GAEA JAPAN- THE SECOND JUNIOR ALL-STAR:
(June 19th 1997)
* A big GAEA show from June 19th, showcasing a lot of their rookies, and those from other companies. Interpromotional Rookie Mayhem abounds! Toshie Uematsu defends the WCW Cruiserweight Title against AJW’s Yoshiko Tamura, in the most effort either has shown to this level! Several people have REALLY good tag team matches while you get to see others have the same type of match with way less experience, so you can weigh just how much such things count, haha. But really, it’s like several versions of the “Flair/Steamboat of Inexperienced Rookie Matches”.
This ends up being a MONSTER review, oddly, because there’s just so many damn matches on it, and many are quite long.
SAKURA HIROTA, RINA ISHII & HIROMI KATO (GAEA Japan) vs. NANA FUJIMURA, AYA KOYAMA & MIHO KAWASAKI (Big Japan):
* hahah, good lord! BIG JAPAN of all companies had a women’s division! Mostly known for its deathmatches, Big Japan was Indie Sleaze personified from everything I’ve seen. It now sends its rookies (whom I’ve never seen before) to wrestle GAEA’s most minor recurring wrestlers. Sakura’s in pink, Rina’s in orange, Kato’s in black, Nana’s in black (but with armbands!), Toyama’s in floral-printed white & Miho’s in baggy red pants and a white t-shirt.
Big Japan triple-teams Sakura with dropkicks for two, but GAEA fires off three corner attacks for two on Nana, then everyone goes into rookie-fu with lots of dropkicks & flash pins, going all-out with effort. Rina does a cartwheel back elbow (pretty advanced for her level) on Koyama, but gets kicked by Nana trying another and a slingshot back elbow gets two. Sakura USES THE ASS on Nana, but gets backdrop suplexed and dropped on her ass for two. Miho with a clothesline and the crowd seems to mark out for the ref just DIVING into position and counting, but Sakura hits a leglock and Kato a dramatic STF until it’s finally broken up. Rina’s flying splash gets two but Miho does judo flip spam for the same. Nana & Rina go for hooking clotheslines, but Rina does her Manami Roll takedown again and Sakura lands the FLYING ASS~~ for two. Kato’s missile kick puts Nana into Koyama, who takes the Torture Rack from Kato. They triple-team Koyama, but she counters Rina’s rana with a powerbomb for two. Rina’s flash-pins nearly get her, but Nana pushes them over for a CLOSE two-count and the crowd is getting impressed. Koyama whips Rina off the ropes to finish, but this time the rana hits her for three at (9:40).
Oh man, you can totally tell this was planned well ahead of time. I mean Mike Lorefice says so, but I like to think I would have been able to tell- these are 2nd year wrestlers and yet it’s fought all-out with none of that “okay, what do I do next…?” rookie stuff, and has all sorts of big reversal spots and momentum-shifts planned out.
Rating: **1/2 (the Flair/Steamboat of green-ass rookie matches)
GAEA vs. HEISEI GUREN-TAI HARDCORE SURVIVAL:
MAKIE NUMAO & MAIKO MATSUMOTO (GAEA Japan) vs. THE BLOODY (JD’) & SAYURI OKINO (LLPW):
* A weird mixed match as JD’ & LLPW team up against GAEA’s rookies from the 2nd generation. I’ve not seen Okino before, I think. She’s in pink & black, while The Bloody’s in blue & black, making them look kinda like a proper team. Maiko’s in yellow/brown & Numao’s in black & red triangles with kickpads. Been a while since I’ve seen her but she’s the kicky one.
The invaders attack with chains to start, but Numao saves Maiko from strangulation. Bloody just chokes away at Maiko as these kids are doing a serviceable proto-LCO act double-teaming her. She finally escapes and Numao gets a good reaction for her kicks, but she too is gang-beat. She wins a brawl outside and gets a “NU-MA-O!” chant for it, but soon the heels work them over again and the match’s length works against it as they’re just trading stuff and run out of things to do. Like 7 minutes in they’re still doing hair-slams and the “grab & toss” stuff. Bloody gets a bad rolling cradle on Maiko then rolls through Numao’s flying cross-body, but eats a bad slingshot gut-kick. Numao goes a-kickin’ and does a bad inverted DDT (what IS that?) but gets chain-choked again, but Bloody chairs Okino coming off the top by mistake. Okino takes atomic drops for two, but they clothesline Numao with the chain and Okino manages a super armdrag for two. Bloody Germans Maiko for two, only to Vader Bomb herself into a chair face-first. Maiko/Bloody trade pins and Bloody hits Rolling Germans for two. Numao nails Okino out of a top-rope move and they do weak double-teams for two-counts- Maiko’s Gutwrench Suplex gets two when Bloody saves. Bloody hammers everyone with chairs… but a Double Superplex gets two on Maiko! Perfect Plex on the chair- no ref cuz of JD’ cheating oddly enough. But a German into a Turning Splash gets two for Okino at (15:47). Man, Numao was really easy to hold off for the past couple minutes.
