The New Dimension 8 Queens
60:00 Full Time Match:
Dynamite Kansai & Mayumi Ozaki & Cuty Suzuki & Hikari Fukuoka
Aja Kong & Kyoko Inoue & Takako Inoue & Sakie Hasegawa (AJW team)
This is one of the greatest matches ever. Certainly when talking about gimmick matches, this should top everyone's list. The wrestling itself was incredible, but is actually overshadowed in my mind by the basically perfect booking, which produced my all-time favorite finish.
This was a one of a kind match. It had it's own special rules that to my knowledge have never been used again anywhere. It started off with the "first attack," which was four separate five-minute singles matches. There would be no winner in these singles matches. If you beat your opponent (3 count pinfall, KO, or give up), your team got a point and you kept wrestling until the five minutes were up. Thus, they had a chance to get that point back and you had a chance to go up on them 2-0. After the first attack, it turned into an 8 woman tag match. The team with the most points at the end of 60:00 would be declared the winner.
There was some sense to the first attack pairings. Hikari vs. Sakie was the "Athlete" pairing, since they are both great athletes. They had been programmed against each other since the interpromotional period, so there was a rivalry there. The second pairing, Cuty vs. Takako, was "Super Idol" based on their good looks. The third pairing, Ozaki vs. Kyoko, was "Speed and Technique" based on their great workrate and wrestling ability. The fourth pairing, Kansai vs. Aja, was "Top Battle" based on these two being the champions of their respective leagues.
"The first 20 minutes was about perfect pairings. This portion of the match would not have worked as well with different pairings. The booking was planned perfectly to lead into the last pairing of Aja vs. Kansai, the two power style wrestlers that the fans really wanted to see in the ring against one another. The seeds planted in this first portion really set up the rest of the match, especially Fukuoka pinning Hasegawa so early when nobody expected a pin to happen in the first five minutes. Also, the fact that Aja could knock Kansai out with one Uraken showed that Cuty, Ozaki, and Fukuoka could really be in trouble if one of them were left alone with Aja without a teammate to save them," wrote Jason.
The match began with Hikari vs. Sakie. This made sense because it allowed the youngest wrestlers to set the tone for the match, rather than putting them in the unenviable position of trying to follow the marquee match of Kansai vs. Aja. That's what the fans were here to see, so you have to build anticipation for that, rather than reach the plateau in heat right off the bat and have it taper off until the tag match started.
The problem with having five minute periods is that these women never, EVER lose in five minutes. Thus, aside from the fact that we know that's how wrestling works, it's hard to believe they will start doing so today.
The most important part of Hikari vs. Sakie was Hikari pinning Sakie out of nowhere with a small package hold. This pinfall accomplished two things. First, it showed that any of these women could lose within the five minute period. Second, it pretty much evened Hikari vs. Sakie up in singles, as Hikari revenged her loss at Dreamslam II. The first point worked because people believed Sakie might even it up when she turned Hikari's gyakuebigatame (Boston crab) into a pinning predicament.
"A good match. Not really a lot of their high impact moves, but more reversals into pins, with Hikari stealing a pin at the 2:30 with Hasegawa trying hard to kick out, but unable to get her shoulders off the mat. For me this was kind of a slow build match. The excitement will start when Aja and Kansai both step into the ring. I liked Sakie's frustration at Hikari escaping without her getting the pin back. It showed how intensely she was into things," wrote Miko.
Hikari and Sakie were out there to not make mistakes. With a few exceptions, they attained their goal. Unfortunately, it didn't make for the best wrestling. One of the exceptions was Hikari making a break for her corner to tag. Of course, there was no one on the apron because there were no tags in the first attack. Although not intended to be a comedy spot, it was funnier than anything Suckura has ever done.
When Ozaki and Kyoko squared off for the second period, the match went from 5MPH to 50MPH in a second, and that crowd got as hot as that car's engine. The purpose of Oz vs. Kyoko being on second was to heat up the match with some hot action. They were smart though, in that they soon took the pace down to a respectable level. The reason this was smart is that they knew they couldn't set a standard that Cuty and Takako couldn't come close to matching. If they had made it too fast, then everyone who followed them would have "had to" conform to that style, and that's just not the road you want to go down when you are in a 60:00 match, even with this many performers. Anyway, to the surprise of probably no one, this was the best period when it came to wrestling, so it didn't need a fall to make it "special."
"Ozaki really tears into Kyoko from the start, going for the victory roll then hitting DDT's. The only thing lacking in this 5:00 period for me was intensity from Kyoko. Her team is down one fall, but she didn't seem to be trying all that hard to pin Ozaki. On the other hand, Ozaki really seemed to be trying for a pin. I liked the spot where Kyoko teased the giant swing then went into a boston crab. The crowd first chanted 'Ozaki' to encourage her, then when Kyoko gave the clean break it changed to a 'Kyoko' chant," wrote Miko.
