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FANTASTICA MANIA 2016 – An Extensive Preview of NJPW x CMLL 6 Day Event

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For those who don’t know, FANTASTICA MANIA  is the yearly event at the famous Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan, where Japanese promotion New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) collaborate with Mexican promotion  Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) where  the CMLL stars come over to Japan for a series of events in the middle of January just after WRESTLE KINGDOM; NJPW‘s equivalent to WRESTLEMANIA. Each year since 2011, NJPW and CMLL have held FANTASTICA MANIA, using  it to showcase their talent to each others respective audience; the Japanese fans get to see Lucha style wrestling and the Mexican fans get to see Strong Style wrestling. Although it initially began with just a few shows it’s grown into an on average six show event, usually daily or sub-daily and is the main influence behind why Japanese wrestling fans are so enamored with CMLL and their masked lucha libre. This is a rundown of all the matches on each card and my predictions for every single match. Please keep in mind that this event and NJPW in general is a very tag heavy promotion so there won’t be too many singles matches, but what there are should be very good.

JANUARY 17

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Match 1. KUSHIDA & Stuka Jr. vs Yohei Komatsu & Sho Tanaka

Prediction: KUSHIDA is the reigning IWGP Jr Heavyweight Champion and “Shohei” are set to make their excursion at the end of the month to CMLL to compete in their tag division as Fujin & Raijin; respectively, so I see KUSHIDA and Stuka Jr. getting a win over the “young lions” before they leave for CMLL at the end of the month.

Match 2. Bobby-Z & Okumura vs Guerrero Maya Jr. & The Panther

Prediction: I see Maya Jr. and The Panther putting on a show for the Japanese crowd and winning pretty handily. They are the tag champions in CMLL so I don’t see them losing to the very green Bobby-Z and the longtime vet in Okumura.

Match 3. Barbaro Carvenario & YOSHI-HASHI vs Fuego & Titan

Prediction: Carvenario is one of their biggest stars and YOSHI-HASHI is the fall guy for CHAOS, not to mention Fuego is the current CMLL Middleweight Champion, so I see Fuego and Titan wining this one in quick fashion with YOSHI-HASHI taking the fall.

Match 4. Dragon Lee & Jay White vs. Hechicero & Virus

Prediction: Jay White is a young lion, but Lee is the current CMLL Lightweight Champion and Virus is 47.  This is a time where the young lion will win, but he won’t score the victory.

Match 5. Atlantis, Juice Robinson & Máscara Dorada vs. Los Ingobernables de Japón (BUSHI, EVIL & Tetsuya Naito)

Prediction: Los Ingobernables de Japon should win. BUSHI has the belt that Dorada had and NJPW are pushing them very hard, so look for Naito and company to keep up their tag team domination.

Match 6. Mephisto & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Volador Jr.

Prediction: “The King of Strong Style” will put on a good show and I see him and Mephisto winning, but I don’t know who will score the pin. Taguchi is more of a comedy wrestler like Toru Yano at this point and Volador is 47, youth and athleticism should prevail here.

Match 7. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jushin Thunder Liger & Místico vs. Gedo, Kazuchika Okada & Último Guerrero

Prediction: It’s not good booking seeing as Okada needs to become the face of the company and needs to become a babyface ASAP, but this is a classic good guys vs bad guys match and I see Tanahashi, Liger and Mistico winning it. Liger and Tanahashi are fan favorites and Mistico is a tag champ with Dorada who’s a huge face.

JANUARY 19

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Match 1. Fuego & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu

Prediction: Shohei should get another win before going to CMLL, at least that’s what I’d do if I were Gedo.

Match 2. Okumura vs. The Panther

Prediction: It’d be nice to see Okumura win, he’s a fan favorite in both Mexico and Japan, The Panther is 17; yes 17 years old so he’s as green as humanly possible even if he is a tag champion. Okumura will show the young Panther a thing or two and should get the win.

Match 3. Bobby-Z vs. Guerrero Maya Jr.

Prediction: Guerrerro Maya Jr. because Bobby-Z is the equivalent to a young lion, I’m not sure if CMLL books like Gedo does, but I’m confident Maya Jr. will win.

