Joshi Spotlight: AJW/LLPW Nagoya Super Storm


This show is placed just before Wrestlemarinepiad ’93 and the huge St. Battle Final, which “capped off” most of 1993’s Interpromotional Feuds. Instead of being all about the various companies, it’s themed around All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling vs. Ladies Legend Pro Wrestling, with almost every match being along those lines. Though this event’s a bit odd compared to the others, in that it’s not a mega-show featuring Main Eventers fighting each other- it’s instead a show of complete blow-outs! Okay, so that’s not ENTIRELY fair, but for the most part, every single match on here, I could tell you who was gonna win before they rang the bell, just by virtue of star power. Hell, even the Main Event is telegraphing the end, to me. That doesn’t mean the matches will be BAD, of course- plenty of great matches were foregone conclusions, and Japan is good about giving a “good showing” to the losing party. So let’s see what we got!

TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?: It’s a fascinating look at some less-competitive “Dream Matches” of the interpromotional era, has a great “LCO Template” match, and one of those bouts that let you realize just why everyone was so high on Sakie Hasegawa for so long.

It’s kind of interesting how they stick to the theme, though- most shows are AJW vs. Somebody, but to only have two companies is different. LLPW, of course, sprung off of JWP (which was an AJW wannabe), using their more stoic, less “wild” characters (workers vs. entertainers, is how I’ve heard it described), and had no TV time and weren’t a big deal, yet managed to outlive its rivals by a ways, albeit in smaller form.

Great bit in the Opening Ceremonies, and Rumi Kazama, who’s feuding with Akira Hokuto, calls out the injured AJW star, and everything Akira says draws a huge reaction from the crowd. I think I wanna learn Japanese just to understand Hokuto promos, because she just HAS to be 10/10 in Charisma. And she gets everyone worked up to the point that Mima Shimoda attacks Yasha Kurenai, and suddenly everyone dives in and starts a massive intercompany brawl, and holy shit this is awesome. Now THAT’s how you do an Opening Ceremony!

* Rookiemania!! Asari is a tiny, athletic newbie at this point, with Chikako also SUPER-young. Carol Midori had debuted the year prior, and actually did well enough to be LLPW Champion by the time she retired in 2002! I’ve only seen her once before, also wearing a 1950s housewife garb to the ring. Nagashima is a new one to me- she apparently debuted in 1989 but I can’t find anything until ’93, and she retired in 1998, only having won LLPW’s “Six-Man” Tag belts. She’s wearing a ruffled white leotard, while all three of the others have hideous tie-dyed/painted singlets on.

This is every Joshi Rookie Match you’ve ever seen, with very fast, if somewhat-uncoordinated, action, involving lots of hair-mares, tossing about, quick submissions, and jumping attacks, but then Chikako’s stiff the whole match, and everyone starts botching things- Michiko slips on a Running Slingshot Headlock Takeover and ASARI falls short on her Cartwheel Handspring Mule Kick, and both have to repeat the spot. Midori’s being a bit of a try-hard out there with all the screaming, but at least doesn’t botch anything. ASARI thankfully hits the crowd-pleasing Sky Twister Press, but the LLPW girls hit her with a waist-high Doomsday Device in turn. A German & a Spinning Splash end it for Midori (11:21).

Rating: *1/2 (eessh. The most botches and sloppiness you’re ever gonna see on one of these cards. Midori’s the only one who didn’t screw anything up)

* More Rookiemania! Numacchi’s AJW Junior Champ at this point, still acting a comedy wrestler with her shovel. Endo’s the blue-singlet-wearing rookie I’ve seen on many other shows from this time period.

These two are such a weird contrast- Serious, Sporty Rookie versus Insane Comedy Rookie. They have a long, slow-paced match with a lot of stretching and the occasional outburst from Numacchi (who uses the shovel a bit), with the occasional awkward spot. Endo hits some nice stuff, like a Super Vader Bomb. Endo takes a running kick to the face, but reverses another one and rolls Numacchi up at (10:30), for the Junior Title! Endo would hold the title for only a couple months, dropping it to ASARI, who would herself drop it to Candy Okutsu eight days later.

