*Devil hits the goddamndest powerbomb ever on rookie Sakura Hirota*
Sonoko Kato (on the floor): “…. boss?”
Chigusa Nagayo (the trainer): “Oh my god, now I have to tell this rookie’s parents how she died.”
Devil Masami: “HEY HOW ‘BOUT IT?!”
GAEA JAPAN- WRESTLING BIBLE & WAR CRY:
(Jan. 12th & 19th, 1997)
* It’s time for more GAEA Japan, this time with a mish-mash of minor stars mixed in with the big ones. It features two matches by rookie upstart Sakura Hirota being murdered by main eventers, the latter of which features the godamndest powerbomb bump of all time and a priceless reaction from everyone involved. Akira Hokuto wrestles!… in her weird luchadora self, fighting a lucha-identity version of KAORU. And then it’s the FINAL MATCH of Bomber Hikari, as I guess the GAEA rookies were elevated enough and we didn’t need her stinking up the midcard anymore (or she was hurt- whatever). Then Akira & KAORU fight again, but with a GAEA kid and an IWA Japan joshi getting involved to make a tag match. And finally, we end with another Chigusa/GAEA kids vs. OZ Academy trios match.
CHIGUSA NAGAYO vs. SAKURA HIROTA:
* The boss takes on the youngest rookie in GAEA, as the pink-clad upstart jumps Chigusa before the bell.
Chigusa promptly no-sells everything and taunts Sakura, then crushes her with a gigaton slap after a forearm flurry from the kid. Sakura keeps trying stuff but Chigusa keeps kicking her in the head and daring her to try more. Funny bit as Chigusa milks the 10-count and roundhouses Sakura the second she’s up, but the kid does a dramatic kickout anyways. Sakura manages a snap armbar and even stuns Chigusa with a big spinning backfist, but Chigusa just swats her again and hooks the GAEA MDK Sleeper for the win (3:59).
Rating: 1/2* (harmless “demolish the rookie” match, with Sakura getting a couple of spots to shot her spirit but being easily beaten)
REINA JABUKU vs. LA INFERNAL:
* Weirdness abounds as Akira Hokuto & KAORU throw on their masked lucha guises in this match, joined in progress. Reina/Akira’s in pink and Infernal/KAORU’s in white.
Infernal does a moonsault to the floor and a straightjacket German in the ring for two, then a Brainbuster for the same and she rages about the count. Jabuki catches her with a butterfly superduperplex for two, clearly hurting, and Infernal gets a Bridging German reversal for two. Michinoku Driver gets two, then again as Infernal is milking time between moves, and Jabuki hits the most hilariously casual transition ever, just slapping Infernal’s back to stop whatever she was doing, slams her, and hits the sick Inverted Brainbuster for the pin (3:14 of 19:52 shown). This was more or less a “collection of big moves KAORU knows” at this point (what she often defaulted to as the match neared its end) until Hokuto did the most lazy transition I’ve ever seen in my life and won it, but we missed a ton. Akira in particular looked really beaten up.
Rating: *1/4 (we didn’t see much of it)
The Rest of the Card:
Chikayo Nagashima & Sugar Sato d. Kiyoko Ichiki (IWA Japan) & Toshie Uematsu (20:41): That’s… really long for a match like that.
Bomber Hikari d. Rina Ishii (8:13): Another rookie slayed in their early days.
Maiko Matsumoto d. Bomber Hikari (9:58): Lol, really? Bomber gets to job to a rookie again, this time because she wrestled earlier I guess.
AAAW Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match- Meiko Satomura & Sonoko Kato (c) d. Chihiro Nakano & Makie Numao (20:36): Another really long one.
GAEA WAR CRY:
(Jan. 19th 1997)
DEVIL MASAMI vs. SAKURA HIROTA:
* Sakura gets slaughtered again, this time against the other big ’80s star. Devil’s in black with Darkseid’s thigh-boots, in purple. Sakura’s in pink, as always.
Sakura attacks early again, Devil happily ignoring her attacks but getting sat on trying a powerbomb. Sakura keeps using speed as Devil finally stops being amused, but she gets an ax kick. Sakura tries again but bounces off, Devil legdrops her to finally stall her out, then hits the JESUS CHRIST WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT POWERBOMB, completely crumpling Sakura- Devil just does this “Hey, that was pretty good” comedic reaction to the kid crumpling (this is normally her Triple Powerbomb deal where she whips them back up for more, but the reaction probably clued her in that the bump was monstrous enough to justify one), and Chigusa has this “aaaaaaaaaaaggggghhhhh I hope she isn’t dead so I have to explain this to her parents” look on her face. You can see Sonoko Kato on the floor just doing this “…. 0_0” look to the boss, and Devil’s making like Pete Rose, all “Hey HOW BOUT IT?” about her own move. Chigusa finally enters the ring, grabs Sakura’s corpse and slaps it until she revives somehow. Finally she’s like “Yeah, CTE is just pretend- GO GET ‘ER, KID!” and sends a dizzed Sakura stumbling over to Devil, who promptly hits ANOTHER powerbomb, then just kneels atop Hirota’s dead body for three at (3:46).
