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Well, I told so so. ;)

 

Cool to see some Yoshida love in 2016. I feel like hearing myself 17 years go, in an odd way.

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Hikari Fukuoka/Mikiko Futagami vs. Aja Kong/Candy Okutsu (3/16)

 

We get to see Fukuoka praying before the match while dressed like a cowboy. Uhm... wasn't Fukuoka a former JWP champ at this point? I guess she got to showcase her spots a bit in this match, but other than that didn't seem much special. She bit Candy in the foot at one point. This was a weird match, it wasn't boring or terrible or anything, but there was not much engrossing about the action. There were also a few blown spots. There was some hard hitting early on, and the sections with Aja and Futagami were solid, but, uh... it started to feel like a move exhibition at some point. It was slow, and there were transitions so not a hyperactive type move exhibit. Aja for some reason did a lot of stooging and gets played like a fool a bunch of times... yeah that was interesting. Futagami does a cool tilt a whirl gutbuster thing... hey Cesaro should steal that. And she ended the match with a nice backfist/shotai combo. Candy and Fukuoka each did about 40 top rope moves. Yeah.

 

Candy Okutsu/Ai Fujita vs. Ayako Hamada/Mika Akino (4/14)

 

The first appearance of the HamAKINO pair. Also the first appearance of the impossibly perky Ai Fujita, another name that has fallen into obscurity. Candy is quickly starting to annoy me with her tendency to do every top rope move 3 times in a row. When this wasn't Candy hitting her 38th moonsault, it was quite good. The other 3 work this kind of quasi lucharesu style, and they kept it nice and interesting. All the flying, fancy submissions and rollups looked polished and served a purpose. Candy thankfully didn't do much making this match feel like a showcase for the 3 promising workers illustrating how far they've come. The finish further underlines this.

 

Mariko Yoshida vs. Mikiko Futagami (4/14)

 

Jesus CHRIST! The next match that really grows in my estimation through the power of context. So we saw Yoshida destroy all comers. Futagami has no chance, right? Unlike Yagi or Bennett Futagami really doesn't have any overwelming advantage. But Futagami is like this mad wrestling improvisation artist. Crafty and unpredictable! And she ends up giving Yoshida a run for her money. There was not a ton of matwork (who would want to go to the mat with Yoshida at this point), but every single exchange here felt unique and special. Yoshida just goes to kill Mikiko the whole time and Mikiko keeps making up exit doors from nothing like she is a cartoon mouse being chased by at cartoon lawn mower. Not only was the wrestling great, but the timing and selling was brilliantly tricked out. I mean, that is not an easy thing to do when you have these lengthy submission attempts, and the teases and nearfalls were among the best I've ever seen, including one of the hardest struggles for a rope break ever caught on film. They also told the story through their facial expressions, perhaps moreso than in any other match before. By the end Futagami looks mentally scarred, she has made up all this shit and nothing is working, while Yoshida just has a pissed off look on her face and goes for the Air Raid Crash in frustration. It even makes me want to forgive some of the no selling. Brilliant, swanky, unique match. ARSION is on fire.

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Hikari Fukuoka/Mikiko Futagami vs. Aja Kong/Candy Okutsu (3/16)

 

We get to see Fukuoka praying before the match while dressed like a cowboy. Uhm... wasn't Fukuoka a former JWP champ at this point? I guess she got to showcase her spots a bit in this match, but other than that didn't seem much special. She bit Candy in the foot at one point. This was a weird match, it wasn't boring or terrible or anything, but there was not much engrossing about the action. There were also a few blown spots. There was some hard hitting early on, and the sections with Aja and Futagami were solid, but, uh... it started to feel like a move exhibition at some point. It was slow, and there were transitions so not a hyperactive type move exhibit. Aja for some reason did a lot of stooging and gets played like a fool a bunch of times... yeah that was interesting. Futagami does a cool tilt a whirl gutbuster thing... hey Cesaro should steal that. And she ended the match with a nice backfist/shotai combo. Candy and Fukuoka each did about 40 top rope moves. Yeah.

 

From memory it was one of Fukuoka's last matches. She had a neck injury and retired not too long after that. It was a part of her retirement tour, so she'd work with her old friend Candy, who herself retired once (an amazing thing to see BTW, Candy's retirement in JWP) before coming back in ARSION. SO if it felt like an exhibition of moves, it's because that's basically what it was, as a way to say goodbye. Fukuoka had the sickest finisher ever, the insane moonsault footstomp. I really enjoyed that girl. And yeah, Candy was getting a bit annoying at that point.

