OZ Academy “The Wizard of OZ” on 1/8/17 Review

Event: OZ Academy “The Wizard of OZ 2017”
Date: January 8th, 2017
Location: Shinjuku FACE in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 420

After a very successful last few months of 2016, OZ Academy looks to keep up the momentum going into the new year. Dynamite Kansai is retired so they have lost one of their biggest stars, and Kyoko Kimura (who they often use) is retiring on January 22nd, so new wrestlers are going to have to step up. I bet they will. This is a big show too, as the OZ Academy Openweight Championship is defended and we get the unique team of Aja Kong and Yoshiko facing MISSION K4. Here is the full card:

You can click on the names above to go to that wrestler’s profile on Joshi City. The event aired on Nico Nico and is thus unedited.

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AKINO vs. Hamuko Hoshi

Since OZ Academy doesn’t really have their own rookies as I don’t think they have a dojo/training area, their opening matches tend to be different than most other promotions. Hoshi and AKINO clearly are no rookies. Hoshi is an eight year veteran from Ice Ribbon, while AKINO is an OZ Academy wrestler that debuted back in 1998 and is also a former champion in OZ Academy.

oz1-8-1Hoshi plays around to start, but AKINO has none of it and kicks her to the mat. AKINO bootscrapes Hoshi in the corner but Hoshi belly bumps her and rubs her belly into AKINO. Hoshi uses belly-based offense, if you weren’t away. Body avalanche by Hoshi and she hits a bulldog for a two count. AKINO regains the advantage and throws down Hoshi by the hair, snapmare by AKINO and she kicks Hoshi in the back. Leg drop by AKINO but Hoshi absorbs AKINO’s kicks with her belly. Dropkick by AKINO, Hoshi gets back up and the two trade elbows. Hoshi goes off the ropes and shoulderblocks AKINO to the mat, body press by Hoshi and she gets a two count. Kicks by AKINO, she goes up top and hits a missile dropkick for a two count of her own. AKINO picks up Hoshi and hits a jawbreaker. Running belly bump by Hoshi and she follows that with a Shining Onaka for two. Bridging suplex by Hoshi, but AKINO gets a shoulder up. Hoshi goes up top but AKINO gets her feet up when she dives off, kicks by AKINO and she delivers a backdrop suplex. AKINO goes for a kick to the head but Hoshi ducks it, Hoshi gets AKINO on her back but AKINO slides off and applies a sunset flip. Hoshi rolls over AKINO (literally), she then goes off the ropes but AKINO kicks her in the head. More kicks by AKINO, she goes for a capture suplex but Hoshi blocks it. Lariat by Hoshi, she goes for another one but AKINO blocks it and applies the Spider Twist for the submission victory! AKINO wins the match.

I can’t say that I am a big fan of Hoshi, I think she’s a pretty average wrestler and her offense is a bit too comedic to take seriously. AKINO is a solid wrestler but isn’t going to be able to pull Hoshi up to her level, especially not in a short opening match. I’ve seen worse openers, it wasn’t offensive, but it isn’t something that really needs to be watched either.

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Manami Toyota, Yamashita, and Nagahama vs. Mayumi Ozaki, Maya Yukihi, and Ohka

It is Ozaki-gun Time! Ozaki of course is the owner of OZ Academy and has her own little heel faction, including the young Maya Yukihi and the seasoned veteran Yumi Ohka. The other team is a bit random, as it includes the legendary Manami Toyota teaming with Rina Yamashita from Osaka Joshi Pro and Nagahama from Pro Wrestling WAVE. This one definitely favors Ozaki-gun as they also have Police at ringside so its essentially 4 vs. 3.

