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KB8

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  1. This was edited to about half of its 27-minute runtime, although the editing was pretty damn good because it felt fairly complete as it was (I'd never have guessed so much was clipped out before seeing the runtime in the post-match graphic). You can't really judge the whole match (or maybe there's a full version somewhere in which case you can if you bloody well want to), but the 14 minutes we got were really good and Yoshida still looked fucking awesome in 2006. It started with some real Battlartsy grappling and Yoshida dropping punches from the mount, waiting for Tamura to cover up before grabbing a nasty key lock. Again, there may have been lots of dodgy no-selling going on during this and the editing did away with it, but for a match where one woman had their leg worked over and the other had their arm worked over I thought the long-term selling was totally on point, especially from Yoshida. Tamura worked it over initially with some cool fisherman busters where she dropped Yoshida face- and knee-first, and Yoshida never let you forget the knee was a problem the whole way through. Lots of times she'd hit a move and try to knock some feeling into that knee afterwards, or she'd attempt a move, fail, and slap the knee in frustration. The coolest example of it was when she went for a second air raid crash and just about muscled Tamura up, but then the leg buckled and she collapsed under the weight. She was also a machine going after Tamura's arm and I'll be fucked if I know where she got it from but there was one armbar that Han would've been proud of. Late in the match she wound up in the mount again and when Tamura wouldn't give up the arm Yoshida just started dropping Joe Riggs hammer fists on her face. I think this is the first Yoshiko Tamura match I've seen. She was clearly a compatible dance partner for Yoshida. Her grappling was strong, she threw mean forearms, and while her selling of the arm maybe wasn't as good on the whole as Yoshida's selling of the leg I sure bought her tapping on more than one occasion. I liked what was shown of this a lot. And I guess I should check out some more Tamura?
  2. This might be the first and only Cheerleader Melissa match I've ever seen. That seems unlikely considering she's been around forever, but other than her maybe showing up in ROH 12-15 years ago for a Shimmer showcase I can't think of any other reason I'd have been watching her. She'd just turned 20 here so you forgive her for not being great. She kind of worked like a slightly more spry Brian Lee, threw some clunky forearms to the chest, sort of lumbered around like you'd expect from someone who's only previous wrestling experience had been in a fairground. I don't know if it was the plan all along or Yoshida decided to take matters into her own hands but the match largely turned into Yoshida flinging her about the place with tricked out submissions. To Melissa's credit she actually grew into the match a bit and the last few minutes were pretty decent. It went 14 minutes all told and it never felt like that. So there you go.
  3. KB8

    ARSION (The Best Of)

    Michiko Ohmukai v Rie Tamada (ARSION, 8/9/98) Well this had some good Ohmukai and some not so good Ohmuaki. To begin with it was not so good as they did an extended parity stand-off bit and Ohmukai will always struggle with those because she can't really do them in a way that doesn't look obviously choreographed. And parity stand-off sequences usually suck anyway so she's chasing fool's gold even trying it. Thankfully we got way more good Ohmukai than not so good and almost immediately after the stand-off she went about punting Rie in the liver. She threw very many nasty kicks from very many angles. Just volleyed Tamada in the face at one point. They do a sort of duelling arm work match that maybe worked more in theory than in practice, but the back half got pretty damn good. The duelling part falls by the wayside a bit and Tamada's arm mostly gets forgotten about, but everything around Ohmukai's was good. I liked as well how Tamada went after it briefly in the first half without making it a major focus, almost as a bit of FORESHADOWING that we all love in the pro wrestling storytelling. Transitions and selling were kinda wonky at the end but ARSION continues to make great use of that 15 minute time limit. This was a hunner times better than their match from earlier in the year. Ayako Hamada v Candy Okutsu (ARSION, 8/9/98) Pretty cool that this is Ayako's first match in her entire career. It wasn't great, but it feels almost ridiculous to even say that because other than I guess Ronda Rousey who was having a great match in their first ever attempt? Even if they probably overreached a bit with the intricacy of some sequences her armdrags looked really nice. Candy worked pretty surly here and I liked how she'd often shut the door on this wee jumping bean by just cracking her in the jaw with a forearm. For seven minutes this was a perfectly fun debut match, and fro what you're watching it feels like Ayako is actually unique and something special.
