Joshi Spotlight: AJW Legacy of Queens

(25.08.1993, Tokyo Nippon Budokan)
* So this is a positively AWESOME AJW show devoted to the interpromotional rivalries going on, effectively doing another Dream Slam-tier show full of mega-Dream Matches- it’s easily one of the biggest shows of the year, surpassed only by Dream Slam 1 & 2 and St. Battle Final (later in the year). Much like the Slams, this features “AJW wrestler vs. JWP/LLPW/FMW wrestler” in one-of-a-kind bouts that, if they’re not competitive, are at least unique. And this time, it’s not AJW’s tag titles on the line- both their #1 and #2 singles golds are up for grabs, as Akira Hokuto defends against an LLPW wrestler and Aja Kong defends the Red Belt against the Ace of JWP, Dynamite Kansai! And LLPW’s Ace, Kandori, is up against one of AJW’s biggest stars in Kyoko Inoue, plus we have a duo of multi-person match sprints.

The setting is really awesome- like one of the early King of the Ring shows, with huge gated doors visible on the hard cam at the end of the aisle.

This show is MASSIVE and would prove a monster 2-parter to review, but thankfully I’ve reviewed three of the matches before on separate sets.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: This show is up there with some of the greatest, boasting FOUR MATCHES at **** and over, the legendary first Kong/Kansai match, a spectacular carry-job by Hokuto, and one of those unique situations where nearly every wrestler seems to be trying to show up every other wrestler.

So the pre-match stuff goes on for a freaking HOUR AND A HALF, just like the Dream Slams- in this case, four promotion heads (including Rumi Kazama as the LLPW representative) do an interview, then every single wrestler performing tonight does a stoic “sitting at a desk” interview. It’s largely uneventful (plus I don’t speak Japanese), but Kandori acts like a piece of shit, as you might imagine, tossing her chair at Kyoko after a calm sit-down. Other stuff sees everyone shooting the shit in the locker rooms (poor FMW is just two people), people in facepaint but their regular clothes, Bull testing a moonsault on a crash-pad, and more. The rookies build the set, they test the lights, announce all the wrestlers, and we’re off!

* ROOKIE MAYHEM! So it’s the worst of the Class of ’89, a Comedy Jobber, and a “Pretty Girl” Jobber against LLPW’s lowest-tier wrestlers. Yasha’s a great brawler with a good schtick but the other two are bottom-tier. Tomoko’s in the horrendous purple/orange/green thing again, Numacchi’s debuted her “partly-shaved head” look and is in a pink shirt & white PJs, and Chikako’s in pink floral print and going for an “Idol” look now. Yasha’s in the white top & red pants, Hozumi’s in a red floral-print Jobber Singlet-ish thing (and using a vanity fan and feather boa), and Endo’s in a blue & white unitard, looking like the plainest Jobber ever.

Numacchi keeps doing Yasha’s pre-match “squat” taunt, so Team LLPW beats on her and does a three-person pose on her body, Hozumi twirling around her fan while Yasha uses her staff and Numacchi’s shovel, which is great. But then the match starts and it’s just “people flailing”, especially the two Mini-Idols, who are REALLY bad at this point. AJW picks on Endo, the lowest-ranked wrestler, but Yasha throttles Tomoko in her “hanging choke”. Everyone keeps trading off, but most are either stumbling about (nobody knows each other well) or hitting the most basic of stuff. Some long legholds on Endo, and Tomoko hits a weak Moonsault Press while the other two hold her. Endo gets her foot in the ropes and just makes her own comeback, but a Vader Bomb misses Chikako. Tomoko bullies Hozumi, who hits a rana & German for two each, but Tomoko’s slingshot cross-body and backdrop hold get two. Yasha cheats and hits her chokeslams as the arena lights go out for a bit, and Numacchi hits an assisted flying bulldog on her, but a big brawl outside leads to Yasha catcher her with the Super Chokeslam and (15:42), giving LLPW the win.

Rating: *3/4 (Really, REALLY long match, not made better by clumsy wrestlers and meandering offense from rookies)

* Interesting use of tiers, as returning vet KAORU (fired for breaking the “No Boyfriends” rule, Manji says!) teaming with rookie wunderkind ASARI against JWP’s fastest and best rookies, Bolshoi the clown & Candy. KAORU’s in black & white, with a golden mask, while ASARI’s in an unusual red get-up. Bolshoi’s clown get-up includes stripes, spots, and the single most terrifying mask I’ve ever seen, and Candy’s in blue & white. Referee Mariko Yoshida (still on the injured list) gets a bigger pop than any of the wrestlers- not a good sign.

