AJW WRESTLEMARINEPIAD ’93:
And we’re back! I cut this review in half since it was going to be an insane length, so here’s the last three matches. We last left off with a few multi-person matches, and Reggie Bennett making her AJW debut in a tag bout where she scored the winning fall over Suzuka “JTTS” Minami. And Kyoko Inoue scored a roll-up to defeat JWP’s Devil Masami in a big upset!
Toyota & Ozaki: Joshi are bendy.
MANAMI TOYOTA (AJW) vs. MAYUMI OZAKI (JWP):
* Oh, damn. They were across the ring from each other at Dream Slam II, and their tag feud has one match left, but now it’s a SINGLES match! And it’s especially interesting, because Ozaki’s one of many wrestlers whose position in history is kind of overshadowed by Toyota being “The Best”, because they had similar styles, and nobody was as good as Toyota at it. At least with Aja or Hokuto, there were different styles so you could find one better and it’s just a matter of taste. Ozaki at least turned into a nasty-ass heel brawler, so comparisons stopped being so apt. Here, she’s in her usual “red unitard with cut-outs and tassles all over it” look (I call i the “red Big Bird” look), while Manami’s in… a black leotard with white Hostess cupcake swirls all over them? Oh, Manami. Manami that does not look good. It’s COVERED in them.
They start off tearing into each other with slaps and kicks before Ozaki slickly jumps up to avoid the running Front Dropkick and does mat stuff… and then BOOM, it’s the No-Hands Springboard Crossbody. Manami takes over with a dropkick and proves that Ozaki’s as bendy as SHE is with one of those “fold ’em in half” half-crabs and some other great “Gumby” stuff, then hangs her upsdie-down with a double-arm, making her wait for the Butterfly Suplex. Hah, so this is what it looks like when Toyota can overpower her opponent! Usually she’s just TAKING this stuff! There’s a long segment on stretching punctuated by a lot of yelling and slapping to ensure we get that there’s real dislike between these two. Manami finally comes out with Dropkick Beamspam, but gets the worst of some other stuff and is dumped, but gets the better of Ozaki outside, but then does her “Missed Dropkick and Slides Outside” bump!
Ozaki Springboard Somersault Sentons her out there, then hits a German and a Spinning Splash (that move’s popular tonight) for two each, Manami using the “Fuck YOU!” Bridge kickout and hitting a Rolling Cradle, circling the ring for literally 45 seconds. Oh yeah, there’s some hate there. Manami fails to get onto her toes for the bridge of a German AND a Straightjacket Suplex, which indicates to me she’s feeling weakened. Her Moonsault misses (that thing has a 30% success rate) and a Tiger Suplex gets two, but she knocks Ozaki off the top, GERMAN SUPLEXES her on the outside, and gets a Moonsault Suicida. NOW an in-ring Moonsault hits! Dragon Suplex gets two as the crowd chants for Ozaki to make a comeback. Manami appears offended by their turning on her, but when she hits the Electric Chair portion of the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex… Ozaki hits a Victory Roll for a near-fall! Another try… and Ozaki slips back and hits the Tequila Sunrise (Half-Nelson/Hammerlock German Suplex)! That gets people WAY into it, but she makes the fatal mistake of Repeating A Previous Successful Move, and she takes a knee to the face when she attempts another Spinning Splash. A+ selling, making that look completely agonizing. And that enables Toyota to hit the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex for real (making sure to let it sink in to Ozaki by literally carrying her across the ring and planting her in the middle), scoring the three (19:58).
Well that was an odd bout- I was actually disappointed by it on my first look, thinking it **** (which was Meltzer’s rating, too). I mean, that’s disappointing for THESE two- looking at the names and the event I was thinking “****3/4, easy”, but instead it seemed too slow at first. But a re-watch showed a lot of the venom in the ten minute stretching portion made it a lot more fun than the often-perfunctory “stretching period” stuff. They kept that full of emotion and hate (all the hair-pulling and slapping), and moved from move to move quickly, so it wasn’t boring. They hated each other in the submissions (Manami’s Octopus Stretch featured extra tugging on the neck AND an eblow grinding into Ozaki’s side), they slapped and kicked, they brawled outside, and there was even a ton of reversals and psychology (the Moonsault & J.O.S.C. both needing a couple of tries to hit; Ozaki’s Spinning Splash being gone to one too many times).
Rating: ****1/2 (Great stuff! Tons of moves, plus psychology!)
Always-serious Dynamite Kansai.