Rating: *3/4 (completely forgettable, nothing match, but Endo did a couple of decent-looking moves)

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I don’t know what this is advertising, but it’s amazing.

* LCO are still mid-tier around this time, but are at least aligned with Main Eventers. Watanabe & KAORU looked awful in the Dream Slams earlier in the year, so let’s see how they end up. Tomoko’s wearing an ugly, shiny outfit consisting of a green shirt and purple pants, with orange tassles along the sides. KAORU (now with “Infernal” in front of her name) looks like a luchadore, with a silver dragon/bug mask and a pretty cool white/black outfit that wouldn’t look out of place today. She’s very slender and has long black hair, marking her as a high-flier.

LCO eat Stereo Ranas to start, but they dump their opponents and start beating on them outside, and Mita does a giant, over-the-top, cartoonish bite to Tomoko’s bandaged arm- see, this is why she’s Best Girl. Tomoko gets some hope spots (her usual stuff is springboarding off the bottom or middle ropes for back elbows, slick judo hiptosses, and a bridging vertical suplex), and KAORU does well with her speed (Ranas, etc.), but LCO mostly control, doing their Bitch Pose, some slick armbars around the ropes, and more. KAORU Germans Mita, then hits LCO with a top-rope plancha, and a Moonsault impresses, but the crowd isn’t really with them. Tomoko Calo messes up a reversal of a Tiger Suplex and gets an UGLY landing on a Moonsault Press. Mita soon dumps her, and it’s their version of the Five Moves of Doom- the Assisted Plancha/Dive Combo, then Electric Chair Drop/Flying Splash. Tomoko impresses the crowd by kicking out, but KAORU (who’s only had about 3 minutes of ringtime) gets knocked off the apron, Tomoko takes a Missile Dropkick from Shimoda, and then Mita hits an INCREDIBLE Death Valley Driver for the win (12:51). Jeeeeeeeeeeeeezus, I love that DVD.

See, it’s semi-competitive with a bunch of spots for the younger girls, but all their near-falls came from flukes or rolling people up, while LCO were hitting slams & splashes for theirs. So the kids looked competitive, but this was mostly a showcase for the Evil Demon Waifus of Joshi.

Rating: *** (pretty much the baseline for an LCO match, even then)

* It’s the rest of AJW’s Class of ’89, with Ito in a hideous green toga, and Hasegawa in a fairly plain blue “painted” singlet. Kitamura & Futagami are sort of their opposite numbers in LLPW, though they were in the most forgettable match of the Dream Slams (the 6-woman tag with other rookies). The future GAMI (sort of a star) is wearing some overly-detailed green, white & yellow bodysuit, while Kitamura’s got her face painted and a singlet like the background of an early ’90s soda commercial.

Some interesting catch-style counter-wrestling starts us off, which I always appreciate. FIGHT FOR HOLDS! Sakie & the LLPW girls are actually equally good at it, though Kaoru instead just keeps stiffing them, which a YouTube watcher noted, too. Team LLPW does some wicked double-teams, including a Bulldog/Ace Crusher. Sakie occasionally getting super-fired up and blasting her opponents is so great- she has that “Spunky Rookie Energy” that makes the occasional dry bout very fun, screaming while she drills someone in the mouth. Ito’s more wild “run at ’em with her ass” style just isn’t fitting in as well. And then LLPW start cheating a bit, drawing boos while Kitamura plants Sakie with a Super Powerslam. Kaoru does TEN Running Stomps in turn, but then she gets dumped and they hit a Super Bulldog on her! Goddamn these two love their Bulldogs. Pumphandle Slam & Pumphandle Sit-out Powerbomb near the end, as the crowd starts really chanting for Ito, and then team miscommunication leads to SOLEBUTT SPAM from Sakie, who ANNIHILATES Futagami with an Uranage, then lets Ito pay back all the cheating with a Flying Stomp, then hits another Uranage for the emphatic three (16:30), seated on her opponent’s chest. Great ending!

