The Road to GAEAISM was not a straight one. After two delays, GAEA’s 25th anniversary was being celebrated 26 years and a few months after it all began, but hey, there is a pandemic going on, and shit gets fucked up sometimes. It has still had perhaps the best-build of any show this year, and I am hyped!
Team Marvelous (Mei Hoshizuki, Mikoto Shindo & Maria) defeated Team Sendai Girls (Yurika Oka, Manami & Kanon)
After an opening video and ceremony dripping with history and pomp (in the best way), we kicked things off with the younger members of the Marvelous and Sendai Girls’ roster. As you’d expect, this leapt straight into a flurry of dropkicks as they flew out the blocks, leaving poor Tommy to throw her arms in the air and give up on trying to keep control. There were some early hints of nerves, Mikoto slipping while trying to bound up the ropes and poor Kanon eating a misfired dropkick to the face that left her with a bloody nose, but they soon settled into the groove. When they did, this was a great opener, wrestled at a frantic pace with that spice we’ve come to expect from the Marvelous vs Sendai feud.
As has frequently been the case throughout the last few months, Oka was one of the standouts. She carries herself like someone older and more experienced than she is and looked great facing off with both Mei and Maria. Special mention to Kanon, though, who, despite that bloody nose, tagged herself back in and hit the ring with all the rookie fire. She’s only 15, but she dropped Mei with a beautiful bridging suplex and later followed up with a Jackhammer as she showed some impressive power.
Sadly, that would be her final hurrah. Mei decided the best way to finish off the rookie was to dropkick her to death as Marvelous took first blood with a cool as hell finish. It all made for a pitch-perfect blast of an opener, and if that’s the future of both companies, then we’re in for some brilliant years.
Verdict: The Kids Are Alright
CIMA defeated Leo Isaka
God, don’t you hate it when companies indulge in this kind of tokenism, throwing a couple of random men on the card with no backstory or history to it? If the men were good enough, they’d have earned their spot the old-fashioned way.
I’m joking, of course, but as anyone who reads my Marvelous reviews knows, I do sometimes struggle with Leo’s random matches. On a card bursting with history, this felt throwaway, a nice opportunity for Leo to wrestle a big name, but nothing more than that. While Isaka is a good wrestler, and he looked impressive again (he did somewhat misjudge his Sasuke Special, but it came out alright in the wash), there was no heat to this. CIMA wrestled the way he’s wrestled on a million other shows, which isn’t awful, he’s CIMA, but it didn’t get the blood pumping either.
Still, these complaints shouldn’t be taken to mean this was a bad match because it wasn’t. It was an enjoyable ten minutes where Leo looked good before ultimately being put away by the legend. No one is going to have walked away from the show raving about it, but for what it was, I had a nice time.
Verdict: I Did Enjoy It
Sakura Hirota defeated The Great Sasuke
If this also seems a bit random, well, it is, but there is a historical reason for it. Michinoku Pro put on a bunch of GAEA offer matches back in the day, helping them grow their audience, so bringing Sasuke back is a wee nod to that. It was also a chance for Hirota to go full nonsense, reverting to her WWE-loving GAEA persona with a Rock inspired promo on the big screen before revealing the Hirota Henachoko Handmade Title was back. Then, to make sure she hit all the bases, she made her entrance in full Hokuto cosplay.
And there was a degree of Hirota playing the hits here. We got a dive attempt, the failed falling headbutt and so on. However, we also got her doing a headstand in the turnbuckle as Sasuke sat cross-legged, meditating before a hilarious callback to Hokuto’s selling in the ropes during her legendary battle with Meiko and what appeared to be an air bender battle. It was unashamed nonsense from two people who are very good at producing nonsense, so it perhaps wasn’t surprising that I had a good time.
To cap it all off, Hirota got the win with a kancho, which is the perfect way for her to win any match. As always, your mileage will vary depending on how much you appreciate the silly side of wrestling, but it’s Hirota vs Sasuke, so you probably could have figured that out for yourself.
Verdict: Unleash The Nonsense
DASH Chisako defeated Hibiki
Having spent months pissing off everyone that came into contact with her, it was time for Hibiki to face some payback. The opening minutes of this match featured DASH leaping from a ladder on the stage, and amazingly, the violence kept escalating from there. By the time Hibiki had wrapped herself in barbed wire to jump from the same ladder, it was safe to say that these two were going all out.
