GAEA G-PANIC! #15 1/3/99
12/11 Osaka Furitsu Taiikukan 2
Premium League Match: Meiko Satomura vs. Sonoko Kato. These two have grown up in the ring together. The result of all these years together is they have very good chemistry, both when they team up and probably more so when they wrestle each other. They know each other's holds so well they can just keep countering each other. It makes for good wrestling, and it's also logical.
Their selling is improving. Both women made a concerted effort to put everything over, but Kato, who is the better of the two, generally did a better job of it.
"I was impressed with how Kato kept grabbing her arm, even early on when
you wouldn't expect it to hurt that much," wrote Michael.
Her selling is more natural, whereas Satomura looks as if she has to think about it for a split second. The main problem with Satomura's selling though is that she overacts. Overacting is a general trait of hers though, and it's the one aspect where she probably gets worse.
"I am iffy on this one. I think sometimes she overacts and looks goofy in doing so. Other times she looks like she's in a lot of pain when selling because of her facials, so in those instances it's okay. The problem she has is that there's no middle ground for her, she either looks bad or great since she doesn't consistently act one way or the other," wrote Michael.
I think she reacts in generally the same way. The difference in when it comes off good or bad is whether it's believable that she could be in the amount of pain she purports to be in. There are some wrestlers that always go overboard to an extent, Otani for instance, but on the occasions where someone is really taking it to them, you don't mind because it seems somewhat believable.
The weakness of Satomura & Kato is they don't seem to put much thought into the structuring of the match. It seemed as though there might be improvement in this regard when Satomura was attacking Kato's arm early. Kato sold it well then, but when Satomura went back to it later on, she pretty much didn't sell it at all. After taking Kato's nadare shiki no kamikaze, Satomura scissored one of Kato's arms and barred the other. This time, Kato put it over pretty big. Unfortunately, that was the last we saw of anything resembling an arm attack, and it's not as if they went home thirty seconds later. It's a shame they are still goofy because these two are really starting to excel when it comes to work and spots.
"To me, it looked like they worked Kato's arm just to do it and get it out of the way to focus on the back and forth spots. The problem with those was a couple were sloppy, and Satomura froze long enough for it to be noticeable," wrote Michael.
Satomura & Kato did all kinds of cool spots and counters. What stood out to me was Kato turning one of Satomura's early attempts at her Death Valley bomb finisher into a facebuster. The finishing sequence was the highlight though. Satomura was able to slip through Kato's attempt at a sleeper and finally hit her Death Valley bomb. She wasn't 100%, so she was a little slow making the cover. This gave Kato enough time to recover enough that she was able to bar Satomura's arm when she made the cover, and go into a chickenwing armlock. However, Satomura maneuvered so Kato was leaning over her. This allowed Satomura to pick Kato up on her back and Death Valley bomb her for the win. The one bad thing about this finish was that Kato just let go of her hold once she was up in the air so Satomura could use that arm to lock her head and deliver the move. Overall, it was the typical good effort from these two. 13:14 (8:07 aired). ***1/4
Premium League Match: Sugar Sato vs. Chikayo Nagashima. Sugar just gets worse and worse, seemingly by the day. At this point she's about one step up from dead weight.
"It's both amazing and sad that she's declined so much since 1997, and seemingly without a reason. I can't think that she was sick for all of 1998 and early 1999 without it becoming known. Although she's added weight, it shouldn't have affected her as much as it apparently has especially since she's only 20-years-old. I wouldn't call her one step up from dead weight because she can be a good base for Chikayo to do her spots off off, and she possibly could be turned into a decent big girl for the little girls to go over. I don't know though. I just can't figure out how this happened to her, especially since it's as though she were buried and thus gave up trying, and she's surrounded by people like Oz and Chigusa (who may not be great but is very smart)," wrote Michael.
I didn't think she was a good base because her lack of speed and athleticism even showed up in this aspect. In particular, there was a spot where she shot Chikayo up, and Chikayo turned it into a sunset flip that looked pretty lame. Overall though, it's pretty mindboggling. She has gained her share of weight, but it's not as if she transformed into Sally Struthers; Sugar is not even fat. It makes sense for weight to hamper someone like ASARI, who lives and dies on her flying spots, but Sato's moves are ones that if anything, the weight gain should help. I have to think not being able to compensate for the weight gain is a lot of the problem because you can see that she hasn't made any adjustments. That being said, obviously there are plenty of other wrestlers who don't make adjustments and, while they may go down a notch or even two, they don't go totally down the drain. A good worker at 18, but a bad worker at 20. It just doesn't seem right in the absence of a major injury or total apathy.
