Joshi Spotlight- AJW Wrestlemarinepiad ’95

Unfortunately, this one’s kind of all over the place on Hasegawayoshi’s channel. You practically have to search for them match-by-match. Here’s the main event!


-And now we reach the 1995 Wrestlemarinepiad! This one feels quite a bit bigger than the last one (which was mostly Rookie vs. Veteran, with a big tag match on top), but now that we’re out of the Interpromotional Era by a bit, it feels a bit “diminished” compared in importance. This was kind of a shame, and a harsh result of that era spoiling the fans with fantastic “Dream Matches” on every single show. And also, Wrestling Queendom was now the big yearly show instead.

TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?: Actually, this is more of an “okay” show than a GREAT one, but it’s got one of the best brawls ever between LCO, some “WTF?” one-offs like Hokuto wrestling in a mask, and the Sakie Hasegawa “Blizzard Yuki” push, too.

So now AJW is left to its own devices, and in the midst of pushing up some of its younger stars finally- I feel that another side-effect of that era was to hold people like Sakie in stasis for the duration, as it was hard to move them up when you could just pull in Mayumi Ozaki or Shinobu Kandori to wrestle your top acts instead of building new stars. And you can see the effects here, with LCO breaking up and getting a match against each other, and Kaoru Ito and the aforementioned Sakie are in the frickin’ Main Event!

There’s another interesting wrinkle to this show- a large chunk of the athletes on it are wrestling the very next night… at the WWF Survivor Series! Yes, Aja Kong, Lioness Asuka, Tomoko Watanabe, Chaparita ASARI, Kyoko Inoue & Sakie Hasegawa are joining Bertha Faye & Alundra Blayze’s teams at the Series, having a throwaway short match that lasts all of ten minutes. And the night after THAT, it’s Kong/Watanabe versus Alundra/Kyoko, and then it’s Aja/ASARI the next night for another RAW taping. This makes a lot of sense to me once I realize how a lot of this show goes- a showcase for a lot of rookies, and the possibility that Aja will be away for some time. So it’s now time to build up some new stars.

More fun facts: The WWWA Champion at this point was JWP’s Dynamite Kansai, who isn’t on this show! Aja & Bull are both kinda/sorta leaving right away, Lioness Asuka of all people is back, and LCO EXPLODES along the way for Mima Shimoda’s push.

* ROOKIE MAYHEM! I’ve never heard of either of these girls, who are… apparently both twelve years old. Their Jobber Singlets are almost identical save color- Mari in blue with pink, and Kayo in white with light blue. They even have the same haircut, though Kayo has bangs. Noumi impressively had a ten-year career, retiring in 2005! And she made it as far as AJW & All-Pacific Champion before she was done- not bad. Mari Mogami is… oooh. She had a five-MONTH career, retiring in early 1996, disappearing almost overnight in what Manjiimortal called a “sketchy” situation. Well that’s not good. I wonder if there’s a story there beyond “she wasn’t gonna cut it”. This was apparently her second match ever. VERY weird they put these on a big show.

The girls exchange wristlocks and super-jobbery stuff. Whooooooooole lotta snapmares in this one. Noumi does Ken & Ryu’s hard throw a couple of times, then does dropkicks (some with a foot of distance between sole and Mogami). They do a lot of struggling for pins, grinding it out trying for a fall, largely because their offense is so light (the most impactful move is a standing back body drop). Eventually, Mari holds Kayo down with a headlock, finally scoring the pin when Kayo can’t bridge enough to get her shoulders up (6:56). Haha, wow- I’ve never seen amateur rookies to THIS point before- kind of fascinating. The crowd was dead silent except for some polite clapping for the pin. Ya gotta learn somehow, I guess.

Rating: 1/2* (okay, it’s two kids a month into their careers trading light stuff- barely a match you can rate)

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Every rookie is honor-bound to wear a boring singlet for their first few years.

