The Untold Truth Of Jushin Thunder Liger
In 2009, Bleacher Report writer “The Doctor” Chris Mueller called Keiichi Yamada, better known as Jushin Thunder Liger “the best international star” in all of pro wrestling. It doesn’t take a doctorate in Thuganomics to second that opinion. Anyone with eyes and a healthy respect for big cat hybrids can see that Liger had the eye of the tiger, the heart of a lion, and the tale of a wrestling legend. So when the Japanese phenom retired in 2020 after a roughly 35-year career, praise poured from across the globe and even from outside the wrestling world.
All Elite Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, and Ring of Honor all honored the retiring Liger, per Wrestling Inc. On an episode of Monday Night Raw, Kevin Owens added Liger’s hallmark palm strike to his arsenal as a gesture of respect, according to Sportskeeda. Even the fast food chain Arby’s paid tribute, and the only things that company has wrestled with are customers’ wallets and John Stewart’s insults. Here’s a look back at the stellar international career of one of the coolest cats ever to maul a man in the ring.
Jushin Thunder Liger was wrestling's original shooting star
An eventual 11-time junior heavyweight champion at New Japan Pro wrestling, the master of the Liger Bomb exploded onto the wrestling scene in 1984, according to Bleacher report. The fallout from the blast would be felt all over the world over time. Speaking with Sports Illustrated, Jushin Thunder Liger recalled cutting his wrestling teeth in Mexico and training with the legendary Owen Hart in Canada. He wrestled in England and won over U.S. audiences with classic matches.
In a glowing bio, the WWE writes that Liger “mocked gravity while besting the globe’s top fliers.” He one-upped “Flyin'” Brian Pillman at WCW, showed greatness against the Great Muta, and demystified Rey Mysterio. An innovator and inspiration to future top-rope daredevils, he invented one of the most famous maneuvers in all of wrestling, the shooting star press, which is effectively a reverse moonsault which requires a person to flip backwards while soaring forwards through the air to land on an opponent without turning their insides into pudding. It’s a dangerous move only the most skilled performers can pull off smoothly and that almost broke Brock Lesnar’s freaking neck when he botched in a match against Kurt Angle. As Cageside Seats details, Liger unveiled that gem against Masakatsu Funaki in 1987. His star would keep on shooting and shining for another 33 years.
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