Manami Toyota & Mariko Yoshida vs. Dynamite Kansai & AKINO 18:32. The matchup had potential, but wound up being a bit too flat. They didn't seem to have a real good idea of how to fill the time. After the initial explosion, the first half was low level offense with AKINO, Yoshida, & Toyota making their case to be valedictorian of the Otani School of Annoyance. The second half had their better moves, but there was surprisingly little variation in the pace. Though the match meandered, Yoshida vs. AKINO was excellent at times. These two have always had great chemistry, and there's nothing like wrestlers that are not only highly skilled, but also really understand how to bring out the best in one another. The segment about 10 minutes in where they went through the phase 1 ARSION matwork was by far the highlight of the match. Toyota was Toyota, doing some nice moves but seeming to exist apart from the others. She wasn't selfish per se, and even got pinned, but sometimes you just get the idea she feels whoever she's in the ring with exists for the sole purpose of being her minion. Kansai's involvement was kept to a minimum, but aside from slipping on the landing of her diving footstomp, she did okay. **1/2
Aja Kong vs. GAMI 11:57. Does someone actually think people pay to see one wrestler run from the other? I suppose, in the right situation, for instance a wrestler Miho Watabe's size running from the monster Aja might have some legs, but GAMI is a longtime title contender and certainly needs to stand up for herself. Once they actually locked up they went at it consistently, but without any conviction. My main problem with GAMI as a comedy wrestler is she tends to half-ass her execution, feeling it doesn't matter since it's all shits and giggles anyway. There was one good comedy spot, the ropewalk, largely due to the puzzled and bemused look Aja delivered before yanking her tiptoeing opponent off. Some of the actual wrestling was good, but then again, 6 or 7 years ago this matchup was a potential joshi match of the year. *1/2
Carrying a concealed Weapon: Mayumi Ozaki & Takako Inoue vs. Dump Matsumoto & Shark Tsuchiya 12:20. Once you admit to carrying a weapon, doesn't that largely defeat the point of concealing it? Then again, once you book Shark, that definitely defeats the purpose of trying to have a wrestling match. Ozaki & Inoue took the cue, simply mailing it in. In her heyday, Dump was not a good wrestler, but could generate ridiculous amounts of heat. Today, Dump is just not a good wrestler. She really wasn't doing anything different than Shark, just the typical Pogoesque bloodletting. Actually, she's so immobile that Shark of all people has to do the bumping for the team. They had Sasori, Z-Father, & Police perpetually in the mix, but 7 people uncreatively wielding weapons is no better than 4! DUD
Jaguar Yokota & Devil Masami & Lioness Asuka vs. Megumi Yabushita & Sumie Sakai & Fang Suzuki 11:55. The real Jd' was alive and well for a dozen minutes in this fast paced match where Yokota & Asuka once again proved they could bring whoever was up to it along for the ride. Asuka was really on today, but Yokota was a bit slower and more deliberate than I'm used to. Yabushita & Sakai actually weren't particularly good, and their team was barely competitive, but it didn't much matter. **3/4
Mayumi Ozaki vs. AKINO 12:18. A statement match for AKINO, trying to prove she belongs in the featured match. There's no doubt she does for ring work, and in fact this was the best Ozaki has looked during this period, largely because AKINO executes so well – fast, crisp, controlled, precise - it not only took the pressure off Ozaki, but also made up for a lot of her shortcomings. AKINO quickly ripped Ozaki's bandage off and went to work on her cut forehead. Though Ozaki bled almost for the outset, this was an actual wrestling match even when a weapon was involved. It was an incredibly promising one at that, despite a lot of unnecessary interference. There's no doubt that they could have a really good match, but unfortunately this wasn't it. There was nothing particularly wrong with it, apart from it just ending out of nowhere. ***
Ran Yu-Yu & Toshie Uematsu vs. Azumi Hyuga & AKINO 3:36 of 12:05. Surely worth seeing in its entirety, but hard to get too excited about in this butchered form. They picked the match up with some excellent high flying action, but things quickly degenerated into chasing each other around the ring to telegraph the cheesy ringout finish.
Jaguar Yokota vs. The Bloody 1:17 of 8:01
Sugar Sato Flashback
Sugar Sato & Aky vs. Misae Genki & Kyoko Ichiki 2:45 of 8:14. I can't honestly say whether this was supposed to be a comedy match, or was simply too deliberate and contrived to take seriously. I guess it was for football fans because they did little beyond block and “tackle”?
Super Heel Devil Masami vs. Sugar Sato 2:55 of 3:10. I know Sato isn't going to beat anyone important at this point, but if the show is all about honoring her, why not provide an opponent she can have a competitive match with rather than a foe everyone knows will squash her? The fans didn't seem to take this seriously, or care, and Devil's ring entrance was probably longer than the actual match.
Ayako Hamada vs. Mirai 1:57 of 15:31.
