OZ Academy SAKURA HANASAKU on 4/12/17 Review

Event: OZ Academy SAKURA HANASAKU
Date: April 12th, 2017
Location: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 1,030

Since a fair number of OZ Academy shows air on GAORA, it isn’t unusual for us to be a bit behind in watching the promotion’s more significant events. This show just recently aired and is a big one, as it takes place at the famous Korakuen Hall and has two title matches on top. Here is the full card:

You can click on the wrestler’s name above to go to their profile page on Joshi City. As this aired on GAORA there is likely heavy clipping, I’ll make a note of any match that is noticeably missing content.

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Kaori Yoneyama and Aoi Kizuki vs. Rina Yamashita and Yako Fujigasaki

None of these wrestlers are affiliated with OZ Academy, although they all wrestle in the promotion occasionally. Kaori is the veteran of the group and is best known for her work in Stardom, while Yamashita is one of the stars of Pro Wrestling WAVE. Yako is a young wrestler from JWP, and Aoi is a Freelancer that wrestles a bunch of places.

oz4-12-1We join this one well in progress as Aoi and Yamashita are in the ring, Aoi applies a cobra clutch over her knee but Yamashita avoids the senton and kicks Aoi in the head for a two count. Yamashita goes for a backdrop suplex but Aoi blocks it, back up Aoi hits a lariat and she tags in Kaori. Kaori knees Yamashita in the back but Yamashita blocks the suplex attempt and hits a lariat for two. Yamashita tags in Yako and they double team Kaori in the corner, Yako goes up top and she hits a missile dropkick for a two count. Yako picks up Kaori and hits the double wrist armsault, but Aoi breaks up the cover. Yako goes up top but Kaori avoids the swivel both press, Aoi runs in and sentons Yako with Kaori following with a senton of her own. Kaori goes for a suplex but Yako blocks it, Yamashita runs in to help but she accidentally kicks Yako. Aoi sails off the top with a crossbody onto both of them, they put Yako in front of the corner and both hit diving sentons on Yako. Cover by Kaori and she gets the three count! Kaori Yoneyama and Aoi Kizuki win.

Clipped down to two minutes so not a whole lot to say about it. Fun home stretch though, Kaori and Aoi worked well together. Way too clipped to recommend but what they showed was fine.

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Konami vs. Sonoko Kato

An interesting singles match for Konami, as she wrestles the veteran Kato. Konami is two years into her career, she was trained by Kana and recently can be seen quite a bit in Stardom, where she currently holds the trio title (she didn’t at the time of this match). Kato is an OZ Academy wrestler, a former champion in the promotion and a 20 year veteran. So it won’t be an easy match for young Konami to win.

oz4-12-2This match is also joined in progress as Kato is going for a suplex, but Konami blocks it. Uppercut by Kato and she hits a rolling fireman’s carry, picking up a two count cover. Kato gets on the second turnbuckle and hits a diving legdrop, but that gets a two count as well. Kato kicks Konami into the corner and hits the cannonball, she goes up top but Konami kicks her before she can jump off. Konami applies the sleeper but Kato gets into the ropes, schoolboy by Konami and she applies the cross kneelock. Kato manages to get into the ropes to force the break again, release German by Konami and she kicks Kato in the head for a two count. Konami drags Kato up but Kato catches her kick and hits a dragon screw. Konami charges Kato but Kato kicks her in the head, she goes for a Dragon Sleeper but Konami kicks her off. Kato kicks Konami in the back and applies it anyway, but Konami gets a foot on the ropes. Kato goes up top but Konami avoids the diving legdrop and quickly re-applies the sleeper. Kato throws her off this time and kicks Konami in the head, but Konami retorts with her own head kick. Another head kick by Kato but Konami hits another as well, as both wrestlers are woozy. Konami finally ducks a head kick and hits a pair of her own, but Kato quickly kicks out of the cover and delivers a heel kick for a two count. German suplex hold by Kato, she picks up Konami and nails the Kowloon’s Gate for the three count! Sonoko Kato is the winner.

