OZ Academy “Dolphin” on 9/3/17 Review

Event: OZ Academy “Dolphin”
Date: September 3rd, 2017
Location: Shinjuku FACE in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 348

We haven’t checked in with OZ Academy in awhile, let’s see what they are up to. This is a pretty small event for them as it has no title matches, however all the stars are here. Manami Toyota has a big singles match with AKINO as she continues her road to retirement, and we get the unique tag team of Yoshiko and Hikaru Shida in the main event. Here is the full card:

As always, you can click on the names above to go directly to the wrestler’s profile on the website. This aired on Nico Pro, so it will be unedited.

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Aja Kong vs. Kaori Yoneyama

For anyone unfamiliar with OZ Academy, this may appear to be a very unusual opener. OZ Academy does not have their own training dojo and do not have their own rookies/young wrestlers. They are a very veteran-oriented promotion, so their veteran wrestlers tend to appear throughout the card. So while Aja Kong opening a show isn’t normal, its not unusual for OZ Academy to have long time veterans kicking things off. Aja Kong of course needs no introduction, she is a legend and still knows her way around a wrestling ring. Kaori is affiliated with YMZ but frequently stops by OZ Academy, she is a 17 year veteran and a tough wrestler to pin. Should be an interesting match.

oz9-3-1The match starts slowly, with Kaori trying to be the dominate wrestler without having much luck since Kong ignored everything she did. Kong knocks Kaori to the mat and stomps her against the ropes, she puts Kaori in the corner and chops her in the chest. Lariat by Kong and she covers Kaori with one foot for a two count. Chinlock by Kong but Kaori bites her arm to get out of it, Kong steps on both of Kaori’s hands before stomping down on them. Scoop slam by Kong and she hits an elbow drop for a two count cover. Kaori swats at Kong but Kong shrugs her off and punches her to the mat, Kong picks up Kaori but Kaori goes for a sunset flip. Kong blocks it and tries to sit on Kaori, but Kaori moves and dropkicks Kong in the back. Kaori goes for a slam but Kong blocks it, Kaori slides away and jumps on Kong’s back and puts her in a sleeper, but Kong drives her into the corner to get her off. Kaori applies a waistlock but she can’t get Kong over, she goes for a crossbody before hitting a DDT. Running knee to the back of the head by Kaori but Kong kicks her in the head, lariat by Kong and she covers Kaori for two. Scoop slam by Kong, she gets on the second turnbuckle but Kaori grabs her from behind and tosses her to the mat. German suplex hold by Kaori, but Kong gets a shoulder up. Kaori gets on the second turnbuckle and hits the diving senton, but that gets a two count as well. Kaori goes all the way up the next time but Kong avoids her dive, Kong gets her paint can and hits Kaori in the head with it. Backdrop suplex by Kong, but Kaori barely kicks out of the pin. Kong picks up Kaori and drops her with a brainbuster, but that gets a two count as well. Kong picks up Kaori but Kaori ducks the backfist, Kaori blocks Kong’s kick and knees her in the chest. Jackknife cover by Kaori, and she picks up the three count! Kaori Yoneyama wins the match.

The story was sound, but it took time to get going. This was basically Aja Kong 101, a common theme in a lot of her matches is the feisty underdog failing at first to get her off her feet before finally succeeding as the match goes on. Kaori is easy to root for so it generally worked, but she is enough of a veteran that it didn’t feel out of the realm of practical that she could hit moves like the German suplex. I am surprised that Aja Kong lost, not that it matters in this case but she so rarely gets pinned. An interesting way to start the show, it had a tight story and a fun surprise ending.  Mildly Recommended

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Aoi Kizuki vs. Rina Yamashita

Even though neither Aoi nor Rina are officially members of OZ Academy, they wrestle in the promotion quite a bit. Aoi Kizuki is a roaming Freelancer that hasn’t done a lot recently, she showed promise early on but hasn’t really found an identity recently which has stalled her career. Rina Yamashita is one of the top wrestlers from Pro Wrestling WAVE and also has a feud going with Yoshiko in SEAdLINNNG. Since Rina is one of the top young wrestlers on the scene, this won’t be a tough one for her as Aoi isn’t much of a threat.