 

Fujita never developped into a complete worker from what I remember, but she sure had a look to her. Liked her too.

 

Ah, that Yoshida vs Futagami match was a MOTYC to me back then.

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Okay, the Fukuoka match makes a lot more sense now. She did get in her Moonsault Doublestomp, and also the Rider Kick. Another great move.

 

ARS Tournament 99 Round 1

 

Hiromi Yagi vs. Rie Tamada (5/4)

 

Tag team partners do battle! They even wore matching outfits to emphasize that. This was all cool as they did all these nifty standing exchanges, and Yagi wasn't playing nice at all and ruthlessly went for Tamada's bandaged leg, leading to some real drama in the last few minutes. Fine as hell 8 minute match.

 

Mariko Yoshida vs. Yumi Fukawa (5/4)

 

Yoshida just got taken to the limit by Yagi, now she faces Fukawa, who doesn't have the judo throws but uses a similiar armbar-centric moveset. And Yoshida still has a weakened arm, so Fukawa goes out of her way to try every armbar in the book on her. Pretty excellent match for what it is. Fukawa's crazy flying armbars always come across as desperate, and every choke Yoshida busts out looks like a potential match ender. I give them a ton of credit for keeping this kind of match so interesting: it wasn't your-turn-my-turn, they would use eachother's momentums against eachother, and Fukawa gets to look great in the process. I also have to say the booking in this company is pretty damn smart, keeping all the rollups and submissions over as potential finishers. I love a promotion that threats rollups and submissions as special.

 

Mikiko Futagami vs. Michiko Ohmukai (5/4)

 

Another fun match in the WCW syndicated way. Futagami continues to bring the personality and the nifty shooty offense to make things special, and Ohmukai has a bunch of fun ways to kick her in the head. Ungodly finishing sequence here. Not a flawless bout but a fun way to spend 6 minutes. Impressive how they could stuff so much into such a short match while making it never feel rushed.

 

Candy Okutsu vs. Aja Kong (5/4)

 

Candy beats Aja with a roll up in less than 6 minutes. Match was far inferior to the previous 6 minute match. On paper this looks like a fine monster vs. Flyer match, but it had zero drama due to Candy being at her most obnoxious. Really nothing to see here.

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That Yoshida vs Fukawa match is still the best 10 minutes match I've ever seen. It was such a cult match in our little circle back then.

 

Yeah, Candy was all obnoxious and shit at this point. I do wonder if her back injury that forced her to retire from JWP didn't come back to haunt her after her first year in ARSION where she worked extra hard though. Because she changed her style with more coasting and more bullshit and retired again in early 2001.

 

I need to find a working VCR sometime… Really cool thread and see some ARSION love in 2016. (yeah, I'm repeating myself, but I'm old)

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Semi Finals of the Tournament

 

Mariko Yoshida vs. Hiromi Yagi (5/4)

 

Re-take of their classic from February. Yagi even wears the same outfit as if to intimidate her opponent. Yoshida is wounded from the previous match against Fukawa, and Yagi pounces on her arm from the beginning. For a match that is „another piece“ in the rivalry this was great in it's own right. Yoshida does some really great selling, including contorting her body in crazy fashion to avoid the armbar, and strategic adjustments when she realizes she is too damaged to do her signatures properly, so modifies a few leg submissions so she can do them without using her arms. Pretty great stuff and shows she could do more than just lock in spectacular submissions. Yoshida had been nigh invulnerable before, and even with her not being at 100% they do a fantastic job making you wonder if Yagi can really do the impossible and beat her. Hard to do that kind of that match that keeps you guessing, but they did it here. Another match that was helped by the booking, as the previous tournament matches had established a match can end at anytime.

 

Michiko Ohmukai vs. Candy Okutsu (5/4)

 

Candy has really done a number in 1999, making me hate her and her bullshit moonsaults. I just wanted Ohmukai to flip out and bash her brains in. And bah gawd she actually did it! Uranage, Solebutt, 1, 2, 3 and it's over.

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Finals of the Tournament

 

Michiko Ohmukai vs. Hiromi Yagi (5/4)

 

Yagi just went through a war against Yoshida, not mention her partner in the 1st round. Ohmukai hasn't even done 7 minutes of wrestling that night. This was Ohmukai's kicks and bombs vs. Yagi's flash submissions. Yagi was really the story of the match, as she tried her darndest to beat Yoshika in the Semis and now had to do it again against the fresher, bigger Ohmukai. Fine bout, altough Ohmukai is nowhere near as good as Yoshida at selling submission nearfalls.

