Joshi Spotlight- Aja Kong & Kyoko Inoue vs. LCO (09/08/97)

Aja Kong & Kyoko Inoue vs. LCO (09.08.1997):

So the degenerates, alcoholics and people with too much time on their hands in the night threads have been on a Joshi-fest lately, and we’ve been doing a kind of “Best Of” for the genre, typically centered around All Japan Women’s stuff from the early ’90s (generally considered the peak of the style). And while I’d watched the Dream Slams eons ago when I got a huge pack from Golden Boy tapes, I’ve mostly just seen “Best of Manami Toyota” stuff since then. This past month has changed that. I figured I’d toss out some reviews of some of the crazy shit we’ve been watching, starting with this insane brawl- a good introduction to Joshi, and accessible to newcomers (like, say, someone totally ignorant that wrestling took place in places other than the West). Read on!

THE PARTICIPANTS:
Los Cachorras Orientales (literally: “The Oriental Bitches”), Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda-
* LCO, sporting the greatest tag team name in history, are one of the top teams in Joshi, promotion-hopping and winning tons of gold. Their general concept is, as blog-poster Lawrence Talbot described them, “As if the Heathers were also Hells Angels”, being GIANT BITCHES who attack everybody, show constant disrespect, and cheat frequently in their matches. Both women are quite tall (especially Mita), and have very wavy, crimped hair, which was seen as a sign of hooliganism in female youth at the time. This indicates to the audience (especially the teen girls) that “These are the girls who scared the shit out of you in High School”.

Their fighting style is essentially Bitch-Fu, with biting, beat-downs outside the ring, weapon-throwing, and gleeful cheating. And their moves are serious- Mita is the innovator of the friggin’ Death Valley Driver, one of wrestling’s most painful-looking maneuvers (unless Cena does it), and Shimoda’s move is a German Suplex-like thing off the ropes.

Aja Kong-
* “God made the devil just for fun/But when he wanted the real thing, he made Aja Kong”– so goes the theme song. Kong is a veritable wrestling legend, usually known for being a Monster Heel. Her overall style is best described as if Big Van Vader if Leon White were better at literally every aspect of pro wrestling- and that’s not a knock on Vader. Kong is just THAT GOOD. A truly dominant Main Eventer throughout her entire career, she’s won the top belts in multiple companies.

Kyoko Inoue-
* The energetic Kyoko is basically what would happen if you made The Ultimate Warrior in Fire Pro Wrestling, but wanted to have good matches, so you jacked up his stamina and gave him the moveset of an All Japan Main Eventer. Extremely popular, she runs around and screams constantly, and is a top-tier seller. One of the all-time leaders in Dave Meltzer’s “Total Number of ***** Matches Wrestled”, too. Like Kong, she’s ridiculously decorated (much more than LCO, even), with multiple runs with top tag and singles titles.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT (Short Version, if you want to check it out unspoiled):
It’s a crazy-ass brawl, with constant chairshots and bumping throughout, and phenomenal selling from all four women. LCO are the Queen Bee Bitches of the Universe, gleefully torturing their opponents with GREAT smirks on their faces. They even sell like bitches. The omnipresent trainees outside the ring start actively interfering in the match. Aja Kong as a Monster Babyface, almost amused at the fighting. Two counts of attempted murder, then a fire extinguisher sets off the smoke alarm in Korakuen Hall. Several MDK moves are done on a literal pile of chairs, and then someone has to wake up their unconscious partner to do the finish. Absolutely a picture-perfect, stiff as hell, ECW-style brawl, but with way better workers than ECW usually ever had.

FULL MATCH REVIEW:
-This takes place in Korakuen Hall on Sept. 1997, which is a bit after the peak of Joshi in the country. LCO start the match carrying chairs, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand they’re already outside the ring, using chairs as projectile weapons. And Shimoda throws a table at Kyoko’s ass. Aja is dazed outside, and Shimoda & Kyoko start the match properly- they’re running! They’re screaming! Mita acts like the Evil Giraffe Bitch that she is, literally choking Kyoko during a submission (like, a single hand over the throat). Aja finally makes her way down to ringside, and is this combination of befuddled and fucked up, still selling the chairshot. And then it’s another LCO trademark: The Bitch Pose!! Where they hold an opponent in the corner, casually put their feet on them, and calmly pose while they’re in agony. LCO is sooooooooooooo good.