A potentially fun “Nasty Invading Heels vs. Natives” match that quickly goes bad because nobody has the offense to go for 16 minutes like this, so everyone runs outta cool stuff and is still doing hair-slams and choking later on, and Okino’s still doing armdrags until the end. Numao was the most over and credible and her kicks are okay, but she’s the baby version of the “Shootstyle” Kansai/Hotta offense and is small. Bloody & Okino did some heel stuff but are too new and don’t have “it” yet so their mannerisms are usually not there at all- Bloody hits her partner with a chair and seems to just stand there in confusion rather than doing the “Oh crap, NO!” reaction, not even holding her head or anything. So it’s just fairly emotionless heeling and a match that’s a ways too long anyhow.
Rating: *1/2 (just way too long for their age and experience level- their offense isn’t crisp enough nor varied enough, and the character work isn’t there yet)
NEW HEROINE JUNIOR QUEEN CHALLENGE:
TOMOKO KUZUMI (JWP) vs. CHIHARU (SPWF):
* Lol, WUT? Chiharu is in one of her very first matches, while Kuzumi, the future Azumi Hyuga, is JWP’s most elite rookie right now. She’s in a skimpy leather two-piece with a skirt to establish that she’s attractive, while Chiharu’s doing some kind of “Marching Band” gimmick, twirling a baton into the ring and wearing a blue & pink swimsuit. … and what the hell is SPWF? It’s… oh once I actually spell it correctly Cagematch says it’s a Yoshiaki Yatsu fed, and looks like a Comedy Promotion (edit: apparently Indie Sleaze). She looks like a random freelancer until doing a lot of NEO matches from 2003-07 but Cagematch misses indie stuff a bunch.
Chiharu jumps Kuzumi from behind before the bell and tosses her into all the railings, celebrating in the ring to get some quick cred, but Kuzumi dropkicks her to the floor and… buggers Toyota’s no-hands springboard so she has to do a regular springboard plancha. Chiharu’s either a great seller or legit fucked-up because she can barely get into the ring, and Kuzumi has to do simple stretching & stomping for the next few minutes. Chiharu can barely even run the ropes without flopping around (hey it’s like that Anna Jay/Britt Baker match!) so Kuzumi lets her try a submission hold then Backlund Lifts her out of it. Chiharu with a hair slam and the world’s worst running corner kick, then Kuzumi does knees and taunting to kill time. Butterfly backbreaker sets up the half-crab for a near-tap, Kuzumi wastes more time (lol she rolls Chiharu out, then in, just to kill 20 seconds), then Chiharu manages a flying cross-body for two through sheer perseverance. She gets a Perfect Plex for two, but Kuzumi nails her with a Wheelbarrow German, missile dropkicks her twice, and finally ends it with a Bridging German at (9:03).
A pretty standard “Veteran beats up a rookie” match, carrying her the whole way, but hoo boy was Chiharu bad. As expected for someone in their first match or so, she was floppy and couldn’t hit things flush, so Kuzumi (still new but a seasoned wrestler already) had to carry her through basic things, set up comebacks, etc. But Chiharu’s rope-running was so bad I either thought she was hurt or REALLY good at the “flop-sell” at first, but she got a bit better as the match went on. Her selling is fairly decent but she’s clumsy, and Kuzumi was painfully-clearly wrestling herself at points. Standard “Hey, this kid’s pretty good!” kick-outs of some increasingly-vicious moves (a German-Missile Kick is a devastating combo to someone who can normally be pinned by bodyslams, and Kuzumi sold annoyance at the kickout really well), and Kuzumi then finishes with a mid-match move in other bouts.