Team Toyota doesn’t even make it to the ring before they are attacked by Ozaki-gun, and all three are beaten around the floor until Nagahama is rolled into the ring with Ozaki. Ozaki hits Nagahama with a chain before all of Ozaki-gun attacks the poor young WAVE wrestler. Ozaki tags in Ohka and whips her before choking her with the whip. Maya comes in and continues the whip-based attacks, kicks by Maya and she puts Nagahama in the ropes so she can be double teamed some more. Cover by Maya, but Nagahama kicks out at two. Ozaki is tagged in and keeps working over Nagahama, Maya returns but Nagahama finally gets away and makes the tag to Toyota. Missile dropkick by Toyota to Maya and she stomps her down, but Police grabs her from the apron. Manami gets away and puts Maya in the Manami Roll, she eventually lets go and tags in Yamashita. Yamashita hits a shoulderblock but Maya rakes her eyes and hits a boot to the face. Maya picks up Yamashita and whips her around the ring (literally), Ohka then comes in and boots Yamashita in the face. Running knee by Maya and she connects with another boot before tagging in Ohka. Crossbody by Ohka, and she covers Yamashita for two. Ohka and Yamashita trade blows until Yamashita hits a backdrop suplex, Ohka returns the favor but Yamashita hits another one and covers Ohka for two.

oz1-8-2Police comes in and attacks Yamashita, heel drop by Ohka and she covers Yamashita for a tow count. Knee by Yamashita, Ohka goes off the ropes but Yamashita connects with a lariat. Brainbuster by Ohka and she tags in Ozaki while Yamashita tags in Nagahama, Nagahama is quickly pulled out of the ring and Police drags her around on the floor while hitting her with weapons. He rolls her back in after a moment, somersault senton by Ozaki but Yamashita breaks up the cover. Yamashita tries to help further but she lariats Nagahama by accident, but Nagahama connects with a series of dropkicks on Ozaki. Kasadora by Nagahama, but Police breaks it up. Toyota gets on the top turnbuckle and Nagahama manages to tag her, but she does so with so much gusto she accidentally knocks Toyota off the top turnbuckle. Toyota is triple teamed in the corner until Yamashita comes in to help, Toyota boots Ozaki but Maya breaks up the cover with her whip. Yamashita returns and hits a back suplex on Ozaki, moonsault by Toyota but Ozaki kicks out. Big boot by Toyota and she gets Ozaki on her shoulders, but Ohka whips her from behind which allows Ozaki to sneak in a two count cover. Toyota clears the ring and blocks Ozaki’s kick, but Ozaki spits mist in her face and applies an inside cradle for the three count! Ozaki-gun are the winners.

This was an Ozaki-gun match, no doubt about that. Lots of interference, only real difference is they didn’t have a heel referee helping as well. The main issue is that it was just too long, almost 17 minutes is a long time for an undercard match with not a lot interesting happening. Not my favorite match style and I prefer it in smaller quantities if I do have to watch it, although the effort level was certainly there.

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Aoi Kizuki vs. Kagetsu

This should be a fun little match. Aoi had a great year in 2015 but had a bit of a down year in 2016, as she didn’t win any titles and had a more comedic style. A Freelancer, she spends most of her time in Ice Ribbon but also wrestles in WAVE and other promotions. Kagetsu is a popular Freelancer best known recently for her work in Stardom, however she is also a regular in OZ Academy.

oz1-8-3After starting with some wristlocks, shoulderblock by Kagetsu but Aoi catches her with an armdrag. They trade quick trips and pins but Kagetsu hits a dropkick and stomps on Aoi in the back of the head. Kagetsu elbows Aoi in the head and delivers another dropkick, cover by Kagetsu but it gets two. Kagetsu goes for a submission but Aoi gets out of it, Kagetsu yanks on Aoi’s arm but Aoi fires back with Mongolian Chops. Kagetsu tries to do the same but Aoi absorbs the blows, Kagetsu tries again and this time has a bit more luck as she knocks Aoi into the corner. Kick by Aoi and she applies a cobra clutch over her knee before hitting a step-up senton for a two count. Aoi goes for an armsault but Kagetsu gets out of it and hits a missile dropkick. Jumping elbows by Kagetsu in the corner but Aoi avoids one and hits a chop. They trade shots, double wrist armsault by Aoi but it gets a two count. Aoi goes up top but Kagetsu avoids the swivel body press, Kagetsu slides out to the apron and she hits a swandive missile dropkick for two. Samoan Drop by Kagetsu, she picks up Aoi but Aoi slides down her back for a two count roll-up. They trade flash pins with no luck, Aoi picks up Kagetsu and goes for a sunset flip, but Kagetsu blocks it. Running elbow by Aoi, she hits a cross arm suplex hold and picks up the three count! Aoi Kizuki is the winner!