Cuty vs. Takako was mainly designed to heat their rivalry up through their actions and mannerisms. These two slowed the pace down to some extent, but did enough fast action to maintain the momentum and get sizeable pops for their spots. One key spot was Cuty turning Takako's cross arm aurora special (which was one of her finishers at this time, but always got countered) into a zenpo kaiten ebigatame (victory roll) for a near fall. There were several other hot near falls. Cuty's lack of ability was still kind of exposed in this segment. However, she blended in during the tag portion well enough to make you forget her liabilities, so I'm sure this didn't leave a lasting negative impression.
"AJW cuty takes on JWP's Cuty. Fast-paced with good action and both women trying hard to pick up a fall. Both women pull out suplexes, submissions, and pinning moves to try and get that all important fall in the five minutes they have. Neither got any lengthy edge, but both tried hard," wrote Miko
One of AJW's main points was to solidify Aja as the top star and the most dominant female wrestler in the world. Her quick uraken KO of Kansai went a lot way toward ensuring people perceived her as being just that. In addition, the fact that even Kansai couldn't match Aja's stiffness showed Aja was the most brutal woman in the game. Now that the score was tied at 1 fall a piece, it was back to the next fall possibly being the deciding factor, although that was somewhat unlikely. Aja really bombed Kansai, but she was unable to beat her a second time, and Kansai made enough of a comeback right before the period ended to save some face. Overall, it was an excellent segment, largely due to Aja, who was a couple of notches above Kansai. JWP was still about even overall in wrestler performance because Hikari and Ozaki outperformed Sakie and Kyoko, but not by the kind of gap that Cuty and Kansai were outperformed by. It's not like anyone was worse than good though.
"I was even more surprised at this fall than by Dynamite Kansai pinning Yamada in seconds at Dream Slam 2. Aja hits a uraken just seconds into the match, and Kansai is out for the ten count. I especially liked the way it worked because the ref did not jump in right away to count, Aja tried to pick Kansai up, Kansai was limp, so Aja called on him to count Dynamite out. Aja mostly dominated the fall, attacking with some nasty looking backdrop drivers, piledrivers and other high impact moves. Kansai fought back hard, but at times with moves like a simple headlock, just seemed to be trying to get a handle on Aja. This was a really stiff match, not just kicks but knife edge chops. The end of the minimatch was good, with Aja Kong setting up Kansai for her northern lights superplex, then the free for all begins and she never gets a chance to pull the move off," wrote Miko.
One of the main things that made this match outstanding was the tremendous
ring work. Everyone was out to make this a classic, so they just let
it all hang out for the last 40 minutes. Kyoko would be accidentally
bloodied, and Ozaki would have her eye swollen shut, but that didn't
slow these two down in the least. The pace went up and down, so the
match was at worst solid and at best incredible action.
Ozaki was really great here. She carried her team by logging more ring time than anyone in the match. Her execution was perfect. She excelled no matter what the pace was. Maybe more important than all of this was that she displayed true grit and determination. This wasn't a match where her natural ability outshined the rest, she was better because she wanted it more.
Aja was also fantastic though. She carried everyone she worked with. Her offense was so believable in an All Japan pulverize the opposition kind of way. Lastly, she really gave off the aura of being the top star that the match was designed to allow her to portray.
Kyoko was the other standout. This was her typical great performance from this time period. Her combination of work, workrate, and charisma was really hard to top.
"The rest of the match had way to much action to describe easily. Fast-paced, a ton of great spots and action so hard hitting that Kyoko Inoue got cut over her eye and Ozaki's left eye nearly swelled shut. Aja Kong and Dynamite Kansai were both monsters, there was some excellent double teams and near falls. If you've not seen the match, get it immediately," wrote Miko.
The match really took off when it became a tag match. Aja was further solidified by pinning Cuty at 23:06 following a diving elbow drop. Ozaki was punished for a long stretch, including Aja kicking her lungs out when Kyoko had her in a camel clutch.
The standout segment was from 42:25 when Kyoko tagged in to 50:45 when Cuty came in. The focus was on the JWP team going all out to tie things up at two. This is where the pace and crowd heat peaked, and the drama really started to mount. Hikari was featured here, getting hot near falls with her rolling cradle, moonsault, etc. The segment also had several dives. Finally, Kansai redeemed herself to some extent by pinning Kyoko with her splash mountain at 50:09 to tie the score at two. Kansai tried another splash mountain, but Aja leveled her with a lariat to break it up.
