GAEA Japan “Memorial First Gong” on 4/15/95 Review

Event: GAEA Japan “Memorial First Gong”
Date: April 15th, 1995
Location: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 2,200

Over the next eternity, I will be watching and reviewing all GAEA Japan events in order, starting with their debut show on April 15th, 1995. Visit the GAEA Japan Project page for a brief history of the promotion, the roster page, my favorite matches from the promotion, and the full list of all events reviewed. I will also be uploading my favorite match from each show so that everyone can enjoy it.

If you want to watch the GAEA Japan events I am reviewing, Mike Lorefice sells the complete seasons at a very reasonable price both via download and physical copy. Mike’s quebrada.net is one of the sites I’m using extensively to write these reviews, its a great resource for learning more about GAEA Japan and wrestling in general.

Welcome to the first ever GAEA Japan event! Even though GAEA Japan started with only three veteran roster members (Nagayo, KAORU, and Hikari), on this show they also had six (!!!) wrestlers debut as they began training them the year prior in preparation. A few JWP wrestlers are on the card also to fill in the main event, here are the televised matches:

For all GAEA Japan reviews, you can click on their name above to go to their wrestler profile. KAORU had a match on the card, but for whatever reason it didn’t make the broadcast. The presentation is two hours long so there should be a minimal amount of clipping.

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Chikayo Nagashima vs. Toshie Uematsu

The first GAEA event kicks off with two debuting wrestlers. You have to hand it to Nagayo as she found some quality new wrestlers, as both Nagashima and Uematsu went on to have successful careers. Uematsu just turned 21 years old the day before this match, while Nagashima was 19 years old. Lots of pressure on them, having their first match in front of a sold out crowd, but it is safe to assume they were well trained by Nagayo and ready.

gaea4-15-1Uematsu dropkicks Nagashima right off the start and dropkicks her again in the corner, but Nagashima pushes her away and goes off the ropes. Another dropkick by Uematsu but Nagashima hits a pair of fireman carry takeovers and applies a headlock on the mat. Uematsu gets to the ropes but Nagashima hits a trio of dropkicks, snapmare by Nagashima and she throws Uematsu towards the corner before dropkicking her again. Uematsu sneaks in an inside cradle to get back in control, she snapmares Nagashima around the ring before tossing her by the hair a few times. Headlock by Uematsu, she picks up Nagashima and dropkicks her in the chest for a two count. Now it is Nagashima that puts Uematsu in an inside cradle to take over, dropkick by Nagashima and she hits a scoop slam for two. More hair tossing by Uematsu follows and she applies a seated armbar, but Nagashima gets a toe on the ropes. Uematsu dropkicks Nagashima (lots of dropkicks) and hits a trio of back elbows, but the cover gets two.  Nagashima applies a headscissors but Uematsu gets out of it and hits a headscissors takedown. Nagashima flips out of a wristlock and hits a couple armdrags, Uematsu applies a bodyscissors but Nagashima gets into the ropes. Scoop slam by Nagashima but Uematsu reverses the second one, monkey flip by Nagashima and she covers Uematsu for two. Dropkicks by Uematsu and she hits a back elbow, another dropkick by Uematsu but Nagashima has a foot on the ropes before the cover attempt. Nagashima tosses Uematsu to the mat, monkey flip by Nagashima and she hits a front roll push for two. Nagashima gets on the second turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick, but Uematsu bridges out of the cover. Crab hold by Nagashima but Uematsu gets into the ropes, Nagashima goes for a running stomp but Uematsu catches it and applies a single leg crab hold. Nagashima gets to the ropes for the break, scoop slam by Uematsu and she hits a pair of dropkicks. Uematsu goes up top and hits a diving crossbody, but the bell rings as 15 Minute Time Limit has expired.

But wait! We get an Overtime Period! They lock shoulders, Uematsu pushes Nagashima into the ropes and hits a series of hard elbows. Dropkick by Uematsu and she hits two more, but Nagashima bridges out of the pin. Nagashima trips Uematsu and hits a couple scoop slams, but her cover gets a two as well. Dropkicks by Nagashima, she covers Uematsu but it gets two. Uematsu schoolboys Nagashima, she tosses her into the corner and hits a back elbow. She tries again but Nagashima moves and hits a monkey flip, Nagashima picks up Uematsu and she hits a scoop slam. Nagashima picks up Uematsu and throws her by the hair, inside cradle by Uematsu but it gets two. Nagashima tries for a quick pin tto with no luck, and the bell rings again as the Three Minute Overtime has expired.