oz9-3-2Aoi grabs Rina from behind and quickly schoolboys her for two, she tries a few more flash pins but none have any luck. Suplex by Aoi, she goes up top but Rina rolls out of the way of the swivel body press. Rina picks up Aoi but Aoi hits a series of Mongolian Chops, snapmare by Aoi and she puts Rina in a rolling bodyscissors. Aoi eventually lets Rina go, Irish whip by Aoi but Rina reverses it and Aoi falls to the mat. Giant Swing by Rina and she puts Aoi in the Scorpion Deathlock, but Aoi gets a hand in the ropes for the break. Rina throws Aoi into the corner and hits her with a few lariats, but Aoi runs out of the corner and hits a jumping lariat of her own. Aoi jumps out to the apron and snaps Rina’s neck on the top rope, Aoi goes up top and delivers a diving body press for a two count cover. Aoi picks up Rina and applies a side choke over her knee, but Rina gets out of it and boots Aoi in the head. Rina goes for a backdrop suplex but Aoi lands on top of her, she goes for another one but Aoi grabs the referee to stop from going over. Rina shakes Aoi free and hits the move anyway, but Aoi kicks out of the pin. Rina charges Aoi, Aoi avoids her and goes for another flash pin with no success. Lariat by Rina but Aoi cradles her for two, Aoi goes off the ropes but Rina hits another lariat for her own two count. Rina goes off the ropes and hits a final lariat, picking up the three count pinfall! Rina Yamashita wins the match.

I have trouble these days really getting into Aoi Kizuki matches, she went from one of my favorites a few years ago to just being nothing. She rarely wins big matches so I don’t take her seriously, and her offense (such as the Mongolian Chops and jumping lariat) lack any impact whatsoever. Rina is a lot of fun to watch but she wasn’t able to save this match. I don’t know what is going on with Aoi or if it can be fixed, but most of her matches these days are skippable.

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Mayumi Ozaki, Ohka, and Alex Lee vs. Sonoko Kato, Sekiguchi, and Kaho Kobayashi

If you are wondering right now “Why is Syoko Sekiguchi wrestling in OZ Academy?” then you are not alone. Syoko debuted for Actwres girl’Z in March and typically doesn’t team with Sonoko nor Kaho, so I am legitimately not sure why she is on a random OZ Academy card. Wrestling is weird sometimes. Sonoko and Kaho are a regular team in OZ Academy, they are holding down the MISSION K4 fort since Kagetsu has not wrestled in the promotion since the Spring. On the other side is the best of the Ozaki Army, the big heel stable in OZ Academy. Police is down at ringside with them, so expect lots of shenanigans in this match.

Kaho and company attack before Ozaki Army even makes it to the ring, and both teams brawl around the floor. They drag Ohka into the ring and triple team her until Ozaki comes in with a whip to help. The action goes right back to the floor again, with Ozaki Army in control this time, as Police makes it a 4 vs. 3 affair. Ohka and Syoko return to the ring as Ohka whips the rookie, Ozaki comes in to help even though Ohka had things well in control. Ohka tags in Alex Lee, who has a whip of her own which she uses to choke Syoko. Lee kicks Syoko in the head with a Buzzsaw Kick, cover by Lee but Kaho breaks it up. Lee tags Ozaki as they continue on Syoko, its interesting as usually Kaho is the Face in Peril but I guess with Syoko there she gets the day off. Ozaki suplexes Syoko and gets a chain, she drives Syoko’s head into the chain a few times before hitting her in the head with it. Police gets on the apron to help (again, not really necessary under the circumstances), Ozaki hits Syoko with the chain in the corner before throwing her into Ohka’s boot. Ozaki tags Ohka as the abuse of Syoko continues, Syoko finally manages to dropkick Ohka but Ohka stops her from making the hot tag. Knees by Ohka but Syoko hits another dropkick and tags in Sonoko. Kaho comes in too and Ohka is double teamed in the corner, catapult footstomp to Ohka and Sonoko kicks Ohka in the face. Another kick by Sonoko, but her cover only gets a two. Sonoko goes up top and hits a cannonball, but it gets a two count as well.

