Joshi Spotlight: GAEA Endless Summer 1996

(July-August 1996)
* It’s time for more GAEA Japan! This week we have a variety of stuff from the summer! I guess I should have posted this before the Discover New Heroine show but it was released on a tape after the summer so I didn’t find it in my “Master List” until now. This one features a really fantastic GAEA Japan vs. OZ Academy bout, as JWP’s Mayumi Ozaki brings Reiko Amano and two GAEA traitors into an 8-Woman Tag against Chigusa Nagayo and her GAEA loyalists Kato, Uematsu & Hirota!

Also, we get Toshiyo Yamada show up in GAEA again as she & KAORU work a good match against each other, plus another GAEA/OZ match to start us off.

KAORU, CHIKAYO NAGASHIMA & TOSHIE UEMATSU vs. OZ ACADEMY (Mayumi Ozaki, Reiko Amano & Sugar Sato):
(July 17th 1996)
* It’s Ozaki’s OZ Academy vs. some of GAEA’s loyalists! Except OZ’s Chikayo is on the GAEA side, too. KAORU’s in white, Chikayo yellow, Toshie green, Ozaki red/black, Reiko blue/white & Sato white. The GAEA girls have now all “upgraded” their gear to be still monochromatic, but slightly more “advanced” to show they’re no longer jobbers.

We’re joined in progress with Ozaki’s uraken & three powerbombs to KAORU, Toshie jumping on her back to stop the pin. KAORU, looking tired, does a leap-dodge over the corner but eats a Super DDT-ish looking thing for two, then a Tequila Sunrise (tiger/dragon suplex), Toshie again knocking them over. Powerbomb sets up Sato’s flying back elbow, but she misses and eats Toshie’s missile kick into a NASTY German for two. Chikayo, loyal to Ozaki, avoids the tag and KAORU tags another Sunrise, but dodges a Double Doomsday Device and Germans Ozaki- La Majistral gets two! An ugly spot sees KAORU try a super rana but Amano “tossing” her off for two- nasty fall there. Ozaki keeps pulling her up at “2”, even after a Double Assisted Powerbomb, then they hoist KAORU up for Sugar’s Super Powerslam- Toshie saves. Ozaki holds KAORU for two missile kicks to the head, but a DOUBLE Doomsday Bulldog… gets the “F*ck YOU!” bridge from KAORU! KAORU & Sato BADLY bungle a rollup from a tombstone and then a rana (poor Sato faceplants)- she tries a pin and CHIKAYO breaks it up! Then it’s a powerbomb, flying flip thing (what IS Sato doing?) and a Double Assisted CROSS-ARMED Powerbomb (CROSSING THE ARMS?! God damn it! KAORU has a family!) for the easy three at (5:56 of 34:37). Oh geez- I knew KAORU looked tired, but NO WONDER.

Pretty much just a “look how unfair this garbage is” match, establishing OZ Academy of holding all the cards. Chikayo betraying her own team made this a foregone conclusion. All six minutes had KAORU as the sole wrestler on her side in the ring. OZ Academy hits some amazing moves on-paper, but the application was garbage, especially from Sugar Sato, who just can’t hit ANYTHING flush. To be fair this was an insanely long match.

Rating: *3/4 (more “Good on paper” and a solid angle rather than an excellent match. We only get 1/5th of it anyways)

(Aug. 18th)
* Another Yamada bout in GAEA, with her in purple & white vs. KAORU, in silver.

KAORU avoids kicks and works the leg to start, doing pretty basic stuff until they trade doing Yamada’s snap suplex. KAORU uses her Thesz press & a surfboard (after a long fight), then an ankle twist until Yamada kicks away with her good leg and catches her trying to leap to the top rope. Release German sets up three backdrop drivers for two, but KAORU catches her up top and hits a springboard dropkick. Yamada stops a charge with an enzuigiri, but counters the counter to the Reverse Gory Bomb for two, KAORU reversing that for two, then they fight up top until KAORU hits a springboard frankensteiner from there! That gets two, KAORU almost smiling when she insists on that being “3”, and a brainbuster gets 2.7. She tries another, ducks a roundhouse reversal, and hits a rana for two, then tries the Springboard Moonsault, but Yamada kicks her in mid-flip! KAORU reverses a whip but eats the spinkick into a double-down- Yamada’s finisher is reversed to La Majistral for 2.8! But Yamada’s up first, wipes out KAORU with a roundhouse kick, then finally hits the Reverse Gory Bomb for (10:41)! Yamada finally scores a big win again!

Very solid match- 10+ minutes with very little resting and a lot of solid reversals and good, basic spots. KAORU used her athleticism and Yamada her kicks, though KAORU’s technical stuff ended up being shrugged off despite some initial good selling. The reversal of the moonsault was slick, as was the springboard super rana, and Yamada hitting The Finisher That Never Hits always makes a match memorable to me, haha.

