Event: GAEA Japan “SQUARE JUNGLE”
Date: April 3rd, 1996
Location: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 1,450
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 to write these reviews, its a great resource for learning more about GAEA Japan and wrestling in general.
Hey look, the GAEA Japan Project still exists! Moving on to the next show, not a lot of this one was released on TV as it aired on a one hour event on GAORA, but we will watch what they showed. The main event wasn’t broadcasted, as GAEA Japan chose to focus on their younger wrestlers. Here is the full televised card:
All wrestlers on the show have a profile on the website, you can click on their name above to go straight to it.
KAORU vs. Meiko Satomura
This wasn’t the opening match on the event but it starts off the broadcast. This was given the subtitle “VIOLENT EMOTION” which is fitting, as that seems to accurately describe both of them. KAORU of course at this point is the seasoned veteran while Meiko is still in the first year of her career, so the winner wasn’t really in doubt. Still, GAEA Japan gives their rookies a chance to show off so it won’t be a squash match, and I am sure Meiko will show her usual fire.
Meiko attacks KAORU right at the start and gets her into a cross armbreaker, but KAORU gets into the ropes for the break. Dropkicks by Meiko and she snaps KAORU’s arm over her shoulder a few times before going for the Fujiwara Armbar. KAORU quickly gets to the ropes again, Meiko goes back to the arm but KAORU pushes her away and hits a backdrop suplex. They both get back up and get into a knucklelock, KAORU tosses Meiko to the mat and applies a cross-arm submission but Meiko is too close to the ropes. Meiko dropkicks KAORU and elbows her into the corner, but KAORU switches positions with her and hits a series of chops. Scoop slam by KAORU and she covers Meiko for two. KAORU stomps on Meiko’s leg and applies a cross kneelock, but Meiko eventually makes it to the ropes. KAORU drags Meiko back to the middle of the ring and puts her in a Mexican Surfboard, she lets go after a moment and stomps on Meiko. KAORU kicks Meiko into the corner but Meiko tackles her and hits a series of mounted elbows. Meiko applies a cross kneelock but lets go after a moment as they are close to the ropes, stomps by Meiko but KAORU sneaks in a small package for two.
Charging elbow by Meiko and she hits some more from a mounted position, she goes for the cross armbreaker but KAORU is too close to the ropes and gets out of it. Back up, elbows by Meiko and she hits a jumping shoulderblock, another one by Meiko and she covers KAORU for two. Crab hold by KAORU but Meiko gets to the ropes for the break, Irish whip attempt by KAORU but Meiko reverses it and hits an elbow. She goes for another one but KAORU boots her back, Meiko snaps KAORU’s arm over her shoulder but KAORU plants her with a release German. KAORU picks up Meiko and hits a scoop slam near the corner, she goes up top but Meiko recovers and joins her, sending her back to the mat with a cross armbreaker takedown. KAORU lands near the ropes and quickly gets there for the break, Meiko goes up top and she hits a diving shoulderblock for two. Irish whip by Meiko to the corner but KAORU jumps out to the apron and hits a swandive dropkick. German suplex hold by KAORU, but Meiko kicks out and immediately applies an armbar. KAORU gets to the ropes for the break, back up Meiko hits a couple elbows but KAORU slaps her. Big Boot by KAORU and she slams Meiko in front of the corner, moonsault by KAORU but Meiko bridges out of the cover. Brainbuster by KAORU, she goes to the ropes and on the second try she hits the swandive moonsault for the three count! KAORU is the winner.
I’m surprised how even this match was, considering their age and experience difference. Meiko brought all she had here but KAORU didn’t seem that interested, aside from being willing to give Meiko lots of offense. KAORU didn’t really have a focus it seemed or showed much emotion, she just occasionally hit a little offense between Meiko’s flurries that didn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason to them. Botching the ending didn’t help much, mistakes happen but they are amplified a bit when its the finish. Meiko showed some growth and fire, but just a little too meandering for my tastes.
Sonoko Kato vs. Toshie Uematsu
The Neo Energy Queen History ’95 Tournament has been going on forever, and they don’t show the standings before the matches, but it is almost over! Going into the match, Sonoko had 4.5 points and Toshie had 4 points. Without the full standings, it is still clear that Toshie needs a win here if she wants to reach the Finals of the tournament. This rookie tournament gave the young wrestlers something to strive for the first few months of the year, and the winner here will go on to face Chikayo Nagashima at the Anniversary Show later in the month to crown a winner.
