Joshi Spotlight: GAEA Wrestle of Dreams

* It’s another GAEA Korakuen show, featuring more of a lesser cast that the previous ones, though if features the #2 & 3 GAEA wrestlers paired off in a match, with KAORU taking on Bomber Hikaru. The Main Event is a peculiar one- Chigusa Nagayo taking on FMW’s Bad Nurse Nakamura of all people! I’ll also add in the next show they did, featuring KAORU vs. Candy Okutsu, and Chigusa, Meiko & Kato against Devil Masami and the two Tomokos from JWP!

This one’s missing a short Meiko Satomura vs. Chihiro Nakano match (2:41), and Chikayo Nagashima beating Makie Numao in (6:03 of 12:05 shown) in Makie’s debut match. She makes a real go of it, lasting about four years, but appears to be a job girl the entire time from a quick scan of CageMatch, almost always losing.

* Rookie Mayhem starts us off, with Uematsu (green) & Kato (blue) representing GAEA against Miyaguchi (red) & Kobayashi (yellow) from JWP. Miyaguchi is the future Ran Yu-Yu and has looked okay in the past. These names are absolutely awful for my poor typing, lol- I can’t even switch to first names, because then it’s Toshie, Tomoko & Tomomi! Thank God this is clipped.

They spend a solid minute running around at a billion miles per hour, reversing everything in a frenzy until Kobayashi pairs off with Uematsu. GAEA works her leg, but she gets out and Miyaguchi hits rookie offense on both opponents. Kato snags her leg and they run into each other a bunch, then Kobayashi hits a sit-out Bubba Bomb-like move. And another! Uematsu does a billion dropkicks to Kobayashi, but Kato gets tripped by her partner and eats the Kick of Fear. Miyaguchi tries some, but gets tripped up and eats a running bulldog. Tornado Bulldog gets two- there’s a weak bridge-out, and Kato is furious with the ref. Uematsu hits a missile kick for two, but Kato’s attempt hits HER, and JWP’s girls hit a missile kick into a Frog Splash for two- wow, pretty slick. Uematsu’s in serious trouble and her partner’s on the floor, but she does the “JB Angels Bridge-Out” out of some running strikes and… runs right into a boot, and an Airplane Spin into a Samoan Drop finish her at (7:34 of 20:34!!)- Miyaguchi wins it for her team!

Pretty good ending there, and they had a great pace. Cutting out thirteen minutes of god-knows-what probably helped the match, but everyone’s stuff looked good.

Rating: **1/4 (I feel like clipping kinda helps a lot of rookie matches like this)

* KAORU is the co-trainer and second-biggest star of GAEA, and this show finally pairs her off against Bomber, who is a middling star and talent from what I can see. KAORU’s in white & black singlet, while Bomber’s in blue, pink, white & black- a neon hurricane.

Joined in progress with KAORU fighting Bomber into a half-crab that lasts like two entire minutes, then dumps her into a pile of chairs outside- they both carry chairs into the ring, but the ref demands they toss them aside… and so KAORU fakes out doing so, then blasts Bomber in the stomach with it, then does running stuff and a surfboard. Bomber reverses a whip to a weird slo-mo powerslam and a crappy airplane spin (more like “running around in a circle” than actually spinning), then does a comedy pratfall from the dizziness. KAORU actually gets two off of that and the fans love it, and so she starts trying headbutts and selling the damage herself (is “Hikaru” Japanese for “Pacific Islander” or something?). KAORU knocks her off the top, but misses a springboard dive, so Bomber teases one and then catches her while she’s walking around the ring. KAORU gets a sunset flip but they badly botch a “Manami Roll from a powerbomb” spot so KAORU’s dunked on her head. Bomber misses a flying splash and eats a springboard missile kick to the back of the head for two, then an All Japan-esque German. Another couple get two. A Tornado DDT out of the corner gets a near-fall, so KAORU slaps Bomber around, earns one in return, then bitchslaps her down, hits a vertical-drop Brainbuster, and finishes with a great Springboard Moonsault at (10:15 of 23:10 shown).

A weird one, as I can’t “get” Bomber’s vibe- she has the look of a Kansai/Hotta-type, but stocky and without the kickpads, implying a fireplug powerhouse, but instead she’s kind of a comedy wrestler, but is clumsy and kinda sucks? In any case, they kind of sat around a while and then did comedy spots, but then KAORU did a fantastic series of final moves, essentially using Bomber as a tackling dummy for her cool offense that put the match into “plus” territory because she’s highly underrated and just has good-looking moves.

