Joshi Spotlight- Big Egg Wrestling Universe (Part One)

BIG EGG WRESTLING UNIVERSE:
(“AJW Doumu Super Woman Great War”)
(Tokyo Dome- 20.11.1994)

-Now it’s FINALLY time I dive into the ludicrously over-stuffed mega-event- Big Egg Wrestling Universe! This event is the only Joshi event in history to take place within the massive Tokyo Dome, stuffing 42,500+ fans into the huge “Big Egg” for… a one-night super-tournament of Main Eventers (the V*Top). And some legitimate athletic contests. And a midget match. And a “cram every single person onto the card” undercard. It’s… a loaded show. Joshi: So advanced that it was putting on hideously bloated 6-hour stadium shows WAY before WWE was! True innovation!

TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?: Well, one of the greatest matches in history is fought tonight. Also, Aja Kong surpasses Bret Hart’s “Three good matches in one night” achievement in terms of quality, several people put on AMAZING performances, and you see Joshi in its biggest spectacle in history- something women’s wrestling has never matched since.

The stage is positively enormous, with a massive curtain surrounded by metal, and a huge ramp that makes the wrestlers move sideways, then inwards again because it’s a giant triangle, at which point they head down a long ramp that goes all the way to the ring. It’s an amazing set-up, really giving this a “big show” feel, as does the monstrous crowd. The show was apparently a solid success (with at least 32,000 paid, according to Meltzer, who is of course uncontroversial in his claims of which shows drew what), in particular making a ton on merchandise, though the staggering length of it made the crowds miss the final trains in Tokyo (at which point cab fare rates increase; I myself got caught by this once).

The three main Joshi companies (big dog AJW, the hosts; plus JWP Project & LLPW) are showcased, as well as FMW’s women’s division with two entrants. And an additional wrinkle was added with the announcement of Chigusa Nagayo’s GAEA Japan earlier in the year- this means that her & two others are representing a different company. An interesting thing develops early on, as every match until the V*Top stuff maxes out around ten minutes, in what I assume is a deliberate attempt to not burn out the crowd- this is about 5-6 minutes shorter than your typical Joshi undercard fare, resulting in some big sprints and occasionally diminished stories (and no Stretching Filler!). Then they waste like two hours on nonsense shoot matches.

We start the set with a massive press conference of EVERYBODY, then some a big “WELCOME PARTY” (it says that on the sign), where we get the humorous stuff like people dressing in casual attire (Suzuka Minami’s sweater), street clothes (Aja Kong’s ornate dress shirt), fancy outfits (Manami Toyota’s giant red overcoat), suits (Combat Toyoda), or what looks like something your dad would have worn in the ’80s (Chigusa Nagayo). Then Alundra Blayze’s leather and Akira Hokuto’s weird skirt thing.

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The teeny-tiny Yagi, actually one of the neater discoveries I’ve made in the past few months. Her Super Judo Flip is NUTS.

BOMBER HIKARI (JWP) & CHAPARITA ASARI (AJW) vs. HIROMU SUGO & HIROMI YAGI (JWP):
* This is an odd one- people from different companies. Bomber Hikari is a JWP-trained wrestler who isn’t on any of these other shows, and retired three years after this. ASARI is still a tiny rookie with some flashy moves. Hiromu Sugo is a rookie in her first year, and retired in 1996 to become a referee, where I believe she still works for Pure-J. Yagi is also a rookie, but lasted until 2004 for JWP, then Arsion when that was founded- she had a great match with Rie Tamada at the Wrestlemarinepiad a couple months before this. Bomber’s wearing something Max Moon would have dismissed as too garish (yellow & pink stars on blue), and ASARI matches her insanity with some gold & silver puffy Power Rangers get-up. Sugo’s in a blue Jobber Singlet, and Yagi’s in a pink two-piece.

