Joshi Spotlight- All Star Dream Slam II (Part 1)

ALL JAPAN WOMEN’S DREAM SLAM II (April 11, 1993):

Dream Slam I (Part 1)
Dream Slam I (Part 2)

So the Dream Slams, being the first big SUPER-shows combining all the Joshie companies together, were great hits. They were so big, with so much talent, that it was turned into a pair of shows, as one week after the first Dream Slam (which had SEVEN ****+ matches on it), we had Dream Slam II. Many of the women who’d had classics the previous week were out there again, in slightly different combinations. But there’s also two Six-Women Matches, involving many new names. Of particular note is Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada, AJW’s super-team, taking on the Aces of JWP, Dynamite Kansai & Mayumi Ozaki, in the Main Event. Oh, and Akira Hokuto & Shinobu Kandori, who just engaged in one of the greatest brawls in wrestling history last week, are opponents AGAIN, this time with tag team partners. This is DEFINITELY not the “Dream Match” show of last week, though, as many of the top names are in lesser matches, and there’s some pretty “Midcard Filler” stuff going on. The only solo bouts last time were big-time stuff (Hotta/Kansai, Kandori/Hokuto), but this time it’s midcarders fighting.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnd the tape shows the celebratory hug of the winners of the Main Event. In the opening. Well GOOD THING I ALREADY KNEW WHO WON THEN, ISN’T IT?

This one takes place in Osaka, Japan- a very odd city, very culturally and fashion-wise similar to Edmonton, Alberta, where I live. Seriously, when I was there, everyone was wearing blue jeans and t-shirts. WAY different than Tokyo. Hey! They show that “arcade” mall that’s under the skylight! And that tourist-trap street with all the moving seafood logos! I’ve been to those things! This show is in a much smaller arena, with less than half the crowd- 6,500 apparently.

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Kyoko Inoue and her Ultimate Warrior-esque get-up.

There’s slightly less ancillary stuff here, but you get the full “we come out with our company flags” bit (odd seeing gimmicked wrestlers like LCO and Bull Nakano wearing company shirts- Etsuko Mita looks kind of miserable, actually). Each company gets a representative to talk for them- Miki Handa (LLPW), Megumi Kudo (FMW), Mayumi Ozaki (JWP- she actually flubs her words and gets a laugh along with the crowd from it), and Kyoko Inoue (AJW)- Kyoko was basically born to be a hype woman.

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Hasegawa and her elaborate rookie singlet.

SAKIE HASEGAWA (AJW) vs. HIKARI FUKUOKA (JWP):
* These two were on opposing teams last week! Here, they’re pretty much the two “lower-tier girls who are 100% going to be major stars in the future”, as they can take falls aplenty, but are probably gonna leapfrog soon- Fukuoka in particular was apparently #5 or so in JWP’s smaller talent pool, and would start getting the big push after 1993. Sakie unfortunately retired before she hit huge, but Hikari became JWP’s Ace at one point! Hikari’s wearing a black leotard, which, along with her “hime cut” bangs and long hair, is not helping the “Manami Toyota Lite” comparisons. Sakie’s using her blue-ish lined singlet from last week.

Holy crap, Sakie runs right into the ring and dropkicks Hikari to start! Wasn’t expecting THAT- was she bitter about the last match? They start the match properly with introductions, and Sakie starts with arm submissions. I really like her “Basics, but done well” style. Hikari pulls out a Rolling Cradle (AGAIN not helping the Manami comparisons…), they brawl outside, and Sakie hits her Rolling Butterfly Suplexes- the crowd is pretty quiet for most if it- I think the venom is the girls trying to draw them in. hahaha- Hikari pulls out a literal Popeye Punch during a slugfest- cartoonishly spinning her arm for three revolutions! Camera guy gets our only Perv Shot of the evening, zooming in to show off Hikari’s lack of bra. The match has a solid “story”- Sakie is a better grappler for sure, but her emotions keep getting the better of her, turning it into a slugfest, Fukuoka using speed to reverse strikes. Three spinning heel kicks and three Uranages can’t get it done, though, and Sakie’s out of moves! She has to reverse a running move into a FOURTH Spinning Heel Kick, and she’s able to desperately hold Hikari down for the three (18:05).

Hey, not a bad match at all! Quite the good little war between angry midcarders- lots of slow stuff with wear-down holds, and they lacked Main Eventer Offense to get into a true “Final Stretch”, but it was great psychology seeing them try their basic-tier moves endlessly until they got the fall, and their emotions frequently getting the better of them. Sakie’s desperation in particular was really well done. You could definitely tell these two were going to be great some day. Fukuoka gets on the live mic afterwards and looks super angry, then actually apologizes to the JWP President, bowing to him. He says something that lifts her spirits, they shake hands, and then FINALLY she’s hugging and shaking hands with Hasegawa. She came off miserable and bawling over the loss- some good character stuff. Her push in JWP would come the next year.