Rating: **1/2 (goofy comedy bout turned into just a showcase for how good KAORU is)

* So innocuous FMW babyface Nurse Nakamura, who looked plain and normal as can be, is now horror movie character BAD Nurse Nakamura, and is a monstrous white-faced (in Asian countries that implies ghosts) heel who stabs something in the ring before intros. Chigusa’s all “Bitch, I fought Dump Matsumoto- you better be ready to use that fuckin’ thing” and we’re off, because sure enough Chigusa gets knifed in the head when she turns her back, then FMW’s Shark Tsuchiya adds her own punishment outside.

Finally back in the ring, a bloody-faced Chigusa flails around as Nurse gets mad-stabby with that weapon. Shark wipes out the ref and tosses Nurse a chain, leading to the old standby, “Chigusa is strangled while puffing out her cheeks” straight out of 1980s Crush Gals vs. Atrocious Alliance warfare. Shark & Nurse double-choke her, but GAEA’s wrestlers get into it with Shark while Chigusa takes a walk around the ring and starts rifling that chain at her opponent. Nurse sells it a bit, but they tug of war and Nurse just knocks Chigusa silly with kicks and we’re back to choking, as Nurse drags her around ringside. Chigusa cuts a promo on that bullshit once the fans start chanting for her, but Nurse grabs a friggin’ six-foot staff and plasters the boss’s back with it. Chigusa finally powers out and gives Nurse a taste, but tosses it to the fans and cuts another promo, so Nurse takes a wooden sword, breaks the tip off, and gouges Chigusa’s face with it. Shark charges in, so while the ref tries to deal with her, Chigusa again overpowers Nurse, but the villain is spared the sword so Chigusa can wipe out Shark with it.

Nurse tears off across Korakuen so Chigusa has to sword the shit out of her in the stands, and we’re clipped to ANOTHER promo, as Chigusa now tosses the sword into the stands. So Nurse just grabs another giant staff… but Chigusa DARES HER TO WRESTLE, holding her arms out and not even defending, so Nurse argues with Shark and tosses the weapon, so Chigusa goddamn hits the amateur “all fours” stance so Nurse can try and wrestle her down. So Nurse tenaciously grabs a headlock as we’re suddenly doing Flair/Steamboat bits, then she hits a bad German & Rolling Cradle for two. Chigusa manages a lariat, but takes a facecrusher- Nurse climbs, so Chigusa boots her repeatedly off the top, bludgeons her repeatedly in the ring, and finally finishes with a running Dominator (probably supposed to be her ThunderFire Powerbomb but Nurse flipped too far) at (11:50 of 14:16 shown). Chigusa talks shit on an unimpressed Shark outside the ring, probably setting up something between them down the line- and sure enough, a quick check of the GAEAism channel shows a match three months hence.

Well, that was a thing. Largely a bunch of psychology-free “Nakamura stabs Chigusa so Chigusa can bleed for sympathy” with nothing else to it, there’s an interesting bit of shaming in the end where Nakamura is dared into wrestling legitimately, AND IT WORKS, and that’s pretty great. Of course Nurse loses the second they start really wrestling, though, hitting a few sloppy moves but then getting wiped out by the mandatory Chigusa comeback.

Rating: *3/4 (some fun character bits, but “Walking Around Using Weapons & Bleeding” is my least-favorite wrestling style)

Pretty minor show from GAEA here, as they do a pretty low-tier Dream Match, but largely so they can do “Crush Gals/Dump Matsumoto” in the ’90s with Bad Nurse being the chosen victim for the boss.

* Another GAEA show, this time with only a couple of matches.

* KAORU takes on another invader in a Dream Match- Candy is well below her on the pecking order, but it seems clear that JWP has high hopes for her. KAORU’s just the worker to reign in Candy’s slippy-sloppy flying, too. Both are in white with black, KAORU in her singlet and Candy in a tasseled thing.

We’re joined in progress to a 23+ minute match, Candy controlling pretty handily with crab-holds and a methodical beating. I’m curious why they’re including all the weardown holds. KAORU FINALLY gets some offense 4:20 in, hitting basics but still selling the back. A Surfboard and some boots work Candy’s back, but she comes off with the Run-Up Cross-Body, only for KAORU to roll through for two. Candy chases her up the ropes, gets tossed off, but dodges a Flying Headbutt, throwing some kicks for two. KAORU catches her and does running kicks, too, but misses a moonsault- she lands on her feet, but Candy launches her with a German with great timing. KAORU reverses another, but Candy rolls forward for two. KAORU armdrags her off the top, and La Majistral gets two. Side suplex & fallaway slam hold get twos, but her next thing is reversed to a German Suplex hold for two, then Candy’s Rolling Germans get two. Candy hits a missile kick & cross-body for more top-rope near-falls, but KAORU dodges a run-up move and boots her down, then climbs… and gets caught with a Northern Lights SUPERDUPERPLEX… and bridges out! Candy, exhausted, just tosses KAORU and hits a Run-Up Plancha to the floor, but when she tries to follow up in the ring, KAORU dropkicks her coming off the top! And now KAORU just wrecks her shit- Springboard plancha, springboard dropkick in the ring, Brainbuster, and Springboard Moonsault finishes at (13:05 of 23:09). Good christ, I should hope so.