* The Rookie Title gets defended! I remember Misae from the last show, where she was a praying mantis-like rookie. Later Misae Genki, she became a star post-bankruptcy of AJW, being the top star in NEO Ladies for a few years. She’s only a year into her career at this point. At 5’8″, she’s a veritable giant, and is now more toned than lanky- she’s in a black & white Jobber Singlet. I don’t think I’ve seen Tamura before- she had a sixteen-year career, and apparently bailed on AJW REALLY quickly, bouncing to various companies, where she won the WCW Women’s Cruiserweight Title, then joined Kyoko Inoue’s NEO Ladies, where she became their first-ever Champion, winning the title six times! So we have a future Ace on our hands, here! Her reputation seems to be the “Peaked in the Down Era” type, as she’s not a huge name, despite being a top act. She’s wearing a powder blue Jobber Singlet with light pink trim.

They start off immediately with yelling, screaming and ferocity, looking much better than the rookies in the first bout. Tamura starts showing heelishness right away, which is good for a rookie- doing “little things” like elbowing her opponent in the ass while she’s in a submission hold, or grinding a knee during another. Interestingly, they use identical moves to the first match (backslides, snapmares, standing backdrops), but do them all better- with authority and timing. Shows obvious elements of the same training, but with more experience. Case in point, Tamura hits a hundred dropkicks in a row, a bodyslam, then grinds Watanabe down for the pin (8:22). She won with a fucking BODY SLAM? Holy shit- what a show. Super-jobbery and almost nothing to the match- which ended, I must reiterate, with a BODY SLAM, but things were more well-applied than the first bout and had a bit of character to them.

Rating: *3/4 (hah, actually not that bad! Still Rookie City, but Tamura showed some good fire)

* What th–? Ugh, to Cagematch to read up on bios. Yoshida we’ve seen before, and as I mentioned, was a promising rookie who sat out two important years while hurt, so they’re slowly trying to rebuild her. Never getting a push, she bailed for Arsion in 1998, becoming a top star there and making a name for herself. Her outfit here is seriously ugly- a white leotard with… random blue pieces with white polka-dots on them, and mesh cut-outs at a few small points. Fukawa is a teeny-tiny, huge-eyed baby (5’0″) who quit AJW in 1997 to join Arsion, wrestling a lot over there. She hasn’t had much title history, and retired in 2001. She’s in a blue singlet with white diamond shapes on it- less jobbery than others. Mina Taniyama is the first I’ve seen of “Tanny Mouse”, who shows up in a lot of Title histories, winning various NEO Tag Team Titles a total of TWELVE TIMES before her 2010 retirement. She’s apparently been a Comedy Wrestler most of her career, and quit AJW to join NEO in 1997. She’s wearing a blue & yellow Jobber Singlet, with the sport “Mushroom Cut Template”, shared by her partner- Endo (also “Saya Endo”) is a rookie who retired in 2002, and also ran off for NEO in 1997. She’s in a blue & red Jobber Singlet.

Yoshida debuted in 1988, and Fukawa in 1993- the other two are from 1994, so I’m not thinking this is gonna go well for them. They jump Fukawa early and work her over- her wails in a crab-hold are great selling. Yoshida’s clearly a step beyond, hitting Cartwheel Elbows early on. It’s an interesting dynamic- Yoshida can easily kill the jobbers, but Fukawa is more vulnerable, so it’s a game-changer every time there’s a tag. I like her “splat them on the mat and follow up with an elbow” thing. Endo impresses by bridging out of a pin from a “Press Slam to the Knee”. A quick rollup almost gets her (her “oh shit, that didn’t work did it?- shame on me” look is great), and then she cartwheels through a double-clothesline (she’s fuckin’ playing chess out there and they’ve only got checkers), hits the Run-Up Plancha to both, and kills Endo with a beautiful Flying Splash at (8:24).

Interesting match- the dynamic is so interesting when only one person has a ton of experience- Fukawa came off as a “rookie trying hard” while the other two were eager to win at all costs (doing tons of double teams and murdering Fukawa every time they got the chance), but Yoshida was like a god out there compared to them, and wrestled the match to completion by herself.

