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HamaKINO vs the Queens of Arsion was indeed the first excellent match of the year. Totally delivered.

 

Yeah. This is the point where Mari Apache got fucking good. And then Faby came back later and she became even fucking better (from memory). The Apache sisters, damn.

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The Apache sisters, damn.

 

Yup, any time I see their names on a match, I know I am at least going to enjoy what they do.

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Aja Kong/Mariko Yoshida vs. Rie Tamada/Hiromi Yagi (3/15)

 

For a match with Yoshida and Yagi on opposing sides, this was pretty disappointing. Part of that was the clipping, as the opening of the match was completely chopped up. Second, this was built around Tamada and Yagi as heels, with their second GAMI interfering very liberally, including hitting fucking double stomps and top rope frankensteiners right in front of the referee. Yagi didn't match up very well with Aja either. I guess story wise this was interesting because Kong and Yoshida had previously gone against Hamada and AKINO in a high end wrestling contest and now faced a bunch of cheating witches, but in execution this did very little for me.

 

Ayako Hamada/Gran Hamada vs. Faby Apache/Gran Apache (4/7)

 

I am stupidly excited about this match! And this was really, really fun. Mostly because, it was, I dunno, 4 insanely sharp wrestlers matching up very well? Everything they did looked great, awesome dives, unpredictable exchanges and great stumpy legged athleticism. The match went 8 minutes, so there was a ceiling to how good it could be, but as far as crowd pleasers/popcorn matches go this was very good. The intergender stuff worked because both Papa Apache and Papa Hamada are barely taller than their daughters (in fact, Gran Hamada seems shorter than Faby and Ayako... you know you are short when your daughter has to get her height from your mexican wife) and added some character to the bout. Fun fun lucharesu action.

 

Michiko Omukai & Mima Shimoda vs Aja Kong & Mariko Yoshida (ARSION 04/07/00)

 

This exceeded my expectations. Mostly because the amount of Shimoda/Omukai was limited, while the champs were in attack mode throughout. Which meant, big ol' bombs from Aja and twisty submission work from Yoshida. I thought Nu-LCO (Omukai had graduated to „Cachorra“ status at this point, right?) getting control was well done and things were difficult enough for them from that point onwards to keep the match interesting. Omukai landing her big crucifix bomb on Aja was a pretty impressive spot for a skinny girl. They timed their stuff fine, and while the action here wasn't anything new I thought it came together very well. Shimoda kind of redeems herself with her performance her by going at it with the submission queen.

 

 

Aja Kong vs. Etsuko Mita (Queen of Arsion Title, 4/20/00, Tokyo)

 

Big title match that is clipped beyond recognition! Awww man. Aja makes jokes about Gran Apache before the match. Clip to Mita's heel minions pushing Aja into the ring. Clip to Mita working chokes on Aja. Clip to Aja being rolled into the ring again. Yada yada... Aja throws a damn stiff backfist. The finishing stretch is slow but seems dramatic. Can't tell anything about this match really.

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Ayako Hamada/Gran Hamada vs. Faby Apache/Gran Apache (4/7)

 

I am stupidly excited about this match! And this was really, really fun. Mostly because, it was, I dunno, 4 insanely sharp wrestlers matching up very well? Everything they did looked great, awesome dives, unpredictable exchanges and great stumpy legged athleticism. The match went 8 minutes, so there was a ceiling to how good it could be, but as far as crowd pleasers/popcorn matches go this was very good. The intergender stuff worked because both Papa Apache and Papa Hamada are barely taller than their daughters (in fact, Gran Hamada seems shorter than Faby and Ayako... you know you are short when your daughter has to get her height from your mexican wife) and added some character to the bout. Fun fun lucharesu action.

 

Super fun match. Not everyday you see father/daugher tag tea against each other. These four made everything look so smooth and easy.

 

 

Michiko Omukai & Mima Shimoda vs Aja Kong & Mariko Yoshida (ARSION 04/07/00)

 

This exceeded my expectations. Mostly because the amount of Shimoda/Omukai was limited, while the champs were in attack mode throughout. Which meant, big ol' bombs from Aja and twisty submission work from Yoshida. I thought Nu-LCO (Omukai had graduated to „Cachorra“ status at this point, right?) getting control was well done and things were difficult enough for them from that point onwards to keep the match interesting. Omukai landing her big crucifix bomb on Aja was a pretty impressive spot for a skinny girl. They timed their stuff fine, and while the action here wasn't anything new I thought it came together very well. Shimoda kind of redeems herself with her performance her by going at it with the submission queen.

 

Nope. LCO formed a new faction with Ohmukai & Fukawa, with some kind of fashion model gimmick of sorts. And since Fukawa was basically a JTTS at this point, sadly (despite being the second best worker in the company), Chama got all the big matches. I was not a fan of this angle, despite loving pretty much everyone involve (Ohmukai, not as much as the others).

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Yumi Fukawa vs. Rie Tamada (ARS Tournament '00 Prelim Round, 5/7 Tokyo)

 

Another tourament! Tamada has grown wild old locks and acts all devilish now! MORE CLIPPED WRESTLING! Fukawa armbars in a flash! Tamada armbars her back and for a bit you remember what made ARSION work so well in the first place. I noticed Tamada's sleeves have an Anaconda pattern, but instead of crushing submissions she's all rolling elbows and tornado DDTs. This was okay – all 4 minutes of it.

 

Mikiko Futagami vs. Bionic J (ARS Tournament '00 Prelim Round, 5/7 Tokyo)

 

Bionic J is the kayfabe sister of Reggie Bennett. Having the initials „BJ“ as a female wrestler seems like a bad idea. This match does not bring the cool matwork, sadly, like past Reggie Bennett matches have. J has some fun power moves. Futagami has dropped her badass shootstyle almost completely and just smacks J around a bunch. This match went 4 minutes so we get to see it aaalmost in full. Bionic J points to her head to show how self-satisfied she is with her cleverness while Futagami climbs to the top rope to add some character. Bionic J deserved better than this.

 

Etsuko Mita vs. Xochitl Hamada (ARS Tournament '00 Round 1, 5/7 Tokyo)

 

Xochitl „The Least“ Hamada is the next foreign style woman to get smacked around. This was pretty uneventful and lousy and really a nothing squash.