Rating: ***1/2 (This is SO tough to rate- it was rather slow for half of it, and in terms of MOVEZ it’s only ***-ish. But the story hit ****, and then got better after the match. So here’s halfway)

TOMOKO WATANABE, KAORU ITO & SAEMI NUMATA (AJW) vs. LEO KITAMURA, MIKIKO FUTAGAMI & UTAKO HOZUMI (LLPW):
* Wow, lotta new names today. Watanabe was in last night’s show, jobbing with Mima Shimoda to Luchadores, and is still wearing that yellow/purple tassled thing and her tassle-mask. Kauro Ito was in the opener, jobbing with Sakie Hasegawa, and wearing the ugliest Peter Pan outfit ever. Here she’s thankfully better dressed in a… BLUE Peter Pan outfit? Goddammit, Ito. Both did fairly well for themselves later on- they’re midcarders here. I’ve never heard of anybody else, and most are so obscure that even MANJIMORTAL can manage only a tiny bit on each one, but here goes… Saemi Numata, their partner, was an AJW Junior Champion, but only had a four year career, retiring the year after this- she looks like a tomboyish type with short hair, in a SUPER-jobbery purple singlet with yellow lines on it. She’s apparently turned into a comedy wrestler right after this.

I can’t find ANYTHING on Kitamura, except that she seems to have stuff listed between 1993-95, ending there (retired due to injury)- she’s got the mandatory mushroom cut, but a really cool set of tights, with a red/pink main color, black trim, and white lines running through it. Not bad. Our only non-obscure one on this side, Futagami, also GAMI and Gami Metal, had a 23-year career, lasting until 2013! She was a tag specialist, winning belts only on that front, going to LLPW, ARSION, Jd’ and others- she seems to have peaked around 1999-2001. She’s plain-looking, has the mandatory mushroom-cut, and wears blue tights with black trim & white diamonds on them- pretty sharp, and the detailing makes her & Leo look like a tag team. Hozumi lasted only five years, retiring two years after this- she’s quite pretty, wears full makeup, and has long hair with a white & gold super-tassley outfit. So she’s LLPW’s “Cutie Suzuki”, but apparently wasn’t very good, and retired not too long after.

It’s VERY Generic Joshi to start, with lots of running & screaming attacks. Hozumi looks SUPER-nervous out there, like a total rookie, all wide-eyed and with her eyebrows up- Kaoru seems to be clearly leading her through some spots, like headscissors. Numata seems new, too, running in kind of a funny way and generally being the “lowest-tier” person. Both teams take turns torturing each other’s rookies (beatings on Hozumi look like child abuse- she’s itty-bitty); Hozumi even starts making in-universe mistakes and needing help to do moves (a partner physically comes in and helps her with a backdrop suplex)- quite weird. Then Tomoko starts botching literally everything she tries- slips on a Springboard thing (the commentators laugh), misses a leg with a Rana, and then falls WAY short on a Moonsault. Christ, she became a star later, but she looks TERRIBLE out here. She’s built like Kyoko Inoue, so she needs to stop trying to fly around the ring- all her regular stuff looks just fine.

Only Kaoru and the tag team looks like they know what they’re doing out there- they hit a Doomsday Bulldog, and generally come off like an American-style Tag Team. Kaoru spams out Stomps like they’re V-Triggers, landing a NASTY Flying Stomp on Futagami. Finally, after Tomoko’s done screwing things up (is “Watanabe” Japanese for “Jackie Gayda” or something?), Futagami (who’s barely done anything all match) hits an Assisted Pumphandle Slam on Numata the rookie, then lands a solitary Pumphandle Sit-Out Powerbomb on her while her team runs interference, and that gets the fall (15:53).

Wow, just… not great as a performance. Ito and the tag girls looked fine enough, but this was as much a “Give the rookies some time” match as anything, and Tomoko was looking terrible out there for a bit. They had enough time to string SOME good stuff together, but this would’ve had Jim Ross talking about bowling shoes for parts of it.

Rating: **1/4 (just for what we saw that looked good)

BAT YOSHINAGA & TERRI POWERS (AJW) vs. RUMI KAZAMA & MIKI HANDA (LLPW):
* Okay, so we saw the injured Terri spam out clotheslines in the last Dream Slam, and her team lost, and Bat was in a boring, awful Shoot Fight, which makes it weird that she’s also here as a regular wrestler (she’s the AJW Martial Arts Champion). Shoot stuff being on the same card as worked stuff will always be weird to me. Bat is a very short, barrel-shaped woman with short blonde hair, while Terri is the WWF’s Tori, but with a lot more muscle mass and dark hair. Kazama & Handa were victorious over Mita & Watanabe on last week’s show, and are wearing the same outfits here- Kazama’s got the same ’80s Mom haircut and blue tiger-striped atrocity on, and Miki’s got a black and silver singlet with the leg cut out.