I swear that Aoi Kizuki used to be a really good wrestler. She still isn’t bad but her matches just don’t always click, something just felt off here. And since Kagetsu is great I assume it is Aoi’s fault. The structure was all over the place and they never got into a groove, it was just random back and forth with some iffy transitions. It wasn’t technically bad, just generally not exciting and lacking in memorable and entertaining moments.

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Aja Kong and Yoshiko vs. Sonoko Kato and Kaho Kobayashi

Now this is a hell of a tag team, doesn’t seem very fair. Aja Kong is of course one of the top wrestlers in Joshi history and 30 years into her career still a force to be reckoned with. Yoshiko is only 23 but it already feels like she has had a full career. In just a few years she went from winning the main event at a Sumo Hall show, being one of the top heels in Stardom, to “retiring” from the promotion after literally beating Act Yasukawa. Then she appeared in SEAdLINNNG the following year and has been wrestling in just about every Joshi promotion since (except Stardom of course), mostly winning and still wrestling a rough style. On the other side are two members of MISSION K4, who I guess are still a faction at the moment even though Kaho is leaving soon for a month long Mexican excursion.

Yoshiko and Kato start the match, Yoshiko wants to lock knuckles and Kato eventually does so and kicks Yoshiko repeatedly in the leg. Irish whip by Kato and the two trade elbows, knee by Kato but Yoshiko fires back with a shoulderblock. Yoshiko throws Kato into the corner and hits a running lariat, bootscrapes by Yoshiko and she delivers a running kick to the face. Yoshiko tags in Kong, chops by Kong in the corner and she hits an elbow drop for a two count. Kong picks up Kato, Kato tries to fight back but Kong pushes to the mat. Surprised Kato is playing Face in Peril and not Kaho, since Kaho is so damn good at it. Kato elbows Kong and goes for a suplex, she can’t get Kong over but Kaho runs in and hits an enzuigiri. Kato tags in Kaho, dropkicks by Kaho and she rolls up Kong for two. Hurricanrana by Kaho, but Kong kicks out of that as well. Kaho goes for a suplex but Kong blocks it, Kong goes for a suplex but Kaho lands on her feet. Kato runs in but Kong lariats both of them and tags in Yoshiko. Kicks by Yoshiko and she boots Kaho in the head, running senton by Yoshiko but it gets two. Enzuigiri by Kaho but Yoshiko catches her and hits a few knees, she goes off the ropes but Kaho hits a pair of dropkicks. Fisherman suplex by Kaho, but it gets a two count. She tags in Kato, kicks by Kato and she goes up top, but Yoshiko joins her. Kato knocks Yoshiko back to the mat and hits a cannonball, cover by Kato but it gets two.

oz1-8-4Kato picks up Yoshiko but Yoshiko pushes her away and hits a lariat. Kicks by Kato, Kaho runs in and they both attack Yoshiko in the corner. Kato tries to pick up Yoshiko but Yoshiko slides off and delivers a pair of lariats for a two count. Chokebomb by Yoshiko and she makes the tag to Kong. Kong picks up Kato, Kato goes off the ropes but Kong blocks her strike. Kato hits a release German anyway, but Kong is up first and drops her with a backdrop suplex. Kong gets on the second turnbuckle but Kato comes up behind her and hits an electric chair, kick to the head by Kato and she covers Kong for two. Kato picks up Kong but Yoshiko lariats her from behind, Kong and Yoshiko then hit simultaneous lariats onto Kato. Kaho suddenly appears with a missile dropkick to Kong, Kato gets on the top turnbuckle and nails the diving leg drop, but Yoshiko breaks up the cover. Lariat by Yoshiko to Kato, Kaho takes care of Yoshiko but Kong hits both of them with the paint can. Brainbuster by Kong to Kato, but Kato barely kicks out. Yoshiko comes back in and hits a diving senton off the second turnbuckle, Kong then goes up top and hits a diving elbow drop but Kaho breaks up the pin. Yoshiko lariats Kaho, while Kong picks up Kato and nails a Uraken for the three count! Aja Kong and Yoshiko win!

