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  1. The Big Stupid List of Great ARSION Matches 1998 Yumi Fukawa vs. Michiko Ohmukai (4/11) Mikiko Futagami vs. Rie Tamada (8/31) Mariko Yoshida vs. Rie Tamada (4/17) Rie Tamada/Hiromi Yagi vs. Tiger Dream/Ayako Hamada (Twinstar Tag Final, 12/7) Reggie Bennett vs. Mariko Yoshida (8/31) Mariko Yoshida vs. Ayako Hamada (8/31) Aja Kong vs. Mariko Yoshida (6/21) Aja Kong vs. Michiko Ohmukai (2/18) Mariko Yoshida vs. Candy Okutsu (Queen of ARSION Title, 12/18) Yumi Fukawa vs. Candy Okutsu (2/18) Reggie Bennett vs. Mariko Yoshida (5/5) Mariko Yoshida vs. Mikiko Futagami (5/5) Candy Okutsu vs. Mikiko Futagami (4/17) Michiko Ohmukai vs. Rie Tamada (8/9) Mariko Yoshida vs. Michiko Ohmukai (8/31) Mikiko Futagami vs. Michiko Ohmukai (7/21) Aja Kong vs. Ayako Hamada (12/18) Rie Tamada vs. Candy Okutsu (5/5) Yumi Fukawa vs. Rie Tamada (7/21) 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) Comprehensive list of the Best ARSION matches of 2000. The really good stuff is in bold. Aja Kong vs. Ayako Hamada (Queen of Arsion Title, 12/3/00 Tokyo) Chapparita Asari vs. Mika Akino (Sky High of Arsion Title, 12/3/00 Tokyo) Ayako Hamada vs. Mariko Yoshida (Arsion ZION Tournament Finals 10/17) Mariko Yoshida vs. Aja Kong (ZION Tournament '00 Semi-Finals, 10/17/00 Tokyo) Ayako Hamada vs. Mika Akino (SKY Tournament II Final, 7/16/00 Tokyo) Mika Akino vs. Mary Apache (SKY Tournament II Semi-Finals, 7/16/00 Tokyo) Aja Kong vs. Ayako Hamada (8/18/00 Tokyo) Ayako Hamada/Gran Hamada vs. Hiromi Yagi/Tiger Mask IV (P*MIX Grand Prix Semi-Finals, 6/29/00) Hiromi Yagi/Tiger Mask vs. Chapparita Asari/Great Sasuke (P*MIX Grand Prix Quarterfinals, 6/24/00) Yumi Fukawa/Minoru Tanaka vs. Mariko Yoshida/Alexander Otsuka (P*MIX Grand Prix Quarterfinals, 6/7/00) Aja Kong vs. Mariko Yoshida (ARS Tournament '00 Semi-Finals, 5/7 Tokyo) Michiko Omukai & Mima Shimoda vs Aja Kong & Mariko Yoshida (ARSION 04/07/00) Ayako Hamada/Gran Hamada vs. Faby Apache/Gran Apache (4/7) Ayako Hamada/Mika Akino vs. Aja Kong/Mariko Yoshida (2/18) ARSION is such an interesting fed. Pretty much the joshi equivalent of BattlARTS with it's crossover style and tiny roster that they had to use efficiently. With this fed you get the ace run of the mighy Mariko Yoshida, a period of the work or Aja Kong or Lioness Asuka that doesn't get talked about much, and a handful of unexplored workers like Futagami or Rie Tamada that deserve some recognition. For this project I will go through the Best Of Arsion comp that is floating around and post my Top Matches for each year after finishing. Yes I know that's cherrypicking but for now I want to get the essence of it (judge a style by the best matches it produced etc) and compare to high end BattlARTS/RINGS/UWFi etc. If you know any essential ARSION that's not on the comp feel free to drop a comment. Yumi Fukawa vs. Candy Okutsu (2/18) The first ARSION match. It is a very appropriate debut match. They mix the traditional joshi with lucharesu and tricked out submission work, and the whole thing has the flair of two overzealous young workers going all out to show the world especially with the bomb throwing at the end and Fukawa hitting those face-shattering moonsaults that nearly KO'd Candy. I give them a ton of credit because they really delivered a good match that sets the tone. They kept going back to the submissions and really had a hard fought battle to the very end that the crowd got into. Can't remember the last time I watched a „young workers showing the world“ match on this level. Side note, a Cagematch user mentioned that he went to a few ARSION shows and he felt that many guys there went for the pretty workers and the „product“ (apparently Arsion had lots of quality mags, posters etc. for sell) and not the wrestling, so Arsion matches had not as much heat as GAEA. It's not hard to see why especially with Okutsu wearing a ridiculous outfit that made her butt look gigantic but to their credit the wrestling was top notch and on the level of the presentation. Aja Kong vs. Michiko Ohmukai (2/18) Michiko Ohmukai was this skinny girl with supermodel looks who worked like Daisuke Ikeda. I have no idea why she's not famous. She threw all those reckless kicks and impressive suplexes