Joshi Spotlight: GAEA Japan at Korakuen Hall
By Jabroniville on 6th November 2023
GAEA JAPAN (April 14th 1998)
* It’s time for a BIG show from GAEA Japan, as the whole thing is uploaded to their YouTube channel! It’s the start of their Third Anniversary Tour, and features bigger matches than normal. We have a super-rare singles match between Devil Masami & Toshiyo Yamada, a match between Meiko Satomura & Chikayo Nagshima that REALLY emphasizes how great GAEA’s first class of trainees was, a cheating-filled match between an LLPW goon and GAEA’s favored rookie Sakura Hirota, and a tag match with Chigusa Nagayo once more defending GAEA Japan’s honor against OZ Academy!
MEIKO SATOMURA vs. CHIKAYO NAGASHIMA:
* CHIKAYO HAS NEW GEAR!!! She has yellow on but now a darker blue with three lines of tassels on it. Oh hey, Meiko’s red gear is also different- there’s a big gold & black symbol on the side.
They’re careful to start, but soon start whipping each other into stuff on the floor. Chikayo SMOKES her with a missile dropkick to the forehead and hits a hold, but Meiko nails two windmill charges and works her over with strikes and leg stuff until Chikayo shoves her down to take control. Meiko fires up and hits a huge forearm to draw a crowd pop, but Chikayo keeps reversing on her (once screwing up her sunset flip thing), then hits a flying plancha and waits her out in the ring. But Meiko trips her and hits a nasty slingshot stomp and then gets a weird Fujiwara armbar but facing the other way (was that improv when they didn’t go down as planned?). But she climbs the ropes and gets German’d off the middle, and Chikayo follows with the flying stomp (after changing corners cuz Meiko was too far away, haha) for two. Meiko catches her charging in for the DVD, but Chikayo reverses it twice in a row to some UGLY rollups (Meiko has to improvise a counter-pin because they fall wrong).
Meiko chases Chikayo to the top, gets booted off trying her Super Cross-Armbreaker, but catches her facing the other way and puts on another reverse-Fujiwara thingie from the second rope. But she follows with a splash onto Chikayo’s knees, which should REALLY be messing up her targeted ribs today, and Chikayo gets leapfrogged over and hits a swinging rana from the second rope for two. Fisherman’s countered to the DVD countered to the Fisherman’s Buster… two! The crowd applauds heartily for that one and Chikayo loses it at the ref. Looking furious, she plants Meiko with a big Flying Stomp, but gets too aggressive and heads up again… and is caught on Meiko’s shoulders! DEATH VALLEY DRIVER!! For TWO!! Both are dead and there are screams all around, and Meiko can only manage a charging forearm for two. Meiko has enough to try the DVD again, but Chikayo counters to a DDT for two! Both are down again, and Meiko European uppercuts her and they both collapse- Chikayo recovers first and hits ANOTHER Fisherman’s Buster… but Meiko pops up! But never mind, as she immediately dies again! Chikayo’s still down, but slowly recovers… and finally finishes Meiko off with a third Buster at (13:48)! Both Sugar & Chikayo have now beaten Meiko!
Okay, this one got EPIC! It seemed to be based around “scrappy reversals” at first, as they repeatedly went to familiar spots but they both had counters for each of them, looking a combination of sloppy and totally improvised, but it’s likely some were supposed to come off that way given their frequency. And thankfully they got most of the sloppiness out of their system and started going for killshots and “any move to win”. And boy do they try- countering two finishers into Chikayo’s was epic, and then she goes for a second flying stomp and Meiko’s actually strong enough to catch her (almost falling down when Chikayo lands on her- I have no idea how much leg & back strength she must have to haul Chikayo from the mat to the air in a deadlift). I love shit like “hit a finisher/emergency counter and we’re both dead” stuff in wrestling, and this had it in spades- I was kept guessing right until the end, as suddenly one would no-sell… only it was a tease as they died again.