Rating: 3/4* (no shame on Kuzumi, who was in a hopeless situation, and did as good as possible with such a green opponent)
AJW JUNIOR TITLE:
MOMOE NAKANISHI (AJW) vs. SUMIE SAKIE (JD’):
* Sakie apparently has a fractured leg for this match, but Because Puro, we still have a bout. Momoe is just a couple years in but already impressing people, and won AJW’s rookie belt as a result. Sakie’s in what looks like regular gym clothes- black/blue/red, and Momoe’s in light blue with some detailed black & white swoop design on it- she’s finally upgraded to non-plain gear!
Sakie keeps cranking on Momoe’s arm in pretty solid manner to start, then they do basic rookie-fu with Sakie mostly in control. Momoe hits a bow & arrow but gets rolled up for two, then works holds. Sakie uses Screaming Rookie Dropkicks, then does a CRAZY waistlock backdrop suplex that looks like it absolutely spikes Momoe on her head (actually her shoulder but it was so fast the crowd was amazed), and rolls through into another but Momoe won’t even stay down for one. Sakie looks pretty punched-out as Momoe’s the next person to do an offensive move, but ducks Sakie’s lariat and SPIKES her with a German, Sakie rolling onto her belly because she landed on the back of her head first. Either that was supposed to be the finish and they gotta improvise or it’s just a basic unexpected one as Momoe has to throw Screaming Rookie Dropkicks and then the Standing Backdrop of Death, holding her down for the amateur-style pin at (7:00).
Man these are some pretty crazy bumps for two rookies- while some of them landed safely and were merely done with the impression of head-drops, that’s pretty risky for their level. Match was your basic “Junior” bout with all the dropkicks, hairtosses and basic stretching, but then they started spiking each other and you’re like “!!”, and then it’s an anticlimactic pin.
Rating: *1/4 (basic rookie-fu match with some big moves at the end)
OZ ACADEMY (Sugar Sato, Chikayo Nagashima & Rieko Amano) vs. YUKA SHIINA (AJW), KANAKO MOTOYA (JWP) & YUKO KOSUGI (JD’):
* An interesting one, as the heel GAEA & JWP girls in OZ Academy are set against a trio of one person from each company. Sato’s in white, Chikayo’s in yellow/green, Amano’s in blue, Shiina’s in a baby-blue sporty get-up in her usual style, Motoya’s in frilly baby-blue & white, and Kosugi’s in frilly pink & white (okay, so those ones they want to be Idols- it makes them look like a tag team and Shiina like the odd one out).
Everyone does rookie-fu, but Chikayo lands a double-stunner and a rana as OZ triple-teams Kosugi repeatedly and Motoya accidentally topes into her partners. Kosugi finally dodges something but does a JB Angels armdrag instead of tagging out and pays for it with Amano’s armbar and a Doomsday Device- she earned that. Shiina saves and Sugar takes missile dropkicks from all three and Moyota ass-drops her from the second rope for two. Motoya calls out JWP traitor Amano but gets the worst of their grappling so switches to strikes- Sugar bulldogs Motoya for two but she catches a flying Amano with a dramatic armbar that impresses the crowd- she won’t break in the ropes either, as Amano just snarls in pain, and they hit Triple Flying Stomps- OZ saves and breaks stuff up so Kosugi has to settle for a missile-kick, and Amano impresses by kicking out of that and a Northern Lights suplex with no help. Amano finally drags her into an armbar, and Chikayo misses a flying stomp but hits a monkey flip then pops the crowd by starting another but dropkicking her in the face instead.
Shiina runs in (they’ve obviously been saving her- I bet she does a lot of the ending surge) and holds her in powerbomb position for a double-team, but Chikyo ranas out! She’s caught up top but gets a sunset flip powerbomb on Shiina for two, then Amano/Motoya do another sequence (a bit clumsy) ending with Motoya’s mountain bomb into a big Flying Senton- “Fuck YOU!” bridge! La Majistral- the others save. Sugar dragon screws Shiina but appears to forget which way to go on a figure-four at first and gets rolled up for two. Shiina with a DDT and it’s TRIPLE FLYING HEADBUTTS… but they miss! Sugar then misses her flying back elbow but a missile kick gets two (it was supposed to be a sandwich but Shiina realized she was too far away, lol). Shiina misses another and Amano/Chikayo do stereo dives leaving Sugar alone for another missile kick to get two! Sugar with the dragon screw/leghold and the Double Rocket Launcher gets two! Chikayo somersaults off of Amano & Sugar’s shoulders on the top- Kosugi saves! Sugar with a backslide as time counts down, and Kosugi gets a dramatic rollup for 2.8, and Time Expires at (16:18 of 30:00). Oh shit they clipped it by HALF?