ASARI literally does ELEVEN FLIPS on her way to the ring, which is completely insane. She also comes hilariously close to falling off the ramp (a HUGE drop) before correcting herself, which is just as remarkable. Yagi seems REALLY GOOD for her experience level here, throwing out judo throws and other smooth stuff, while Sugo’s pretty stiff. The purpose of the match is pretty clear, though- give the crowd an opener that lets the fast ASARI throw out her crazy, flippy offense to easily-beaten opponents who won’t disappoint the crowd by just killing her. ASARI hits her Handspring Mule Kicks on Yagi, then a Standing Moonsault, and Bomber hits a Flying Headbutt and some power stuff. Yagi hits a Super Judo Flip and then a VICIOUS Missile Dropkick to ASARI. Sugo hits a weak one to the hips (ASARI’s under five feet and THAT’S where Sugo can reach?), and a Hart Attack gets two, but ASARI comes back with a SKY TWISTER PRESS to the outside! Bomber tosses Sugo around and ASARI hits this weird turning kick off the top to finish at (7:03).

Rating: **1/4 (good showcase for ASARI and Yagi, who is seriously the most impressive baby rookie ever. Sloppy otherwise)

HANDICAP MIDGET MATCH (wait, is that offensive?):
BUTA GENJIN & LITTLE GREAT MUTA vs. TOMEZO TSUNOKAKE:

Yup- MORE MIDGETS. Buta Genjin was Mr. Buddha Man last time, and is really tall for a short dude. The micro-sized Great Muta is Little Frankie, AJW’s midget star, and their opponent is Frankie’s opponent from one of the Wrestlemarinepiads, and is now silver. LGM actually does a Cartwheel Elbow and Muta Elbow, which is pretty funny. There’s a rolling dolly used as a weapon, Genjin uses telekinesis (CHIKARA RIPPED THIS OFF!), Frankie gets thrown too short (hee) for the Rocket Launcher, and then he throws on an STF and Tomezo taps at (4:47).

Rating: DUD (Harmless dumb comedy and the crowd loves it- what can you do?)

AJW JUNIOR TITLE:
CANDY OKUTSU (JWP) vs. RIE TAMADA (AJW):
* Rookie mayhem! Candy defeated ASARI the year before, bringing the AJW Junior Title (for rookies) to JWP. So Rie here is trying to bring it back. Rie’s in a white leotard with a weird orange top. Candy’s in a black, silver & white leotard. Both girls look suuuuuuuuuuper nervous before the bell- barely a year into their careers and they’re in the TOKYO DOME.

Knowing the crowd, they go fast to begin, with Candy hitting a run-up plancha to the outside immediately, then Rie hitting a plancha, too! They settle in with Rie using stretching, but Candy comes back with a run-up Flying Cross-Body, then Rie hits a running bodyscissors pin after that! Rie hits a pair of running “spinning cross-bodies” as they’re just flying around desperately trying to score quick falls. Candy “Samoa Joes” out of a flying move (Even JOE stole from Joshi!), but misses a Senton. Rie hits a Missile Dropkick and Splash. Candy gets another splash, kicks out of a small package, then hits a SUPER Northern Lights Suplex with both girls standing right on the top rope! And then she throws out friggin’ Rolling Germans to end it, hitting five in a row (8:53)!! Rie’s in tears in the post-match, while Candy gets the long “belt-holder victory” announcements.

Well THIS was fun. They completely eschewed psychology and just started throwing bomb after bomb, doing only high-flying after a point, constantly running up to the top rope and trying to drill the other one. It was more of a showcase of “can you top this?” than an actual MATCH, but you could buy that the two rookies, in this setting, had something to prove, and were trying to win at all costs. And really, a Northern Lights Superplex and Rolling Germans ending a match in 1994? This is crazy.

Rating: *** (total spotfest, but was almost all action and some fun flying)

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The masked KAORU, part of Chigusa’s fledgling GAEA Japan promotion.

SUZUKA MINAMI (AJW) vs. KAORU (GAEA Japan):
* AJW’s Gatekeeper, Suzuka Minami, at it again in a solo match- she can have a good match with ANYBODY, so throw one of your other up & comers against her and see what you get. KAORU was the botch-happy lucha-inspired Joshi taking up the undercard on the occasional early ’90s show, but has by this point been announced as representing the new GAEA Japan, and hammered out the kinks in her style. Minami’s gigantic flowing orange & yellow pre-match dress has to be seen to be believed, as does her orange leotard with a purple one on top. KAORU is dressed like Donna Troy in her “Troia” phase, wearing a black unitard with white stars on it.