and was like a magic ingredient for matches that made everything crazier. Here she slaps Aja right at the bell and Aja just smirks at her and then Ohmukai starts dropping her with those 50 yards football kicks. Hell of an opening for a match. They get into a slugfest like this fucking BattlARTS or WAR and I am in love with this. Then they settle down a little with Aja dominating on the mat through size and Ohmukai trying to topple her. I think Aja was kind of mailing it in in Arsion which is such a disappointment but this match hit all the right spots and was really good stuff like it always is when Aja has someone to work with who brings the fight to her. Aja Kong/Yumi Fukawa/Michiko Ohmukai vs. Candy Okutsu/Rie Tamada/Mikiko Futagami (2/18) They end the debut show with a chaotic fast tag team match where everyone runs in and hits their stuff. Kind of pointless main event as the previous matches had done a good enough job to establish everyone, but I guess they had to work around having such a tiny roster to work with. Everyone has had matches before that evening so the execution wasn't at 100% anymore. Fukawa almost fell on her head doing an asai moonsault and then hit another reckless one inside the ring like a lunatic. Aja had solid interactions with everyone and I always get a kick out of watching Futagami work, but this wasn't much. Mariko Yoshida vs. Rei Tamada (4/17) WOAH! Apparently this was the debut match of Mariko in ARSION. I was expecting something good, but this was far more than a formative bout. Rei Tamada, for a name that never gets dropped, looked damn impressive. The bout was built around establishing Yoshida's new, signature style, and her focus was to take it to the mat no matter what. Tamada was far more than a piece of luggage for Yoshida to chuck around, however. Tamada could roll on the mat and I really liked her determination to get the match into standing position. I want to emphasize the standing exchanges here were also really good. Tamada hit a mean elbow and tried her darndest to cut Yoshida of, who rolled one submission counter after another out of her sleeve. Even some of the fancier lightweight moves landed as if to shut a door. It created a kind of intensity that I really love in a wrestling match and this was just an absolutely fabulous contest. 3 real hits out of 4 so far. Pretty damn good start for the project. Stay tuned & maybe come out of the woodwork and comment if you are an old ARSION superfan.
  2. Ohmukai has done a good job at making me hate her and her bullshit. This match was a good way to redeem herself as it was a blood-drenched, stiff puro epic. Basically Hamada wasn't having Ohmukai's crap and forced her to up her game. At this point Hamada is good enough to carry a questionable worker by adding some much needed selling and struggle to everything, and she really knows how to use her intensity properly. Opening stuff had good animosity, and everything that came after the double juice was very good. Hamada at this point is close to masterful at selling covered in blood, beaten to a pulp, and Ohmukai's moveset consisting mostly of kicks, punches and knees to the face worked very well. Could see this being a low end MOTYC for some.
  3. Their previous matches were quick tournament finals, with Ayako as a huge underdog. Now, Ayako is the champion and they have their sights set on „epic“. Largely this match was pretty great, but there are some flaws. Yoshida dominating Ayako with submissions and punch combos still works perfectly, and these two still mesh really well. I thought Ayako's selling was great, and the spot that set up her dominance was both brutal and really smart. All of Ayako's stuff was extremely sharp and well timed. However, I expected a little smarter work from Yoshida in the last third of the match. Her selling was pretty spotty and she could've picked her offense a little better as the match progressed, as the previous urgency was a deflated a little. However, they redeem themselves with a great finish that was just fucking awesome pro wrestling. Anyways, this is one of the better and more interesting matchups japanese wrestling had in the store in the 2000s, and to be fair some of the flaws here are par for the course with lesser workers.