Haha, okay they brought it. The first half (it’s clipped by half though) is mostly Kosugi being a tackling dummy for the heels. Then Amano gets al the impressive “kickout” spots and Chikayo suddenly gets some big hot moves to show off, and finally sure enough- Shiina was kept out of the majority of the match so she could be in all the end stuff, largely getting murdered by increasingly-big OZ spots, getting her own “impressive kickouts” (the Rocket Launcher finisher doesn’t get her). Chikayo upgrading to a bigger somersault dive was great but now the faces were back in the game to help, and then time starts to count down but nobody can get anyone so it’s a Time Over, which is a pretty good ending in a wild match like this. It didn’t have as much flow as matches with more experienced wrestlers might, but it puts over the mania of trying to pin people who just haven’t been beat down enough (it’s hard in a trios match to really wear someone down) or have too much fight left in them when you don’t have the MDKs to crush them.
Rating: ***1/2 (overall a really good match, especially for their experience level)
WCW CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE:
TOSHIE UEMATSU vs. YOSHIKO TAMURA (AJW):
* Another interpromotional contest over Toshie’s WCW Cruiserweight Title, which by this point is about to surpass the actual Women’s Division in that company! Tamura’s in black & white, Toshie’s in green.
They start with some dramatic lockups and pin attempts, then Yoshiko hits a rolling headscissors hold as she is TRYING tonight. Toshie works her own and bites the arm, and they just get scrappier and scrappier as they’re mostly just grabbing hair, punching and slapping. Toshie holds a crab for a minute, then ties up Yoshiko’s arms when she makes the ropes. Yoshiko escapes a headlock and works the leg and back to the point that Toshie can’t even run the ropes, but Toshie pops the fans with a huge running back elbow. But Yoshiko reverses another and a missile dropkick gets two, but Toshie wins a strike-fest and a slingshot elbow gets two. Yoshiko counters a victory roll with another leghold for a close one, but gets rolled up trying another. Toshie stalls out her suplex attempts, but tries her own out of spite and gets rolled up… into another leghold! Toshie’s selling is amazing as she’s howling even after the holds are broken, and then again when she gets her feet up on Yoshiko’s swan-dive headbutt. Yoshiko dropkicks her coming off the top, but an octopus-style rollup gets two for Toshie.
Yoshiko backslides her, but Toshie rolls through into her Hammerlock Northern Lights Suplex- two! Frustrated, she charges into a Bridging German for two. Yoshiko gets her own spread-arm Northern Lights for two as well! Toshie rolls her up out of a second, then charges up to the top after her and dropkicks her in the face to the floor! Plancha hits as Toshie is doing the “Test Sell” a bit by selling, then doing a move, then selling again, but she earns points for trying to punch her knee back to life. Japanese leg roll clutch gets two, and Toshie has a mental breakdown over that not scoring the pin. She roars to the fans to build her SmackDown! meter for a proper finisher and climbs, but Yoshiko follows her up… and Toshie hits a SUPER Japanese Leg Roll Clutch, but Yoshiko rolls back on the pin and threads it into a double-wrist clutch Backdrop Suplex Hold… for three (20:09)!! Yoshiko Tamura wins the WCW Cruiserweight Title!
Toshie bawls to put over how much that belt meant to her. Which looks great at first, but quickly devolves into Razzie-award-winning hysterics, lol. Yeah, ya don’t need the full “hands to the face and fall back while screaming” sell on that. Well they ain’t theater students, I guess.
The opening ten minutes were very hard-fought even as they were simple- both putting over Rookie Hate, nastiness and getting the most out of every little hold- both screamed and wailed in even half-crabs so they didn’t just look like “filler”. Toshie started selling the back, then suddenly they’re on the leg but the fans bit on a lot of those legholds as time went on- which is funny because if you watch the holds they’re complete BS- just Tamura bearhugging a leg- but in Japan those are treated as halfway between restholds and potential killers, and it’s the selling of the taker that makes the crowd treat it as a big deal. And then Toshie’s freaking out and charging in and getting caught for it as this sells her as emotional and making mistakes, too. So even though she lost, she impresses a lot more than Tamura, who was fine but very basic and robotic as the match went on. Given that neither is experienced, it’s amazing that this 20-minute match full of basic legholds could get so over, but the selling made it good.