KAORU is already in the ring at the start of it, but runs straight into a Tilt-A-Whirl Backbreaker, recovering quickly by spamming those damn Lou Thesz Presses to the face again. At least they settle into stretching (KAORU using a reverse version of Kyoko’s “Rock the Cradle” move) and careful reversing of each other’s moves. Actually, the whole bout is like a series of counters- a Plancha & Flying Knee from Minami are some of the only consecutive moves I see, because they’re right back to turning a Tombstone into a German or countering by slapping each other. KAORU pescados Minami and then springboards off the top rope for a BEAUTIFUL Asai Moonsault for two! God damn that was nice. She hits mat after trying another, but La Majistrals Minami as a counter to a lariat. She tries another Thesz Press… forgetting that Minami has one of the best Powerbombs ever, and gets PLANTED. Another one gets two, but Minami’s armdragged right off the top rope, but then KAORU’s Moonsault… hits knees. And THAT sets up a lethal Sit-Out Powerbomb that literally has me going “WOOAAAHHH GEEZ!”, flattening KAORU at (9:33)!! Christ almighty, that was one of the best Powerbombs I’ve ever seen.

This was a super-neat little match- with less than ten minutes, they decided to make the bout all about smart counter-wrestling. It prevented anyone from getting consistent offense or any kind of a rally, but that wasn’t the point- it made both of them look very smart, savvy and capable, and it was a contest to see who could catch the other with the best stuff. In the end, Minami’s Powerbombs proved to be the key to victory, as KAORU jumped right into one, then took one risk too many and got murdered with the last one. Minami always wrestles so brilliantly- strategically perfect, but KAORU has definitely upped her game a lot since the last time I saw her.

Rating: ***1/2 (a really brilliant example of counter-wrestling)

REAL FIGHTS:
* So this is some weird thing they did. With twenty-plus matches on the card, they threw in four bouts of people actually trying to win legitimate martial arts contests. This is such a mystifying thing to me- I know Japan has more of a history with this than we do over here, but I find the notion of “So this is a show of fake matches, but here’s some REAL STUFF” to be so bizarre, like you’re admitting wrestling is fake within the show itself. It’s like if you put a boxing match on at WrestleMa… wait, they actually did that. Well IT’S WEIRD. And it takes up a HUGE chunk of time on an already bloated show (about 2 hours on the tape!), which makes it even crazier.

I had a bunch written about these, but they’re all boring, so screw it. I’ll post it in the comments, lol. SPOILERS: They’re all boring.

KICKBOXING MATCH- Kumiko Maekawa vs. Sugar Miyuki: Maekawa wins a judges’ decision.
AMATEUR WRESTLING MATCH- Doris Blind vs. Kyoko Hamaguchi: Blind wins a judges’ decision.
AMATEUR WRESTLING MATCH- Anna Gomis vs. Miyuu Yamamoto: Miyuu wins.
KICKBOXING MATCH: Fumiko Ishimoto vs. Kaoru Ito: Ishimoto wins a judges’ decision.

CHIGUSA NAGAYO (GAEA Japan) vs. REGGIE BENNETT (AJW):
* So Chigusa has announced the formation of her own company, which would actually steal AJW’s thunder within a few years and become the #1 Joshi company in Japan. And here they have an upper-midcard AJW girl to feed to her, in Reggie Bennett. There’s some legit heat here, as Reggie apparently said in a shoot (https://prowrestlingisart.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/reggie-bennett-the-dirty-dirty-sheets-interview/) that Chigusa was arrogant and put down all the gaijin wrestlers as inferior to herself. Chigusa’s got her most detailed outfit ever, being ’90s’d up to feature tons of white & black sketchy lines across it. Reggie’s in her usual gear, but with a blue shirt this time.

