Joshi Spotlight: GAEA Japan’s Second Anniversary #2
By Jabroniville on 16th January 2023
GAEA JAPAN- SECOND ANNIVERSARY SHOW (Part Two):
(April 29th, 1997)
* So a week after the April 21st show comes another “Second Anniversary” special. This one features yet another WCW Women’s Cruiserweight Title defense by Toshie Uematsu, Chigusa and the first “Chigusa Clone” (Toshiyo Yamada) against the best of GAEA’s first generation of rookies (Meiko & Kato!), and Akira Hokuto teaming with Maiko Matsumoto- a rookie just entering her second year- against Mayumi Ozaki and her best goon, Chikayo Nagashima!
Oh, and it’s the debut of Chigusa Nagayo’s heel character ZERO! So, uh, there’s that. For all you Zero fans out there. Wait am I supposed to capitalize her name now?
WCW WOMEN’S CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE:
TOSHIE UEMATSU vs. SUGAR SATO:
* Toshie now defends WCW gold against the OZ Academy turncoat. Sato’s now in a more elaborate version of her white gear, with lots of strings and cut-out bits. We’re JIP here.
JIP with Toshie scoring a rollup off the top for a close two, then a bunch of missile dropkicks. Sugar repeatedly stuffs the Northern Lights suplex, but takes a rollup before dodging the flying splash. Toshie runs into the dragon screw and sells DRAMATICALLY in a leghold, scrambling for the ropes and grasping her injured knee. Sugar tries an Oklahoma Stampede of all things but takes a Japanese leg roll clutch, but reverses to her own for two. Sugar misses a run-up flying back elbow and they square off, hitting flash-pins until Toshie fails again to hit the NL suplex- Sugar hesitates and stumbles in for the finish, which is Toshie wrapping up all of her limbs for an Octopus Stretch-like rolling pin (5:31 of 17:39 shown!!) to keep her title!
Pretty good final minutes, with Toshie in particular selling death from that dragon screw/submission combo, howling in agony and looking like she’s in tears. This is even more impressive knowing how long the match REALLY was, as we skipped 12 minutes of action and were left with two probably very tired girls doing a lot of stuff and hitting most of it very well. In this context, flash-pins are ideal finishers, as they can each escape the big moves and they’re tired enough that these are believable ways to win.
Rating: **1/4 (very abridged by a very good final five)
CHIGUSA NAGAYO & TOSHIYO YAMADA (AJW) vs. MEIKO SATOMURA & SONOKO KATO:
* Two veterans take on their “Mini-Mes”, as Chigusa teams with Yamada again, but against their usual junior partners.
JIP with Chigusa repeatedly shames and slaps her juniors, daring them to try harder- great bit as she smiles at Kato on the apron while sleeperholding Meiko. They have to double-team to get her to sell a submission hold, but Yamada gets shocked by Meiko’s ferocity until just booting her head off. Yamada tortures her with the stretch muffler and Kato fares no better, eating a backdrop driver after Yamada beats her up. Meiko saves to a big reaction, but Chigusa keeps up the assault by catching Kato with a belly-to-belly that dumps her face-first… but in an AMAZING bit, they hit a fireman’s carry slam/flying splash and lure Yamada in for STEREO SHARPSHOOTERS, the old Crush Gals spot! Hahah and look at the crowd- all the smiling, cheering fans are the 30-something moms. THEY remember :). Alas, we’re back to defiant no-selling from Chigusa, who decapitates Meiko with a kick and the vets hit stereo sharpshooters too. Yamada spikes Meiko with a backdrop suplex and Kato runs in- she no-sells another backdrop and latches on with a headlock like a bulldog, then Meiko scores a splash & cross-armbreaker. Chigusa stops that and her team hits a spike piledriver, then she holds Kato from interfering anymore so Yamada can finish with the Reverse Gory Bomb at (11:30 of 12:36).
Another very simple “the veterans barely sell anything” match, to the point where this was actually less competitive than many prior matches, but it had that good stereo sharpshooter callback spot and some good double-teaming and fire by the kids. Though I can imagine internet fans coming in at this moment and thinking Chigusa was incredibly selfish to be gobbling up her own trainees like that… that’s just kinda how joshi is until you get more mileage.
Rating: **1/4 (hard to hate these kinds of matches, but they don’t exactly inspire great star ratings when they’re so one-sided)
AKIRA HOKUTO & MAIKO MATSUMOTO vs. OZ ACADEMY (Mayumi Ozaki & Chikayo Nagashima):
* A payoff to Akira’s talking smack last show, Akira faces the leader of OZ Academy in a tag match! Ozaki’s in the most “pro wrestling” looking gear I’ve seen her in for a while, with long swooping red bits. Chikayo’s in yellow & blue, Hokuto’s in silver and Maiko’s in yellow/brown.