Rating: ***1/2 (started out pretty normal, then got weaksauce and then got GREAT)
MAKIE NUMAO & RINA ISHII vs. MAIKO MATSUMOTO & HIROMI KATO:
* Oh shit! It’s the “Lost Generations” of GAEA Japan! They almost never upload their stuff to YouTube! And it’s all four of them! Alas it’s only a super-short clipping of the match. Numao’s in black with kickpads, Ishii’s in an orange sports top & shorts, Maiko’s in red & black (and has a buzzcut now) & Kato’s in black & light blue (having upgraded from the Jobber Swimsuit). Looks like everyone but Ishii went to the same tailor.
We’re JIP with Numao beating the snot out of Kato in the corner, shoving off the ref, AND slapping Maiko to the mat with one shot. Kato gets pissed off and in her face with slaps, but eats the Owenzuigiri for two. Numao beats Kato down with shots and a slingshot elbow and Ishii follows with a SWANK-ASS Flying Senton- Maiko saves. Kato dodges a running kick that boots down Ishii instead and follows with a weak backbreaker, a waterwheel drop and a pretty good gutwrench suplex, Ishii flying stomping her ass to break the pin. Numao catches Kato with a kick for two, then counters a whip with a DDT and the Flying Enzuiknee finishes at (3:06 of 13:54 shown). Didn’t look so bad from what we saw- basic Rookie-Fu with Kato showing a bit more offense than in the past. Maiko didn’t actually affect things much but we only got three minutes.
Rating: 3/4* (seemed okay-ish- hard to rate. Probably sucked at the full length given the limitations here)
KAORU vs. TOSHIE UEMATSU:
* Another “Shoot Style” KAORU match, as she takes on the diminutive Uematsu. They’re in matching outfits, but Toshie’s green boots immediately single her out. Never mind that they look nothing alike and KAORU is a full head taller.
They trade kick attempts for a bit before hitting the mat, KAORU controlling but not really looking like she’s going for anything to finish. They’re in the ropes after her choke attempt, but Toshie suddenly pops up with a knee to the head to take the lead and goes for the leg hump! She even drags KAORU off the ropes, exciting the fans, but KAORU takes advantage of her momentum to roll through and apply a leg hook. Toshie fights to the ropes and that’s 1 of her 5 allowed escapes. KAORU spams those big kicks of hers but Toshie pops her with a palm thrust and gets a leg thing- KAORU burns a rope escape. KAORU with more big kicks but Toshie nails one and then another knee smash has a Knock-Down! KAORU’s up at “9” and is allowed one more. Toshie pounces with more shots but spams the knee too much and KAORU counters it and hauls her down, locking on a leghold so tight Toshie has no choice by to Tap-Out at (6:09).
These are somewhat interesting, and at least it was short. The first stuff seemed non-committal but I like how they actually put in psychology- Toshie getting a lucky shot in, then capitalizing on it again, but over-relying on it thereafter and KAORU weathering the storm and picking her spot for the submission. Not that “Super-Shooter KAORU” is particularly compelling, and I’m unsure about GAEA’s fascination with the style, but it’s okay.
Rating: **1/4 (perfectly acceptable wrestling, as SK would say)
SAKURA HIROTA (GAEA Japan) vs. MICHIKO NAGASHIMA (LLPW, w/ Jenn Yukari):
* Wait, who frig is that again? Naga… one of LLPW’s lower-carders, right? *checks* oh thank god. WOO I AM THE JOSHI EXPERT! I don’t think she ever developed beyond “jobber” (her wins only seem to be over Omukai/Futagami-types). Nagashima’s in white tiger-print (and backed up by her Guren-Tai teammate) and Sakura’s in pink.
They taunt each other to start, missing attacks and mimicking dances until Nagashima takes the lead and heels it up. She tortures her around Korakuen but back in Sakura’s ass is used as a weapon, but Yukari pops her with a shinai stick. We engage in restholdamania until Sakura gets sloppy comebacks but is tripped, chained and double-suplexed by Yukari. The ref won’t count after a double-DDT and reluctantly counts two after another double-team. Nagashima smashes and grinds away with the shinai until Sakura draws a BIG reaction for using backfists against her, getting two! They take turns backfisting each other, often missing and countering, and the Flying Ass gets two for Sakura- Yukari breaks up the pin with a chain-choke.
