Joshi Spotlight- Wrestlemarinepiad ’94

AJW WRESTLEMARINEPIAD ’94:
(09.10.1994)

-Another year, another Wrestlemarinepiad! I think there’s one more of these on YouTube, and then I’ll never have to type that damn word again! OK, I found a few scattered other matches for a final FINAL Spotlight, as well.

This show’s a little underwhelming compared to past ones in terms of the card, as the REAL event, “Big Egg Wrestling Universe”, comes about a month later, and is an enormous deal with a ton of top-tier matches. So this one has way more of an “In Your House” feel, albeit with a big-time Main Event. The Interpromotional Era is still going strong, but there’s less of that this time around (four matches in total; one that matters), as AJW holds the Main Event for itself.

TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?: It’s a pretty interesting look at people moving up slowly through the ranks. Also, the main event is a must-see classic.

This show was also Bat Yoshinaga’s Retirement Ceremony, though I don’t see that part on YouTube. Bat was mostly notable for being in the Worst Thing at multiple shows, because she had the “WWWA Martial Arts” Title, defended in various awful Kickboxing bouts, where you could tell they were real because everyone was gassed and Bat kept spamming wild spin kicks that hit nothing. She was okay in her “Hard-Kicking Fireplug” worked stuff, but hasn’t left much of a mark on the business.

The most notable thing about this show to me is that it features all three members of the Class of 1989, and Yoshida from ’88, in bouts against high-end competition designed to wreck them. It’s an interesting showcase, but suits the Japanese way of building up their talent- as they’re all set for pushes coming up, it’s time to show them in singles matches (a rarity on these cards) against top-tier talent- even though they’re one-sided bouts, this actually shows the audience how far these girls, who have been jobbing for YEARS, have come.

FUSAYO NOCHI (JWP) vs. KUMIKO MAEKAWA (AJW):
* Rookie mayhem! God, these two look like babies out there. I’ve never heard of either of them, so here goes- Maekawa is a three-year rookie at this point, and would wrestle until 2006, having a…. wow, she had a hell of a career. One of the final WWWA World Champions, with a 447-day reign! This girl got LEGIT! Her outfit is Classic Jobber, but more detailed- a blue leotard with circular holes cut around the waist, with a hot pink asymmetrical ’90s designs on the front. “Sporty Girl” haircut and all. Nochi is… wow. She retired two years after this, having debuted in 1992. A four-year career. She’s got long straight hair and is wearing a pretty good costume for a rookie- a blue leotard with ruffled sleeves and white writing & yellow flare. But she looks about fourteen here- totally baby-faced.

It’s Standard Jobber Offense here- the basics, done well. Chain-wrestling, slow submissions, and a bit of awkwardness. Maekawa generally bullies her opponent with stuff, while she does “Fiery 14-Year Old” kickouts and selling. World’s wimpiest Missile Dropkick gets two for Nochi, but a Flying Cross-Body misses, and she’s thrown into an Argentine Backbreaker for the submission win (8:44). Not bad for rookies, but sooooooo simple and generic. I like how they actually get a bit of time- Western crowds would have shit all over this. This crowd was at least a bit polite about it.

Rating: ** (lol I have no idea how to rate Young Lioness matches. Like, it’s basic and “whatever”, but not actively bad or anything)

MIDGET MATCH:
LITTLE FRANKIE vs. TOMEZO TSUNOKAKE:
* Oh jesus another one of these. Little Frankie had this division based around him, as noted in my AJW history- he’s super-short (I mean, even by the standards of Dwarfs), and has a huge afro. Tsunokake looks VERY tall by comparision, and has a really flabby body with all kinds of strange writing and symbols on it, a red “X” over his face, and a wig made of straw. And low-hanging pants with a dark, furry patch on the crotch. I assume there’s some deep cultural symbolism going on here, but even I’m not enough of a weeb to guess. Oh, the “X”s spell “SEX” and “XXX” at points, so that’s probably it- he’s a pervert.

