Michiko Ohmukai v Yumi Fukawa (ASRION, 4/11/98)
This was really awesome. I was a bit worried they were going down a route I wasn't really interested in with the very first exchange, then approximately forty seconds in Ohmukai started kneeing Fukawa in the face and they never looked back. Who the fuck is Michiko Ohmukai, anyway? She was fantastic in this, like a more supple Takeshi Ono. She threw forty yarders to the gut, a couple Wanderlei punts, a brutal axe kick, and she hit one springboard wheel kick where she landed with practically her entire body weight on Fukawa's head. There was one bit where she'd gone for an armbar and Fukawa made it to the ropes, then as Fukawa was on all fours trying to get back to her feet Ohmukai just drilled her elbow with a kick. It was nasty as hell. Fukawa was her usual spunky self and all of her tricked out submission attempts had a hint of desperation about them. It felt like she actually HAD to get creative when going for submissions just to avoid being booted in the mouth. And that finish looked like it just about ripped out BOTH shoulders. What a cool find (credit to Jetlag on PWO for bringing it up). I need to watch more Ohmukai.
CIMA v Minoru Fujita (M-Pro, 1/9/00)
This feels like something I probably watched on an early Schneider Comp. I didn't really have high expectations for it since CIMA is a guy I haven't cared for in about twelve years, and Fujita has never left much of an impression on me from the first time I saw him, but I wound up thinking this was rock solid. CIMA sold the early work on his arm well, then dropped it when it felt appropriate. It's not like a ton of time was dedicated to working it over, so he wasn't going to leave it hanging by his side the whole match. The legwork on Fujita lasted long enough as well that by the time they moved into the finishing run, it felt like Fujita had mostly recovered from it. He sold enough in the immediate aftermath that CIMA's stretch of legwork didn't feel meaningless. The match length probably helped that. I don't remember when it started, but at some point in the last ten years a ton of juniors matches seemed to go half an hour or longer, and it made things feel really wonky. The overall pacing, the perfunctory beginning, the meandering in the body, the overkill at the end -- it's a style that wasn't suited to going thirty, sometimes forty minutes (KENTA did it about four times a year). You'd have someone getting their leg torn to bits for ten minutes straight, then a switch would flip and they'd move into the ten minute finishing run without the leg ever being a factor thereafter. That criticism might be old hat these days, but it certainly used to bug me. With this only going seventeen minutes they got to stretch out and build to a hot finish, but the middle portion never felt bloated with limb work that wasn't going to factor into the finish, anyway. They used their time and laid things out really well, basically. And I don't even think they overdid it with the finishing run, either. It ended with the crowd at their hottest and none of the kickouts felt like they were too much. I'm glad I bothered to check this out.