 

Rie Tamada/Hiromi Yagi © vs. Ayako Hamada/Mika Akino (Twinstar of Arsion Tag Titles, 6/30)

 

The Hamada/Akino story continues. Hard for me to say how good this was exactly – the match had a nice pace, was unpredictable, and everything was hit nicely (aside from Akino falling on her head one time), so I'd say it was good. Hamada and Akino were the story of the match because D'aaaawww look at these little puppies going for the big gold! Akino has some pretty intricate rope climbing moves and Ayako looks like total star material at this point. I'm a little grumpy at the lack of cool matwork and Yagi, however.

 

Mima Shimoda/Etsuko Mita vs. Yumi Fukawa/Rie Tamada (7/25)

 

Las Cachorras Orientales enter. God lord how tall are LCO? Or, how short are Fukawa and Tamada? I suspect Mita is like 5'6, but she looked like Kevin Nash next to the other two. And this was kind of worked like Kevin Nash & Scott Hall vs. Dean Malenko & Billy Kidman. Or one of these NOAH opening tags were a pair of old geezers annoy two rookies. Except uhm, it was kind of... good? LCO's uncooperativeness added a lot to the match as it actually meant something when Fukawa and Tamada got a move in on them. Match was worked slow and stayed in the ring and was shockingly efficient for what it was, drawing big reactions from the crowd. It's crazy that Fukawa's flash armbars can still be this exciting after she has done nothing else for so many matches. Credit to LCO, I knew they were capable wrestler before, but they were perfect here in a completely different way than I'm used to.

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Las Cachorras Orientales enter. God lord how tall are LCO? Or, how short are Fukawa and Tamada?

 

Fukawa is a tiny woman.

 

LCO working ARSION was my favourite tag team getting into my favourite promotion. And did it pay off big time at the end of the year !

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Sky Tournament 99

 

First Round Matches

 

Ayako Hamada vs. Tiger Dream (7/25)

 

A flyer's tournament! Kinda mean to separate the flyers from the grapplers, especially considering how awesome Hamada vs. Yoshida was before. This was clipped to shit. The editors still made sure we got to see Tiger Dream falling on her face trying a move. Classy there. Other than that it looked like a solid match. Ayako's always doing something nifty, and there was an impressive spinning headscissor type move. All the high spots looked great. And Ayako easily wins this with her impossibly convoluted, but always neatly applied Ayakita Special Move. Ayako Hamada 1999 Megapush continues.

 

Mari Apache vs. Ring Star (7/25)

 

Match only goes 5 minutes, and they show about 40 seconds of it. Ring Star is some mexican with good execution. The some of this match: swank armdrag and dives, Mari throws bombs and it was done. Full worldwide etc.

 

Mika Akino vs. Gami Metal (7/25)

 

Gami Metal is Futagami in a cheap mask, working kind of quasi-comedic heel, adding a little more character to this match to the previous two. They showed a little more of this match so you could get a sense of it. Some unusual moves, altough execution wasn't top.

 

Ai Fujita vs. Chaparrita ASARI (7/25)

 

ARSION really has fully turned into WCW Worldwide. Asari is the girl who did all the weird flips in some AJW tags and once had her nose broken by Aja Kong on Raw. Probably the most prolific name in the tournament. On the other hand, Ai Fujita had the 450 Splash, one of the hottest moves in wrestling at the time. This was all FLIPS and DIVES and also the first match they showed in somewhat full. They kept it together, and the match ended up being cool. Full worldwide point.

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Semi Finals of the Sky Tournament

 

Ayako Hamada vs. Mari Apache (7/25)

 

I am stupidly excited for this match. It's the kids of Gran Hamada and Gran Apache battling it out, how can it not be cool? And this match really was that. I imagine some of the exchanges here weren't much different from what their papas would do. The flying and armdrags and dives and all that were above what your average tape watching indy yokel could do. Really graceful, swank and intricate stuff. They hit the mat aswell. Because Mari is chunky, her busting out a fast takedown or twisting around looks double cool. This pretty much ruled.

 

Mika Akino vs. Chaparrita ASARI (7/25)

 

Another nifty match. Less armdrags, more flash submissions vs. headscissors and pins type of match. Gotta give them huge credits for putting this stylistic cocktail together so well. Some creative spots and exchanges here, and they actually had me guessing who could take the victory home. Akino is the „project“ and seemed highly confident, but Asari didn't let the shooter walk all over her.

