It’s a rematch over 20 years in the making. Earlier today, Rey Mysterio Jr. issued a challenge – that was subsequently accepted – to NJPW Legend Jushin Thunder Liger for a match-up at NJPW Strong Style Evolved, the sold out NJPW event in Long Beach, California on March 25, 2018. Mysterio appeared via video at today’s The New Beginning in Osaka, much like Chris Jericho’s initial challenge to Kenny Omega.
This marks only the third encounter between two men generally considered two of the greatest Cruiserweights of the past 30 years. Jushin Thunder Liger helped launch and define NJPW’s IWGP Junior Heavyweight division, an astounding 11x IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and 6x IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, not to mention capturing the GHC Junior Heavyweight in Pro Wrestling NOAH, CMLL Middleweight Championship in Mexico, and even capturing the WCW Light Heavyweight title before it was rebooted as the WCW Cruiserweight.
While Liger defined the Cruiserweight/Junior Heavyweights of the 80s and 90s, Rey Mysterio Jr defined the late 90s and 2000s. A 9x Cruiserweight Champion (6x WCW, 3x WWE) as well as a 3x WWA World Welterweight Champion and 2x WWA World Lightweight Champion in Mexico prior. Upon arriving in the WWE following the end of WCW, Mysterio Jr broke into the Heavyweight scene, becoming a 3x World Champion as well. Since leaving the WWE, he’s also captured the Lucha Underground Championship and is the current reigning Crash Lucha Heavyweight in Mexico.
Mysterio and Liger first encountered each other in Japan in July of 1996, but it was in a multi-man tag match for WAR. Mysterio paired with Ultimo Dragon, Lance Storm and Yuji Yasuraoka to face Liger, Gedo, Juventud Guerrera, and Chris Jericho, with Mysterio’s team picking up the win. Their first and only singles encounter to date was later that year at WCW Starrcade ’96, in an epic matchup that saw Liger pick up the win.