GAEA IN SPRING 1996:
* Here’s a pair of GAEA shows featuring the usual assortment of rookies and bigger stars, complete with the goofiest battle royal you’ll EVER see (you think Chain Sleepers and other comedy bits are new? Check GAEA doing it in 1996), and the GAEA Junior Star Tournament to crown the best rookie! Come see the best friggin’ match two one-year veterans could possibly have!
NEO QUEEN HISTORY ’95:
SONOKA KATO vs. TOSHIE UEMATSU:
* Two of the most elite rookies go at it in the rookie tournament. Kato’s in blue & Toshie’s in green, as always.
They do the typical GAEA start with a ton of running attacks, Toshie using her “backflip off their chest” move and rollups, but Kato uses her bulldogs when Toshie tries to many running headlocks. Toshie dodges a legdrop and hits a victory roll & dropkicks, then a missile kick for two, but a flying splash hits knees. Kato gets a sleeper and they spam running attacks back & forth as this is frenetic, but quite sloppy- most things have very poor execution, but that kind of “they’re fighting for it like it was real” scrappy thing that joshi sometimes has. Toshie’s offense is like 60% flash pins. Kato finally catches her with the Tornado Bulldog, but Time Expires at (6:01 shown).
But this match MUST CONTINUE, so they’re at it again (then why have a time limit, lol?). Toshie gets a Fujiwara armbar on the taped shoulder and works that, then a corner-crossbody for two. Toshie gets elbowdrop spam, a missile kick & Fujiwara again, and she & Kato sloppily reverse pins before it’s a Fujiwara again until a second Time Over hits at (3:00). Toshie attacks before the bell for the next OT, but gets sleepered, then manages an armbreaker. They each try pins, getting increasingly desperate, but Kato scores a rolling fireman’s carry… only for Toshie to trap her on the follow-through for two! Toshie tries one last cross-body, but time’s over for real at (3:00). It was said to be (20:00) overall.
This was your typical “Long GAEA Rookies Match”, meaning they did hard work and a lot of running about, but they were exhausted and everything was super-loosely applied and basic the whole way. So you can admire their work, but still are like “COME ONNNNNNNN” about it, especially once they’re trying “roll ups” that are just someone flopping around with almost no body contact applied.
Rating: ** (yeah I never know how to rate this, lol- do you penalize the sloppy moves and basic offense, or reward the hard work and fightiness?)
yes, that’s a nine-person chain sleeper spot. In 1996. Joshi invents and one-ups EVERYTHING.
12-WOMAN BATTLE ROYAL:
(Chigusa Nagayo, KAORU, Bomber Hikari, Meiko Satomura, Chikayo Nagashima, Sonoko Kato, Sugar Sato, Toshie Uematsu, Maiko Narita, Chihiro Nakano, Makie Numao, Rina Ishii)
* Interestingly, GAEA throws out every wrestler they have in a battle royal. We’re joined in progress with Maiko & Rina, the lowest-ranked (they debuted last show), already on the floor, and CHIGUSA has apparently gone out, too. Pinfalls & submissions count in these.
Immediately the match marks itself as comedy when Chigusa knocks KAORU down and Kato immediately locks in a sleeper, then EVERYONE ELSE piles in for a nine-person one… only Numao, the karate girl, kicks Bomber in the ass. The angry vet then demands Makie take her place at the front of the line, and Makie dejectedly walks to the front and lets KAORU lock her in the sleeper, too, lol. Then every single person still in hits a running attack on poor Kato in the corner, dogpiling her for a mass-pin. Everyone prepares to fight Bomber & Makie, but instead they turn on KAORU with a quintuple-dropkick to the ass. She smacks everyone for that, but then EVERYONE piles on her, even the eliminated girls… but KAORU sneaks out of the melee and it’s BOMBER who gets stuck taking an 11-person clubbering! This is some Bugs Bunny shit and I love it. KAORU demands Makie set up Bomber for the Moonsault finish, but the kid SWERVES her, pulling Bomber out of the way so KAORU gets dogpiled and pinned.