But wait! We get a second Overtime Period! Nagashima immediately rolls into Uematsu and pushes her over, she does it three more times before covering Uematsu for two. Uematsu comes back with running elbows, but Nagashima gets a foot on the ropes to break up the cover. Scoop slam by Uematsu, she picks up Nagashima but Nagashima applies an inside cradle for two. Scoop slam by Nagashima and she delivers a trio of dropkicks, but Uematsu gets to the ropes to stop the cover. More dropkicks by Nagashima, she gets on the second turnbuckle but Uematsu tosses her off. Uematsu picks up Nagashima and hits a dropkick of her own, she goes up top and she hits the diving crossbody, but again the bell rings as the Three Minute Overtime has expired. This time the referee decides that is enough, and the match is a Draw.

So I realize that isn’t the most interesting match description but I felt it was necessary to show how GAEA Japan kicked off their first ever event. Their first match didn’t feature anyone the crowd had seen before, but rather a 21 minute match between two wrestlers making their debut. Both definitely had the basics down pat, and I give them credit for how much stamina/guts they had to put on such a display as it was pretty well-worked. But its still two incredibly inexperienced wrestlers going a long time in front of a crowd that probably wanted a bit more. A risky decision by GAEA, it worked out OK because they did a decent job, but still a very unusual way to kick things off.

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Meiko Satomura vs. Sonoko Kato

Like the last match, this one also features two wrestlers making their debut. Meiko Satomura was only 15 years old but already was considered the best of the bunch, which we will see demonstrated in a moment. Currently she is the leader of Sendai Girls’ and one of the best wrestlers in the world, so it worked out well for her. Sonoko was 18 at the time, she also still wrestles today as part of the Joshi promotion OZ Academy.

gaea4-15-2Sonoko slaps Meiko while she is against the ropes early in the match, which pisses off Meiko as she hammers on Sonoko with hard elbows. Dropkicks by Meiko but Sonoko grabs her head and hits a face crusher. Another one by Sonoko, but Meiko kicks out of the pin. Sonoko goes for Meiko’s arm but Meiko rolls out of it, she tries again but Meiko slides her arm out and hits a jumping shoulderblock. Another shoulderblock by Meiko and she hits another one, getting a two count. She goes for a fourth but Sonoko blocks it and dropkicks Meiko in the back of the head, Sonoko goes to pick up Meiko but Meiko schoolboys her for two. Meiko quickly puts Sonoko into a cross armbreaker, and Sonoko taps out! Meiko Satomura is the winner.

I don’t want to be that guys that says “even in her debut you could tell Meiko Satomura would be special,” but I will say that she instantly showed that intensity and passion that she became known for. For some people its a gift, others have to learn it, but Meiko clearly had “it” from the get-go. Sonoko didn’t get much of a chance here and it was a really short match, but it did help set up Meiko as the best of the class which she turned out to be. Quite fun to watch Meiko’s debut and seeing that even at a young age she had zero chill.  Mildly Recommended

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Bomber Hikari vs. Sumiyo Toyama

A small break in the all-rookie action. If you aren’t familiar with these two wrestlers, don’t feel bad as I wasn’t either. Toyama is better known as Saburo but she did not have a very long career, as injuries kept derailing her in her quest for wrestling greatness. Even though Hikari was one of the GAEA Originals, she was never more than a midcarder and retired from wrestling in 1997. Like in the main event, Toyama came over from JWP to help fill out the card.

gaea4-15-3This match is Joined in Progress, and was the only match on the broadcast not shown in full. Hikari gives Sumiyo a hard elbow and tosses Sumiyo over her head, covering her for a two count. Hikari goes for a lariat but Sumiyo ducks it and suplexes her, chokeslam by Sumiyo and she his a second one for a two count cover. Sumiyo gets Hikari in the corner and goes up top, she chokeslams Sumiyo while standing on the top rope but Hikari bridges out of the pin. Powerslam by Hikari, she goes up top and she delivers a Reverse Splash for a two count of her own. Hikari goes up top and hits a diving headbutt, Over The Top Bomb by Hikari and she picks up the three count! Bomber Hikari wins the match.

Very clipped, but it was definitely action packed. Both hit all their moves well and Hikari definitely had some strength to her as she tossed Sumiyo around the ring. Hikari retired due to injuries, I don’t think she ever would have been main-event level but she would have been a solid hand throughout just based on the few minutes I saw here. Too short to get excited about, but a fine two minutes of wrestling.