Chigusa appears totally disrespectful at first, flipping Reggie off for most of her walk to the ring… which earns her an ass-kicking. In a great bit, Reggie throws her own hardhat onto a prone Chigusa’s back as she walks by. And so Chigusa’s ALREADY bleeding. Chigusa gets thumped hard with a knee to start the match, and sells an eight-count on the mat, coming back with a series of head kicks and a plancha before getting slammed into the guardrail and selling that for a while. Reggie benchpresses Chigusa off of her following a pin attempt, then avalanches her in the corner a couple times and puts on a body-vice. A splash gets two as this is ALL Reggie, but Chigusa rallies with strikes and stretching. Reggie powers out and levels her with a 2nd-Rope Splash, but Chigusa does her big heroic comeback, dodging a top rope version (!!), and they trade sleepers. Chigusa is just the BEST at “I’m dying” selling- so much different than the other joshi, even on this show. Reggie throws on another one, but Chigusa elbows out and gets a quick rollup… for three (8:41)? Well THAT was sudden- Reggie was kicking out right before the 3, and you definitely don’t see THAT finish a lot outside of Chigusa matches. Reggie apologizes for brawling in the post-match bit, saying she didn’t appreciate Chigusa’s “Fuck you this, fuck you that” attitude (“Excuse my language”).

Very much a “Chigusa”-style match- smoke & mirrors (two extended periods of selling, and THREE restholds in a match under nine minutes), bleeding, and some of the best “helpless/dying” selling you’re ever going to see, but ultimately staged around sudden, miraculous comebacks. It came off like a bit of an unfair fluke that it was over so fast, which keeps Reggie looking credible. Good booking throughout, though.

Rating: **3/4 (pretty good despite the weirdness, honestly. Nobody makes extended selling look better than Chigusa)

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Toshiyo Yamada, now opposing the terrifying Shinobu Kandori.

MIKIKO FUTAGAMI & SHINOBU KANDORI (LLPW) vs. TOMOKO WATANABE & TOSHIYO YAMADA (AJW):
* Well this is a weird one- Martial Artist + Young Rookie on both sides. Kandori is fresh off of a spectacular year of murdering Akira Hokuto and having the best matches of her career, but is now on a total throwaway bout halfway through the Supercard, facing upper-midcarder Yamada and both girls having lower-card subordinates as partners. Watanabe’s still botch-happy at this point in her career, and is wearing some godawful gold outfit. Yamada’s in her purple singlet with the kickpads. Futagami’s in a powder blue & white onesie, detailed as is usual for her gear, and Kandori’s in the usual purple & black one.

Futagami attacks to start, overthrowing Yamada out of a pumphandle lift, seemingly wanting to prove herself, but Tomoko drills her from behind and divebombs Kandori with a plancha to the outside while Yamada chokes Futagami! Yamada throws Futagami over into the corner and dares Kandori to march in, and then they have this awesome sequence full of wild swings, headbutts, and blocked kicks before Kandori hauls Yamada onto the ramp and hits her spinning stranglehold in front of all the ringside fans! More choking inside, but Yamada kicks free and then hits a HUGE one right to the face, rocking the stadium and drawing this amazing “Oh you are gonna PAY FOR THAT” look from Kandori. But instead she just tags in the rookie to take all the damage, practically taunting Yamada over it. Such great character stuff. Tomoko goes all “Gotta get my shit in!” and hits her Slingshot Elbow and tons of jumping moves before the martial artists are in again. Kandori mocks Yamada’s martial arts stances and takes an immediate shitkicking for it.

Pumphandle Sit-Out Powerbomb gets two on Tomoko, but she comes roaring back with a HUGE Backdrop to One-Handed Powerbomb to Gami! Kandori has to save, then hits a Tiger Driver to stop the rally. Another nearly works, but Tomoko nearly gets three off of a Rana reversal and tags out. Yamada sandblasts Kandori with a kick, but a second is reversed to an Ankle Lock. Jesus, Kandori is deadly. Flying Enzuigiri and a kick combo has Kandori on the ropes, but Futagami bulldogs her out of The Finisher Than Never Hits, setting up a devastating Cross-Armbreaker that has Yamada scrambling into the ropes. Another try is countered to a Cross-Armbreaker too, but Tomoko breaks it up, gets Powerbombed, and Yamada gets a desperation kick for two. Yamada tries one last thing, but a flying move is countered to ANOTHER Cross-Armbreaker with nowhere to go, and that’s enough to finish her at (11:30).