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The Sky tournament was the realization that Mari Apache was cool as hell. ASARI also never looked better than during this freelance stint (I believe she had left Zenjo at this point and was working regularly with Yagi in MPro cards around that time too).

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Finals of the SKY Tournament

 

Mari Apache vs. Chaparrita ASARI (7/25)

 

Another match that was enhanced by context. Mari has the skill and power advantage and the bombs to put anyone away, but Asari can win via flash pin. Could have been a little more grand, but what we got was fun and made me want to go back and check out more Mari as she has good execution, nice matwork, snug clotheslines, the whole deal. Another swank match. Seems that the title will be mostly used for these types of bouts, which is a nice change from the usual shoot submissions and suplex moves deal in ARSION, but I hope they do a little more with it than just Worldwide matches.

 

Mariko Yoshida vs. Aja Kong (8/6)

 

They only show 10 minutes of a 20 minute match. Weird considering it's a title match. What was shown was really good, though. Yoshida's submissions vs. Kong's hard hitting and power moves. Adds some new touches to their 1998 encounter. Great timing and they both do some quality selling to add to it. Feels like a MOTYC if we had the first half – still a great clip.

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ZION Tournament 1999

 

First Round Matches

 

Michiko Ohmukai vs. Rie Tamada (8/22)

 

Short match that they clip. Still get the gist of it – mostly Ohmukai kicking the dogshit out of Tamada. The action was fun, but pretty inconsequential. I don't mind these spotty matches because they are kept short.

 

Hiromi Yagi vs. Aja Kong (8/22)

 

About 40 seconds of a 5 minute match shown. This actually annoyed me as what was shown looked quite good. They worked a sprint with a few unique spots. Aja wins with a fucking Magistral Cradle and the mistreatment of Hiromi Yagi continues.

 

Mima Shimoda vs. Yumi Fukawa (8/22)

 

This matchup was interesting due to the previous LCO vs. Fukawa/Tamada tag being so different. However, it didn't have the same allure going for it as Fukawa pretty easily controlled Shimoda most of the match with her flash armbars. They still manage to build some drama for the finish. Solid bout.

 

Mikiko Futagami vs. Rie Tamada (8/22)

 

They show Tamada, Yagi and Fukawa pulling straws and Rie gets another shot in the tournament. This was another clipped sprint. Futagami chokes Tamada out. Kind of pointless.

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Semi Finals

 

Michiko Ohmukai vs. Mikiko Futagami (8/22)

 

This was a cool match. Ohmukai's always no-selling her way back on offense, so hard to call it more than that. There were still a lot of neat touches and these are two wrestlers with very good offense. They also did a bit of matwork which was nice to see again and played off previous tournament finishes.

 

Mima Shimoda vs. Aja Kong (8/22)

 

This was a bog standard Aja match with Shimoda adding nothing. Shimoda has to be one of the vocally most annoying wrestlers, as she does this constant wailing in her raspy voice.

 

Finals of the Tournament (8/22)

 

Michiko Ohmukai vs. Mima Shimoda (8/22)

 

Battle of the beauty queens. This was horrible. Just mindless bombthrowing. Not even the punches to the face could salvage this mess. Mima at this point was wheezing like a throat cancer patient. This was by far the worst tournament ARSION has done so far.

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Chaparita ASARI vs. Hiromi Yagi (Sky High of ARSION Title, 12/11)

 

Common ARSION, give Yagi something to do! But they clip this to shit. We get to see all the spectacular moves, and damn these two have spectacular moves. Flash submissions and highspots. There seemed to be some selling going on between all the killer moves, but we just didn't get to see it. Travesty.

 

Michiko Ohmukai/Magnum TOKYO vs. Mikiko Futagami/Sumo Fuji (12/11)

 

Toryumon invades. Match was mostly hick comedy with Futagami and Fuji perving on their opponents. Yes, they clipped the previous Yagi/ASARI match so we get to see Fuji teaching Futagami the Sumo Stance and Futagami and TOKYO kissing! How's that for you fangirls! The rest of the match was pretty much Toryumon style. A bunch of pretty moves pasted together. The highlight of the bout was the Ohmukai/Tokyo double entrance, with them wearing matching fescennine outfits.

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Agreed ZION 99 was a disapointment compared to what came before.

 

Ah, that mixed-match. I remember that stuff. Futagami was really close to morph into GAMI. Which isn't a very good news although she was legit funny at times. And Chama was getting more and more into the model girl gimmick, which suited her well but was kinda… too magical girl for my tastes (especially with the no-selling).