We join this one in progress, as Sonoko picks up Toshie and throws her down by the hair. Toshie sneaks in a cradle and throws Sonoko into the corner, connecting with a running elbow. Mounted punches by Toshie and she drives Sonoko’s head into the mat, scoop slam by Toshie and she covers Sonoko for two. Irish whip by Toshie but Sonoko reverses it and hits an elbow, Toshie throws Sonoko into the corner and flips off of her before hitting some elbows. Sonoko gets Toshie on her shoulders but Toshie slides off and applies a Japanese Leg Roll Clutch for two. Headlock takedown by Toshie but Sonoko blocks the next and hits a bulldog. Another bulldog by Sonoko and she covers Toshie for two. Sonoko connects with a pair of Lou Thesz Presses, elbows by Sonoko on the mat but Toshie returns the favor. Hard slap by Sonoko but Toshie avoids the leg drop and applies a Victory Roll for two. Dropkicks by Toshie, she goes up top and delivers a missile dropkick for two. Scoop slam by Toshie, she goes up top again but Sonoko gets her knees up on the diving body press and applies a sleeper. Toshie eventually gets to the ropes for the break, Sonoko picks her up and hits a scoop slam for a two count. Irish whip by Sonoko and she hits a pair of dropkicks, but again her cover gets two. She goes for a lariat but Toshie avoids it, Sonoko slams her to the mat anyway but Toshie kicks out of the cover. Leg drop by Sonoko, she Irish whips Toshie but Toshie hits a crossbody. Toshie picks up Sonoko, Sonoko throws her into the corner but Toshie cradles Sonoko for two. Irish whip by Toshie but Sonoko catches her with a bulldog out of the corner, cover by Sonoko but the time expires. The match is a… Draw?
Well no one is happy with that so they give them an overtime period. Tie-up to start but Toshie quickly gets Sonoko in a Fujiwara Armbar. Sonoko gets into the ropes for the break, Toshie goes off the ropes and dropkicks Sonoko twice in the arm. Irish whip by Toshie and she hits a back elbow, rebound crossbody by Toshie out the corner but Sonoko bridges out of the pin. Scoop slam by Toshie and she hits four elbow drops for a two count. Toshie goes up top and hits a missile dropkick before applying the Fujiwara Armbar again but Sonoko gets to the ropes, Irish whip by Toshie but Sonoko schoolboys her for two. Sonoko picks up Toshie but Toshie gets her back, Toshie rolls Sonoko to the mat and applies a cross armbreaker. Sonoko gets a toe on the ropes for the break, and again the bell rings as time has expired. The match is a….. Draw?
No, we are going to another overtime period. Toshie stomps on Sonoko before she can get up, but Sonoko sneaks in a backslide for a two count. Toshie picks up Sonoko and throws her towards the corner, reversed by Sonoko and Sonoko dropkicks Toshie as she goes for the corner crossbody. Irish whip by Sonoko but Toshie reverses it and cradles Sonoko for two. Sleeper by Sonoko but Toshie gets the break, snapmare by Sonoko but Toshie tosses Sonoko to the mat and applies the cross armbreaker. Sonoko wiggles herself to the ropes to get the break, Toshie approaches Sonoko but Sonoko cradles her for two. Scoop slam by Toshie, but her cover gets a two count. Irish whip by Toshie, reversed by Sonoko and Sonoko goes for the Kamikaze, but Toshie reverses that into a cover for two. Irish whip by Toshie and she hits a crossbody, but the bell rings as time has expired. The match is officially a Draw.
The effort was definitely there, I will give them that. Obviously, Sonoko and Toshie were still early in their careers at this point and it showed at times, as there were a few miscommunications and awkward spots even with the match being clipped. But I liked the general story they told, with Toshie being desperate to get a win to advance to the Finals in the tournament and Sonoko trying her best to hold her off. Both overtime periods were exciting and they did a good job conveying a sense of urgency. While rough around the edges, still a pretty solid match between these two young wrestlers. Mildly Recommended
Chikayo Nagashima vs. Michiko Nagashima
For the TV main event, the young Chikayo Nagashima takes on Michiko Nagashima from LLPW. This was not the main event for the live show, which apparently won’t ever see the light of day. Chikayo is the better known wrestler today but back in early 1996 she was still a rookie while Michiko was a six year veteran. So the experience levels were a bit lopsided, but this was a normal occurrence in GAEA Japan (we just saw it earlier with Meiko and KAORU) as they had such a young roster that the rookies mixed with the veterans regularly. Michiko is the clear favorite but hopefully Chikayo can put up a good fight.