 

Mariko Yoshida vs. Mima Shimoda (ARS Tournament '00 Round 1, 5/7 Tokyo)

 

The first somewhat worthwhile match. Yoshida was Yoshida and showed Shimoda what she thought of her bullshit. I imagine this would have been good if we had gotten the early build, but the action was still solid.

 

Michiko Ohmukai vs. Yumi Fukawa (ARS Tournament '00 Round 1, 5/7 Tokyo)

 

These two had a damn good match in 1998. But by 2000 they both seem to have surpassed their creative peak. Execution wise this was good stuff, but as far as structure goes this was pretty much a highlight reel of their stuff which really isn't a type of match I like much. Yes, a nice submission here, a stiff kick there, but the whole picture didn't just quite come together.

 

Aja Kong vs. Mikiko Futagami (ARS Tournament '00 Round 1, 5/7 Tokyo)

 

A 3 minute sprint!! It was actually a fun sprint, because these two knew how to put a few exclamation points into it. Both women like to get surely and they smack each other good here. Fun for what it is and this is actually the first match I'm not sour about being short.

 

Michiko Ohmukai vs. Etsuko Mita (ARS Tournament '00 Semi-Finals, 5/7 Tokyo)

 

LCO Newly teamed up beauty queen duo explodes!! Ohmukai just nails Mita with kicks and punches. Mita fires back some but Ohmukai easily gets this one in her pocket.

 

Aja Kong vs. Mariko Yoshida (ARS Tournament '00 Semi-Finals, 5/7 Tokyo)

 

This was good. Good matwork, well executed power vs. Skill story, good match. Perhaps a little drawn out in the finish, but ended before it got excessive. Seems that Yoshida isn't the dominant force anymore that she was in 1998 and 1999, which is a little sad, but she was facing Aja here after all.

 

Aja Kong vs. Michiko Ohmukai (ARS Tournament '00 Finals, 5/7 Tokyo)

 

Thankfully, they clipped all the previous matches, so we get the final in full! All 6 minutes of it!! These two had a really good match at the debut show, but this wasn't that. They just threw bombs with no real build to make you appreciate what was going on. The energy was very lacking. Atleast the match was plenty stiff as you'd expect from them.

 

Okay, that tournament very short and very disappointing. But: Up next is an INTERGENDER TOURNAMENT! Featuring: Alexander Otsuka! Papa Hamada! And others! Stay tuned~

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Yumi Fukawa/Minoru Tanaka vs. Mariko Yoshida/Alexander Otsuka (P*MIX Grand Prix Quarterfinals, 6/7/00)

 

AW YES!!! ARSION TEAMING UP WITH BATTLARTS!!! Gee those cheeky BattlARTS guys really love to show up in intergender matches. This was a ton of fun and a throwback to the early Arsion style, so we get MATWORK. GOOD MATWORK. The male vs. Female sections didn't take up huge portions of the match. Tanaka was a total gent allowing Yoshida to have a friendly mat scramble, which was... not very realistic but I don't expect intelligent work from Minoru Tanaka at this point. The guys weren't exactly breaking a sweat here, but even a half-decent effort from these dudes is pretty good and the Fukawa/Yoshida exchanges were class.

 

Ayako Hamada/Gran Hamada vs. Mika Akino/Ikuto Hidaka (P*MIX Grand Prix Quarterfinals, 6/7/00)

 

This was fast paced lucharesu fun where they all mesh really well. Gran Hamada still looks so, so good. His mat section with Hidaka really could have gone 2 or 30 minutes longer. Not much to say about thisother than that it was fast paced, smooth and enjoyable.

 

Hiromi Yagi/Tiger Mask vs. Chapparita Asari/Great Sasuke (P*MIX Grand Prix Quarterfinals, 6/24/00)

 

This got 20 MINUTES and was worked like a big match. It seems to be from an M-Pro show, but I'll let it count as best of ARSION. The early guy vs. Guy sections were pretty filler and resthold-y. The girl vs. Girl sections were good as in „two wrestlers who have fought eachother a bunch doing their stuff“. For some reason, the guys gave the girls a ton of offense and stooging a bunch. Maybe they were trying to be gentlemen. Yagi did a mix of spaced out lucha armdrags, judo throws and armbars which was cool. Asari did her usual athletic stuff and looked quite good. The finishing stretch was built around guy vs. Girl and then girl vs. Girl sections and pretty fun. This took a bit to get going but for this type of lucharesu action I'd say it got going good.

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I admit I have no idea where the Tanaka hate comes from on (I saw it regularly on this board for a while). He was always super respected and well liked back then until the failed Heat gimmick in NJ.

 

I remember liking this quite a bit, mostly the lucharesu stuff. AKINO & Idaka got so well together. Well, so did Tanaka & Fukawa, but I don't think it was quite the same dynamic.

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Tanaka's a guy whose stuff looks good, but he's just deathly dull and spotty. Nowhere close to his wife as far as matwork ability goes. She did the flash armbar shit better too.

 

I always thought AKINO looked like a gender switched Ikuto Hidaka. She did the same "lucharesu moves into shoot submissions" moveset too. They had to have trained together in the BattlARTS dojo or something.

 

Anyways, more from the P*MIX tournament. Also, Ayako getting mauled by Aja.

 

 

Ayako Hamada/Gran Hamada vs. Hiromi Yagi/Tiger Mask IV (P*MIX Grand Prix Semi-Finals, 6/29/00)

 

WOW!!! Okay let me discuss this match. I was surprised by how much substance this had. I mean, they could've easily had another of these lucharesu-ish quick matches and it would have been fine, but this was different. We get a STORY~ with the Hamadas having to work together to combat the younger, more vicious TMIV and tricked out veteran Yagi. There are a few moments where Ayako has to save her Papa and others where Papa is like, „Okay, I'll let my DAUGHTER handle this!“ and awww that's just adorable. But the wrestling was up to par too! There's a really good Hamada/Yagi mat sequence, Yagi busts out one of the swankiest mat moves I've seen in a while and generally reminds me in this match how damn cool she is acting like a tricky veteran grappler. TMIV and Gran Hamada decide to work all stiff and intense and the old man gets kicked in the face a bunch. Could've gone 10 minutes longer but I was surprised by how much they achieved here. Also: Ayako busts out a badass new Ayakita Special!