Rating: **1/2 (largely for Yoshida’s awesome offense and the logical story the match told)

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ASARI’s gear is slowly approaching awesomeness.

* This has “WTF Pairings” written all over it. Takako & Yamada are in a similar situation- their partners are now getting big singles pushes, and they’re hovering in an “Upper Midcard” tier. ASARI is a high-flier getting a push of her own, but is typically too small to compete with the big stars (and will be executed by Aja Kong on RAW in four days). Watanabe has been an up & comer for quite a few years, and is finally starting to get a bit more of a push (she is currently the AJW Champion here- the third-tier belt). ASARI now has full makeup and longer hair, seemingly ready for a push. Her gear is less “Power Rangers” and more streamlined- red & white as usual, but with fewer bits sticking out. Yamada’s got on her usual singlet at this point, but in powder blue & white. Tomoko’s got some hideous Ring Gear- like a coat made out of bubble-wrap. Her wrestling gear is… a white singlet made of tassles. Takako’s is something else- a leotard with tons of cut-outs, ruffles, and made out of shiny silver fabric. It’s probably the most “Idol Wrestler” thing she’s worn, oddly.

T&T go to work on ASARI right away, Tomoko doing her “Grumpy Veteran Powerhouse” thing again. Thank God she’s not a botch-machine anymore. Hits the Slingshot Elbow better, too. You can tell she’s leveled up because she’s powering through Yamada’s great kicks instead of selling like a jobber. Then Takako does some insane move I’ve never seen before, using the “turning into a Boston Crab” as a STRIKE, slamming her ass into ASARI’s lower back in that position and tortures her for a bit. Tomoko hits a nice judo slam on Yamada, then that Thesz Press to the Face thing, looking good- a FLYING version kills ASARI so bad the ref has to check on her, and Takako begins bullying, but gets Rana’d for two- she reverses the Handspring Mule Kick with a straight kick, but the Takako*Panic (Flying Knee) is stopped by Yamada. ASARI goes up, but YOU CAN’T SUPERPLEX TAKAKO, and she eats a release Super Chokeslam for that- Yamada saves.

The “Yamada has to save her rookie partner” thing becomes the story of the match, with multiple saves, her holding T&T for ASARI’s flying, and more. Yamada & Tomoko counter each other’s stuff with blocks and strikes, but Enzuigiri Spam works, and ASARI finally gets her Carthweel Handspring Mule Kick, then hits a great Bridging German, to the crowd’s shock. She follows with the Sky Twister Press (Flying Corkscrew), but “Starship Pains” it into the top of Tomoko’s head only, and Tomoko kicks out. Lariat Spam puts ASARI down, and Tomoko hits a new finisher, the Screwdriver (Backdrop Suplex into a One-Armed Powerbomb), for the win (15:03).

I liked it. It was slow-ish and they felt in “House Show Mode” for a lot of it, with the intention to focus on, and give experience to, the younger wrestlers (very few big moves by either Takako or Yamada, for example). It told a simple, yet effective story (ASARI is good but needs help). Takako kept getting reversed because she was arrogant, while Tomoko was powerful but still inexperienced, so she needed a lot of tries to actually drill ASARI long enough to keep her down. It felt like Takako was directing her partner a lot of the time, and Tomoko was grumpy about her troubles and trying again and again.

Rating: *** (a good little match with a simple story)

* So this is an interesting curiosity- it’s between runs of LCO, as the Oriental Bitches have split up, and Shimoda is now doing a “NOTICE ME SENPAI!” act with dominant Akira Hokuto. The two are WWWA Tag Champions, but Hokuto is disrespecting her “kouhai”, making her carry both tag belts and never acknowledging her presence. Shimoda’s in her usual gear (the red & black bikini thing with the tassles), while Mita’s in something I’ve never seen before- a one-piece white & black thing with cutouts at the belly & back. The pre-match interviews show that funny contrast, where Shimoda seems like this peppy, exciteable girl, and Mita is ridiculously quiet and normal… and then they go out there and it’s a projectile war using chairs.

