Event: GAEA Japan “WAR IS A FRIDAY NIGHT”
Date: February 16th, 1996
Location: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 1,850
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.
GAEA returns to Korakuen Hall with a fun show, as for the first time since mid-1995 we have some wrestlers from LLPW to spice things up. In the main event, we have a big singles match between Combat Toyoda and KAORU! Here is the full card:
All the wrestlers on the show have profiles on the website, you can click on their names above to go straight to it. The three matches were squeezed into about 45 minutes, so there may be some clipping.
Makie Numao vs. Sonoko Kato
Neo Energy Queen History ’95 Tournament
The Neo Energy Queen History Tournament was a round robin tournament featuring the GAEA Japan rookies. Coming into the match, Sonoko Kato had 1.5 points and Makie Numao had 0 points in the tournament. Makie can’t win the tournament at this point but Sonoko Kato might, however to have a shot she’d have to win here as she had already fallen behind several other wrestlers. Even though both are rookies, Sonoko has the experience advantage as she debuted a couple months before Makie did.
Makie starts the match on offense as she kicks Sonoko, but Sonoko fires back until Makie hits a leg sweep. Sonoko goes for a dropkick but Makie avoids it, kick to the chest by Makie and she hits a scoop slam for a two count. Irish whip by Makie and she kicks Sonoko again, Makie flings Sonoko around before applying a wristlock. Sonoko reverses it but Makie reverses it back and kicks Sonoko in the face. Bodyscissors by Makie, she picks up Sonoko and snapmares her before going back to the arm. Makie applies an arm submission but Sonoko gets a boot on the ropes to get the break, Makie keeps the submission applied however and holds Sonoko on the mat. Again Sonoko gets to the ropes for the break, Makie goes for a back bodydrop but Sonoko reverses it into a sunset flip. Dropkicks by Sonoko and she puts Makie in a crab hold, but Makie gets into the ropes. Sonoko drags her to the middle of the ring and applies a modified deathlock, but once again Makie gets the break. Kneelock by Sonoko but Makie reverses it, Sonoko reverses it back into the single leg crab hold before letting go to hit a dropkick. Scoop slam by Sonoko, she picks up Makie and hits a snapmare, but Makie applies a backslide for two.
Kicks by Makie, she picks up Sonoko and hits a scoop slam for two. More kicks by Makie and she applies a side headlock, Sonoko reverses it into a headscissors but Makie gets out of it. Makie picks up Sonoko and kicks her in the midsection, scoop slam by Makie but Sonoko hits a hard elbow in the chest. Knees by Makie but Sonoko hits Lou Thesz Press, another one by Sonoko and she hits a third for two. Sonoko goes off the ropes but Makie avoids the leg drop, stomps by Sonoko but Makie kicks her back. Makie goes for a high kick but Sonoko catches her leg and applies an ankle hold, Sonoko picks up Makie and delivers a bulldog. She goes for another but Makie blocks it, Makie goes for a kick but Sonoko swats her away. Dragon Sleeper by Makie but Sonoko gets a foot in the ropes, Makie goes up top and delivers a diving forearm to the chest. Makie picks up Sonoko but Sonoko ducks the enzuigiri, Irish whip by Sonoko and she hits a Lou Thesz Press. She hits four more Lou Thesz Presses, but Makie barely gets a shoulder up on the cover. Sonoko goes for a tornado bulldog but Makie pushes her away, she goes to the top turnbuckle but Sonoko avoids the diving bodypress. Sonoko picks up Makie but Makie cradles her for a two count. More kicks by Makie but Sonoko gets Makie on her shoulders and delivers the Kamikaze Bomb for the three count! Sonoko wins the match and gets one point in the tournament.
Even though I appreciate that she brings something a bit different to the table, Makie is still pretty rough around the edges. Sonoko is more smooth but struggled here at times to keep things in order, as there were quite a few awkward moments spread throughout the match. They also both don’t have a wide variety of moves so at times it felt repetitive. For two rookies, not offensive, but nothing I could ever recommend tracking down due to the general clunkiness that was present throughout.
