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[1996-04-14-Jd'] Lioness Asuka vs Jaguar Yokota

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I don't think I've ever seen a Jaguar match before, nor have I seen Lioness in her "home element." Jaguar is *so* smooth and lithe and agile that even though this isn't a great match, you can see where her reputation as a worker comes from. She does about the most natural and realistic-looking bridge-out-of-a-pinfall spot I've ever seen. When Lioness is on top this is a lot less interesting, and the finish is pretty weak as Asuka kicks out of a double underhook piledriver but goes down to a flash victory roll. Not a lot of heat and not really an outstanding match but it did make me want to see more of Jaguar.

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Ah, '80s joshi...and yet I've barely scratched the surface of the lucha set and I want to finish the '90s. As ever, it's on the List.

 

I should also have noted that while they cut the usual frenetic joshi pace, this is the most primitive, meat-and-potatoes joshi match I've viewed in the '90s. Aside from the double arm piledriver, which is a big-time killer move, this is almost nothing but holds and rather basic offense. I don't say it as a complaint (this was also a tournament semifinal so they were probably holding back for other reasons), but I do wonder if it was part of what led to the subdued crowd reaction.

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No hardcore shortcuts here as they wrestled all the way. It wasn't 1985 anymore, but both could still go and they had excellent chemistry. Lioness had more power and harder strikes. Jaguar relied on her speed and counters. Generally solid to good action. What made it stand out were the smart construction and a couple of brutal neck compression piledriver variants. Ouch!

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This was so much smarter and more organic than their 1985 encounter it's not even funny. We get a fun fast opening exchange with Jaguar countering the handshake drag, but the rest of this was worked like a high end 80s NJPW strong style classic. I'm not kidding. Highly competitive snug pro wrestling, with Asuka working as a big shooter/bruiser type and Yokota fighting from underneath with technical moves. It's the little things that really got me into this match: Yokota kicking Asuka in the head while they were matwrestling, going for a lucha submission when Asuka blocked her piledriver attempt, getting out of trouble by catching Asuka with a leg trip etc. When Asuka wasn't trying to kick Yokota to a pulp, she would try to snap her arm during the opening portions. Asuka working firemans carries and throws to set up arm submissions is infinitely more interesting to me than random back and forth. Yokota hitting a piledriver on Asuka and following up with a tight necklock is logical pro wrestling 101 and the spill to the outside was straight out of the 80s playbook aswell. After slapping Jaguar silly, Asuka would give her a taste of her own medicine. The Scorpion Deathlock that left Yokota crumbling was awesome aswell. Asuka really goes to town on Jaguar now hitting one of the fastest Giant Swings I've ever seen and mercilessly cutting her off at every turn. There is also a pretty great Sleeper spot down the stretch: the first time Lioness caught her with it, Jaguar immediatey scrambled to the ropes, the 2nd time she reversed it immediately, and the 3rd time Lioness locked her down and she was close to fading, with her eyes rolling back in her skull etc. This is how you put a hold over. Yokota is in so much peril, trying every possible comeback and getting cut off that hitting the murderous piledriver actually feels like a huge moment. The one slightly weak moment here is the fluke finish and that is forgivable considering this was a tournament semifinal. I should also point out while everything in this match was logical, the bout never got predictable or by the numbers. But damn this like the greatest match Asuka has ever been in and damn do I need more matches like this from these two.

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