Terri is a slow tree trunk as usual, but Bat/Rumi gets the crowd going, as both are known for strikes. Rumi’s are so “pro wrestling” it’s funny to see against a legit shooter- Bat no-selling the shots while holding Miki in a Boston Crab is pretty rad. Slow match, with the LLPW girls playing underdogs to the shooter & giantess. Bat’s kicks look great, and her squat-ass body does a good snap powerslam, too, but overall this isn’t terrific. She even uses the fucking CLAW, of all moves. The LLPW girls get some solid double-teams going (a Bearhug/Flying Spin Kick, for example), and Miki shows some great Fighting Spirit by repeatedly “Fuck YOU!” Bridging through many pin attempts, but finally Bat just lights her up with two AMAZING lightning-fast Rolling Kicks, and Miki kicks out 0.1 seconds too late (14:06).

Not a great match- Terri brought nothing but some wailing and lariat-ohs, and the LLPW girls couldn’t do a lot of great stuff against too awkwardly-moving opponents. Bat’s kicks were fantastic, but the match didn’t impress. I can’t believe Mita & Minami had to job, while Terri & Bat don’t.

Rating: **1/4 (bleh. Great kicks and some solid stuff, but not impressive. The extra 1/4* is just for using The Claw, in 1993, in a show with the best workers on Earth on it)

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Finally found a good pic of LCO online.

LOS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES (AJW) vs. COMBAT TOYODA & MEGUMI KUDO (FMW):
* My girls, “The Oriental Bitches”, are the tall, gleefully-evil “Heathers as Hells Angels” Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda. Both were on the losing side in last week’s event, but on different teams. As LCO, they were sort of where The Rockers were in 1990 WWF- a great team, but very much in the midcard. Their push would come a couple years after this, and they’d be truly dominant against all but Superteams. Toyoda & Kudo were the losers in the Main Event of last week’s show, and as FMW’s top names against AJW midcarders… I’m seeing this only going one way. Everyone’s in identical clothes from DS I, with Etsuko’s black two-piece, Mima’s red & black tassled leotard, Combat’s black outfit, and Megumi’s white & pink cut-out singlet.

The announcer is bizarre, as he’s pronouncing it “Mi-MAEEEEE!!” and “Etsu-KAEEEEE!”, as opposed to last week’s show- I’ve seen him do that in other clips, so I dunno if that’s an accent or he’s a comedian or what. This is interesting, as LCO typically dominates through scrappiness, but against a monster like Combat, it doesn’t work, and they have to use submissions & double-teams to wear her down. Combat keeps fighting through a great waist-scissors by Mita, and it looks cool, because she’ll sell, but then kind of go “GRAAAAGHHHH!!” and stare Mita down, trying to ignore the pain. Mita, meanwhile, is holding it from the front, squeezing tightly, screaming “GIVE UUUUUUUUUUUUUPPPPPPP!” over and over again with the most psychotic expression on her face. Wrestling’s greatest tragedies: Chris Benoit, Owen Hart, and this not being a regular part of Mita’s offense.

Both teams have trouble keeping the momentum- Combat can stifle LCO, and LCO tags out too quickly when the FMW girls overwhelm Shimoda (who’s definitely being booked as the lesser one, here). Combat, though a bit of a wall out there, sells Mita’s Running Chest Slap REALLY well, first acting shocked at the pain, then being dropped by a second one. How fucking strong is Mita? She’s holding up Combat for these Delayed Piledrivers like crazy, AND holds her up for a Doomsday Device Crossbody! They’re the same height, but Combat is SOLID. Jesus Christ- Combat hits Shimoda with a Sit-Out Powerbomb on the FLOOR, and then Kudo Tiger Drives Mita onto a table. LCO are toast, but barely manage to survive a few finisher attempts (Combat nails a HUGE Doomsday Device that turns Shimoda inside-out), but then HOLY FUCK- they hit a BRUTAL Flying Inverted DDT/Niagara Driver, then Combat squashes Mima flat with a Folding Powerbomb for the win (17:53).

Started a bit slow and momentum kept changing randomly enough that a “flow” never really developed as well, but God almighty Shimoda was bumping like a champ out there- eating a powerbomb on the floor, folding in half for a few moves, and taking that double-team move right on her goddamn HEAD- girl was trying to earn herself a push for sure. I have no idea how that DDT/Driver didn’t paralyze her for life, because she came right off Combat’s shoulders and straight onto her neck. Mother of God.