Even though this was cut in half, I still really enjoyed it. Konami is one of the best wrestlers in the world with only two years experience, she has come along so well and is so smooth with her moves. I love how often she chains moves together, no waiting and thinking, just bang-bang-bang with the offense which is rare these days. Kato was game for everything and really put over Konami’s head kicks, this was a really close match which Kato didn’t have to allow it to be considering her level in the promotion. A really solid match, I just wish we saw more of it.  Mildly Recommended

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Aja Kong, Yoshiko, and Kuragaki vs. Ozaki, Maya Yukihi, and Yumi Ohka

Ozaki Army time! Its no secret I don’t love Ozaki Army, with Police’s interference and other shenanigans I have trouble getting into their matches. But the crowd enjoys it. On the other side, Kong and Yoshiko have become a regular tag team in recent months, and they are joined by 20 year veteran Kuragaki. So both sides are fairly stacked, with the younger Yukihi being the only one with not a lot of success yet in her career.

This one is joined in progress also, as poor Kuragaki is being whipped by Ohka. Kuragaki is triple teamed for a bit until everyone but Ozaki leaves, Kuragaki promptly drops her with two backdrop suplexes but Ozaki hits a spinning chop and tags in Ohka. Crossbody by Ohka and she whips Kuragaki before choking her, but Kuragaki tosses her to the mat. She goes for a moonsault but Ohka moves and hits a heel drop, Ohka goes off the ropes but Kuragaki ducks the boot. Kick by Ohka but Kuragaki levels her with a lariat, she goes off the ropes but Ohka hits the chokebomb for a two count. Now Ohka goes off the ropes but Kuragaki hits another lariat and makes the tag to Yoshiko. Maya is tagged in too and she whips Yoshiko in the leg, more whips by Maya and she chokes Yoshiko with it. PK by Maya, but the referee won’t count due to all the whip usage. Yoshiko gets the whip and hits Maya with it, running boot by Yoshiko and she covers Maya for two. Mounted choke by Yoshiko, she picks up Maya and elbows her, but Police hits Yoshiko with a chair from the floor. Ohka and Ozaki come in and Yoshiko is triple teamed, Maya goes up top and delivers a missile dropkick for a two count cover. Maya tags Ozaki who comes in with her chain, Ozaki hits Yoshiko in the head with it a few times but Yoshiko grabs it and they play tug of war.

oz4-12-3They trade shots with the chain but Yoshiko hits a lariat, running senton by Yoshiko and she covers Ozaki for two. Yoshiko tags in Kong, Kong comes in with her metal can and hits everyone with it. Brainbuster onto the can by Kong, but again the referee won’t count since she used a weapon. Scoop slam by Kong and she gets on the second turnbuckle, but Police grabs her from the apron. Maya runs in too as everyone ends up in the ring, Kuragaki ends up with all three opponents in the corner and gets them all on her shoulders. Kuragaki tosses her to the mat and her team all hit lariats on their opponents before isolating Ozaki. Backdrop suplex by Kong to Ozaki, but Police breaks up the cover. Irish whip by Police and he goes for a lariat, but Kong slaps him in the face. Maya comes in and kicks Kong but Kuragaki lariats her, Ozaki tries to spray mist into Kong’s face but she sprays Ohka by accident. She ducks Kong’s backfist and mists her successfully the second time, Alex lee suddenly appears and she kicks Kong in the head. Schoolboy by Ozaki and she gets the three count! Ozaki Army win!

I don’t mind this match getting clipped a bit. As I mentioned at the top, not my cup of tea, but Kuragaki of all people came out looking like the star as multiple times she fought off Ozaki Army and had the most memorable offense in what they showed. Alex Lee joining Ozaki Army is really lackluster, she is a pretty average wrestler and doesn’t bring much to the table besides being another lackey to interfere in their matches. Some decent action and weapon shots, but quite a bit was missing and the big reveal at the end fell flat to me.

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Manami Toyota vs. Takako Inoue

Two of the most popular wrestlers from AJW in the 1990s collide! Probably for the last time, as Manami Toyota announced that she will be retiring later this year. Takako Inoue at this stage of her career doesn’t have too active of a schedule, but still appears often enough that she is in great shape and doesn’t have any issues with rust. Toyota and Takako are 46 and 47 years old, respectively, so while they can’t go as fast as they used to the passion is still there and they are fun to watch.

