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

AJW ATHENA #24 9/23/00 ZENJO Stroke '00
taped 9/17/00 Tokyo Differ Ariake

Miyuki Fujii vs. Kayoko Haruyama 10:08. The benefit of Haruyama working with Fuji is well, um, Fujii is someone from a different promotion, and since that promotion is AJW, a few people might place minimal value in a victory over her. Haruyama gave a competent performance, and kept it from being too dull. She has always understood that people will like you if you leap off the rope enough times. I don't mind so much that Fujii lacks a move set, but rather that she is just so deliberate. Too often, Fujii seems to be thinking about what action she's going to take when she should be in the midst of taking it. Counters need to be spontaneous, but by the time Fujii contemplated following Haruyama's missed diving body press with la magistral, the moment had passed. *1/2

Yumiko Hotta vs. ZAP T 12:09. Hotta wants to be champion, but she almost never takes a full match seriously anymore. If she wrestled anywhere near her capability, it would have been fine, as Watanabe was okay, but this was some of the laziest setup, transition, and countering you'll ever see. Shinobu Kandori was watching on the outside, as this match was supposed to lead to a decisive battle between the two “shooters” who had exchanged the red belt in recent times, but it was hard to buy into the MMA aspect of the match when they rolled out some submissions with no setup that the announcers were forced to try to pass off as Vale Tudo. In between, T brawled around the building. Hotta did wake up and start moving at the 11-minute mark, and it was good from there, but unfortunately the match ended almost immediately. Hotta challenged Kandori after the match, so Kandori could pretend to need to be restrained. *

AJ Title Match: Nanae Takahashi vs. Miho Wakizawa 20:57. These two may not be great wrestlers, but they honored the title, going all out to deliver the best match they were capable of. Because they genuinely cared and put forth such a good effort, the match was not only better than it should have been, but even left you with the feeling that you really saw something. In actuality, the match was fairly ordinary for the first 15 minutes then really good for the last 5 when they went nuts unloading every move in their arsenal, and then some. Even though they ambled about early on and did nothing special move wise, what I liked about the early portion is they put enough urgency, intensity, and effort into making their basic offense matter that you cared because they cared. Bulky Takahashi has much better offense than scrawny Miho, the impact of her moves seeming to be at least 5 times that of Wakizawa's. She dominated the match, pretty much using her size to run though Miho. Wakizawa never stops screaming, but, although somewhat annoying, this often works in her favor. She did a particularly nice job of putting over Takahashi's Boston crab, and generally made the basic holds where Takahashi was stretching her out seem damaging, but she could use some more moderation, particularly when she is on offense. Wakizawa is probably AJW's 2nd most energetic wrestler, but the difference between her and Momoe Nakanishi, is Nakanishi has figured ways to channel that into exciting, high quality wrestling whereas Wakizawa is often only aided in a marginal, at least she's fighting sort of manner. Wakizawa is trying was actually the story of this match though, as she did nothing for ages then had a big run of every move in her arsenal. The match kept looking as though it were about to end, but AJW gave them some leeway and allowed them to try whatever semblance of a blowout match one can expect from AJW youngsters who are used to restrictions and restraints on their moveset. These two generally didn't show this sort of potential, but for a brief moment they made us believe in them, even feel this could be a turning point for both, as they had a legit end to the match and did a good job of getting past their shortcomings during the body of the match. The title win was, nonetheless, a nice step forward for Wakizawa, who might have worked out if she wasn't thrust into being a focal point of the promotion by default of them lacking somewhat young, remotely pushable wrestlers. ***1/4

Black Joker ATHENA Jack II: Kumiko Maekawa & Momoe Nakanishi & Kayo Noumi vs. Rumi Kazama & Eagle Sawai & Takako Inoue 22:48. Black Joker dominated this endless, meandering match which largely consisted of frivolous brawling. The problem with Black Joker in AJW is they are supposed to generate heat by dominating the home team with questionable tactics, but since they never garner more than minimal reaction, AJW is just allowing their wrestlers to get squashed for no discernible benefit. Momoe had one strong stretch toward the end with Takako, who was pretty good, but that wasn't nearly enough to salvage the match. *1/2

WWWA World Single Title Match: Manami Toyota vs. Kaoru Ito 24:02. Kaoru Ito was of the right age and certainly had more than enough ability to be pushed during the mid 90's glory days of AJW, but didn't get any love from the promotion until it was beginning to fall apart in 1997. Three years later, with her mother in the audience, she finally got her moment of glory, taking the title from the face of the promotion. Though in many ways the moment had already passed both for the promotion and for Ito, who at nearly 29 was only marginally younger than Aja Kong and Toyota, the two women who dominated the promotion in the previous decade, there was one big difference, while those two were pretty much used up, Ito was still in her prime. Ito won't go down as one of the great WWWA singles champions, but it's certainly not her fault, as her big matches during the dying days of the promotion were some of the few shining stars amidst the dark sky. Ito not only had better timing and performed her moves sharper and crisper than Toyota, she was generally a far more explosive executor at this point. Toyota wasn't missing anything though, and certainly gave her all as well, delivering a fast-paced, well worked match with several nice counters. The selling was better than expected, with Ito putting a lot of effort into putting over Toyota's attack on her right knee. Though ultimately the early knee work from both didn't play a role in the latter stages, it gave the match more diversity because they interspersed the missile kicks and lesser highspots in between the early body of the match leg work rather than laying on the mat for five minutes then kicking it into high gear. It was a fun match, highlighted by Toyota climbing up the ladder by the Differ logo for a plancha. That said, it's hard to explain exactly why this match wasn't as good as some of their others, especially since both were better wrestlers here than they were on 2/24/02. It wasn't a spotfest, yet it didn't have any particular drama, so in the end, it was a match I admired but also one that, good as it was, didn't pull me in. ***3/4


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