Aja Kong vs Chihiro Hashimoto
Number One Contender’s Match
Taped 01/09/2016, aired 01/16/2016
Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan
(reviewed 01/01/2017) Pretty sure this is the first time I’ve seen Chihiro, and from what I hear she’s really fantastic, so I’m expecting something fun here. Sadly, they mute Kong’s theme during her entrance, so we’re off to a bad start. They kick things off with some matwork, and Hashimoto, who certainly looks like she has an amateur background, pretty handily outmaneuvers her veteran opponent. Kong’s size gives her trouble, though, and when she turns to striking to keep her momentum going, Kong easily knocks her down a peg with her own flurry of strikes. The young rookie turns things around with some weak corner splashes and some slightly better running hip attacks, but Kong stuffs her with a scoop slam and they go to the outside. On the floor, Kong does some of her usual brawling and weapon stuff. Back in the ring, Hashimoto slams her larger opponent twice with pretty impressive ease, but Kong puts her right back down with a snug clothesline. Hashimoto, fiery to the end, continues to fight back and go for another big slam, but Kong cracks her over the head with the steel can gimmick and puts her away with a brainbuster. Nothing spectacular, as it’s rather short, but fun enough in the end. A good first look for me at Hashimoto, who powered through some awkwardness and held her own against an aging all-time great.