Rating: ***1/2 (pretty remarkable given the experience levels and how basic the technical work actually was- fantastic ending)
AAAW JR. HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TITLES:
MEIKO SATOMURA & SONOKO KATO vs. TOMOKO MIYAGUCHI (JWP) & SAYA ENDO (AJW):
* Another Interpromotional war… but for the GAEA Tag Titles. “Rock Your Life Away” airs in full as Meiko & Kato defend their titles against a JWP/AJW squad of people who have no fuckin’ chance in the entire world! Great shot of the Champions standing there in the spotlights, letting the moment sink in and realizing just how big this is. Endo’s in a black one-piece with gold piping & Miyaguchi’s in a yellow sporty get-up. Meiko & Kato are in the usual.
We’re JIP to Meiko hamming it up while blitzing everyone, Miyaguchi taking her windmill elbow. They deck the hell out of each other but Endo lures Meiko into a Samoan drop & backdrop to the floor because she’s really easy to provoke- Miyaguchi just decapitates her with a kick on the apron while Kato & Endo scrap on the floor. But Miyaguchi flies into her own partner and the GAEA girls put the boots to them and hit a Hart Attack European uppercut (damn that’s sweet) and Miyaguchi’s head bounces back so Meiko elbows her in the same move. Kato throws kicks but gets hung up in the ropes and beaten on, and Endo throws neckbreaker spam for two- Meiko accidentally windmills Kato when Endo ducks and Kato’s leg gets shredded. Doomsday Device dropkick gets two- Meiko actually runs in and drags Kato to her corner and draws BOOS for it even as Endo keeps brawling with her to stop it, and chases Endo to the corner and brings her off with the Super Cross-Armbreaker- Miyaguchi breaks it up. Endo reverses the DVD to a rollup & German for twos.
Miyaguchi hits a flying Thesz press for two but Kato stops a super move, so she instead catches a flying Meiko with an airplane spin Samoan drop! Crowd LOVED that, but Kato 2nd-rope legdrops her to stop the pin and they hit a fireman’s/flying splash for two. Death Valley Driver- Endo saves. Miyaguchi’s doing this great glassy-eyed death stare as Meiko has to drag her limp body across the ring, but Endo stalls Meiko enough for Miyaguchi to spring to life and throw infuriated slaps into a Super Samoan Drop for two! Both are selling death, Meiko doing a barf-face and Miyaguchi just hanging her head as she slow-crawls and it’s 45 seconds until they make their tags- Endo goes after Kato’s legs and Germans her for two. Endo reverses a reversal to another legbar- Meiko runs in and gets powerslammed and Miyaguchi suplexes Kato ONTO her, and Endo pins the pile for two. Kato surprises her with a Dragon Suplex for two- Miyaguchi knocks out the bridge. Kato climbs but gets the Mandatory German Off The Second Rope and an Endo guillotine legdrop gets two! But Miyaguchi climbs and Meiko knocks her off the top with a European uppercut, and Kato hits a Flying Roundhouse Kick and pins Endo at (12:33 of 18:01 shown)! Well that was sudden!
See not only was the ending pretty obvious, but the match booking makes it MORE clear since you never see one team dominate so much if they’re actually going to win, haha. But damn, check out Miyaguchi here! All “No- give ME a push!” and throwing out all sorts of cool shit. Meiko & Kato actually seemed far diminished compared to them, in part because they were being pretty generous eating all sorts of offense and even fighting dirty to stay in the game, to the boos of the crowd. The hammy theatrics of the challengers was getting a tad excessive at points, though, as Miyaguchi was even worse than Meiko for just screeching all match long, which gets a bit old. And yeah, I wasn’t that big a fan of the finish, as it seems like the GAEA girls were getting their ASSES KICKED and then just lucked into a one-two punch for the finish.
Rating: ***1/2 (excellent in parts and disappointing in others- a real showcase for the challengers, who looked their best ever)
So this is overall a pretty great night of wrestling- a testament to GAEA’s training that they can routinely hit ***+ in the middle and top of the card with just their rookies. There was some good old-fashioned “Rookie Hatred” going on, though you can see some funny things when nearly every heel team tried the exact same tricks and mannerisms, with increasing competence as we moved up the card (Bloody & Okino doing the same schtick as OZ Academy later on, but shittier). The three top matches delivered despite very long match-lengths as well. Some of these stars are just getting more and more impressive.