Joshi Spotlight: GAEA- War is a Friday Night

(Feb. 16th, 1996)

* With possibly the greatest show tagline of all time, we’ve got an interesting mixed batch here, as I found the first GAEA vs. *AJW* match I can find, as Sakie Hasegawa gets to go to GAEA Japan on her retirement road and face Chigusa Nagayo!! And Chigusa leads her girls against heel invaders from LLPW, with Eagle Sawai’s GUREN Corps showing up to act as ANOTHER “Evil Girls Group” against mega-babyface Chigusa.

CHIGUSA NAGAYO, BOMBER HIKARI & SONOKO KATO (GAEA) vs. GUREN CORPS (Eagle Sawai, Jenn Yukari & Michiko Nagashima) (LLPW):
* So what looks to be LLPW’s big heel stable at the time (Eagle had recently been LLPW Champion) invades GAEA, with Chigusa shoring up a lame “veteran” and a rookie against Eagle & midcarders Jenn Yukari (a person so minor I could barely find squat to focus on in a Spotlight just for her, haha) and Nagashima. Chigusa appears to respond to a GUREN invasion and taunt-job simply by asking two people to join her for an impromptu match. Chigusa’s in red/yellow/black, Bomber’s in black/green/white & Kato’s in blue, while Eagle’s in black, Yukari’s in red/green/white & Michiko’s in a black “Manami Toyota”-esque outfit with cut-outs.

The GAEA girls charge immediately to start, Chigusa hitting her Running Razor’s Edge on Yukari IMMEDIATELY, then backdropping Eagle- Michiko uses a kendo stick, but Bomber hits an overthrow powerbomb- Eagle legdrops the back of her head on the pin attempt. Eagle ignores Kato’s attacks and we’re clipped to Chigusa bloody as hell on the apron while Bomber hits a flying headbutt on Yukari- Chigusa adds a powerbomb but eats another stick to the gut. Eagle hits a 2nd-rope dropkick (!), the rookies dropkick her back, she lariats both of them then Chigusa lariats HER in a good bit, then the match breaks down into violence as Kato is apparently bleeding, too. Michiko’s like “You wanna dress in blue like Lioness Asuka? I’ll SHOW YOU what it’s like to be Lioness Asuka!” via weaponry as Chigusa gets wiped out with chairs, but Bomber powerslams her off the 2nd rope for two.

Bomber’s one-armed powerbomb sets up Kato’s splash, but Yukari saves- SHE eats the powerbomb, but Eagle breaks up another pin and tries to finish, only for Chigusa to make the triumphant comeback to stop the Vader Bomb. Yukari runs in with a chair, but Chigusa, Master Babyface, literally trips her into it and then wipes out all three heels with it. Then Kato, in her FIRST YEAR, grabs a chain to murder Michiko and then roars to the fans like an absolute BMF to a great reaction. Chigusa & Eagle eventually go for a tour of Korakuen and the boss uses the mandatory “fan’s umbrella” as a makeshift weapon, and we’re clipped to everyone in the ring as the GAEA girls start getting choked out again. Eagle is bloodied but manages to hit a Folding Powerbomb on Kato for three while Michiko pulls off Chigusa from the save (8:27 of 12:40 shown). A sobbing Kato screams in defiance and eggs on Team GUREN while Chigusa cuts an impassioned promo while covered in blood. See, this is why she was the biggest star ever, even while slowed considerably in the ring.

Fantastically-unfair win for the GUREN Corps, as Eagle singles out the weakest of GAEA’s team for the huge power move while her girls fend off the other two, probably setting up a rematch of some kind down the road (YUP- read below!). The match was all smoke and mirrors and just random shots from weapons, but you can’t ask for a better wrestler in that style than Chigusa- and look at KATO showing that “Rookie Fire” like a Crush Gal In Training. Bomber hilariously looks like she might as well have not been there, barely putting in any effort. Like the LLPW girls were no great shakes but at least they were TRYING.