As expected, this gets BRUTAL immediately, as both girls start whipping chairs at each other, brawling on the outside, and more! Mita bleeds off of a thrown chair, and Shimoda bites the cut and hits piledrivers! Mita comes back by hitting Cammy’s anti-air Roundhouse Kick from Street Fighter (seriously, look at it!), and then dents a goddamn table by piledriving Shimoda onto it, drawing blood and making her a complete wreck for the rest of the match- Mita tosses chairs and brutalizes her further. I LOVE watching Mita move around the ring and do moves- not just for the obvious reason, but just that… distinct WAY she moves. Her perceived height (long legs and wide gait), deliberate movements, and extreme confidence make her look like this jungle predator- a panther or something. There’s a great bit where Shimoda aims a crossbody out of the corner, and Mita actually moves forward, slides down and ducks to avoid it, and pops right back up, in one single motion.

Mita bites the cut and does her awesome “choke the enemy while smiling” thing, but Shimoda comes back outside and starts choking her with an electrical cable like a good psychopath. Then things turn into a slap-fight and Mita just dumps her from a Fireman’s (a LOT of Mita’s offense takes place from that position, honestly), then hits a tope suicida and a superplex. The girls take turns extricating themselves from finishers in some good psychology- Shimoda finally hits a Tiger Suplex on the third attempt, but the Death Valley Driver of Mita’s always gets slipped through (it’s like Jake’s DDT- I’ve never seen it fail to score a pin). Mita hits a NICE Northern Lights Suplex (that body type is perfect for that move), Running Chest Slap, and Super Electric Chair Drop, running through her escalating moves, but a third & fourth attempt at the DVD also fail, and Shimoda hits a beautiful Flying Headscissors from the top for a dramatic two count! Mita’s fifth DVD attempt gets her a German Suplex instead, and when she tries to stop Shimoda’s flying attack, she ends up getting slipped behind… and Shimoda hits her MDK finisher, the Death Lake Driver (Tiger Superplex), for the three (18:29)!!

Frickin’ AMAZING match, made better when Akira Hokuto makes her way down and puts BOTH Tag Titles around a bloodied, exhausted Shimoda’s waist, as if to say “HERE you go! Senpai has noticed you! You’re tough as fuck!” and then heads to the back. A great, vicious brawl full of blood, biting and weapon shots, tons of finisher teases (five DVD attempts, two Tigers, and one attempt at the DLD before it finally hits) and more- you really felt like you were seeing a blood feud between two people who knew each other VERY well.

Rating: ****1/2 (probably Mita’s best singles match, and Shimoda’s best except for the Toyota one, I think)

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Instead of a mandatory “Picture of Bull Nakano in her 50s”, here’s a reminder that she once fought Sailor Moon.

* So Asuka is one half of the legendary Crush Gals- Teen Idols of the 1980s, and arguably the superior wrestler of her team, though Chigusa Nagayo was more popular. Asuka was even allowed to retire as champion! The person who won it in the resulting tournament? Bull Nakano, the new Ace. Chigusa returned to AJW in 1993, but hasn’t been on many big shows at all, and Asuka had just returned in late 1994, and wrestled a bit here in ’95- the next year sees her bail for JD’ (Jaguar Yokota’s promotion), then ending up in Chigusa’s GAEA for years. She was initially built the same as Chigusa- sporty, strong-looking and solid, but is now very slender, with a fairly macho haircut and Ultimate Warrior-esque face paint on- a look she’d keep. She’s wearing a black bodysuit here. Bull was, by 1995, more of a “Special Attraction”, and wrestled Madusa/Alundra Blayze for most of the year- she was fired by WWF at this point for getting caught at an airport with cocaine, and was going to WCW, and would retire by next year.

