Joshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom 1994

AJW WRESTLING QUEENDOM 1994:
(27.03.1994)

-So with the rousing success of the first Wrestling Queendom event in Nov. 1993… comes a SECOND WQ show only five months later! The timing on AJW events is always so weird for that. This time, they’re hailing from the big Yokohama Arena, drawing 16,500 apparently! Generally, the same sort of stuff is going on- AJW is feuding with JWP and LLPW separately, there’s occasionally some FMW stuff, and people are trading titles between promotions. AJW finally won back their WWWA Tag belts from JWP, but lost the Japanese Tag belts in the interim, for example. Akira Hokuto finally traded her win back to Shinobu Kandori to “end” their epic feud, but now she’s… TEAMING UP WITH HER?!? Good lord this show is crazy.

“TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?”- Two matches hover around the “Perfect Match” level, and that’s not even including the Manami Toyota bout. Lots of great interpromotional hate, big moments, and the Main Event has a ton of character and huge moves. Plus there’s a great Rookie/Ace contest.

They start off with the “ring set-up and people working out and doing photoshoots” thing, with some of the better-looking girls getting photographed, while others work out in the ring- it’s weird seeing Kandori smiling and laughing. An injured Bull keeps doing Moonsaults into a crash-pad, clearly dealing with some knee pain. In an odd turnaround of previous years, the audience is about 70% young men, turned on by workrate… and probably an emphasis on a lot of women’s looks.

AJW JUNIOR TITLE:
CANDY OKUTSU (JWP) vs. RIE TAMADA (AJW):
* Both girls are itty-bitty types in the Chaparita ASARI vein, with JWP’s Okutsu having beaten ASARI a few months earlier. Now, another AJW girl tries to win it back, in the rookie Tamada. Candy’s got a sharp red, white & gold singlet on with some angular designs on it, while Tamada’s wearing a red & black Jobber Singlet.

Because it’s Joshi, we get a Plancha 10 seconds in, then Rie gets kicked off the top and Planchad in turn. But the landing injures Candy, who requires medical assistance for her arm, and the Magical Healing Water gets brought out, so you KNOW it’s serious! Rie shows mercy by dropkicking her square in the face and cranking on the arm- Candy’s howls of pain are terrific, but she soon comes back with Jobber Offense (ie. more crabs than Paris Hilton’s knickers), but she fucks up her Run-Up move into the corner and takes further beatings, leading to getting whipped into the corner again… and this time hitting it flush, doing a cross-body. Rie comes back with the helicopter cross-body and a crazy number of dropkicks, but Candy hits another Run-Up move, albeit clumsily. German, but she can’t hold the bridge, so she hits a second one for the pin (9:01). Not bad, but not great, either. A few too many “rookie tendencies” like repeating the same moves over and over again, and you could see them struggling by the end. The injury might have been legit, as Candy’s crying during the post-match stuff.

Rating: **1/2 (good enough match)

MIDGET MATCH:
LITTLE ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER vs. LITTLE GREAT MUTA
* Yup- more midgets. It’s Mr. Buddha Man & Little Frankie, again disguised as other wrestlers. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand Buddha Man’s painted himself completely black. Oh, my.

Standard Midget Comedy, with a lot of running into each other. Frankie nearly kills himself with a Tope, then hides a metal bar in his pants so he can kick harder- clever. Then it’s way too much slow brawling, a Little Giant Swing from Abdullah, then Frankie clearly takes a Mist Packet from a Ring Girl, almost spits it out, then finally sprays Abdullah, lays him out on a stretcher, then just falls backwards off the top (his “Moonsault”) for the win (7:18).

Rating: DUD (just too plodding, but the crowd loved it again)

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Yasha Kurenai- Sadly a midcarder at best.

