GAEA G-PANIC! #48 5/11/01
Chigusa Nagayo vs. Miyuki Maeda 2:33 of 2:40. The only thing that keeps this total embarrassment from being the definition of worst match of the year is it was mercifully short. Then again, Miyuki made a little over 2 1/2 minutes seem like 20! She was so bad that she accomplished something I thought impossible, she made me feel sorry for the current form of Chigusa. I thought Chigusa would go out there and embarrass Miyuki with a quick no selling squash win, but Miyuki was the one that embarrassed Chigusa. She embarrassed Chigusa because Chigusa actually tried to sell for her a tad, but Miyuki was so pathetic it was impossible. She did the worst "kneel kick" I have ever seen. It wasn't just that one move, it was her innate ability to make virtually every move done in the match look awful. Chigusa had to very audibly call the finishing move in hopes that removing all doubt from Miyuki's mind as to what was coming might allow her to at least fall properly. Miyuki's performance is sure to be one of the worst of the decade. She wrestlers like she's never even been trained, which says worlds about her "ability" considering she was trained by Mariko Yoshida & Aja Kong. -**
HHH Tag Title Match: Akura Hirota & Police vs. Toshie Uematsu & Saika Takeuchi 2:33 of 10:37. The lame comedy was centered around Hirota & Police's teamwork or lack thereof. Hirota wound up pinning her own partner, in a "title" match no less.
Aja Kong & KAORU vs. Dynamite Kansai & Toshiyo Yamada 4:27 of 14:15. Kansai's suimengiri (spinning leg sweep) was a slow motion embarrassment, but mainly Aja vs. Kansai was good because they stood toe to toe and pounded each other. Kansai gave Aja a bunch of nasty kicks to the head when she was draped over the turnbuckle. KAORU wasn't involved much because she was taken out by her own partner! Aja got mad at her for coming in and repeatedly hitting Kansai with her table half, so she resolved the situation by using her uraken on KAORU. After the match, KAORU beat up the other three with her table half and left alone. Aja then shook hands with the opposition and raised their hands.
Lioness Asuka vs. Kyoko Inoue 11:20 of 12:12. Lioness vs. Kyoko may well have been the best joshi feud of the late 1990’s, their five singles meetings yielding two strong match of the year candidates on 4/26/98 & 5/6/98, a very good match on 8/2/98, a near MOTYC on 1/24/99, and an excellent 60 minute draw on 8/22/99. That was before GAEA got involved, turning a “big show” main event into a rather meaningless undercard attraction. As we all know, the logical way to settle a program where they played even for 60 minutes in what was to have been the deciding match is to have a 12 minute sprint. This actually seemed more similar to a slow motion version of their other matches, as it wasn't as smoothly worked or accurately executed as in the past. It was basically a more contrived and less dramatic greatest hits; consider it the Lioness vs. Kyoko radio edit. They kept all the gimmick spots and added more, going from one big spot to another with no real build up or lead in. There was some attempt to differentiate and keep the match fresh. For instance, at one point Kyoko was going to back body drop Lioness to the floor, but Lioness spewed mist in her face. Lioness did a trick where she did a sliding kick to her table with each foot so it would fall into Kyoko. She did a brutal diving footstomp off the top through a table to the floor. This wasn’t a bad match by any means, in fact if it was quite good in the limited GAEA rush job sort of way. If it wasn’t Lioness vs. Chigusa it would at least have been more memorable than the usual meaningless GAEA spotfest, but it’s better to let things rest than revive them for what could only be a huge disappointment. ***
Chikayo Nagashima vs. Devil Masami 4:39 of 14:12. Devil injured her left leg and couldn't continue, so Chikayo got a free win. You couldn't tell much about the match quality from the clips other than it was certainly no better than good and Devil was in a whole lot of pain.