Match 4. David Finlay, Dragon Lee, Jushin Thunder Liger & Titán vs. Bárbaro Cavernario, Hechicero, Virus & YOSHI-HASHI.

Prediction: Finaly, Lee, Liger and Titan should win this with YOSHI-HASHI probably taking the fall.

Match 5. Atlantis, Máscara Dorada & Stuka Jr. vs. Los Ingobernables de Japón (BUSHI, EVIL & Tetsuya Naito)

Prediction: I won’t be surprised if they do 50/50 booking, but I still think Los Ingobernables de Japón will put on a show like they did at the World Tag Tournament.

Match 6. Gedo & Último Guerrero vs. KUSHIDA & Místico

Prediction: KUSHIDA and Mistico will win because Gedo always books himself to lose and KUSHIDA is being pushed pretty hard.

Match 7. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson and Volador Jr. vs. Kazuchika Okada, Mephisto and Shinsuke Nakamura

Prediction: Too much star power for the proverbial faces. CHAOS should leave with the victory.

JANUARY 20

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Match 1. Jushin Thunder Liger & Stuka Jr. vs. Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu

Prediction: I would pick Shohei, but I could see Liger and Stuka Jr. getting the nod. The deciding factor of if the young lions win will be on how they want to book them before they leave for Mexico.

Match 2. Bobby Z vs. The Panther

Prediction: A match of two very green young men and this is very difficult. I’ll say Bobby-Z, but it’s a coin flip.

Match 3. Guerrero Maya Jr. vs. Okumura

Prediction: Youth over experience here; Maya Jr. should win this one pretty easily.

Match 4. Bárbaro Cavernario, Gedo, Hechicero & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Jay White, KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi & Titán

Prediction: Oh New Japan and your massive tag matches…I look for White, KUSHIDA, Taguchi and Titan to win this one with either Gedo or YOSHI-HASHI taking the fall.

Match 5. Atlantis, Fuego & Máscara Dorada vs. Los Ingobernables de Japón (BUSHI, EVIL & Tetsuya Naito)

Prediction: Los Ingobernables de Japón is facing Dorada so many times that I’m starting to think they may do 50/50 booking, but I really hope they have them dominate every single match and really push them as the top heel stable.

Match 6. Juice Robinson, Místico & Volador Jr. vs. Mephisto, Shinsuke Nakamura and Último Guerrero

Prediction: Nakamura  needs to win here  especially since he’s leaving in a few weeks and needs as much momentum as possible going into his last match with Kenny Omega.

Match 7. Dragon Lee & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada & Virus

Prediction: Lee and Tanahashi win this one, because Tana has to beat Okada at least once during FANTASTICA.

JANUARY 22

Match 1. Fuego & Stuka Jr. vs. Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu

Prediction: Fuego and Stuka Jr. should win this one, Sho and Yohei could absorb one loss and I wouldn’t be surprised if this were it.

Match 2. Bobby Z, Gedo, Hechicero, Okumura & YOSHI-HASHI vs. David Finlay, Guerrero Maya Jr., Jushin Thunder Liger, KUSHIDA & The Panther

Prediction: Geez 10 men…Um…Finaly, Maya Jr, Liger, KUSHIDA and The Panther should win, just because YOSHI-HASHI is on the other team with Gedo.

Match 3. Atlantis & Juice Robinson vs. Los Ingobernables de Japón (EVIL & Tetsuya Naito)

Prediction: Los Ingobernables de Japón absolutely have to win this, Naito and EVIL will be a good tag team this year and this will help them a lot.

Match 4. Bárbaro Cavernario (c) vs. Titán (Mexican National Welterweight Championship Match)

Prediction: I could see Titan winning seeing as Cavernario has had the belt almost a year, but I don’t see CMLL allowing their champion to lose on foreign soil, especially if they don’t own the footage. Cavernario should retain.

Match 5. BUSHI (c) vs Mascara Dorada  (CMLL World Welterweight Championship Match)

Prediction: Last month after BUSHI won the belt I would have said that him losing it at FANTASTICA MANIA would be the dumbest example of booking ever, but since New Years Dash and BUSHI declaring he’s going after KUSHIDA I see Dorada leaving Japan and returning to Mexico with his title.

