• Matt Dod

Jushin Thunder Liger & The Shooting Star Press

Updated: Apr 27

The video for this article can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moMgm6zX3vU



SHOOTING STAR PRESS


I’m not talking about newspaper headlines of John Lennon’s death when I talk about shooting star press.


One of the most ludicrously difficult and dangerous moves to pull off in all of wrestling. The shooting star press can trace it’s lineage back to the early days of televised grappling in 1959.


A young British ballet sensation, Ricki Starr set the world alight when he made the transition from the dance stage to the squared circle. A true pioneer of high-flying wrestling, Ricki Starr used his expert agility and balance to turn the world upside down, backflipping his way around the ring, confusing his opponents and fans alike with his arsenal of never-before-seen manoeuvres.


Following Ricki Starr’s passing in 2014, his memory lives on through his influence on wrestling in the modern era. He took the first risks, left the ground and simultaneously left behind a legacy which is one of the key components of wrestling today. #FLIPPYSHIT



JUSHIN THUNDER LIGER


Being inspired however is not always enough. I sometimes wake up inspired to be a 7 foot NBA balling star, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve got a sweat on just recording this video. The same can be said for the shooting star press.


A backflip, that also spins with forwarding momentum, from the restrictive space of the turnbuckle, whilst balancing on bouncing cables, flying through the air landing perfectly placed on your opponent, in front of a crowd of thousands? It takes something special, someone, extraordinary.


How about a Japanese, half tiger, half cyborg, half-man, half-lion from outer space?

Yeah, that could work.


Enter Jushin Thunder Liger.



His character is taken from the popular Japanese anime Jushin Liger and feeds into most everything that he does as a performer. The anime features a demonic suit of armour which takes control of it’s host from another world. Jushin Liger admits to being a lifelong fan of comic books and particularly their protagonists.


And continued in that same vein when looking for inspiration for his finisher throughout the world of manga and anime. Liger settled on a top rope flip, which he saw whilst watching an episode of The Fist of The North Star.


Jushin Liger adapted the seemingly impossible manoeuvre into what he would name The Shooting Star Press.


Liger has used the move around the world where he has gained a reputation as a pioneer of light-heavyweight action, bridging the gap between powerful slams and throws, with more high octane diving techniques. An icon in Japan, Liger’s story spans decades from Stampede Wrestling in the late 80s to WCW & WWF in the 90s, all the while consistently exciting fans in New Japan & the independent circuit from Mexico to the UK.





OTHERS / BILLY KIDMAN


Pro Wrestling Wiki: “The shooting star press occurs when a wrestler jumps forward from an elevated position and presses their knees to their own chest, executes a backflip and lands on the opponent as if performing a body press.”

And when you put it like that, you can see why so few performers have mastered the technique in all the time since Liger invented it.


WCW heart-throb and cruiserweight combatant, Billy Kidman brought the Shooting Star Press to a wider audience on 90s American television. An otherwise skilled and safe wrestler, Kidman’s version of the highflying move became recognised for its danger.


BANNED


At this time, in WWE, owner Vince Mcmahon was said to be deliberating whether or not to ban the move in 2005.


Nowadays, Brock Lesnar barely leaves his feet in the ring, let alone go anywhere near the top turnbuckle. Newer fans may see Lesnar as a pure big man, powerhouse style fighter with his run in UFC only backing this up.


However, there was a time when this 6 foot 3, 250 plus lbs beast would fly around the ring and would even end matches in OVW and his early WWE run with a shooting star press.


Until 2003, during a rivalry which will be held in Smackdown folklore for a long time to come. The young up and comer Brock Lesnar hadn’t won a heavyweight title in UFC, nor the numerous belts he has since won in WWE.


He was going toe to toe with Olympic wrestler and Smackdown favourite Kurt Angle. The two men fighting to a nearly 60-minute ironman match, their feud seemingly at boiling point when Wrestlemania in 2003 rolled around.



Both men agreed they needed to go all out with the fans frothing at the mouths to see these two goliaths battle on the biggest stage of the year. Brock climbed to the top rope with Kurt Angle’s back on the mat.


The crowd exploded as Brock lept from the top rope and started to spin. He landed terribly, missing Angle and almost decapitating himself in the process.


Brock was able to end the match and even won, lifting Angle for his finisher the F-5. But vowed to never attempt the move again, an oath he has stuck by to this day.


Shortly after this, in 2005 WWE banned the Shooting Star Press outright and many other companies followed suit.


In the wrestling climate of today where highflying and high-risk move that would once end a match and cause fans to buzz around the watercooler at work are now commonplace in every match.


The shooting star press through little choice of its own has become rarely used and only ever in special circumstances. Allowing it to garner a response of shock and awe from onlooking fans, the same as it would have when it was first invented.


The video for this article can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moMgm6zX3vU

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