Here we are with Part #3 of the very best of GAEA. We are looking at '98 which features a lot of Meiko Satomura and not so much Chigusa Nagayo. Don't think that's intentional just Meiko along Sonoko Kato seem to be the featured in the best stuff.
Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda vs Meiko Satomura & Sonoko Kato (01/15/98): Great match with Satomura and Kato getting plugged into the LCO vs young team equation. So this is very much Mita and Shimoda's match with the youngster team hanging on for dear life. They do really well down the stretch and get a couple great near falls.
Mayumi Ozaki & Sugar Sato vs. Meiko Satomura & Sonoko Kato (01/19/98): Good to very good stuff but I only saw 10 of 20 minutes. I thought Ozaki was best here. Quebrada rated this higher than the LCO match but, I think I preferred the other one. Although Ozaki is the best overall performer in the 2 matches. Satomura and Kato have a good team going but in some ways they're a little too similar in size, speed and style. Maybe Chigusa wanted a new Crush Gals but I think I would prefer a little more variety from them.
Sugar Sato & Chikayo Nagashima vs. KAORU & Toshiyo Yamada (02/22/98): 13 of 16 minutes. This was a real good one with the girls having help from Oz and Hokuto on the outside. I like the teams because each one brings a little something different. Kaoru and Yamada both bled but had tons of fight in them. So the intensity was appreciated. One small complaint is that this didn't seem to have a ton of structure and that could be said of all of the tags so far. The brawling style seems to have taken over GAEA. But the first match was LCO and these other two were Ozaki and her crew so that's to be expected. Yamada was a badass here.
Sugar Sato vs Meiko Satomura (03/15/98): Intense as all hell. No commentary so you can really hear how hard they're hitting. 10 1/2 minutes of Joshi WAR-style. Really dug this match. Shown in full. Nice to see a singles match again
Sonoko Kato & Meiko Satomura vs Sugar Sato & Chikayo Nagashima (GAEA 3/29/98): 7 of 14 minutes. This was a good little tag match. I question their judgement on a couple spots because I really don't think they made sense. Sugar Sato had a couple moments where I had to rewind the video to see what happened and why. I'm going to have to disagree with this being a great match at least for what I saw. This is one where I'm like " they needed a veteran in there with them."
KAORU & Meiko Satomura vs. Toshiyo Yamada & Sonoko Kato (06/21/98): Shown in full. Under the radar great match! The story of Kato vs Satomura is a good one and is at the heart of the match. They kept this simple but it kept building up incrementally that by the end they had something really special. The pairings work out much better as Kato and Satomura need a veteran to be anchored to even though they've become real stars in their own way. Yamada gets hit hard in the face by Meiko and just teaches her a lesson (without going too far)_the rest of the bout. And no brawling here, yay!
Meiko Satomura vs Sonoko Kato (GAEA 08/23/98): We get a couple jumps ahead and are missing a little under a third of the match but this is awesome stuff. An intense and grueling fight between GAEA's two top homegrown stars. This is proof that these two should be in opposite corners. Absolutely wish we had the full thing as I'd be more confident calling this a classic but I'm going with that rating. As you've read, it's been the focus of the first half of the year, the tag above sets this up wonderfully and we get a excellent match with great action, fantastic exhaustion, selling and Chigusa at ringside has a smirk of reserved happiness at the end. Shit if she's happy then I'm happy too! No one liked it as much as I have but, I bought what the wrestlers were selling. Having focus on GAEA these past few weeks, the significance of a battle like this is not lost upon me. I think this is a good example of how GAEA is different than AJW. In some ways this feels more organic. This match especially. I think where this match loses people is that it doesn't tell the story the way they would have wanted it. This fight was more about a rite of passage and growth than "may the best woman win." This could have been that traditional classic empty the tanks match but the story they are telling is based around how young these two are and how they have fought against and alongside one another. It is more about their evolution. Or that's how I'm looking at it
Aja Kong vs Toshiyo Yamada (11/23/98): They went absolutely all out for this and it paid off! They were pulling out moves I don't know if I've ever seen them do. And not in a cheesy way like you see nowadays Both wrestled this match with a purpose. I like that Kong did not take Yamada lightly while also not necessarily treating her as an equal. Similarly Yamada knew that Kong was dangerous but not someone she couldn't handle as long as she stayed ahead of. Mainly a traditional match but there's some fighting in the crowd but Aja does it right. She uses this to try and hurt her opponent and not do signature "brawling spots" like we see Mita & Shimoda do on occasion. Overall this was pretty special and Yamada and Kong feel like old friends to me so it was great to see them put on a battle. Near classic match. Definitely watch this AFTER the tag match.
Aja Kong & Mayumi Ozaki vs. Toshiyo Yamada & Meiko Satomura (12/27/98): About 11 minutes of a 16 minute match. This was pretty good especially when it looked like Yamada and Satomura had a shot. This was dominated by Aja & Ozaki for the most part but it was just so entertaining. I watched this before the above Aja vs Yamada match as I felt like it sets that up but you watch it in what ever order you like! Big post match moment that sets the stage for 1999 and beyond.
I don't think '98 had any big time match recommendations. If anything I think a lot of what I read had a middle of the road vibe. 1998 was excellent to me and more of what 1997 GAEA delivered. I really dug the Kato/Satomura stuff and their singles encounter was fantastic and an excellent bit of storytelling. I'm liking KAORU despite others opinions so that's been a nice surprise. She adds a bit of the high flying in a promotion that is more on the Chigusa-shoot-brawl side of things.
Thanks for reading folks!