  4. Ayako has done it all in ARSION in 2000. All she has left to go for is the gold. Aja remains unimpressed and thrashes her like she was still a 1st year rookie anyways. Aja really may be the ultimate „do the same shit in every match“ wrestler. If you can get over that this was really good. Aja just gives Ayako a monumental thrashing. I thought it wasn't quite right to have Ayako work this match the same as she would have in her rookie year given how much she had achieved previously, and Aja no-sold her a little too much, but when you get past all that and look at this in isolation this was brutal and efficient pro wrestling. Ayako is just the gutsiest wrestler you've ever seen taking every painful shot Aja has to dish out and getting caught in the ribs with a chair while doing an Asai Moonsault. The finish was fucking brutal aswell and easily one of the best moments ARSION has produced so far.
  5. Ayako Hamada vs. Chihiro Hashimoto (Sendai 4/19) was a really fun match between two thickly built wrestlers. I really liked the opening exchanges, nice matwork and shoulderblocks, with Hamada's snappy lucha armdrags looking credible against Hashimoto's amateur stuff. I loved how well they worked stuff like abdominal stretch reversals and with Hashimoto moves like a hip toss or senton look brutal because she's so thick. The match didn't have great direction but there was some sense of build (e.g. building to Hashimoto hitting the 2nd rope senton, building to the first german suplex, building to first big Hashimoto nearfall with the short arm clotheslines etc). Ayako Hamada has been one of the sharpest wrestlers in the world for years and her picking apart Hashimoto with kicks looked great.
  6. Another tournament finale between Hamada and Yoshida. This is just a super match. Like god damn these two smoke any other junior in the world. The matwork is super, with Yoshida again fighting like an animal and catching everything Hamada tries. Aside from the crazy submissions you get Yoshida throwing punches and Hamada firing back with some really sharp and well timed offense of her own. Yoshida briefly works over Hamada's stomach a bit and while it wasn't the focus of the match, Hamada sold very well, same for Yoshida with her bandaged arm. Surprised this went only 11 minutes as it felt like a much bigger match.
  7. This is from the fourth night of the Catch the WAVE tournament. Momono puts on one hell of a performance here. I was very surprised at how Momono went right at Ayako but in a way that fit her character. She manages to keep Ayako off balance for most of the match. When Ayako wins, it's more due to Momono lacking the true finishing move to put her away more than anything else. Tremendous stuff. ****1/4
  8. This is quite the matchup of veteran stars and junior partners. This might be my favourite Meiko performance of the year. She was really on, especially when she would slickly move from matwork to more high impact moves. Despite her age and slight weight gain, Ayako still moves around really well. Both of the younger workers came off strong, going back and forth with the vets fairly. A very fun match. ****
  9. One thing you can always rely on Sendai Girls for are tag matches that have an interesting mix of big names. Chihiro was the stand out here, primarily with her outstanding selling. A lot of it is the result of both Meiko and Aja really taking it to Chihiro in this match. Ayako is solid here but her performance gets kinda lost with the other three. A pretty good match, which is what you would expect from the talent involved. ***3/4
  10. I always go back and forth on which joshi tag team is better, either Best Friends or Avid Rival. In this match, Avid Rival make a strong argument for themselves as they take what should have been a throw away mid-card tag match but turn it into something pretty damn good. Ayako has a quality performance here too and Haruhi put in a hard working effort similar to her title match with Mizunami back in March. Still, this is really all about Avid Rival and just another example how good of a team they are. ***3/4
  11. I had high expectations for this match after watching the generations trios on the last big Sendai Girls show and on paper this had a more talented lineup. This match doesn't make it to the level that the other match did, mostly due to Totoro (who must have been a sub for Tsukushi.) She only made her debut in March and she sticks out like a sore thumb here, working most of the opening of the match getting knocked around. Things really pickup once Iroha and Chihiro get involved with the nasty interactions of Iroha and Meiko being a highlight of the match. After watching this, I really want to she singles matches between Nanae/Chihiro and Meiko/Iroha. Pretty good stuff. ***1/2
  12. Mikiko Futagami was full blown GAMI at this point. That means, paper fan and all that. And she gets a shot at the big gold! This starts out like a Monterrey match. Hell, it might be their Monterrey match worked as a puro epic. Somewhat comedic feel, tricky arm drags, rope walking joke and a paper fan hit. Then Hamada eats a tombstone on her belt and sell a huge a deal. This had that „overmatched loser goes for the gold“ feel with GAMI being tricky like Yoshinari Ogawa or Kendo Kashin, so the match was endearing, and GAMI absolutely has the slick moves, so if you like that type of match I'd say this match is recommendable, altough there were a few blown spots. Not as good as GAMI vs. Hyuga, altough this is a match closer to Hamada's lucha background building into a hard hitting finish.
