Japanese wrestling legend Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger has announced his plans to retire early next year at NJPW’s annual January 4th Tokyo Dome event Wrestle Kingdom. Liger plans to spend the months leading to his retirement wrestling around the world, saying goodbye to the legions of fans he’s made over his decades-long career.
Liger is a legend in Japan, having won the NJPW Junior Heavyweight Championship a record eleven times, but as a dumb American I remember him the most for his appearances in WCW in the 90s. Everyone remembers his match with Brian Pillman at SuperBrawl II but I became a Liger fan through Japan Supershow III where he battled Ultimo Dragon in a GREAT (and heavily-clipped) opening match. I’m not big on going to live events but if Liger is nearby at some point before January I may need to make the pilgrimage and pay my respects to one of the true legends of the industry.
Sad news to report as King Kong Bundy (real name Christopher Pallies) has passed away at the age of 61. Bundy began his career in the early-80s, first gaining recognition in Texas-based World Class Championship Wrestling where he got the ‘King Kong’ name, feuding with the Von Erichs and wrestling Fritz Von Erich in the latter’s ‘Retirement’ match. Bundy moved on to the WWF in 1985 and memorably defeated S.D. Jones in record time a the inaugural WrestleMania (in canon it was 9 seconds, in reality it was closer to 30). He rode this momentum to the main event of WrestleMania 2, coming up short in his pursuit of the WWF Championship against Hulk Hogan in a Steel Cage match.
Bundy left the WWF and toured the independents until returning in 1994 as part of Ted DiBiase‘s Million Dollar Corporation, facing The Undertaker at WrestleMania XI. In addition to pro wrestling Bundy was known for his appearances on Married…With Children as well as other TV shows/films. He retied from in-ring competition in 2007.
Pro Wrestling Update sends its condolences to Bundy’s family and friends.
Some crazy news, courtesy of Sports Illustrated; The Undertaker, arguably the most WWE guy to ever WWE, has been booked for an appearance at the Starrcast II wrestling convention, happening during AEW Double or Nothing weekend. The inaugural Starrcast took place over All In weekend back in September, featuring all sorts of wrestlers and podcasts and pretty much everything you could want at a wrestling convention. But although he does some work for AEW, including hosting its Double or Nothing launch event earlier in the month, podcast host/insurance salesman/guy who apparently never sleeps Conrad Thompson made it a point in the article to mention that Starrcast is its own thing and not an AEW-branded event. Undertaker, real name Mark Callaway, started taking non-WWE bookings as of last week and this is his first big appearance that’s been announced to my knowledge.
While Starrcast II runs all weekend (May 23-26) leading up to Double or Nothing, The Undertaker appearance will only happen on May 25th. Bracelets go on sale for the convention this Friday, but they mentioned Platinum and Gold in particular so I guess you’ll need one of those to meet The Deadman. I don’t know how conventions work, being around people is gross. Visit the official Starrcast II site for more info if you can stomach being in crowds though, sounds like it’ll be a good time. Meanwhile I’m just going to sit back and try to process THE UNDERTAKER being part of a non-WWE event. That’s going to take some time to get used to.