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[1994-02-27-AJW] Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada vs Aja Kong & Sakie Hasegawa

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God, this is infuriating by the end. The first two falls are perfectly fine; they don't amp up the "Sakie as underdog" aspect as much as you'd think, but the way she wins the second fall by herself you feel the point is that she's proving herself as getting to a point where she can start to challenge the higher girls.

 

But then the third fall, similar to 1/24 vs. LCO, though this time I put it completely on the workers, things fall apart. Toyota/Yamada take things down, giving Sakie a rolling cradle and stretch muffler giant swing into a long sleeper sequence (which at least follows on fine enough from the "she's disorientated as fuck" thing).

 

Then Aja chooses to throw her weight around and things start to get strange. She gives Yamada a waterwheel drop through a table, picks her up, and discards her about 10 feet away, leaving her there. She then piledrives Toyota through another table, and instead of rolling her in the cradle, leaves her there to sell for a bit and eventually make her own way back in.

 

And then, with Yamada incapacitated for the next few minutes, Aja and Sakie go about beating Toyota, only there's no level of urgency to what they're doing. Aja puts Toyota on top for, you figure, her waterwheel drop, and instead hits a suplex. The fans don't bite on the near fall at all. She puts her up top again, OK, now comes the waterwheel drop, no, basically a super jackhammer. The crowd still don't bite. Sakie does reel off her uranages and at least looks like she's trying to win(!), but by this point it's clearly not happening, at least not yet, and Yamada is able to get back into the match pretty casually.

 

Toyota/Yamada do rev it up, and run through a good series of near falls on Sakie before eventually putting her away, but it would've been nice if they'd taken Aja out of the equation with something that might have constituted a payback spot for what she did to them.

 

This is still very good in parts; the first fall is cut from 21 to about 13 but they casually work a nice fun fall, the last two falls airing complete (or just about, maybe a minute was shaved off the third). But like the previous tag, though far more frustratingly so, you know they had a much better match in them.

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I've about had enough of the Manami Toyota two-out-of-three-falls tag. Some of the matches are great and among my favorites ever, while some are anything but. Still, eventually, they start running together, and you start to think they've done just about everything they can in this format. The good news is that 1994 should be the last yearbook with a lot of these.

 

This is a good match, but it's difficult for me to care, and it doesn't feel like it's breaking any new ground. The good stuff has been done better in better matches, while the annoying parts are as annoying as ever. I do like Kong in this "sprinty" style and Hasegawa continues to impress, though. I like Toshiyo Yamada just fine, but she seems exposed here as someone who doesn't have a ton of stuff in her arsenal. She repeats herself a few times.

 

We also get Japanese commercials for Mrs. Doubtfire, the Janet Jackson world tour and the upcoming Queendom card, among other things, mid-match!

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I like Toshiyo Yamada just fine, but she seems exposed here as someone who doesn't have a ton of stuff in her arsenal. She repeats herself a few times.

Well, she's always been like that more or less. Played a big part in the feud vs Toyota, her not having the killer instinct/the big move that could finish Toyota so they always went to a draw until Yamada invented the Reverse Gori Special Bomb and finally beat her.

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I thought Hasegawa was great in this. Yamada didn't really impress me in this as much. Aja does pretty well in the fast paced style. I probably like this more than others but it didn't blow me away.

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I think I align with Exposer as the most annoying thing to me in the match was in the second fall where Kong gave three backdrops with a kickout when a save by Toyota would have been better. I liked the story of Hasegawa hanging with the big guns and thought while Yamada was limited in her move set, what she did do in this match looked well.

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Man, I liked this a lot. Okay, the first fall is kind of throwaway until a decent finishing stretch, but Hasegawa going balls-out in the second, carrying the load for the team and going all-out in an effort to tie things up was pretty awesome, and the rapidfire countering with Toyota was cool without being overindulgent, with a fun payoff as Hasegawa scores the pin. The third fall may have been a little overlong but I had less of a problem with it than I have with other joshi matches. I liked the efforts by both teams to isolate their opponents and try to work them over, and Hasegawa was sufficiently beaten down for a sensible finish. Aja made a bunch of saves and then just sort of stopped, which was a legit flaw--a lurking force like that needed to be more decisively dealt with. Still a good coming-out party for Sakie, though.

 

I get the criticism over the table spots, but...they looked really cool, and I didn't mind the lack of effort to score a pin so much. It gave Toyota & Yamada a chance to let the moves breathe by selling and being put into more or less dire straits. The crowd may not have bitten on the subsequent near-falls, but let's be real: there was very little throughout the match that they *were* biting on. It was a shockingly subdued audience and it's part of why this is a hell of a match, but not really near the high-end Toyota/Yamada matches.

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This was another good match. If you're looking for a great match you'll be disappointed as once you shave a star rating off what PUNQ, Lorefice or Meltzer may have given the match what you're really looking at is supplementary material. How much you enjoy the extra footage depends on whether you like the players. In this case, I thought Hasegawa was better than in any of the other matches she's appeared in and the other three were slightly more workmanlike. The main takeaway I got from the bout was that it was teamwork oriented as opposed to narrative driven. I don't think Aja working with a junior partner was a big deal. There were elements of Hasegawa playing the underdog, but she was expected to hold her own bust lip and all. Aja didn't dominate to any great extent and really it was a strong two-on-two contest without a tremendous amount of psychology. The aspects that infuriated MJH didn't bother me, but again I was watching it without crowd noise. The stretch run was standard, but not in a dull way. Toyota gave another solid performance. We all know her flaws, but I think the amount of time they're on display is greatly exaggerated. She's a performer more than 'wrestler', but a very good one. I also liked Yamada here. It never dawned on me that she was being repetitive. If she was, it's because the falls are too long. They cram far too much into each fall (especially the opening falls), which turns the falls into mini-matches at times and makes them individually too dense. But they stick to their guns and I admire that. It was their working style and they didn't think twice about it. The trouble is (was) that it's very hard to top and that seems to be coming through in the comments here.

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You'd rarely go far wrong with Power on the Dream WWWA TT matches. The opening fall was medium length with Yamada kicking ass in more ways than one. I've seen some talk about her moveset being deficient. Watching her over the years I've never felt that way. There was the traditional shorter segunda. Consistently good quality through this stage. It went up a level to start the 3rd before coming back down as it lasted too long. Nothing I haven't seen done better, but it was a good workrater. Nice performances from all four. They're so well drilled and have so much ring time together there's an almost telepathic understanding. You'd hardly see any communication through 40m in which they fit in a ton of moves and sequences. Wrestling the best part of 300 full length matches a year made them veterans at a young age. A subplot here was setting up Yamada vs Hasegawa on the next show.

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A common complaint/observation I've noticed among the yearbook threads is the All Japan six-man tags all running together and diminishing returns setting in. I understand, but don't really agree - I'm still as big an AJ mark as ever. But I am definitely hitting that point with All Japan Women tag matches. They're all pretty great - stiff as hell, worked at an incredible pace - but at this point (alas) I'm just kinda at the point where I get it, and looking for something new in the formula.

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