Norio Honaga vs. Wild Pegasus
Lost Classic #7

Promotion: New Japan Pro Wrestling
Date: September 27th, 1994
Location: Osaka Castle Hall
Significance: Tournament Final to crown new IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion

In the early 90s, the king of the Jr. Heavyweight division in New Japan (and the world) was Jushin Thunder Liger. Liger won the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship for the sixth time on January 4th, 1993, defeating Ultimo Dragon. Liger would hold the title for over 18 months, until on September 24th, 1994 when he broke his ankle in a tag team match. The title was instantly vacated due to the seriousness of the injury to Liger.

The tournament was held three days later, on September 27th. It was a one day tournament with six participants, with Wild Pegasus and Shinjiro Otani getting a bye to the semi-finals. In the first round, Norio Honaga defeated Gran Hamada and Black Tiger (Eddie Guerrero) defeated El Samurai. In the semi-finals, Norio Honaga defeated Shinjiro Otani and Wild Pegasus defeated Black Tiger, setting up Norio Honaga vs. Wild Pegasus for the finals of the tournament.

At this point in their respective careers, Honaga was already a two time IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship and Wild Pegasus had only held the title once, but Pegasus still was the one favored to win the match. Besides the fact that Pegasus had been in big matches before, on this night Honaga had already fought two matches while Pegasus had only had one match. Honaga would come into the match tired, but with more experience, setting up a unique match-up. Honaga had faced Wild Pegasus on May 25th, 1991 for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship, and Honaga had won with a Sliding Foothold Cradle. But this was an older and wiser Pegasus, hardly the newcomer he was before, and while Honaga still had more experience he was facing a tougher foe then he had met three years ago. Besides a prior championship run, Pegasus also had won the Super J Cup earlier that year, showing that he was one of the top Jr. Heavyweights in all of Japan.

The stage is set.

They shake hands to start the match, but Pegasus kicks Honaga in the stomach and punches him to the mat. Scoop slam by Pegasus, he picks up Honaga and delivers a headbutt. Elbow by Pegasus, he picks up Honaga, Irish whip by Honaga but Pegasus shoulderblocks him down. Pegasus goes off the ropes, slides through Honaga's legs, Honaga tackles Pegasus but Pegasus flips him to the mat. Pegasus charges Honaga but Honaga back bodydrops him over the top rope. Honaga then goes off the far ropes and sails out onto Pegasus with a tope suicida. Honaga gets back in the ring as Pegasus slowly follows, Irish whip by Honaga and he kicks Pegasus in the stomach. Honaga grabs Pegasus's leg and rams it into the ring post. He slams it into the ring post again before returning to the ring.

Honaga picks up Pegasus and delivers a knee breaker, as Pegasus rolls away holding his leg. Honaga puts Pegasus's leg on the bottom rope and kicks it, he then picks up Pegasus and hits a second knee breaker. Figure four leg lock by Honaga, but Pegasus gets a hand on the ropes to break the hold. Kick to the leg by Honaga and he kicks Pegasus in the leg again. Elbow drop to the leg by Honaga and he kicks him in the leg some more. Back up, Honaga grabs Pegasus and he delivers a third knee breaker. Honaga picks up Pegasus and goes for another one, but Pegasus reverses it with a sunset flip for a two count. Honaga grabs Pegasus's leg but Pegasus hits an enzigieri. Irish whip by Pegasus and he connects with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Pegasus picks up Honaga, Irish whip, and Pegasus nails a lariat for a two count cover.

Pegasus picks up Honaga and hits a German suplex hold, but Honaga kicks out at two. Back up, Irish whip by Pegasus but Honaga hangs onto the ropes when Pegasus goes for a dropkick. Honaga picks up Pegasus, he puts him on his shoulders and drops him with a backbreaker. Cover, but Pegasus kicks out. Knees to the back by Honaga, he picks up Pegasus and delivers a scoop slam. Crab hold by Honaga but Pegasus gets a hand on the ropes. Honaga picks up Pegasus and punches him in the face, but Pegasus kicks him back. Pegasus puts Honaga onto the top turnbuckle, he then joins him and nails the superplex. Cover, but it gets a two count. Pegasus picks up Honaga and hits a Northern Lights Suplex but Honaga gets a shoulder up in time. Pegasus picks up Honaga and delivers the powerbomb, but Honaga again kicks out.

Back up, Pegasus goes for a vertical suplex but Honaga blocks it and hits a suplex of his own. Honaga goes off the ropes and hits a lariat, cover, but Pegasus kicks out. Irish whip by Honaga, Pegasus ducks the lariat, Honaga goes for a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker but Pegasus rotates through it. Pegasus goes for a tombstone piledriver but Honaga reverses it and drops Pegasus to the mat. Honaga then goes up to the top turnbuckle but Pegasus joins him. Honaga punches Pegasus back but Pegasus steps out of the way of the missile dropkick. They trade waistlocks but Honaga kicks Pegasus low. Honaga goes off the ropes and hits a jumping lariat, followed by a second one. Dropkick to the knee by Honaga and he slaps on the figure four leg lock. Pegasus slowly rolls to the ropes however and he forces a break.

Back up, punches by Honaga and he rakes Pegasus's face across the top rope. Honaga picks up Pegasus and goes for a suplex, but Pegasus lands on his feet and delivers the dragon suplex hold for a near three count. Pegasus picks up Honaga and hits the tombstone piledriver, he then goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails the diving headbutt. Cover, but Honaga somehow kicks out. Pegasus picks up Honaga and chops him in the corner, Irish whip, Honaga rebounds out of the corner with a sunset flip, but Pegasus rolls through it and covers Honaga. Honaga flips Pegasus back over into the sunset flip position however and holds down Pegasus for the three count! Your winner and new champion: Norio Honaga

After the match Pegasus is angry but eventually leaves so that the ceremony can begin. Pegasus was angry, of course, because he had over matched Honaga and was on his way to victory before he got outsmarted with a quick pin. Up to that point Honaga hadn't even had a close cover, and even though Pegasus's legs were hurting there was no evidence that he was anywhere close to tapping out. This is where the experience plays such an important role, as a veteran will always find a way to win, even if it means cheating such as the low blow or winning with a sneaky pin.

Honaga would go on to hold the title until February 19th, 1995, when he would lose the title to young Koji Kanemoto (Kanemoto's first title reign). In many ways this would be Honaga's last hurrah in New Japan, as while he stayed active on the cards never again would he challenge for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship and he came in dead last in the 1995 Best of the Super Jr. Tournament just months after he lost the title. He would retire in 1998, and would become a referee for New Japan Pro Wrestling.

The loss did not stop Wild Pegasus as he continued climbing up the ladder of success. In 1995 he would win the Best of the Super Jr. Tournament (the same one that Honaga came in last in), and soon he would depart for WCW. In WCW he would hold the WCW World Heavyweight Championship and WCW World Tag Team Championship before jumping to WWE, with his career climaxing with a win in the main event of WrestleMania for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Here though he got out-smarted by a wily old veteran, keeping him from winning his second IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship.

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review completed on 12/15/08