 

Ayako Hamada/Gran Hamada vs. Yumi Fukawa/Minoru Tanaka (P*MIX Grand Prix Finals, 6/29/00)

 

This was pretty underwhelming. Which is weird because all the previous matches in this tournament where a ton of fun. Fukawa and Tanaka added almost nothing to this match. Tanaka just ran through his stuff. Did I ever mention I hate that guy? There was one cool moment when Hamada decides to get all lucha on the mat with Fukawa and Fukawa is like „fine“ and they go all IWRG. Sadly that only lasted about 30 seconds. There were also a few blown spots. Fukawa tries countering the Hama-chan cutter and both she and Ayako end up falling on their heads. Eventually Tanaka remembered he's a BattlARTS guy and lands some nasty spinkicks on the older Hamada, and the finish was a feel good moment but the rest of this was just not good.

 

Aja Kong vs. Ayako Hamada (8/18/00 Tokyo)

 

Aw lil puppy Ayako tries to get on Aja's grill. No Aja don't do that she's just a kid! Structurally this was barely different from their 1998 match as it's Ayako going at Aja and Aja just CRUSHING her. Seriously Aja puts a deeply brutal beating on Ayako here even for her standards, just bruising her with kicks and slaps and just impaling her when she tried a moonsault. However, NOW Hamada was little more well-rounded offensively, and more importantly she had all the fire in the world to keep her going. Hamada tried her darndest, even taking the fight to the mat in some neat moments, and most importantly really, really laying it into Aja, throwing hands and kicks that were almost reckless. Seriously, I don't recall many „flyer vs. Powerhouse“ matches where the „flyer“ throws flurries as savage as this. Still not quite there, but she was getting there! This was compact, highly violent, and pretty great.

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More tournaments

 

Ai Fujita vs. Linda Starr (SKY Tournament II Prelim Round, 7/16/00 Tokyo)
Mary Apache vs. Chapparita Asari (SKY Tournament II Round 1, 7/16/00 Tokyo)
Mika Akino vs. Fabi Apache (SKY Tournament II Round 1, 7/16/00 Tokyo)
Kamen Tenshin Rosetta vs. Ai Fujita (SKY Tournament II Round 1, 7/16/00 Tokyo)

Ayako Hamada vs. Sumie Sakai (SKY Tournament II Round 1, 7/16/00 Tokyo)

 

5 matches that weren't that long to begin with get clipped down to about 21 minutes length. Featuring: Swanky rollups! Huracanranas from unusual positions! Twisting flying moves! Mari looking pretty boss again! DIVES!!! Lots and lots of dives. The one complete match we got was Hamada/Sakai at 8 minutes length. There were actual exchanges there so it was an actual match and not just a move exhibition. I wish Sakai had shown up in Arsion 2 years earlier. There was even some cool matwork to boot. Still not a ton of selling there, but it was nice to see a fresh matchup.

 

Mika Akino vs. Mary Apache (SKY Tournament II Semi-Finals, 7/16/00 Tokyo)

 

This was the first clipped up match that looked real good. There was a bit of selling and neat transitions going on elevating this above your standard move exhibition. Instead you had Akino being all spunky underdog, pulling off all kinds of wonky complicated spaceman headscissor type moves and turnbuckle climbing dives. And well, Apache when on offense is just blasting her opponent and they kept things interesting with nifty spots. The best move was Mary countering a weird Akino rollup in mid-air by stopping her, pulling her back up and just splatting her with a fat powerbomb. Akino's a tiny girl but still looked like a freakish spot.

Ayako Hamada vs. Kamen Tenshin Rosetta (SKY Tournament II Semi-Finals, 7/16/00 Tokyo)

 

Ayako squashes the hell out of the masked superheroine. I liked this as it had an actual dynamic: Ayako has the superior striking and submission ability (ignoring the fact that Rosetta is Hiromi Yagi) and is equal in agility. So Rosetta gets a few short, tricky comebacks in but ultimately can't hang. Would've been nice to get a competitive match but this was still better than just a bunch of clips. Impressive how Ayako is acting all big boss now when her debut was 2 years before this.

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Ayako Hamada vs. Mika Akino (SKY Tournament II Final, 7/16/00 Tokyo)

 

D'aaawww look it's the little cubs fighting for their first big win! And this was actually really, really good! You could tell this was their „young workers trying their ideas for an epic“ match. Except... their ideas worked? This was closer to a lucharesu match than anything and it had to have been the best singles match in that style since... since... Sasuke/Tokyo from the previous year? Oh whatever. The matwork was real good, the lucharesu exchanges looked great and most importantly, fresh. Ayako had great instincts – just little things like doing a kneedrop while working for a submission add so much. They also played up the fact that Hamada was pretty dominant in the tournament while Akino had gone by using her flash rollups. Making Akino's intricate rollups and wonky twisted headscissors into great nearfalls. That's economic working baby! Awesome nearfalls for ROLLUPS!!! Rollups that actually add to a match! Man fuck why can't we get more wrestling like this and less headdrops and thigh slapping. Terrific little match.

 

 

Mary Apache vs. Lynx (Candy Okutsu) (ZION Tournament '00 Round 1, 10/17/00 Tokyo)
Mariko Yoshida vs. Piko (Commando Boirshoi) (ZION Tournament '00 Round 1, 10/17/00 Tokyo)

 

Hey look! Another tournament! More clipped, short, sprints! Also more girls in unnecessary mask gimmicks! Doing these 1 night tournaments without being able to give these matches proper time is probably the one really stupid thing ARSION has done so far. I mean, you have all these awesome wrestlers, but you don't really give them the space to do their thing. That's TNA levels of stupid. For example Piko is Command Bolshoi, and so... Yoshida vs. Bolshoi is a dream match, right? But it's just 2 minutes of clips of a match that was short to begin with and you don't really get a sense of how good the match actually is, even though what's shown looks fun. Lynx is Candy Okutsu and wrestled Candy Okutsu's standard match.

