Quebrada Pro Wrestling, Puroresu, & Mixed Martial Arts Reviews by Mike Lorefice

AJW Kawasaki Kanaami Bougyaku Densetsu '97
(Kawasaki Cruel Cage Tradition)
9/21/97 Kanagawa Kawasaki Shi Taiikukan

AJW 9/21/97Miho Wakizawa vs. Miyuki Fujii 9:03. Wakizawa is more advanced, but wrestled down to Fujii’s level for this rookie style match. Wakizawa couldn’t cleanly execute the better moves they allowed her due to footing issues. Otherwise, they basically traded rudimentary holds and it was the usual passable but uninspiring opening match stuff. *

Nanae Takahashi vs. Saya Endo 9:40. Wakizawa is better than Takahashi, but since Takahashi had a semi-established opponent she got to do a real match. Saya is adequate, certainly not good enough to raise Takahashi to the level of mediocrity, but in the end Takahashi did okay. They put a good deal of effort into the match, which at least wasn’t boring. Takahashi managed to injure her opponent as usual, waiting so long to fall off the ropes on her superplex she wound up simply dropping Saya, who landed hard on her knees and lower legs, putting a huge stretch on her Achilles’. Saya was momentarily hobbled, but managed to finish. As Saya was leaving as part of the mass exodus they had Takahashi score the big upset. *1/2

Chaparrita ASARI vs. Yuka Shiina 12:40. Dropkick war. The first half saw them haphazardly alternate quick standup sequences of athletic albeit overly choreographed action with slow uninspired matwork. Shiina doesn’t get the most out of her athleticism, as while she does several jumping moves she rarely expands beyond the most pedestrian. ASARI isn’t that much better as a worker, she simply has offense that makes you desire to see her matches. A decent but underwhelming match. **1/4

Toshiyo Yamada & KAORU vs. Kumiko Maekawa & Momoe Nakanishi 15:40. Yamada had left 3 months earlier, but wrestled as though she was glad to be back for a day. Yamada totally carried her team and was the best wrestler on the show thus far, which was pretty sad considering she’s the one that was put out to the GAEA pasture. Her kicks are far more accurate than Maekawa’s, but if you can forgive a few misses their kick exchanges were quite nice. Momoe was a bright spot as usual, stretched and tossed around early, but utilizing her athleticism for a counter. KAORU wrestled a far more solid match than in GAEA where she runs amok, as you pretty much have to be a main eventer to get away with doing superhero spotfu in the Matsunagas ring. KAORU was a pretty good sport, selling for Momoe in the latter stages without copping the usual veteran attitude. Losing to GAEA might not be what AJW needs, but their up and coming wrestlers looked promising and were competitive. ***1/4

Manami Toyota vs. Yumiko Hotta 30:00. The basic problem with the later Toyota vs. Hotta matches is Toyota is forced to conform to Hotta’s style, which is one she is capable but simply isn’t interested in doing. Toyota was smiling at Hotta when she had her in the figure 4, but did a better job of chaining her groundwork together than usual. They didn’t kill time in the most effective manner, but despite the slow start for a Toyota match it wasn’t obvious they were doing a draw. They did a good job of showing that Hotta was fighting to prevent the high spots. Even after the match picked up 10 minutes in, Hotta was blocking or countering Toyota’s more spectacular offense to maintain credibility, and bringing the match back to the mat to lengthen it as well as stay consistent with her “shooter” drive. As the biggest stars sticking with the company they tried to show they deserved the main event, and while it didn’t hold a candle to their great 9/3/95 JGP final, it was at least a worthy hard fought match. That said, despite the quality wrestling they seemed to lack the spark a match between stars of this caliber should contain, and perhaps the mediocre crowd reaction had something to do with the lack of intensity. Until the final minutes when they hit all their finishers, the fans basically only reacted when the wrestlers, largely Toyota, prodded them to. ***1/4

Kanaami (cage) Death Match VIOLENCE WAR: Mima Shimoda & Etsuko Mita vs. Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe. The best women’s match of 1997 and possibly the best cage match ever. The intense hateful tone was set right off the bat as Shimoda was hogging the spotlight - standing in the center of the ring while Ito was introduced - so Ito slapped her and they were in each others faces prepared to kill. Watanabe wore football shoulder pads to protect her injured left shoulder, which she did a great job of consistently selling, adding to the drama and psychology, which were plentiful as the moves were ordered properly, constantly building to the peaks of the final minutes. Though all four wrestled at once it was essentially Ito vs. Las Cachorras with Watanabe just being there to take abuse from someone while Ito tried to beat the other, both AJW faces seeming all the more heroic for their contributions. The match started violently with Shimoda & Mita using chairs and the cage to batter and bloody the opposition. Interestingly, when Ito came back after 4 plus minutes of this carnage by using LCO’s chair, she was immediately booed. While it never ceased being a brawl with LCO also using chains and even the guard rail due to Saya taking care of Maekawa long enough to smuggle it in, one of the many great aspects to this match is it developed into a wrestling match. They essentially got the blood, generic cage spots out of the way at the start, so actual wrestling could play an important role in the body of the match. Finally, they brought the cage back down the stretch when they were trying to escape, melding both the wrestling and brawling aspects through moves that were far more spectacular for being done off or with the assistance of the cage. One cool spot had Watanabe escape, but Mita pull Ito back as she was halfway over the top and piggyback drop her from the top rope back into the cage. Ito showed a lot more fire than usual and finally seemed like the star they devoted much of the year to trying to turn her into. Fighting 2-1, she used her diving footstomp on both, injuring Shimoda’s shoulder, but was still unable to escape and had to deal with Saya spraying a fire extinguisher in her eyes so Shimoda & Mita could make a break for opposite corners. Ito managed to stop Shimoda, arm barring her off the top, but Mita reentered to prevent Ito from escaping so Ito pulled her back in and rather than simply escape, delivered a deadly diving footstomp off the top of the cage. Read a better, longer review of the cage match ****3/4


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