Frankie de-wigs Tomezo to start, then… rips his pants off, revealing his bare butt to everyone. Oh dear. He puts his pants on underneath the ring (with the cameraman getting a shot of him under there, too- I can’t remember the last time I saw UNDERNEATH a wrestling ring), then beats on Frankie, who at least bumps well. Standard goofy comedy stuff, including an Airplane Spin, which Tomezo sells instead of Frankie. However, he comes back with a Cross-Armed Choke, and that actually gets the knock-out win (5:17)!

Rating: DUD (thank god someone is around to take Bat’s place as “The worst thing on every AJW card”)

SUZUKA MINAMI & CHAPARITA ASARI vs. MISAE WATANABE & TOMOKO WATANABE:
* An All-AJW match, featuring Minami & ASARI. Minami acted as Gatekeeper to pushed wrestlers for a couple of years, but always had some cred. She’s in light purple gear with black trim, but different from her usual leotard- more shiny and with holes cut out. ASARI is still somewhat new to being pushed. She’s mostly adopted her eventual gear at this point- Liger/Max Moon-esque Power Rangers gear, with big puffy shoulders and side things, and her rookie bowl-cut. Watanabe is from the Class of 1988, and was a botch-machine in 1993 and had the least push out of her contemporaries. She’s not wearing Kyoko Inoue gear for once, having settled for a black outfit with silver tassles. She’s noticeably bulkier and tougher-looking than last year, though. Misae Watanabe (later “Misae Genki”) is green as grass, having debuted only the month before, but had a heck of a career, retiring in 2008 after typically moving all over the place after bailing on Post-Bankruptcy AJW, acting like a freelancer but becoming the top act in NEO Ladies at some point, with three reigns as their champion. At 5’8″, she’s a veritable giant, but looks lanky to an unhealthy degree, being rail-thin in a black singlet.

Minami & ASARI being put against the weakest ’88 Rookie and a total newbie makes me think this is gonna be a blow-out. Watching ASARI dominate Misae, who is eight inches taller than her, is pretty funny- their body types are complete opposites. Tomoko bullies ASARI, and actually holds an advantage over Minami for a while- good old Gatekeeper. Minami eventually uses her trademark Backbreakers to come back. Some slow stuff, then Tomoko hits a Slingshot Cross-Body on both opponents. She’s really acting the grumpy vet now, and I think it works better than Kyoko Lite. Misae dropkicks her by accident, and she takes two Cartwheel Handspring Mule Kicks and a Standing Moonsault from ASARI- her offense is so neat, but doesn’t look impactful at all. Minami’s Senton misses and Tomoko’s Knees-Up Rana nearly gets her, but some team breakdowns happen and Minami reverses the Joshi Irish Whip of Transitions into her Powerbomb for the three (12:37).

Not a bad little match, but wrestled very slowly and “basic”, possibly for the benefit of the rookies. Tomoko looked better than her ’93 stuff- hard-hitting and grumpy instead of sloppy and weird. Minami felt like she was going at half-speed, though. Usual dead silence that typically accompanies her matches, too. I like her stuff, but the crowds are ALWAYS quiet.

Rating: **1/2 (okay stuff, not bad. Some Rookie Central, but Minami’s always looking good out there)

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Rie Tamada- eventually becoming a decent star, but usually jobbed out as an AJW rookie.

HIROMI YAGI (JWP) vs. RIE TAMADA (AJW):
* More rookies! Hiromi Yagi is a 5’0″ JWP rookie, having debuted this year, lasting until 2004 in various companies, peaking as a tag champ in Arsion (with Tamada, actually). Here, she’s jobberific in pink shorts and a tank top, with black trim. Tamada is a 5’2″ spitfire who kind of spent her entire career in the shadow of others, I think, wrestling first for AJW, and then moving on to Arsion (post-AJW bankruptcy), where she specialized in winning their Tag Belts with three different opponents across four reigns. Here, she’s got a white leotard with a tie-dyed-looking design criss-crossing her torso.