Chigusa Nagayo, Kato, and Bomber Hikari vs. Eagle Sawai, Yukari, and Michiko Nagashima
Time for GAEA Japan vs. LLPW! Anywhere LLPW goes, you are bound to see Eagle Sawai, who is their undisputed Ace. She brings with her Jenn Yukari and Michiko Nagashima, two wrestlers with pretty long careers but neither of which had much success worth noting as they stayed in Sawai’s shadow. On the GAEA Japan side, Nagayo is joined by one of her top rookies (wrestling again on the card) in Sonoko Kato as well as trusted veteran Bomber Hikari. Nagayo really likes these inter-promotional matches, and hopefully this one brings some fun action.
Team GAEA Japan attacks before the bell rings as we immediately fall into chaos, powerbomb by Nagayo to Yukari but Sawai clubs her. Backdrop suplex by Nagayo to Sawai but Nagashima hits her with a kendo stick, Over The Top by Hikari to Nagashima but Yukari breaks up the cover. Sonoko and Yukari stay in as the legal wrestlers, lariat by Yukari to Sonoko but the pin is broken up. She tags in Nagashima, dropkick by Nagashima to Kato and she throws her around the ring by her hair. Yukari goes up top but Nagayo kicks her off, Yukari knocks Nagayo out of the ring and part of the teams brawl on the floor while Nagashima and Kato stay in. Nagashima gets a chain and bashes Kato in the head with it, busting the rookie open. Nagashima stomps on Kato before tossing her by the hair again, we get a look at Sawai beating up Nagayo at ringside as she is bleeding as well. Kato makes the hot tag to Hikari but Nagashima knocks her down and tags Yukari. German suplex hold by Yukari to Hikari, but it gets a two count. Yukari goes off the ropes but Hikari catches her with a powerslam, suplex by Hikari and she covers Yukari for two. Hikari goes up top and hits a diving headbutt, but Sawai breaks up the cover. Hikari tags Nagayo, Nagayo goes for a powerbomb but Nagashima hits her in the midsection with a kendo stick.
Sawai is tagged in but Hikari and Kato both dropkick her, Sawai lariats both of them but Nagayo fires back with a lariat of her own. Sawai falls in her corner and tags Nagashima, Nagayo gets Nagashima on her shoulders while Kato goes up top to go for a crossbody, but Nagashima ducks and hits a Victory Roll, causing Kato to crash to the mat. Nagashima picks up Kato but Hikari comes in, double Irish whip to Nagashima but they are tripped from the floor. Nagashima beats both with a kendo stick while Yukari and Nagayo battle into the crowd. Yukari hits Nagayo with a chair while Sawai gets a table, Nagayo gets the better of Yukari as Nagashima sets up the table in the ring. Nagashima puts Kato on the table as Sawai rescues Yukari, Nagashima goes up top but Hikari knocks the table over and hits an avalanche powerslam for two. Double shoulderblock to Nagashima, suplex by Hikari to Nagashima and Kato hits a diving body press for two. Kamikaze Bomb by Kato to Nagashima, but the pin is broken up. Sawai scoop slams Kato, she gets on the top turnbuckle but Nagayo hits her from behind and joins her.
Avalanche backdrop suplex by Nagayo but Yukari hits her with a chair, she tries again but Nagayo trips her and hits all three of her opponents with the chair. Kato gets the chain and hits Nagashima in the head with it repeatedly, as things break down even further than they already were. Kato knocks Nagashima out of the ring but Nagashima throws her into the railing, while in the crowd Nagayo hits Yukari with chairs. Back in the ring, dropkicks by Kato to Nagashima but Nagashima chokes her. We get a clip of Nagayo taking Sawai who knows where, but they are in the back before emerging near the balcony at Korakuen. They battle up there while Nagashima keeps choking Kato in the ring, Hikari headbutts Yukari while all of this is going on as the referee tries to convince Nagashima to stop choking so much. Nagayo and Sawai somehow make it back into the ring as Nagayo stretches Sawai in the ropes, sleeper by Nagashima to Kato but Nagayo breaks it up. Sawai comes in and slams Nagayo to the mat, she picks up Kato and hits a powerbomb with a cover, and while Nagashima hits Nagayo with a kendo stick she is able to pick up the three count cover! Team LLPW wins!
