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[2000-10-17-ARSION-Hyper Visual Tournament] Ayako Hamada vs Mariko Yoshida

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Another tournament finale between Hamada and Yoshida. This is just a super match. Like god damn these two smoke any other junior in the world. The matwork is super, with Yoshida again fighting like an animal and catching everything Hamada tries. Aside from the crazy submissions you get Yoshida throwing punches and Hamada firing back with some really sharp and well timed offense of her own. Yoshida briefly works over Hamada's stomach a bit and while it wasn't the focus of the match, Hamada sold very well, same for Yoshida with her bandaged arm. Surprised this went only 11 minutes as it felt like a much bigger match.

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I saw this match before and thought it was very good. But now, I have some additional info:

 

  • Ayako was on an absolute roll, having won the SKY tournament and taken out a bunch of veterans to get to the finals here

  • Ayako had matured insanely as a worker, using her crazy Ayakita Submission Holds to finish people off, and adding vicious strikes and bombs to her arsenal, while keeping the technical and flying moves

  • Yoshida, on the other hand, has added devastating punch combos which she used to beat Aja, who had in turn crushed Ayako earlier

 

And the resulting match was seriously fantastic. They continue from the tournament finale they had years before and show their growth as wrestlers, while still paying respect to eachother's strengths. To reiterate: God damn these two smoke any other junior in the world. The matwork is super, with Yoshida again fighting like an animal and catching everything Hamada tries. Aside from the crazy submissions you get Yoshida working Hamada over with punches and Hamada firing back with some really sharp and well timed offense of her own. Yoshida briefly works over Hamada's stomach a bit and while it wasn't the focus of the match, Hamada sold very well, same for Yoshida with her bandaged arm. The thing that really stands out is Ayako's awesome fire as she was in that sweet spot of a young athlete who has great triumph in reach but needs to push beyond her limits to get it. Also thought Yoshida did a monster job here with her selling, eating the fuck out of Ayako's big shots and creating just the right kind of space between moves to keep Ayako within said spot. Terrific terrific lucharesu/BattlARTS fusion bout that told a great story, this is what ARSION should be all about.

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A great and fitting final to the tournament. Every match had built to this moment and even the career arc of Hamada inside of ARSION was intertwined with her performance here. As a result, the full array of emotions and technical styles was on display for the 11 minute match. They took it to the mat with neat chain wrestling and submission attempts, Hamada sold her ass off, Yoshida honed in on the back and worked it over. This match also had a sprinkling of big strikes and bombs leading to the fitting finish of Hamada overcoming the odds and gaining the biggest scalp of her career in beating Yoshida. That is pro wrestling booking 101 but it is done so ineffectively, that it is refreshing to see it weave itself out so well here. Hamada now is looking for a showdown with Aja Kong who she didn't face in the tournament and has the title she covets. I can't wait. **** (8.1)

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This was a great final that could have gone either way. I was never much of a Hamada fan but she won me over here with a relentless and honest performance. She could have easily been eclipsed by the talent of Yoshida but she more than held her own. I've seen better matches in October but no two wrestlers have fought like the result mattered as much. Yoshida had better matches in '99 but her '00 matches still pack a wallop.

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