Aja & Reggie, meanwhile, are monsters on different levels of the card- Aja is just coming off of losing the 3WA World Title twice in one year, dropping it to Manami Toyota & Dynamite Kansai- she’d never hold it again, but remains a feared monster. Reggie is at the “IC Title”-level, sort of. She’s wearing a “1980 tough guy” outfit, but with cleavage. And spherical red sunglasses. Aja is wearing a Hart Foundation pink & black variant of her gear, with more flare than the old lines she used to have. Oh, and she’s wrestling the very next night at WWF’s Survivor Series, being set up as the new opponent for Alundra.

Aja & Bull play to the crowd, then bow to each other like the respected old rivals they are- the comedy pretty soon takes over much of the bout. Aja & Reggie sandwich Bull between them, but she runs them both over in a great spot, and it’s a brawl outside the ring. The vets try a Spike Piledriver on Aja, but Asuka can’t hold her up any longer, and has to finish the move without getting close enough to Bull (the crowd laughs). Asuka works over Reggie’s arm for a couple of minutes, but Aja uses her big metal box to take over before she & Bull go at it like old times, but now with more comedy (egging each other on, playing to the crowd, wildly selling, doing ten punches in the corner, etc.). Asuka either sandbags Reggie on some moves or is being booked as highly-resistant to being picked up, and then Bull gets her trademark nunchucks spot.

Asuka slips when trying something off the top, and both struggle to lift Aja into a piledriver (Bull has to run over to help), eventually powering her up and dropping the most hideous Ganso Bomb ever onto Aja’s shoulder! Aja & Reggie run into each other, but Aja cross-bodies both of her opponents, then does a MISSILE DROPKICK to Asuka. And then Reggie hits a FLYING SPLASH? Asuka kicks out, then flops down from the set-up to the Torture Rack- looked botch-y, but then Asuka does an armbar takedown, and Bull hits the fricking Guillotin Legdrop on the back of Reggie’s head out of that! Aja pounds away to help, but her Uraken… hits Reggie! Bull takes Aja down and Asuka gets the pin at (14:29).

Well… that was weird. Largely a comedy bout for half of it, as they kept doing goofy things and egging the crowd on, and then Asuka appears to be Sandbag City on her opponents for whatever reason, which was either part of the gag or a weird case of unprofessionalism. Seriously, REGGIE BENNETT is the one you’re gonna try that on? Asuka seemed quite botchy overall, but the crowd laughed at it, so I think that might have been on purpose. Overall, this appears to be a bit of a send-off for Bull, who was heading to America again, and even a bit of a thing for Aja, who wrestled at the Survivor Series the next night.

Rating: **3/4 (the stuff they did that worked looked good, but it was very comedic and less of a “serious match”)

* More moving up the card on display here, as Hotta, who’s been hovering around the upper-midcard for ages, is now getting a serious push, as is Kyoko, who’s been wrestling in classics for years, and needs to be on the “next level” herself. This match is to set “Ranking” (ie. future contenders) for the 3WA Title. Hotta, appropriately, now has a “Main Eventer” look down- an elaborate ring coat, longer hair, and a more serious attitude. Annnnnndddddd then ruins it all by wearing the simplest outfit ever- a black onesie with shorts, with her name in cursive across the chest. This is like the guys in ECW who were too poor to afford good gear, but also too thin for the “baggy t-shirt & jeans” look. It’s just terrible.

Hotta’s “OHHHHHHH!” no-selling gets rapidly annoying, almost humorous because she restarts it every time she gets hit again, and Kyoko’s rapid-firing those Mongolian Chops, then they get into a brutal strike exchange, but Hotta brutally misses a kick while hanging Kyoko upside-down in the ropes and has to make up for it with a straight one. Some of her shots are “she knows wrestling is fake, right?”-worthy, as usual, but Kyoko hits a great jumping DDT from the corner. Hotta boots her in the Tree of Woe and then piledrives her THROUGH A TABLE on the floor, which is nuts even for 1995. That puts the fight out of her, and Hotta Enzuigiris her right in the brain, then kicks her right out of an attempted Slingshot Backsplash. However, she points to her head afterwards, guaranteeing her next move (a Rolling Kick in the corner) fails.