JAPANESE TAG TEAM TITLES:
MIKI HANDA & YASHA KURENAI (LLPW) vs. KAORU ITO & TOMOKO WATANABE (AJW):
* So between the two Wrestling Queendoms, Kurenai FINALLY found a partner to help her take the Japanese Tag belts from AJW’s Sakie/Ito team. It’s her and Miki Handa, both midcarders. Ito’s now replaced Sakie with another Class of ’89 wrestler in Tomoko- both are on similar levels at this point. They remain dressed in the ugliest gear in wrestling- Yellow Peter Pan & Neon Jobber. LLPW’s team looks better, but disjointed, with “red shirt & white pants” Kurenai dressed like an SNK character, and Miki wearing tie-dyed yellow/red with black.

They kinda just do… STUFF for the first several minutes, not really having a story beyond people coming in and twisting a limb or whatever. Yasha & Handa double-team Ito for a solid minute in a weird bit, with Tomoko standing on the apron and Ito stiffing the shit out of them. Eventually Handa dropkicks Tomoko while she’s in a Hangman’s Choke, and Yasha grabs her short-staff and goes to town. Tomoko eventually no-sells a double-clothesline and hits her Slingshot Cross-Body on Handa, then they copy the Choke/Dropkick spot on Handa and beat on her for a while. Ito hits her Turning Senton out of the corner, a Superplex, and Stomp Spam, interspersed by minutes of stuff each. Yasha hits her Chokeslam after a couple tries, then they do a Chokeslam/Back Elbow combo on Ito for two. Tomoko comes in and hits a surprise Moonsault (comes a bit short) and her Hurricanrana for two each on Yasha, and Double-Stomps from the AJW team get two, with Handa saving. Handa’s late, so Yasha has to make her own kickout of Tomoko’s Single-Arm Powerbomb finisher. Handa in with a Perfect Plex, and they reverse Tomoko’s third attempt at a “run-up the ropes” move into Yasha’s Super Chokeslam (to crickets, oddly), and Ito breaks up a pin from a DOOMSDAY DEVICE Super Chokeslam! German Suplex/Chokeslam, and Ito saves again! Ito dropkicks Yasha, but she grabs Tomoko with a weird Wrist-Clutch Overhead Suplex… for the pin, as Ito was finally trapped by Handa (19:29)!

This was… a match. I mean, it was FINE, but it’s unrecappable “lots of slamming the head to the mat and hitting a half-crab” kind of stuff- all FILLER, really. None of them has the offense to fill 20 minutes without a lot of that, so I don’t think it needed to be so long aside from giving some experience. That said, they avoided the “hit several minutes of superfluous stretching” trap, and the final minutes were full of escalating finishers, so it was still okay. Oddly, the LLPW team were way more competitive than against Hasegawa/Ito.

Rating: *** (way too much Generic Filler Offense, but they got a decent match out of it by the end)

HIKARI FUKUOKA (JWP) vs. CHAPARITA ASARI (AJW):
* I reviewed this bout recently for my Spotlight on ASARI– it’s a fairly good submissions-focused match that is noticeable for absolutely KILLING this crowd, as they sit on their hands and do mutter to themselves, probably hoping to see them fly around, as both are high-fliers. Instead, Fukuoka grounds ASARI for a while until they build speed for the last few minutes. Just the wrong match for this crowd, who probably knew Hikari was going to win anyways.

MEGUMI KUDO & NURSE NAKAMURA (FMW) vs. CHIKAKO SHIRATORI & SUZUKA MINAMI:
* !!!! Well THIS is weird. Finally we get a sighting of Nurse in these, as her name pops up whenever I research FMW’s joshi division, but I’ve never seen her. She’s… not what I expected. Looks more like “her actual job could be that she’s a nurse” than the Giant Violent Brawler I was picturing with that name. Her outfit’s some combination of the Red Power Ranger and one of DC’s Darkstars, but with an exposed belly. She debuted in 1990, and turned heel as “Bad Nurse” in 1995, winning the FMW Women’s belts once each- she retired in 2000 after promotion-hopping for a couple years. Kudo’s in black & pink, and looks utterly bored. The AJW team look to be in gear that’s just identical enough to look weird because it’s clearly NOT the same outfit, as both are in flowery singlets, but one is more pastel. This is FMW’s only appearance on the card, and Shiratori is Jobber City at this point, so the outcome here isn’t exactly in any doubt, either.