On the other hand, Chikayo keeps getting better and better. If I can fault her here at all, it's that since she can't deviate from her speed game, she's limited on the rare occassion she faces an opponent who can barely move. You could see once or twice that Chikayo wasn't even running because she knew if she did, Sugar would never be in position in time for the next spot.
One area Chikayo is improving in is her submissions, and we saw more of them than I expected, probably because Sugar doesn't have to move when she's in a submission. One cool spot was Chikayo turning Sugar's nadare shiki no Stone Cold stunner into a manjigatame on the top rope. Meanwhile, Sugar used both her moves, over and over again. Half of her urakens didn't even look good, so it was as bad and repetitive as the crap they play on Top 40 these days when she was on offense. Well, nothing could be that bad, but you get the point.
"It's 'funny' because when I mentioned this to you after watching this show, I was wondering if I may've been too harsh on her for being so pathetically repetitive," wrote Michael.
When you wrote "it's funny," I was half expecting you to come out with a line about turning on the radio after Sugar's match and starting to think how "diverse" Sugar's move set is.
"I was sort of hoping that you'd prove me wrong about her repetitiveness somehow, but what you're saying and what I said is true. I'd say closer to 90% of her urakens look weak and completely uncredible (if that's a word). Sometimes Oz's look like shit because of her size but she's smart enough to do them rapid fire, so even if they aren't that stiff at least she hits enough to make it okay. Sugar's are just a joke though," wrote Michael.
I think the rapid fire bit might be conducive to Oz's looking like shit because instead of focusing on making one quick spin she does a series of small turns that she doesn't get enough momentum behind. In any case, Sugar finally went for a different move when Chikayo was on the second, although I'm not quite sure what it was. It could have been the Eagle cannon bomb, but, in any case, Chikayo spun in the air, locking Sugar's arm in an udehishigigyakujujigatame. Sugar was forced to tap moments after she fell to the mat. The result was pretty shocking because Chikayo never, EVER beats Sugar. Given their performance in this match, and over the past year for that matter, no other result could be justified. Chikayo was very good here, and did her best to hide Sugar's many flaws, but it just wasn't possible. Sugar was just awful, and did nothing but hurt the match. 13:06 (7:56). *1/2
12/12 Akutoshitei Hamamatsu
KAORU & Toshiyo Yamada vs. Sonoko Kato & Toshie Uematsu. This was your standard, mediocre KAORU match. As usual, a bunch of high spots with no rhyme or reason to them. Finally, it ended. If there was a purpose to this match, it was Uematsu pushing KAORU. Uematsu did some good moves as usual, but she was somewhat sloppy. In particular, she did an embarrassing rendition of Kuzumi's victory star drop. KAORU eventually pinned Uematsu with her excalibur. 18:03 (9:18 aired). **
Sonoko Kato & Chikayo Nagashima & Toshie Uematsu vs. Maiko Matsumoto & Rina Ishii & Sakura Hirota. Chikayo was once again really good here. She looked like an all star, while her opponents, with the exception of Ishii, looked like minor leaguers. Matsumoto and Hirota didn't belong in the same ring with Nagashima. Their timing was way off, on top of their usual problems such as the fact they can't work. Suckura is just an annoyance who reduces all her matches with her goofy antics. Ishii was the only bright spot on her team, but she wasn't up to her typical standards because she was having trouble with an arm injury. The match itself was the typical sprint. It wasn't nearly as good as usual because it was a bit sloppy and didn't flow well. Matsumoto and Hirota were the main causes of these problems. Uematsu and Ishii weren't particularly impressive either, and Kato was just kind of there. The action was still decent, but the match bored me because it was just mindless action. The finish saw Chikayo pin Matsumoto with her German suplex. *1/2
12/27 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
Chigusa & Sakura Hirota vs. Sugar Sato & Chikayo Nagashima. Hirota was hiding behind Chigusa early on, so Chigusa found a seat near the entrance to the dressing room and let Hirota wrestle on her own for a while. Most of the match was Sugar vs. Suckura, which should tell you how good this was. Chigusa added nothing when she finally descended from her perch and decided to participate. The only cool part was when Hirota set up like she was going to do her hip attack off the second, but instead did a diving uraken. Sato finally put us out of our misery pinning, you guessed it, Hirota with, you guessed it, her Liger bomb. 11:22 (8:20 aired). *
"Sakura really got on my nerves in this match. There's no simple way to put it. What was worse was seeing Sakura in a pink bunny costume in the studio. That was truly disturbing; I will have bad dreams now," wrote Keith.