Rating: *** (good, classic wrestling- joshi singles matches are often bloated or squashes, so this is a rare mid-length good match)

CHIGUSA NAGAYO, SONOKO KATO, TOSHIE UEMATSU & SAKURA HIROTA vs. OZ ACADEMY (Mayumi Ozaki, Sugar Sato, Chikayo Nagashima & Reiko Amano):
(Aug. 18th)
* Here’s a big 8-woman tag, featuring Chigusa’s GAEA loyalists (including brand-new rookie Hirota) vs. OZ Academy, attempting to gain revenge for Ozaki poaching Sugar & Chikayo! Chigusa’s in red/black/gold, Kato blue/white, Toshie green, Sakura pink, Ozaki black/red, Sugar white, Chikayo yellow & Reiko blue/white.

Ozaki & Chigusa just stare daggers at each other while the GAEA girls pounce before the bell and there’s fighting all around them, but Chigusa hits a gutwrench powerbomb for two. Ozaki reverses another with a rana for two, but gets beaten on- Kato comes in with shots but quickly gets triple-teamed by rookies, who flip off the crowd while doing the “LCO Pose” on her. Clipped to Toshie speedblizting Amano, then reversing on a cocky Ozaki, catching her with the backflip corner kick and dodging her stuff, then hitting a corner kick to her BACK! But she overdoes it as rookies do and Oz takes over, but she calls out Chigusa and gets her head kicked off. The OZ kids reverse another powerbomb but Chigusa nearly gets a Razor’s Edge- Oz tries a Tequila Sunrise but the GAEA girls rush in and accidentally nail their boss. Chigusa no-sells a DDT and lariats Ozaki’s head off, then Team GAEA makes up for the mistake before by dropkicking her into Chigusa’s belly-to-belly. Amano gets one but soon snap-submissions Sakura- Kato saves. Kato/Amano is heated, but Kato’s second bulldog is reversed- Chikayo gets good stuff on her but Kato sits on a rollup for two, then Amano sets up a double-missile kick on Kato. Double-suplex gets two, but Toshie flies off onto Chikayo’s back with a stomp! Toshie splashes her back, but ignores her and DEMANDS Sugar Sato! Some rollups lead to Chigusa crushing the traitor, but Sugar catches her leg and sets up a trio of OZ flying stomps to the boss!

Chigusa beats the hell out of Amano, though, easily countering her submissions and slaughtering her with a powerbomb… but it’s the “1996 No-Sell” as Amano just traps the arm for a snap submission! Crowd roars for that, which is why they do stuff like that. Chigusa makse the ropes and dodges Oz’s cannonball (it hits Amano), but Oz no-sells Sakura’s rookie-fu until Kato runs in and bulldogs her from behind. Sakura quickly gets beaten on again, but ducks an uraken and gets two- Kato charges in but eats a backdrop hold for the same, and a powerbomb sets up TRIPLE Oz Flying Headbutts! GAEA stops the pin and another triple-spot, and an assisted powerbomb gets two on Kato. Kato reverses Tequila Sunrise to a sleeper (Chigusa humorously stomps Oz from the apron on the break). This leads to Uematsu getting powerbombed, but she wipes out two OZ kids, then Chigusa murders both of them and sets up Uematsu for a piggyback Rocket Launcher and all of OZ runs in to break up the pin. Sidewinder legdrop by Kato gets two- another break. Backdrop suplex/flying back elbow- again a break. Chikayo stops a rolling fireman’s carry, but Kato dropkicks Amano out of mid-air and hits the move on HER, but Chikayo flying stomps her back and Chigusa runs in to stop a superplex, but everyone hits the ring and Ozaki hits a Super DDT on Kato and a Tequila Sunrise to stun Chigusa, and the Double Assisted Powerbomb… gets two! GAEA dives in! Kato & Amano reverse stuff on each other and try rollups while everyone runs around until Amano just uses a headscissors into a rollup to score the pin before Chigusa can dive in (15:55 of 19:54 shown). OZ Academy wins and the feud goes on!

Really, really good match, with tons of double-teaming and good spots, with quick tags to hide the limitations of the rookies. It ends up making EVERYONE look good except Sato & Sakura (whose stuff is kept simple). The “Ignore a huge move to hit your own thing” spot is iffy but like… when the crowd EXPLODES at a rookie doing it to a legend you can see why that’s suddenly becoming the “New Thing” to try in matches. There was a great bit of triple-teaming on Kato, then GAEA started in on double-teams to score finishes, but ultimately there were too many bodies flying about and everyone was too fresh. Fittingly, it was a rollup that ended things, as you had to pin quickly rather than set everyone up. That did lead to a bit of a deflating finish, but I can dig it.

Rating: ***1/2 (absolutely non-stop spots and good action, hiding a lot of weaknesses. No major “Finisher Surge” aside from rookie double-teams)