They start out at a million miles an hour immediately, Rie hitting a NICE front dropkick to Yagi’s face, and then settle into the longest, most unrecappable Rookie Match I’ve ever seen, simply hitting ordinary submissions, but doing a pretty good job of them. Fast pace, good selling, etc.- it’s great stuff for kids, each move flowing into the next thing, with logical counters. Rie hits some great dropkicks, but misses a Missile version and Yagi nearly finishes her with a long leg-bar into an STF. Yagi hits her with a great SUPER Judo Flip, and Rie gets a huge ovation for her bridging kickout! Then Rie hits the weirdest running cross-body I’ve ever seen, somehow doing a 360-degree revolution in mid-splash! Yagi’s shoelace coming untied is a great visual for how manic this is. Then they do some small packages until Rie goes for a pin… and the bell rings for a Time Over (15:00), leaving both upset, pounding the mat in frustration.

Haha, that was a nice little match! Very few high-spots, and they only hit simple things for the most part, but it was a logical chain-wrestling match, which is incredibly rare in any of the Joshi I’ve seen, and featured these two little kids doing so many rollups with near-falls that the crowd was actually popping for BACKSLIDES like it was Flair/Steamboat or something! Not bad! Hard to imagine that Yagi in particular was so new.

Rating: ***1/2 (I dunno- I liked it! I don’t want EVERY match to be like that, but it was the best Rookie Match ever!)

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Mariko Yoshida- not Logan’s girlfriend. Though this is her top-tier “angry veteran” look, not her “Plucky Jobber” look from AJW.

MARIKO YOSHIDA vs. YUMIKO HOTTA:
* Hot damn- Mariko Yoshida is back! The sporty-looking Rookie of the 1988 Class should have received a big push by now, but was injured for the entire dawn of the Interpromotional Era, and thus had to sit things out until now. The push that should have been hers likely went to one of the ’89 girls, like Sakie Hasegawa. She’s wearing something close to a Jobber Singlet- a light blue leotard with yellow lines, but also super-jewelly shoulder pauldrons. And in her first match back on these shows is… Yumiko Hotta, who’s probably going to crush her. Hotta’s in the midst of a rising push that would see her as 3WA Champion within a few years, but in this era, she suffers from being Dynamite Kansai-Lite, worse at almost every aspect of wrestling than JWP’s Ace, who has an identical style. Her outfit here is a new one for me- something like Sean Waltman’s pre-DX look with the black & silver singlet, but with some swooping designs.

They actually start very slowly, with them gingerly feeling stuff out amidst the occasional Hotta “did someone forget to tell her this was fake?” kick. Watching Yoshida’s “Spunky Jobber Offense” is difficult to equate with the muscular submission machine she later became. Hotta actually gives her a lot of offense to start, taking Jumping Stuff and stretching, probably to remind audiences that Yoshida has experience and some cred. Fun bit as Yoshida flies in with a ton of kicks and elbows, but Hotta reverses to an Enzuigiri to end that flurry, but gets Superplexed. They keep reversing top-rope stuff, and then it’s a NASTY Backdrop Suplex from Hotta, but Yoshida reverses another whip into a Run-Up Cross-Body, hitting FINALLY after three goes of it this match. Hotta’s Tiger Driver keeps getting reversed, and Yoshida hits a Flying Splash & backslide for a REALLY close two- her rollups keep getting near-falls. Hotta bullies her and pulls Yoshida up after her finisher, paying for it when a Flying Rolling Kick misses and she eats La Majistral Cradle for another close one. Staggered, Yoshida tries some submission stuff, but Hotta handily comes back with a Rolling Kick and a Tiger Driver to end it properly at (16:33). Yoshida does such a sell job she even lies on the floor in the back.

Not a bad match- I kind of appreciated the slower, more deliberate pace compared to Joshi’s normal frantic one, because Hotta always seems more careful. I think it might be part of why she’s not as respected as many of her contemporaries from this time period, though- you get the impression she CAN’T go at a million miles an hour. Also, she’s apparently got a rep as a very selfish worker (the “pulls them up before 3” spot recurs, so I can believe it). It was a good story, though- the experienced, lethal, bullying veteran who keeps getting caught because this “rookie” has actually way more experience and skill than she seems. And Yoshida kept sneaking in stuff until she ran out of options, and Hotta finally cranked out enough big shots to wipe her out.