 

Rie Tamada vs. Michiko Ohmukai (ZION Tournament '00 Round 1, 10/17/00 Tokyo)
Ayako Hamada vs. Mima Shimoda (ZION Tournament '00 Round 1, 10/17/00 Tokyo)

 

These are two more interesting Round 1 matches. Ohmukai wore this really goofy pink lingerie getup and I was expecting another shitshow, but instead we got Ohmukai dishing out stiff punches and kicks, almost KOing Tamada a few times. Really liked how Tamada worked her way back into the match by taking out the leg and kept surviving against her more dangerous opponent. Hamada/Shimoda had some interesting veteran touches from Shimoda (especially liked her kicking Hamada in the face when she went for her trademark headbutt) and I really liked the finish where Hamada goes mad and KO's Shimoda with a flurrie of strikes which was a cool way to book the rookie going over the much more seasoned veteran. On the other hand the layout was kind of stupid as Hamada basically turned into supergirl and kicked out of every. Single. One. Of Shimoda's big moves. Shimoda has some damn big moves so yeah that was dumb, altough it also signalled that Ayako Hamada's push was not to be messed with in 2000.

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Aja Kong vs. Mary Apache (ZION Tournament '00 Round 2, 10/17/00 Tokyo)
Ayako Hamada vs. Mikiko Futagami (ZION Tournament '00 Round 2, 10/17/00 Tokyo)

 

Kong/Apache was 4 minutes of chunky girl bombthrowing. Perhaps I'm expecting too much, but I thought Mari was a little exposed as she just wrestled Aja like she wrestles everyone else... throwing bombs. Hamada vs. GAMI was somewhat neat due to GAMI being tricky and heelish, altough Hamada squashes her very quickly. That missed Asai Moonsault bump and brutal unprotected chairshot that Ayako took were probably a wee bit unnecessary in that match.

 

Mariko Yoshida vs. Aja Kong (ZION Tournament '00 Semi-Finals, 10/17/00 Tokyo)

 

This was quite the badass little war. At this point they had matched up a few times, so to keep things interesting Mariko Yoshida had now started using GLOVES. Which means she absolutely goes nuts with stiff punches on Aja here to even things out a little. Aja also has a barrage of crazy stiff offense, altough that's nothing new. Still, she just ragdolled Yoshida around in ways that just had to absolutely suck and I winced at her brutal kick to Yoshida's hamstring. This had the usual cool matwork were Yoshida has to work hard in order to lock her holds on the beast that is Aja. Also really loved Aja's modified ankle hold here she just hugs and squeezes Yoshida's heel into her thigh. That is such an angry bear grappling move. This matchup is great everytime but this was especially compact, the selling was flawless and you get the usual neat, well timed, violent spots. Plus, punches to the face.

 

Ayako Hamada vs. Rie Tamada (ZION Tournament '00 Semi-Finals, 10/17/00 Tokyo)

 

Rie Tamada is this wrestler who looks like not much at one time and then does some really neat stuff at others. This was less neat moments and more fairly standard, even a little sloppy bomb throwing. Atleast Tamada put up a valiant performance, but there really was no stopping Ayako.

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Ayako Hamada vs. Mariko Yoshida (Arsion ZION Tournament Finals 10/17)

 

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.

 

Ayako & Xochitl Hamada vs. Mima Shimoda/Michiko Ohmukai (10/29/00 Tokyo)

 

The team that I've dubbed Nu-LCO is next on Ayako Hamada's list. It was cool to see someone like Xochitl actually get to be in a longer match. She wasn't a great worker, kind of a sub-Mari Apache, but her chunky girl legdrops, clotheslines and powerbombs were fun. This was kind of a typical crowd pleasing match where they run through their offense and the action is of the roll-out-of the bed type, with the Shimoda/Ohmukai duo not really having much good offense. Ohmukai had one good moment where she really brought it to Ayako with stiff punches and knees, altough that was over all too quickly. Ohmukai really exemplifies the hit and miss worker – or should say, hit and miss and miss and miss and miss... there was one cute spot where Xochitl did the Kobashi cover spot to protect her baby sister. They kept it moving and had clear roles with the Hamada girls having to overcome the evil lingerie model duo, so I guess this was acceptable action for the joshi completists.

 

Chapparita Asari vs. Mika Akino (Sky High of Arsion Title, 12/3/00 Tokyo)

 

This was clipped but we get a good picture of it. I imagine this would have been really good if we had gotten the early build, because what was shown was really good. Asari is really sharp, and the contrast between her lucha headscissors and flash armbars and Akino's more basic style made for an entertaining match. They had great rhythm and Akino's arm selling was right on the money. The finish was really neat aswell. Even without the ARSION trademark gone these two are still a welcome antidote to the more overkill-y joshi workers.

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Ayako had come so far in just two years. This match truly was a coronation of sorts. Yoshida with the brand new punching ability was even cooler than before, if such a thing was possible.

 

Asari looked better in ARSION than she ever did. Working a lot with Yagi probably helped.

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Last 2 matches for 2000.

 

Rie Tamada/Mikiko Futagami vs. Mima Shimoda/Etsuko Mita (Twinstar of Arsion Tag Title, 12/3/00 Tokyo)

 

More sprinty clipped action, with Futagami being in the ring most of the time. Futagami was no longer the tricky shootstyle wrestler. I guess this was a solid sprint altough there was nothing here you haven't seen before. They get some points for ending the match early instead of doing a million 2.99999 spots. Also, LCO's Smells like Teen Spirit ripoff theme is amazing.

 

Aja Kong vs. Ayako Hamada (Queen of Arsion Title, 12/3/00 Tokyo)

 

Ayako has done it all in ARSION in 2000. All she has left to go for is the gold. Aja remains unimpressed and thrashes her like she was still a 1st year rookie anyways. Aja really may be the ultimate „do the same shit in every match“ wrestler. If you can get over that this was really good. Aja just gives Ayako a monumental thrashing. I thought it wasn't quite right to have Ayako work this match the same as she would have in her rookie year given how much she had achieved previously, and Aja no-sold her a little too much, but when you get past all that and look at this in isolation this was brutal and efficient pro wrestling. Ayako is just the gutsiest wrestler you've ever seen taking every painful shot Aja has to dish out and getting caught in the ribs with a chair while doing an Asai Moonsault. The finish was fucking brutal aswell and easily one of the best moments ARSION has produced so far.

 

Well, that was 2000. ARSION had kind of lost the cool quasi-shootstyle that made it's first two years so neat, and some of the wrestler degraded considerably. Still, we got a cool new development with Ayako becoming the ace, and there's still some things left on the table for Akino, Yoshida, etc.

