365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
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. In this installment, 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. Starting out that young is pretty common for women’s wrestlers in Japan. 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. 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.
Protracted brawls in the crowd have been a standard trope of what little joshi I have seen and we get one here. It culminates at the far end of the building. Lioness Asuka, who already has driven Omukai through a table with a double stomp at ringside, repeats the feat of feet here, this time leaping from a small balcony that surmounts a steep set of stairs.
Back to the ring we go for an intense finishing stretch. 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. Lioness Asuka answers with 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.
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 from a week ago. The draw finish and their willingness to keep fighting left me wanting to see more.. of these two, and Japanese women’s wrestling in general.
An inter-promotional title match sparks one of my favorite feuds in wrestling.