Joshi Spotlight: GAEA Japan in March 1998
By Jabroniville on 30th October 2023
GAEA Japan in March 1998:
* So here’s a batch of matches from March, plus one in April 1998! GAEA has a big show uploaded from April 14th so that’ll be a separate review. This one contains a bunch more Sakura Hirota matches (… yay), plus TWO Title matches- Meiko & Kato defend the AAAW Jr. Tag Titles against OZ Academy, and then Sugar Sato defends the WCW Women’s Cruiserweight Title (which is STILL BEING DEFENDED) against Sonoko Kato!
MEIKO SATOMURA vs. SAKURA HIROTA:
* Sakura gets another solo match to shine, this time as a blood sacrifice to the craziest of GAEA’s upperclassmen. Meiko’s in red with white around the collar of her singlet, while Sakura’s pink gear has a bunch of red tummy ribbons on it.
Sakura jumps her senior to start and it turns into a scrap, but Meiko fights back and nearly armbars her out. Meiko draws laughs for totally ignoring attempts at a knucklelock and even a hairpull until she suddenly snaps Sakura into a Fujiwara armbar again and then windmill elbows her. Sakura USES THE ASS to come back, and even psyches Meiko out and nails her arm a couple times, but misses a slingshot ass attack and Meiko slingshot elbows her for two. They do a good job showing that Sakura is so scrambly she can kinda catch you with stuff (Meiko tries the “armbar over the ropes” but Sakura grapples her and rolls over her awkwardly into a sloppy rollup). Some horrible mess on the ropes actually kinda fits Sakura’s style and she tosses Meiko, who just ignores her and rolls back in for a pop. Sakura counters the DVD with a SLAP of all things and tries her own, but Meiko flat-backs her with one and beats her ass. Frog Splash gets two, but Sakura reverses the DVD again, scrambles into some submissions, and uses the Flying Ass for two. Sakura struggles in the Super Cross-Armbreaker for ages, and when she makes the ropes, Meiko just struggles her into the Death Valley Driver for the pin at (7:46).
Perfectly ordinary Sakura Hirota match, which is to say it was sloppy and icky but kind of “fit” her persona at this point, which is a scrambly three-year old who doesn’t want to be put to bed. Meiko was pretty good at acting flustered by some of her stuff, but slowly & surely fighting her into the loss.
Rating: ** (as basic as you can get, really)
MEIKO SATOMURA vs. SUGAR SATO:
* So Meiko, who just fought Sakura for 8 minutes, has now got to wrestle Sato, who is beneath her but close enough that this is a rough handicap. Sato’s in the usual white.
Both girls beat the crap out of each other trying for an early lead, but Sugar puts on a weardown hold to take over. She gets a vicious slap, but Meiko pays her back by forearming her down. Sugar gets a missile kick and then just walks away when Meiko climbs the corner, drawing laughs. They keep trading strikes like they hate each other, and there’s a good bit as Meiko ducks a backfist and Fujiwaras her after a return punch- Sugar screams in agony as Meiko won’t break in the ropes, but stunguns her (horribly missing but Meiko sells the middle rope hitting her), then avoids the Super Cross-Armbreaker and beans her on the top of the head with a missile kick. Great “oh GOD…” selling by Meiko there. Sugar misses her run-up elbow but gets a dragon screw to stay in the lead- Meiko blocks the figure-four with her hand but Sugar won’t break in the ropes- serves Meiko RIGHT. Meiko gets a hideous dragon screw but frog splashes onto knees and they trade nasty strikes with a head-kick and a backfist (Sugar nearly dropping to a pin and then going “oh right” and rolling off to sell). They’re both dead, and when Sato’s finally up first, her powerbomb is countered to the Fujiwara and she scrambles to the ropes. But Meiko’s DVD attempt is countered by elbows, TWO backfists, and the Ligerbomb actually PINS HER at (10:26)- SUGAR BEATS MEIKO!
Hey, not bad! It was kinda sloppy in parts but they sold anger and desperate attempts to win quite well, with Meiko once again spamming her finisher attempts way too many times and that being a reliable way to counter her. I liked them eventually dropping technical shit and just hitting running kicks to the head, Meiko reliably going for the cross-armbreaker as a counter, and Sugar countering her classmate’s aggression and power with smarts.
Rating: *** (very good little match- I was thinking “Basic House Show Fare” until they just got madder and madder and kept countering strikes)
MAYUMI OZAKI vs. SAKURA HIROTA:
* So Sakura’s now showcased via a sacrifice to the head of OZ Academy.
We’re JIP with Ozaki handily controlling with basic holds while talking shit. Sakura comes back with jobber-fu, throwing in a bow & arrow of all things, but finally tries to slug it out and that goes badly. Ozaki stops a boomerang ass attack and a dive but gets flummoxed by biting, only to stop a flying ass attempt and backdrop superplex Sakura. Ozaki with a big powerbomb, but pulls Sakura up at “2” and ends up missing a flying cannonball and Sakura spams out Ozaki’s backfist like crazy, finally shoving her down for two. Sakura tries her “Rings of Saturn” pin and a Flying Ass for two-counts, but splashes onto feet and the Kneeling Powerbomb… gets two! Ozaki is tremendously amused by this, but the Tequila Sunrise is countered- THREE backfists almost get her pinned! Sakura cheers herself on and tries to finish, but Ozaki pops her with two backfists of her own, and no longer just fuckin’ around, drills her with the Ligerbomb to finish (10:19 of 13:08 shown).