AAAW Single Title Match: Mayumi Ozaki vs. Chigusa Nagayo 6:15. This was a weird match. The length was kept down because Chigusa had a bad shoulder that needed to be operated on (this was her last match before surgery). However, Chigusa's wrestling was more precise and exciting than when she's healthy. Ozaki was inciting Chigusa and the fans, lording the title belt over Nagayo before the match and offering her a pre-match handshake only to blitz her with a series of urakens. Ozaki tried to do a good story match with almost all of her offense - series of urakens and armbreakers - attacking the bad shoulder, but Chigusa would just stop selling after a while and make her comeback. Granted, Ozaki's urakens to the shoulder were kind of lame, but I expect better transitions than Chigusa simply Hulking up and blowing through some big moves. Chigusa’s superpowers finally wore off when her shoulder gave way after scooping Ozaki up for her running three, leading to a shoulder submission Ozaki wouldn't release, flipping the crowd off since she just beat their hero. If Chigusa was limited by the injury they should have had someone else make a fool of themselves trying to carry Maeda and done something more with this match, but aside from Chigusa’s ridiculous comebacks it was good while it lasted. **
Meiko Satomura vs. Akira Hokuto 21:30. You don’t need to be Antonio Alfonseca to count Akira Hokuto’s major post-AJW performances on one hand, in fact you could very comfortably be Mordecai Brown. Along with her 1/12/97 match against Infernal KAORU, Hokuto wrestled her best singles match since leaving AJW. She still had all the problems she always has, but they were minimized because she remembered how to use her head again and also because she mainly relied on wicked hard slaps. She’d pull Satomura toward her to increase the impact on her slaps, similar to Jake Roberts' short lariats, but eventually Satomura did this great counter where she stopped it with her bicycle kick. There were some interesting points such as Satomura mimicing Hokuto in trying to win with Hokuto’s power strangle, setting it up with her Death Valley bomb rather than the Northern Lights bomb, but overall the psychology was hardly Hokuto-esque and the match was instead far too steeped in Satomura’s shenanigans.
Attempts at great matches in GAEA occur less often than Presidential elections, but lets not get carried away here. One sign of a mature wrestler is knowing the fans will realize you are trying to hit one out of the park. Kandori, Hotta, even Rumi Kazama could have memorable matches with Hokuto because they realized less can be more. Similarly, this match was at it's best when it was at it's simplest, largely made by the stiffness. Unfortunately, the believability was taken way down by doing too much too fast. Satomura expended tons of energy shaking, jerking, and waving her head, arms, and legs in a foolish attempt to emphasize the idea that they were doing a grand drama. The problem is the ridiculous overdramatization mostly just distracts from the quality of the wrestling, which otherwise was pretty high, rendering it a corny and phonier spectacle. They tried way too hard to make every move seem like the pivotal one, or perhaps were simply ineffective because it’s less movement rather than more that leads the audience to believe the finish in imminent. Hokuto’s usual dramatic falls and motionlessness that make the audience wonder if she’s still conscience were instead overwhelmed by fake and self-indulgent jittering. And in spite of their idea that every move could be the finisher, there wasn't a credible near finish until 12:30 and it wasn't as if there was one believable near fall after another from that point. The length was a plus because this match was also worked like it was going 5 minutes, but unlike the 4/22/01 Satomura vs. Kansai, it lasted over 20. But in the end, the fact that it was 20 minutes rather than the usual 10 was the main thing that separated it from the usual move killing GAEA sprint.
It was fireworks from the get go with Hokuto following in Satomura’s hyper footsteps to the point it seemed as though both were injected with caffeine. Hokuto pulled out all the stops, giving Satomura her own Death Valley bomb early and even doing her old tope con hilo. There was one particularly dramatic moment where Satomura put Hokuto in her own strangle hold and Ozaki tried to come in to break it up, but KAORU & Police held her back. They certainly aspired to Hokuto's old level of drama, but weren't close to consistent in attaining it because Satomura came off so phony (the crowd still reacted to her though). The finish was lame with Hokuto failing to beat the 10 count after delivering her Northern Lights bomb finisher. I could have bought it more if Satomura had just done a series of killer moves to Hokuto, and Hokuto mustered up all her strength for the one move that would end it one way or the other, but it was nothing like that. It seemed to just sort of happen, but perhaps that’s because I’d been numbed by theoretical big moves and finishers they got little more out of than bodyslams and back body drops. Still, the heat was great after the 15 minute mark, and the fans reacted well to Satomura winning.
From a technical perspective, the majority of the ability displayed here came from Satomura. However, Hokuto outperformed her because she has more understanding of staying within herself, structuring the match, getting the crowd to react, and so on. It was hardly her smartest match and she can't work like she used to, but it was by far her best effort in years, showing she has enough left to make that count for a lot on the rare occasion she feels up to it. Full Match Review. ***1/2