GAEA JAPAN (Nov. & Dec. 1997):
* It’s more GAEA Japan! This time from a Nov. 30th show and a Dec. 13th show, then the Dec. 27th show, ending the year for GAEA! The first show takes place in what looks like outdoors, with big green panels behind the fans. NOPE, wait, other shots show it’s just a very brightly lit gym, with no seats sold on the upper decks.
MEIKO SATOMURA & TOSHIE UEMATSU vs. OZ ACADEMY (Chikayo Nagashima & Reiko Amano):
* A tag match with unusual partners, as Meiko (GAEA’s big ardent defender) teams up with Toshie this time, up against GAEA’s Chikayo and JWP’s Reiko. Meiko’s in red, Toshie’s in green, Chikayo’s in yellow/blue and Reiko’s in blue.
We’re joined in progress, and Toshie & Chikayo get the fans into it with a slapfest. Toshie hits a slingshot elbow and we’re clipped to a Meiko/Reiko scrap, Meiko doing her best to get into it and Reiko firing back after some hesitation. Toshie/Reiko reverse on each other, Toshie using her speed. She counters a whip with her dramatic headlock takeovers, but Meiko gets double-teamed- she fires back with strikes, but Reiko is the better technical wrestler and can tangle her up to counter nearly anything, which is good stuff. Meiko tries to counter a legbar and Chikayo just flies off onto her in some quality cheating, then dropkicks her in the face when Meiko hits a Fujiwara armbar out of a double-clothesline (who tries a SUBMISSION counter out of a double-team?). But in a good bit, Meiko just won’t let go, so Chikayo had to dropkick her like six times while Reiko writhes in the hold as they shift and bounce around. Meiko is too aggrieved to go for the tag and stays to beat down Team OZ, but gets caught again and a Rocket Launcher gets two. Well she earned that. She keeps trying counters but getting double-teamed, until Chikayo slingshots too close to Toshie and gets taken down right into Meiko’s Cross-Armbreaker, leaving her desperately crawling to the ropes! GAEA double-teams her, and Toshie counters Chikayo’s counter of her Northern Lights suplex into a cool arm-trap mouse-trap hold for two- Reiko saves. Meiko misses a frog splash and Toshie/Chikayo reverse pins on each other until Chikayo gets her Hurricanrana, holding Toshie down for the pin at (9:17 of 18:31) shown.
Good little match- you could tell they weren’t with their regular partners and didn’t have the same routine down, as the match got a bit odd at points, but Reiko was a better technical wrestler than the GAEA kids and Toshie’s speed added a different element. By the end, she was just trying flash-pins (one of the few reliable ways to pin someone in GAEA), with Chikayo doing the same. I liked how the last 4 minutes was just a scramble of everyone in the ring- Meiko was a doofus trying to take on both OZ girls simultateously (too hot-blooded for her own good) and Toshie wasn’t even bothering to help until Chikayo got close to her corner, but once she was in, it was just everyone trying whatever they could, and they traded flash-pins until one got caught.
Rating: **1/2 (we miss half of it, but it was good enough work- somewhat disjointed in parts with the typical GAEA ending, but everyone looked good)
KAORU & TOSHIYO YAMADA vs. OZ ACADEMY (Mayumi Ozaki & Sugar Sato):
* haha, how droll- Ozaki’s back in her old “red fruit rollup” gear, and her PARTNER wears the exact same gear! Yamada & KAORU have gone from rivals to united in their mutual hatred of joshi’s most unpleasant person.
We’re JIP with Yamada hitting a belly-to-belly superplex on the kid, but gets so angry at Oz breaking up the pin that she chases her down outside the ring and KAORU has to settle her down. Ozaki’s amusement at this is great, like “haha, I’m so evil she’s lost interest in her opponent!”. Sato sells in the ring for ages, but KAORU stupidly tries a moonsault after a minute of nothing and of course splats. Flying double-footstomps from both! And a DOUBLE Flying Footstomp! KAORU is saved by Yamada, then hits her Rana & Brainbuster on Sato for two-counts, just casually coming back. Ozaki counters The Finisher That Never Hits from Yamada, and Yamada/KAORU get into a scrap over how to proceed, and Ozaki takes advantage, hitting a backfist into and awful Tequila Sunrise (tiger/dragon suplex) for two- KAORU saves. The Rocket Launcher gets two, but Ozaki eats a spinkick and sells like death- KAORU’s Springboard Moonsaults gets two- Sugar saves. Michinoku Driver- same result.