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Well, that was 2000. ARSION had kind of lost the cool quasi-shootstyle that made it's first two years so neat, and some of the wrestler degraded considerably. Still, we got a cool new development with Ayako becoming the ace, and there's still some things left on the table for Akino, Yoshida, etc.

 

That's a pretty accurate sump-up of the first three years. Chama (Ohmukai) showed so much promised in 1998 but she never became what she could have. Futagami switching to GAMI worked wonders for her character wise (and she is GAMI in real life) but the match quality suffered a lot because of it. Candy had a great 1998 comeback but her back injury probably was too much to keep that high level of work. And her character got annoying. Tamada is someone who took a lot of crap back in the days but she was more hit and miss and still delivered nice work at points.

 

Ayako becoming ace was a nice cap-off of her… two years career (amazing when you think of it!) and for all the talk of her being overpushed because of her name early on, she really took the ball and ran with it with her mega push and at the end of 2000 there was no doubt she had earned every bit of it and it was the right choice. Yoshida was still the best and coolest wrestler on earth too.

 

Ah, 2001, the beginning of the TV shows There's a famous power play debacle at the beginning of the year.

 

I have to watch that stuff back at some point. Good memories. Really enjoying this thread.

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Comprehensive list of the Best ARSION matches of 2000. The really good stuff is in bold.

 

Aja Kong vs. Ayako Hamada (Queen of Arsion Title, 12/3/00 Tokyo)

Chapparita Asari vs. Mika Akino (Sky High of Arsion Title, 12/3/00 Tokyo)

Ayako Hamada vs. Mariko Yoshida (Arsion ZION Tournament Finals 10/17)

Mariko Yoshida vs. Aja Kong (ZION Tournament '00 Semi-Finals, 10/17/00 Tokyo)

Ayako Hamada vs. Mika Akino (SKY Tournament II Final, 7/16/00 Tokyo)

Mika Akino vs. Mary Apache (SKY Tournament II Semi-Finals, 7/16/00 Tokyo)

Aja Kong vs. Ayako Hamada (8/18/00 Tokyo)

Ayako Hamada/Gran Hamada vs. Hiromi Yagi/Tiger Mask IV (P*MIX Grand Prix Semi-Finals, 6/29/00)

Hiromi Yagi/Tiger Mask vs. Chapparita Asari/Great Sasuke (P*MIX Grand Prix Quarterfinals, 6/24/00)

Yumi Fukawa/Minoru Tanaka vs. Mariko Yoshida/Alexander Otsuka (P*MIX Grand Prix Quarterfinals, 6/7/00)

Aja Kong vs. Mariko Yoshida (ARS Tournament '00 Semi-Finals, 5/7 Tokyo)

Michiko Omukai & Mima Shimoda vs Aja Kong & Mariko Yoshida (ARSION 04/07/00)

Ayako Hamada/Gran Hamada vs. Faby Apache/Gran Apache (4/7)

Ayako Hamada/Mika Akino vs. Aja Kong/Mariko Yoshida (2/18)

 

So, 2001 is next... a big name makes her ARSION debut.

 

Azumi Hyuga vs. Mary Apache (1/27/01 Tokyo)

 

Our first look at Azumi Hyuga in ARSION!!! And she makes her debut in a... solid but very dry time limit draw. God damn it. There was technically nothing wrong here, but the match just felt extremely by the numbers and there was absolutely no fire from Hyuga which killed it. I mean, Hyuga was like, the super-ace of JWP at. this time, right? And she goes and works a „We are equal“ move trading match with Mari? That was nice of her I guess, and I like Mari, but... there wasn't a lot to sink your teeth into here. Mari dominated a big portion of the match with her submissions which was fine and technically Hyuga didn't no sell it, but they just settled down and ran through their offense for the rest of the match. The crowd was absolutely dead too. Proof good moves aren't worth a thing when the connection isn't there.

 

Ayako Hamada vs. Mika Akino (1/27/01 Tokyo)

 

I liked this a lot, fun match in the same style as their match from the year before, which shows Akino's growth. It didn't have the same air of excitement around it (I guess the crowd at this event just sucked) but the work was slick and fun. Really liked the matwork, and really liked the way Hamada dominated the match as she has learned to mix things up with vicious strikes. Akino's execution wasn't as good as in other matches but she could stay in the match believably.

 

Mima Shimoda/Etsuko Mita vs. Mariko Yoshida/Aja Kong (Twinstar of ARSION Tag Title, 2/12/01 Tokyo)

 

Aja is MAD! She waffles the hell out of LCO with stiff chair shots to start this match.Then she gets on the mic, yells something angry and leaves the match. What? Yoshida is left to fight on her own, and LCO quickly finish the 2 on 1 situation with a bunch of DVBs and the Avalanche Tiger Suplex in 5 minutes. More of an angle than a match. Also when Aja left they showed a chalkboard backstage. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

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Ok, there you go. Here we are. You reached *that* moment.

 

Mima Shimoda/Etsuko Mita vs. Mariko Yoshida/Aja Kong (Twinstar of ARSION Tag Title, 2/12/01 Tokyo)

 

Aja is MAD! She waffles the hell out of LCO with stiff chair shots to start this match.Then she gets on the mic, yells something angry and leaves the match. What? Yoshida is left to fight on her own, and LCO quickly finish the 2 on 1 situation with a bunch of DVBs and the Avalanche Tiger Suplex in 5 minutes. More of an angle than a match. Also when Aja left they showed a chalkboard backstage. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

 

I admit I had to go back to some old sources to remember exactly what happened there. Since you're watching a best-off comp, you don't even know about the Ryo Miyuki debacle that went on in January. The story is, Miyuki was a tall, athletic, fairly good looking girl whom Rossy Ogawa wanted to push the hell out of despite being a total rookie with zero experience and… in-ring potential. Aja was opposed to that apparently. Miyuki's debut performance was embarrasing. And then we get that shoot-angle that turned into a shoot, with Aja basically "leaving" the promotion along Miyuki (yeah, makes all the sense in the world), hence letting Yoshida getting destroyed by LCO. On the same show, you had the infamous Ohmukai vs Miyuki "job-of-doom" where Miyuki shows up in street clothes and does the job in one minute (because she doesn't want to work here anymore, ya know). Thing is, Aja and Miyuki really did leave the promotion that day and never returned back. So there, Aja was pissed at Rossy because of his booking and Miyuki was a failed rookie debacle that ended up sucking in GAEA a few months later, then went on to work for DDT for a while.

