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[2000-02-11-AJW] Azumi Hyuga vs Kumiko Maekawa


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As evidenced by her standing with holding Big White and teaming with Toyota along with being involved in the LCO match, it is obvious that AJW had big plans to build around Kumiko as the up and comer and future star. The opening matwork centered around the leg was pretty pedestrian. Pace picks up a lot and they really throw a lot into the back half of this match. Some lands and some is less successful for me. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I just can’t get totally invested in Maekawa at this point even though Azumi was game for this match and didn’t drag things down at all. Even the flash pin with Azumi winning worked for me as it kind of played into the fact that Maekawa’s mind was elsewhere to a degree and now she has suffered the consequences by losing the belt. ***1/4

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I know Maekawa was a polarizing figure online in 2001 (along with Momoe Nakanishi and Nanae Takahashi) and this match makes it clear why that was the case. She does some things pretty well in terms of execution, but it all doesn't come together for whatever reason. I like Yumiko Hotta, but I do think Maekawa sort of embodies the worst tendencies of Hotta, especially when she was younger, relying on her footwork to the detriment of the rest of her game and not selling as effectively as she could. Luckily, she is in the ring with Azumi Hyuga, who I think gives an awesome performance, one that I would call the second best carryjob of the year thus far in fact. The matwork soup mentioned was pedestrian in many ways, but Hyuga elevated it with excellent selling. This resembled Misawa-Hase if you like sound strategy in your wrestling, but where it wasn't as effective was that it had almost the full inverse dynamic -- instead of an outsider bringing his style to the home team's kingpin, you have the home team champion bringing her style to the outsider, and it doesn't work nearly as well. Still, it's a very good match, and Hyuga has quite the toolkit at her disposal to make her look good. She also does far better rolling Germans than Benoit had done at this point in five years, bridging up through all of them, and she does an excellent job of getting Maekawa's feet over as deadly weapons. Almost every time she is covered for a nearfall, she makes sure she is positioned near the ropes so she can get over her desperation. So even though she wins the match and the title, she made Maekawa look as good in losing as possible, with the kicks as the great equalizer that manage to stop her in her tracks every single time. You get the sense watching this that Maekawa will make a comeback and have her day, and that can pretty much solely be attributed to Hyuga's performance. ***1/2

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  • 5 weeks later...

I thought this was really good. The dynamic between Hyuga and Maekawa was strong with Hyuga being a more traditional idol type and Maekawa being the boyish shooter. The action was good and at the right level for an All Pacfic title match. There were some great nearfalls down the stretch and even the pinfalla that were a bit wobbly felt realistic in terms of their failure the secure a win. The result was also surprising, but that's me not remembering that it ever happened. Personally, I like Maekawa. I thought she no sold ar the right moments here and was solid down the stretch. Hyuga was good here but not really at an elite level yet, but that didn't matter as the All Pacific title was meant to be the Intercontinental Chanpionship level of All Japan and she was good enough to work that division.

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  • GSR changed the title to [2000-02-11-AJW] Azumi Hyuga vs Kumiko Maekawa

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