oz4-12-4Toyota dropkicks Takako just as the match starts, she hops up on the top turnbuckle and delivers a diving armdrag, but Takako kicks her and hits a DDT. Another DDT by Takako and she applies a sleeper, but Toyota gets out of it by biting her foot. Toyota tickles Takako to get her to release the bodyscissors, she picks up Takako but Takako hits an armdrag. Wristlock by Takako and she steps on Toyota’s hand, she throws Toyota into the turnbuckles but Toyota gets away and rolls her up for two. Toyota twists Takako’s hair and throws her down by it, Toyota stomps on Takako near the ropes but Takako recovers and kicks Toyota in the leg. DDT by Takako and she boots Toyota in the head, but Toyota blocks the next one and bops her. Another boot by Takako, she goes up top but Toyota avoids the Takako Panic and applies the Manami Cradle Roll for a two count. Toyota quickly goes up top but Takako recovers and slams her back to the mat, cover by Takako but it gets two. Now Takako goes up top but Toyota joins her, avalanche chokeslam by Takako but Toyota barely gets a shoulder up. Takako goes up top and nails the Takako Panic, but again it only gets a two. Toyota ducks the backfist attempt and boots Takako in the face, big boot by Toyota and she nails the moonsault, but Takako barely kick out of the pin. Toyota goes for the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex but Takako gets away, she goes for the spinning backfist but Toyota ducks it. Suplex by Takako and she hits Toyota with a night stick, Takako Night Night by Takako but that gets a two as well. Takako goes up top and hits another Takako Panic, but she can’t keep Toyota down. Another Takako Night Night doesn’t do the trick either, Takako goes up top but Toyota boots her off and she falls to the floor. Toyota goes up top but Takako quickly rolls back in and joins her, but Toyota slaps her back to the mat and hits a missile dropkick. Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex by Toyota, but Takako kicks out at two. Toyota picks up Takako and hits the Japanese Ocean Queen Bee Bomb, and she picks up the three count! Manami Toyota is your winner.

Needless to say, this was a “Legends” style match, which meant a bit of playing around but still with some quality action. Toyota and Takako are past their prime of course, and Takako doesn’t wrestle a normal schedule, but both are still in shape and had no issues putting on a ten minute match. They were spamming finishers a bit but I can see it being their last ever singles match so they wanted to put on a good show. An enjoyable match if you go in with the right expectations, the effort was definitely there and it was fun to see them going at it probably for the last time.

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(c) Syuri and Hikaru Shida vs. AKINO and Kaho Kobayashi
OZ Academy Tag Team Championship

This event just really picked up. Syuri and Shida are, as far I am concerned, the best tag team in the world as they have been virtually unbeatable since they started teaming last fall. They both are also high end wrestlers that work together really well, and have taken both OZ Academy and Sendai Girls’ by storm. AKINO and Kaho are both in the MISSION K4 faction, which are the main “good guy” group in OZ Academy. AKINO is the seasoned veteran, and while Kaho isn’t exactly a new wrestler she is the least experienced of the bunch. I fully expect this to be awesome as all four can go.

Syuri and Shida are deadly serious for this match, which doesn’t bode well for AKINO and Kaho. Syuri and Kaho start off, Kaho gets Syuri into the ropes and gives a clean break, but Syuri kicks her anyway and applies a headlock. Kaho gets out of it, shoulderblock by Kaho but Kaho kips up and hits a pair of armdrags. Dropkick by Kaho, AKINO comes in and Syuri is double teamed, but Shida grabs AKINO from the floor and pulls her out of the ring. Syuri gets out onto the apron and hits a jumping knee off of it onto AKINO, Kaho goes for a double crossbody but she is caught and thrown at AKINO. Shida battles Kaho around the ring while AKINO and Syuri end up in the bleachers, Syuri kicks AKINO in the head before coming back to ringside to help Shida double team Kaho. Shida stays in as the legal wrestler and hits a backbreaker on Kaho, Shida stretches Kaho over her shoulder before hitting another backbreaker. Syuri comes in but Kaho ducks their kick and they hit each other, AKINO dives in with a crossbody on both of them before Kaho applies a quick cover to Shida for two. Kaho tags AKINO, missile dropkick by AKINO but Syuri comes in to help. Syuri elbows Shida by accident, kicks by AKINO to Shida but Shida lands on her feet on the backdrop suplex attempt and hits a hurricanrana. Knee by Shida in the corner and she tags Syuri, kicks by Syuri and she hits a spinning headscissors. PK by Syuri, but AKINO kicks out of the cover.