Finally a match on the card that I really enjoyed. I love that at her age Kong still puts so much into her matches, whether it be eating suplexes or coming off the top turnbuckle, she doesn’t just coast no matter where she is on the card. Love her or hate her, Yoshiko is very good at her style of wrestling, and Kaho is the perfect person to bump around for two dominate opponents. I was surprised Kato was in for most of the match as generally that is Kaho’s job, but she was solid as well. Lots of hard hits, no down time, just an entertaining match from start to finish.  Recommended

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Hikaru Shida and Syuri vs. Tsubasa Kuragaki and Kaori Yoneyama

Interesting that this is not a tag title match, since Shida and Syuri are the OZ Tag Team Champions. Shida and Syuri are the most dominate tag team in Joshi, with two tag team championships and having success in any promotion they go to. Kuragaki and Yoneyama are long time veterans and were the team that Shida and Syuri won the tag belts from back in September. Which makes it more odd it isn’t a title match. Still, with a win here I am sure that would get Kuragaki and Yoneyama a shot at winning their championships back at a later date.

Shida and Yoneyama kick things off, shoulderblock by Yoneyama but Shida kips up and hits a hip attack. Syuri comes in but Yoneyama throws her into Shida, she goes off the ropes but is tripped, leading to her being double teamed on the apron. Shida stomps on Yoneyama and tags in Syuri, kicks by Syuri and she throws Yoneyama in the corner. Jumping knee by Syuri in the corner and she hits a double arm suplex for a two count. Syuri goes for another kick but Yoneyama catches it, rolling up Syuri for two. Dropkick by Yoneyama and she makes the tag to Kuragaki, Kuragaki flings Syuri to the mat and goes for a powerbomb, but Syuri wiggles away. Kicks by Syuri but Kuragaki hits a lariat, Shida knees Kuragaki from the apron and gets in the ring, but Yoneyama comes in and hits a double dropkick. Syuri and Shida are stacked in the corner but they avoids Kuragaki’s charge and hit a double dropkick onto Yoneyama. Yoneyama armdrags both of them and Kuragaki hits a body avalanche on them in the corner, Kuragaki picks up Syuri and puts her in a backbreaker before spinning her to the mat. Cover by Kuragaki, but it gets two. She tags in Yoneyama, knee to the back by Yoneyama but Syuri fights back with her own knees. Knee lift by Syuri, she gets her giant bat but Yoneyama avoids her attempt to use it and drop toeholds Syuri into the bat. She goes for a senton but Syuri moves, Syuri tosses the bat at Yoneyama and hits a PK. Syuri tags in Shida, jumping knee by Shida and she puts Yoneyama in the corner.

oz1-8-5Kuragaki comes in, so does Syuri and they go for a suplex on Kuragaki, but Kuragaki reverses it. Kuragaki picks up Yoneyama and throws her at both of their opponents, Northern Lights Suplex by Yoneyama to Shida but it gets two. She tags Kuragaki, lariat by Kuragaki to Shida and she gets a two count cover. Kuragaki goes up top but Shida recovers and joins her, Kuragaki tosses her off but Syuri runs in and kicks Kuragaki in the head. She knocks Kuragaki to the apron, Shida gets on the second turnbuckle and superplexes Kuragaki back into the ring. Three Count by Shida, but Kuragaki kicks out of the pin. Shida picks up Kuragaki but Kuragaki blocks the Falcon Arrow and hits a vertical suplex. Elbows by Shida and she hits an enzuigiri, Falcon Arrow by Shida but Yoneyama breaks up the cover. Shida gets her kendo stick but Kuragaki ducks the attack and hits a backdrop suplex. Yoneyama goes up top and hits a senton, Kuragaki follows with a diving body press but the cover gets a two. Kuragaki picks up Shida and nails the Metal Wing, but Syuri breaks up the pin. Yoneyama comes in and they double team Syuri, they try to do the same to Shida but she gets away from them and gets her kendo stick. Shida hits Kuragaki with the kendo stick and quickly hits the Three Count, but Kuragaki kicks out. Syuri has recovered, and with Shida they both hit running knees onto Kuragaki. A final Three Count by Shida, and she gets the three cover! Syuri and Hikaru Shida are your winners.