  13. D'aaawww look it's the little cubs fighting for their first big win! And this was actually really, really good! You could tell this was their „young workers trying their ideas for an epic“ match. Except... their ideas worked? This was closer to a lucharesu match than anything and it had to have been the best singles match in that style since... since... Sasuke/Tokyo from the previous year? Oh whatever. The matwork was real good, the lucharesu exchanges looked great and most importantly, fresh. Ayako had great instincts – just little things like doing a kneedrop while working for a submission add so much. They also played up the fact that Hamada was pretty dominant in the tournament while Akino had gone by using her flash rollups. Making Akino's intricate rollups and wonky twisted headscissors into great nearfalls. That's economic working baby! Awesome nearfalls for ROLLUPS!!! Rollups that actually add to a match! Man fuck why can't we get more wrestling like this and less headdrops and thigh slapping. Terrific little match.
  14. After coming off a so-so match at Rey De Reyes, this match between these two was much better. This was an old fashioned street fight that hid Taya’s faults in the ring and let her shine as a brawler and a character. Early on, she gets busted open and the visual of her blood mixed with her blonde hair was a throwback to something you would see in 80’s southern wrestling. Even the commentators remarked “Ric Flair” as her crimson mask replicated some of the Nature Boy’s iconic bloody photos from Apter mags past. The match almost met the entire checklist of a great street fight. Both wrestlers actually wore street clothes to a street fight. There was blood. One of the competitors attacked the cut after the other wrestler is busted open. Both wrestlers wore white to accentuate the blood even more. They used weapons in meaningful ways. The brawling itself was good. However, this match didn’t have the great heat that it needed for this to be a great street fight instead of a good match. Part of it was that this show was in Tijuana and it was a pro-Taya crowd (even though she came out to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” while wearing a Vancouver Canucks jersey). Taya was clearly supposed to be the heel in this but cheered towards the end of the match. Ayako Hamada was a madwoman here as she took some ridiculous bumps through ladders and tables but the most dangerous one was a missed moonsault to the concrete floor where it looked like she messed up her ankle. The finish of the match was pretty good as it kept Hamada strong but put Taya back as the Queen of the division. Vampiro coming out afterwards putting the match over to the crowd as one of the best performances by the women in AAA was a little bit forced but if they want to present the luchadoras in better way in AAA instead of putting them in random trios matches, then it needed to be done. (***1/2)
  15. 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.
  16. On paper, this looks like your typical vets vs. youngster match, but the big difference is Yamashita and Yoshiko work like a Hokuto/Kandori type team. The story is that they are competitive when they work together but the dislike for one another keeps that from happening as much as it should. Both Ayako and Nanae are pretty nasty with their working over of their opponents. I've enjoyed the bitchy vet version of Ayako that showed up earlier in the year. There are some slow spots here since they work a half hour draw, but when the match is really going it's some fantastic stuff. ****
  17. Aja Kong: abuses children and gets paid for it. This goes pretty much like you expect it to go. Aja slaps Ayako around a bunch and steps on her bad arm while looking unimpressed by Ayako's feeble offensive attempts. Hamada uses her agility to survive and it builds to Ayako landing increasingly bigger spots on Aja. It develops into a quite good match, even if a little by the numbers and you've seen it a thousand times from Aja before. The thing that sets it apart is that Ayako hits some spots vastly beyond the ability of most wrestler. Ayako didn't have the sharp offense she would develop later to combat a monster like Aja, making the match feel even more one sided. She gave a spirited selling performance, that's for sure. By the end she looked as if pushed beyond her tolerance point but just wouldn't quit.