Yamada yells at KAORU from the apron and the distraction lets Ozaki backfist out- Sato misses a flying back elbow and Yamada doesn’t even care, walking back and forth on the apron. KAORU gets dragon screwed and doesn’t even sell it, reversing to a leg hump, but Oz saves- Assisted Powerbomb for two! Yamada is goaded into kicking KAORU by mistake, and a dragon screw gets two. KAORU stops a double-team and tries a rana, but Sato hits a great Ligerbomb for two. She misses a backfist so Oz throws one, and Sato… appears to try an overthrow powerbomb or something, but just drops KAORU on her ass like that was supposed to happen. Except she just picks her up and does a proper Ligerbomb again- was that supposed to be the move last time? But that scores the pin at (6:14 of ???? shown), Sato PINNING KAORU, which is a pretty decent deal. Yamada has to be pulled off of a smirking Ozaki, who eggs her on and points out the losers to the crowd. Yamada & KAORU now have to be separated, the midget rookies unable to part the two giants and Chigusa Nagayo has to come out for assistance.
KAORU’s “MOVEZ!” tendencies were on full display in this one, as despite OZ getting over as a cheating duo and a “Yamada & KAORU can’t get along” story arc, it’s mostly just KAORU ignoring their offense and doing her own cool spotz. I mean, they LOOK good, but she never acts like she’s in a match involving other people these days. She just half-heartedly sells things, then reverses to a cool thing and then just gets up and walks away. A lot of the spots in the match were kinda ugly, too, as Yamada would kick her and then just stand there uninterested before getting “dumped” casually.
Rating: **1/2 (decent but we only got a bit of it)
CHIGUSA NAGAYO & SONOKO KATO vs. KAORU & MEIKO SATOMURA:
* From Dec. 13th, the two GAEA original vets team up with the top of the first class against each other. KAORU’s in blue, Meiko red, Kato blue & Chigusa black/yellow.
Team Chigusa pounces before the bell, but quickly get beat up on the floor- KAORU moonsaults Chigusa already and they flex & pose with goofy expressions. But the boss double-clotheslines them and follows with an ugly-ass dive, and now she carries around Kato for a pose of their own, eventually just dropping her (Kato slips on the landing). Meiko gets double-teamed and Kato drops her once, but hits the Buff Blockbuster for two. They kinda meander around and half-speed, KAORU hitting a flying Thesz press for two, then a regular one- Kato counters another to a Ligerbomb for two with Chigusa’s help. Super-shooter KAORU gets a leghold on Chigusa and a rana for two, and it’s stereo sharpshooters for Chigusa’s team- the old Crush Gals spot! Meiko does windmill charges on Chigusa and her Super Cross-Armbreaker, then catches her with the Death Valley Driver when Chigusa starts no-selling uppercuts. Everyone kinda tries to help their partners and KAORU backdrop drivers Kato, and Brainbusters Chigusa for two. Moonsault misses but a Spingboard one hits- Kato saves after a Michinoku driver and Kato dragon suplexes her, leading to Chigusa’s running powerbomb for two. Running Razor’s Edge finishes Meiko at (9:30).
This seemed like a “mostly just fuckin’ around” match, with half-effort and a lot of comedy spots like double-posing and Chigusa tripping Kato to allow a Ligerbomb reversal when she caught KAORU. Then they just start trading finishers in the end until Chigusa puts KAORU away.
Rating: ** (MEH. Just “doin’ stuff” until the end, really. Kato had 1-2 good moves but was otherwise sloppy, and KAORU was sleepwalking and Chigusa not taking it that seriously)
(Dec. 27th, 1997)
* It’s more GAEA Japan, this time at the very end of the year! We have a tournament devoted to their younger wrestlers, plus the veterans in clipped matches!
HIGH SPOT 600 TOURNAMENT:
This is some highlights from a tournament- 10:00 time limits and all juniors in three blocks. Ten wrestlers in total.
FIRST ROUND: We start with Chikayo Nagashima vs. Rina Ishii, Chikayo countering a cartwheel handspring elbow into a rana out of the corner very slickly, but a 2nd-rope uranage gets two on her. Ishii cross-body, Chikayo sunset flip powerbomb reversal, Ishii misses a flying thing and they roll around the ring in a Leg Roll Clutch until Chikayo pins her at (5:00) in a good ending. Meiko Satomura & Hiromi Kato have a really fun (0:52) sprint where Meiko’s cross-armbreaker is reversed to an STF and Kato torture racks her, but Meiko grabs one arm and locks on it for the tap-out WHILE ON KATO’S SHOULDERS. Sugar Sato vs. Sakura Hirota has Sato repeatedly reversed to powerbombs and then a legbar for a dramatic near-fall- she gets her knees up on a flying splash for a great double-sell, then tears apart Sakura’s knee viciously for revenge. But Sakura keeps stuffing attempts to capitalize and is able to hold on in a figure-four for a (10:00) draw. Then it’s a 3-second clip of Sonoko Kato beating Toshie Uematsu with the Buff Blockbuster in (5:39). Makie Numao beats Maiko Matsumoto in (5:12) with another legbar.