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Maiko Narita vs. Toshie Sato

These are the last two wrestlers in the first GAEA Rookie Class, as it is both of their wrestling debuts as well. Maiko disappeared after a few months for reasons unknown, but Toshie Sato had a pretty successful career and is better known as Sugar Sato. After this match, we’ll get more established names, but this first event definitely had a strong focus on the rookies to give them a chance to show what they can do.

gaea4-15-4They start a bit slower than the last match as they feel each other out, Maiko gets Toshie to the mat and puts her in headlock. A backslide by Maiko gets two before she goes back to the headlock, dropkick by Toshie and she hits a scoop slam. Maiko bounces Toshie off the ropes as they go back and forth, scoop slam by Maiko but the cover gets two. Toshie gets back in control and hits a dropkick, she flings around Maiko by the hair before dropkicking her near the corner. Toshie applies a headscissors and rolls Maiko around the ring while keeping the hold applied, but Maiko eventually gets into the ropes for a break. Irish whip by Toshie and she hits a dropkick, scoop slam by Toshie and she covers Maiko for two. Toshie goes for a lariat but Maiko catches her arm and applies a short armbar, but Toshie gets a foot on the ropes for the break. Maiko keeps working on Toshie’s arm, she gets the short armbar re-applied but Toshie gets the break. Waistlock by Maiko and she rolls up Toshie with a wing clutch, but Toshie reverses it. Shoulderblocks by Toshie, and she covers Maiko for two. Toshie goes for another one but Maiko goes behind her back and sneaks in a schoolboy, one legged monkey flip by Maiko and she hits another one for a two count. Toshie gets away from her and hits a bulldog, she goes for a slam but Maiko gets away and hits an over-the-shoulder slam. Another slam by Maiko, but Toshie bridges out of the pin. Toshie reverses an Irish whip and hits a swinging neckbreaker, two more swinging neckbreakers by Toshie and she covers Maiko for the three count! Toshie Sato is the winner.

I have to say that all the rookies on this event looked beyond what you’d expect from someone debuting, and you could tell that Nagayo trained them well before throwing them out there. The match was basic, sure, but generally things were hit very smoothly and they did what they knew how to do quite well. Rookie matches will rarely blow anyone out of the water, but it was perfectly watchable and I think if you were there live than you would not have been disappointed. Nothing overly special, but solid for a rookie match.

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Chigusa Nagayo and Dynamite Kansai vs. Devil Masami and Mayumi Ozaki

Now it is time for the main event of the first GAEA show! If you wondered what Nagayo’s vision for wrestling is, this match will answer your question. Since Nagayo was the only main-event level wrestler when GAEA Japan first formed, she needed some serious help from JWP to fill out the card. Nagayo already had a long-standing feud with Devil Masami, they first wrestled back in 1985 and had several matches on opposing teams when Nagayo wrestled in JWP in 1994. Ozaki was an evil wrestler as well from JWP and regularly teamed with Devil Masami, this was before her heyday but she did have several tag team championships under her belt. Dynamite Kansai also wrestled in JWP but Masami had taken her JWP Openweight Championship in late 1994 so a feud was already there, making the teaming not completely random. Up to this point the card was pretty average with so many rookies, so Nagayo knew she had to deliver in the main event to send the fans home happy.

gaea4-15-5Kansai and Ozaki start off and immediately start swinging elbows until Kansai delivers a high kick. Ozaki rolls up Kansai but Kansai kicks her in the head again, so Ozaki tags in Masami. Masami lariats Kansai into the corner and Nagayo tags herself in, belly to belly suplex by Nagayo as Kansai stays in the ring to help. Double lariat to Masami but she stays on her feet, they finally kick her to the mat but Masami gets back up and Ozaki tags herself in. Nagayo and Kansai double team Ozaki and hit a double elbow drop, cover by Kansai but it gets two. Kansai applies a sleeper but Masami breaks it up, Kansai stomps on Ozaki and tags Nagayo back in. Heel kick by Nagayo and she applies a sleeper but Ozaki gets into the ropes, quick suplex by Nagayo but Ozaki kicks her and tags in Masami. Masami throws Nagayo in the corner and his a lariat, while also knocking Kansai off the apron in the process. Kansai picks up Nagayo and drops her with a piledriver, she slams Nagayo in front of the corner and Ozaki comes in the ring with a chain. Ozaki hits Nagayo with the chain repeatedly before choking her with it, Kansai comes in but she gets choked as well. Nagayo fights back with a chair as I think the match has officially broken down, Kansai and Ozaki fight over the chain before Kansai drops her with a backdrop suplex. Kansai tags Nagayo, sleeper by Nagayo to Ozaki while Kansai keeps Masami at bay but Nagayo lets her go after a moment. Ozaki is out but Nagayo lets go as she wants Masami (or Ozaki wasn’t the legal wrestler, who knows), Masami gets in the ring but Nagayo puts her in the sleeper as well. Ozaki tries to break it up but Nagayo ignores her, while Kansai runs in and takes care of Ozaki. Ozaki breaks free and finally helps her partner get to the ropes, Ozaki gets in but Nagayo gets in the mount and punches her face.