Sakie was really super-great here, and her opponents also impressed me a lot, especially since I’d never seen this out of them before. All three BROUGHT IT and were full of slick reversals and fighting for stuff instead of the usual “Joshi Stretching”. Ito stuck out weirdly, and there was the occasional botch (Kitamura did THREE poor Moonsaults, missing when they were supposed to hit and hitting when they were supposed to miss), but it was a great story, with the LLPW cheating pissing off everyone until Ito paid them back and Sakie hit Futagami with some huge Uranages to give AJW’s Rookie Team the win.

Rating: ***3/4 (really good match! This surprised me a lot! Best I’ve seen from the LLPW team, too)

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When Chaparita ASARI makes you look harmless, you lack the intimidation factor.

* Huh, well this is interesting. Minami tends to get a lot of singles matches in these interpromotional shows- I think they recognized in her the ability to nearly always have a good solo bout with somebody. She’s WAY above Hozumi in station, as Hozumi’s a very young “Pretty Girl/Idol” wrestler, and Minami is an upper-tier Gatekeeper. Minami’s also a whole freaking head taller. Utako’s making some seriously odd faces in the pre-match promos, too. Minami’s in her purple gear, while Hozumi’s wearing white floral print on red.

As expected, Minami completely dismantles the rookie, stretching her out, hitting a delayed suplex, then doing her array of Backbreakers. Minami shifting so seamlessly from Fast Underdog to Brawler to Dominant Powerhouse in her career is really impressive- she looks like a natural in every style. She even feeds Hozumi her comebacks, like letting her “slip” out of a Powerbomb or going down for rollup reversals, then letting her big Powerbomb be reversed to a perfect Rana. I’ve seen other Hozumi matches- she is NOT this good. This is all on Minami. She takes a big Northern Lights Superplex for a near-fall, but finally manages to land a solid move- a German Suplex for a bridging pin (9:01). Damn, carried her all the way, there- almost half the match ended up being Hozumi.

Rating: **1/2 (One of the best “Carry the Rookie and make them look good” matches you’ll see. Minami is awesome)

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Yasha Kurenai- someone best described in a live-watch as a “Chola”.

* Hey, neat! The Masters of the Super Chokeslam! Kurenai is the vicious, trashy chick with the stick of LLPW, and often shows up on these shows, despite having missed the Dream Slams. She’s wearing a shirt that looks like it’s made out of mummy-wrap and baggy black pants, looking like a gangster from a 2000s film. Takako’s in her weird pale blue & gold gear. Takako is the one getting a “rising star” push in AJW, but we’ll see…

Kurenai warms my heart by grabbing her damn stick and trying to murder Takako while screaming to start the match, Takako desperately escaping (and selling out of time with the attack) before they both stop and pose while Takako sits on the top rope in a funny bit (she even goes cross-legged, all “Popular Girl”, while Kurenai does her crouch). Great bit as Takako slaps on a leghold and Kurenai grabs the stick AGAIN, but Takako snatches it from her and starts hammering away with it. She misses the Takako*Panic (Flying Knee), however, and nearly takes the Super Chokeslam, dumping Kurenai to the outside instead. But Yasha gets the advantage out there, then hangs Takako in that incredible Hangman’s Choke out of the corner that she does. Takako comes back and they hit two minutes of restholds, then fuck up Takako’s armdrag spot before she lands a Super version of it. Kurenai tries another Super Chokeslam, but eats a regular Superplex and a Straightjacket version, then Takako just drags her to the top and hits her OWN Super Chokeslam, then an Aurora Special (Waistlock Backdrop Hold) for the emphatic three (11:62). God damn, she just ate her alive at the end, there.

Kind of a fun little bout for a bit, there- more of a nasty scrap than a “match”, with the girls going out of their way to fight, scratch and choke their way to victory. Kurenai matches always have this vicious streak to them, and her stuff is interesting- it’s more “sloppy” and slapdash than most Joshi offense, but that fits as more of a “this looks like a real fight” kind of thing, but… then she starts actively botching things or not communicating. And funny how she didn’t sell six cane shots to the leg for more than a minute, too. That MIGHT have had something to do with Takako just blasting her with four possible match-ending moves in a row for the win- Joshi typically has a quick comeback for the win, not someone hitting their opponent repeatedly without an answer.