PLAYOFF: Meiko beats Numao with a DVD in (2:06).
MEIKO SATOMURA vs. SONOKO KATO:
They both fight hard for submissions. Kato works the arm and Meiko the leg, but Meiko hits an STF and knee-stretch. Kato hits her rolling fireman’s but Meiko stuffs the Dragon Suplex, so Kato hits the Owenzuigiri and a second-rope legdrop for two. Meiko hits her out of the corner but gets dumped, and they try a double-down off of kicks that kinda whiff. Kato tries a sleeper but Meiko reverses to the cross-armbreaker, but Kato shifts her weight and pins her at (5:37 of 8:31 shown) in a very “Bret Hart” ending.
Rating: **1/4 (seems pretty good- they fought hard in a sprint because it’s a one-night tournament- good fighting over submissions, sloppy strikes, but a good ending)
CHIKAYO NAGASHIMA vs. SONOKO KATO:
We’re JIP with Chikayo hitting a missile kick & flying stomp, then a rollup- all two-counts. Kato is tired and struggling, but over-rolls a rana for two and tries her Dragon Suplex repeatedly. Chikayo dodges on her but flies off into a kick but nearly gets pinned trying the Dragon again. Chikayo plays evasion and twice fails her sunset flip, but ducks a kick only for her punch to be countered to the Dragon Suplex for the pin at (3:16 of 4:59 shown). Kato wins the tournament, pinning three people in one night!
Rating: *3/4 (very quick, very well-fought match, but super short)
CHIGUSA NAGAYO, TOSHIYO YAMADA & SONOKO KATO vs. AKIRA HOKUTO, KAORU & CHIKAYO NAGASHIMA:
* They’re making Kato work AGAIN? Jesus what is it with this promotion? Chigusa’s in black/yellow, Yamada’s in white/black, Kato’s in blue, Akira’s in red/black with a ruffled “tuxedo tail” kind of thing going on and KAORU’s in blue. Funny bit to start as everyone is busy intensely staring each other down, so Chigusa forces handshakes. Yamada gets pulled back by Kato and lands on her ass to Chigusa’s amusement, so THEY get into it with swats to the head, but Yamada wants KAORU.
The match quickly becomes Yamada/KAORU with slaps, suplexes and hairpulling, to the point where Chigusa has to tag herself in to settle it down, and she does slow stuff with Akira, fighting for lockups. They even out and the rookies go again from the last match, quickly ending with Kato eating a 3-person beating, but then KAORU gets the same thing, with a 40-second beatdown! KAORU still gets her rana on Yamada, and locks on a leghold- Chikayo flying stomps Yamada for good measure. Chikayo takes an enzuigiri, but reverses Chigusa’s powerbomb for two. KAORU aids her in a German for two, springboard dropkicking Chigusa over, but Chigusa counters another rana with a powerbomb for two.
Chigusa catches Akira with a high-angle German, the Kato has a go before getting dropped. Yamada comes in and sets up a 2nd-rope legdrop for two. Akira hits a superduperplex and tags out but KAORU moonsaults onto knees and Chikayo accidentally missile kicks her into the Dragon Suplex for two- Akira sneaks her foot onto the rope. Yamada hits four great backdrop drivers in a row for two, but Chikayo stops The Finisher That Never Hits and KAORU victory rolls out of the next attempt. Brainbuster/Springboard Moonsault- everyone piles on to save. Yamada nails a spinkick and FINALLY lands her finisher, the Reverse Gory Bomb, but Akira saves. Everyone holds everyone else off, but KAORU flips out of another attempt and Akira missile kicks Yamada into the Michinoku Driver for the pin at (13:00). KAORU gets a win over rival Yamada, stepping on her face in triumph.
Pretty good stuff throughout, with the KAORU/Yamada issue continuing. Hokuto was used VERY sparingly, clearly coming back from injury and being conservative. Kato & Chikayo had already wrestled but did a few bits, but it was mostly the veterans going.
Rating: *** (pretty quality if not swinging for the fences, mostly with KAORU, but Yamada hit some very good stuff)
And that’s it for GAEA for another year! We got the dreaded “Sakura Hirota Needs Reps” run, Chigusa slowing down a bit, Hokuto coming in but being hurt most of the time, and KAORU starting to half-ass it, but Yamada comes in and lights a fire under her ass to prove her worth. And most of the first class of kids are developing well.