Bolshoi amuses people by checking YOSHIDA for weapons before the match, and her team scores stereo dives right away- Team AJW tries stereo topes, but Bolshoi & Candy hide under the ring and we’re in full-blown “comedy match” mode- the kind that triggers ’90s reviewers. Team AJW gets kicked in the butt and threaten to bail, but Team JWP begs them to return- KAORU does some slo-mo lucha and ties Bolshoi’s hat to the top rope, but her bawling brings the sympathy out, and the veteran unties her… only to get her hair pulled in return. Bolshoi & ASARI trade… random stuff, going nowhere really, and they do that “Rookie Bolshoi” thing where it looks like there’s gonna be a whip or a big move, but instead they just kinda awkwardly stumble around. Then things get EVEN UGLIER as double-teams turn into traffic jams until Yoshida saves the entire match by preventing KAORU from tearing off Bolshoi’s mask and then hitting her Run-Up Flying Cross-Body on her for fighting over it! Crowd LOVES that, and Bolshoi even counts two!

ASARI gets her Handspring Mule Kicks and Standing Moonsault for two on Bolshoi, and everyone’s in for a series of dodges and counters, and Bolshoi lands her Super Rock Bottom on ASARI! But she fights back with a dive, then it’s KAORU’s Moonsault and ASARI debuts the SKY TWISTER PRESS, getting two when Candy saves! KAORU hits her partner by mistake, and so Candy finishes with the Rolling Germans, hitting SEVEN, at (13:02). This was a strangely-laid-out, exceptionally poorly-wrestled match with some good comedy spots and then a weirdly hot finish. I mean, they were never on the same page at ALL for the wrestling portion, but Yoshida hitting her old move was awesome and a crowd-pleaser. But then ASARI hits that damn Sky Twister- the crowd was just awed by that one, which is why it’s weirdly placed here as a two-count, with Candy just stopping the pin and finishing ASARI right after.

Rating: ** (dreadful until the final two minutes- chalk it up to another clumsy KAORU/Bolshoi match)

* Jumpin’ Jesus! Now THIS is a stacked match from AJW, as they’re such an embarrassment of riches at this point that they can toss out LCO, an MMA star and their best midcarder along with the former Ace (Bull). LLPW by contrast are far less impressive- Eagle & Harley are sub-main eventers and equal to anyone but Bull, but the other three are wayyyyyyyyy below that. Miki rises to the level of her opponents, but is always just “the other person” in these bouts, and the other two are rookies. Bull’s in a black “spiderweb” singlet (like Marvel’s Golden Age Black Widow), Minami’s in the violet singlet, Mita’s in the unusual RED variant of her gear, Shimoda’s in red & gold and Bat’s in black & yellow. Eagle’s in red & black, Harley’s in blue & turquoise, Handa’s in black/white/green, Osawa’s in green & red, and Kitamura’s wearing every color there ever was, with facepaint. Wow, what a garish crew. Who the hell was LLPW’s tailor?

Bull gets a five-person clubbering to start, but Leo’s lariated and gets the same, then is hit by five running attacks in a row for two, then everybody fights in a huge brawl and LLPW hits FIVE STEREO PLANCHAS, so already this is awesome. But Leo takes a beating and the crowd ERUPTS for Bat coming in to kick Handa around. She gets into a kickfest with Osawa, but both work pretty light. Mita hits a Blazing Chop, but LLPW takes over and Eagle starts pinballing Shimoda with body attacks and they trade off on her. LCO teams up and blocks three flying cross-bodies in a row, but Eagle shoves them over when they catch Harley. Shimoda uses her hook-clothesline on Harley & Osawa and escapes, Leo hits an assisted flying bulldog on Bat and a Moonsault on Mita, but AJW breaks up the pin. Bull hits a lariat and Mita tries the DVD, but Harley kicks her and a forward roll gets two. She goes for another Moonsault, but Mita hits the Super Electric Chair Drop with interference, and Shimoda’s flying splash gets two as a pile of bodies falls back onto them.