 

A month later, this was Fukawa's retirement show, which was quite fitting as ARSION as a cool little upstart company was no more. A few months later, Lioness Asuka would get the keys to the kingdom and would effectively kill the company by doing what she does : putting herself over everybody and garbaging up the product. By the end of the year, ARSION was going the way of what I'd call back then, a zombi promotion, with the depressing Carnival 2001 show. I think it went one until 2003 when Yumiko Hotta, of all people, took over and the promotion turned into AtoZ.

 

To me, 2001 is where I simply stopped giving a fuck. It had been my all-time favourite pro-wrestling in 98 & 99. 2000 was rougher with Fukawa's injury but Hamada's rise to the top was cool. The Miyuki debacle, Aja's departure and Lioness taking over put the nails in the coffin in 2001

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Interesting backstory. I'll see how it turns out...

 

Ayako Hamada vs. Azumi Hyuga (Queen of ARSION Title, 2/12/01 Tokyo)

 

I liked parts of this, but overall wasn't exactly amazed by what was going on here. Hyuga seemed to be going through the motions and coupled with Hamada's green-ness that wasn't the greatest combinatilon for a match. I liked Hamada in this, liked her matwork, and she is game to take crazy punishment. I think this is the first ARSION match that went full „puro epic“, building from matwork to a slew of big moves and strikes being dished out. Hamada sold fine and the match had it's moments, but Hyuga's lack of urgency just kept taking me out of the match. Also, there was the popping up and sense of overkill that I've grown to dislike in 2000s japanese wrestling so much.

 

Mima Shimoda/Etsuko Mita vs. Michiko Ohmukai/Bionic J (Twinstar of Arsion Tag Title, 3/20/01 Tokyo)

 

This looked good but suffered from having the integral parts clipped out. We get to see LCO brawling and chair swinging, leading to Bionic J being bloodied and becoming the focus of the match. J sold fine and was a fun powerhouse, so this was a nice breath of fresh air. They seemed to have good drama going, but the finish was a little cheap and due to the clipping the match feels incomplete.

 

Yumi Fukawa vs. Mariko Yoshida - Fukawa Retires (3/20/01 Tokyo)

 

Yumi Fukawa retires. Hey, remember when this lady got to look like a worldbeater in 1998? This wasn't much serious like most retirement matches are. Decent grappling in a time when ARSION didn't do that stuff often anymore, but mostly just a nice sendoff for Fukawa.

 

Ayako Hamada vs. Mariko Yoshida (Queen of Arsion Title, 4/21/01 Kanagawa)

 

Their previous matches were quick tournament finals, with Ayako as a huge underdog. Now, Ayako is the champion and they have their sights set on „epic“. Largely this match was pretty great, but there are some flaws. Yoshida dominating Ayako with submissions and punch combos still works perfectly, and these two still mesh really well. I thought Ayako's selling was great, and the spot that set up her dominance was both brutal and really smart. All of Ayako's stuff was extremely sharp and well timed. However, I expected a little smarter work from Yoshida in the last third of the match. Her selling was pretty spotty and she could've picked her offense a little better as the match progressed, as the previous urgency was a deflated a little. However, they redeem themselves with a great finish that was just fucking awesome pro wrestling. Anyways, this is one of the better and more interesting matchups japanese wrestling had in the store in the 2000s, and to be fair some of the flaws here are par for the course with lesser workers.

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ARS Tournament '01 Round 1 (4/30/01 Tokyo):

Bionic J vs. Rena Takase

 

This was a fun WCWSN 4 minute match. I liked Takase's judo throws and submissions, really liked Bionic J's power moves especially her turning a triangle choke into a sit down powerbomb.

Mikiko Futagami vs. Rie Tamada

 

Oh GAMI, you've really let yourself go. The moves her looked good but the stuff between was just...ugh. I expect better from two workers who have been working eachother for years. This just felt lifeless.

 

Ayako Hamada vs. Hiromi Yagi

We join the match just as the matwork ends. Seems like they removed the really good part. Yagi still has some amazing lucha cum shootstyle moves, but Hamada can't be arsed to sell for her and just beats her like a jobber. What a joke.

 

Michiko Ohmukai vs. Mariko Yoshida

 

This was okay. Just their standard stuff. Seems the workers stopped giving a damn about

those 1st round matches.

 

Semi Finals

 

Michiko Ohmukai vs. Bionic J

 

Man, Ohmukai didn't give a fuck in this match. Bionic J starts the match hitting all her finishers to avoid her jobber fate, but Ohmukai just looks so uninterested. Eventually J busts out a nunchaku and gives her some stiff hits. That may have been unintentional as Bionic J probably didn't have much experience about doing safe nunchaku shots. Ohmukai gives her some pretty stiff shots of her own and Bionic J joins the list of unfairly jobbed out women along with Hiromi Yagi.

 

Mikiko Futagami vs. Ayako Hamada

 

There was one cool moment here where Futagami counters the Ayakita. The rest of this was kind of terrible, however. Never seen Ayako so disinterested in selling and there was one horrid blown spot. This went 9 minutes but felt like half an hour.

 

Finals

 

Michiko Ohmukai vs. Mikiko Futagami

 

Damn I hated this. Literally every 2nd or 3rd move was no sold. I try to be a little lenient in order to enjoy things, but this just couldn't grab my interest at all. Terrible.

 

Mima Shimoda/Etsuko Mita vs. Ayako Hamada/Azumi Hyuga (Twinstar of Arsion Tag Title, 5/6/01 Tokyo)

 

LCO faces the dream team of Hamada and Hyuga.My patience on LCO and their bullshit has far run out, but this atleast had a somewhat interesting layout. Basically Hyuga was barely in the match and Hamada just steamrolled both of them, so LCO were forced to use chairs and odd timing to their advantage. I dig Ayako in the ace role and thought this was a good performance from her. For me the match was a little too focussed on bomb throwing and a few no selling hiccups but overall the exeution was good and the narrative made this an effective bout.