oz4-12-5Jawbreaker by AKINO and she delivers a few kicks, but Syuri ducks one and rolls her up. Syuri goes for a kick but AKINO blocks it, Syuri reverses AKINO’s hold into an ankle lock but AKINO reverses that into an armbreaker. AKINO charges Syuri but Syuri hits a jumping knee followed by a cross armbreaker takedown. Kaho breaks it up before Shida can get to her, kicks to the chest by Syuri to AKINO but AKINO catches her jumping knee attack and slams Syuri to the mat. AKINO locks in a deep headscissors but Shida breaks it up, kicks by AKINO and she covers Syuri for two. AKINO picks up Syuri but Syuri gets away and delivers a jumping knee. Kick combination by Syuri but AKINO elbows her and they trade shots until both collapse to the mat. AKINO tags in Kaho before Syuri can reach her corner, dropkicks by Kaho but Syuri kicks her in the chest and makes the tag to Shida. Shida goes for a suplex, Kaho gets out of it but Shida hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Kaho reverses the Falcon Arrow into a DDT, she goes up top but Shida throws the kendo stick at her, she joins Kaho up top but Kaho lands on top of her when she goes for a suplex. Kaho and AKINO both go up top together, Syuri runs in and hits a Backstabber on AKINO, but Kaho jumps off the top with a missile dropkick/body press combination on both opponents.

Fisherman suplex hold by Kaho, but Shida barely gets a shoulder up. Kaho goes off the ropes and goes for a roll-up, Shida blocks it but AKINO runs in and kicks her. Cover by Kaho, but Syuri breaks it up. Dropkick by Kaho, she goes off the ropes but Shida nails a jumping knee. Shida picks up Kaho and hits a vertical suplex, Three Count by Shida and Syuri follows with a PK. Another kick by Syuri and they both knee Kaho, but AKINO breaks up the pin. Shida goes off the ropes but Kaho catches her with a Frankensteiner, but Shida rolls through it. Jackknife cover by Kaho, she goes for La Magistral but Shida kicks her off. High kick by Shida but AKINO kicks her and Kaho hits a Codebreaker. 120% Schoolboy by Kaho, but Syuri breaks it up. Kaho goes off the ropes but it caught by a powerslam, Three Count by Shida but Kaho kicks out. Falcon Arrow by Shida, but AKINO breaks the pin up. She eats a double knee for her trouble as does Kaho, but again Kaho gets a shoulder up. Tamashi No Three Count by Shida, and she finally gets the three count pinfall! Syuri and Hikaru Shida are still the champions!

What a match. This was just a 15 minute strike filled sprint, with little time to breath or relax. I don’t mind matches that start with submission holds or feeling out, but I do enjoy when a match does something different as this one had none of that. Kaho is so easy to get behind, she got her ass kicked the whole match and even though I knew the ending, I still leaned forward when she got the 120% Schoolboy locked in, rooting her on even though I knew it wouldn’t work. She took an amazing amount of abuse here but kept on chugging along, until Shida finally found the right combination to put her away. Both teams are real tag teams, not just thrown together, and were constantly helping each other out without it feeling excessive or like one team was cheating. Just an incredible tag team match and one of my favorite ones of 2017 so far.  Highly Recommended

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(c) Hiroyo Matsumoto vs. Kagetsu
OZ Academy Openweight Championship

Time for the main event. Even though both Hiroyo and Kagetsu are technically Freelancers, OZ Academy has been one of their main homes for several years. Hiroyo is a four time OZ Academy Tag Team Champion and has held the OZ Academy Openweight Championship since defeating Sonoko Kato on November 13th of last year. Kagetsu doesn’t have the title success of Hiroyo, with only two tag team championship runs in the promotion, however she has been a big part of OZ Academy as part of MISSION K4. She defeated Hikaru Shida on February 26th to earn this shot, and hopes to win the title in her third challenge for the championship.

