I have been hearing that legendary Japanese wrestler Jushin Liger has announced his retirement during the WrestleKingdom 14 shows at the beginning of January. While it brings a tear to my eye that he is retiring, it reminds me of all the memories I have had during my time as a fan of Ligers and the things he has done.
I first was introduced to Liger in 1991 and the WCW/New Japan Supershow. I had heard about WCW going to Japan and I got to read about the event from an issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated that also carried the events of Wrestlemania 7. In the coverage of the Supewrshow, they had pictures of this masked guy who was far beyond anything I had seen at the time. Eventually, I got to see the American videotape of the event (on VHS) and the match Liger had with Akira Nogami and I was even more blown away but not only his look, but of the high flying moves he did during the match. The dives and moves he did during the match were far beyond anything that was going on at the time. Light Heavyweights weren’t much of a thing in early 1991 but what Liger was doing was taking my breath away.
Eventually, Liger came to WCW in America and the matches he had with Brian Pillman and others on the roster were amazing. I was hooked on what this guy was doing. When he went back to Japan I read about his exploits in magazines all the time and wanted to know more about what he was doing. The internet would come later so for a long time it was the best I could do.
As a Junior in High School one of the projects we were assigned, we had to make kites to fly in the air. Mine was wood dowels and painted on the front of the fabric was a Liger face. The kite weighed a done was way too heavy to fly much when we flew it outside. The wind wasn’t that strong on that day. Never the less it still got good grades thanks to the masked face I painted on it.
Eventually, I got an internet connection and got to read up on Liger’s adventures and then even got video sites to watch Liger in action as the years went on. I got more stories of him as a teacher of young wrestlers and running the NJPW dojo. I’m not training to be a wrestler but if I was, I know I’d want to learn from him. I don’t think I’d look as good in the outfit though.
Now as time is winding down and he is set to retire, I remember a lot of the moments from these years, even from an American Perspective. The Supershow match against Nogami, The matches against Brian Pillman, the tag match from Clash of Champion 19, all the way to the match with Tyler Breeze at one of the early Takeover Shows for NXT. There are a lot of memories I have, even from my place in the world as an American Wrestling fan.
So after all these years and what he has meant to me in the time. Thank You Mr. Liger for everything you have given. To Me, to the wrestling business, To everything.