oz9-3-3Kicks by Sonoko and she tags in Syoko, dropkicks by Syoko and she hits a STO, but Ohka kicks out of the cover. Syoko goes off the ropes but she is hit by Lee from the apron, Ozaki comes in but Kaho dives into the ring with a crossbody onto both opponents. Sonoko kicks Ohka but Ohka gets her whip and hits Sonoko in the face with it. Backdrop suplex by Ohka, and she covers Sonoko for two. Ohka tags in Lee, Lee kicks Sonoko into the corner and hits a jumping knee followed by a spin-out slam for a two count. Sonoko ducks a lariat and hits a release German, kick to the head by Sonoko but Ohka breaks up the cover. Sonoko picks up Lee but Lee wiggles away, head kick by Sonoko but Lee returns the favor. Lee slams Sonoko in front of the corner, she goes up top and hits the diving footstomp, but Kaho breaks up the pin. Lee tags in Ozaki, Ozaki goes for the Tequila Sunrise but Sonoko blocks it. Sonoko hits a back bodydrop, she gets Ozaki behind her back but Ozaki applies a sunset flip for two. Kaho runs in to clear out Ozaki Army, running kick by Sonoko to Ozaki and she goes up top, hitting the diving guillotine legdrop. Her pin attempt is broken up so she tags in Kaho, Kaho goes up top and delivers a missile dropkick. She goes up top again, she knocks Police off the apron before hitting another missile dropkick. A third missile dropkick by Kaho, she elbows Ozaki but is tripped from the apron when she goes off the ropes and pulled out of the ring by Police.

A crazy brawl ensues at ringside, most of which we can’t see well since the event is filmed with just a hard cam, until Kaho is rolled back into the ring. Kaho gets away from Ozaki but eats a chop to the chest, Ozaki tags in Ohka who takes a moment to whip Kaho. Sonoko comes in and kicks Ohka, dropkick by Syoko and Kaho hits the Fisherman Suplex for a two count. Kaho and Ohka trade elbows until Ohka hits a DDT, heel drop by Ohka and she covers Kaho for two. Ohka whips Kaho, then Ozaki hits her with a chain before Police hits Kaho with a chair. Powerbomb by Ozaki to Kaho, but the referee won’t count since everyone is standing in the ring with weapons. Ohka picks up Kaho but Kaho reverses the chokebomb into a hurricanrana for two. She goes for a bodyscissors roll-up but Ohka blocks it, Ohka goes off the ropes but Kaho hits it on the second try. Ozaki hits Kaho in the head with the chain, lariat by Police and Lee drops Kaho with a chokebomb. Ohka then hits a chokebomb of her own, but Sonoko breaks up the cover. Police lariats Ohka by accident, La Magistral by Kaho to Ohka but Police breaks it up. Police stomps Kaho but Kato comes in to neutralize him, dragon suplex by Kato to Ohka and Kaho goes up top, but Ozaki joins her and hits a superplex. Ohka tosses Kaho over her head before hitting a big boot, but Syoko breaks up the pin. Brainbuster by Ohka but she lifts up Kaho before the referee can count three, she goes off the ropes and nails a big boot for the three count pinfall! Ozaki Army wins.

I can’t pretend to really enjoy matches like these, as they simply aren’t my preferred match style. At least Ozaki Army lost their own biased referee (MIO) so its not quite as unfair, but the constant interference by Police just takes me out of it a bit. I lived through WCW doing this match style for years and it officially burned me out apparently forever. Even beyond that it was way too long, the Syoko segment lasted an eternity but ultimately didn’t matter so it just felt like time filler. It also makes the weapons like the chain less special when they are used throughout the match with little long term impact, I don’t mind them cheating but sometimes less is more. A few exciting parts and its always fun to see Kaho, but overall just too long and predictable.

