Hayabusa vs Jushin Liger Is A Classic Match From Two Legends

Hamish Woodward

The 1994 Super-J Cup featured two of the most legendary Junior Heavyweights clashing in a cross-promotional match that is considered one of the best matches of all time. It saw Jushin “Thunder” Liger (of NJPW) take on FMW’s Hayabusa in a terrific match, with one of the best openings in wrestling history.

The match was a key point in New Japan Pro Wrestling. The tournament was created by Jushin Liger, devised as a way to build up new talent in the Junior Heavyweight Division, like Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero. One of these young stars was Hayabusa, fresh off his excursion in Mexico and poised to become the top star (outside of Atsushi Onita) of Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling.

Hayabusa made his entrance first and was followed by Jushin Liger, who was immensely popular with the New Japan crowd. Hayabusa immediately took him away from their ovation by landing a thunderous dropkick before the bell even rang, and continued a high-flying beat down as the referee signalled for the match to begin.

It was a tale of two wrestling styles, and really showcased the differences in the two companies (FMW and NJPW). Hayabusa represented FMW, the promotion famous for its death matches. He was the sloppier of the two, but hit some incredible moves that many had never seen before. Flips and kicks were on show as Hayabusa flew through the air, dominating early with a barrage of attacks that took Liger by surprise.

He began the match by performing a huge suicide dive over the top rope at Liger, who was still making his entrance, before a huge top-rope dropkick left the star down immediately.

Hayabusa’s moves were astonishing to watch. Few had seen the star before, as this was the first time he had competed under the “Hayabusa” name in Japan (after crafting the character on excursion in Mexico). His inclusion in the Super-J cup came as a huge shock, but as much of a shock as just how good he looked in the ring, compared to his skinny, almost child-like features.

He quickly dominated Liger, but the WWE Hall of Famer soon got the upper hand. He took control of the match, slowing the pace down with a series of tough strikes and submission moves that looked to ground the younger star. A running senton and a top-rope suplex brought Jushin Liger close to victory, but the newcomer clearly had more heart than he had been expecting, hiting some spinning top-rope moves to get momentum back in his side.

The story told in this is simple. Hayabusa is the young upstart who has little experience, but wants to use big, flashly moves to prove himself. Meanwhile, Liger is the veteran of the match, and is attempting to outwrestle his younger opponent with technical prowess, without putting his own body in harms way.

The worst part of the match was when Hayabusa attempted a shooting star press on Liger. While he was always meant to miss (with Liger rolling away at the last second), he appeared to land right on his head, looking like he could have broken his neck. Somehow he was fine, and leapt to the top rope to attempt another attack.

Jushin Liger counters this with a Liger Bomb variant, after Hayabusa had already kicked out of the first one. He then his a fisherman’s buster suplex to pin Hayabusa for the win in a fairly short match, but helped introduce the world to somebody who would go on to redefine pro wrestling in the 1990s and help make FMW the force that it was in Japan.

The match was fun, fast-paced and told a easy-to-understand story that played to the strengths of both wrestlers. It was the perfect introduction to Hayabausa, who showcased himself as one of the top young wrestlers to watch, despite losing on his debut.

  • Dave Meltzer’s Star Rating – Not Rated
  • Cagematch Rating – 6.90
  • Atletifo Rating – 4 Stars

You can watch the full match of Hayabusa vs Jushin Liger at the 1994 Super-J Cup down below.

Jushin Liger made it to the semi-finals of the Super-J Cup 1994, losing to The Great Sasuke. Sasuke lost in the final to Wild Pegasus (Chris Benoit) in a classic final, and after winning Benoit was awarded with the WWWF Junior Heavyweight Championship belt.

While Jushin Liger would go on to wrestle until his retirement in 2020, Hayabusa would not be so lucky. The Japanese icon carried FMW after the retirement of Atushi Onita, but was paralyzed after a move went wrong in a match, costing him the user of his lower body for the rest of his life.

Learn more about Hayabusa’s injury or read about wrestlers who were paralyzed in the ring.

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