Rating: **3/4 (looked good before they slowed it down and things got awkward. Some of the worst Takako’s offense has looked)

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Bull with the former Bomb Angel.

* Oh snap! It’s the former AJW Ace versus one half of the Jumping Bomb Angels! These two are DEFINITELY familiar with each other, with Tateno being retired by AJW’s “Retire at 26” rule and immediately hopping over to JWP, ending up leaving with the LLPW girls. Tateno’s now less of a high-flier, having more of a curvy, Molly Holly-esque physique and mom hair. She’s wearing a black leotard with purple & white lines crossing it… and her privates are covered in mirrored material, which is weird. Bull has also slimmed down a lot since her Ace days. And she looks like she’s wearing a poncho she bought from a faux-Native American art store.

This has the interesting effect of looking more like an “80s Main Event Match”, with simpler offense and a slower pace. They trade submission holds for the whole first half, making the ropes most of the time (though there’s some foot-biting involved- A LOT of biting on this show, really), then Bull puts on the Standing Sharpshooter for a while, and a crazy “over-the-shoulder” single-leg crab that sends Tateno outside to sell for a while… and then they stop all submissions and immediately start laying down big strikes. Ugly Tateno Flying Splash gets two, then Bull gets an awkward reversal into a German, misses the Guillotine Legdrop, then takes a German herself. Another German, but Bull comes back with an ugly Powerbomb, then gets the Guillotine… for two. Damn, that thing NEVER wins. WICKED Moonsault gets the pin at (15:36), however.

Damn, kind of disappointing. Bull had lost a few steps by 1993-94, but this was SUPER-slow for about 11 minutes, then sloppy for the remaining four. Tateno really showed nothing aside from some decent selling and good German Suplexes, and enough resilience to eat the Guillotine. Oddly enough, she’d be around long enough to be LLPW Champion by the end of the decade.

Rating: **1/2 (meh… just too long and “they sit in a hold, then one makes the ropes; they sit in another hold, then the other makes the ropes” for 2/3 of it, then sloppy for much of the rest)

* The top tag team in AJW versus LLPW’s #3-ish wrestler and someone usually in the opening matches? Yeah, I bet I can guess who’s gonna win. Yamada’s in an orange & black singlet, while Manami’s got an odd one- her black leotard now has a silk collar & sleeves, with metal circlets holding the collar on. Handa’s outfit is as loud as ever, being a black unitard with all kinds of yellow lines and red & blue flowers all over it. Saito’s outfit is bad even for HER, being baggy in completely random areas and having some sort of brown camo-print on the bottom, and bright blue on top.

They trade off on stuff to start, with Manami hitting the greatest dropkick of all time from the second rope into Handa’s face, sending her sliding across the ring. Then she stretches her with authority, which is unusual for me to see- a dominating, top-tier Toyota. God, she can never hold that surfboard for more than a second, though. Funny bit as Harley interferes, so Manami boots her off the apron to cheers. Handa gets tortured again in Yamada’s amazing Swinging Stretch Muffler, but Harley comes in and does a lot better. They do a Flying Elbow/Headbutt combo to Yamada, but she quickly comes back with KickSpam to Handa’s head. They do a few complex double-team spots (Harley kicks Yamada from the apron, but nails her own partner on an Assisted German attempt), then Toyota hits a Moonsault to the outside, and the AJW team’s Double Backdrop & Stereo Flying Headbutts get two, as Harley saves. Harley nails a Tiger Suplex, but takes a Straightjacket Suplex, and that means we’re in the final minutes. Manami’s Moonsault hits knees, but they hit Harley with the Super Flipover Double Backdrop, then Manami PLANTS her with the best ever Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex (Straightjacket Electric Chair Drop w/ Bridge) for the win (16:49). Harley grasped her arm pretty badly after the Backdrop, and wears a sling after the match, so you know THAT hurt.