Goddamn that was a ton of fun given the time they had. Kandori impresses me more and more- even in more “throwaway” bouts like this one, her character work is top-tier, portraying this arrogant, jerkass martial arts elitist who never gives her opponents any respect. This ends up pissing them off so they try to prove themselves, but Kandori’s just so dominant that she can still eliminate any opponent at any time with a single reversal. Yamada’s fun to watch as always, and the rookies played their roles well- there to split up the top dogs for a moment’s respite, hit a couple of flashy moves, then get killed when it’s their turn. Kandori repeatedly hitting that Cross-Armbreaker paid off for the ending as well.

Rating: ***1/2 (another great match, with a ton of good character stuff and loads left in the tank- could have hit **** easily with some more time)

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LCO- merely in their nascent, midcarder form.

UWA WOMEN’S TAG TITLES:
LAS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES (Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda) (AJW) vs. MICHIKO NAGASHIMA & YASHA KURENAI (LLPW):
* LCO’s entrance, consisting of them coming down to Shimoda’s excellent “Superstar” theme while using a horde of leotard-clad men as beasts of burden and defiantly holding the UWA Tag Titles in front of them, instantly makes them look like the hugest fucking superstars in history. No wonder they started getting their big push around this time. This match continues the angle that LLPW is repeatedly trying to take the UWA belts away from LCO. I saw Michiko only once before, but she didn’t impress, but Yasha’s fun with her crazy trashy girl act, whacking people with her short staff. And the LLPW team dress identically, like a WWF ’80s tag team, which I always love. LCO have their reverse-colored gear on, white & purple two-piece outfits.

The challengers attack to start, but Michiko is swiftly beaten down, thrown around by her hair, and gets caught in the Bitch Pose. Mita of course makes sure to do Yasha’s “Hangman’s Choke” in the corner directly across from Yasha herself, then handily stuffs the hot tag by booting her down with those giraffe legs. Team LLPW comes back with some sloppy stuff and mimics the Bitch Pose, finally getting some consistent stuff on Shimoda, like Yasha’s own Hanging Choke and a Spike Piledriver. Mita comes in with a pair of Blazing Chops that Michiko sells as truly agonizing, and hits one on Yasha too, but they come back with stereo submissions and a DOOMSDAY DEVICE CHOKESLAM on Shimoda! Curiously, the crowd is utterly dead for LLPW’s segments- I think they lack visibility & credibility with this crowd.

Yasha uses her staff, goes to the eyes, and hits a weak release Super Chokeslam on Mita, who kicks out on her own. She throws Michiko into Yasha on the apron, thus setting up the Assisted Plancha/Tope combo, but the Electric Chair Drop/Splash combo ends with Shimoda eating mat on her dive! Mita plants Michiko with her Northern Lights Suplex, and Shimoda manages a Tiger Suplex on a second try. Butterfly Superplex gets a “Fuck YOU!” bridge from Michiko, impressing the crowd! Yasha calls for her staff, but Shimoda intercepts! She drills Yasha with it before taking a German upon missing a baseball-style swing. Then the girls rip off LCO’s Electric Chair/Splash combo! Hah! Mita gets Victory Rolled out of her own attempt at it, then takes a weird armlock superplex. A pair of Sentons get two, then both teams scrap over some stuff, Mita takes a Chokeslam, and then reverses a double lariat to a GREAT bridging German for two while Shimoda wipes out Yasha with a Missile Dropkick. And Mita’s finally able to set up the Death Valley Driver, executing Michiko at (15:36) for the win. LCO wins, and Michiko sells the DVD like it was a mortal wound.