  4. KB8

    ARSION (The Best Of)

    Aja Kong v Reggie Bennett (ARSION, 5/5/98) I can deal with wrestlers shrugging off offence early in bouts more than I can during the finishing stretch of a 25 minute match, so the early no-selling of suplexes here didn't bother me much. If anything it was maybe a positive considering these two are BIG, so a couple ass-kickers struggling to deal damage on one other actually feels noteworthy. Also it was like the very first thing they did so you know, whatever. They trade some shots, Reggie manages to avoid the spinning back fist, and with a nifty bit of trickery puts Aja to sleep, all inside three minutes. She might look like the sort who could simply overwhelm everyone else in the company, but she's clearly capable on the mat as well so who knows, maybe that'll be important later in the tournament... Candy Okutsu v Rie Tamada (ARSION, 5/5/98) This was a wee bit sloppy in points, a wee bit no-selly here and there, but the good stuff more than made up for that and by the end I thought it was fairly rockin'. The way they introduced the Tamada shoulder injury was certainly inventive and it worked pretty well for a minute there, leading to some neat dueling limbwork. It starts getting really good when they basically drop that limbwork, which maybe sounds ass backwards, but they drop it in favour of thumping each other in the face really hard so how loudly can we complain? Tamada was throwing absolute forearm cannons and then missile dropkicked Candy dead in the face a couple times for good measure. Last couple minutes feel appropriately frantic as well, with one of the best flash finishes like that I've seen in ages. Really fun match. Mariko Yoshida v Reggie Bennett (ARSION, 5/5/98) So earlier in the tournament it was established that Reggie Bennett is able to not only trade blows - albeit briefly - with Aja Kong, but even take her to the mat and put her to sleep. Yoshida is a different animal entirely, and while she can't throw bombs like Aja she can work the mat to an elite level. As you'd expect she goes right to that, so Reggie has to use every bit of grappling skill along with her clear weight advantage to stay above water. Yoshida is always shifting for position, riding Bennett and looking to grab stray limbs as Reggie tries to basically smother her at points. The story is pretty simple in that respect. Yoshida needs to win with her grappling while Reggie, who's competent on the mat from at least a defensive perspective, is looking to slam Yoshida through the mat. In the back half Yoshida has to do everything a little quicker because Reggie is finding openings and starting to unload. There's a great nearfall where Reggie locks in a similar choke to the one she put Aja away with, and Yoshida is just incredible at milking everything right up to the point she manages to finally grab the ropes. It's not Shawn Michaels flailing around in the ankle lock for five minutes, it's not big an exaggerated where she's playing to the back row of the Omni. It's much more subtle and I love that little moment before the break where she reaches the hand out, misses the rope by a millimetre, looks all but done for, but then with her one remaining bit of energy she weakly wraps her fingers around it before getting put out like a light. I've said it a few times on this dumb blog and it still rings true - she might be the very best ever at milking a submission nearfall. Of course this whole thing was badass. Reggie Bennett v Candy Okutsu (ARSION, 5/5/98) The final! I think I this was maybe alright, but it was a couple weeks ago now and I remember little. I apologise deeply for such an in-depth review. Candy Okutsu & Michiko Ohmukai v Rie Tamada & Yumi Fukawa (ARSION, 6/21/98) The first ten things Ohmukai did in this: one - sidestep a dropkick; literally the other nine - kick someone dead in the face. I wasn't huge on this as it was