Chikayo dropkicks Michiko before the match starts and keeps dropkicking her, but Michiko stays on her feet. Hard dropkick by Michiko, she picks up Chikayo and rubs her face across the top rope. Michiko slams Chikayo’s face into the mat and hits a scoop slam, running sentons by Michiko but Sonoko Kato breaks up the cover. Apparently, Sonoko dislikes Michiko. Chikayo elbows Sonoko until she leaves the ring, boot by Michiko to Chikayo and she boots her again. Michiko throws down Chikayo by the hair a few times but Chikayo schoolboys her for two. Michiko starts on Chikayo’s arm and applies an armbar, but Chikayo gets into the ropes for the break. Irish whip by Michiko but Chikayo drops her with a Stunner, front roll attacks by Chikayo and she covers Michiko for two. Michiko takes back over and drills Chikayo with a front dropkick for two. Michiko throws Chikayo into the mat and flings her around by the hair before choking her with her knee. Irish whip by Michiko, Chikayo goes for a sunset flip but Michiko blocks it and punches her. Michiko puts Chikayo in the ropes and pulls back on her head, while taunting Sonoko at the same time. Irish whip by Michiko but Chikayo hits a headscissors out of the corner. Dropkicks by Chikayo and she finally sends Michiko to the mat with one, scoop slam by Chikayo and she goes to the top turnbuckle to hit a missile dropkick. Cover by Chikayo, but it gets a two count.
Chikayo charges Michiko in the corner but Michiko moves and kicks Chikayo out of the ring. She goes out after her and throws Chikayo into the guard rail, Sonoko comes over but Michiko throws a chair at her. She throws one at Chikayo as well before taking her up into the bleachers and slamming Chikayo into the wall. Sonoko goes over to comfort Chikayo but Chikayo pushes her away and returns to the ring, where Michiko is waiting for her. Irish whip by Michiko and she his a jumping neck drop, she gets a kendo stick and whacks Chikayo with it. Sonoko runs in and tries to take it from her but Chikayo gets mad again at the help and dropkicks Sonoko out of the ring. Backdrop suplex by Michiko to Chikayo, but Chikayo barely kicks out of the cover. She goes for another backdrop suplex but Chikayo lands on her feet, she cradles Michiko but it gets a two count. Chikayo goes for a crossbody but Michiko ducks and jumps down on her back, backdrop suplex hold by Michiko but Sonoko breaks up the cover. The referee gets Sonoko out of the ring while Michiko goes up top, but again Sonoko grabs Michiko from the apron. Michiko pulls Sonoko into the ring and dropkicks her, she then dropkicks Chikayo as well and slams her in front of the corner. Michiko goes up top again but Chikayo avoids the diving senton, scoop slam by Chikayo but Michiko gets her knees up when she goes for a diving crossbody. Michiko returns to the top and this time nails the diving senton, picking up the three count cover! Michiko Nagashima is the winner.
One downside of not knowing Japanese and watching matches from 25 years ago is I have no idea what Sonoko Kato’s issue was. Chikayo didn’t even want her help but she kept helping anyway, obviously some side story going on there. It was a good match, as Michiko was dominate while at the same time still giving Chikayo some offense and nearfalls so it wasn’t completely lopsided. Chikayo hit everything well and came across as a rookie with a ton of potential and perhaps ready to make that next step in her career. Fast paced and entertaining, I can see why they put this match last, the Sonoko situation sometimes hurt the flow but overall a good match. Mildly Recommended
In the grand scheme of things, this was a pretty insignificant event for GAEA Japan, unless you are really into watching the young wrestlers continue to grow. No Chigusa Nagayo or “big” main event to put an exclamation point on the card, it was basically three midcard matches. On the plus side, all were fine and the last two were solid. Some decent wrestling for sure, but definitely a smaller event for the young promotion.