It got to the point where the next fall would almost certainly be the last, so the stakes were incredibly high. Ozaki took a king sized beating from Aja, but somehow weathered the storm and eventually made the tag to Kansai. Kansai couldn't get her retribution though.
They did all kinds of hot near falls down the stretch, but you got the feeling it would go the distance because matches almost never end right before the time limit in Japan. Takako used her cross arm aurora special, but Ozaki escaped then countered an Irish whip and tequila sunrised Takako. With only 8 seconds left, it was doubtful that there would even be time to go for another pin, but this was Ozaki's finishing move, so she had no better chance of winning than with this. The ref counted 1....2....3! Ozaki pulled it off! It was a storybook ending, a Hollywood ending, and those usually suck. However, it just worked perfectly here because it wasn't a storybook or a movie, and we pretty much never see a finish like this is puroresu. What makes for a truly magical moment is when a great unexpected thing happens, and this is exactly what occurred here. The underdog home team had managed to come from behind and defeat THE FORCE in women's wrestling.
"The booking of the JWP team being down by one point for a large portion of the match was excellent because it utilized the desperation factor so well. This factor peaked around fifty minutes when Kansai got the pin to tie the match up. Ozaki pulling off the miracle with under ten seconds brought the match to a perfect ending, with the crowd, not expecting anyone to get pinned with so little time left, going nuts," wrote Jason.
The fans screamed "Ozaki! Ozaki!" This was one of the few times she hasn't looked attractive. In fact, she looked like hell, but that was part of the allure of the victure. She was probably never more over in her life, and coming back from that beating that made her look so bad to just squeak out a victory was the whole reason behind her increased popularity. It showed just how much she represented her company and their "Pure Heart" motto. The fans really marked out for this match and finish, and who could blame them? They hung around for a long time after the match ended to show their appreciation by yelling "JWP!" They knew they had just witnessed a classic.
"The final fall was excellent. Totally last minute. Totally out of the blue," wrote Miko.
"Simply put, this match ruled! The set-up for the match (4 different singles matches to start off) could have made it very difficult to get any kind of flow going, but here that wasn't the case. It's extremely rare to have sustained crowd heat for 60:00, but this match was too great for there not to be. From Aja dropping Kansai with one uraken to Ozaki hitting the walk-off homerun by pinning Takako with 5 seconds left, this was as close to perfect as possible. An absolute must-see match," wrote Michael.
"One good reason that they have never had another match with these rules is that this match could never be topped. This is a classic that should be left to stand alone on it's own," wrote Jason.
Jerome: This match is an amazing piece of booking, great work and psychology.
Barely anything could have been better. A lot of small details bring
the special feeling to the event, like the inverted announcing (JWP
announcers for the AJW team and vice-versa). This match is a journey,
a long trip in the unknown where some will get a sweet taste of satisfaction
and others will fall in pain and agony. The participants are eight differents
characters, and each play their role with perfection. Aja and Dynamite
are the respective leaders of their team and the champion of their promotion.
As Aja is the undestructable 3WA champion, on top of her wrestling world,
Dynamite is both on the defensive side, leading the JWP troops against
the hostile outsiders, and on the offensive side as she wants to beat
Aja to prepare the eventual capture of the akai belt. Kyoko Inoue is
already a star, a happy-go-lucky and colorful girl, and most of all
a workrate machine. As the match progresses, her smile will turn into
a grim and the only color she'll have on her face will be the scarlet
red of her blood as she ends up being the victim of the JWP foursome.
Sakie Hasegawa is the young prodigy who is here to conquer, but her
journey is one of frustration as she tries to avenge the humiliation
of a flash pin at the very beginning of the match. Takako Inoue, well....she's
a bitch. The AJW idols beauty is only matched by her arrogance. She's
the more heelish of the girls, but she'll pay at the end. Hikari Fukuoka
is the young JWP ace, and she proves her value by getting the first
pin for her team, of which she can be considered the heart. Cuty Suzuki
is very cute and she's also the obvious weak link of her team. Still,
she'll do everything she can to contribute to the match and get a royal
beating for her trouble. She's the recipient of the "advantage" pin,
but she'll never quit and fights as well as she can until the end. Mayumi
Ozaki, like always, is the toughest little gal in the world. A working
machine who charges head on, beaten to death by her opponents and losing
the use of her left eye, but tasting the ultimate victory by getting
the winning pin. Each worked at their best, without rolling out every
spot they know, but saving them for the right moments and using their
arsenal with intelligence and parsimony. In the case of Aja vs Dynamite,
they even saved a lot of spots for their future encounters.
Special thanks to: Michael Smith, Jerome Denis, Jason Higgs, &
Miko Kubota - Michiku Pro
59:55 (don't ask me why they never had the last 5 seconds)