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[1997-08-20-AJW] Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda vs Tomoko Watanabe & Kumiko Maekawa

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I like this better than the previous match. The LCO might be the best Joshi tag team ever, even though I'm still confused over which one is Etsuko Mita and which one is Mima Shimoda. But they do strike me as a Los Gringos Locos for Japan, where you have one really charismatic worker and one really talented in-ring worker playing off of each other. They are also excellent at making Watanabe and Maekawa look good and getting a crowd that had been somewhat stoic all night involved in the match. Aja had respect and got cheered a lot, whereas I really think people just wanted to see these two get their comeuppance. They take the guard rail off the hinges and bring it into the ring to use as a weapon in one crazy spot. Maekawa takes quite the asskicking here and the kickouts do a great job of getting her over. Fantastic match.

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Extremely quick start with LCO taking the first fall with two Death Valley Drivers from Mita securing the win. Second has tons of great stuff including the leg work on Mita, a nasty piledriver on a table, and stiff strikes all around. Second fall finish was a nice touch with the big move from Watanabe and another brutal kick from Maekawa sealing it for them. Third fall basically results in Maekawa getting killed and trying to hang on including her being cut open in a weird area. I really love how LCO amp up the violence with weapons in a cerebral way. They end up winning the match with another DVD and a tiger suples from Mima. One of the sleeper matches of the year for me and great stuff overall.

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Very good match, though this is one I started to tune out more down the stretch whereas Aja/Manami drew me in, so I think I still liked that match better--I think Watanabe almost disappearing entirely had something to do with that. Still, Maekawa really stands out as fresh in this setting and it's amazing in a way how she's able to get so much out of pretty much nothing offensively except kicks. Still, it's clear she's a limited worker, as is Watanabe outside of her usual spots, so it's up to LCO to hold this match together.

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Within the first minute Watanabe had been blitzed, bloodied and pinned. Tomoko was a really good babyface and this early assault added to that appeal. LCO of course heeled it up with a hardcore element. Maekawa was also juicy. She had her limitations, but was a big match performer. The dynamic between the teams was really good and I love some of the other matches in their rivalry.

 

This edition had it's moments but was a hot mess. Structurally it was all over the shop. Great start. Then the segunda went on far too long and went off the rails. In the 3rd as well there were far too many near falls and repeated big moves. It had entertainment value, they just needed to reign in what they were doing.

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