less ARSION and more garden variety midcard sprint you could find on most joshi cards. They were fairly liberal with the transitions and momentum shifts and never bothered too much with the selling, though at this point I suppose I can handle a 12-minute joshi sprint for what it is. Ohmukai booting people in the mouth was by far the highlight, but she's one of those women where the pendulum will swing from being pretty awesome to pretty bad on a match to match basis, or sometimes even within one match. Throwing dangerous spin kicks under the chin? That'll work. Trying all sorts of contrived sequences where she struggles with the setups? I'd rather not. We got both Ohmukais in this and unfortunately it was more of the latter. Mariko Yoshida v Aja Kong (ARSION, 6/21/98) I watched this last year so skipped over it this time, but my memory of it is that it was really good while leaving you feeling like they have something better in them. I still haven't seen their match from '99 so I'm pretty hyped for that. Michiko Ohmukai v Mikiko Futagami (ARSION, 7/21/98) The pendulum swings back! Ohmukai working as Battlarts crowbar is very much the best Ohmukai and this was badass as fuck. Just a gritty, nasty little scrap. Straight at the bell Ohmukai slaps away a handshake and everything they did from then on out had some malice behind it. Initially it was more tetchy, where you knew they WANTED to throttle each other but tried to keep a lid on it, but by the midpoint the lid had blown and potatoes were flying everywhere. Derisory little slaps to the head morphed into full on palm strikes under the nose. Ohmukai refused to break clean out the corner and threw about a dozen knees, so the first chance Futagami had to retaliate she Wanderlei punted her in the cheekbone. The matwork kept pace with the strikes and got progressively meaner the longer it went. During some of the chokes it looked like the recipient's tongue was turning purple and Futagami's chicken-wing was absolutely brutal. They end up on the top turnbuckle at one point, Ohmukai looking like she's on her last legs, and Futagami's "this one's for you, motherfucker" to a rabid middle-aged male Ohmukai fan was sensational (I imagine Ohmukai had a goodly number of those fans. You won't need more than one guess as to why). Loved the finish as well, with things getting really desperate as the 15 minute time limit approaches. Ohmukai throws a straight right to the jaw (amazing spot) and goes for the kill, but Futagami slaps her silly and grabs a choke in the middle of the ring. Either our crazy Ohmukai fan and his one-man percussion section can lend her enough strength to see out the time limit or Futagami can lock it in deep enough before the bell goes. They really worked the hell out of that time limit drama and other than a couple ropey fighting spiritish moments this was fantastic. Rie Tamada v Yumi Fukawa (ARSION, 7/21/98) This was a little hectic at times and they probably overreached a bit, but on the whole I thought they managed to tell a fairly coherent story with well-established roles. After teaming together on the last show I guess this was sort of Fukawa's coming of age tale against a slightly more established opponent. Tamada is more strikes and bombs while Fukawa is more sudden submissions and counters from everywhere. The dynamic worked pretty nicely. The best examples were Tamada hitting hitting a couple brutal missile dropkicks - one to the face followed by one to the back of the head - and Fukawa using the swanky rolling cross-armbreaker at the end, just when it looked like Tamada was going to finish her off. I'm looking forward to watching the Fukawa/Yoshida matches again from the following year and it's cool tracking Fukawa's progress over the course of 1998 as well. She's maybe the most fun blend of lucha and your Toryumon style junior heavyweight in the company at this point in time.
