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Charles (Loss)

[2000-05-14-GAEA-5th Anniversary Show] Aja Kong vs Meiko Satomura

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I always dig these matches but right now I couldn't tell you what my favorite match between them is. This one is pretty compact and like all of their matches features tons of awesome brutal offense. The structure leaves something to be desired as most of this feels like they are taking turns on offense outside of the finishing stretch where Satomura is just surviving the onslaught. A longer heat section before that, perhaps with an interesting transition could have really pushed this over the top. The finish is pretty fucking great though with Satomura getting one last hope spot when she ties up Kong's arms in the crucifix before Kong drops her and finishes her with the bare knuckle backfist. I'm sure I'll have at least one of these on my ballot but I'm not sure if this one is it.

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A pretty awesome video package showing the history of these two so far. It starts with Aja getting pinned in the 4/4 match and then her revenge in the fantastic 9/15/99 match I watched earlier. We then get the clip from the emotional end of the 4/23 tag with Aja making Meiko get up only to be spinning back fisted back down. If you go on the narrative that 7/95 Misawa vs Kawada is a compact version of 6/3/94, that is essentially the successor of this match too. Great stiff action starting out and I loved Meiko refusing to break the headlock despite the anger and violence of Aja. Aja blocks a back kick and the Aja just wastes him on a back suplex. Aja misses a kick and then Meiko German suplexes her to oblivion. These are just violent matches. Meiko refuses to back down but man Aja is such a monster and just keeps coming forward. Meiko catches an elbow drop and hooks on an arm submissions. She is relentless with that and Aja senses she is in trouble because she starts locking on a choke hold. Aja also grabs her trash can which Meiko is able to kick away in a great timed spot and then avoid the spinning back fist with a really close submission attempt. Meiko is feeling it and hits a DVD for a nearfall. She shrugs off a desperation German from Aja but then Aja is able to land the spinning back fist although not to maximum effect. The spinning back fist from Aja has probably been the best built to move of 2000 so far. The match devolves into a battle between the Pele kick of Meiko and the back fist of Aja. At one point, Meiko even Pele’s the arm but Aja is too strong and comes back with her fourth of fifth back fist a few moments later. Aja takes off her pad and slaps Meiko awake before delivering the knock out blow to pin her. GAEA is so great when they focus on these violent and story driven matches that it really makes me question why they didn’t go exclusively this route instead of the other brawling and interference stuff. Meiko and Aja have had two classic matches in two years and they aren’t close to being done with each other. ****1/4

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This is such a great feud. The video montage gives you goosebumps, doesn't it? It's Pro-Wrestling 101. There are a million reasons why this feud works. One reason is that the context is similar to Misawa vs. Jumbo and other classic puroresu narratives. Another reason is that Satomura is a shooter type akin to Chigusa or Yamada and not an idol type like Toyota. From Aja's perspective, it reminds her of her struggle to dethrone Bull. From Satomura's perspective, it's reminiscent of her mentor's battles against Dump. Folks can write their own narratives about how the match unfolds but I thought it was pretty clearly the most anticipated Joshi match of the year and the one bout that felt like it belonged in the big time.

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This was a great match, but a lot of that came from the finish.. There's a lot of brutality in this one and both women are able to effectively emote their drive to try to pick up the win. The finish of this match is just beautiful as the match breaks down into a battle of the backfist vs the Pele kick as both women just kept trying to hit those moves as they had proved to be the most effective during the match.

 

Beautiful finish, but I thought the prior portions of the match fell victim to a little bit of too much back-and-forth of trading moves.

 

****1/4

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This is for Kong’s AAAW Championship.

What stood out to me the most in this match -- outside of just being a great match in general -- was Satomura’s brilliant underdog performance, and how she unearths a different side out of Aja. Aja gets pushed so far to the brink that her instinctual sadism is suppressed by an urgent will to just... survive. She’s usually violent for violence’s sake, but this time it feels purposeful -- like a wounded beast that responds to a foe by lashing out even harder. Satomura doesn’t stymie Aja with a technical, counter-heavy game like Mariko Yoshida previously did -- even though this match is rife with clever Satomura counters -- but she pushes herself to take down the legendary Joshi with moxie and willpower alone. A tried-and-true strategy in David vs. Goliath formula matches, but Satomura and Aja’s takes on their respective roles feels truly unique. Satomura is already so familiar with the pain that Aja can offer that the hits are muscle memory at this point, and she’s able to use that unconscious resilience to just hang on. Literally. Suplexes are thrown, but Satomura clutches to Aja’s head in a death-grip. Aja hoists Satomura on her shoulders, and Satomura just... hangs on. She goes after Aja’s arm to weaken the Uraken while punctuating the match with Pele kick after Pele kick, a move that Kong seemingly has no answer for. (An awesome spot in this match is Satomura Pele kicking Aja’s arm as she goes for the Uraken.) She’s hurting Aja with hard-hitting Death Valley Drivers. Aja is visibly flustered -- a move she’s relied on for most of her career to finish her opponents is effectively weakened and Satomura is eating bombs left and right like it’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and she keeps coming at Aja like a zombie. Aja is starting to unravel. She’s becoming sloppier and desperately wilder as the match progresses, but she gets a lucky break as Satomura’s body simply gives up in the end. It wasn’t a gradual physical decline, but almost an immediate drop-off. Satomura gets smacked by a couple Uraken’s, kicks-out, limply fights back, but she’s done. The cumulative effects of Aja’s punishment hits Satomura all at once and she crumbles. Aja takes off her gloves, slaps her awake, and then hits a bare-knuckle Uraken for the finish.

Stray observations:

  • Another awesome spot: Aja spawns a garbage can out of nowhere and she chucks it at Satomura, who knocks it out of the air with a perfectly timed kick.
  • Cool montage in the beginning. I haven’t seen their previous matches, pre-2000, but the video does a quick job presenting the history between these two for the uninitiated such as myself.

Rating: ****½

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