365 Wrestling, Day 13: Lioness Asuka vs. Michiko Omukai (ARSION, 1/13/02)

365 Wrestling, Day 13: Lioness Asuka vs. Michiko Omukai (ARSION, 1/13/02)

365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the 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.

The Match

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.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

What’s Next

An inter-promotional title match sparks one of my favorite feuds in wrestling.

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365 Wrestling, Day 6: Awesome Kong vs. Gail Kim, No DQ (TNA Final Resolution 2008, 1/6/08)

365 Wrestling, Day 6: Awesome Kong vs. Gail Kim, No DQ (TNA Final Resolution 2008, 1/6/08)

365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

American women’s wrestling has come a long way from meaningless filler bouts and bra-and-panty matches. The Knockouts division in TNA Wrestling helped create that change. The Knockouts are still going strong in what is now known as IMPACT but really turned a corner with the Gail KimAwesome Kong rivalry. Let’s take a look at a chapter of that feud, a No DQ Match from Final Resolution 2008.

You can watch this match on YouTube, and I also have embedded it below:

The Match

Kim became the first Knockouts Champion in the fall of 2007, and her major foe during that reign was Kong, who made a name for herself in Japan and on the U.S. independent circuit before coming to TNA. You also might recognize Kong from her role on the GLOW Netflix show.

Certain stories just work in wrestling, to the point they’ve been told countless times. This is one of them, with the gutsy undersized fan favorite (Kim) going against the unstoppable juggernaut villain (Kong). Kong is in her element in this match, battering Kim, tossing her around, manhandling referees and menacing Mike Tenay and Don West at the commentary table. Meanwhile, Kim makes Kong look like a monster. Kim takes a spinning backfist while seated on the top turnbuckle, taking a spill that looks even nastier when one leg gets hooked, leaving her dangling above the floor.

They reap plenty of fruit from the No DQ stipulation. A brawl through the crowd whips the Impact Zone fans into a frenzy and sees the first major momentum shift in the champ’s favor, when Kong misses on a charging attack and Kim zeroes in attacking Kong’s lefty arm and shoulder. Kim makes her comeback by annihilating Kong with multiple chairshots, followed by a top rope splash and has a great reaction when it doesn’t get the pin. Kong’s aggression toward the referee(s) proves to be her undoing, and prey for a schoolboy pin by the champion.

After all this, these two wrestled yet again on the subsequent episode of TV, where Kong won the title after interference from her new manager. Why not do that here, especially since Tenay explicitly mentions “an associate” of Kong’s being in attendance for the pay-per-view? Beats me. This type of nonsense booking was common in TNA.

Final Rating: 5.9

This rivalry between Kong and Kim helped establish the new Knockouts division, and this is the best match from their feud that I have seen. It’s a solid, satisfying match to watch.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

What’s Next

We remember an all-time great wrestler, and person.

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.