GAEA JAPAN- BREAK OUT!:
* It’s time for more GAEA Japan, with a combination of tag matches as the Chigusa Nagayo vs. Toshiyo Yamada mini-feud continues! Yamada of course was an early “Chigusa Clone”, always giving these bouts intrigue, though the boss of GAEA seems to be way above her in the pecking order at this point. This also features a GAEA vs. OZ Academy match that’s one of the first big chances the rookies have had to prove themselves, and has been considered the first truly great all-rookie match for the company!
You gotta love it that they’re advertising clips with the “Angry Baby Meiko Satomura Face” image.
CHIGUSA NAGAYO & MEIKO SATOMURA vs. TOSHIYO YAMADA & SONOKO KATO:
* More of the Chigusa/Yamada series, as they take each other on in a tag bout with their color-coded rookie tag team partners.
Chigusa nails Yamada with a roundhouse kick to start, but the rookies run in and charge them off the apron before getting clobbered- Kato tries with Chigusa but dies to a lariat and bridges out at “2”. A piledriver gets the same but Kato uses speed and hits a running Fameasser. Yamada works over Chigusa, but gets her own snap suplex used against her and Meiko does her goofy windmill charge as a FLYING version then a regular running one, only for Yamada to do a horrifying backdrop driver onto the kid’s head. Meiko gets her cross-armbreaker but takes a double-kick & assisted legdrop for two. Kato gets her bulldog and the vets fight so Meiko can hit her Flying Cross-Armbreaker- Kato makes the ropes. Chigusa backdrops Yamada but takes the enzuigiri & German, but sleepers Kato, who Meiko splashes for two. And then, in the first time I can find it on this watchthrough, Meiko hits the Death Valley Driver, her future finisher, but Yamada saves. Kato hits her rolling fireman’s carry and Chigusa saves, then the Sidewinder Legdrop gets two- Yamada hits the backdrop driver again but Chigusa stops the Reverse Gory Bomb, so Kato wises up and takes the boss and just hangs onto her, allowing Yamada to finish with the Bomb at (8:30).
Very good, solid “standard wrestling match”. Nobody gunning for the top score and it was under 10 minutes, but everyone hit their stuff well and gave a good performance. Chigusa was honestly barely in it, leaving Yamada to work stuff with the rookies, which probably helps them a bunch, as Yamada’s a very solid worker. I liked the psychology in the end, as the quicker wrestlers singled out Meiko and then Kato just grabbed Chigusa’s leg to prevent a break, allowing the veteran to handily beat the rookie.
Rating: *** (fine, regular kind of match)
CHIGUSA NAGAYO (GAEA) vs. TOSHIYO YAMADA (AJW):
* More Chigusa vs. Yamada, as Yamada takes on her idol once again. This one is probably heavily clipped, with Chigusa in the red & yellow and Yamada in white.
Yamada snags the boss with a backdrop driver immediately on the handshake, then does another and her Flying Rolling Kick (okay, rolling ass to the head), but gets superplexed trying another, and Chigusa follows by buggering a running powerbomb so bad she GANSO BOMBS Yamada on the back of her neck! Yamada somehow gets out of another one and scores a ton of kicks, including some GREAT roundhouses, but Chigusa reverses The Finisher That Never Hits to a heel-hook ankle-lock… for the immediate tap-out at (1:42)! Wow, this WASN’T clipped! Okay, a stunning quick win for Chigusa, keeping the fans on their toes. I knew something was up when they started no-selling and Beamspamming finisher-tier moves right away. Kind of disappointing, as I feel they have a good match in them.
Rating: 1/2* (some really good stuff in their short bout, but nobody sold anything at all, simply popping up to hit their own stuff)
In any case, the two have a little chat, before Chigusa gets on the mic solo and announces the newest wrestler under contract to GAEA Japan… AKIRA GODDAMN HOKUTO!!! This REALLY gives the company a shot in the arm, and has to burn AJW quite a bit, as they let her walk earlier in the year.
MEIKO SATOMURA vs. SAKURA HIROTA:
* It’s Sakura again! She’s inherited the old pink Arena swimsuit after Mariko Narita washed out and bailed from the business. And now we get one of those one-sided debuts, with Meiko getting ready to bust her one.
Sakura attacks before the bell, but promptly gets her ass kicked, though Meiko misses her Windmill Charge (sorta- Sakura ducks and eats a leg to the head, but it’s counted as a miss), but after some weaksauce dropkicks, Meiko just starts decking her, slaps her around, hits that charge, then finishes with an armbar (1:36).
Rating: 1/2* (weak rookie stuff into a quickie finish- solid way to establish the prior generation as already being way too much for these kids)
SONOKO KATO & TOSHIE UEMATSU vs. OZ ACADEMY (Chikayo Nagashima & Sugar Sato):
* Called the “first very good match between all GAEA youngsters” by Quebrada/Mike Lorefice, it’s a long YouTube video. And yeah, this is definitely a big proving ground, given even by the match’s title- no veterans to rely on to plot the match, and the furious GAEA girls get to oppose these traitorous swine alone. Kato’s in blue, Toshie’s in green, Chikayo’s in yellow/black & Sato’s in white, as always.