KAORU vs. Toshie Uematsu. These two work pretty well together. Their matches are frustrating for me to watch though because all I can do is think of all the ways they could be better if they figured out how to apply their ability instead of wasting their talent. The pacing during the early portion was uncharacteristically slow. Actually, the first nine minutes were snail-paced considering who we are talking about. As you'd figure, they still didn't do anything with this period to make it lead to the high spots in the second half. Of course, once they got to the second half, things got good because of KAORU's work. In this regard, it was very similar to a Hikari Fukuoka match.
The lowlight of the match was Uematsu popping up after KAORU's suichoku rakka shiki no brainbuster then doing the fakest series of punches from the mount after putting KAORU down with a slap. KAORU quickly took control and used the same brainbuster, which Uematsu now sold, her moonsault, and her Excalibur for the win. Overall, it was just another decent if vexing KAORU effort. 17:19 (15:16 aired). **
Aja Kong & Mayumi Ozaki vs. Toshiyo Yamada & Meiko Satomura. This was a very good match with Aja, Ozaki, and Yamada firing up to deliver strong performances. The work was particularly good, with solid, crisp execution. It even had a storyline. Imagine that. The basis of the match was Satomura getting brutalized by Aja and Ozaki. They busted her open, and gave her all their big moves, but she wouldn't stay down. Aja & Ozaki mainly punished her with brawling tactics, and their opponents mainly just took.
Satomura was stuck in the ring forever, and she barely got any offense in. For that matter, Yamada didn't fair very well herself. Clearly, the point of the match was to show how dominant the team of Aja and Ozaki is. Still, the fans were really into this match. The heat was not great, but it was a lot better than anything else on this G-PANIC! The fans wanted to believe in Yamada & Satomura, but they weren't given much of a chance to. Aside from Satomura Death Valley bombing Ozaki, there were no points where it looked like Yamada and Satomura might win. In the end, Ozaki pinned Satomura with her tequila sunrise.
Chigusa tended to her fallen protégé after the match while Aja & Ozaki gloated about how dominant they were. All of a sudden, Lioness Asuka showed up in the ring out of nowhere. It made sense for her to pick this time to come and save the day for the weak squad headed by her former Crush Gal partner. Chigusa did not appear to be expecting her, but she offered her hand in friendship anyway. However, without even thinking twice, Lioness walked right on by her and gave Ozaki a form of the high five. Chigusa just stood there in shock, refusing to turn around and see Lioness with Aja & Ozaki.
"The angle where Asuka showed up looked awesome. Satomura was knocked out by Ozaki's combination of an uraken and tequila sunrise hold, so Chigusa dragged her worn corpse towards the corner and then pounded on Asuka! The brawl that lead towards the back was pretty damn good in terms of showing intensity," wrote Keith.
Chigusa's acting throughout this whole segment was quite good. She didn't give anything away, particularly that she was going to "snap" and attack Asuka, yet her actions and reactions were all justified.
"I would've liked more drama when Asuka entered the ring instead of almost instantly high-fiving Aja and Ozaki. as that would've added more tension about her decision to join the pre-SSU squad," wrote Keith.
This is true, the angle could have been drawn out more. The thing I would have liked to see is Aja & Ozaki not accept Asuka so readily. Chigusa and Asuka have so much history together that it makes sense for Chigusa to readily welcome her back. However, there's no real alliance between Lioness and Ozaki beyond the post match of their disappointing match at Jd' Together '98 the previous night, and that didn't exactly make you think they were suddenly best friends. Still, it's more of a bond than Aja has with Lioness. You could argue that you don't turn down that kind of talent when given the chance. However, the idea was to make people think that Lioness was going to help Chigusa, so you'd think Aja & Ozaki would feel some reservation in embracing Asuka unless they had a secret agreement with her. 16:15. ***3/4
Special thanks to: Michael Smith & Keith Watanabe