Great, fun match overall, with both teams fighting with great nastiness and brutality, digging into each other. Kurenai’s an interesting wrestling to watch- easily dismissed as “sloppy”, I think it fits her character, much like Shimoda’s slapdash application. It’s Hokuto-esque in that it doesn’t need to be pretty if it WORKS- it comes off as scrappy and mean more than polished, like a lot of AJW stuff. Both get shit on a bit for this stuff in some places I’ve read, but I like it.

Rating: ***3/4 (great fun, and good character bits!)

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BISON KIMURA & JAGUAR YOKOTA (AJW) vs. LIONESS ASUKA & YUMI OGURA (AJW):
* This is a strange “All Veterans” match, with 3/4 of them being retired at this time, marking it as a throwaway like those “All Japan Legends” bouts where Giant Baba & Jumbo Tusuruta went out and did crowd-pleasing comedy spots. Of particular note is JAGUAR YOKOTA, Ace of the mid-80s and trainer of some of the best ever (Aja Kong, Manami Toyota, Yamada, LCO, both Inoues, etc.), coming out of retirement a few months before she’d announce her own promotion, Jd’, in 1995. Her partner is Bison Kimura, Aja’s former partner and a tall brawler-type. Lioness Asuka leads the other team, being a former Crush Gal and Ace herself. Ogura I haven’t seen since the first Wrestlemarinepiad, where she was a JTTS to Bull Nakano- she retired in 1990 after a serviceable mid-tier career. Bison’s in a yellow one-legged outfit with black details, Jaguar’s in a Toyota-esuqe black leotard, Asuka wears a dark blue full outfit, and Ogura’s in blue & white.

They tell ring rust to eat a dick immediately, throwing out a great Helicopter Cross-Body by Yokota and a roundhouse kick to the back by Asuka when Jaguar lands on her feet from a backdrop, and Jaguar goes right into her sliding bridge-out and a Rana for two. She even does a forward flip to block a lariat! Ogura & Bison play it much more safely, however, with Ogura hitting a slow-mo “walk up the ropes” armdrag and then a weird bridging bodyslam thing. Asuka does more plain offense (with an Inverted DDT), then Jaguar hits a goddamn Jackhammer because she rules. Bison & Asuka start amateur wrestling, which is SUCH an ’80s Joshi spot, then a weak version of Total Elimination sandwiches Bison, who comes back with her overhand Bison Chops on everyone to a good reaction. Jaguar does some Steamboat-esque spots and whips out her Vertical-Drop Pedigree on Ogura, but Asuka hits her with a VICIOUS Powerbomb, and keeps the jacknife hold on for a Giant Swing! Bison gets a weaker one, but Jaguar manages a Straightjacket Suplex on Ogura for two, then takes a Tiger Suplex. Time starts counting down, so they start throwing out desperation stuff to hold each other down- a Front Superplex from Asuka on Jaguar, then she misses a dive but hits a German, and then Jaguar does that Leglock German that won her that ***** WON match in the ’80s just as time expires (10:46).

Actually a great little sideshow, with old-school spots and the wrestlers showing absolutely zero rust at all, despite many having been retired for half a decade by this point. There was little actual “story” to the match beyond them all trying whatever would work, and you could see Jaguar & Asuka leading the way in the ring for the whole thing, but it was good. In the aftermath of this one, Jaguar would announce the formation of her own company… and take Asuka & Bison with her! Jd’ thus had a lot of ’80s Joshi who would’ve been out of place in ’90s AJW.

Rating: *** (what we saw was good, even if there wasn’t really much “Story” beyond “Holy shit, they can still go!”)

There’s some mini bit with All India Women’s Pro Wrestling, with two girls in technicolor leotards over black bodysuits, doing this exhibition-style stuff of judo flips and amateur wrestling while helping each other do stuff. The stadium lights are WAY up, illuminating everything, which is weird, as is the “everyone in the crowd is just chatting each other” silence- it’s like a Roman Reigns pop in this shit. It looks more like dancing or how a Looney Tunes short would treat wrestling. “So THIS is how the show you are watching is faked, folks!”