This actually starts with comedy, with Akira shaming Ozaki’s height, so Chikayo comes in to give her boss a boost- Maiko gets a slap for trying the same with Hokuto. Man ’90s tape traders would have hated that spot, lol. The vets no-sell each other and just walk away- the kids do their bit, Maiko getting a good reaction for her power- catching Chikayo mid-air- then responding to Ozaki’s hair-pulling by doing the same, then just FLOORS her with a punch! Yeah- you show that hag you won’t be pushed around, kid! Akira works Chikayo over, then Maiko comes in for that Beverly Brothers leapfrog move, but in the corner and to the face (like… a leapfrog teabag?). Akira strangles Oz to get out of a pin, then does a chokeslam lift & hangman’s choke, but gets caught with a clothesline & cannonball for two. Double-submission from OZ, but Akira hits her sick inverted brainbuster when Oz snaps the arm over her shoulder- yikes, now THAT’s a counter.
The kids waste time and Oz flies in, but Maiko reverses Chikayo’s second monkey flip by tossing her up and flipping her around for an atomic drop in a great bit, but Oz just flies into her. Chikayo ranas her and then catches Akira with a super monkey flip thanks to Oz holding her, but she tries a regular one and gets powerbombed. Oz interferes and pulls hair- Maiko gets drilled trying to help and Akira’s German’d, but Chikayo missile kicks Oz when Akira moves. Oz is caught in a Fisherman’s Buster for two. Maiko saves Akira from the Tequila Sunrise, and a Dangerous Queen Bomb gets two. Oz is in trouble but her dumb backfist knocks Akira into the corner- Maiko gets a mountain bomb but eats a Rocket Launcher for two- then stereo flying stomps from OZ gets two! Double Flying Stomp! But Maiko ducks under them and Akira flies in with a missile kick, then planchas Chikayo… leaving Ozaki to take advantage with a backfist & kneeling powerbomb for two- Akira has to charge in to save. But Ozaki dumps her and cannonballs her on the floor, then four OZ goons drag Akira away so Oz can easily dust off Maiko with the Tequila Sunrise (tiger/dragon suplex) at (14:14).
A fun little match in parts, with what I imagined was gonna be a nasty feud instead just being Oz & Akira being shitty to each other and talking smack, but MAIKO is the one who impressed me. Basically a 2nd-year now, she’s already doing power spots and I adore that she’s a rookie who won’t let a veteran disrespect her. She’s not GREAT at all just yet (some of her lifts and grabs are awkward), but her being a power wrestler fills a roll GAEA needed. The crowd was way into her spots for the most basic things (I loved that atomic drop reversal- very slick). As a match there was a bunch of “the rookies just run around each other” bits and time-wasting until the final surge, but that part was pretty good- Akira nearly finishes Ozaki but gets nailed, then Maiko gets double-teamed to death and Akira has to save her repeatedly.
Rating: ***1/2 (was looking below ***, but they had a good run of false finishes in the end, and there was great team psychology with Maiko being in over her head save for some hope spots, and the numbers game screwing Akira’s team)
But then, something STRANGE happens- a bell starts ringing as we get this hilarious clip of Hokuto chairshotting an OZ goon while you see three other beaten bodies around her because she just kicked ALL their asses… and ZERO arrives! Yes, Chigusa Nagayo with facepaint, grease-covered arms and a purple/black bodysuit, with someone named “Zera” as her minion (a more glamorous girl with a facemask). She backdrop suplexes Ozaki twice, and suddenly Hokuto is all concerned, but Zero tosses her over and the ref gets between everyone while Zero poses all “Me SCAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRYYYYYYY!” as they do another “Monster Alternate Version” gimmick in Japan.
Hokuto & Ozaki appear dumbfounded as Zero walks to the back… then Devil Masami comes out in normal clothes and they just all sit down cross-legged in the middle of the ring and laugh, shooting the shit I guess? Ozaki and Hokuto were just fighting!
All in all, a perfectly fine day of wrestling, though nothing extremely fantastic- Toshie & Sugar wrestle a good match, then Chigusa & Yamada demolish the GAEA first class kids in a match I wasn’t enamored by (it was equally as good, but like… I feel Meiko & Kato shouldn’t be absolutely wrecked like that, even now), and the main was very good in the end. Maiko Matsumoto really impressed me for a kid just entering her second year, though she’s nowhere near great yet and only has two more years to her career. Oh, and we get the debut of Zero, who I am terrified is going to be another shitty no-selling monster in joshi.