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[1996-11-16-GAEA-Big Target] Chigusa Nagayo vs Sonoko Kato

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"Joshi shootstyle" is a phrase that tends to send me running to hide, but despite Lorefice calling it a UWF-style match this is basically a wrasslin' match with more matwork than usual for joshi and a teased KO finish. And I really, really dug this--one of the 3 or 4 best GAEA matches I've watched in '96. I wouldn't say I was outright believing Kato would win this, but she gave Nagayo more of a match than Satomura gave Hokuto, and you really get the sense that Nagayo had to dig deep down to put her away. More than that, this was a gritty and intense FIGHT that felt more like a WAR main event than a joshi match. This is definitely a strong "Joshi for People Who Hate Joshi" bout to view.

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The early stages were almost shoot style with stiff kicks and matwork. It moved closer to traditional Joshi as it progressed. The transition between the phases was really well done. For a while Chigusa was almost toying with her pupil who looked overmatched. Yet the longer it went the more Kato was able to take it to the legend. Suddenly she was looking young and strong and Nagayo was looking old. Sonoko wrestled well beyond her years and the way the match flowed made a close contest totally believable. Superb performances from both in their respective roles.

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