Yumi Fukawa v Candy Okutsu (2/18/98)
I figured this was heading toward "fun intro to the style" territory, but then it kept going and before I knew it I was thinking it was a bit more than that. It wasn't perfect -- some transitions were abrupt and they might've overreached on a few ideas, but it had flashes of the lucha and shooty influences early on before morphing into a highly competitive contest by the end. I was impressed with Fukawa, particularly the snap she'd get on flat back bumps for Candy's missile dropkicks. A couple of those moonsaults were pretty brutal as well, including one where I think she was intending on landing on Candy's arm only to near enough crush her head like a spoiled grapefruit. For a match that I assume was to show the audience what to expect from the new promotion I thought they managed to strike a really nice balance between exhibition and struggle. Good match, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of both women.
Aja Kong v Michiko Ohmukai (2/18/98)
Man, what is Ohmukai? I mean, if you ever needed proof that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Slender, unassuming, supermodel good looks...and she will kick your fucking head in. I thought this was ace. The opening with the slap, Ohmukai's brutal kicks and Aja's subsequent sell (loved her just collapsing after being Irish whipped) was awesome, then Aja came back like you knew she would and unleashed hell. Also liked how she'd sit in the mount position and shit talk Ohmukai while slapping her about the head. It made for a neat dynamic of heavyweight wrecking ball v skinny supermodel who'll kick you in the liver, particularly as skinny supermodel kicking you in the liver clearly had a point to prove (that she was every bit the wrecking ball Aja was, maybe). Where Candy/Fukawa was more along the lines of your lucharesu, this was straight out of Battlarts. And I'm fully on board with Ohmukai as ARSION Takeshi Ono.
Aja Kong, Michiko Ohmukai & Yumi Fukawa v Rie Tamada, Candy Okutsu & Mikiko Futagami (2/18/98)
This was alright, albeit pretty sloppy. Sometimes that meant you got Fukawa hitting crazy moonsaults where she almost lands on her head or crushes Candy Okutsu's ribs, then at other points you got ropey powerslams and double teams where someone had to stand around waiting for others to get into position properly. If everyone was pulling double duty on the show then I guess it's understandable, especially in Ohmukai's case considering Aja Kong blootered her about the head for twelve minutes. Tamada was a lot of fun and probably my favourite girl in this. She'd often smack someone in the face as a cut off and the best spot was her punching an onrushing Aja right in the mouth. Mostly a go-go-go sprint, but the early cutting off of Fukawa gave us something to sink our teeth into and it's no surprise she was satisfied picking up the victory. Her majistral cradle looked air tight.
Mariko Yoshida v Rie Tamada (4/17/98)
Yoshida's first match in ARSION and fittingly it's a doozy. Some of her matwork in this was breathtaking, how she'd just yank Tamada into a hold and give her no peace whatsoever. One of my favourite things about her as a worker is how nothing against her comes easy, even if it's trying to gain side control or apply a routine hold, she makes you work for every little thing and we saw it in abundance here. Her dominance on the ground sort of created a story of Tamada being forced to try every other strategy possible in response, from taking to the air to attempting a bunch of DDT and suplex variations to straight elbowing Yoshida in the mouth. Not that she was a slouch on the mat, but if she was stubborn enough to keep the match there then it wouldn't be long before Yoshida hooked her in something she couldn't get out of. We saw this when she started going after Yoshida's leg, grabbing a few kneebars that forced her to scramble to the ropes, but then she got ahead of herself shooting in for the single leg and Yoshida tied her up in two seconds flat. I can't even describe how she did it, but man was it gorgeous. Classy match.