Bomber tries to overthrow powerbomb Toshie onto Numao, but Numao dodges, then demands Bomber do the move to TOSHIE, so Bomber throws every single rookie in the ring onto the kid to eliminate her. Bomber tries a Vader Bomb on Chikayo, but she recovers and shoves the vet off… only to fake being dead still, so Bomber blames the OTHER girls, thus setting everyone up to fight her. The girls save Makie after a super powerslam, but Chikayo eats a one-armed powerbomb for three. Meiko cross-armbreakers Sato, but two rookies do the move to HER, then her next attempt sees her rolled up and dogpiled for the pin. Bomber vs. three rookies now. Narita, whom I’ve easily seen the least of all the GAEA kids, tries an armbreaker after Bomber bullies her, but Sato & Numao gang up on her for the pin. Bomber now demands Numao slam Sato for her… but has her slam the girl increasingly further away until a leap is completely impossible, but Bomber just goes “Okay!” and leaps off, then hops on the mat for a short splash for two. Numao keeps trying to steal pins from Bomber, so Bomber just hits a flying headbutt on Sato, then pulls Numao off and scores the pin herself.
With just Bomber & Numao, we have a regular match- Bomber even demands the ref do the opening-match starting routine and fakes ringing the bell. Chigusa sweep-kicks Bomber from the outside, leading to Numao throwing chest-kicks (checking on Bomber repeatedly, as she’s faking choking). Bomber poses again, making the cardinal mistake of pointing to her head to indicate intelligence, and immediately suffers as Chigusa hits her roundhouse kick to the back- Numao hits a flying bodypress for two. Bomber hits the one-handed powerbomb again for the sure three, but EVERYONE charges in to stop the pin! Top Rope Vader Bomb… “Fuck YOU!” bridge from Numao! KAORU flies in with a springboard missile kick, netting two for Numao, but Bomber powerslams her… and everyone leaps up to shake the ropes so she can’t do a top-rope move. KAORU adds a Moonsault, but Numao gets two. Finally, eleven people in a row clobber Bomber in the corner, and Chigusa & Numao hit a double spinkick to pin Bomber (13:24 of 16:27). So it took literally eleven people at once helping her, but a pin’s a pin- Makie Numao wins the match!
An entirely wacky comedy match, but it’s actually GOOD comedy, full of double-teaming, betrayals, pratfallls, etc. They were clearly having so much fun out there half the girls were corpsing during the match, and pins didn’t “count” as bad since they were often via chicanery and dogpiling pins.
Rating: **1/2 (I mean, how do you rate this? It was fun and a diversion- that’s what counts)
The following is a rookie-themed tournament- the Semifinals and the Finals immediately following. There’s a Chikayo Nagashima (GAEA) vs. Michiko Nagashima (LLPW) match immediately preceding it that’s not on YouTube, as well as KAORU handily beating Meiko Satomura in (10:34).
HUSTLE CUP JUNIOR STAR TOURNAMENT SEMIFINAL:
CHIKAYO NAGASHIMA vs. SONOKO KATO:
* On this same show, Chikayo was wrestling an LLPW opponent and Kato kept interfering on her behalf, and the two fought about it. This is pretty quickly afterwards. Right now it’s a toss-up as to who’s better.
JIP with Kato controlling via stretching- Chikayo eventually comes back with speed, flipping Kato around and trying Fujiwara armbars on that taped shoulder. Kato splats her while she’s trying a monkey flip, but Chikayo comes back quickly with some very mis-timed, ugly-looking stuff. Kato crashes onto her from the second rope, and a bulldog & tornado bulldog set up a flying splash to the back for two. They screw up some more spots, but Chikayo hits three big flash-pins in a row for increasingly close calls, then a missile kick gets two, and tries another trio of flash-pins, but Kato finally sits on her trying the forward roll one and gets the pin (7:28 of 11:05).
This one was a good bit uglier- Chikayo might’ve been tired from her earlier match, but they were disjointed and sloppy at various points, people mis-timing their selling or not reacting right.
Rating: ** (good effort, and it was solid psychology that Chikayo over-relied on her rollups and got caught, but pretty sloppy)
HUSTLE CUP JUNIOR STAR TOURNAMENT SEMIFINAL:
MEIKO SATOMURA vs. TOSHIE UEMATSU:
* Meiko (red) is the probable star of the division, but is SUPER young and more “energy” than “skill” yet, while Uematsu (green) has developed a style based around high-flying and quick reversals, owing to her smaller frame.
