GAEA JAPAN- STRAIGHT FLASH:
(Dec. 13th 1996):
* And we’re back to GAEA Japan for a Dec. 13th show that apparently aired on Christmas Eve! Three matches from this are up on the GAEAism channel, with one being a “Winner to WCW” Tournament Final, as the victor gets to head to WCW for their Women’s Title Tournament! Also on here are some big Veteran vs. Rookie battles, as Chigusa Nagayo faces down the traitorous rookies she herself trained- the ones who abandoned her for OZ Academy! A cheating-filled handicap match awaits! And also we get more Akira Hokuto, as she teams with fellow veteran KAORU as they face the rookie wonder-squad of Meiko Satomura & Sonoko Kato!
CHIGUSA NAGAYO vs. SUGAR SATO & CHIKAYO NAGASHIMA:
* YUP- the boss of GAEA takes on both of her traitorous trainees. This is probably the kind of match people saw when they cemented the “Chigusa was Selfish” reputation she got at one point- like YEAH she’s booking herself to beat two people at once, but it’s pretty much part of the trainee process in Japan that she’d be able to slaughter them.
We’re joined in progress with a bleeding Chigusa landing backdrop drivers and dominating Sato, but the kid grabs a leg. Sugar misses a run-up flying elbow but Chikayo nails the boss with a table and they hit a Rocket Launcher and that elbow, but Chigusa kicks out at one. Sugar goes back to the leg but Chigusa blocks a tag and hits her Running Razor’s Edge. Uh-oh- Chigusa doesn’t even capitalize, instead braining Chikayo with a chair and bringing a table into the ring: it’s lesson time. A dead Chikayo is hauled in and powerbombed right through it (a Japanese table can BREAK?)- shockingly, Chikayo kicks out at two. Sugar saves after Chikayo’s piledriven on a broken table piece, so Chigusa blasts her with it. Sugar trips her to prevent a powerbomb and Chikayo starts swinging the table bit at her, eventually bringing Chigusa down. Chikayo leaps right into a ligerbomb, but still kicks out, and the GAEA MDK Sleeper is stopped by Sugar flying in. Chigusa dealing with her lets Chikayo German suplex her for two, revealing that Chikayo is bleeding now, too. Chikayo ranas her for two but gets beaten up, and Sugar dragon screws Chigusa’s leg but gets powerbombed. Chikayo gets another rana, but Chigusa’s finally got her, doing her tombstone lift into a big powerbomb w/ jacknife pin at (8:31 of 16:13 shown).
Now this was a bit of an interesting dynamic- how often do you see handicap matches where the solo person is a babyface veteran out to beat up two subordinate wrestlers and teach them a lesson? The psychology was pretty sound, with the kids only maintaining advantage due to comeback and then using the very weapon Chigusa brought in. And Chikayo is now getting the “can kick out of huge moves” credibility push, making the war of attrition even more pronounced, even as Chigusa is rarely in that much trouble. It’s almost like a video game where you have to deal with both people enough to finally let you hit a huge move on the weakened one for the pin so the other can’t come in. The match was pretty good work with some weapon spots to keep things interesting- we’re missing half of it and nobody was really being fancy, but it was fine.
Rating: **3/4 (a pretty interesting bout from a strategy perspective, some good weapon stuff, and a battle of attrition- not the best but quite good)
WINNER TO WCW TOURNAMENT:
* This show also features a very interesting “Winner to WCW” Tournament. Now y’all might remember the WCW women’s matches I shared earlier, which had Akira Hokuto & Bull Nakano beat Mayumi Ozaki & Cutie Suzuki. Well now we’re hitting the point where WCW actually gets a women’s division (sorta), centered around Akira Hokuto & Madusa! So it’s a one-night tournament to see which of the lower-ranked gets to go over there, joining Chigusa, Akira, KAORU and others. The video here is obviously clipped down to just the finishes.
Toshie Uematsu d. Sakura Hirota (5:11): The first-year obviously wipes out the newbie with a flying splash.
Chihiro Nakano d. Maiko Matsumoto (6:08): Newbie fight! Nakano wins with a flying knee to the head over the brown-clad rookie (that is seriously the worst set of tights ever, lol).
Makie Numao d. Rina Ishii (6:02): Another one! Ishii scores a missile dropkick, but quickly gets wrapped in a double-arm Muta Lock and gives up.
Bomber Hikari d. Chihiro Nakano (5:19): I guess Bomber got to skip a round being not quite a rookie? Nakano surprises her by kicking out of a flying headbutt, but a Blue Thunder Bomb finishes her.
Toshie Uematsu d. Makie Numao (8:33): Again Toshie wins, but in a longer match. Numao works her leg and beats on her when she tries comebacks, but Toshie boots her in the gut and hits a Northern Lights suplex to win.
WINNER TO WCW TOURNAMENT FINAL:
TOSHIE UEMATSU d. BOMBER HIKARI:
* Bomber, who’s only fought once (and against a baby first-year) is set to beat up Toshie, who fought twice and has now had her leg worked. Toshie’s in the plain green, while Bomber’s in a very complex blue/green/black/white get-up.