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Mariko Yoshida vs. Aja Kong (12/11)

 

This was the least of their matches so far. It was still a good match with plenty of neat spots, just underwhelmingly short and not a ton of tension. They didn't emphasize the skill vs. Power aspect much and some things felt like they had no consequence. Annoying because these two really should have a classic together, but I guess they just didn't feel like it that night.

 

Etsuko Mita/Mima Shimoda vs. Ayako Hamada/Mika Akino (12/11)

 

Way to salvage the show. For those of you who don't know: this is just out of nowhere turns into one of the goriest matches ever. I dunno how good LCO actually are, but they are pretty effectiv here abusing the young girls and their cheating and not giving Hamakino much offense added a ton to the match. Shimoda leaving a bloody handprint on Aja's shirt was probably the baddest thing she ever did. Ayako and Akino put on an unreal performance – really one of the best „outmatched babyface“ performances I've ever seen. They worked together, and when it was time to bleed, they coated everything in red. Ayako was stunning in particular with her selling of the blood: at one point, she ducked a clothesline and just collapsed, as if she slipped on the blood. When she busted out the scissors and her's Papas signature headbutts as if she was channeling his spirit you know you are watching a classic. Hamakino sticking to flash pins and submissions during the finishing stretch was perfectly believable and produced great nearfalls, especially due to the booking of past matches. Intricate structure and really a total classic of a match, and probably an easy candidate for the best match ever that has two workers in their second year of wrestling.

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Probably last LCO classic match and a legendary one in our little circle of joshi puroresu fans at the time, as we had heard of it from a friend of us who was there live, before the tape showed up (ARSION had no TV yet and you had to wait for the actual com tape). Amazing bloodletting, it also made Ayako the "star" she was supposed to be since her debut. Classic match.

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Michiko Ohmukai/Yumi Fukawa vs. Ayako Hamada/Mika Akino (Twinstar Tag League '99 Semi-Finals, 12/18/99)

 

The Ohmukai/Fukawa team hasn't really set my world on fire so far. You'd think they'd complement eachother or something, but not really. This was clipped and looked like just a bunch of spots. I guess you can't have blood drenched awesome tags all the time.

 

Mima Shimoda/Etsuko Mita vs. Aja Kong/Rie Tamada (Twinstar Tag League '99 Semi-Finals, 12/18/99)

 

Another clipped match. These standard LCO matches are pretty crap, altough they have some amusing spots. The LCO double chop has to be one of the laziest spots ever though.

 

Mima Shimoda/Etsuko Mita vs. Michiko Ohmukai/Yumi Fukawa (Twinstar Tag League '99 Finals, 12/18/99)

 

More the same. Fuck this go go shit. This only went 6 minutes anyways. There was no real trace of the stuff that made the previous LCO/Fukawa stuff compelling. Ohmukai threw a few punches and Shimoda blows a spot where she is supposed to dodge an Ohmukai kick and gets kicked in the eye pretty badly. LCO win this in shockingly easy fashion and I'm kind of dreading the further LCO push.

 

BONUS MATCH – Yumi Fukawa vs. Mariko Yoshida (9/26)

 

You can call this a mat spotfest if you will, but fuck it. This ruled. This is exactly what makes Arsion so cool. Ultra smooth, tricked out matwork with plenty of freaky Solar-ish submission grabs, dreadful battling on the ground and Fukawa fighting the big bad spider lady like a fiend. Super enjoyable compact bout.

 

So that, uh, ends it on a kind of whatever note for 1999. This year had some pretty great matches but overall was a bit of a step down from the super interesting stuff that was going on in 1998. Dropping the badass quasi shootstyle hurt for sure aswell as the lousy LCO run. Atleast we got a great bloodbath out of it.

 

Best ARSION Matches of 1999

 

1. Mariko Yoshida vs. Hiromi Yagi (2/18)

2. Etsuko Mita/Mima Shimoda vs. Ayako Hamada/Mika Akino (12/11)

3. Mariko Yoshida vs. Mikiko Futagami (4/14)

4. Yumi Fukawa vs. Mariko Yoshida (9/26)

5. Mariko Yoshida vs. Hiromi Yagi (5/4)

6. Mariko Yoshida vs. Mika Akino (1/17)

7. Mariko Yoshida vs. Yumi Fukawa (5/4)

8. Mariko Yoshida vs. Aja Kong (8/6)

9. Mikiko Futagami vs. Michiko Ohmukai (5/4)

10. Ayako Hamada vs. Mari Apache (7/25)

11. Mari Apache vs. Chaparrita ASARI (7/25)

12. Mima Shimoda/Etsuko Mita vs. Yumi Fukawa/Rie Tamada (7/25)

13. Mika Akino vs. Chaparrita ASARI (7/25)

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Into 2000 we go.