JIP with Toshie working the leg on the mat- both forearm the shit out of each other until Meiko gets the mount and aims for her cross-armbreaker. She works the arm and keeps going for it, sucking up Toshie’s comeback, but Toshie comes back with speed and a victory roll gets two. Meiko goes for the armbreaker every chance she gets, even trying a version off the TOP, but Toshie whips her off, sunset flips her, and hits a missile kick for a close two. Another try sees Meiko dropkick her in mid-air, and she pulls out a frog splash of all things for two. Not a great one, but hey- she’s learning stuff. Meiko climbs again, but Toshie knocks her off, but attempts a Japanese leg roll clutch… but when she leans back for the bridge, Meiko grabs the arm! Cross-Armbreaker!! And Toshie taps at (6:39 of 10:06)!
Pretty quality bout, kept very simple but being hyper-focused- Toshie can only win with rollups and Meiko with the armbreaker, so they just kept going to variations of those until somebody won. Great little ending, as Meiko gets her move in an unexpected way, WHILE Toshie’s doing one of her trademark flash-pins!
Rating: **1/2 (great little psychology-based match-up)
HUSTLE CUP JUNIOR STAR TOURNAMENT FINAL:
MEIKO SATOMURA vs. SONOKA KATO:
* Both won their last matches by reversing their quicker opponents’ rollups- what will happen now?
Both already tired from their first matches, they do a really good job counter-wrestling, both opting for a “whatever works” approach, grabbing whichever limb is closest and trying stuff- Kato grabs Meiko’s leg, but earns a few stiff kicks for it. Kato fights hard to get out of a front facelock and cranks on the leg more- they snarl at each other like angry cats in a funny bit that was probably supposed to come off as “intense” and Meiko gets bow & arrowed. She comes back with another facelock, but misses a shoulder charge and gets dropkicked HARD in the back, going into the bottom rope. Kato fishes for a sleeper, but ends up taking a few cross-armbreakers (albeit on her good arm), as Meiko is getting REALLY good at threading basic moves into those. Kato keeps getting the ropes, but misses her bulldog, only to immediately hop off the second rope for a Thesz press for two, THEN hits her bulldog, but Meiko turns a second into a Fujiwara armbar. Windmill arm charge from Meiko, but she misses a second and is sleepered- Tornado Bulldog gets two for Kato and she goes back to the sleeper.
Sensing a finish coming on a wiped out Meiko, Kato unwisely flies off the top, landing in ANOTHER Fujiwara, desperately hauling to the other side of the ring to break. Beaten and frustrated, Meiko just unloads with a slap to the face, but Kato slugs her and hits another bulldog for two. Kato tries another Tornado Bulldog, but Meiko shoves her up to the top rope and nearly gets her Flying Cross-Armbreaker move again, but gets shoved off, only to smack Kato and… miss a flying elbow! Kato pounces for a cross-armbreaker on MEIKO, who desperately makes the ropes. Kato whips her off the ropes and catches her with a forward-roll fireman’s carry… but Meiko traps her in the cross-armbreaker on the BAD arm! But Kato threads it over to a pin, bridging… for the three (10:51)! Kato is the Junior Star of GAEA Japan! What a comeback!
I mean… holy crap. These girls have ONE YEAR IN THE BUSINESS and fought themselves to a *** match through sheer tenacity. I loved Meiko always going for her arm move, often to her detriment (it got her knocked off the top, then pinned in the final moments)- like she over-relied on it, being her only credible move, and it constantly caught her. Yet she came off as fierce and spirited, even as the more composed and professional Kato kept aiming for that bulldog. Callback spots, callbacks to their EARLIER matches, and more- all in all, a great little story.
Rating: ***1/4 (absolutely amazing for 1-year rookies, especially as they’d fought earlier matches on this very show. The ending could seem out of nowhere… but Meiko spamming her cross-armbreaker left her vulnerable to such counters, and the flash-pin reversals are the most common match-ender for rookies, so even THAT makes sense)
In short, things look strong for GAEA’s future already, what with a miracle crew of rookies. They’ll still need longer to develop, but things will soon happen that change the course of joshi even more than that.