A two-match column today, as this is the only Aug. 1996 JWP match I could find- the culmination of the long Mayumi Ozaki/Dynamite Kansai rivalry! But I did find a REALLY good Ozaki vs. Super Heel Devil Masami match I think is from this same time period- read on!
JWP OPENWEIGHT TITLE:
DYNAMITE KANSAI vs. MAYUMI OZAKI:
* Yet another Kansai/Ozaki match, this one for all the marbles! Ozaki has scored a handful of wins over the Ace in recent years, but mostly in her “Dress Up Wild Fight” specialty, not a 1-on-1 like this, and certainly not for the gold. She’s in a more rubbery version of her red & black gear, while Kansai’s in lime green & white. Oz looks nervous before the bout, but soon stares daggers into Kansai.
Some good “feeling out” stuff to start, with them resisting lockups and Ozaki using her speed to counter Kansai’s power advantage, but Kansai tags her with a side slam & suplex, working more carefully and methodically. A piledriver sets up some weardown holds as they’re clearly going long, JWP-style- Oz rolls out of a headscissors and spams dropkicks & a cannonball, then mimics Kansai’s “tie them in the ropes” kicks, but an angry Kansai just rears back suddenly and hits her backdrop driver to buy herself some time. Oz reverses the corner lariats and hits a JB Angels “walk-up armbar”, but Kansai hauls her up out of it in a big power spot, but Oz does the “1996 no-sell into a submission” spot, repeatedly working the arm. Each alternates halting the other’s momentum, like Kansai catching Oz with a knee and working the gut, but ending up Manami Rolled for two. Oz catches her with a tornado DDT & armbar, then cannonballs her off the apron into the “toss & jog” outside beatdown- Kansai clotheslines her over the barricade as the pace is STILL quite slow 12+ minutes in.
Ozaki necks her and hits another cannonball, then they alternate sleepers, Kansai refusing to break a long one and Oz has to shove her back into the guardrails to do it. But Kansai hits a light lariat to the back of the head and I guess Oz is just deceased, so a backdrop driver gets two in the ring. Ozaki reverses a powerbomb to a sleeper, and a lariat to the Tequila Sunrise (tiger/dragon suplex). And another! And a bridging one for two! But Kansai stuffs a piledriver and kicks the hell out of her, only to get DDT’d off the top rope- 2.8! Flying DDT gets two, then a folding powerbomb does- Oz switches to a STRAIGHTJACKET folding powerbomb, again getting two. Now a sit-out version for the same result, but Kansai sweeps the leg for another “kick to the forehead”, ending in another backdrop driver for two, and Splash Mountain… sees Ozaki flip around in mid-toss so she spins back and rolls Kansai up for two! Oz tries a headlock like a doofus and gets lifted for another backdrop, but Kansai switches her grip and now completes Splash Mountain- two! Kind of a surprise, but she just re-does the move, and this gets the three at (20:22) for an emphatic win.
Oh man, what a disappointment- both are good wrestlers and hit things precisely, but this was “Restholds: The Match” as they did nothing but the most methodical offense possible. When they start the “toss & jog” thing more than 12 minutes into a match you know they’re killing time. It was like the first five minutes of a ****+ match, but they extended that to fifteen and waited until 5 minutes before the end to actually move to “actually trying to win”. And the finishing sequence, while good, fell short compared to other times- past Oz/Kansai matches were fascinating because Ozaki could ALWAYS catch her with rollups, but here we only get one as a tease. And it’s Oz hitting four powerbombs in a row but Kansai never quite looking like she’s done for, and then she just casually hits stuff and wins, even doing the same move twice in a row? It just flies in the face of a lot of joshi match-structure for some reason. I’m wondering if Kansai was just REALLY beaten down here or what. I know her “collagen illness” was getting worse as time went on, so maybe she needed the slowed pace.