Rating: ***1/2 (good “Veteran vs. Rookie” match- borderline squash-ish after a point, but with a ton of hope spots)

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LCO remain the best.

JWP TAG TEAM TITLES:
LAS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES (AJW) vs. HIKARI FUKUOKA & COMMAND BOLSHOI (JWP):
* This is part of a big angle that I’ve detailed in the past, in which AJW’s LCO (Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda), nasty up & coming heels, have defeated JWP’s stars for their own Tag Belts, and are taunting JWP over it, “Naito”-ing the belts and disrespecting JWP’s president. This enrages JWP loyalist Hikari Fukuoka (also an up & comer), who starts forming teams with various JWP stars in an attempt to save her company’s pride. Fukuoka, wearing her hideous brown cavegirl leotard (with random patches of fur on it) is now teaming up with Command Bolshoi, a 4’10” spunky kid (debuting in 1991, so she’s still a rookie) who alternates between Comedy Wrestler and Lady Rey Mysterio, to the point where her wicked green & blue outfit here is reminiscent¬†of the Rey Bodysuits. Except with a neon yellow clown nose. Damn Bolshoi is weird. LCO are wearing an ALL-WHITE VARIANT~~ of their usual gear, with Shimoda doing the two-piece with tassles, and Mita having the high-waisted bottoms and a new, more strappy top.

Hikari, all smiles in the pre-match interview, jumps LCO while they’re heading to the ring and “LCOs” them outside, smashing them into chairs and shit, but LCO soon comes back, Shimoda completely no-selling Bolshoi’s attack. Seeing Mita fight Bolshoi is HILARIOUS- 5’8″ versus 4’10” is such a funny visual, especially with the giantess going over for snapmares and using technique in stead of power to take over. A kneeling Mita and standing Bolshoi are the same freakin’ height! Team JWP takes a Bitch Pose, but soon copies it and chops a helpless Shimoda. The momentum keeps shifting, but the moves aren’t hitting quite as flush as I feel they should be, with people selling kinda awkwardly and not going up for things as well- often when Bolshoi (the junior) is in the ring. Like, she’ll start one move, then change her mind and kinda shuffle over.

Bolshoi hits a nice Asai Moonsault to both LCO members, and Hikari follows with a Plancha (screaming “I-TAYYYYY!” like Toyota does). Bolshoi’s Moonsault misses, but she reverses the DVD to a Rana for two- a follow-up is reversed to a Superplex, but Hikari soon heads in and hits a Super Powerslam. Bolshoi Missile Dropkicks LCO, and a Tiger Driver on Shimoda gets two. A DVD is reversed to her Rolling Cradle, too, and then Bolshoi hits a Flying Hurricanrana! LCO dumps both and hit their Assisted Plancha/Tope combo, and Mita hits her NICE Northern Lights Suplex on Hikari. Shimoda’s lariat gets turned into a great German, and then it’s Stereo Moonsaults for LCO! German Superplex from Bolshoi results in an INSANE bump from Shimoda (how is she still working?). Then it’s some awkwardness, as Hikari goes for a Run-Up Moonsault and goes into the corner too hard, so Mita has to pause and look amused, then drills her with a good German. Electric Chair/Flying Splash on Bolshoi, but she awkwardly (again…) reverses a Death Lake Driver (Tiger Superplex), Mita holds of Hikari, and Shimoda hits first a German, then a Tiger Suplex on Bolshoi, holding her down for the three (17:59).

Ever see one of those awkward, disjointed matches where they nonetheless get a good match out of it in the end, mostly through sheer effort, big moves, and the talent of those involved? This was one of those- it feels like they weren’t on the same page at all. Too many quick momentum shifts instead of dominating performances, a lot of awkward wrestling from Bolshoi (who was a total junior rookie- she had to start hitting her trademark high spots before she stopped looking “off”), and going half-speed sometimes. But there were enough good spots to make it a positive, especially with the INSANELY great suplexes from LCO, which basically saved the match after a point. But it seemed like they were inorganically going from spot to spot, doing some simple brawling to transition between them.

