Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Match-of-the-Day: Ayako Hamada & Cherry v Mayumi Ozaki & Mio Shirai

Cherry, Mio and Ayako -- things gettin' crazy . . .

This was a barn-burner of a match to bring us up to intermission.  An attractive tag between workers from different promotions, generations, and personas.  What they share is an understanding of hard-style and the pacing and choreographed 3-and-4 person sequences that bring about the best matches.  I had seen Ayako often in SHIMMER and watched her from her earliest ARSION days.  She is arguably the best wrestler in Japan today along with Meiko and Nanae.  I have also been a huge fan of Heel Ozaki for the better part of two decades.  But with Ozaki you know what you will get -- solid heel work, chains, etc., but no high-flying, no big-time bumps.  Cherry seems the quintessential "face" with a limited aerial arsenal and some nice gymnastics.  Cherry's ability to take some serious bumps and ride the victim wagon for a good 6-7 minutes was impressive.  Equally impressive was Mio-the-Heel Shirai.  I was amazed at how effective her teaming with Ozaki was; her interactions with the ref and crowd were superb; and her athleticism which was hinted at in photos from Japan, became most evident in the live performance -- stiff kicks, forearms, etc.  A solid and charismatic performance.  When Ayako got tagged in she was a house-a-fire devastating the camp of Ozaki/Shirai.  Mio and Mayumi then showed how well they could "take" a bump -- often the most underrated part of a heel's game (just as Muhammed Ali was underappreciated for his ability to take a punch).

Mio Shirai
All photos by David Falcon

Match-of-the-Day: December 6

Competitors: Ayako* & Cherry v Mio Shirai and Ozaki

Card: Match 4, Night #1

Time: 15:07

Finisher: Power slam

Highlight: Mio relishing her heel role.

Mayumi Ozaki


Ayako Hamada

Things start with a bang!

Mio made time to insult the crowd

The court jester, Ms. Shirai!

Ozaki stomps on Cherry's fingers

Mio toys with Cherry

. . . yanking the hair . . .

putting on her kicking boots . . .

. . . and the cover . . .

then Mio distracts the ref . . .

. . . so Ozaki can do this!

Then they double-team Cherry and seem to enjoy it!

but Cherry catwheels back into contention

Now Mio gets suplexed by Cherry

Cherry arches for the cover -- but only 2!

Cherry works Mio's arm under the watchful eye of Ref PJ Drummond

Cherry trying to lock in a suplex grip on Mio

Ozaki enjoys being back on the attack

Finally, hamada gets her chance!

Ayako delivers a blow to Mio

Mio and Ozaki try to recover from the Hamada onslaught

Hamada is not done delivering pain the the Heels

"Pass the Advil,"  Ozaki

Ayako with her deadly, powerful kicks

Ah, but Ozaki powers in with a karate chop

Mio keeps her balance; not so, Hamada

Oh, did I mention that . . . I LOVED THIS MATCH!!!

Kicking her when she is down!

roll onto Ayako for the cover

Mio is a flyin' kick machine!

Mio climbs to her feet, as Ozaki exhorts her . . .

Hamada with the near-pinfall

Cherry climbs on high!

She lands a big front senton on Mio

Things get wild in the ring

Ayako heads to run the ropes

One . . . Two . . . Three! Ayako with the cover!

Cherry celebrates the victory!


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