And fair play to Hibiki, who really did get the shit beaten out of her here. She got a few moments in the sun, but this was designed to be catharsis, to have the pain in the arse take the beating she’d earned. DASH was the master in this match, constructing elaborate chair towers to launch Hibiki throw and blocking thrown megaphones with a metal lid. While Hibiki is a fucking badass, DASH is badder.
If I were to nitpick, I’d say that it would have been nice to have a bit more of a back and forth. To have a few more moments where these two were slugging it out, beating the shit out of each other on an equal footing. However, that wasn’t the story they were going for and is a touch of greediness on my part. Thanks to the clap crowds, we also don’t entirely know how over Hibiki’s heel act was. That match might have played out to a molten crowd, desperate to see her destroyed, which would have instantly bumped it up a notch or two. Either way, these two women put their bodies on the line and went hard, so I have no real complaints.
Meiko Satomura, Chikayo Nagashima & Toshie Uematsu defeated Chigaso Nagayo, KAORU & Sakura Hirota
To continue an outstanding night for her, Hirota came out in her pink rookie singlet, awkwardly running down the ramp and nervously posing in the centre of the ring as she reverted in the presence of her senpais (and drew an incredible double take from Nagayo). It wasn’t the only brilliant entrance, as I’d still be raving about this if they’d been the whole thing, the spectacle culminating in Chigusa coming out to Heart on Fire, looking every bit the boss she is.
Thankfully, the match was just as good, hitting a wonderful combination of old friends having a blast and these legends reminding people they can still fucking go. We got snippets of Chig vs Meiko, some Team Eccentric spots and Uematsu rolling the years back despite having been out of the game for a fair old while. They judged the tone of it to perfection, dwelling on nostalgia but never wallowing in it.
Amusingly, Meiko did fuck up a bit towards the end, which we’ll blame on NXT UK, but it didn’t really matter. It was still an absolute joy, and as these titans of wrestled bowed to each other afterwards, I was grinning from ear to ear. Plus, Rookie Hirota will have learnt a lot! She’s one to keep your eye on.
Team Sendai Girls (Chihiro Hashimoto, DASH Chisako & Mika Iwata) defeated Team Marvelous (Mio Momono, Rin Kadokura & Mei Hoshizuki) for all the belts
It all comes down to this, with not just the AAAW titles on the line, but all of Sendai Girls’ gold too. Marvelous’s goblins vs Sendai’s badasses, and damn, was I excited for this one. You can sit and ponder what makes a great wrestling match all day, but when you strip it all away, the biggest factor will always be how much you care. Having fallen in love with this feud over the last few months, I cared a lot.
And there were flaws to the match. The start felt a bit rushed, Mika perhaps being eliminated a bit too easily, and it looked like there was a mix-up with Tommy at one point, as she seemed to stop a fall on Mei that was supposed to be her elimination. However, none of that mattered. It didn’t matter because I was hanging on every moment, desperate to see who would win. I knew it was going to come down to Hash vs Mio (how could it not?), but the thrill I got when it did was still palpable, the excitement of what we were about to see taking over.
If the rest of the match had been a fucking disaster, Mio and Hash would have still made this one of my favourites of the year. Their showdown was extraordinary, Mio the relentless force bashing against the brick wall that is Hashimoto. She threw herself at her, again and again, delivering an astonishing flurry of headbutts as she attempted to take down this unkillable monster. Meanwhile, I bit on near fall after near fall, convinced that any one of them could have been the end.
There was no doubt about the finish, though, Hash bringing Mio over with a truly murderous German. Not even Mio Momono could kick out of that. For me, it was a blow. That wasn’t the result I wanted, and there was a moment of devastation as the bell rang. And yet, in its own way, that’s just as incredible as a moment of triumph. GAEAISM had me eating out of the palm of its hand, living and dying on what happened. This was unbelievable pro-wrestling and easily one of my matches of the year.
In the aftermath, Takumi Iroha got in Big Hash’s face and declared she’d be returning next month, so it seems we’re not done yet (fuck yes!). Then, after the ring had been cleared, Chigusa came out and spoke to the crowd, her tone conveying gratitude. Thank fuck for Chigusa Nagayo, eh? May she reign forever.
I honestly wasn’t sure whether GAEAISM would be able to live up to my expectations. This show has been on the horizon for months, and I’ve been hyped for it since January. Thankfully, they proved more than capable of matching them, putting on a wonderful card that gave me everything I wanted. Now I’m sad it’s over. Can we do it again, please?
GAEAISM can be purchaed from the following link until the 16th of June: https://gaeaism.zaiko.io/e/gaeaism