Rating: **** (some queen-sized bumps from Shimoda, who was booked like the vulnerable underdog)

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Not what you’d expect two wrestlers doing smooth suplex reversals to look like. Only in Joshi.

Takako Inoue’s must-listen theme song- “She’s a Knockout”. “She dislocated my spine/I knew I had to make the lady MINE!”, “She twisted my arm, while she melted my heart”? A cute ditty about falling for an action girl, or the sad lament of an abused boyfriend? You decide!

DOUBLE INOUE & YUMIKO HOTTA (AJW) vs. CUTIE SUZUKI, PLUM MARIKO & BOLSHOI KID (JWP):
* Now this one’s interesting. Double Inoue were successful in last week’s show against Cutie and Ozaki in a classic tag bout- it’s the exciteably, facepainted brawler Kyoko Inoue and her unrelated partner, the glamorous “can hang with anyone, but not a main eventer” Takako Inoue. Yumiko Hotta was in an AMAZING kickfest last week against Dynamite Kansai, and was a midcarder at this point, just now getting the huge credibility boost against the JPW Ace. She would become a bigger star later in the ’90s, and is again dressed like purple-swirl ice cream. Cutie Suzuki lost last week, and is the adorbz “Icon to Little Girls” character of JWP- today, she’s wearing a golden tutu outfit. Plum is on the same tier, and as I noted last time, tragically died from an in-ring injury a few years after this, having been injury-prone for a while. She was victorious last week against AJW’s Rookie Team, but is today wearing an outfit that can be best described as “the color you’d get if you melted 18 kinds of ice cream together”- covered in swirls & sprinkles. The Bolshoi Kid, later better known as “Command Bolshoi”, is a masked Clown Girl wrestler (baggy pants, big diamond-shapes, etc.), a diminutive 4’10”, and basically occupies this “Rey Mysterio” zone of being the perennial underdog high-flier. She would have a REALLY long career and be highly respected, but is here the junior partner on the team.

One of my only lasting memories of watching this tape years back is being annoyed by this match, with a lot of comedy spots based around people slapping each other. And yeah, comedy takes up the first couple of minutes, with Bolshoi being a prankster, slapping opponents, and then lovingly rubbing the spots to make it better. Kyoko doing the same thing to Plum & Cutie is pretty fun, though. The JWP team uses a lot of speed and reversals, as Kyoko & Hotta in particular are much stronger. Takako seems to relish torturing Cutie a LOT- is she jealous that JWP’s “Pretty Girl” is younger than her, or something? She’s all “You fucking DARE be beautiful in MY ring, bitch?” and tears into her. She acts the sweetheart in interviews, but she fights like a demon sometimes. Stereo Camel Clutches see Hotta DRILL both Cutie & Plum with vicous kicks to the chest- yikes.

Takako hits a SWEET armdrag, and even dropkicks Plum out of trying a dive, and then EVERYONE’s diving to the outside! The crowd marks out when Takako insists HOTTA do it- not a great dive, but the Shooter/Kicker-style Hotta doing lucha shit is great. It turns into a bit more of a Takako showcase (she stumbles to her corner really well, selling some submission work), and they Bolshoi does the “Mysterio Fake/Tiger Feint”, but gets tortured by Kyoko’s “Wheelbarrow Submission” and a Surfboard. Takako & Plum botch Plum’s “Turn a Crossbody into a Bridging Fallaway Slam” spot (the commentator even goes “Chotto”, which is Japanese for “She didn’t get ALL of it, Brain”), then Hotta & Cutie trade elbows… oh, Cutie, you should have had Sporty Suzuki try that. Cutie keeps getting hope spots, but is repeatedly kicked in the brain by Hotta’s assortment of ways to kick the brain. She kicks out of the Tiger Driver, though! And a Backdrop Hold! Then everyone starts reversing everything, Kyoko eats a Triple Dropkick, a series of Flying Stomps and a Moonsault, but the best last-second kickouts in the biz keep her alive. Then Team AJW starts murdering Bolshoi, and a fucking AWESOME Helicopter Slam from Kyoko finishes her at (21:28), as her teammates have dealt with the other girls- Kyoko casually plops down on Bolshoi and counts along with the pin.

Actually a really awesome match. Two botches were made up for quickly (joshi is so fast that it almost seems like part of the match when people slide out of holds), everyone was at the high-speed of Dream Slam I again, and everyone got their shit in, making for a contest with a LOT of devastating hits. Several moves in the Escalating Finishers portion could have ended it, and the “elders” were finally able to punish the plucky youngsters enough and single out the rookiest rookie and finish her.

Rating: ****1/4 (great showcase of the joshi style to outsiders- fast-paced, punishing and great finishers)

That’s it for part 1! Next up will be the final four matches (which have pretty long descriptions, so I had to cut this one in half again), including the Wrestling Observer Match of the Year for 1993!