AJW runs interference while Mita scores with the Death Valley Driver to a huge pop, getting the pin (7:46). LCO’s Rocket Launcher misses Handa, and she fires off her snap fallaway slam w/ bridge on a charging Shimoda, but Harley’s roundhouse kick blasts her, and a great missile dropkick & Tiger Suplex finish her at (9:02). uh-oh- LLPW’s two down, now. Osawa & Minami reverse a ton of stuff on each other, but Minami catches her with a running headscissors and a Kneeling Powerbomb at (9:56)! But right as AJW takes a 5-2 lead, Eagle does something to Minami off-camera and holds her down for the struggling three (10:04)! And because it’s Japan AND a Survivor Series match, a follow-up Lariat to Shimoda is even MORE devastating, killing her at (10:12)! Mita does slightly better, but eats a lariat & Kneeling Powerbomb, Harley gets tossed into a dropkick against the aides, and another Powerbomb finishers Mita at (10:56)! It’s tied!

And then it’s a HOSS OFF, and Eagle & Bull slam into each other repeatedly, trying to no-sell until a lariat crushes Bull. A Powerbomb fails and Bull & Bat hit a Double Powerbomb on Eagle (!), but the Guillotine Legdrop eats mat and Harley hits a Flying Headbutt for two. Tiger Suplex- two! Assisted Flying Roundhouse Kick- Bat saves! Bat & Harley kick each other in the ass simultaneously, then Harley lands a spinkick and an enzuigiri- she tries to capitalize, but Bat fires off two spinkicks of her own and Eagle has to save! Bull holds Eagle for one, but Harley dodges the next and Bull goes down! But Bat immediately fires off another to Harley and puts her down at (13:59). Bat hits a flying kick and Bull adds a Powerbomb & Guillotine Legdrop, but only gets two! Bull is frustrated, and gets tossed into the corner and Superplexed for two- she tries a Lariat but misses, and Bat has to spinkick Eagle down to set up the finish- the Rolling Somersault Double-Guillotine Legdrop hits at (15:48) to finally stop her!

This was a GREAT, fun, rapid-fire match-up, featuring no resting at all and tons of great spots all over the place. Leo Kitamura got a ton of shine early on, much as she was the “LLPW Jobber” here, as she pulled off a lot of offense and got to look good before shenanigans dropped her. Handa & Osawa went out like jobbers, but then Eagle went on a monster tear and wiped out LCO and Minami in succession. This is a TAD fluke-y, as Joshi tend to last 14-20 minutes before a finisher works on them, so random offense being extra-killer is… well, it’s a Survivor Series and she was using lariats, whattaya gonna do? The final was more or less a tag match and it was AWESOME, Bat throwing spinkicks everywhere and Harley working at a great pace. Eagle looked like a champ and only went down to Bat & Bull teaming up, too- the spinkick setting up the MDK Finisher was a great way to let Eagle look strong in defeat.

Rating: ****1/4 (great showcase of most of the wrestlers, with some fun booking and great spots throughout)

* I reviewed this one for a Takako Inoue Spotlight last year: Meltzer & Mike Lorefice only went ***1/2 or so, but I loved the match, as it played off the evil of Takako and the white-meat babyface act of Cutie, ending with Takako hitting her Flying Knee finisher at (18:57). One of Cutie’s best matches, and a sign of how good Takako actually was (she had to carry her). Re-watching it, I call it ****.

The second part of the show starts here.

* This comes off as a weird kind of “Filler”, as FMW’s Ace, Kudo, gets paired with a rookie up against the “JTTS Sub-Main Eventer” Yamada and an AJW rookie. These matches are semi-common on these cards, and seem to be there to throw a bone to FMW, who has fewer women- a match to put them over, so we’ll see what happens here. Yamada’s in a black & pink variant (still with huge tanlines, lol), and Ito’s in a yellow Peter Pan outfit this time (but with PASTEL RAINBOW SHORTS, which are hideous as hell), while Kudo’s in identical coloring to Yamada (the big pink “K” on the front is rad, though), and Nabeno’s a short, squat wrestler I’ve seen only once before, dressed in a red & white jobber outfit. She wrestled from 1990-96, and won the FMW Women’s Title the year after this! Notably, Kudo vs. Yamada Main Evented Dream Slam 1 in a tag bout, so there’s a bit of history here.