Pop-Up Underhook Superplex finally gives Kyoko a real comeback, but she misses the Flying Back Elbow and eats the Tiger Driver for two. A pair of Rolling Kicks leave Kyoko reeling, but she reverses a lariat and hits the Niagara Driver (Over-The-Shoulder Sit-Out Powerbomb) for a tepid two-count. Crowd didn’t seem to buy that near-fall at all. Hotta reverses a second to a REALLY high-angled Tiger Driver for an extremely close near-fall. She then CROSSES THE ARMS for another Sit-Out Powerbomb (My God! Kyoko has a FAMILY!), but cheers herself with one arm, allowing Kyoko to roll free from the pin at the last moment. Straightjacket Superplex horrifies the crowd, but Kyoko again kicks out, then bursts up and hits a perfect German for a near-fall, suddenly running around at full-speed despite all the damage. Another German, then a second Niagara Driver gets the pin at (15:46).

Enh. They threw enough good stuff out there to get a positive score, and Kyoko’s stuff is always great, but this suffers from “Plodding Hotta” syndrome, as well as “Pop Up & Ignore Accumulated Damage” syndrome at the same time, with Kyoko taking a ton of insane stuff from Hotta one after the other, then bursting up with this flourish- one miracle comeback I can buy, but she started spamming big slams right after taking 3-4 legitimate finishers. Almost an exaggerated version of the “All Japan No-Sell”. Hotta also came off like she was gobbling up offense and reversing everything with kicks, though it’s possible I’m biased by reading accusations of her being a selfish worker.

Rating: ***1/2 (Kyoko is probably incapable of going too far below that, but at this place on the card, you almost should be hitting **** easily)

Some hilariously-bad 1980s music showcases a pair of mysterious masked ladies suiting up, leading us to…

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Sakie Hasegawa, now reinvented as a manga character, a la Jushin Liger.

* Okay, the “WTF?” nature of the names popping up at the top of the card requires some information. For one, Reina Jubuki is actually AKIRA HOKUTO, AJW legend, back from CMLL and a disastrous short marriage to a Luchadore, wearing a mask and trying to get something going again (she’d bail for GAEA very quickly the next year). Blizzard Yuki is Sakie Hasegawa, finally getting the “Big Push” AJW had wanted for her as far back as 1992- she’s wearing the mask and getting a name-swap to help her get over, though apparently it never quite “took”, as it bombed in its debut at Big Egg Wrestling Universe (and a bad injury forced her early retirement in 1996 anyways). Black Blizzard is actually Kaoru Ito, previously the worst-dressed wrestler on every Joshi show ever, and presumably annoyed at Sakie for some reason (possibly because Sakie’s always been the favored one of the Class of ’89). Toyota is, of course, tops, and is actually the ACE of AJW at this point, having unseated Aja Kong earlier in the year, lost the title back, then defeated Dynamite Kansai for it a month after this. Since Manami & “Reina” are top-tier Main Eventers (and Manami beat Hokuto in September), and the other two are getting their big pushes, this is a suitable Main Event. Though Hokuto is one half of the 3WA Tag Champions with Shimoda from earlier.

Reina’s gear is a horrible rainbow suit covered in white fringe, and an orange Rey Mysterio-ish mask with white plumes on it. Blizzard Yuki actually has cool gear- a red outfit with a black “jacket”, red & black mask, and some martial arts stuff like a belt and headband. Black Blizzard is just wearing almost the same stuff, but with blue instead of red (ITO?!? In GOOD GEAR?). Manami is beside herself with laughter in the interview for some reason- she’s such a dork in these pre-match bits- a huge contrast to the wild Aja or Akira. Toyota’s the only recognizable one, wearing a black leotard with tons of straps around the arms and shoulders.