Rating: **1/2 (mostly just brawling and weapon shots, with clipping at that, but it had a good flow and some good spots)

(March 1996)

* The first AJW/GAEA match I can find, the boss takes on Sakie, one of AJW’s last “Chigusa Clones”- sporty, athletic “everygirl” types. Sakie’s retiring very shortly, and so is running out her last days wrestling a variety of matches, with even BULL NAKANO laying down for her! This is from the “Champ Forum” TV show, with Sakie & Chigusa doing commentary.

Sakie attacks before the bell with her Savate Kick to the back of the head, but gets her Uranage stuffed, only to put Chigusa on the floor… and eat sh*t on a Tope Con Hilo. But Chigusa IMMEDIATELY dares her to try it again, just standing there and taking it when Sakie does! Well that’s ONE way to make up for a missed spot. Sakie laughs her ass off in the ring, just like “Hey, I’m retiring! Screw kayfabe!”- they fight over a cross-armbreaker in interesting fashion (GAEA has some GOOD camera people to zoom in like that), like… going hold for counter-hold. Very catch-wrestling for this period. Sakie’s stuff has about zero force applied, but the reversals are clever, at least. Sakie throws chops & dropkicks and actually tries to lock in an STF/Chickenwing of all things, then Chigusa fights her into the sharpshooter. She hits the roundhouse kick, but Sakie hits Savate Kick Spam for two, Chigusa largely just standing there and taking them deliberately. They do mutual kicks and fall over, then Sakie hits a sleeper, actually hanging on when Chigusa backdrops out, impressing the crowd. Twice! Chigusa finally makes the ropes (after 1:30 of this) and hits a bulldog coming off the top for two.

Chigusa climbs again, but gets Savate Kicked in the can (sorta) and flies to the floor, Sakie following with a plancha- Chigusa resists an Uranage and hits her own plancha after a head-kick. Sakie resists a powerbomb and hits her rana, then Rolling Butterfly Suplexes for two. Chigusa locks on the GAEA MDK Sleeper, but Sakie knees out of one and hits the ropes on the other after minutes of fighting- she avoids the Running Powerbomb but gets her Uranage attempts stuffed until no-selling a Northern Lights suplex and just SPIKING Chigusa with one, then three more for a two-count! Chigusa reverses another and Sakie reverses 2-3 attempts at the Running Powerbomb until Chigusa FINALLY hits it for the three (20:40). Chigusa immediately hauls her up for the post-match hug and then falls back to allow herself to be symbolically pinned. Sakie gets a tear-filled send-off from GAEA in the end, preceding her AJW retirement shortly.

Interesting little match- pretty much a glorified exhibition and send-off for Sakie, but they were doing some interesting hold/counter-hold stuff in the early-to-middle part of the match. It eventually became obvious they were killing time and working light for Sakie’s benefit but some of the stuff was neat to look at (compared to “sit in a resthold” stuff) and I liked the bit with the sleeper. The application was loose throughout (I mean, Sakie was nearly DONE) and in the end they never really hit a good “Final Stretch”- like they clearly saved EVERYTHING for the end and even that was short and with not a lot of impact. Those final Powerbomb attempts were UGLY as Sakie was flopping like a fish on top and Chigusa had to do everything herself.

Rating: **3/4 (some good stuff, and very interesting- if loosely-applied- submissions stuff, but really more the start of a good match than an actual excellent one)

Sakie’s GAEA “Retirement” show as Chigusa says some words. Sakie cries, but recovers and then the *GAEA* girls start bawling.

* The JWP Tag Champs take on two GAEA rookies with no chance. Hikari’s in leopard-print, KAORU in the same + white, Chikayo’s in yellow/black & Toshie’s in green.

We start with KAORU just ignoring Toshie’s stuff- Hikari then does the same and even copies Manami Toyota’s old “double-arm then wrap the legs around their knees while they’re upside-down” hold. POPEYE PUNCH!!~~ gets two, but KAORU takes a rana takeover. She treats their interference and submissions as annoyances, and Jackhammers (!) Chikayo- Toshie saves. Hikari Northern Lights suplex- same result. Chikayo manages a running shove but Hikari schools her easily, and KAORU hits a bridging fallaway slam on Toshie for two.