The inter-promotional match on the last event felt lackluster, which Chigusa Nagayo must have realized as for this one they took it straight up to 100. For a midcard match I wasn’t expecting much, but I was wrong. This was a wild brawl with constant violence going on, either in the ring or somewhere around it. There was blood everywhere, weapons constantly being used, interference every 15 seconds, about all you could ask for from a hateful match. My only complaint was just the length, as I wouldn’t have minded if it was a bit longer so that the end stretch could have been more fleshed out. Still, I loved the atmosphere and urgency of this match, and even though really it was a throw-away match they fought like they were in the main event at the Tokyo Dome. Probably my biggest surprise so far watching all the GAEA Japan events, really great stuff. Highly Recommended
Combat Toyoda vs. KAORU
These two have a tough act to follow. This is Combat Toyoda’s third match in GAEA Japan, and thus far her trips to the promotion have not gone well. In December, Nagayo defeated Toyoda in a singles match, and on the last event her FMW team lost to Chigusa Nagayo’s GAEA Japan team in a six woman tag match. She gets a bit of a chance to redeem herself here, as she takes on the #2 veteran in the promotion. KAORU wrestled in GAEA Japan for its entire run, up to this point she had not lost any singles matches so even though she wasn’t at Nagayo’s level she was not much further below. Even though Toyoda was well respected in FMW, she still was in for an uphill battle in her third GAEA Japan main event match.
We join his match in progress, same as we did with Combat Toyoda’s last singles match in GAEA Japan. Toyoda Irish whips KAORU, KAORU hits a crossbody but she bothers her apparently already injured knee in the process. Figure four leglock by Toyoda but KAORU rolls into the ropes to force the break. Toyoda picks up KAORU and hits a vertical suplex, cover by Toyoda but it gets two. Irish whip by Toyoda but KAORU reverses it, she hits a dropkick but Toyoda doesn’t budge. Toyoda fires back with a dropkick of her own, another dropkick by Toyoda and she covers KAORU for a two count. Backdrop suplex hold by Toyoda, but again KAORU kicks out. Toyoda slams KAORU in front of the corner, she goes up top and hits a diving body press, but KAORU gets a shoulder up. She goes up again but KAORU gets her knees up on her second attempt, hurting both Toyoda and herself in the process. Both wrestlers slowly get up but Toyoda hits a dropkick before KAORU can do anything, backdrop suplex by Toyoda but her covers only gets two. Toyoda picks up KAORU and drops her with a wheelbarrow German suplex, she gets KAORU up and hits a Liger Bomb, but KAORU won’t stay down. Toyoda goes to the top turnbuckle but KAORU recovers and joins her, slaps by KAORU and she nails an avalanche Fisherman Buster. KAORU picks up Toyoda and slams her in front of the corner, she goes up top and delivers a moonsault. She hobbles to the corner and goes back up again to hit a second moonsault, she goes for a third moonsault but this time Toyoda manages to roll out of the way. KAORU clubs her in the stomach, she goes up a fourth time and hits another moonsault. Again she goes up but this time she debuts the Valkyrie Splash, cover by KAORU and she gets the three count! KAORU wins!
So this match was completely ridiculous. We missed the first half, which I assume was mostly work on KAORU’s leg, but from what we saw it almost goes beyond even suspended belief that KAORU could have survived Toyoda’s offensive onslaught. She basically took the following moves in a row without being pinned: backdrop suplex hold, diving body press, backdrop suplex, wheelbarrow German, and a Liger Bomb. Its just a lot to take from someone of Toyoda’s size/strength. Then of course to keep Toyoda down, KAORU had to hit four or five top rope moves in a row (not sure if the “miss” was intentional) since she had done nothing to wear Toyoda down. At least she had to bust out a brand new move, the Valkyrie Splash, to get the three count. It was kinda fascinating in a way and a very “Chigusa Nagayo” style of booking a match, as the GAEA Japan wrestler overcame the odds. But it went a bit too far with it for my liking as instead of making KAORU look sympathetic it made her look like superwoman. An interesting spectacle for sure but I think they missed the mark a bit with the story they told.
I started this project to find hidden gems, and I think the GAEA Japan vs. LLPW match qualifies. It was on the short side but it was a great bloody hateful match that every inter-promotional match should be. The main event was interesting, but in clipped form was just a series of big moves more than anything else. Thanks to the midcard match, a solid one hour showing from GAEA Japan, if they have more of that going forward then this project will be worth it for sure.