This match starts a bit slower, until Kagetsu drives Hiroyo into the corner and hits a running elbow smash. More elbows by Kagetsu and she hits a dropkick in the corner, Hiroyo recovers and they get into a double wristlock. Hiroyo chops Kagetsu in the chest but Kagetsu dropkicks her and the two trade elbows. Hiroyo throws Kagetsu out of the ring and throws her into the crowd, Hiroyo gets Kagetsu on her back before tossing her to the floor. Hiroyo throws Kagetsu into the ring post but Kagetsu moves when Hiroyo charges in, Kagetsu gets on the apron and kicks Hiroyo in the chest. Kagetsu throws Hiroyo back into the ring and puts her in a headscissors, Kagetsu kicks Hiroyo in the back but Hiroyo catches her with a sidewalk slam. Elbow drops to the back by Hiroyo, Hiroyo gets Kagetsu on her back and stretches her with a backbreaker. Kagetsu grabs the ropes to get out of it, she slides out to the apron but Hiroyo grabs her when she goes for a swandive move and throws Kagetsu back to the mat. Body avalanche by Hiroyo in the corner, she goes up top and she delivers a missile dropkick. Elevated crab hold by Hiroyo, but Kagetsu crawls to the ropes and reaches them for the break. Hiroyo gets on the second turnbuckle and hits a reverse double knee to Kagetsu’s back, gutbuster by Hiroyo and she covers Kagetsu for two. Kagetsu fights back with elbows, she goes for a suplex but Hiroyo blocks it. Kagetsu jumps up on the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick, Kagetsu goes for a kick but Hiroyo catches it. Deadlift German by Hiroyo, she gets on the second turnbuckle but Kagetsu springboards up to her and dropkicks Hiroyo out of the ring. Kagetsu runs up to the top turnbuckle and dives out onto Hiroyo (and Rina Yamashita too), Kagetsu returns to the ring and waits for Hiroyo to recover. Kagetsu grabs Hiroyo as she gets on the apron but can’t suplex her back in, Hiroyo snaps Kagetsu’s neck over the top rope and climbs back into the ring.

oz4-12-6Hiroyo elbows Kagetsu in the knee, she goes up top but Kagetsu joins her and hits a superplex. Kagetsu keeps the hold applied and hits a vertical suplex, cover by Kagetsu but it gets two. Strike combination by Kagetsu and she hits an Ebisu Drop, cover by Kagetsu but Hiroyo gets a shoulder up. Kagetsu hits a second one but she gets another two count, she jumps on Hiroyo’s back but Hiroyo blocks the sunset flip bomb and hits a hard lariat. Kagetsu kips up and kicks Hiroyo twice in the head, she goes for another high kick in the corner but Hiroyo ducks it and plants her with a powerbomb. Kagetsu recovers and hits another Ebisu Drop, but she can’t keep Hiroyo down for three. Hiroyo goes for a lariat but Kagetsu kicks her arm away, she goes for a backdrop suplex but instead drives Kagetsu face-first into the mat. Sliding Lariat by Hiroyo and both wrestlers are down on the mat. Hiroyo recovers first and elbows Kagetsu, Kagetsu elbows her back and the two trade blows. Roaring elbow by Hiroyo and she lariats Kagetsu, but Kagetsu stays up. Hard elbow by Hiroyo and she chops Kagetsu in the chest, she goes for a powerbomb but Kagetsu back bodydrops out of it. High kick by Kagetsu and she rolls up Hiroyo with a jackknife, but Hiroyo gets out of it. Kagetsu goes off the ropes but Hiroyo catches her with an elbow, she goes for a cover but Kagetsu reverses it into a cover of her own. Kagetsu goes for a hurricanrana but Hiroyo catches her, hitting a sit-down powerbomb for two. Hiroyo picks up Kagetsu but Kagetsu lands on her feet on the backdrop suplex attempt, high kick by Kagetsu and she applies a jackknife hold for two. Kagetsu goes off the ropes but Hiroyo nails a hard lariat, Hiroyo picks up Kagetsu and delivers the backdrop suplex for the three count! Hiroyo Matsumoto is still the champion.

I enjoyed this as both are just so smooth at their execution and they hit hard, but both blowing off moves so quickly eventually got on my nerves. It was constant, but one example was Hiroyo being “out” at ringside, but upon getting on the apron hits the first move and is back in control. Both “reversed” covers after eating their opponent’s bigger moves a few times, and generally the transitions were non-existent for half the match. Still, I can’t say the match wasn’t exciting as it certainly was, and they just went non-stop for the end stretch. An enjoyable and intense main event, just lacking in some areas.  Recommended