Rating: ***1/2 (good enough eventually, with some great suplexes and a few good high-flying spots from Bolshoi)

REGGIE BENNETT vs. SAKIE HASEGAWA:
* This is well into the “Well, we’re REALLY going to push Hasegawa” period, as she’s shown the most promise of her Rookie Class since day one, and part of the preparation involves… getting murdered in matches with huge women. Well, it shows Fighting Spirit, I guess. Hasegawa’s in an orange, red & yellow spray-paint singlet (soooooooo ’90s), while Bennett’s in her Construction Worker get-up, and looking very beefy and powerlifter-y, still (she’d lose a lot of weight later).

Sakie throws out “Fired Up Rookie” stuff to start, bulldogging and dropkicking Reggie and working more like I’m used to seeing in AJW. Reggie soon takes her down with an arm submission that’s great- she’s a power wrestler, not a technician, so her move is essentially “pull on the arm until it comes off”. Reggie hits the Running Powerslam, causing the commentators to mention Steve Williams and Davey-Boy Smith. Sakie Headscissors out of a Torture Rack attempt, then does an armbar, a Solebutt and finally hits her Butterfly Suplex! And another! Flying Splash gets two, but I don’t think the crowd is buying it. Weak Uranage (Reggie’s just too big; the commentator goes “chotto”), but a MUCH better one gets a great bump from Reggie. Reggie Lariats out of a running thing and hits a MONSTER 2nd-Rope Splash to Sakie’s back, but she manages to reverse the Rack into a rollup. Solebutt, but Reggie hits a good Tilt-A-Whirl Powerslam and the Torture Rack is an academic submission at (9:56).

Not bad- another “Fighting From Beneath” match, but much shorter than Hotta/Yoshida, and with even more different styles. Sakie never seemed to have a chance considering Reggie’s size and the authoritative way she hits her moves, and the crowd kind of reflected that I think, but it was good enough. Short enough to avoid blowing Reggie up too much, and Sakie got to show some fire, but this wasn’t as much of a showcase for her, except to show that she can hit the Uranage on a Monster opponent.

Rating: **1/2 (just fine)

AJA KONG vs. KAORU ITO:
* Oh dear God- the reigning WWWA World Champion against the ass-wielding worst-dressed rookie in AJW? Yeah, this is a blow-out. Especially because Ito’s working hurt. Aja’s wearing a blue variant of her typical gear, and OH MY GOD, ITO JUST MADE HER PETER PAN OUTFIT YELLOW. God DAMMIT Ito, this is your highest-profile match ever, and THAT’s your gear?

Ito attacks before the bell, but Aja just slaps her around a bit, then goes to work on the taped-up arm, taking her time with it. REALLY taking her time- it takes several minutes. Aja keeps beating on Ito, who manages dramatic kickouts and a comeback here or there (once with Dropkick Spam), but Aja squashes her after each one. Finally Ito manages a DDT and a bunch of her signature Double-Stomps, and even lands on Aja when she tries a Superplex. Flying Stomp misses, but a REALLY nice German impresses the crowd, and she hits her Flying Stomp finisher for a not-close two. Lariat is reversed to a killer Release German for Aja, who splashes her for a close call. Ito flips out of a backdrop, but holds still for too long and takes an Uraken (Spinning Backfist), setting her up for a Dangerous Backdrop Driver, which kills her for the academic pinfall (Aja kneeling on her chest) at (13:44).

An interesting bout, in that it’s an extended squash, and you don’t often see those in the big AJW events- they tend to take their time with matches like this, as a showcase for the resilience and fighting spirit of their undercard workers. In this case, Ito took 90% of the moves and wasn’t remotely competitive, but managing to kick out repeatedly and hit all her big moves showed some proper fire, and indicated to the crowd that “this girl is good, even though she loses”. In the West, we’d call this a blow-out and say she got squashed. But in Japan, Ito just took AJA KONG to fourteen minutes, hit all her finishers, and had to take 2-3 big moves to bring down. That’s actually a push.

Rating: **1/2 (50% slow stretching, and non-competitive, but had some good stuff)

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The champs.

