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[1997-09-21-AJW-Wrestlemarinepiad IX] Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda vs Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe (Cage)

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Maybe the hatingest (just made up a word) match I've ever seen in Joshi. In the top handful of cage matches ever. This is a total street fight, but I like how they work the submission holds into the match anyway, as they are so vicious that they don't seem out of place at all. The spot where they brought what I think was the guardrail into the ring is too much spot setup without much payoff and the unprotected chairshots that don't even get a pop are stupid, but I loved just about everything else about this. Rage in the Cage is right! That Ito visual with the double stomp is one for the ages.

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Oh wow!!! That double foot stomp was insane. Loads of violence in this one. Wrapping their fists with chain (not the skinny Memphis kind) and punching each other in the head. The sound was just awful.

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I fucking loved this. I didn't see it as aimless but a straight fight in a confined environment that kept up the intensity level for me for all 25 minutes and actually peaked with the conclusion of the match. So many highlights and nasty spots to list but Shimoda with the bloody face being a crazed person going after Ito even with a bum arm was my favorite sequence of the entire match. This felt like a wargames match but just with a single cage and 4 competitors. The mixing of the submissions was genius and added a level of desperation to everything.

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Put me with Childs on this. Well, I guess I didn't "viscerally hate" it, but I sure didn't give much of a fuck about it, either. This is, like, the 50th most intense joshi brawl I've watched on these Yearbooks, and even though I've made this remark for every AJW match for the past 2 Yearbooks the lack of crowd heat is astounding. I'm also--yet again--letting real life take over my views on the match, as I'm reading along in the Observers how badly AJW is falling apart at this point, to an even greater degree than late-'90s WCW. LCO had given their notice and with a bunch of other workers leaving as a result of not getting paid (the Matsunagas' real estate investments had done even more damage than AJW's falling business), the company was left with a roster of 11 (!) people. The 1995 Smoky Mountain/2001 WCW vibe is palpable here. The actual work itself is pretty aimless for 3/4 before picking up towards the end--yeah, no question that finish was one for the ages, but the journey there simply didn't make this a worthwhile investment. It's interesting to note that about the only things that *do* get a reaction here are wrestling moves.

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My thoughts on it:

 

 

Ito got the win when she escaped the cage. This wasn't a match. This was a war. There was no "wrestling" here. This was a fight to the death from start to finish. Absolutely incredible match. They just let them fight, and they fought. No irish whips, none of the flippy stuff, just 4 people trying to destroy each other. They didn't do one move for the first 15 minutes or so and it was great. All brawling here with people getting rammed into the cage and pummeled with chairs and chains. The match ran two stories. The first was Watanabe's shoulder injury. She put on football pads to protect and had it worked over all match. They solely focused on it and it made a ton of sense. The second story was Ito working Shimoda's arm, which led to the finish.

Everyone was really strong here. Watanabe might be one of the best sellers ever. She just looks sympathetic and really can sell. She screamed and bled and cried the whole match and was easily the star. Mita and Shimoda were completely nasty heels and were so blooded up by the end of this that I didn't even know who was who. Mita took some awful intentional and unintentional bumps landing on her head 3 times easy. I'm fairly sure either her or Shimoda were knocked out legit for a second. Ito was good here working Shimoda's bad arm all match and hitting the big one - the footstomp off the cage, right on Shimoda's bad shoulder, working the story of the match to the finish.

Excellent work all around. The match was even good before it started with Shimoda and Ito slapping each other. This took the cage match to a new level and showed what a real feud and what real hatred looked like. Yes, other cage matches had bigger bumps and more of a wrestling match feel, but this is what a cage match should be - bloody, physical and downright sadistic. Best cage match of all time? Quite possibly. Best match of 1997? Very likely.

Rating: *****. Check this out. Perfect match, great storytelling and wrestling 101.

 

From: http://prowresblog.blogspot.com/2016/05/all-japan-womens-kawasaki-kanaami.html

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I viscerally disliked this match. So much aimless garbage. And the crowd didn't even seem to care. I guess the ending was cool.

The crowd was dead the whole show. It wasn't the wrestlers faults. They popped for nothing all night. Might have been a sound issue.

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I just watched this match for the first time and really wasn't that into until kind of the last half. Somehow the same chaos and seemingly violence for violence sake that they started with is the thing I got kind of lost in eventually. I came in with high hopes based on reviews and found myself kind of turned off by it. Not that it was too violent or anything. I just felt like the violence wasn't really being grounded by any of the little things that could hold a match together. However, somewhere around when they were hoisting part of the rail in I started to get more interested and started to buy the story they were selling me. That was when the barely controlled violence and the next-level hate clicked. By the end, its absolute chaos. I loved Ito's duck under suplex to turn the tide near the end. The double stomp off the top of the cage made me actually scream "what the fuck" in an empty house by myself. It had some spots where people just jumped up out of nowhere that bothered me a little (going beyond the joshi "no-sell" and GOGOGO stuff I see people complain about). That kept it away from a perfect score for me.

 

It kind of felt like the match ECW always wanted to put on. Like if you transplanted this into ECW it would probably be the best match in the company's history (or at least top 5). Overall, I really liked it and would recommend it.

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You can read in depth articles about it elsewhere. In brief the AJW owners the Matsunaga brothers got into huge amounts of debt, from non-wrestling related investments mainly. They could no longer pay the wrestlers so 14 of them left over the course of the summer. This was out of a 24 strong roster, a devastating blow. Yamada joined GAEA in July. Kong and Kyoko departed in August. This month Tamura, Genki, Tanny Mouse, Tamada, Fukawa, and the injured Yoshida had gone. This was the final show for Mita, Shimoda, Asari, Shiina and Endo.

 

Onto the match and the hardcore surroundings were right up LCO's alley. They dominated with steel chairs and steel chains. Even their favoured steel railing made it inside the steel cage. Watanabe had her arm destroyed. She was screaming out in pain, incredible selling. It never got too one sided because there were comebacks at well timed intervals. The heel/face dynamic worked a treat. There was plenty of juice on both sides.

 

The way it all came together at the end was off the charts. Perfect. After quite a battle Watanabe was the first one to escape. But this meant she could no longer help her partner and it was 1 vs 2 in the ring. An extraordinary visual as Ito stood atop the cage. The smoke from the fire extinguisher making it eerily dramatic. Then the crushing Diving Foot Stomp. Despite the odds Ito managed to escape and survive. There were four battered bodies layed out afterwards. They'd paid the price in blood, sweat and tears. Best cage match of the 90's.

 

Like Hokuto vs Kandori this stands out as a classic for deeper reasons. If that was an interpretation of war then this was an interpretation of a tragedy. An Empire tearing itself apart from within. The end of an era.

 

Ito and Watanabe were representing AJW and ironically LCO were the internal forces destroying it. For the majority LCO dominated, the carnage and blood loss portraying the desperation of the situation. When Watanabe did escape Ito was left to fight on her own. This represented half the roster leaving through no fault of their own. And despite the odds at the time the company would survive like Ito did in this match. AJW would be a fraction of its former self. But a core remained, their spirit was strong and they would rebuild.

 

After the match the remaining 11 wrestlers (including rookie failure Nakahara) gathered in the ring. A tearful Hotta tells the audience that AJW will defiantly fight on. They all embrace and the crowd shows their support in emotional scenes.

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