And now EAGLE SAWAI (LLPW’s top heel) starts beating on poor Sakura, and sets up Nagashima’s springboard splash through a table on the floor! Yukari’s chained fist sets up a German… two! Nagashima gets a superplex but pulls her up and misses a flying senton, and that’s the Rings of Saturn pin for Sakura! And she locks on the submission variant for a near-tap, but Nagashima makes the ropes and Guren-Tai strikes! Eagle hits a monster avalanche in the corner and Nagashima adds a flying stomp… for two! But Eagle adds a Vader attack and Nagashima finishes Sakura off with the Flying Senton for three at (12:15). oh well. Reminds me never to count GAEA as allies, though- way to help, you dicks! I saw you in the corner just complaining! KAORU calls Nagashima out for a match in the future and we’re out.
Wow, this might be the most over I’ve ever seen Sakura. All it took was Nagashima using her “LCO Lite” routine and cheating constantly- she really lacks the viciousness and seems to require assistance to do everything. Sakura’s offense was sloppy as always but her SELLING is at least good, looking frustrated, pained and exhausted as this unfair beating just goes on. But then they actually manage this great little comeback into MORE unfairness, into a dramatic impossible kickout and by god these two sub-par workers have the fans eating out of their hands.
Rating: **3/4 (a boring “LCO Lite” squash for ages until they pull it out with some oddly great stuff, horribly unfair cheating and some heroic comebacks. Nice bit with the backfists, too)
DEVIL MASAMI (JWP) vs. TOSHIYO YAMADA (GAEA Japan):
* Oh snap! A rare Dream Match I’ve yet to see, I think! Devil is one of JWP’s biggest stars and soon to join GAEA I believe, and Yamada’s going through a bit of a career renaissance working with the GAEA kids, so this is interesting, much as both have lost a step since 1992-93, when this match would have frickin’ RULED. Devil’s also the reigning AAAW World Champion. Devil’s in black & Yamada’s in a purple & white outfit like Yumiko Hotta used to wear.
We’re JIP with Devil using her best “play to the cheap seats” acting in a test of strength, powering Yamada around but getting popped by her kicks, having to lariat her down and “knock the cobwebs out” on the sell, haha. Devil with a piledriver, but the powerbomb is countered and Yamada dumps her after a sloppy sequence and manages to enzuigiri her down and actually hits a Hokuto-esque tope con hilo off the top! Jesus. They each counter stuff in the ring until Yamada manages the Diving Brain Kick for two, and keeps trying backdrop suplexes but Devil keeps getting out and sleepers her down to put the fight out of her, only to miss her flying cannonball. She manages a boomerang lariat to follow-up, but Yamada catches her up top with a belly-to-belly SUPERDUPERPLEX after a dramatic fight! Devil made sure to roll off the top instead of leap but still.
That gets two, but Devil catches a kick and surfboard/dragon sleepers Yamada, releasing to hit a powerbomb for two. She says something that pops the fans, but Yamada counters a powerbomb only to get Northern Lights Superplexed for two. Devil, sensing the end, hits another big powerbomb- two! Devil takes her time climbing up and watches Yamada get fired up… but lured her in! She knocks her off when she climbs after Devil and finally gets that Flying Cannonball for two! Devil finally finishers her- no, even the LIGERBOMB gets only two! Devil gets up, tired as hell, and hits another big Ligerbomb with an emphatic smile on her face for the three at (12:39 of 18:29 shown). Yamada finally goes down. Devil, sweaty as hell, brandishes the AAAW Title and puts over KAORU & Yamada before we’re out.
Very solid reversal-based match-up- both had counters within counters and made sure to make every move look like it was fought for. Their cardio faltered a bit and it was quite loose at points and could be sloppy, but it always looked like a FIGHT- like they wouldn’t let the other person get away with trying ANYTHING so even backdrop suplexes got countered twice in a row and they kept flinging each other off the top after other counters. The finish was emphatic without being a squash- hitting several unanswered moves in a row is not typical in joshi and usually means the victor is far superior to their opponent, and that kind of bears out here with Devil being the reigning AAAW Champion, but it was played up like she hit so much stuff and was finally ready for Yamada, hitting her flying move, then dusting her off, but needing TWO of her big finisher to do it.