Yamada dominates Kudo with kicks and her snap suplex to start, and her & Ito control the pace for a while- Ito with dropkicks and Yamada with the Spinning Stump Puller. Kudo uses a dragon sleeper on Ito and Nabeno does some light amateur wrestling, but Yamada kicks the bejeezus out of her leg. Nabeno punches her way free and it’s this kind of hilarious thing where it looks like shit but she’s such a spitfire that it’s awesome and the crowd gets into it. Yamada gets stretched by Kudo, but her team beats up Nabeno, Ito adding ass attacks and the rolling senton for two. Ito powerbombs a charging Kudo, but eats a German for two. Crappy cross-armed powerbomb (she has to hold Ito up by her shirt) gets two, and Kudo flies around then hits FOUR TIGER DRIVERS IN A ROW while Nabeno flies out onto Yamada, but tries a fifth and gets attacked. That was such a weird spot.

Rana gets two for Kudo, and Nabeno fires off some flying attacks, but Ito finally makes a comeback and Yamada gets the hot tag, overhead suplexing Kudo and hitting Enzuigiri Spam on Nabeno! Some well-timed reversals see Ito’s ass attacks thrown around, but Nabeno dodges the Flying Stomp, but Yamada runs in and a superplex for Ito leads to Stomp Spam, then a Flying Stomp to Kudo on the FLOOR, and the regular Flying Stomp finishes Nabeno at (14:25). Huh- that ending surprised me. Acceptable but not that exciting match, with the pros kinda wrestling like they knew it was the midcard slot. Nabeno tried hard even if she wasn’t any good, and Ito used her Stomps to best effect, but that Tiger Driver spot was weird and made Ito’s selling look spotty.

Rating: *** (Kudo & Yamada in particular left a LOT in the tank, but otherwise was decent)

* This is one of the most intriguing matches to me, as Kandori is LLPW’s Ace but seems to lack something against most other “Top Level” wrestlers, but was carried to one of the best matches ever by Akira Hokuto. Kyoko is one of AJW’s biggest solo stars, but she spent most of ’92 jobbing to Manami & Akira, and then lost to Aja in ’93, so this is probably her being sacrificed to give LLPW a bone. But I’m interested here for the work- can Kandori also wrestle another 5-star worker at a high-tier? Kyoko’s in the yellow & red, while Kandori’s in this weird “Granny Swimsuit” look with purple lines over a blue floral-print. I almost admire her uniformly-hideous singlets- like she loves kicking ass SO MUCH she just throws on whatever because she has asses to kick.

HUGE “Kyo-Ko! clapclapclap” chant starts us out, Kandori selling it perfectly with this “I’m not annoyed” look of annoyance, and we get a MONSTER pop when Kyoko ducks a lariat and pulls off her own. Kandori MMAs her for a bit, but Kyoko reverses a whip to a Helicopter Slam of all things, then follows with a surfboard! So immediately it’s Pro Wrestling vs. Martial Arts, and Kandori can’t handle it. Finally she no-sells a turnbuckle shot and headbutts Kyoko out of the ring in a scrap. She goes for submissions, sold as DEATH by the crowd. But then Kyoko somehow snaps on her “rock the cradle” submission and makes it look believable against a shoot-fighter, and scrambles out of a few submission attempts with spirited comebacks. Kandori adds so much to stuff like this, as a simple Fujiwara armbar reversal from a suplex draws a reaction like it’s an MDK instead of bullshit match-filler. Kyoko struggles to the ropes to avoid an armbar, but hits the Slingshot Backsplash off a whip and pulls out a GIANT SWING, but her comeback ends when another Backsplash sees her land right into a sleeperhold. But then she fires off another reversal with a slingshot dropkick!