Even though the match wasn’t very long, there was a lot of good things they squeezed into it. I love both team’s constant cooperation, they felt like real teams and not just random wrestlers thrown together which I always appreciate. I am not sure what % of the match there were only two wrestlers in the ring but it couldn’t have been too high as someone was always running in to help. While that made things a bit hectic, it kept the action fast paced and interesting. It isn’t her fault but I do take Yoneyama a bit less seriously after seeing her wrestle in Stardom openers against rookies so much, so its good to see her in a real match even if her partner carried much of the action. A solid match, nothing earth-shattering but it furthers my theory that Syuri and Shida are the best active tag team on the Joshi scene.  Mildly Recommended

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(c) Hiroyo Matsumoto vs. Kyoko Kimura
OZ Academy Openweight Championship

At the time of this event, Kyoko Kimura only had a few more weeks before her big retirement show, and she would have loved to go out with a championship title around her waist. Hiroyo Matsumoto won the title on November 13th, 2016 against Sonoko Kato, and this is her first defense. Both Kimura and Matsumoto are Freelancers so it is a unique main event for OZ Academy, this is the last big singles match of Kimura’s career so hopefully she brings it.

After a feeling out process, Kimura locks down Matsumoto in a headlock which Matsumoto struggles to get out of. She eventually does so and hits a backdrop suplex, Kimura drops Matsumoto into the ropes however and boots her in the face. Kimura charges Matsumoto and boots her again, with Matsumoto falling out of the ring. Kimura goes out after her and slams her into anything she can find on the floor, but Matsumoto regains the advantage and carries Kimura around the floor. Body avalanche by Matsumoto in the aisle, she goes for a lariat while Kimura is against the ring post but Kimura moves out of the way. Kimura slams Matsumoto’s arm into the ring post and she finally rolls back into the ring to wait for Matsumoto. Matsumoto follows but Kimura immediately puts her in a seated armbar, but Matsumoto gets a foot on the bottom rope. Kimura continues working on Matsumoto’s arm and applies a kimura, but again Matsumoto reaches the ropes. Kimura goes back to it but Matsumoto hits a backdrop suplex, boots by Kimura but Matsumoto catches one and puts Kimura across the turnbuckles. Body avalanche by Matsumoto, she gets on the top turnbuckle and delivers a missile dropkick for a two count. Matsumoto gets Kimura on her shoulders before hitting a gutbuster, she goes for a Reverse Splash but Kimura rolls out of the way. Double armbar by Kimura but Matsumoto gets out of it, she goes for a lariat but Kimura kicks her away.

oz1-8-6Kimura headbutts Matsumoto’s arm, she goes off the ropes but Matsumoto connects with the lariat. Chokebomb by Kimura but Matsumoto rolls back up and hits a lariat, and both women are down on the mat. They slowly get up and trade elbows, boot by Kimura but Matsumoto hits a body avalanche, Kimura rolls Matsumoto to the mat and goes for the armbreaker. Matsumoto gets to the ropes right as she gets it locked in, Kimura kicks at Matsumoto but Matsumoto ducks the boot and powerbombs Kimura. Matsumoto goes for a backdrop suplex but Kimura rolls out of it, headbutt by Kimura and she covers Matsumoto for two. Kimura picks up Matsumoto and she gets the sleeper applied while pulling Matsumoto to the mat, but Matsumoto gets into the ropes. Kimura picks up Matsumoto and goes for another sleeper, but Matsumoto blocks it and hits a backdrop suplex. Roaring Lariat by Matsumoto, she picks up Kimura and hits a powerbomb. Another powerbomb by Matsumoto, but Kimura kicks out of the cover. Matsumoto picks up Kimura and drops her with a backdrop suplex, and she picks up the three count! Hiroyo Matsumoto retains her championship.

I think I understand what they were going for but I don’t know if it worked. The first problem wasn’t their fault – the recording muted the crowd some so they seemed quiet, while the announcers were too loud. So it took me out of it a bit. As for the match, it was strangely laid out. Kimura dominated much of the action and the arm work was solid, but Matsumoto took over and won by just hitting a series of moves in the last two minutes. Nothing was really set up for it, I assume the theory was that Matsumoto was stronger than Kimura so Kimura was weakening her any way she could but ultimately failed, however it came across more as a lazy structure than a deeply thought out one. I just wish Matsumoto had some other winning spurts in the last fourth of the match to set things up a bit better as Kimura hadn’t been weakened up enough yet, especially not in a title match where wrestlers tend to find secret hidden strength. All the action was fine and I did enjoy Kimura’s limb work, it was just a bit strange, making it overall an unsatisfying main event title match.