Hahah that was the greatest thing ever- Devil’s reaction was perfect, Sakura played her part epically (though I dunno how much that death-sell was SELLING and how much was her brain stem coming loose), especially with the weak stumble over to Devil. Chigusa’s look of worry then “tough coaching” her rookie to march towards here doom was hilarious. Just another one-sided rookie match but oh my god.
Rating: 1/2* (just more one-sided brutality with an all-time “OMG is she dead?” bump)
BOMBER HIKARI vs. HIROMI KATO:
* … okay, who’s this one? ANOTHER black-clad GAEA rookie, meaning we might have lost the last one. No, Chihiro Nakano sticks in wrestling until 2000. Dunno why another black Arena swimsuit got used. This is actually the FINAL MATCH of Bomber Hikari, at least according to Cagematch, apparently due to a back injury (or her realizing she’s about to be jobbed out). She’s in blue here, looking like an LLPW wrestler with this complex design.
Bomber clotheslines Hiromi down right away, but the kid actually hefts her up into a TORTURE RACK of all things. Bomber gets a good powerslam reversal and uses headbutts- Hiromi gets fired up a lot but eats a flying splash, getting a good reaction for the kickout. Hiromi hits a second torture rack, but has to drop Bomber, who fires back with body attacks and a backdrop suplex into a one-armed powerbomb for the win (3:24). Kato got a bit of a push in terms of her power (you don’t see a lot of rookies hauling up veterans like that), but only makes it to 1998 before retiring.
Rating: * (very basic rookie/veteran match, albeit with an extreme amount of power from the kid)
And that calls it a career for Bomber, I guess- it’s allegedly due to back issues, but she was pretty redundant in the company after a point- a “Veteran who can lose to the up & comers” is a fantastic role for any promotion, but Bomber was in an uncomfortable zone where she sucked, yet was a giant wall in front of potentially-good rookies, many of whom were already better in the ring than her but lacked the credibility to defeat her in the severe pecking order of Japanese wrestling. So it would actively hurt the pushes of people to be jobbing to Bomber, who was never anywhere above “not very good, but not actively bad”.
AKIRA HOKUTO & TOSHIE UEMATSU vs. KAORU (GAEA) & KYOKO ICHIKI (IWA Japan):
* A strange combo match, as the elite Hokuto joins up with a GAEA first-year against KAORU and a transfer from IWA Japan. Ichiki’s in frilly pastel blue & pink, KAORU’s in shiny metallic gear, Toshie’s in green (thankfully with more detail on it than the generic swimsuit) & Hokuto’s in red/gold.
JIP with Toshie beating on Ichiki to start, then they tag out- KAORU lands on her feet trying a moonsault, then Toshie eats a big backdrop suplex for two. Hokuto brutally stops KAORU’s springboard moonsault by DROPKICKING the top rope with perfect timing, but KAORU recovers and dumps her foes, moonsaulting onto them. She hits a brainbuster on Toshie (Hokuto saves), and a Doomsday Device knee (from Ichiki) has Toshie bridging out. Akira completely slaughters Ichiki with a backdrop suplex onto the neck, but KAORU pays her back by stalling her, then springboard missile kicking her in the back. KAORU gets the same backdrop, though, but Ichiki now flies in with a knee and Hokuto gets Michinoku Driver’d for two- Toshie saves. KAORU Moonsaults onto feet and Toshie hits an arm-trap Northern Lights suplex for two- Ichiki saves. Toshie messes up whatever they were gonna do (probably her moonsault flip thing) and they settle for a double-team, and Hokuto runs in for a rocket launcher to the floor (Toshie probably smacking her head on the bare floor in the process). Hokuto tries to superplex Toshie on Ichiki, but they aren’t looking and KAORU pulls her partner out of the way. But then she Moonsaults Ichiki by mistake and Hokuto pounces- the German was probably supposed to get the pin, but the bridge fails and so she hits a Tiger Suplex (??) for the pin at (8:32 of 22:34 shown).
So this was a bunch of probably REALLY tired people wrestling for 22 freakin’ minutes, with one being an outsider with not much experience at a high level, so that it was still pretty good is impressive. Some unique moves and lots of pin-saving and revenge spots, too. Hokuto winning with a random mid-range move is kind of odd for her, but she seems to be shaking up the moveset (in WCW she’ll JUST use the German as a finisher!).
