Joshi Spotlight: GAEA Japan (January 1996)

GAEA JAPAN (January 1996):
* I’ve found a bit of stuff from the early part of GAEA’s 1996 shows- Jan. 14th & 28th. Most of this is “Rookies Getting Their Reps In” but we see more of Chigusa/Combat, plus Hiromi Yagi enters GAEA for a show!

* Yagi is getting a semi-decent midcard role in JWP by this point, so is well above the rookie Toshie, but Yagi’s good enough with her judo stuff to make this fun. Toshie’s in the usual green, while Yagi’s in a black top & shorts.

Toshie impresses immediately by dropkicking Yagi in the back, running up her body in the corner, then hitting a back elbow in the other- Yagi uses an inside cradle and hair-grabbing to teach her some respect. Yagi handily schools her with technical stuff, focusing on the arm- Yagi twists free and tries her own stuff, but Yagi’s too good- she even hauls Toshie up out a front-facelock and slams her for two. A rollup & back elbows finally put Toshie ahead, and she holds Yagi in leg stuff. Yagi finally chain-wrestles her into a backdrop suplex for two, and then there’s a really good sequence where Toshie charges in, runs up the corner for a backflip, then has her own backdrop reversed to a rollup into a leglock from Yagi, sold as desperately agonizing by Toshie. Funny bit as Toshie tries the Japanese leg roll clutch by Yagi just shoves her off with her feet and knees her in the gut- but now TOSHIE does the rollup from a backdrop, getting two. Toshie gets a missile dropkick, but flies off again and lands in an armbar, and now can pretty much only get rollups while Yagi keeps stoning her. And HOLY F--- Yagi backdrops Toshie right on her head in an ugly landing. The ref checks for signs of life and Yagi casually hits a missile dropkick, taking her sweet time climbing for another- Yagi shoves Toshie off and then DARES her to try something, so Toshie just boots her in the mouth from there and climbs up- a stunned Yagi recovers and schoolboys her off the top for the win (10:19).

Verrrrry good for rookie stuff, as Yagi’s style is exactly the kind that can easily carry a kid through things- they even did some complicated reversal sequences into rollups and submissions, mostly led by Yagi. She played dominant, always able to counter things, but Toshie had that “Rollup chance” with tons of flash-pins. Her run-up flips looked great and any bad techniques were easily covered because the style is very forgiving since they’re both fighting for any advantage. And Yagi coasts to a pretty easy win, but one that made the kid look strong.

Rating: **1/2 (good rookie bout)

* This is the finals of a one-night JWP/GAEA Rookie Tag Tournament that splits up the promotions into mixed teams. We’re joined in progress with Kuzumi (black), Chikayo (yellow), Kato (blue) & Yuki (green/pink). Kuzumi is the future JWP ace Azumi Hyuga. I mention this every time because I keep forgetting and this makes it easier to check my notes, lol.

Everyone runs around with rookie basics and trying flash-pins, then Chikayo hits a running diamond cutter out of the corner as a basic nothing move to Kato. Kuzumi, clearly Toyota-inspired, dodges around an exhausted Kato & hits a springboard dropkick for two. Kato bulldogs her and tags out so Yuki can spam ass attacks for two, then slingshots her ass in to reverse a whip. Kuzumi springboards again and does rollups for two-counts and Chikayo hits a stunner & diamond cutter for two, then a rana on Kato for two, but takes legdrop spam from Kato for the same. Bulldog & tornado bulldog get two. Twin flying moves get two, so Kato sets up a Doomsday Device… but gets sunset flipped by Chikayo while Yuki gets shoved off by Kuzumi, for the three (5:01 shown of 17:51)! Kuzumi & Chikayo win the tournament!

Fast-paced rookie-fu, which isn’t bad for the final five minutes of a really long match. It’s funny how even as babies, the GAEA rookies have “signature movesets” with simple things, like Kato using variations of bulldogs and Chikayo the stunner/cutter. Solid ending, with Kato getting too fancy and Chikayo being too fast for her.

Rating: ** (what little we saw was quite good!)

JAN. 28th:

* Interesting mixed-tag between GAEA & FMW, with KAORU & Kudo leading lesser partners. I had to check, but Nabeno is that girl who fought Kyoko at a Wrestling Queendom and did okay at first, but ended up having to be carried big-time. KAORU’s in white, Nabeno’s in yellow & green with tassels, Kudo’s in black and working heel again, and Bomber’s in blue & white.