Hikari does her Moonsault Dodge, but Toshie counters with her corner “run up the chest” move, only for both rookies to be dropkicked at once. They try flash-pins on KAORU, but a cartwheel elbow & corner DDT set up KAORU’s slingshot foot-stomp and Toshie has to save. Toshie uses speed to whip around Hikari, and a double-team cross-body gets two, but KAORU casually slingshots up and kicks Chikayo in the head so Hikari hits a German- twin Moonsaults… get two! Okay why are the babies able to kick out of THAT? Toshie nearly flash-pins Hikari out of a Tiger Driver, so KAORU springboard dropkicks in and Hikari finally gets it for the three (12:10 of 15:00 shown)- Hikari & KAORU win.

Weird little Rookies vs. Veterans bout, as the veterans sell hardly ANYTHING yet it’s still fifteen goddamn minutes long- all KAORU would sell were the rollups, as if speed and luck were all the rookies had. I mean, it’s SOME kind of psychology, but wow- devaluing Moonsault finishers as two can’t even put away Toshie (Chikayo seemed late on the pin-break, but still), then needing to double-team Toshie to put her away.

Rating: ** (some of it’s quite decent, but it’s like 12 minutes of rookies having their s--- ignored)

Both shows contain a bunch of other matches- mostly rookies beating each other. One interesting note is KAORU beating Combat Toyoda (15:34), as Combat seems to just do job after job in her last months in the biz. Like, that’s REALLY generous.

CHIGUSA NAGAYO, BOMBER HIKARI & SONOKO KATO (GAEA) vs. GUREN CORPS (Eagle Sawai, Jenn Yukari & Michiko Nagashima) (LLPW):
(March 25th 1995, KBS Hall)
* Revenge for the last match where Chigusa’s team lost to GUREN Corps’ cheating! This is KBS Hall, the arena with a giant gold-colored stained glass thing visible on the hard camera, so it definitely stands out. Team GAEA’s in jeans and black GAEA shirts with the sleeves torn off this time, looking like they’re here for a FIGHT. Eagle’s in a red/black bisected one-legged outfit, Jenn’s in pink & white, and Michiko’s in black again.

Eagle jumps the faces to start, hitting Chigusa with a backdrop suplex and a powerbomb for two-counts. Chigusa counters by grabbing a lasso and just strangling her, then tying a rope around her wrist and shin for a lariat and some kicks (that… shouldn’t hurt more. It should actually hurt LESS!). Clipped to Bomber being choked with a chain while the GUREN Corps does a big pose on her prone body (Eagle still selling the neck)- the subordinates miss a sandwich attack even though Bomber dodged a year before they threw their shots. Everyone does medium-pace choreography as they duck, miss, lariat, and slam into each other, Michiko hitting a flying senton on Kato but Chigusa lariating her.

Chigusa slaps Kato awake and drops her on Michiko, but Eagle takes the ref. Kato goes nuts on Michiko with lasso strikes and even hits her bulldog using it! The next try fails and she gets triple-teamed, then Chigusa runs interference- Bomber comes in and eats Jen’s perfect plex (with the inside grip on the leg) for two. Chigusa is now openly cheating (cuz she’s in another promotion’s territory, for a “Team Bret/Team Austin” dynamic), helping Bomber kick out of a German this time, then backdropping Jen when she tries for a superplex. Bomber misses a flying headbutt, but avoids more Perfect Plex attempts and reverses to a Tiger Suplex for the three (6:22 shown) as everyone else fights outside- GAEA gets a measure of revenge! The sobbing GAEA subordinates bow to a grateful Chigusa at the end to cap it all off.

This had big “House Show Energy” all the way, with people mis-timing all their s---, running in at weird times or stumbling around (like you’d see a “double-lariat” spot and instead someone stumbles or they hit out of order, or people COMPLETELY missing running strikes because the other person’s way off). Shots were WAY less stiff and the final surge wasn’t nearly as intense or hateful as you’d expect. Just a good old-fashioned “send the fans home happy” easy brawl, I guess. I get it- no sense dying at Hakata Starlanes! (apologies to Hakata Starlanes)

Rating: ** (perfectly fine “everyone fights” match- ugly and scrappy but fine)