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#MustWatchMonday (3/7/16): Hayabusa vs. Jushin Thunder Liger



This week's Must Watch Monday is relevant for two reasons: one exciting, one sobering.

Let's get to the more important one. On March 3, 2016, a legend of Japanese pro wrestling, Hayabusa, died at the age of 46. Hayabusa, real name Eiji Ezaki, started his career in 1991 in Frontier Martial Arts. In 1993, he went on excursion in Mexico, trained under Rey Misterio Sr., and picked up the Hayabusa gimmick. While in Mexico he would pick up the high-flying lucha style and battle lucha legends like Negro Casas, Dr. Wagner Jr., Atlantis, and many more. He then took this style back to Japan and became one of the most influential Juniors in Japanese wrestling, and one of the most notable wrestlers in history. If you have any doubts about his impact in pro wrestling, look no further than Seth Rollins' and Kota Ibushi's Phoenix Splash, and the Falcon Arrow used by so many modern-day wrestlers.

In 2001, Hayabusa suffered a career ending injury when he went up against Mammoth Sasaki. While trying to go up for a springboard moonsault, one of his routine moves, he lost his footing and slipped off the middle rope, resulting in two cracked vertebrae and paralysis. No one ever thought he would walk again.

Fourteen years later, however, despite what everyone else thought, Hayabusa was able to walk unassisted—albeit with a cane—into the ring. It was one of the best moments of 2015.


One of the best ways for me to pay tribute to such a great wrestler is to share one of his most important matches. On April 16, 1994, Hayabusa debuted in NJPW against one of his friends, modern day legends Jushin Thunder Liger. 

This match took place during the first Super J Cup, a tournament of Juniors that come from promotions all over the world. A 2016 edition of this tournament was recently announced during the first day of the New Japan Cup, and is to include Dragon Gate, ROH, CMLL, ZERO-1, and Ryukyu Dragon. It is notable for me to point out that Hayabusa was handpicked for this match by Jushin Thunder Liger, which is a testament to the potential that Liger saw in the then-young Hayabusa.
The match went pretty short, around 10 minutes, which was understandable given that the entire tournament would be run in one night. However, this didn't stop these two masked legends from tearing the house down, with each wrestler throwing lariats, submission manoeuvres and their own bodies as they flew around the ring. Liger would eventually go and win this match with a Liger Bomb and Fisherman Buster, which wasn't a surprise given that this was Liger's peak and Hayabusa was making his debut, but that doesn't take anything away from what was a great match for both involved.



Do you have any other favorite Hayabusa matches? What was your reaction to his passing? Leave a comment below!

Photo from oldnewjapan.wordpress.com


*****
Brandon Sy is a PhD student in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics currently based in Sydney. Since he wasn't allowed to watch wrestling as a kid, he's been overcompensating ever since. Despite being a huge fan of Japanese wrestling, he still holds a soft spot in his heart for WWE's Kane. He's good for recommending matches from pretty much anywhere, whether it be Japan, Europe, the US or Mexico. He'd be ecstatic if you watched Dragon Gate though.

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