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AKINO vs. Manami Toyota

Manami Toyota’s road to retirement continues, as she faces off against AKINO. Manami Toyota announced she will retire on November 3rd, so we are watching the last few months in the career of one of the top Joshi wrestlers ever. OZ Academy is her home promotion but she has been wrestling in various promotions the last few months as she gives her farewells. Here she faces almost 20 year veteran AKINO, and even though they wrestle in the same promotion, this is their first singles match.

oz9-3-4AKINO schoolboys Toyota right after the handshake, ending the pleasantries, but Toyota comes back with a crossbody and kicks AKINO into the ropes. Stomps by Toyota but AKINO fires back with a dropkick, kicks to the back by AKINO and she flings down Toyota by the hair. PK by AKINO and she rakes at Toyota’s face, but Toyota gets away and stomps AKINO in the lower midsection. She does it a second time before throwing AKINO into the mat, cross leg submission by Toyota and she puts AKINO in a Muta Lock. She lets her go after a moment and puts AKINO in the ropes, dropkick by Toyota but AKINO kicks her and returns the favor by dropkicking Toyota while she is tied up in the ropes. AKINO goes up top and hits a missile dropkick, but Toyota gets back up and goes for the Rolling Cradle. AKINO blocks it but Toyota kicks AKINO in the head, Toyota gets on the second turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick. She hits a second one and a third but AKINO keeps getting back up, so Toyota delivers a fourth missile dropkick for a two count cover. Toyota gets on the top turnbuckle but AKINO avoids the moonsault, AKINO goes up top but Toyota boots her off and down to the floor. Toyota gets on the top turnbuckle but AKINO rolls back in, Toyota climbs back down but AKINO kicks her. AKINO kicks Toyota in the leg and chest, release German by AKINO but Toyota ducks the PK. Rolling Cradle by Toyota, but AKINO kicks out at two. Both wrestlers slowly get up, heel drop by Toyota and she covers AKINO for another two count. Toyota goes up top and nails the moonsault, but AKINO gets a shoulder up on the pin. Toyota picks up AKINO but AKINO spins away from her, they trade strikes until AKINO knocks Toyota to her knees with a high kick. Buzzsaw Kick by AKINO, she covers Toyota but it gets a two count. AKINO goes for an exploder but Toyota blocks it, high kick by AKINO but Toyota boots her back. Toyota gets AKINO on her shoulders but AKINO slides off, AKINO goes for a schoolboy but Toyota sits on her for two. AKINO pushes Toyota down and puts her in La Magistral, picking up the three count! AKINO wins!

Needless to say, AKINO and Toyota can’t “go” like they could 10 years ago, but both still know how to structure a match to make it entertaining. The ending was a bit flat as I’d have preferred after all of that they ended it with something bigger than a cradle, but they kept the action up and Toyota hit most of her big setup moves. I don’t mind a good veteran match now and then, not everything was hit crisp but it was still a fun watch. Mildly Recommended

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Hikaru Shida and Yoshiko vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto and Tsubasa Kuragaki

This is a rematch from the OZ Academy event on August 6th. Hiroyo Matsumoto comes into the match the OZ Academy Openweight Champion, and she teams with Kuragaki who is one of the top veterans in the promotion. Its a very powerful team as both are known for their strength. Hikaru Shida is one of the top Freelancers on the Joshi scene, this year she is best known for her tag team work with Syuri. Her partner Yoshiko hails from SEAdLINNNG, this is just the second time these two have ever teamed so I don’t know if its a long time union or just for short term giggles.