Kyoko’s Run-Up Flying Back Elbow misses, but Kandori can’t hold a Swinging Sleeper. Folding Powerbomb gets two, and Kyoko is fading- she slips out of another, but gets caught in another sleeper, Kandori dragging her off the ropes for more to great heat. Kyoko kicks free and hits a huge German, sold like nuts for a double-KO spot. NOW she hits the Back Elbow, for a close call, but Kandori avoids the Niagara Driver (over-the-shoulder Ligerbomb), so Kyoko wears her down with missile dropkicks and tries again- this one is turned into a Tiger Driver attempt! Kyoko escapes that and an armbar reversal, and throws random strikes until Kandori finally reverses to that Tiger Driver… for two! Kyoko desperately reverses some chokes to flash-pins for close calls, then dives in with a lariat and hits the Niagara Driver… but throws her too far! She can’t segue to a pinfall right away, so she only gets two! She tries to follow up, but Kandori snaps on a HUGE Fujiwara Armbar that causes a massive commotion, and Kyoko finally makes the ropes. Exhausted, she falls victim to a bizarre judo-style Rings of Saturn, with Kandori folding one arm up, and that’s that- she has to give it up at (17:44).

Friggin’ AWESOME use of a “Martial Arts vs. Pro Wrestling” mindset, as the most “only in pro wrestling” person in AJW goes up against the legit martial artist in Kandori. The whole story was perfect for it, as Kandori only has real-looking judo stuff, but Kyoko befuddles her with utterly “wrestling” things like helicopter slams, giant swings and surfboards. Kandori is more limited a worker than most people on her level, but her selling was DEAD-ON, acting equal parts pained and aggravated by all this bullshit. Like, you can tell that Kyoko is carrying the match with her varied offense and stuff, but Kandori’s presence and killer holds really help- it can’t be said enough how much of an effect “a full judo hold and this is over in one move” has on this match’s psychology.

Rating: ****1/2 (great use of time to make the submissions look either “pro wrestling” or “MMA”, fitting the match perfectly, and a really great final stretch)

* Yes, big stars like Hotta & Toyota are in there for a 6-person tag match against JWP’s three elite “high-speed” wrestlers- that’s how stacked this show is. Hotta & Manami are sub-main at this point, with Sakie entering the midcard after a strong couple of rookie years. Ozaki is sub-main herself in JWP, with Plum in the midcard and Hikari rapidly rising as the “Sakie” of JWP. As Oz & Manami are rivals (her team beat Manami’s and now hold the WWWA Tag Titles), as are Sakie & Hikari, this could get VERY ugly, and very fun. Hotta’s in her Killer Bee singlet, Manami’s in black, Sakie’s in a shiny light blue singlet, Ozaki’s in red, Plum’s in a singlet that’s yellow and “old lady’s wallpaper”, and Hikari’s in black- a direct affront to Toyota.

Hotta gets triple-teamed to start, but kicks Plum in the thigh and hits a tope with Sakie’s urging, which is great. Hikari stops Toyota’s dive and Sakie hits Hotta, though, then Ozaki cannonballs off the middle rope and Team JWP works over Hotta. Toyota in with the GREATEST DROPKICK EVER, blowing everyone’s minds as Plum goes ass-over-teakettle, then beamspams dropkicks and Sakie catches Hikari in the Rolling Butterfly Suplexes for a one-count. Hotta bullies her with her array of kicks but Oz takes over on Sakie until a facebuster plants her and Toyota tears in- the fans freak for the first meeting of these two since Oz took the WWWA Tag gold from her, but only one dropkick and Hikari’s in, and THAT’s our big stand-off. Manami-Lite flummoxes Manami with pin reversals until Plum’s in and Manami pulls off the Running No-Hands Springboard Cross-Body on her! Then Hikari yanks Manami’s hair and everyone fights, and Manami flies off of her friends onto Team JWP!

Plum gets worked over in holds while Hotta keeps coming in to hit deadly kicks to tremendous boos. The overthrow powerbombs punish her, Manami hits three moves in a row, and Oz interferes to give her a breather- Hikari uses an octopus hold and Ozaki a liontamer, then a kneeling powerbomb gets two and Plum stretches Manami with the “Goldberg Leghold”, sold as pure agony by Toyota. She talks smack in Hikari’s Figure-4, but dodges Ozaki’s cannonball and Sakie ends up taking suplexes from Plum, then fights Hikari. Oz runs in and takes a HUGE Uranage onto the back of her head! Plum dropkicks the vets, but Sakie nails Ozaki and she takes the greatest German ever from Manami, who goes right up onto her toes with the bridge- PERFECT technique. Ozaki dodges Hotta’s elbow but Plum gets powerbombed, then Oz stops the Tiger Driver and Hotta takes a Doomsday Device Dropkick from Plum for two, then avoids a triple-dropkick and Manami tags in and hits a flying cross-body on all three JWP girls! Jesus, this pace! Manami tries a Rolling Cradle on Hikari, but gets it reversed to Hikari’s own for two! But then Hikari tries a running dropkick, and Toyota uses the momentum to blast out her own and then hits HER Rolling Cradle, really rubbing it in.

