365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
I embarked on this project for three reasons:
- To get back in the habit of original writing again. As a freelance writer and editor, I’m writing all the time, but that’s also work, so even though the subject matter is varied, like any job, it’s work.
- To focus on wrestling I enjoy, and the concept of enjoying wrestling, and combat the ever-present negativity in wrestling fandom.
- To watch wrestling I haven’t seen yet.
Like anyone in any fandom, I have gaps: New Generation WWF, the Four Pillars era of All Japan … and pretty much all of lucha libre and joshi. This week, for Women’s Match Wednesday, I take a foray into the latter for this match from ARSION in 2002 between Michiko Omukai and Lioness Asuka.
Now for the bad news… I can’t find this match for free anywhere online. However, you can buy it as part of this DVD in the Best of ARSION comp over at IVPVideos.
This is the 10th Anniversary match for Omukai, who started in wrestling in 1992 when she was 16 years old. This is less of a big deal than you’d think or than it would be most places in America, as it’s pretty common for women’s wrestlers in Japan to debut before they turn 18.
Her opponent, Lioness Asuka, already has 20-plus years under her belt. She’s also the reigning Queen of Arsion champion, which is the top title in the promotion. She’s best known for her tag run with Chigusa Nagayo as the Crush Gals. Lioness Asuka also was part of the women’s elimination tag involving several Japanese wrestlers at the 1995 Survivor Series.
So much for starting slow … Omukai launches herself at Asuka with a flying knee, over the referee’s back while he’s busy checking Lioness Asuka before calling for the bell. I wrote about escalation of violence in the dog collar match I watched on January 10, and what follows is a variation on that theme. Strikes and submissions set the tone; take special note of a sweet transition into an armbar by Lioness Asuka at the approximate 7-minute mark of the video before matters hit a new gear.
From there, the action spills into the crowd and Lioness Asuka ratchets up the intensity. First, she lays a table across her opponent and launches with a double stomp off the top rope. From there, they go allllll the way up through the crowd to the far end of the building. Lioness Asuka outstretches Omukai on yet another table, ascends a steep set of stairs to a small balcony, and jumps off with yet another double stomp that looked brutal!
Now they head alllllll the way back to the ring, where Omukai makes a comeback with a delayed axe kick, followed by a leaping kneedrop from the apron across the back of Lioness Asuka’s head. The action remains intense during the final minutes. Lioness Asuka hits a huge Liger bomb at center ring, but Omukai kicks out at one to the shock of the crowd. They keep scrapping until the bell sounds as the time limit expires, and the fight keeps on going beyond the bell, with the referee and officials having to separate them.
-Early in the match, Lioness Asuka has Omukai by the legs and is going for an apparent Boston crab. Instead, Omukai sits up in the hold and slaps her opponent in the face a few times. I dug that.
-As mentioned I haven’t seen a lot of joshi, but in what little I have watched, there’s at least one moment where someone’s going to be in a submission hold and screaming like they’re suffering indescribable torture.
-If those Korakuen Hall bleachers could talk, I wonder what they would say about all the brawls through the years …
-Lioness Asuka has a few masked lackeys at ringside, providing helpful assistance like holding Omukai in place to eat a dive from Lioness Asuka, or supplying tables. I have no idea or frame of reference for what these henchmen (hench-people?) signify.
Final Rating: 6.5
I’d never seen either of these wrestlers before so I came into this with no expectations but was pleasantly surprised with what they did in 15 minutes of work. The level of violence and intensity surpassed anything that happened in the No DQ title match from TNA I watched last week. The draw finish and their willingness to keep fighting left me wanting to see more. I’ll definitely be checking out more joshi as the year continues.
An interpromotional title match ends up being the spark that starts one of my favorite feuds in wrestling.
Got a match you’d like me to watch as part of this 365 Wrestling project? Agree or disagree with my take on this match? Let me know by using the contact form on this site, or reach me on Twitter.