  5. These two motherfuckers. Two people doing this to each other is insane regardless, but I suppose it's been par for the course for these two going on a quarter century now so we can't really be surprised they're still at it in their fifties. Somehow they seem to add even more brutal wrinkles to every encounter, this one their first in nearly a decade. It was very much Ikeda v Ishikawa in all the ways Ikeda v Ishikawa is amazing, but at the same time this was maybe their most unique match together. Part of that is obviously the setting. Even though most if not all of the people in attendance would've been familiar with both guys and everything they're about, there was still a sense of "what in the fuck are these two old men doing to each other?" You could tell from the reactions that some in the crowd were mortified at what they were seeing. And then there was the referee, who had a few amusing interactions with both of them without it ever feeling like a planned comedy spot. He couldn't quite believe what he was happening either and it showed in how he winced at every headbutt or punch or kick. And good grief the headbutts and punches and kicks. They trade blows early, but not in your Okada/Tanahashi forearm exchange sort of way where it's all about the machismo and which good looking young gentleman is the most rugged. The entire history of Ishikawa and Ikeda is built on them being the toughest bastards in wrestling, both of them alone on top of that particular mountain, so their strike exchanges have a whole different level of not being a monkey show. And in very un-Okada/Tanahashi fashion they ditched the forearms and chops for straight punches and headbutts, every single one of them landing with a disgusting thud, leaving bloody smears on foreheads, Ikeda just about breaking his hand on Ishikawa's cranium. Their last singles match before this had a running thread of Ikeda throwing headbutts over and over despite Ishikawa being a Fujiwara trainee, thus having an indestructible head. Yet Ikeda would keep throwing those headbutts, even at great cost to his own brain cells, until he finally toppled Ishikawa. They carried that over to this and when Ikeda threw his first headbutt Ishikawa just came up smiling. Ikeda would keep trying it, keep clonking him with absurd headbutts, and Ishikawa would pretty much always come out on top. Through insane, disturbing persistence Ikeda eventually won out, just like he did in their last match, but the running headbutt he had to use to do so was truly vile. The roundhouse kick at the end was out of this world ridiculous and fully warranted the gasps of horror from our Oberhausen crowd.
  6. KB8

    Help me get into joshi

    ARSION era Mariko Yoshida might be a good bet, with it being more of a stripped back approach where matwork was much more of a focus.
  7. Heel Roman ditching the vest and going full thirst trap feels like it should've been a thing for at least a few years now. This is actually my first time seeing any WWE since Wrestlemania, let alone Roman working heel. He's a natural at it and I think we all knew that because, you know, it's not difficult to notice and never really has been. The whole thing they've got going on with the fans on big computer screens around ringside certainly makes for a better atmosphere, and this kind of deserved to be worked in front of some form of a crowd rather than an empty arena to dead silence (best part about the empty arenas was the shit-talking and crowd noise sure didn't seem to hinder them in that respect). Your big dumb melodramatic WWE main events will never really be my thing but I thought this was a strong enough take on that particular thing. Roman pretty much ruled, as even when he's doing stuff I'd typically roll my eyes at he's a decent enough actor - graded on the pro-wrestler curve - for it to be okay. I really loved him big dogging (pun PROBABLY intended) Charles Robinson and threatening to have him put in the bin if he interrupts this very personal family beatdown on his cousin one more time. "Tell me I'm the tribal chief. Tell me I'm the head of the table." All of his little touches were on point as usual, like how he'd sell surprise at being caught with a stinger of a hook, how he'd rejig his jaw throughout the match, how he'd sell his lower back after hitting that standing legdrop thing just to delay a second before making the pin, and all of his facial expressions convey the emotions he's trying to (I assume) without being hammy about it. The sinister laugh after the low blow kickout was a wee bit hokey I suppose, but the spot itself was really cool. Also loved how insecure he became as the match went on. It was structured with him obviously working the majority of it from above, and if there were any moments where it looked like Jey might cause an upset it was through short bursts of big offence. So he dominated and looked every bit the chief he wanted us to know he was. But after all this time, after being given the keys to the kingdom, even after beating cancer and coming back like he'd never been away, there had to have been a very real sense of fuck you to everybody who booed him every night for the last six years. The curtain's been drawn back now and everybody knows the script, so WWE's woeful booking is the sort of thing Daniel Bryan or Sami Zayn fans would fling their shit at. With Roman, when he was booked worse than just about any babyface ever, *he* took all that shit and nowhere near as many people made the same excuses for him. Now he gets to fling it all back and to hell with everybody else, but deep down that rejection maybe still eats at him. Is he really The Man? He sure needed to hear it from somebody and it was Jey Uso's shitty luck that it needed to be him on the night. The Big Dog, the Tribal Chief, the Head of the Table. That dude is the business.