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Michiko Ohmukai vs. Ai Fujita (6/9/01 Sapporo)

 

Hey look... it's Ai Fujita. Pretty basic main eventer vs. Lower carder match. Ohmukai tortures Fujita a little before Ai gets some token nearfalls. Ohmukai landed some stiff shots, but she's so disinterested in selling it's hard to get into her matches. Okay take at the trope.

 

Mima Shimoda/Etsuko Mita vs. Ayako Hamada/Mika Akino (Twinstar of Arsion Tag Title, 6/9/01 Tokyo)

 

Bizarro world version of their 1999 match. LCO are busted open and have to fight back valiently against Hamada and Akino who act like pricks! Also, AKINO gets a lot of focus, which was nice for once. This was probably the best LCO performance in a while and pretty good in parts, but also kinda stupid. Hamada and Akino pretty much have LCO at their will and land all their finishers, but can't win the match. Eventually LCO make their big comeback by waffling Hamada and Akino with stiff weapon shots, and literally burying them under a pile of trash. Match wasn't bad though and I like that they are still trying new things.

 

Lioness Asuka vs. Mariko Yoshida (7/3/01 Tokyo)

 

Lioness Asuka enters. Her License Number is 100! Yoshida is unimpressed and brings the fight right to the legend. Man, this dark looking Asuka is so different from the 80s Crush Gal. It's like some 80s pop star reinventing himself into a dark goth guy. I'd say this was a pretty good Yoshida signature match. Asuka gives an uncooperative & dangerous vibe so is a good match up for Yoshida's style. Altough she brought her own signature table to the match and tried some ECW shit that kind gave me a bad feel about her. Still Yoshida was a total trooper here taking a bunch of cringeworthy stiff shots from Asuka and working good submission nearfalls. Altough it is becoming noticable that move overkill is getting really out of hand in ARSION, seems the promotion is in it's death spiral, altough I'll see where it goes.

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I had been a fan of Lioness stuff with Kyoko and Jaguar in Neo & JD' in the late 90's, but by this point, Lioness was exposed to me as a selfish, formulaic worker with no interest putting anyone over or work toward the strenght of her opponent. This was good because Yoshida can't seem to have a bad match and Lioness formula basically garantees a basic level of action, but this is Lioness taking over with her usual bullshit. Death spiral indeed.

 

And oh, yeah, Chama couldn't give a fuck at this point. Totally forgot about that LCO match too, and I'm like the biggest LCO mark (hell, I take some credit for people using the acronym LCO), that tells you my interest in the promotion, and soon joshi puroresu, had been gone.

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Ayako Hamada vs. Michiko Ohmukai (Queen of Arsion Title, 7/3/01 Tokyo)

 

Ohmukai has done a good job at making me hate her and her bullshit. This match was a good way to redeem herself as it was a blood-drenched, stiff puro epic. Basically Hamada wasn't having Ohmukai's crap and forced her to up her game. At this point Hamada is good enough to carry a questionable worker by adding some much needed selling and struggle to everything, and she really knows how to use her intensity properly. Opening stuff had good animosity, and everything that came after the double juice was very good. Hamada at this point is close to masterful at selling covered in blood, beaten to a pulp, and Ohmukai's moveset consisting mostly of kicks, punches and knees to the face worked very well. Could see this being a low end MOTYC for some.

 

Ayako Hamada vs. Emi Motokawa (7/21/01 Sendai)

 

Hey look, it's... uh... Emi Sakura? Well that is a random worker to show up and battle the promotions ace. Hamada just wrestles her standard match, same spots as usual and so on, but Motokawa added some fun touches. I really liked her fast, vicious drop toe hold and her „crumbling“ style sells of Hamada's big strikes were fun. Feels weird that of all the wrestlers to show up in ARSION Motokawa would probably end up being the most influental one by training dozens of girls into wrestlers.

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Lioness Asuka/Mariko Yoshida vs. Michiko Ohmukai/Bionic J (7/21/01 Sendai)

 

Hey!!! Bionic J is getting a push!!!! AWESOME!! Well, maybe not exactly a push, but she got a lot of focus in the match, which was cool. And this was a pretty good match as it was just 4 fun workers having fun exchangesand doing stuff they are good at. Jesse & Ohmukai are at a disadvantage early on, with Ohmukai even doing a convincing job selling (!!!) and they end up doing a cool section with Jesse as face in peril. Everything with Jesse ends up being so much funner than usual because she is a cool bullish powerhouse which adds something new to Yoshida's and Asuka's stuff. At one point, Asuka hits some really dainty looking kicks to J, so she just slaps her in the face hard! How's that you lazy old time wrestler coasting on your name! Jesse actually gets some fun powerhouse exchanges going wAsuka and they lay into eachother with big damn lariats, and Asuka who seemed to be half assing stuff started laying it in. I also really liked all the facepunchy boxing exchanges Yoshida and and Ohmukai dished out, channeling their inner Takeshi Ono's. Ohmukai keeps getting back to my goodside as she was in-offensive here aside from one bit where she was trying these insanely inaccurate spinning backfists. The dominance of the Yoshida/Asuka early on added a lot to the second half of the match, really making YOU flip out for Jesse Bennett taking it to the big names and getting big offense and nearfalls until Ohmukai pointlessly turns on her and the match ends in a schmozz. BOOOO! Still, you owe it to Jesse Bennett and yourself to watch this match. It's fine pro wrestling.

 

Ayako Hamada vs. GAMI (Queen of Arsion Title, 7/29/01 Tokyo)

 

Mikiko Futagami was full blown GAMI at this point. That means, paper fan and all that. And she gets a shot at the big gold! This starts out like a Monterrey match. Hell, it might be their Monterrey match worked as a puro epic. Somewhat comedic feel, tricky arm drags, rope walking joke and a paper fan hit. Then Hamada eats a tombstone on her belt and sell a huge a deal. This had that „overmatched loser goes for the gold“ feel with GAMI being tricky like Yoshinari Ogawa or Kendo Kashin, so the match was endearing, and GAMI absolutely has the slick moves, so if you like that type of match I'd say this match is recommendable, altough there were a few blown spots. Not as good as GAMI vs. Hyuga, altough this is a match closer to Hamada's lucha background building into a hard hitting finish.