Kong does headbutts (while still selling, because she’s awesome), LCO’s Ring Girls help them cheat, and Kyoko & Shimoda just start biting each other. Shimoda has the BEST “Psychotic Heel Face”- full of absolute glee at the pain she’s inflicting (a wide-mouthed, grinning stare), but Kyoko’s one of the best Fired-Up Babyfaces ever. LCO manage to even sell like bitches- whiny screaming that won’t build sympathy. And then they start cheating again, using a towel to strangle the babyfaces. Mita takes a HUGE chairshot from Aja, collapsing into a wild stare, and then the faces start doing Kyoko’s dance while the heels are in stereo submissions. So great. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand then it’s a wild brawl outside again. People start smashing each other with cans of soda, and AJA KONG IS TRYING TO THROW ETSUKO MITA OFF THE BALCONY OF KORAKUEN HALL!! Then Mita reverses it, then starts using a rope to try and strangle/toss Aja over the edge of a thirty-foot balcony while the crowd chants and cheers. This is wild.

The Ring Girls (“Young Lionesses”?) finally put a stop to the attempted murder (trying to commit homicide adds 1/4* to a match instantly- it’s a rule), and LCO double-teams Kyoko… and then a pissed off Aja recovers, brings a fire extinguisher to ringside, and then SPRAYS THE ENTIRE RINGSIDE AREA, sending fans, officials and commentators scrambling all over the place. And then the goddamn smoke alarm goes off in Korakuen Hall. Another 1/4* just for that, especially because the crowd pops as it happens. Then, as the smoke clears, of course LCO are already tossing chairs- Kyoko gets cranked so freaking hard that the seat comes straight off the chair on impact, leaving the frame draped around her neck. Amazing. And Shimoda, proving more and more to be Best Girl, starts hammering on Kyoko and trying all of her pins in “Casual Glamor Model” poses, smirking the whole way. Then LCO gets faceplanted on chairs and blasted with them, and then Aja PILEDRIVES SHIMODA THROUGH A TABLE. She somehow kicks out of that under her own power. Sitout Powerbomb gets two!

Aja dunks a whole bottle of liquid on Shimoda, just to leave her looking like a drowned rat, then kicks the shit out of her. Mita runs in for some of her patented Running Chest Slaps, with Kyoko selling them like they came out of a shotgun. Then Kyoko pulls out two Flying Back Elbows that rock her… and Shimoda PULLS OUT THE ASIAN MIST!!! Holy fuck, I didn’t see that coming at all! Shimoda preens like a giant bitch, and Mita hits Kyoko with a Super Electric Chair Drop for two… and Shimoda kicks the referee for not counting three! hahahahahaha!!! Kyoko pulls off one of those great “Desperate Comebacks” (her wild brawling style and perfect selling make those SO good), but LCO double-team the crap out of Aja with big moves. Then Mita flies of the top rope with a HUGE chairshot that Aja sells with the total “Falling Tree Sell”, going straight backwards. But they have miscommunication, and everyone starts trading big moves (Germans, Flying Back Elbows, Aja’s omnipresent metal box, a HUGE Backdrop Driver on Shimoda), scoring nearfalls.

Shimoda keeps kicking out, which is remarkable durability (she’s taking a TON of punishment), but then Aja gets sick of this shit and starts LOADING the ring with chairs. ohhhhhhhhhh shit. Brainbuster on the chairs! But Mita breaks it up with chairshots hits a DEATH VALLEY DRIVER ON CHAIR MOUNTAIN!! Jesus Christ!! Spot of the match right there!

Mita dumps Shimoda onto Kong, but Kyoko breaks it up. Shimoda’s just dead, though, so has no answer when Kyoko hits Powerbombs Mita with huge force onto Chair Mountain, knocking her out of the fight. And then, in a brilliant ending, Kyoko grabs Shimoda for Aja… then has to desperately shake the giant awake, begging her to get up… then Aja slowly rises to her feet and gears up for her trademark Uraken (Spinning Backfist), removing Shimoda’s head from her shoulders and killing her DEAD. Aja, still selling like nuts, drops as soon as she hits the move, grabbing Shimoda as she does so that she ends up pinning her. Kyoko dogpiles a scrambling Mita, and LCO can only hold each other’s hands while Aja scores the fall for her team (27:26). KYOKO AND AJA WIN!!!

RATING: *****

I was a bit hesitant on it at first, but all the crazy brawling, the attempted homicide, the fire extinguisher (and resulting smoke cloud), the escalating finishers, and finally the epic scene of a mountain of chairs in the ring while the girls alternate murdering each other with vicious moves onto it… it’s got to be the full monty. Shimoda was an absolute all-star in this match, acting like a giant crazy bitch and selling every move like screaming death- the final Uraken was sold as if it legitimately knocked her right the fuck out. Kyoko sold everything with aplomb, and even Aja reacted perfectly, being slammed with wicked chairshots and really putting over LCO. An amazing war of a match filled with memorable moments.