gaea4-15-6Ozaki regains control and hits a jumping lariat, German suplex hold by Ozaki but it gets a two count. Kansai comes in but Ozaki kicks her in the face, another kick by Ozaki and she puts Kansai in a short armbar. Ozaki tags in Masami since they suddenly started to use tags again, but Kansai promptly lariats her and both are down on the mat. Kansai manages to tag in Nagayo, kicks by Nagayo but Masami boots her in the corner. More kicks by Masami and Nagayo rolls out of the ring, which was a bad idea as Masami follows her out and chokes Nagayo with a chain. Masami hits Nagayo some with the chain on the floor, busting open Nagayo at some point during the melee. Masami drags Nagayo around the crowd with the chain as Nagayo has it hooked around her neck at this point, Masami hits Nagayo repeatedly in the head with chairs before finally bringing her back into the ring. Lariat by Masami, she drags up Nagayo and hits her with a second one before putting Nagayo in a sleeper. Nagayo backs Masami into her corner so that Kansai can help her break the hold, but Ozaki runs over and chokes Kansai with the chain. Nagayo grabs Ozaki and powerbombs her, she goes back to Masami and hits a scoop slam before tagging in Kansai. Kansai goes for the diving headbutt but Masami moves, powerbomb by Masami but Kansai kicks out of the cover. I think we just went 20 minutes before either team attempted a real pin. Masami goes up top but Kansai joins her, Masami puts her leg over Kansai’s chest and hits a diving legdrop to the mat. Sleeper by Masami, she picks up Kansai but Kansai hits a leg sweep and Nagayo runs in to punt Masami. Cover by Kansai, but it only gets a two. Kansai goes for Splash Mountain but Ozaki kicks her before she can hit the move.

gaea4-15-7Backdrop suplex by Kansai to Ozaki but Ozaki gets the chain and chokes Kansai with it. While being choked, Kansai inches to her corner and she makes the hot tag to Nagayo. Masami hits Nagayo in the back of the head with the chain and the action spills to the floor again, Masami throws Nagayo into the ring post but Nagayo comes back with a lariat. They trade lariats  until both fall to the mat, Masami recovers first and she throws Nagayo into the ring post. Ozaki brings a table into the ring while Nagayo and Masami get back in it, but Nagayo lariats her and pulls Ozaki onto the table. Nagayo goes for a powerbomb but Ozaki reverses it with a hurricanrana, dragon suplex hold by Ozaki but it gets a two count. Ozaki powerbombs Nagayo onto the table and Masami hits a diving legdrop, cover by Ozaki but Kansai breaks it up. Masami gets on the second turnbuckle but Kansai lariats her out of the ring, while Ozaki starts breaking down the ring so she can use the metal rod in the corner as a weapon. Outside the ring, Masami hits Kansai with a chair as Ozaki hits Nagayo with the metal rod in it, but Nagayo kicks it away from her and hits a suplex. Kansai apparently won her battle with Masami and gets in the ring, and with Nagayo they hit a powerbomb/face crusher combination on Ozaki, but Masami breaks up the cover. The ring ropes are down at this point due to Ozaki dismantling it, so tag rules are pretty much out. Kicks by Kansai to Ozaki, she picks up her up and nails Splash Mountain but Masami breaks it up by hitting Kansai with her metal rod. She hits Nagayo too before leaving the ring with Kansai, Nagayo picks up Ozaki and drops her with a powerbomb. Cover, but Masami hits her with the rod to break it up. Kansai grabs Masami while Nagayo picks up Ozaki, but Masami again from the floor hits Nagayo with the rod while allows Ozaki to reverse the powerbomb attempt into a Toyota Roll for the three count! Mayumi Ozaki and Devil Masami win!

Well that was a hell of a match. It clocked in at about 30 minutes but didn’t feel that long as the match had different phases. Devil Masami was doing her “Super Heel” gimmick here, which is kind of Undertaker-like, but she could still really work in 1995 and it didn’t really impact the match. I loved the chaos, and I also liked that they went a different way with hot tags as they rarely worked which is a nice change of pace. Nagayo bled as did Kansai, and the match really put over that GAEA Japan was going to be a bit crazy and unexpected at times, which is always a plus. Chains, chairs, tables, a broken ring, just a lot going on and four really talented wrestlers pulling it all together so it never felt sloppy or loose. I can see this not being everyone’s cup of tea, as it wasn’t always logical and the ending almost felt anti-climatic after all that came before it, but I still enjoyed it a lot and I think it was a fitting main event to show what GAEA Japan had to offer.  Highly Recommended