Someone named Lucia Rijker comes out to apologize to the fans for being injured. Then they show the V*Top ceremony, which is a bunch of laser lights coming out while the original PlayStation start-up sound plays on loop (seriously, listen to it!).

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Blizzard Yuki- cartoon and real-life versions.

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However, Yuki’s not the ONLY one sharing their name with a fictional character!

BLIZZARD YUKI (AJW) vs. MARIKO YOSHIDA (AJW):
* This is a somewhat infamous match in Joshi circles, as Sakie Hasegawa, now considered READY for her big singles push to make her a Main Eventer, has been turned into the masked wrestler “Blizzard Yuki” (based off of an anime heroine), perhaps to make up for her quiet, “dutiful rookie” personality. So instead of her Steiner Sisters singlet, she’s wearing a complex black & red outfit with a cool mask. Yoshida herself is from the Rookie Year before Sakie’s, but sat out two with a bad injury, resulting in her starting from the bottom despite obvious incredible talent- here she’s wearing a jobberific orange, blue & yellow pastel leotard, and is making her return here. Yuki gets this huge entrance with stunt performers and karate and stuff, but I’ve heard tell from two sources that the one who dove from the cage was hurt during their stunt, and Sakie was shaken for the match as a result. She clearly looks pensive and nervous during the ring introductions, having none of her old “Rookie Fire”- her charisma appears gone.

With THAT entrance, and Yoshida’s “well, here she is” entry, I don’t think the victor here is in much doubt, which might be why the crowd is kinda dead for this. I mean, this is like trotting Hercules out there against the brand-new Earthquake at WrestleMania VI. Yuki now pulls some un-Sakie-like spin kicks and leg sweeps and it looks SO unconvincing compared to her regular moves. Crowd sits on their hands for the “pause for clapping” spot, too- a bad sign this early. Yoshida’s great “run-up-the-ropes” cross-body gets NOTHING, too. She pulls off some more impressive flips and spins, then good submissions until Yuki comes back with kicks, a loose headscissors and a rolling senton, then they fuck around in stretch-holds for about four minutes, because that’ll get the crowd into it. Finally Yoshida dumps Yuki, hits a dive, then a Run-Up Plancha to the outside, then SPIKES her with a nasty German. Yuki comes back with a Somersault Plancha (camera misses most of it), but misses a Frog Splash. Run-Up Sunset Flip nearly pins Yuki, and then Yoshida hits a Super DDT (!!), but Yuki comes right back with an Ax Kick (camera barely gets it) and a Turning Somersault Senton for the pin (12:01). WEIRD delayed “3” there.

Eesh. This went over like a fart in church- absolute crickets for Blizzard Yuki’s big debut until the crowd kinda-sorta got into it for the last 3-4 minutes as they got into the final stretch. A bit has been made about just why this went over so poorly, but I think a combination of things is at fault- Nerves, timing, the possible injury of the stunt-worker… plus Sakie just doesn’t have the right kind of “act” for a masked wrestler, and it comes off very… artificial. Her charisma is just gone here, too- remember David Flair when he was just starting out? That’s how she’s coming off here. Never mind Yoshida controlling the majority of the match, so that Yuki’s debut didn’t have her coming off strong- instead, Yuki arbitrarily stops selling at one point and finishes Yoshida in two moves. Ideally, you throw them out there for a more competitive, flying-based match for that time, not “Yoshida dominates but then gets beaten in the end”. And moreover, I find a LOT of Joshi bouts draw crickets when the result is too obvious- in this case, the fans KNEW that Yuki was winning, and therefore they didn’t care about most of the bout.

Rating: *** (despite the problems, it was still a good match- Yoshida did a lot of cool stuff to silence, and Yuki’s last moves looked good. Very little selling in the end, though. I’ve seen ratings for this disaster go from **-****, which is crazy breadth)

Halfway done and a mere 4800 words used! Next up… the one-night V*TOP Tournament featuring all main eventers! And like 8 other matches! Thank God I’ve already reviewed two of them!