DYNAMITE KANSAI (JWP) vs. TOSHIYO YAMADA (AJW):
* Ah, so they’re doing a “split the tag team feud” thing, with Toyota/Ozaki and Kansai/Yamada going on here. Given that Kansai is JWP’s Ace, and Yamada is… the one who works with Aces, I’m thinking this is only going one way. Kansai’s in a new outfit- a truly hideous PEACH PINK bodysuit with “yellow-gold” angular designs on it. Yamada’s shifted gears into a “Jobber Singlet” style, with “YAMADA” written on the front of a red & black legless singlet. I kind of preferred her in pants- at least she looked unique and had some great designs. Her in a singlet just makes her look like Yumiko Hotta Lite, which is especially bad since both are Sporty Kicker types, and Yamada’s much smaller and more of a Cruiser.
This is gonna be fun, because they have very similar “bases” (Kick-Based Offense), but are on different tiers and have different advantages (Yamada is fast and can fly, but is as scrappy Upper-Midcarder; Kansai is O.P. and a Main Eventer). Kansai overpowers Yamada at first, but Yamada’s quick enough to get out of the submissions and works her over with the Stump Puller and some quick kicks- they do less damage, but there’s more OF them, in a way- Yamada’s speed is key. So they kind of alternate stretching with kicks to work each other over, Kansai pulling out a Sharpshooter and a really cool Headscissors. I like the overall story- Yamada is good and quick, but Kansai is smart and will stifle her with weardown holds, but can still be caught with things- like unwisely trying a top-rope move, which gets her Belly-To-Belly Superplexed. Flying Splash misses, too, and she gets Enquigirid by that wicked jumping kick Yamada does.
Yamada controls the latter half with Kickspam, a Flying Shoulderblock, a great reversal Roundhouse Kick, and more, with Kansai’s resilience saving her. Flying Enzuigiri! Kansai, selling like death, gets her foot on the ropes- the rest of her body lifeless. Kansai’s selling is so great. Unfortunately, Yamada TWICE goes for The Finisher That Never Hits, causing her downfall, as Kansai gets comebacks from that, the final one sticking, as she’s recovered enough. Garbage-ass Flying Elbow gets two- I think she was selling for that, because she just kinda flopped over. Though she’s been sweating like a pig for ten minutes, and is huffing and puffing- either great selling, or she’s blown up. In any case, Yamada falls on her from a Backdrop Superplex for two, but Kansai’s up first and kicks her in the face thrice, setting her up for Splash Mountain (Sit-Out Razor’s Edge Powerbomb) for an academic three count (19:44).
Hey- interesting, good little match there. The final stretch wasn’t quite to my taste, but I liked the overall tale of Kansai stifling the faster Yamada’s stuff with power and picking her spots, while Yamada had a solid dominant stretch (with some cool moves) before she tried going for her hard-to-hit finisher too many times. The final bit, where Kansai takes tons of damage then comes back handily for the win (less based off of counters and more just eventually overwhelming her opponent with some token offense and a big finisher) had shades of “Macho Man in his Later Years of Template Match Laziness”, though, as that was a LONG stretch of dominance for Yamada, with Dynamite wrapping it up after a short (3-ish minute) comeback.
Rating: ***3/4 (very good bout with some good storytelling)
Akira Hokuto- “Almost Ace” of AJW.
WWWA WORLD TITLE MATCH:
AJA KONG vs. AKIRA HOKUTO:
* Oh, damn- the two top women in AJW fighting each other- now THAT’s the kind of Main Event we expect to see at a Wrestlemarinepiad! Hokuto’s dressed like a marching band leader, what with her two-piece being a white and red number with tons of gold crochetting sewn into it (okay, it’s probably Michael Jackson-inspired- it was the early ’90s!). She’s also injured, apparently, having something taped up. I know, I’m as shocked as you are. Aja is wearing a simple red shirt & pants with “AJA” on the front. The story here is that Akira was considering retirement (she instead went off to CMLL in Mexico before returning in 1994, then bailing for GAEA in 1995-ish, and WCW at the same time), so Aja challenged her to one last bout, as the best woman around who wasn’t her. Because Aja was a SERIOUS FUCKING CHAMPION, and despite being a Monster Heel, worshiped that Title and wanted the best for it. Hokuto was battling a serious knee injury, having surgery on it shortly beforehand. So she demanded this not be for the title, because her fighting so hurt would disrespect it. MAKE TITLES MATTER!!