  8. This was a wee bit sloppy in points, a wee bit no-selly here and there, but the good stuff more than made up for that and by the end I thought it was fairly rockin'. The way they introduced the Tamada shoulder injury was certainly inventive and it worked pretty well for a minute there, leading to some neat dueling limbwork. It starts getting really good when they basically drop that limbwork, which maybe sounds ass backwards, but they drop it in favour of thumping each other in the face really hard so how loudly can we complain? Tamada was throwing absolute forearm cannons and then missile dropkicked Candy dead in the face a couple times for good measure. Last couple minutes feel appropriately frantic as well, with one of the best flash finishes like that I've seen in ages. Really fun match.
  9. I can deal with wrestlers shrugging off offence early in bouts more than I can during the finishing stretch of a 25 minute match, so the early no-selling of suplexes here didn't bother me much. If anything it was maybe a positive considering these two are BIG, so a couple ass-kickers struggling to deal damage on one other actually feels noteworthy. Also it was like the very first thing they did so you know, whatever. They trade some shots, Reggie manages to avoid the spinning back fist, and with a nifty bit of trickery puts Aja to sleep, all inside three minutes. She might look like the sort who could simply overwhelm everyone else in the company, but she's clearly capable on the mat as well so who knows, maybe that'll be important later in the tournament...
  10. Man what the fuck? How is Jackie Sato not beloved among us internet geeks like the other joshi stars? I'm assuming the obvious answer is something like "barely anybody has watched this era of joshi compared to the 90s boom period," but in a JUST and RIGHT world we shouldn't accept that. Every time I've seen her - all of the maybe five or six matches I've actually watched - she's been tremendous and this was badass as hell. I wonder if I'd have become a bigger joshi fan over the years if I'd started out with stuff like this. I love ARSION and chunks of other 90s joshi hits the sweet spot, but for about fifteen years now it's been a style I've quite often struggled with, especially if I'm jumping into it cold. I really need to settle into the rhythm of it and watch matches in bunches so the momentum shifts and all those other joshi-isms that have been talked about forever don't bother me quite as much. I had no problem jumping straight into this though, and it's the sort of thing I feel like doing a proper deep dive into because stylistically there's a lot about it that's way up my street (and I've watched enough from this period to know that it's not exclusive to this match alone). Everything was done here with such snap, like they were trying to slam their opponent clean through the mat. Jaguar was a terror but the way both of them worked holds and went for submissions was amazing. At times it was dang near beautiful, but never did it look cooperative. Sato trying to contain this young whirlwind was a great story as well and holy shit were some of those backbreakers/neckbreakers brutal. I guess I'd have liked them to make more of the hand stuff, because Jaguar trying to rip Sato's fingers apart with the ring ropes was awesome, but for how long it was actually a focus and the fact Sato took control for a stretch after it I don't mind too much. This was the absolute business.
  11. I thought this was a pretty awesome ten minutes, like a minimalist version of their best work together. Ishikawa worked mean as a bastard and took every opportunity to punch Otsuka about the head and body, while Otsuka went back to the throws again and again with repeated success. There was one out of a cobra clutch that landed Ishikawa on the side of his neck and in true Battlarts fashion you're thinking "holy shit that might be nastiest version of that thing I've ever seen." All of the stuff on the ground was predictably tight and rugged, and while the finish might've been sudden I was okay with it.
  12. Undertaker promo going on at the finish was kind of weird and made ECW feel a bit like an afterthought, but I suppose if anything it gave you the sense these matches could end at any time and not everything had been planned out to the letter beforehand, which, you know, isn't really the case with WWE today. Lawler and Heyman pull-apart at the end was predictably awesome.