Hotta adds a boot square to the face, and they sandwich Hikari with a missile kick/savate kick combo and Sakie starts tossing out Savate Kicks and a lariat and she’s getting MURDERED out here. Manami Germans her for two, but she rolls through on Sakie’s cross-body for the same, then tags Plum, who hits a Flying Thesz Press for two and a SUPER FRANKENSTEINER, Team AJW baarrrrrrely saving after two. Hotta keeps saving from killer JWP moves, Manami takes a Tiger Suplex from Oz for two, but gets a Dragon Suplex for the same! Hotta gets triple-teamed but gets her feet up on a Moonsault from Hikari, but everyone’s in and Hikari dives onto Toyota, and Plum hits both her partners by mistake! Moonsault Suicida from Manami! Doomsday Device Double Dropkick to Hikari! Only a huge dogpile stops that pin, and Manami Moonsaults her and Hotta adds the Pyramid Driver, but the pin’s stopped again. Sakie ends up splattered by Hotta’s Flying Rolling Kick, and Ozaki Turning Splash & Hikari Moonsault get two! A doomsday move attempt sees her partners dumped, and Sakie dodges Stereo Flying Headbutts, but she backs right into Hikari, who lands a Straightjacket German… for three (25:09)! Hikari gets another win on Sakie, thus removing the shame of Dream Slam 2‘s loss once and for all!

Joshi tags can be a mixed bag, as sometimes they’ll go soft and “TV match” it, while at other times they’ll just go 200 mph because they can just tag out when they get tired and share the bumps- this was the latter. Everyone was going NUTS here, Hotta being a shitbag with her cheap kicks and bullying, Toyota being insane and flying around, Hikari being a spitfire, and Ozaki being crafty. Hikari & Manami doing “Mirror Match” spots is always fun, and I liked how Manami took holds, Hikari got DESTROYED, then Sakie started getting pummeled. And then it’s like ten straight minutes of super moves and great team psychology and “save spots”, as nobody can get a pin no matter how good their move is. You didn’t even see the big finishers of most of the wrestlers (Hotta/Toyota/Ozaki), but it didn’t even matter- this is one of the purest examples of the “Toyota Style Match” you’ll ever see.

Rating: ****3/4 (absolutely top-tier “Workrate Match” move-fest)

* I just reviewed this one for my Spotlight on Rumi Kazama- needless to say, Akira does a gangbusters job putting Rumi over as competitive despite the winner never being in doubt, and carries her to a great **** match.

* I reviewed this one for a Spotlight on Kansai herself: It’s a great display of two Monster-style wrestlers destroying each other, and their chemistry and credibility mixed perfectly to have a great Main Event match. In a great callback, Aja scores an Uraken and repeats the “No, COUNT HER DOWN!” spot that won her a fall at Thunder Queen, but this time Kansai gets to her feet at “9”. A perfect “Warring Gods” match, with Aja winning at (22:54) with a Super Mountain Bomb after two Urakens.

Tomoko/Numacchi/Chikako vs. Yasha/Hozumi/Endo: *3/4
KAORU/ASARI vs. Bolshoi/Candy: *3/4
Elimination Tag Match: ****1/4
Takako Inoue vs. Cutie Suzuki: ****1/4
Yamada/Ito vs. Kudo/Nabeno: ***
Kyoko Inoue vs. Shinobu Kandori: ****1/2
Hotta/Manami/Sakie vs. Ozaki/Plum/Hikari: ****3/4
Akira Hokuto vs. Rumi Kazama: ****
Aja Kong vs. Dynamite Kansai ****1/2

-Gee, you THINK? Where else but in situations like this do you see SIX ****+ matches all on the same card, and it’s only like the second-best show of the year? Dream Slam 1, 2 & St. Battle Final all suceeded in having ***** matches, but this one arguably had a better “match average” with these ridiculously intense move-fests. I liked this even more than most reviewers seemed to (most say the Idol Match was only ***+, and rated the Main as ****), as everyone played their characters to perfection outside of the first two matches.