They cut short, respectful-sounding promos to start. First two moves to the match: a backdrop to the outside and a Flying Somersault Plancha Suicida. JOSHI RULES! Of course, Aja being Aja, she wipes out Hokuto eventually, then starts aggressively, but deliberately, tearing the taped-up knee to pieces. Sitting on it, sitting on in in the TREE OF WOE, and even doing a Slingshot Suplex thing… but just dumping her knee-first across the ropes. Never seen that before- Joshi is nuts. Hokuto does the full “Macho Man Desperate Limping” sell out of it, too, because she’s the best Joshi for consistent limb-selling. She gets all of one hope spot (using Flail-Fu, of course), before Aja kills her again with stuff, missing two spinning backfists before hitting the full Uraken, but Hokuto gets her foot in the ropes. She tries a Super Mountain Bomb from the top (holding her in position for an Alabama Slam, but falling straight backwards instead), but Hokuto flips over for a Sunset Flip Powerbomb (in 1993, that’s crazy-common in Joshi, because it rules)! But Aja AGAIN just takes right back over!
And then all that “Hokuto uses flailing and smarts to avoid death” stuff pays off, as Aja tries Backdrop Spam, but a fourth one gets Hokuto flipping onto her feet (collapsing because of the knee)… then throwing a Roundhouse Kick to counter the Uraken! Aja’s hand is now INJURED, and her next move sees Akira throw a submission on the arm! She goes for a Missile Dropkick, but Aja boots her on the way down, and the leg injury’s now so severe that the ref calls a Ring Doctor into the ring to observe it, and they actually start moving it around and popping things back into place right there in the ring! This is nuts! Aja, amazingly, still sells the hand like it’s fucked, and has been shaking it for several minutes trying to get it back into shape (did I mention Joshi ruling yet?). Finally the kneebrace is adjusted, and Aja shows her kindness and mercy by going for a SUPER PILEDRIVER, but gets backdropped off the top! SICK Inverted Brainbuster gets two! Aja goes back to the advantage with power stuff, but the Flying Back Elbow misses… NORTHERN LIGHTS BOMB!! Aja manages to kick out! Akira heads up… but is grabbed in mid-air! Oh shit- Aja plants her with a Falcon Arrow, and the Super Mountain Bomb kills Hokuto dead at (20:11).
And then the two top wrestlers in AJW have this incredible heart-to-heart in the ring, with Aja doing the PROSTRATE BOW OF RESPECT and both girls crying because their respective talents are SO AWESOME, and they respect each other so much and stuff. And Hokuto does a Full Bow to Aja… but needs the fucking referee to hold her at the waist to do it because she’s still selling that damn leg- might hafta add another 1/4* just for that.
Haha, holy god damn. That was an amazing match, and utterly different than the kinds you get from other Joshi. CONSISTENT LIMB SELLING is virtually unheard-of in all the stuff I’ve seen, and Hokuto sold her leg like death for 100% of the match, and Kong did well with her hand, too. The slow, deliberate pace might not be for everyone, but it came off like Aja’s desire to win was such that she carefully picked her spots and took her time- not that anyone was being lazy. And Hokuto’s signature style- selling with manic fervor, picking the right time to come back, and being lethally effective when she did- it definitely worked. SPIKING Aja with that Northern Lights Bomb was a great false finish and came out of nowhere.
Rating: ****1/2 (phenomenal piece of business, going at a deliberate pace but with great selling-based psychology over MDK Finisher Escalation)
How Hokuto sells the leg.
Mita/Watanabe/Numacchi vs. Midori/Futagami/Endo: **1/2
Shimoda/Ito/Shiratori/Asari vs. Suzuki/Mariko/Fukuoka/Bolshoi: ***1/2
Takako/Hasegawa vs. Kandori/Kurenai: ***1/2
Bull Nakano/Reggie Bennett vs. Hotta/Minami: ***
Kyoko Inoue vs. Devil Masami: ****
Manami Toyota vs. Mayumi Ozaki: ****1/2
Dynamite Kansai vs. Toshiyo Yamada: ***3/4
Aja Kong vs. Akira Hokuto: ****1/2
-Well DAMN. Hard to beat the final four matches all going to ****-ish levels, isn’t it, with two reaching ****1/2? I mean, except for the two or three other Joshi shows THIS YEAR that surpassed that, I guess. Jesus 1993 was a great year for Joshi. Hell, only one match on the card went below *** for me. Really outstanding stuff, though kind of hamstrung by the “Order of Importance” nature of Japanese wrestling, so you shoved all four singles matches onto the back end instead of separating all the tags. But really, Jesus Christ- even the less-important of ’93’s big shows pulls out all this insane stuff.