Good little match, though way below Toyota & Yamada’s typical spectacle, which is probably why it’s fairly low on the card. It was largely them dominating the weaker Handa, while Saito’s stuff didn’t look that great (a YouTube comment suggests she was injured, but she didn’t seem otherwise indisposed- she clearly only hurts herself on the Backdrop, as she’s putting her full weight on that arm a few times throughout the match). A lot of the kicks and her other moves missed their mark or looked bad (like a Dragon Screw Legwhip that had Yamada just flop onto her butt), but Handa’s stuff looked fine- she sells terrifically and is very smooth in the ring. They largely got good near the end, as the AJW team just overwhelmed them, leaving Handa dead and Harlery vulnerable to double-teams. Interesting and less predictable that Harley took the fall, too- it fits the story, and keeps things from being “well, duh- Handa’s gonna eat the J.O.C.S. (which I totally guessed ahead of time)”.

Rating: ***1/2 (Toyota & Yamada are as good of a “Broomstick” team you’re ever gonna get)

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Eagle Sawai- Monster Babyface.

* WTF? Two of AJW’s biggest stars versus Eagle and someone I’ve never heard of? Osawa is a veteran from way back in 1988, and retired in 1996. She never won any titles, and only wrestled for LLPW, for the most part. She looks kind of mom-like, with frizzy hair (though remember that hair means you might be a hooligan in Japan). Her green leotard is covered with red flare that makes her look like a dragon. Eagle is the #2 LLPW wrestler, typically playing “Mid-2000s Big Show” in these shows, being a very large person who can still job. Aja is the WWWA World Champion, and Kyoko’s right in the second tier at this point. And OMG- Kyoko & Aja look adorably like a tag team, wearing reverse-colored versions of each other’s tights- Aja’s camo-pants and a yellow tassled top, while Kyoko has yellow pants and a CAMO tassled top!

Aja treats Osawa like a total jobber to start, no-selling her punches and kicks, then hitting an Arrogant One-Foot Cover for one. I do like Aja/Eagle stand-offs, though- they do the equivalent of my beloved FAT MAN STAND-OFFS from the West, where they do “Big Guy Moves” (Avalanches, splashes, etc.) to each other and get the crowd way into it by powering through strikes- Eagle is more hourglass-shaped than your typical monster, but she has a lot of physical credibility. Kyoko gives Osawa a tiny bit of offense, then casually strolls to the corner and tosses her off, then hits a Super Powerslam. Osawa comes back thanks to Eagle’s interference and hits some weak moves before tagging out, and Eagle lands a Kneeling Powerbomb. Eagle impresses with some Lariats and a Super Vader Bomb to Aja, but gets hit with an Uraken & Dangerous Backdrop in return. They mount a small comeback against Aja with some double-teams, but Kyoko comes in and handily wipes out Osawa with basic stuff and her Pop-Up Flying Back Elbow for the easy win (11:12). This was basically Squash City, except Aja & Eagle had some fun power stuff in the middle. Poor Osawa was jobbed out in the fifth of her eight years in the biz, made to look utterly weak.

Rating: **1/4 (more or less a squash with some fun power stuff in it)

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Shinobu Kandori- legit judoka & MMA fighter with a “disrespectful ass” persona and an ability to end a match at any time with a brutal move. She’s not the Brock Lesnar of Joshi- Brock Lesnar is the Shinobu Kandori of WWE.

* This is a bit interesting- Kandori is LLPW’s Ace and, um, OBVIOUSLY going to win here, but her whole “Judo Champion” thing making her so deadly makes her a good match for one of AJW’s “Legit Tough-Girl Fighters”, Hotta. Like, the question isn’t WHO’s going to win, but what kind of fight Hotta can put up before she falls? Hotta’s in her white & black singlet, and Kandori’s in that purple “LLPW Standard-Issue Wear” thing again.