Weird match in the early going, with tons of backwork, then they use running kicks as most of their offense- an acceptable “story” of oneupsmanship I guess, but odd. Probably a way to kill time for such a long-ass match, because they geared up for a bunch of near-falls in the end. I actually don’t see Joshi do the “2-3 big offensive moves in a row to try and get the pin” that often- usually there’s reversals between them or something and more of a “SEE-SAW matchup, back and forth!” to it. What’s interesting, too, is that KAORU treated Candy like she was an equal, not a plucky rookie doing well. Aside from the complete destruction of hitting four unanswered moves in a row at the end, watching this in a vacuum you’d think the two were on the same tier.

Rating: ***1/4 (actually turned into a heck of a thing, with fatigue being sold well, plenty of cool moves, and good reversals. Kind of felt like a “WCW” match in a lot of ways with the match flow)

* It’s Legend & Babies on each team, as Chigusa brings the red (Meiko) & blue (Kato) rookies to take on her old rival Devil in their billionth match since GAEA started (or fourth, I dunno- math is hard!), with some JWP babies in tow (I think Kuzumi’s in black & Miyaguchi’s in red/black).

Great bit right away as Devil scares the absolute shit out of Kato just by walking into the ring, so momma Chigusa has to come in and save her. Three minutes of rookie-fu set up a great bit where Devil comes in and poor Meiko can barely even do chip-damage with any of her stuff, so Devil just swats her away and bodies her with every shot while grinning madly. Love her missing a clothesline and hitting the corner, only to no-sell it and shove the kid. But then she overdoes a clothesline and Meiko CATCHES HER WITH A CROSS-ARMBREAKER, sold as this huge deal, haha. But Devil just Undertakers up, pulls Meiko up by the hair, and slams her down… brilliantly still going “owww…” with her arm. Sells JUST ENOUGH to let the kid look like she has potential. Meiko hauls her down a second time, and Devil just kinda squeezes out, stepping on Meiko’s head as she does so, like making the ropes is too much humiliation, haha. Miyaguchi then calls out Chigusa, actually landing a Samoan drop amidst a bunch of no-sold stuff, and has to haul her down to stop the flurry. The Tomokos go again, tearing at Kato’s arm, and we finally get Devil/Chigusa, but it get only do a grapple into Devil’s surfboard.

Chigusa strangles both Tomokos at once and sets up her girls flying off on Miyaguchi. Devil kills Meiko while she’s in a hold, so Chigusa wipes out Miyaguchi and now Kuzumi’s in. The GAEA kids show good fire on her, but Devil annihilates Kato with an overthrow powerbomb, then a regular one to Chigusa. Kuzumi actually hits Chigusa with a springboard missile kick (a clumsy one, but still), but she slips on another, right into Chigusa’s kick (obviously the planned spot, minus the slip- so it still works in the story). Chigusa head-kicks Kuzumi to death, then calls out Devil- Chigusa screws up a powerbomb, and a second try is reversed to a sleeper. Kato saves Chigusa, the vets do their “double lariat” spot, and then the ROOKIES dropkick Devil down. Chigusa has the kids tee off on Miyaguchi, but Devil stops Kato’s Tornado Bulldog, so Miyaguchi does the Airplane Spin Samoan Drop- Meiko saves. Kuzumi’s flying splash gets two- “Fuck YOU!” bridge for a big pop! Meiko ducks under a double-clothesline but Devil runs over BOTH rookies, and then she & Kuzumi hit a crazy Powerbomb/Springboard Lariat Doomsday Device! Devil overthrow powerbombs Kuzumi onto Meiko, and Chigusa has to save. Everyone scraps and Chigusa takes out all three JWP girls, but Kuzumi flies off with a springboard sunset flip on Meiko- that gets broken up, and Meiko just slides her over for a flash-pin (18:39)- Meiko wins!

Actually kind of a fun match- like the rookies were in “Try your HARDEST!” mode while the vets were doing a house show match, and it was oddly kinda fitting that way- like they see this all the time, but for the rookies every match is still special and huge, especially against such competition. I really liked the kids having a go, but the vets being able to interject whenever, creating a totally different match. The only thing I didn’t like was the ending- you do all that awesome stuff with a Doomsday Device Powerbomb and that’s NOT the pin, then you just scrap for a minute before a flash-pin reversal ends it? Kind of lackluster. Most everyone looked good, though Kuzumi has the worst springboards I’ve ever seen, frequently taking two tries to get up there, slipping off once, and nearly doing so another time.

Rating: ***1/2 (I liked it a lot more than I thought I would)