WWWA TAG TEAM TITLES:
2/3 FALLS MATCH:
MANAMI TOYOTA & TOSHIYO YAMADA vs. DOUBLE INOUE:
* Our Main Event sees the two top teams in AJW clash for the 3WA Tag Titles- a very big deal. Two out of three falls, because they’re all wanting to get their shit in. Toyota is heading into 1995 with a huge push planned, while Yamada is hovering as an Uppercard wrestler without as set a future. Kyoko’s one of the top workers in the world at this point, and is herself set up for a future mega-push, but Double Inoue’s been dominant for the past couple of years. Takako is an “Idol Wrestler” but has always maintained a ton of physical credibility and has a steady push. So there’s a lot of drama here- can Double Inoue unseat the champs, who’ve dominated the 3WA Tag Titles for years?

Toyota’s in a black leotard with sparkles and what looks like the late ’90s WCW logo on her chest, while Yamada’s wearing something like the LLPW uniforms- red, white & black triangular designs on a singlet. Takako’s wearing a Dalmatian-print leotard with a belly cut-out and see-through lace all around it, and Kyoko’s got that “Space Marine Half & Half” design going on, with a yellow quarter on the upper right and lower left, and a pink/orange spraypaint quarter on the upper left and lower right.

Fall One: Kyoko & Manami, shock of shocks, go at 120 mph to start, with Toyota getting the worst of it. Takako heels it up by grinding Manami’s knee and head and flipping off the crowd. While her partner is a wildly popular babyface. Double Inoue is so weird. She’s repaid when Manami hits the Running No Hands Springboard Cross-Body on her. They trade off beating on Manami for a while, stretching her for a good bit and Yamada gets Armdragged off the top by Takako. Manami Missile Dropkicks both, but misses a Moonsault, then Kyoko whips her off the top using her legs. And then Manami does ANOTHER No Hands Springboard, but hits air, so she then hits the same move, to the OUTSIDE, taking out both Inoues. Three of those in twelve minutes? Inhuman. The champs attempt both of their finishers on Kyoko, but they’re both reversed, so when she tries her Slingshot Backsplash, they do their “Flipover Double-Slam” thing out of THAT, getting two as the pace quickens a lot. Doomsday Kick to the Head! Takako saves, so Manami hits the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex (Straightjacket Electric Chair Drop w/ Bridge) to take the first fall (13:26)!! Slow first half, but then they started going all-out, hitting finishers on the fresh-ish Kyoko to pin her.

Fall Two: Kyoko nurses that back injury for a couple minutes to start, complete with medical wrap around her torso, and boy howdy, do her opponents take notice. Yamada brutalizes the back, with Kyoko yowling in pain after a simple side suplex. Manami stretches her with weird stuff, too, but a Flying Splash hits knees and Takako holds her in Tombstone position and knees her in the face repeatedly before spiking her. God I love her Tombstone. Then Double Inoue alternate hitting her with DDTs- I guess they’re working the top of the head now. Manami does a jump-up dropkick on Takako to escape death, while Kyoko still sells the back in her own corner. The champs try their Flipover thing on Kyoko again, but this time she DOES hit the Slingshot Backsplash, taking them both out! Run-Up Flying Back Elbow draws a shriek from Manami! Kyoko attempts the Niagara Driver (Over-The-Shoulder Sit-Out Powerbomb), but Manami tries the Manami Roll a second time this match, and THAT time takes the Powerbomb! Niagara Driver reversed to a rollup for a VERY close two! Yamada in with Enzuigiri Spam, then BACKDROP Spam! A nearly-dead Kyoko manages to avoid Stereo Flying Headbutts, though, and Double Inoue hit Stereo STFs! Yamada goes for a Superplex, but Kyoko comes back with the most amazing Super Powerslam I’ve ever seen in my life for the closest two-count EVER, and then boom- Niagara Driver!! Pinfall is academic (11:24)! I LOVED that- the way she just plastered Yamada all over the mat, then went “Fuckin’ RIGHT I’m gonna finish this!” and whipped her up for the Driver- that was amazing.