Rating: ***1/2 (we miss six minutes of it, but I liked it- great struggle for everything, even if it wasn’t that precise, nor terribly even in the end)
CHIGUSA NAGAYO & SONOKO KATO (GAEA Japan, w/ Meiko Satomura) vs. OZ ACADEMY (Mayumi Ozaki & Sugar Sato, w/ Chikayo Nagashima)
* And our Main Event of the evening is a big tag match with Chigusa leading one of her top students (Kato) against the demon bitch from hell who’s been making Chigusa’s beloved GAEA miserable for ages, and the best of her goons in Sugar Sato! Chigusa’s in red & black, Kato blue, Ozaki red/black and Sato white.
Instantly Chigusa is double-teamed and chaired, and a weak low-angle assisted powerbomb gets two but Sugar backfists Ozaki by mistake and Chigusa takes over with kicks, ducking Oz’s backfist and sleepering her on the apron before dragging her into the ring that way, then press-slamming her into Kato’s Kamikaze Bomb (rolling fireman’s off the top) for two! Oz escapes with a sloppy stunner and Sugar hits a swinging neckbreaker & Oklahoma stampede, but Chigusa “kicks the ropes” and she falls off trying her flying elbow into Kato’s sleeper. They kinda roll about while there’s a dramatic fight between Meiko & Chikayo (who’s trying to interfere) in the corner, and Kato hits a big German and BULL’S POSEIDON (but way safer- the crowd doesn’t react much cuz Sugar’s head is a foot off the mat)- Team OZ saves. Kato’s flying thing misses and Oz (sloppily) decks her to set up Sugar’s big powerbomb for two.
Ozaki flies in with her cannonball but decks Sugar instead and takes the Dragon suplex for two. Chigusa’s in but falls right on her ass trying a running kick and the OZ kids dropkick her to stop a gutwrench powerbomb, and Ozaki backfist-spams her down for two. Oz can’t get a Tequila Sunrise but pushes Chigusa into her teammate’s kick and tries a Manami Roll of all things and Chigusa nearly murders her with a head drop before finally fighting her into the Running Razor’s Edge for two. Oz & Sugar get backfists and Oz gets a simply horrible powerbomb (side release) for two. But Meiko & Kato run in to help and Chigusa annihilates Ozaki with the mother of all Gutwrench Powerbombs for two! But she drops Ozaki on another, takes a backfist, but reverses the Sunrise with her own backfist and hits the Gutwrench Powerbomb again and that’s the three at (7:30) as Korakuen goes nuts! GAEA gets a definitive win over OZ Academy!
Man, this was SLOPPY. Sugar & Kato seemed okay, but the veterans were playing so loosely they half-missed everything. Chigusa was so late on kicking Sugar off the top she just kinda brushed her leg against the top rope a couple times, Ozaki slipped off a stunner and only kinda got it, various backfists were so loose the crowd didn’t even register them as moves, etc. And then Chigusa nearly kills Ozaki dropping her in a Manami Roll before saving the move. At least the final stretch was pretty good with GAEA cheating to counter OZ Academy, and leaving the two veterans to do all their stuff against each other. Though it’s weird- who books a Korakuen Hall main event on a big show featuring your top feud to go under eight minutes? The “GAEA Sprint” had happened by this point but hadn’t become a rule yet, so it’s strange to see.
Rating: **1/4 (just an ugly, messy match with a pretty good ending- good effort from Sugar & Kato but eventually the sloppy vets took over)
So what we have here is another “pretty good” GAEA show, peaking at ***1/2 in two separate matches (one showing Yamada’s still got it, and another showing the talent of the First Class). Some weaker matches too and Sweaty Tripping Chigusa is not showing a lot of promise in future mains.