The match starts off simply at first, with everyone kinda trading off and no real story developing, though the masked girls do some posing/posturing, and both Blizzards seem to dislike each other. Watching Reina/Hokuto try luchadora stuff is weird, as she’s never been a very “graceful” wrestler- more of a scrappy type. Yuki lands a SWEET Standing Ax Kick to the back of Toyota’s head, though, absolutely dropping her. Reina/Yuki seem… slow, in their masked forms. Like neither learned how to “Full Body Emote” like masked wrestlers should, so they come off very bland and plain, despite the posing. They even do an “LCO Pose” in the corner with no emotion whatsoever, and the crowd doesn’t get into it. Reina misses a flying thing and eats a Rolling Cradle, then it’s a BB Figure-Four and Manami hits a Flying Splash onto her from that. Things finally start to pick up 10+ minutes in when Team Mask hits stereo dives off the top to the outside, but Manami trips them both and BB lands a huge Split-Legged Asai Moonsault from the top to the floor! Toyota of course isn’t one to be shown up, hitting her Running No-Hands Springboard Tope Con Hilo out there, too.

Back in the ring, Stereo Flying Headbutts get two on Reina. She gets a sloppy Powerbomb reversal from a Toyota Roll, though. Sloppy Dangerous Queen Bomb (Inverted Tombstone to Kneeling Powerbomb) gets two, but Manami reverses a thing to the Japanese Ocean Suplex (Double Wrist-Clutch German). They try a Doomsday Device, but Reina pulls this insane reversal out of it- Inverted Rana-ing Manami over for a near-fall. Yuki’s lands a great pair of Uranages on BB after failing to hit a few. Spinning Splash hits knees, BB’s Flying Stomp hits Yuki, and a weird submission is buggered by BB a few times before she locks it in, but she takes a Solebutt, Reina takes out Toyota with a Cross-Body, and Yuki hits a Hurricanrana (using her ankles instead of thighs, oddly)… for the win (17:03)? really? The Blizzards take off their masks and yell at each other after the match, and Yuki/Sakie is struggling a bit, holding her wrist and her leg. This may be the start of the injury that ended her career in 4-5 months.

Ennnhhhh- it felt like a House Show Match for a lot of it, though the second half is really good. Really bizarre to see in the Main Event, with wrestlers this good, but there was no story. It was just two teams trying stuff, hitting some moves, and eventually one team was victorious from a basic move out of nowhere. No huge heat segments, Finisher Escalation, or anything. It earns points for some good stuff (I mean, it’s Toyota), and for being 17 minutes long and never really being boring, but it felt like “filler”- not a big deal. It didn’t help that Reina hit some VERY loose, sloppy things, looking nothing like the Hokuto of the year before (or years after, actually). She’s pretty much always “Wrestling Hurt”, but she hit her signature spots very loosely. The crowd was SUUUUUPER quiet compared to most of the other WMP Main Events (like, “Jericho in Japan” quiet), so I don’t think I’m alone here.

Rating: ***1/2 (okay enough start, and had some good stuff by the end, but felt very sloppy and heatless for much of it)

Overall Scores:
Kayo Noumi vs. Mari Mogami: 1/2*
Yoshiko Tamura vs. Misae Watanabe: *3/4
Yoshida/Fukawa vs. Taniyama/Endo: **1/2
Yamada/ASARI vs. Takako/Tomoko: ***
Mima Shimoda vs. Etsuko Mita: ****1/2
Bull/Asuka vs. Kong/Bennett: **3/4
Kyoko Inoue vs. Yumiko Hotta: ***1/2
Toyota/Blizzard vs. Jubuki/Yuki: ***1/2

-The show was fine. Not great, but fine. Four matches above ***, and one REALLY amazing match between Shimoda & Mita is enough for a bit of a thumbs up, but it’s super disappointing given the usual quality of an AJW show. Everything felt quite half-assed and in “House Show Mode”, to be honest, save Kyoko putting all her effort in, like usual. Non-teams allying (Toyota & ITO?), TONS of sloppy move applications (from Hokuto, Asuka and others, even- Tomoko amazingly was botch-free!), and a sense of most of these matches being throwaways (the 3WA Title was held by a JWP wrestler, and the Tag Titles weren’t defended)- this was “Just Another Show”.