Rating: **1/2 (seems perfectly fine, though we just get the end of it)
CHIGUSA NAGAYO, MEIKO SATOMURA & SONOKO KATO vs. OZ ACADEMY (Mayumi Ozaki, Chikayo Nagashima & Sugar Sato):
* Another big GAEA vs. OZ match, as Ozaki’s goons take on Chigusa and her best two students. Oz is in a black bodysuit with red cupcake designs swirling about it in an odd look- Chikayo’s in yellow & Sato’s in white. Chigusa’s in her black leather/red flare gear, Meiko’s red & Kato’s blue and white. This one is MASSIVELY long and cut down to half.
We’re JIP with Chigusa just going berserk on the OZ crew, riling up the arena- she tortures Sugar and even has her subordinates come in for some abuse, marking out in joy over flipping off Ozaki (who is just smirking like “oh REALLY?” about it). Sugar escapes and Oz immediately brings in Chigusa for revenge- the vets get into an ugly fight, slapping and just grabbing the neck with pure hate. Chigusa takes the lead, but Ozaki Germans her- clipped to the kids teeing off on her. The Hart Attack gets two, but she Samoa Joes away from Meiko, who splats. Kato does better but gets backfisted, but Chigusa helps her hit a super bulldog for two. Ozaki calls in the goons, and Chikayo ranas Chigusa for two. A mass beatdown from OZ leads to a bad triplebomb that Chigusa won’t even allow to get a one-count, but a double-Rocket Launcher gets two. Clipped to Meiko taking a triplebomb on a table in the ring (you can see the sawdust exploding off of it), and Kato actually gets bombed through another, drawing a good reaction (not often a Japanese table breaks in one shot).
They do other stuff until Chigusa sneaks in, nails Ozaki with a wrench, and powerbombs HER on a table, elbowdropping her through it before her goons realize what’s going on. Meiko & Kato pounce with chairs to stop OZ, and Chigusa sets up a Sidewinder-style legdrop from Kato for two on Chikayo. Chigusa press-slams Chikayo onto Kato’s shoulders for the Kamikaze Bomb (super rolling fireman’s carry slam)- OZ saves, then pulls Chikayo out so Ozaki can hit an uraken into a Tequila Sunrise (tiger/dragon suplex) for two. Straightjacket Ligerbomb gets two as everyone’s piling into the ring constantly, but Chigusa manages a lucky backdrop driver and her Running Powerbomb for two as the kids shove them over. Meiko gets a flying forearm and the Death Valley Driver for two- she can’t even pull a dead Ozaki up, but Oz urakens free and Sato… misses a run-up flying elbow. Everyone scraps, but then Chikayo slides a chair into the path when Meiko tries her Super Cross-Armbreaker Slam, crushing the kid’s back! Oh, that was clever- the crowd responded, too. That sets up the completed elbow… for two. Chigusa gets held off by Ozaki as Sato whips Meiko to the corner- Meiko throws a kick, but Sato snags it and dragon screws her off the top, slapping on a weak Figure-Four Leglock as Meiko instantly taps (13:06 of 24:30 shown)! OZ Academy wins!
Another wild GAEA/OZ brawl, as weapons get used, everyone piles into the ring to stop everything, etc. The veterans can do these in their sleep and the kids can’t hurt or help, really- the matches are fine but don’t stand out from each other much. Oddly a LOT of weak powerbombs in this one, as people can barely heft each other up, even with three people doing it at once. But the near-falls near the end were very good- Chigusa & Meiko hit finishers but the interference screws them up, then the chair being put in Meiko’s landing path sets up the flying elbow for an actual kick-out. Though the ending is comparatively weak to the point of being strange- Meiko takes one move to the leg and a resthold in literally every other match is a killer and the most spirited wrestler in GAEA taps out?
Rating: ***1/4 (another fun “everyone fights in a manic frenzy” match- hard to screw up, but they never stand out)
Chihiro Nakano & Makie Numao d. Maiko Matsumoto & Rina Ishii (17:14): Oh god- these four are BABIES and made to go 17 minutes? That’s classic “learn to wrestle long matches if it kills you” booking.
-So overall, this looks like more of the same from GAEA Japan, as the first generation of students get into the “groove” and can have solid-effort *** matches routinely. Akira Hokuto is still slumming it in the midcard and seems to have a rivalry with KAORU, Bomber Hikari is an addition by subtraction for the company… and we have a ton more rookies who are all failing to really stand out just yet.
Overall, the promotion looks somewhat healthy (especially now that they don’t need to fill the card with JWP & FMW wrestlers to make up their roster), yet the match average has faltered since Chigusa & KAORU aren’t doing Dream Matches every month.