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Mima Shimoda/Etsuko Mita vs. Lioness Asuke/Mariko Yoshida (Twinstar of Arsion Tag Title, 7/29/01 Tokyo)

 

LCO face their biggest challenge, maybe ever! This was a 30 minute draw and probably JIP for good reason. We get some basic LCO plunder brawling before they settle right into the finishing stretch. Yoshida was bleeding big which added something to her usual exchanges as she was pounding the heels angrily with her fists, and I actively liked everything involving Asuka, as she is so recklessly brutal and also not afraid to get smashed by LCO chairshots. As a result this was going good before Yoshida hits a nutso rope climbing dive as if she was her 1992 self again because why not? And instead of going for the win Asuka goes for another table spot. She got herself a custom made table, so she is using it, dammit! So the match is over and Shimoda gets the mic asking for the match to be restarted. That was a pretty poor idea considering Mita just got double stomped through a table. Another 4 minutes of bomb throwing and false finishes ensue and Yoshida picks up the win in a nice moment with a fucking rollup. To be fair the false finishes worked, and also did I mention you had Asuka spin kicking everyon e in the face like a madwoman.

 

MAX Tournament Round 2 (8/12/01 Tokyo):
2. Lioness Asuka vs. Etsuko Mita

 

A sprint. Bombs are thrown. Asuka kicks her in the face a bunch because that's all she does. Atleast it only toke one of her spin kicks to end the match.

 

noki-A vs. Michiko Ohmukai

 

AKINO in her goofy masked noki-A persona. JIP of a match that was only 11 minutes... they do some submission based stuff to keep things inoffensive before noki-A picks up the surprise win with a funny mexican stretch bomb.

 

Mikiko Futagami vs. Mariko Yoshida

 

JIP again. These two are counter-wrestlers each, so their matches are always interesting to watch. Some submission work on the ground before they settle into bomb throwing, with GAMI really throwing the bombs before securing a fast win.

 

Ayako Hamada vs. Mima Shimoda

 

Aaand it's another JIP bomb throwing match. Not much I can say here. There was some fast dodging and evading, and chairs came into play. Can't say these 1st round matches are worth checking out so far.

 

Semi-Finals (8/12/01 Tokyo):
6. noki-A vs. Ayako Hamada

 

This was their usual match... except kinda slow, and wooden, and not that good really? Weird how that can happen. Maybe Akino was inhibited by her mask.

 

  1. Lioness Asuka vs. Mikiko Futagami

 

The funnest match of the tournament so far was, somehow, this. Turns out the trick is to hit Asuka with a paper fan. Asuka is totally game to go along with Futagami's bullshit and gets eyeraked and smacked in the face a bunch before the inevitable happens. Their moves were smooth and they never slowed down.

 

FINAL (8/12/01 Tokyo):
8. Lioness Asuka vs. noki-A

 

Aaaand I liked this a lot too. Basically Akino throws the kitchen sink at Asuka and busts out all these super-slick moves to keep her contained, while Asuka fires back with her usual stiff ass offense to bust her ass. Picture a shootstyle Rey Jr. vs. A shootstyle Psicosis... well maybe not like that, but noki-A was damn impressive. Could've used a slightly grander finish, but this slight noki-A push is giving me positive vibes. Let's hope there's more to come for the masked lady.

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Lioness Asuka/Mariko Yoshida vs. Ayako Hamada/Azumi Hyuga (9/11/01 Tokyo)

 

An all-star match that delivers! Everyone here works hard to have interesting exchanges, but a big part of why this match is good is, surprise, Yoshida. Watch her have really good exchanges with Hamada, put the boxing gloves to use and aswell do a mighty fine job at selling minor things most other wrestlers don't even acknowledge. She and Ayako have such high end chemistry. All their stuff is such a joy to watch, and the hierarchy keeps changing. Last time Yoshida was still a mountain for Hamada to overcome, now they are nearly equal. Hyuga and Lioness were the lesser characters in the match, but I enjoy Lioness working as King Kong, having the smaller wrestlers bounce off of her while she throws kicks at them from all angles. I actually liked Huyga less than Aska~! Altough she was technically a solid Manami Toyota-stand in. But Hyuga def. Does come with Toyota-ish moments of no-selling. Yoshida's excellent near KO selling of a Hyuga knee kept the finishing stretch from getting all too silly, and her comeback I thought was textbook example selling and then turning the tables in believable fashion. Her style helps too, and her cradle submission felt like a classic move from her bag of tricks that we haven't seen in a match this grand in a while. Very good match.

 

ZION Tournament '01 Round 1 (9/22/01 Tokyo):

Azumi Hyuga vs. Rie Tamada

 

A first round match that delivers! This was def. Joshi match and had some popping up from german suplexes, but I was still impressed with Hyuga. I thought she did a pretty good job working as the higher ranked woman here. After Hyuga's opening barrage of offense, Tamada catches her in a Figure 4, and Hyuga actually sells her legs a bit allowing Tamada to look quite good and get a competitive match. Not a mindblowing match or something but for a throwawy 8 minute bout it's on the mark.

 

Mikiko Futagami vs. noki-A

 

GAMI... sigh. What happened? GAMI was so uninterested here. Miss nokia kept catching her with armbars, breaking her grip, and she just laid there, as if this was AJPW or some shit. This had 2 or 3 nifty moments of noki-A submission counter works, but was dull and uninspired otherwise.

 

Mima Shimoda vs. Michiko Ohmukai

 

This was Shimoda doing RVD-like chair spots, and Ohmukai waffling her with kicks and punches in return. I liked the Ohmukai kicks and punches, didn't like the Shimoda ECW shit and Mita interfering into the match. Also match had the wrong winner in a bullshit finish, adding to my dislike.

 

Mariko Yoshida vs. Ayako Hamada

 

This felt a little mailed in early on. Mailed in Yoshida is still pretty good, mailed in Hamada can be slightly dull if you've watched a lot of her stuff. However, the match picks up good for the finish. Really liked how Yoshida would get rocked while blocking Hamada's kicks, and her tagging Hamada with punches before finishing with a kick to the face was pretty sweet. Match wasn't bad, heck for most wrestlers this would be a quite good match. I guess it shows what I've grown to expect from this matchup.

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