This is on XWT Classics as AJW Rage in the Cage 1997.
Miho Wakizawa vs. Miyuki Fuji
Nanae Takahashi vs. Saya Endo
|"She's a bitin' da foot" - Dusty Rhodes|
Chaparrita ASARI vs. Yuka Shiina
Toshiyo Yamada & KAORU vs. Kumiko Maekawa & Momoe Nakanishi
|Momoe in blue, Maekawa in black|
|Yamada in white, Kaoru in blue|
KAORU pinned Momoe Nananishi with a top rope asai moonsault. Quick, you have two of the best kickers ever. Do you let them kick each other or do you focus on the other two? If you selected the other two, you are the winner. Mind boggling booking here when everyone just wanted to see Yamada and Maekawa tee off on each other. The second they did have was great but that should have been the whole match. Maekawa throws some of my favorite kicks and got in some good ones like always and if you want to see a real Brogue Kick, you need to see hers. Momoe was really good hitting an awesome german + Brogue kick combo but was still a bit green. Match was good but could have been a lot better had they gave the people what they wanted. Rating: ***1/2.
Yumiko Hotta vs Manami Toyota
Cage Match - Las Cachorras Orientales(Mima Shimoda & Etsuko Mita) vs. Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe
|Ito with the short hair, Watanabe with the long hair|
|Brutal Dragon Screw|
|The seconds fight for the railing|
|Watanabe escapes the cage, but now it's 2 on 1...|
|Mita escapes, it's now 1-on-1|
|Mita comes back in...the hard way|
|Ito escapes for the win|
Ito got the win when she escaped the cage. This wasn't a match. This was a war. There was no "wrestling" here. This was a fight to the death from start to finish. Absolutely incredible match. They just let them fight, and they fought. No irish whips, none of the flippy stuff, just 4 people trying to destroy each other. They didn't do one move for the first 15 minutes or so and it was great. All brawling here with people getting rammed into the cage and pummeled with chairs and chains. The match ran two stories. The first was Watanabe's shoulder injury. She put on football pads to protect and had it worked over all match. They solely focused on it and it made a ton of sense. The second story was Ito working Shimoda's arm, which led to the finish.
Everyone was really strong here. Watanabe might be one of the best sellers ever. She just looks sympathetic and really can sell. She screamed and bled and cried the whole match and was easily the star. Mita and Shimoda were completely nasty heels and were so blooded up by the end of this that I didn't even know who was who. Mita took some awful intentional and unintentional bumps landing on her head 3 times easy. I'm fairly sure either her or Shimoda were knocked out legit for a second. Ito was good here working Shimoda's bad arm all match and hitting the big one - the footstomp off the cage, right on Shimoda's bad shoulder, working the story of the match to the finish.
Excellent work all around. The match was even good before it started with Shimoda and Ito slapping each other. This took the cage match to a new level and showed what a real feud and what real hatred looked like. Yes, other cage matches had bigger bumps and more of a wrestling match feel, but this is what a cage match should be - bloody, physical and downright sadistic. Best cage match of all time? Quite possibly. Best match of 1997? Very likely.
Rating: *****. Check this out. Perfect match, great storytelling and wrestling 101.
Overall thoughts: The cage match was a classic and maybe the best cage match of all time. It saved the show from a dreadful and horri-awful crowd, who was dead all show and made the matches worse. The 30 min Hotta/Toyota match was too long and the rest of it minus the tag really wasn't worthwhile. Honestly, just check out the cage match ASAP and screw the rest.