JIP with Kudo getting a German, but taking two KAORU Thesz presses, a figure-four and a surfboard. Kudo quickly reverses on Nabeno, who rolls up Bomber for two. Nabeno lands on her feet from an electric chair drop but gets powerslammed for two. KAORU & Kudo do a long series of running dodges until Kudo USES THE ASS, then everyone does running stuff until KAORU hits a German but misses a springboard moonsault. They’re starting to look a bit blown up, and as I type that Kudo hits a tornado DDT but KAORU tries her dodge but just kinda flops down and improvises a schoolboy for two. Bomber hits a Vader Bomb off the top for two, but KAORU Manami Rolls out of a powerbomb and her bridging fallaway slam for two-counts. Nabeno gets cute with Kudo and gets bodied with a right hand, but gets an armbar and missile kick, only for Kudo to sleeper her to death and hit a head-dropping double-backdrop suplex. Flying clothesline gets two and Bomber hits a flying headbutt- KAORU saves. Nabeno gets a German with KAORU’s help for two on Bomber, then KAORU moonsaults her and sets up Nabeno’s moonsault press for two. Kudo stops another double-team and Bomber hits an overthrow powerbomb for two, and a weak backdrop-to-powerbomb gets two- KAORU saves, then when Bomber tries to finish with a flying headbutt, KAORU Springboard dropkicks her in MID-AIR, and Nabeno finishes with an ass Tiger Suplex at (11:43 shown of ??).

Well that was certainly a match. It was good in parts, with KAORU hitting a great springboard dropkick to deflect Bomber off of her partner, but oof- they seemed exhausted and just mis-timed (everyone was paired up with a partner from another promotion, which probably didn’t help. It just felt enormously long with not a lot of focused storytelling or anything- just people doing stuff until one person fell.

Rating: ** (a bit too long and unfocused)

* Another trios match with vets teaming with rookies, as Chigusa leads her kids against Combat and some FMW babies. Chigusa & Combat had a somewhat-disappointing match the month before. Chigusa’s in red & black, Meiko’s in red, Kato’s in blue, Combat’s in red & black, Yukari’s in blue & Kaori’s in red & black.

Great bit to start, as the GAEA kids attack Combat, who has her rookies whip them off the ropes and she lariats both down at once. They try a double-whip on Chigusa but she just wipes out both FMW babies and it’s a six-woman stand-off to applause. We’re clipped to Chigusa beating on Kaori, but Chigusa & Combat just start smashing into each other until Chigusa holds her for her kids to come in and machine-gun Combat with stuff… which she no-sells and then headbutts them both at once. Combat mauls Kato for like two minutes, but she escapes Yukari- Meiko spitfires in like a screaming windmill machine, but Kaori owns her with spammed running hair-slams. Chigusa brutalizes Kaori with suplexes but Kaori won’t stop resisting the crab, so Chigusa actually gives up and lets the rookies go again. Combat brutally torture racks Kato & helicopters her around, but Kato gets some shine after dodging her & Chigusa/Combat lariat each other down.

The FMW girls double-team Chigusa, but she & Combat go again- Combat slips out of the Running Powerbomb and Chigusa settles for a piledriver. Everyone keeps running in, the rookies all taking down the vets- Kaori moonsaults Meiko for two- Kato saves. Meiko nearly takes Yukari with an armbar (after several tries), but Combat interferes. Kaori splashes Kato so Yukari can try a pin, but Kato bridges out. Yukari does some terrible locomotion butterfly suplexes for two- Meiko saves. Combat & Yukari try a double-clothesline, but Combat recovers from the miss by nailing BOTH rookies, then absolutely destroys Kato with a backdrop driver. Meiko breaks up the pin, but they hit a Doomsday Device POWERBOMB (!!!), but AGAIN it’s broken up. Chigusa finally frees herself and murders both rookies and backdrops Combat to take her out, and that leaves Kato to hit a Rolling Fireman’s Carry (like Finlay) for the pin at (14:55 shown). Chigusa & Combat pinkie-swear after the match, which I may only assume is the same unbreakable bond that it is in the west.

So there’s two kinds of segments here- rookie-fu as they run & scream and throw each other around with basics, and veterans murdering rookies. The latter are usually fun, and the psychology is sound, but 14 minutes of it can be a tad much, ya know? Like it’s good to give rookies their reps in, but that’s a long-ass match, and their technique was falling apart by the end of it- Meiko just scrambling into armbars & Yukari barely able to hit those suplexes. That does make it feel a bit more “real” in that people WOULD get tired like that, but it’s not the greatest.

Rating: **1/4 (all I can really give it, though there were some fun bits here and there with the vets smashing rookies around)