Rating: **1/4 (the last 4-5 minutes is quite good, but it’s placed at the end of a 20-minute match of slack, half-effort stuff with no pressure from either one to win)
SUPER HEEL DEVIL MASAMI vs. MAYUMI OZAKI:
* Yes, it’s back to Masami’s Undertaker-inspired “Super Heel” gimmick, where she moves like a zombie wearing Crush’s Demolition makeup, and she’s up against a sneering Ozaki. This match isn’t dated so could have happened anywhere between 1993-97- the outfit on Ozaki is similar to the 1996 one. Super Heel matches are somewhat notorious for the same way Taker’s 1990s matches were, though she definitely has an aura- her size combined with her just staring down opponents silently is pretty intense.
Super Heel just lurches forward like a zombie at the bell, not even looking at her opponent, so Ozaki easily does a go-behind, but can’t lift her and Devil effortlessly powerbombs her. They take turns throwing each other into the guardrails and Oz gets dumped trying a punch- she sells the bump like it’s stunned her, but dodges Masami’s stomp and Germans her on the floor. Devil still takes over out there, tossing Ozaki into stuff and nearly press-slamming her off a raised stage on the edge of the arena, but Oz pushes her off and hits a Tornado DDT on the floor from there! Woah, that was cool. Oz piles chairs AND the guardrail on her, drawing an ovation in the ring, but an infuriated Devil pops up, ax kicks her, then hits a press slam FROM THE TOP ROPE, which is awesome. She misses the Guillotine Legdrop, however, and Oz goes for a chair but gets booted down and POWERBOMBED on it. Ozaki thankfully dodges an avalanche and hits the Tequila Sunrise on the chair for two, then the flying cannonball for the same. She’s still too hurt and takes forever to climb, so Devil just smokes her off the top in a big bump.
Ozaki’s dead on the floor, so Devil takes all day to grab a crazy Skeletor staff and comes off the middle rope with it, but misses and Ozaki mounts the comeback, only to get clobbered trying another Sunrise. She manages a few Urakens, but gets caught and powerbombed, but turns the second attempt into a DDT and the Sunrise gets two! Devil powers out of a follow-up powerbomb and knees at her, but Oz catches her up top, attempting a SUPER Tequila Sunrise, but settling for a backdrop superplex for two. She attempts a Manami Roll but gets caught in a big sleeper, Super Heel growling like a monster attempting to strangle her prey to death- when Ozaki makes the ropes after a struggle, Masami methodically beats her down, but a high ax kick gets her foot caught on the top rope and Ozaki beamspams out Urakens like crazy, flailing around and trying to do as much damage as possible with the opportunity! And Devil sells it 100% like a dead body, glassy eyes staring with nothing behind them- the ref frantically tries to see if she’s alive, calling out her name, while Ozaki kneels over, exhausted, but BAM! Devil just shoots up to her feet, wowing the crowd- she immediately locks Ozaki into a Tiger Driver, but eats the signature Ozaki Rollup… for two! And Devil just shifts her weight back, leaning on her and getting the pin (11:48)! Devil beats Ozaki at her own game!
Okay, now THIS was excellent! Tiny, crafty Ozaki is a perfect opponent for the slow, plodding monster, as she can wear Devil down with attrition and believably avoid her stuff, using clever tactics, weapons and comebacks to take the lead. Yet you never doubt that Devil can just backhand her once to shift the momentum again. So it’s a constant series of reversals, some by sheer brute force and others by intelligence. And impressively, Ozaki gets some HUGE chances as Devil constantly overdoes it- getting caught up top & backdropped off, then missing an ax kick and getting bludgeoned into a glassy-eyed stare (FANTASTIC sell-job). And even her “pop-up” no-sell is paid off, as she again gets too aggressive and nearly loses to the patented “Ozaki reverses a powerbomb to the pin” finish, only to use her OWN ring-savvy, rolling back and scoring her own pin! The evil, no-selling monster having to use Ozaki’s own tactics to beat her actually kinda puts over Ozaki, too- like she couldn’t just beat her to death like she normally does.
Rating: **** (very impressive for such a relatively-short match- great story, good use of no-selling, and a very impressive reversal game for the whole thing)