Somewhat tolerable match- stretched out to show off Sakura’s stuff but mostly Ozaki playing “arrogant veteran” and letting her have things only when she screws up or gets flummoxed by Sakura’s persistence. Ozaki’s usually the best at this kind of thing, as she’s small enough that any comebacks are believable and she treats things like annoyances or like they’ve stunned her (all her selling of the backfists is great- Sakura doesn’t have the credibility to flat-back her off one so Ozaki lets her hair fly into her own face and sticks her arms up awkwardly like she’s just been staggered). Sakura’s offense is still shite, but her character is enough to thread a little story around.
Rating: **1/4 (another lame, too-long Hirota match, somewhat saved by Ozaki’s character, timing and selling)
… way to spoil the ending with the thumbnail, you dicks! TWENTY FIVE YEAR OLD SPOILERS!
AAAW JR. HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM TITLES:
MEIKO SATOMURA & SONOKO KATO vs. OZ ACADEMY (Sugar Sato & Chikayo Nagashima):
* It’s another Tag Title match! With… hey were Meiko & Kato always champions? I swear I thought Sato & Chikayo were champs once. Kato’s in blue, as always, and Chikayo’s in the yellow/blue tasseled outfit.
We start off with the champs’ sorta-finisher (the release fireman’s/splash) on Sato, Chikayo breaking up the pin. Meiko does her head-kick and Sugar immediately backfists her, Kato having to save. Kato stops the Ligerbomb and tags herself in, avoiding a flying back elbow, but Chikayo interferes with the X-Factor, only for Kato to recover and hit a Super Bulldog on Sugar for two. They counter dragon suplexes but Sugar hits the dragon screw and Chikayo adds the flying stomp for two. Chikayo counters a double-clothesline with her rana for two, but Kato dodges the Rocket Launcher and gets a Dragon Suplex for two. Sugar backfists Chikayo by accident but stops Meiko’s DVD, and Kato accidentally nails Meiko with a flying roundhouse, nearly getting her pinned. Chikayo with a Bridging German- two! The crowd is getting more manic and wild with every move. Kato stops a boomerang move and Meiko uses that to hit the cross-armbreaker while Kato pushes the rope away with her boot- Chikayo has to really work for the break. Chikayo gets a rollup and everyone FINALLY lies around selling, but Kato tosses Chikayo into the Death Valley Driver- VERY late break by Sugar! She basically had to jump on the ref while she did the “Full Hebner” delayed-three, lol. The champs try a Doomsday Device but Chikayo gets Kato to missile kick her partner right in the head… but Meiko no-sells and tries for a DVD! But Chikayo… kinda whips off somehow and hits a Fisherman’s Buster… for the pin (6:53 of 14:13 shown)! NEW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS! Ooh, those silver tag belts are pretty- love the dark blue contrast.
Very manic, fast-paced final minutes, as it’s just MOVE MOVE MOVE in total desperation. Wish we’d have gotten the full thing on the channel as the slower parts kind of set up all this stuff- as it is it just ends up looking like a mad spotfest. I dunno what that reversal at the end was supposed to be- Chikyao flung herself off like she was being given a release-fireman’s slam but Meiko sold it like a counter and was immediately hit by the finisher.
Rating: ***1/4 (pretty wild and fun for the second half of a match)
WCW CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE:
SUGAR SATO vs. SONOKO KATO:
* Tag rivals go against each other in a short singles match, and AGAIN it’s for a belt! But it’s Sugar’s WCW Cruiserweight Title, as they have yet to drop that!
The girls throw strikes at each other until Sugar dragon screws Kato, who pops up and feeds her the leg again for an enzuigiri, but misses a guillotine legdrop. Sugar with the missile dropkick, but Kato no-sells and defiantly slaps her and pretty soon it’s a scrappy slapfight- Kato gets her Super Bulldog for two. Sugar gets her run-up back elbow stopped but managers a sunset flip powerbomb for two. They reverse dragon suplexes and Sugar hits a good Powerbomb for two. Kato ducks a backfist and hits her with a LETHAL Dragon Suplex, dropping her right on the noggin for two. Jesus christ. Kato roars up and tries to finish, but gets her leg caught and is shoved down, but Kato resists some ugly powerbomb attempts with a Manami-style (but sloppy) sunset flip for two. Sugar attempts another powerbomb but Kato tries the dragon suplex again and Sugar finally backfists her, then awkwardly moves in for another, scoring the pin at (6:23 of 16:01 shown). Sugar retains!
Kind of a scrappy, ugly little match- we were getting the last 40% or so only so it’s hard to judge the whole thing, but they were being extra sloppy, even though it looked like they were fighting for everything. The “GAEA Kid Style” seems to have evolved to pure Finisher Attempts, with the wrestlers constantly fighting for them only to have them countered a lot. It’s solid psychology and gives it some importance, as they fight all match long for the moves, thus putting them over, yet you see the flaws in the strategy as they’re constantly paying for it.
Rating: **1/4 (we just don’t see enough, and what we do get is very sloppy and not well-applied)