Fall Three: A dying Kyoko tags out immediately to Takako, who’s mostly fresh, but she eats a high kick and Manami’s Rolling Cradle. Missile Dropkicks, then kicks from Yamada, then Yamada whips Takako INTO a Missile Dropkicking Toyota, which throws her back into a Yamada Backdrop- just nuts. Kyoko in, but her flurry is cut short by a Rolling Front Kick, and THEN the Stereo Flying Headbutts connect! Last second kickout there. Super Double Flipover Backdrop, but Takako saves! Flying Enzuigiri from Yamada gets two, but Toyota takes a Pop-Up Butterfly Superplex from Kyoko! Toyota Moonsaults her, and a Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex is attempted… but Kyoko slips behind her and LEVELS her with a Lariat, then follows with the Niagara Driver! Yamada barely saves in time. Double Inoue attempts their Doomsday Chokeslam/Powerbomb on Toyota, but she attacks Takako up top… but you CAN’T SUPERPLEX TAKAKO, as she spikes Manami on the back of her head with the Super Chokeslam! Baaaaaaaaarely slid out from two, there. They hit their finisher on Manami (but Takako’s WAY off on the Chokeslam, so it’s just a Powerbomb), and Yamada breaks it up- the crowd’s freaking out with every move now. Manami’s Missile Dropkick hits her own partner, setting her up for a Waistlock Backdrop/Run-Up Back Elbow, but it sounds better than it looks (really sloppy and Takako just flops Manami over), and Manami kicks out- the crowd thought that was it. Flying Knee from Takako- also two! Then they FINALLY hit the Doomsday Chokeslam/Powerbomb flush, pinning Manami (8:50) for the 3WA Tag Team Titles! Double Inoue wins!!!

This was an insane tour de force from Kyoko in particular, who dominated the first two falls almost entirely, selling her back like death the entire way- the story of the match is largely “Kyoko is unbreakable”, and possibly also “leaving her partner untouched the whole match leaves you vulnerable to all her death-moves later on”, as a fresh Takako wiped out the champions with her finishers. The first two falls had all the stretching in them, setting us up for all the MOVEZ later, and the story was great- Kyoko controlled Fall One but fell prey to the other team’s movesets and gets hurt. She herself is destroyed in Fall Two but luckily kills Yamada dead with a pair of huge bombs. Fall Three is where they pull out all the stops, to the point where it almost comes off a bit self-indulgent- like how people criticize the NXT style today with all the finishers. In tag matches it’s more okay, I think, because the victim is often fresher or has a partner break it up. But I still felt like Kyoko was flying around a BIT too much for someone who’d taken roughly 15 minutes’ worth of killer double-teams. But they threw in WAY too much great stuff, with some of the best selling you’ll see from Kyoko, to kill more than 1/4*. 32 minutes of tag team mayhem.

Rating: ****3/4 (almost a perfect match)

Overall Scores:
Fusayo Nochi vs. Kumiko Maekawa: **
Little Frankie vs. Tomezo Tsunokake: DUD
Minami/ASARI vs. Misae/Tomoko: **1/2
Hiromi Yagi vs. Rie Tamada: ***1/2
Mariko Yoshida vs. Yumiko Hotta: ***1/2
LCO vs. Fukuoka/Bolshoi: ***1/2
Reggie Bennett vs. Sakie Hasegawa: **1/2
Aja Kong vs. Kauro Ito: **1/2
Toyota/Yamada vs. Double Inoue: ****3/4

-One of the “weaker” Wrestlemarinepiads, in that we get three ***1/2 matches in a row and a near-perfect Main Event, lol. This was clearly a lesser show than the “All our best stuff” shows we get at other times

Good as this show was, though, I think this indicates a bigger problem with AJW- all the Interpromotional matches were fantastic, but they had the negative result of keeping their own stars in a holding pattern for a couple of years while they had “Dream Matches” left and right. So the stars who should have been rising up the card (the Classes of ’88 & ’89) were instead jobbing constantly except against each other. I mean, these matches were all solid, but it might have been better to have at least one fluke win out of the group, or have already have pushed them much further. Because right now, I’m still thinking “Wow all these girls have years to go before they’re any good”.