We continue our countdown to Jyushin Thunder Liger’s retirement.
Jyushin Thunder Liger continued his dominance over the entire junior heavyweight realm well into 1999, not just against Japanese contenders like Shinjiro Otani, or Koji Kanemoto, who he started the year by defeating in the Tokyo Dome on January 4, but top international contenders like Dr. Wagner Jr.
While the lucha libre star would show his efficacy, Liger’s fury was not to be denied. The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion withstood a devastating Michinoku Driver on the rampway and sustained heavy offense in-ring to finally deliver a pair of top rope vertical drop brainbusters to seize victory.
Liger’s ninth IWGP reign would be ended by Kanemoto in March, but Liger was quick to erase memories of his loss. He and Great Sasuke would win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships in the summer, before Liger defeated Kendo Kashin in the Tokyo Dome on October 11 to start an incredible 10th reign as champion.
Liger was happy for the success, but inward frustration was building. A once fiercely competitive junior heavyweight space was stagnating, he would complain, declaring on November 1 that he was leaving New Japan while still its IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. On his quest to find new and fresh competition, Liger would head to the US and WCW at the close of 1999, where he would lose and then win back the IWGP gold from Juventud Guerrera, still to date the only times the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship has changed hands outside Japan.
Liger would return to NJPW in the new year, but his rage and aggression was only redoubled.