Mixed Gender Match: Macho*Pump & Dynamite Kansai & Manami Toyota vs. Gran Hamada & Aja Kong & Kaoru Ito 1:53 of 20:23
Sugar Sato Retirement Match: Mayumi Ozaki & Carlos Amano vs. Sugar Sato & Chikayo Nagashima 21:27. The original OZ Academy members got together for one last time, delivering the sort of high quality match you'd expect from these four in 1997 when Ozaki was still at her peak and Sato was one of the most promising young women. The quality of work was certainly increased by their familiarity with one another, general good chemistry, and the desire to do something above the ordinary for Sato's farewell. While initially it was kind of an odd match due to Nagashima, Ozaki, & Amano stepping up the workrate while Sato, knowing she's too slow and heavy to take part in the high paced counter-laden style Nagashima was instilling, did comedy such as exchanging footstomps with her Iron Sheik curled-toe boots, even Sato was involved in some good wrestling segments by the end. Ozaki was at her 2005 peak and did an excellent job of carrying Sugar. She definitely seemed to benefit from having not worked earlier in the show as she was moving more freely, controlling her body better, and had more snap on her urakens. Probably more than anything though, wrestling her understudies transported her back to her mid 1990's JWP self when she was one of the couple best women in the world because she put the effort into her all around game to be that good. Ozaki pinned Sato in her tequila sunrise, but Nagashima continued wrestling so Sato could score the goodwill pin on Ozaki & Amano when she powerbombed Nagashima on top of both. Sato's retirement ceremony was the longest I can remember, some 13 minutes on the DVD and that was with editing out the time it took everyone on the card as well as the GAEA faithful such as Chigusa, Lioness, & Yamada to get in the ring to greet her. Finally, the original OZ Academy four did a final Bonzai pose and carried Sato off on their shoulders. ***1/4
Sugar Sato career retrospective
7/29/05 Tokyo Shinjuku FACE: Mayumi Ozaki & Dynamite Kansai vs. Aja Kong & Manami Toyota
Street Fight 2005 OZ Academy SUMMER WARS 1st 7/30/05 Nagoya
Fang Suzuki vs. Bullfight Sora
Chikayo Nagashima & Ran Yu-Yu & The Bloody vs. Devil Masami & Toshie Uematsu & Tojuki Leon
Manami Toyota vs. Carlos Amano
Aja Kong & AKINO vs. Mayumi Ozaki & Dynamite Kansai
Street Fight 2005 OZ Academy SUMMER WARS 1st 7/31/05 Nagoya
The Bloody vs. Ayumi Kurihara
Toshie Uematsu vs. Fang Suzuki
Dynamite Kansai & AKINO vs. Devil Masami & Tojuki Leon
Mayumi Ozaki & Chikayo Nagashima & Carlos Amano vs. Manami Toyota & Aja Kong & Ran Yu-Yu
Carlos Amano vs. Azumi Hyuga 8:26 of 12:32. I don't get the logic of putting such a good matchup, arguably the best on this or frankly most joshi shows from 2005, as the opener, especially in this day and age where it's not as if there are going to be so many other great matches it isn't going to matter. They took it seriously, but it was also a “safe” match. In other words, they weren't going anywhere near full force, but everything was very well done, and there were several moments of brilliance. The execution was crisp, and there were numerous slick counters. The running sequences were particularly impressive, though they are actually capable of going a lot faster than the merely very fast we got here. ***
Tojuki Leon vs. Mayumi Ozaki 9:09 of 13:16. Ozaki bullied Leon with weapons, and KAORU and Police made their presence felt at every turn. Leon wasn't competitive, but Ozaki was heelish enough the deck was so stacked against Leon that I'm not sure anyone would hold her getting squashed against her. I mean, in essence this was the typical underachieving veteran vs. promising youngster match we've been seeing since they forgot how to create a new star, but at least it was a logical and well executed squash that did contain exciting, albeit brief, spurts of offense from Leon. In addition to her mostly aerial offense being impressive, Leon took very well. **
AKINO vs. Chikayo Nagashima 13:32 of 20:00. An awesome match on paper, but disappointing in actuality because they simply exchanged control rather than developing the sequences and delivering the brand of quick, explosive counter laden action they are more than capable of. 20 minutes isn't THAT long, but the match was much slower paced than expected. It was well executed, of course, but it was almost as if the length intimidated them. They weren't killing time by any means, but they seemed distracted by the idea of filling it rather than simply being loose and going with it. ***
HIKARU & Ayako Hamada vs. Aja Kong & Mariko Yoshida 16:02. Hikaru was a drag on the match – rather robotic and not really up to working with Yoshida – but once Hamada got involved she more or less disappeared. Hamada has always worked really well with Aja, as Kong puts Hamada into the mode of Manami Toyota and works her classic big woman vs. athletic flyer sequences. Yoshida can make Hamada look bad if she decides to keep it on the ground, but she can always make her look great. Today they worked really well together because Yoshida allowed Hamada to stay fully in PuroLucha mode, and simply concentrated on developing the counters. Though Kong vs. Hamada has been Hamada's rivalry from her first days in ARSION, Yoshida was actually the opponent we felt the sense of urgency against. ***
Meiko Satomura & Amazing Kong & Dynamite Kansai vs. Mayumi Ozaki & Chikayo Nagashima & Carlos Amano 20:53. After so many intelligently and efficiently worked undercard singles matches it was disappointing to see such a contrived and unconvincing main event. Kansai & Kong weren't working that well with the smaller opposition, and the brawling of Ozaki's team was particularly feeble. The match just never came together, and, in fact, was really only good when Satomura was in. *3/4
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