Toshie wisely attacks before the bell, flying out to the floor and trying to beat her up, but Bomber soon starts no-selling her defiantly and beats her ass. A press slam and other ’80s moves hit and Bomber starts to work the knee and hitting avalanches. Toshie uses speed and the ropes to come back, but Bomber keeps overpowering her. Both are pretty clearly bagged, taking breathers, and poor Toshie flies onto Bomber’s knees and gets killed again- an overthrow powerbomb smashes her knee and this is looking inevitable. Toshie keeps reversing to flash-pins but can’t hold her down, and then does a great job with missile dropkick spam, limping badly to each corner, but tries a cross-body and is powerslammed! For two! Flying splash also gets two! A confident, assured Bomber is starting to get frustrated and “wait, WHAT?” about this, but some teases still go nowhere as she flattens the kid with a lariat & release German, gearing herself up (and saving her breath) between each move… but tries another Blue Thunder Bomb, and THAT’s the winning flash-pin, as Toshie reverses on her to a rollup at (7:48)! Toshie gets to go to the WCW Women’s Title Tournament!
A very good match by Bomber’s standards- she usually stinks and both were already tired going into this, but there’s nothing like “the tiny girl 50-lb. lighter than her opponent is pre-injured and has wrestled more, and the big girl keeps halting her with power stuff”- things like catching Toshie flying around and Samoan dropping her or just throwing her around and smashing the injured knee is basic stuff but ALWAYS WORKS. And the story was great, because Toshie’s repeated teases make you think “aw, never mind- she’s not gonna win”. And this kinda cements Bomber’s run in GAEA, as she’s now officially losing to the Meikos & Toshies of the world.
Rating: *** (built off of past matches and an exhausted rookie and gave us a good underdog story- the perfect use of the limited Bomber, who did well in her spot here)
AKIRA HOKUTO & KAORU vs. MEIKO SATOMURA & SONOKO KATO:
* Oh yeah- it’s the two veterans versus the top rookies in what’s sure to be a fun slaughter. Hokuto’s in green & KAORU’s in super-shiny silver, while Meiko’s red & Kato’s blue.
We start off with the kids throwing missile kicks to Akira, but Hokuto just comes back with a one-handed choke. Meiko & KAORU trade forearms and arm stuff, then KAORU hits her high Thesz presses & a snap suplex on Kato for two. But Meiko causes Akira to miss a Doomsday Device and Kato gets her rolling fireman’s for two, but Akira All Japans her right onto her freakin’ neck and KAORU adds a missile kick & backdrop driver, but Meiko keeps interfering blatantly, hitting her Super Cross-Armbreaker on KAORU. This lets Kato finally tag out, so Meiko’s opening fire all over KAORU with more arm stuff, and it’s a Death Valley Driver! Two! Akira just splashes Meiko out of another cross-arm and hits a powerbomb, but Kato stops her climbing by biting her thight and that sets up a double-superplex. They sandwich the hell out of her with kicks, but she flings them both down with a double-lariat and KAORU gets a rana for two.
A brainbuster & springboard moonsault bring in Meiko, and the kids are just so ridiculously persistent with this nonsense that the vets can’t get anything going. Akira finally blasts them to set up a dive and her own Tope Con Hilo to the floor. But Meiko deals with Akira out there and helps Kato set up her finisher- the Kamikaze Bomb (rolling super fireman’s carry)… for two! KAORU elbows free of a German to come back, but overdoes it trying a moonsault and eats feet… leading to Kato hitting a DRAGON Suplex, and that gets the three (10:17 of 14:59 shown)! The kids beat KAORU and HOKUTO! The fans go crazy for the colossal upset (I wish I hadn’t read the results ahead of time, lol). Hokuto cuts a promo on KAORU afterwards, presumably being PO’d that her partner lost the fall during Akira’s triumphant return to wrestling.
Okay, wasn’t expecting that one. The vets were almost slackingly going through it while the kids were going all-out, which is always a fun dynamic in these types of matches. Akira & KAORU appeared annoyed and a bit frustrated, with the kids carrying things through sheer persistence with their constant interference and double-teaming than their skill or tactics. And it WORKED, because they just attached themselves to the veterans like a pair of color-coded lampreys and wouldn’t get off. Meiko even handled Akira on the floor in a way that shouldn’t have been possible, allowing Kato to score a lucky one on KAORU (who kicks out of her finisher, but her own gets reversed and she’s caught with the most deadly of the suplexes).
Rating: ***1/4 (a lot of fun with a great finish)
So yeah, GAEA Japan is officially a healthy enough promotion to slam out three ***-ish matches a night with just their own talent. Which was pretty much the idea of their first training class (who were meant to form the backbone of the promotion). Bomber Hikaru, in constant danger of being overshadowed, actually did a good job tonight (especially given her specific role is probably “the first hurdle the rookies have to jump over”), and we even got another fluke win as the kids beat Hokuto & KAORU.