 

Michiko Ohmukai/Etsuko Mita vs. Mima Shimoda/Yumi Fukawa (1/30)

 

A Parejas Increibles Match! More disjointed pretty girl action! To make this even more disjointed, they clipped a 20 minute match down to about 6. I don't really bemourn this being clipped as it looked like their typical affairs that I wasn't in love with from 1999, plus they didn't really play up the Parejas Increibles aspect. To be fair, some of the exchanges here were kind of fun.

 

Ayako Hamada/Mika Akino vs. Rie Tamada/Mikiko Futagami (1/30)

 

Another clipped match. Hamada and Akino still seem to be working as plucky underdogs. What they show of this was mostly spots and double teams. The stuff looked good and Futagami is really fun in this type of match as she has nice unpredictable submissions and cradles. Still, I'm waiting for something complete.

Aja Kong vs. Candy Okutsu (1/30)

 

Hey look, it's Candy! Haven't seen her in a while. She looked skinnier than before. This was also clipped, but seemed somewhat complete. Another forgettable match where Candy dominated a lot then falls to the usual Aja trademarks. Okay but really nothing to write home about. Candy sold about that she was exerting herself to throw Aja around which was a nice touch, but her dominating so much of the match was kind of stupid.

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Michiko Ohmukai/Etsuko Mita vs. Mima Shimoda/Yumi Fukawa (1/30)

 

A Parejas Increibles Match! More disjointed pretty girl action! To make this even more disjointed, they clipped a 20 minute match down to about 6. I don't really bemourn this being clipped as it looked like their typical affairs that I wasn't in love with from 1999, plus they didn't really play up the Parejas Increibles aspect. To be fair, some of the exchanges here were kind of fun.

 

Oh, this was the beginning of the faction I forgotten all about, expect it was all girlie and shit. You probably won't like where this is going.

 

 

Still, I'm waiting for something complete.

 

In 2000, good luck. Almost everything was edited. They finally got TV in 2001, but by that point, the company was nothing like it's first 18 months.

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I was just today commenting on a March 2000 Arsion match, saying I wish it'd had more of the grappling that I was expecting. Now I begin to understand from everyone's comments here that by that year things had changed. Oh well, good to know.

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Mima Shimoda/Michiko Ohmukai vs. Etsuko Mita/Yumi Fukawa (2/18)

 

Oh look it's another LCO tag to add to the last dozen we had. The first half was the typical LCO action, but finally, Ohmukai and Fukawa remembered they were in ARSION and salvaged things with a great finishing run full of slick submission counters, deathly suplexes and stiff soccer kicks. It won't blow your mind if you've watched BattlARTS and seen those punches to the face before, but it was nice to see that after so many skippable matches the real ARSION was still left in there somewhere.

 

Ayako Hamada/Mika Akino vs. Aja Kong/Mariko Yoshida (2/18)

 

Speaking of the real ARSION: These 4. Total corker of a match, easily one of the best tags ARSION has ever done. It was kind of their „roll out of the bed match“ as no one did anything extraordinary here, but they put their stuff together beautifully. Hamada and AKINO faced their biggest test against the top 2 ladies in the promotion, so aside from the numerous cool exchanges and nifty reversals, you also had a story and a game plan going on here. Akino and Hamada had to work together aswell as target Aja's arm and use their quickness to avoid both the deadly bombs from Aja aswell as Yoshida's submissions. Akino may have had her finest performance so far as she matched up great against the veterans, holding her own with a few shooty submissions of her own, while Ayako once again relied on blinding athleticism. Aja worked stiff and Yoshida was demonstrating the top of her submission game, and the counter-and-avoid nature of the match kept it from drifting into overkill. I also really liked how they saved up the big dives for near the end of the match. Great stuff, the first really good ARSION match of the 2000s.

 

Chapparita Asari vs. Mari Apache (3/15)

 

Mari's outfit here was the stuff of nightmares. So many tassles. This was another match that was all chopped up. Wish they had shown us more of the matwork. Mari continues to look really damn good: forceful on the mat, cool power spots, generally great on offense with her chunky flying moves and lariats. She is quickly becoming my most wanted wrestler to see in a real match. There wasn't a ton of selling her but for a 6 minute clip this was fun.

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