Hotta attacks before the bell, with Kandori doing her great “indignant sell” of the situation, before taking off her robe and slapping it down in disgust. And then Hotta GETS THE BETTER OF HER in stand-up. I like how Hotta’s toughness reverses the impact of “Kandori’s so strong she can end matches in a moment” thing. But here, she sells so much that she goes upside-down in the Tree of Woe! Hotta actually dominates until Kandori’s able to rip the bandage off her forehead, and then Hotta does her “no-selling strikes” thing! But an elbow to the forehead has her doing the “TKO” spot, as she’s messed up. Kandori works the resulting cut, but Hotta comes back with a couple of Rolling Koppou Kicks and now KANDORI is doing TKO counts while Takako Inoue taunts Kandori at rightside. Goddamn, I never see that kind of vulnerability from the Ace!

Hotta keeps kicking her way free from submission attempts, so Kandori switches to grappling moves, hitting a perfect Tiger Driver! She does a huge Lariat, but a second is caught and now SHE’S Tiger Driven! She kicks out of Hotta’s finisher, but then takes a Flying Spinning Heel Kick- and another! Hotta’s pulling out ALL the stops, sensing vulnerability. After a long fight up top, she lands a Straightjacket Superplex, too, getting a two-count (how many friggin’ Straighjacket moves do we need on one show?). Kandori manages an armbar reversal, nearly gets pinned for it, then plants Hotta with a Powerbomb. Hotta backslides out of a follow-up Tiger Driver, but has her own Pyramid Driver (Straightjacket Powerbomb) reversed to an Enzuigiri and a PAIR of Powerbombs… for two! Hotta kicks from the ground and finally gets a weak release Pyramid Driver for two. After some quick grappling stuff, however, Kandori traps Hotta in a leglock, drags her back off the ropes, and the ref calls it at (20:43). Well that was kinda out of nowhere, especially since it looked like Kandori was just about to re-wrap the leg after having released it. Kandori won’t let go of the hold after the bell, however, causing another LLPW/AJW scrap, as Takako lays the boots to her and gets smacked for it before the other ring girls separate everyone. Damn this promotional feud was seriously awesome.

I liked the “Slow Burn” to start, giving it a real Main Event feel, with Kandori going out of her way to sell for the challenger. Hell, every other Kandori match I’ve seen features her as the dominant one, snapping off lethal submissions at any moment to nearly win, but here we see Hotta deftly avoiding all of them and plastering the LLPW Champ with kicks instead. In a way, it’s a reflection of the Dream Slam match with Dynamite Kansai, where Hotta again looked dominant to start. So they drill each other with strikes, and then upgrade to Powerbombs (a few TOO many, I guess- that was like seven or eight landed Powerbombs, as if they didn’t have any other slams), finally going for whatever move they can get, with Kandori finally trapping Hotta in an out of nowhere submission. It was a great story, though I wasn’t overly fond of the ending.

Rating: **** (very impressed by Hotta in particular, who carried the majority of the offense- Kandori did a ton of great selling, though. The weak ending cost it an even higher rating)

Overall Scores:
ASARI/Shiratori vs. Midori/Nagashima: *1/2
Numacchi vs. Mizuki Endo: *3/4
LCO vs. Watanabe/Kaoru: ***
Ito/Hasegawa vs. Kitamura/Futagami: ***3/4
Suzuka Minami vs. Utako Hozumi: **1/2
Takako Inoue vs. Yasha Kurenai: **3/4
Bull Nakano vs. Noriyo Tateno: **1/2
Toyota/Yamada vs. Saito/Handa: ***1/2
Aja/Kyoko vs. Eagle/Osawa: **1/4
Shinobu Kandori vs. Yumiko Hotta: ****

-Kind of a card that’s more interesting than it is great, with people in “House Show Mode” for parts of it (especially the penultimate tag), and even Toyota not feeling the need to drag **** out of something by pulling out all the stops. The one trying the hardest seemed to be Hotta, which was fitting, considering she doesn’t Main Event very often, especially at this point. Some bouts were even a bit disappointing, with the obvious winners (Takako, Bull) gobbling up their opponents in the end and not getting as great a Finisher Series out of them. The biggest eye-openers were the Ito/Hasegawa match, with a GREAT story, and Suzuka Minami doing the purest example of a “Carry-Job” I’ve ever seen in Joshi.

But seriously, who agented them to use 900 Straightjacket-based moves in one show? I musta typed that out a dozen times.