Match 6. Dragon Lee, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Kazuchika Okada, Shinsuke Nakamura & Virus

Prediction: Too much star power and too much need for pushes. Okada and Nakamura will win with Taguchi taking the fall.

Match 7. Mephisto & Último Guerrero vs. Místico & Volador Jr.

Prediction: Mistico is the only person in this match under the age of 40 and I think they will keep pushing him and let him get a fall on Guerrero.

JANUARY 23

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Match 1. Máscara Dorada & Titán vs. Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu

Prediction: If Dorada has won the belt back then he should win, otherwise Tanaka and Komatsu should win this one.

Match 2. Fuego, Juice Robinson & KUSHIDA vs. Gedo, Hechicero & YOSHI-HASHI

Prediction: KUSHIDA should get the fall on the consummate jobbers; Gedo or YOSHI-HASHI here.

Match 3. Guerrero Maya Jr. and The Panther (c) vs. Bobby Z and Okumura (Arena Coliseo Tag Team Championship Match)

Prediction: No way CMLL has Maya Jr. and The Panther lose their belts on foreign soil, especially if they don’t own the footage. That’s booking 101.

Match 4. Bárbaro Cavernario & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Stuka Jr.

Prediction: Either Cavernario or Nakamura will get the fall in this one, probably on Taguchi.

Match 5. Atlantis, Jushin Thunder Liger and Tiger Mask vs. Los Ingobernables de Japón (BUSHIi, EVIL and Tetsuya Naito)

Prediction: Los Ingobernables de Japón because it would be incredibly short-sighted to have them lose to these guys, in fact having them go over against them would help solidify their dominance and status as top heels in New Japan.

Match 6. Dragon Lee (c) vs. Virus (CMLL World Lightweight Championship Match)

Prediction: Dragon Lee is on fire and possibly the most popular star in CMLL, he definitely won’t lose the belt in Japan and probably not for some time once he returns to Mexico.

Match 7. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Místico & Volador Jr. vs. Kazuchika Okada, Mephisto & Último Guerrero

Prediction: The “good guys” will win here with either Tanahashi or Mistico picking up the win on someone other than Okada.

JANUARY 24

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Match 1. Guerrero Maya Jr. & The Panther vs. Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu

Prediction: Just flip a coin at this point because I have no idea.

Match 2. Bobby Z, Gedo, Hechicero, Okumura & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Fuego, KUSHIDA, Stuka Jr., Tiger Mask & Titán

Prediction: KUSHIDA will probably get the fall on Gedo or YOSHI-HASHI.

Match 3. Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Virus

Prediction: Liger, because he needs a win and the fans would love it even if it detracts from the CMLL talent; Virus can absorb the loss against a legend of Japanese wrestling.

Match 4. Atlantis, Máscara Dorada & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Los Ingobernables de Japón (BUSHI, EVIL & Tetsuya Naito)

Prediction: Los Ingobernables de Japón will look to rebound after BUSHI loses his belt to Dorada and will do just that, sending Dorada back to Mexico with a loss.

Match 5. Bárbaro Cavernario, Kazuchika Okada & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dragon Lee, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Juice Robinson

Prediction: This one is so tough and could be the best match of the entire thing. You have the biggest stars in CMLL with the biggest stars in NJPW, this should make for an explosive match that has everyone talking the next day. I’m going to flip a coin because there’s so much talent, but let’s just go with either Cavernario, Okada or Nakamura getting the fall on Robinson, because there’s no way Lee or Tanahashi, even at this stage where he’s starting to fall, will lose cleanly.

Match 6. Místico vs. Último Guerrero

Prediction: This is a match of the young lion vs the old veteran and I could see it going either way, but I believe they want to get Mistico over a lot before he returns to Mexico and getting a win over a CMLL legend like Guerrero will do just that.

Match 7. Volador Jr. (c) vs. Mephisto

Prediction: Our final match of the event is a title match between two tested veterans who are the same age and have nearly the same years of experience. This match is a special treat for the fans in Mexico and for Japanese fans alike to get to see two legends of CMLL go at it to end the festivities. It’s a tough one, but I think Volador keeps the belt.

You can watch FANTASTICA MANIA 2016 (along with a huge archive of matches dating back to 1973) live on NJPW World for just 999 yen (roughly $8.50) a month.

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