  18. We move straight to the finals. And also the first appearance of Hiromi Yagi! Apparently in ARSION she was mostly used in tags in 1998, which is a bit of shame because she was pure gold here. She was a feisty harpy cladded in leopard fur and did all these brilliant swank moves, including a chickenwing style suplex and chokehold that really need to be stolen. Watching this match, I was wondering if Arsion with it's reintroduction of lucha into the joshi style was merely a return to those early 80s Jaguar Yokota tags which are heavy on lucha. Because they do all this flying around and ranas and you have Hamada doing headbutts like her Papa, and between that they go into all these brilliant mat scrambles and takedowns and it's just a rush to watch. Of course being it's ARSION the swank lucha rollups lead into shootstyle submissions and legbars and what not. For all you psychology nerds Tamada and Yagi do some fierce isolation work on the plucky babyfaces here, leading to a series of dizzying double teams that actually lead to the finish. Didn't really matter to me because the wrestling on display here was fantastic, breath taking, inspiring, what have you. The first great ARSION tag I've watched so far.
  19. Pretty much a move exhibition where they cram as much as possible into a sub 5 minute match. There were a few swank moves and counters and the execution was good, so, this gets the Full Worldwide Point. Mikiko kind of works like a WCW PowerPlant guy in this meaning she busts out all kind of cool random stuff while Ayako sticks to her game lucha offense.
  20. Mari Apache: Genius Luchadola. This was pretty much a lucharesu exhibition with some big nearfalls. Not a lot of selling and a bunch of pop-up transitions. I liked this as Mari is chunky so her graceful flying around is really cool to watch and I prefer swank armdrags over dragon suplexes. Plus Ayako continues to look incredible in her second match ever. Full worldwide point.
  21. Ayako Hamada debuts. And Arsion would never be the same! AYAKO WAS 17 COUNT THEM 17 YEARS OLD HERE!!! As far as the match goes, structure-wise it was pretty much a chaotic mess, altough I can think of worse ways to debut. The point was to introduce Hamada as this new hot thing, and she really did make that point doing all those stupidly fast armdrags and intricate flips and her dad's signature spots including the fucking brilliant cannonball into rana which I love – it veered into dangerous territory at times and there were one or two somewhat blown spots, but it didn't matter. You are supposed to look at this match and wonder how in the world a 17 year old girl can do all that. I'm just glad she didn't get the generic dropkicks-and-rollups treatment. Those fast armdrags were awesome.
  22. This is your typical throw four big names in a tag match where everyone just does their own thing. Aja showing no interest in Kenta Kobashi's offer of a handshake before the intro's was awesome. I was most impressed with Matsumoto because this was a match based on star power and she managed to project herself as good as anyone else in the match despite being the least known name. Satomura does a nice job of selling getting worked over by her opponents along with solid performances from both Aja and Ayako. Just an all around quality tag match. ***1/2
  23. This is a tag match where there are a few issues going on. First, Yamashita has been challenging Nanae for most of the year, while Yoshiko has been having issues with various veterans, Ayako being one of them. Add in the fact that Nanae and Ayako have been frenemies since their AJW days. The match itself is really great. It's surprising that with so many joshi groups and so many interpromotional angles being done over the years that matches like this can still get great crowd heat. Nanae and Yoshiko have become a great team. They work together so well that they are able to carry the action with a makeshift team like Ayako and Yamashita. Ayako continues her run of quality performances here. Yamashita reminds me a bit of a young Meiko Satomura. She's not a flashy but has great fire and ring presence for someone who hasn't worked for less than three years. Another quality joshi tag from this year. ****1/4
  24. This is a fun draw. I really like Ayako playing the angry vet, even though she's actually only a few years older than Tsukka. Both of them were pretty vicious with their strikes even though they worked the match in a standard, fast-paced, action style. I've been down on Ayako for about the last year but she's looked really good the last few matches that I've seen her in. Fujimoto continues to be one of, if not the, most underappreciated women in joshi. ***3/4
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