Hiroyo and Yoshiko start the match, they trade holds before trying to knock each other over, with Hiroyo having the first success. Yoshiko returns the favor and knocks Hiroyo into the corner, she goes for a running boot but Hiroyo greets her with an elbow. Hiroyo snaps Yoshiko’s neck on the top rope, elbows by Hiroyo and she dropkicks Yoshiko in the head. She tags in Kuragaki, Kuragaki throws Yoshiko into the corner and she hits a couple lariats. Crab hold by Kuragaki but Hikaru runs in to break it up, Kuragaki keeps the hold applied though until Yoshiko makes it to the ropes for the break. She tags Hiroyo back in, scoop slam by Hiroyo and she hits a double kneedrop to Yoshiko’s stomach. Kuragaki returns, she throws Yoshiko into the corner but Yoshiko rebounds out of it with a diving lariat. That gives her time to tag in Hikaru, elbows by Hikaru to Kuragaki and she hits an enzuigiri. Hikaru gets her kendo stick, she hits Hiroyo in the head with it before rolling Kuragaki to the mat for a two count. Dropkick by Hikaru and she goes for a suplex, but she can’t get Kuragaki over. Yoshiko comes in to try to help but Kuragaki suplexes both of them and makes the tag to Hiroyo. Hiroyo goes up top and hits a missile dropkick onto Hikaru, backbreaker by Hiroyo and she puts Hikaru in the Argentine Backbreaker before hitting a gutbuster for a two count. Hiroyo picks up Hikaru and applies a sleeper, but Hikaru snapmares out of the hold. Elbows by Hiroyo but Hikaru catches her with a hurricanrana, running knee by Hikaru and she hits a vertical suplex for two. Running knee by Hikaru, but Hiroyo barely kicks out. Hikaru rolls to her corner and tags Yoshiko, senton by Yoshiko to Hiroyo but Hiroyo blocks the Samoan Drop attempt. Strike combination by Yoshiko and she kicks Hiroyo in the head, running senton by Yoshiko and she covers Hiroyo for two. Cobra Twist by Yoshiko but Kuragaki quickly breaks it up, Hikaru and Yoshiko pick up Hiroyo but Hiroyo catches them with a double backdrop suplex.

oz9-3-5Reverse double kneedrop by Hiroyo out of the corner, but Yoshiko kicks out of the cover. Hiroyo goes back up top but Yoshiko elbows her and goes up as well, Hiroyo headbutts her off but Yoshiko headbutts her back. Chokebomb by Yoshiko, but Hiroyo rolls through it and they trade quick pin attempts. Yoshiko picks up Hiroyo and hits a fireman’s carry slam, she goes up top but Kuragaki runs in and joins her. Yoshiko blocks the superplex attempt but Hiroyo helps them out by powerbombing Kuragaki, sending everyone to the mat. Body avalanche by Hiroyo but Yoshiko blocks the powerbomb, elbow by Hiroyo but Yoshiko slides away and hits a Codebreaker. Spinning back elbow by Hiroyo, and both wrestlers are on the mat. Hiroyo recovers first and tags in Kuragaki, backdrop suplex by Kuragaki to Yoshiko and she goes for a moonsault, but Yoshiko gets her feet up. Yoshiko tries to tag out but Hiroyo knocks Hikaru off the apron, Yoshiko lariats Hiroyo before sending Kuragaki on top of Hiroyo and hitting a senton. Kuragaki recovers and trades elbows with Yoshiko, Hikaru kicks Kuragaki from the apron and Yoshiko delivers a lariat for a two count. Yoshiko gets on the second turnbuckle and hits a diving senton, but Hiroyo breaks up the cover. Hikaru comes in with her kendo stick and hits Hiroyo with it, but Kuragaki grabs it. Yoshiko tries to hold Kuragaki for Hikaru, but Hikaru hits Yoshiko with the kendo stick by mistake. Kuragaki then lariats both of them, another lariat by Kuragaki to Yoshiko but Hikaru breaks up the cover. Hiroyo returns and drops Hikaru with a backdrop suplex, she then picks up Yoshiko but Yoshiko blocks the suplex attempt and puts Hiroyo in a sleeper. Kuragaki breaks it up but Yoshiko then puts her in the sleeper, Kuragaki gets out of it and Hiroyo greets Yoshiko with a hard elbow. Assisted powerbomb by Hiroyo to Yoshiko, Kuragaki follows with a lariat and covers Yoshiko for two. Falcon Arrow by Kuragaki to Yoshiko, and she picks up the three count! Hiroyo Matsumoto and Tsubasa Kuragaki are the winners!

An interesting booking choice, I’d never have expected Kuragaki to pin Yoshiko as the match result. This was enjoyable, a fast paced heavyweight match with four quality wrestlers. I wouldn’t have minded more Hikaru Shida since she is one of my favorites, but the story of the match centered around Yoshiko so she had to take a back seat. The team of Hiroyo and Kuragaki being dominate throughout the match surprised me, Kuragaki is one of those wrestlers that won’t win anything major but is a very respected veteran that can dominate just about anyone at any given time. Hiroyo’s power was impressive as always and while the heel/face dynamic didn’t exist it was still fun to watch. A fitting main event for a smaller show.  Recommended