  13. Vince calling Richards "Stevie Ray" only to be immediately corrected by Heyman was pretty amusing. Richards/Guido was a nice little match and I'll always pop for Total Elimination. Crowd going nuts for Heyman ruled too, and I dug the Heyman/Lawler interactions throughout the show. They're two guys who know how to be caustic and there was a fair amount of that to go around.
  14. Oh man, I wonder if Michaels really IS retiring this time.
  15. Echoing the surprise at how competitive this ended up being. Double countout seems like a bit of a strange decision for an LOD return match, but the return itself was a pretty awesome moment that the crowd bought into.
  16. Lawler is usually really fun in these sorts of roles because he'll lean allllll the way into being a doofus. And this was basically what that was.
  17. Dug Luger's promo and how he tries to smartly appeal to Bischoff's gambling side, rather than making demands he knows will likely fall on deaf ears. I have no memory of the proposed match actually happening, though. Sting is still giving nothing away. I wonder if he's really thrown his lot in with Hogan...
  18. Wish Savage got the chance to say more than one word, maybe to offer a solid explanation as to why he sided with the devil, but what can you do. Hall emceeing the whole thing was fun as he hasn't really been spotlighted too much on the mic recently. Hogan is still larger than life itself, brothers.
  19. Still one of my favourite matches ever. Just a tremendous batch of fun; bigs v littles done right. You could tell Barbarian especially was having a blast flinging these dudes around to huge reactions and a few of those spots come off amazingly. Eddie's a wonderful apron-worker but he really needs that heel turn about now, because the crowd just aren't interested in him much at all (they probably boo him more than the actual heels during this).
  20. I loved the Savage/Page feud from an in-ring perspective when I ran through it years ago so I'm pretty hyped to watch all of the extracurricular stuff this time around. Nice way to kick it off, with Savage being the first guy to really get the jump on Page after his resounding rejection of the nWo's offer to join.
  21. This was good overall, I thought. I watched the full match and the handicap part had a nice slow build to it, capped off by Nash hitting the monster powerbomb on Giant. Luger's appearance and the heat it garnered bodes well for his run over the summer.
  22. I'm with those who read this as a "can't beat them, join them" sort of turn from Savage, but WCW were maybe a wee bit guilty of being *too* ambiguous here and there and the finish being a a little confusing didn't help matters. Hogan fairly decked Piper with that punch, though.
  23. I kind of checked out on this when watching it in full. Decent enough and I thought both guys were solid, though the finish of course isn't great. I wonder if Malenko will seek retribution...
  24. I watched this a few months ago and thought I'd noted down some thoughts. Clearly I didn't and I've mostly forgotten specifics at this point, but I remember enjoying it more than I'd have expected given the length. I'm also about as high on Ozaki now as I've ever been. A pretty big swing from practically dreading any time she'd show up on the '96 yearbook.
  25. I'm on a bit of a Black Warrior high right now. He's been a standout in a bunch of the trios I've been watching from around this period (~'98-'01) so I was pretty hyped when I stumbled across a title match. I know the '96 match with Dandy is talked about often, but my memory of it is that it was way more of a Dandy match, where Warrior was sort of along for the ride against a guy who was having an awesome year. This felt like more of an even contribution and even if it probably wasn't a classic overall, I thought that first caida was borderline great. It had a little bit of flash, but it was more rugged, they captured the sense of struggle and the little fights over leverage ruled. There were a few moments as well where tempers nearly flared, Shocker giving Warrior a kick to the lower back after one stalemate. It was an excellent fall and maybe the best I've seen Shocker look on the mat. The segunda was over in about six seconds. I don't know if we missed any of it due to commercials but it was fleeting even by usual standards. The tercera didn't quite have the drama of your truly legendary title matches, but they built and paced it well and the dives were appropriately huge. Lucha title matches are just about my favourite thing in wrestling so it's always fun to run across a really good one you had no idea ever happened when dicking about on youtube one morning.
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