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[2001-01-03-AJW] Kaoru Ito vs Etsuko Mita

ohtani's jacket

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Y'know, Kaoru Ito did an even better job as champion than I remember. She did nothing to discredit the belt and was able to carry on the proud lineage of the WWWA title by fulfilling the role of The Woman in AJW. I have nothing but respect for the way she carried herself during her rise to the top even if it was during a disastrous period for the company. Etsuko Mita may not have been the most credible of title contenders -- indeed, she feels like she belongs at the All-Pacific level rather than challenging for the world title -- but the pair had history through their tag team wars and the Grand Prix final and Mita is an underrated worker who deserves a bit of the spotlight every now and again. As you can imagine, this bout was built around Mita's DVDVR vs. Ito's powerbomb/foot stomp combo. There was cool shit like you'd expect, and annoying shit like you'd expect. It never reached any great heights since Ito was the new champion and on top of her game, and Mita had no chance of toppling her reign, but it was a decent way to start the new year albeit without the emotional highs of the November cage match. 

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  • 1 year later...

This feels like a 2020 match teleported into 2001. I can make some Miyahara and Ito comparisons but the same fallacies that hold true for modern day AJPW in most cases held true here.  They did a lot of stuff. There was a story told of the Mita’s strengths vs the double stomps and powerbomb of Ito but in the end, Ito is able to absorb all damage, lock on a tight armbar and that is it. Why was this not done 15 minutes earlier in this 27 minute affair? Mita did her best to look like a challenger but she was not a challenger so a 27 minute defense doesn’t necessarily elevate her, it weakens Ito to some extent and feels bloated overall. A ton of cool stuff in this match and the execution was well done to make the match “good” but the emotional stakes really missed the mark for me so the only plus is on technical proficiency not in captivating storytelling or investment. ***1/4 (6.3)

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