A furious Toshie is just awesome, hitting a billion dropkicks on Sugar, punching the crap out of her in the corner while tearing at her hair, and countering Chikayo coming in- Kato comes in and just pastes her face with elbows to show they REALLY hate these scum. Flying assisted bulldog gets two, but Chikayo stops the rolling fireman’s with a missile kick to Kato and that brings in Toshie for a brawl to the floor! It gets so venomous they’re all the way up in the stands, with Kato swinging around a fan’s backpack like a madwoman- a full three minutes later, she hits a bulldog on Sugar in the ring and the Tornado Bulldog gets two before Chikayo clears the ring with Lance Storm-tier chairshots. That smashes Kato’s leg and we have our heat sequence, as she wails away in pain. Crabs, smashing the knee, etc.- even Sugar slipping on a chair trying some dumb chair-vault splash on it. Akira Hokuto watches on as OZ hits an “LCO Pose” while Kato screams in agony with her knee hanging on the ropes, and Toshie finally just cheats with a splash to Sugar to break it up.
But for all Toshie’s fire, she immediately gets caught in the Booker T spinebuster, a double-facecrusher & sandwich missile kick as OZ is just dominating! Toshie gets a chair put on her and Chikayo hits a flying stomp… but Kato flies in and smashes her with chairshots, but turns her back on Sugar’s missile kick. Stereo flying headbutts… miss! With Sugar braining herself on the chair. Kato facecrushes OZ and hits a 2nd-rope legdrop to set up Toshie’s flying splash all the way across the ring, Sugar stopping the pin. She again prevents a double-team, but Kato catches Chikayo… but her rolling fireman’s is countered for two (some fans REALLY bought that). Everyone scraps and interferes, leading to a dragon screw & Rocket Launcher whoopie cushion on Toshie. Sugar takes forever to set up after the break, so Toshie catches her with a cool hammerlock rollup for two. Kato brains Toshie by mistake, but recovers and they dropkick OZ around (Sugar taking a header off the top), but Chikayo gets the Mandatory 1996 German Off the Ropes on Toshie and then traps Kato, and Sugar hits a Flying Back Elbow on the vulnerable Toshie for the three (15:22)- OZ wins! Toshie sells that crushing blow by dry-heaving and appearing to puke in a bucket, which is a pretty big sell-job of a finish!
Some REALLY great stuff here, with Toshie mega-selling the hatred in the early going, just grabbing at hair any time she could to punish Sugar, while Kato had amazing selling once they started working her leg, going “Full Rookie Sympathy” mode. Though a minute later he leg is now fine, so extended limbwork is still not a thing in GAEA yet. The run from Toshie cheating with the flying splash but getting double-teamed to death is great stuff, though there’s a few moments where it goes from “scrappy” to “oh crap we don’t know where we are in the plan right now” it felt like.
Rating: ***1/2 (hovering between this and 3.25- very impressive for rookies)
And hey, look! Going through my archives, I found a review of ASARI vs. Nouchi I did way back in 2019! I can’t find the match on YouTube anymore and I’m not sure if it’s **** anymore (I’ve found I rated stuff REALLY highly at first before settling down a bit), but it fits here on the timeline and I have nowhere else to put it, lol.
WWWA SUPER LIGHTWEIGHT TITLE:
CHAPARITA ASARI (AJW) vs. FUSAYO NOUCHI (JWP):
* ASARI now has her trophy belt with her, a hilariously tiny belt-buckle-sized thing because she’s so very smol. Nouchi is a fairly young wrestler from JWP who’s also toddler-sized, and retired in ’96, presumably due to injury. She’s wearing blue, while ASARI now has more streamlined gear- this really great red & gold look.
Nouchi attacks to start and they roll around in chinlocks for three minutes until ASARI comes back with the usual- springing out of a catapalt and hitting a crossbody & running knees. She works the back, while Nouchi comes back with a Saito Suplex and arm stuff. ASARI hits the crossbody, but Nouchi dodges the next one, then hits a bridging vertical suplex for two. She gets the worst of a double-dropkick spot, then eats a Mule Kick before reversing the next to a facecrusher. Another facecrusher sets up a Superplex, but ANOTHER second try at a move leads to ASARI landing on her instead. Some acrobatic rollups get two apiece. Nochi planchas her after a Sky Twister attempt gets shoved off, then hits a pair of Missile Dropkicks leading to a bridge-out. Senton misses, and now ASARI throws out a plancha- she goes for the Sky Twister, but MISSES, which usually leads to the finish- a bridging German gets a VERY close two count! NICE Diving Senton gets another two! A frustrated Nouchi tries something else, but takes a Northern Lights Suplex. ASARI goes up again, but this time Nouchi hits a Saito Suplex FROM THE TOP, still only getting two! She freaks out and panics, letting ASARI catch her with a BEAUTIFUL Super Frankensteiner for two! Jesus, they’re throwing out all kinds of stuff! ASARI gets pissed off, and finally just wraps Nouchi up in some cool sliding cradle (starting like a Majistral before rolling back like a Rolling Cradle with all the limbs trapped) for the three (14:35).
Holy crap- I was like “well this match seems long and from ASARI’s peak era; I might as well watch this to see what comes of it” and BOOM- they start slow, but soon elevate their game until they’re doing this great bit of one-upsmanship. Kinda neat how they did this thing where they would keep succeeding with moves, but the second one would get reversed. Then in the latter half they’re just trading huge bombs back and forth, reversing moves like nuts- a Saito Superplex followed by a Super FRANKENSTEINER? Nouchi impressed in my first time seeing her, and I liked how it was a reversal-themed bout. And after all those crazy top-rope moves couldn’t get the pin, they had a Bret Hart-like “ends on a rollup” finish.
Rating: **** (I mark out hard for reversals, Avalanche-style moves off the top, suplexes and Escalating Finishers, as well as “Ending on a flash pin”)