations of the legdrop. From what I understood, he was trained by The Great Sasuke. However, Sasuke never brought him in as a full timer in Michinoku Pro. It should be noted that Cougar has a little name value in the North American independent wrestling scene. The Canadian based NWA-affiliated promotion, ECCW, has flown in Cougar for many shows. Along with Cosmo*Soldier, Diablo is other the top heel for KAGEKI.

While Diablo was making his entrance to the ring, Cougar leaves the ring to attack him. Cougar fly out with a slingshot somersault plancha to the floor. Once they get back to the ring, Diablo uses his brawling tactics to take over. He nails Cougar with a chair, and tries to rip off his mask. Cougar fought back, and was able to use a slingshot somersault senton from the prone Diablo on the small ramp. The referee went down, and Diablo used his chain to his advantage. He nailed Cougar with it then powerbombed him on it. After another brief comeback from Cougar, which included a slingshot legdrop from the ring to Diablo's head on the apron, Diablo gets DQ'ed for ripping off the mask of Cougar. After the match, the other wrestlers try to cover up Cougar's face and Diablo nails KAZE with a vicious lariat. I have to admit that I am sucker for brawler vs. high-flyer matches, and I thought this was pretty fun with both men playing to their strengths. I did not mind the DQ finish that much because they made it clear that Diablo does not care about wins or losses.

Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Azteca

It is always cool to see Liger enter another promotion, especially the much smaller ones, and try to elevate their status by having good matches with their top stars. This was no different here because this was easily the best match of the night. I have never been an Azteca fan. He is alright, but seemed just passable at best. In this match, he tries his hardest to show that he is in Liger's league. Despite the result not being in any doubt, Liger helps Azteca look well by giving him a good amount of offense and allowing Azteca to get a few near falls. This isn't one of Liger's classic singles matches, but it was still a good match. Here is my play-by-play:

The bell rings, and they tie up. Both men are looking to gain an advantage, but cannot find it. They trade wristlocks and hammerlocks, until Liger was able take Azteca down and put him in a headscissors. Azteca gets out of it, and tries to put Liger in a cross armbreaker. Liger maneuvers his way out of it, and puts Azteca in a camel clutch. However, Azteca gets out of it and puts Liger in a camel clutch of his own. Liger escapes the submission. He starts to work on Azteca's knee with a few kneedrops on there then abandons the knee attack for a side headlock. Azteca gets up, and whips Liger off the ropes. Liger charges with a shoulderblock, but neither man go down. Azteca runs off the ropes with a shoulderblock, and neither man budges again. He tries it again, but same result. Azteca runs a third time, but Liger is setting him up for a shotei. Azteca must have seen it coming because he ducked the shotei, and finally knocked Liger down with a shoulderblock.

Azteca sends Liger to the corner, and gives him a few chops. He tries to whip Liger to the other corner, but Liger reverses. Liger charges in, but Azteca gets the boot up. Azteca sunset flip's the temporarily dazed Liger for a 2.5 count. Liger rolls out of the ring to collect his thoughts. Liger reenters the ring, and takes Azteca down. Azteca was quickly to position himself into a headlock. Liger was claiming choke to the referee, and even kicked at him in frustration for not listening to his plea. Azteca lets go of the hold, and drop the knee on Liger's head twice. He puts Liger in a chinlock. However, Liger was able get out of the hold and position himself into putting Azteca in a surfboard. Liger transitions from the surfboard to the bow-and-arrow Dragon sleeper. Liger lets go of the hold, and now it is Azteca who leaves the ring to collect his thoughts.

Azteca rolls back in, and Liger greets him quickly. He places Azteca in a grounded Cobra Twist. After doing some brief damage, Liger rolls him up for pin. However, Azteca kicks out at 2. Liger picks up Azteca and bodyslams him on the mat. Liger locks Azteca in a single-leg Boston crab, but lets go to pick him up and bodyslam again. Liger whips Azteca in the corner, and connects with his running koppou kick. Liger whips Azteca into the opposite corner. He charges, but Azteca gets out of the way. Azteca throws Liger out of the ring. He charges at him with a baseball slide dropkick. Seeing that he has Liger stunned, Azteca goes to the air with a successful flying cross body off the top rope and onto Liger.

Azteca gets back in the ring. Liger tries to as well, but Azteca meets him. Azteca tries to vertically suplex Liger back in, but Liger is not having that. After a struggle, Liger slams Azteca's head into the corner. Liger climbs the top rope, but Azteca meets him up there. From there, Azteca gives Liger a superplex back into the ring. Azteca uses his feet to rake the eyes of a grounded Liger then dropkicks Liger whom was place in a seated position. Azteca covers, but only gets a 2 count. Azteca picks up Liger, and plants him with a brainbuster. He covers, but gets a much closer near fall. Azteca locks Liger in a Mexican stretch, a variation of the Cobra Twist. It looked like Liger was in trouble, but he was able to escape by reaching the ropes. Azteca bodyslams Liger, and climbs the top rope. He jumps off with a splash, but Liger gets the knees up.

Liger gets up and connects with a shotei. He whips Azteca into a corner, and connects with a running shotei. Liger picks up Azteca, and drops him with the running Liger bomb for a near fall. Liger tries for his brainbuster, but Azteca blocks it. Azteca takes Liger down and rolls him up with a La Magistral. Ref counts, but Liger kicks out at 2.75. Azteca quickly uses a backslide, but Liger kicks out at 2 again. Azteca nails Liger with an enzuigiri, but it did not do serious damage as Liger was able to run off the ropes and nail Azteca with a shotei. Both men stay down for a little bit before they get back up. Azteca nails Liger with a forearm then sets Liger up on the turnbuckles. He goes for a backdrop suplex off the second rope, but Liger counters into a cross body. Sensing that the end is near, Liger plants Azteca with a vicious powerbomb. Not wanting to stay down easily, Azteca kicks out at 1. Liger runs off the ropes and connects with another shotei. Liger picks up Azteca, and drops him with a brainbuster. 1, 2, 3! The match is over, and Liger won a tough battle over KAGEKI's top star.

After the match, Liger and Azteca shake hands. In a surprise, Diablo shows up out of nowhere and attacks both men. Diablo taunts a downed Liger and exits as Azteca got up. From this sneak attack by Diablo, Liger's business in KAGEKI was not finished. Liger and Diablo threw out challenges, and they would meet in a singles match at a future KAGEKI show.

Final Thoughts:
The first three matches are rather forgettable. I enjoyed Cougar vs. Diablo probably more than others would. If you could find it on a compilation video, then I would say that Liger vs. Azteca is worth checking out. It was another way of Liger making someone looking better than what they really are. Outside of the Liger match, I would not give this show a recommendation to check out.

Final Score: 4.5 [Poor]

Ryan Mancuso can be reached at ryanm2k4@gmail.com

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