Team FMW beats the crap out of a screaming Chikako to start, but Minami comes in and blasts Nurse with a series of standing dropkicks. Uh-oh, we’ve got Angry Minami tonight. Chikako’s tortured for a while more, but Minami/Kudo ends up pretty even, as both are similarly-skilled- their stuff hits flush and looks great, at least until they roll around in some weird submissions. Chikako slaps around Kudo defiantly, but Kudo piefaces her off the ropes in a funny spot. Chikako cross-bodies both FMW girls, but Kudo lariats them both. Kudo dives onto AJW’s team and Nurse follows with a knee off the 2nd rope on Chikako, but she deftly dropkicks out from the ropes and takes Minami, who BRUTALIZES Nurse with a vicious Super Brainbuster right onto the shoulder. She’s outta there in a hurry (they converse in a pin), and Kudo hits a German. They hit the Steiner Bulldog on Minami (though Nurse really just grabs the hair) and the crowd barely reacts in the slightest. Tiger Driver gets two, but knees up on a splash nets Minami a Powerbomb for two in return. Chikako tries a weird rollup, but dropkicks Minami by accident and gets locked in a good Stretch Plum by Kudo, and… the ref calls for the bell right as Minami runs in with a kick (16:32)? Weird ending.

The crowd was way more with this match than the last one, which again is a bit odd, because I think everyone knew Kudo was gonna win, and the match was LONGER. Must be the faster pace, plus the prettiness of Minami’s spots. They were a bit tired by the end, though, and barely reacted for some big moves- the kickouts drew more of a reaction. Kudo kind of just making a one-move comeback on the rookie I guess is appropriate, but the whole match was fairly flat.

Rating: **3/4 (good enough, but dragged in spots and was rather simple)

IWA WORLD TITLE:
PLUM MARIKO vs. MANAMI TOYOTA:
* Another one I reviewed recently- this one was for Plum’s Spotlight. It’s telling that I ended up using WQ matches for people’s “Best Ofs”, because they put in a lot of effort in these. Here, I think Toyota was clearly going to win, but Plum worked hard to reverse everything Manami threw at her, having scouted things ahead of time. Toyota is pissed off the whole match, and absolutely destroys Plum with a Super Ligerbomb, then hits several of her big moves in a row to finish the challenger off. Toyota ends it with the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex- Plum drops from the first attempt, just slumping forward, so a pissed off Manami hoists her up in it again, walking her around the ring to show off, then and plants her with it (20:34), finishing her emphatically.

Rating: ****1/2 (Plum’s best match)

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Hotta & Bennett- two of the most physically-credible women in AJW.

EAGLE SAWAI (LLPW) & REGGIE BENNETT (AJW) vs. TAKAKO INOUE & YUMIKO HOTTA (AJW):
* An odd bout, featuring LLPW’s Monster Babyface teaming up with… AJW’s Monster Babyface. And against an AJW team! This is a weird batch of opposites, as the one team are big, yet glamorous powerhouses, while Takako’s the Idol with the impact-heavy fighting style, and Hotta’s a sporty, brutal ass-kicker- this may have been set up by AJW killing LLPW’s team at St. Battle Final four months prior, and Takako swatting away at Eagle after the match and being protected from reprisal by Hotta. Bennett suggests that since she fought Eagle in the past, she is “a very worthy apartment- OPPONENT”, because I guess you can just translate that out. Eagle’s giant red frills on her dress are fantastic- real fashion-runway stuff. Especially compared to Reggie’s “Sexy Construction Worker” Halloween get-up. Takako’s in an odd slate-grey version of her usual criss-crossed gear, while Hotta’s in a purple & black singlet. Short-haired, violent Hotta coming down to Takako’s “Knockout”, about how a bikini-clad babe beats the shit out of her paramour, is pretty hilarious.

Takako gives the audience a death glare while getting the biggest reaction of the four, and her team attacks before the bell, but are quickly overpowered and given stereo splashes. So Takako of course bites both of Eagle’s legs to come back- PSYCHO! Hotta lands a pair of vicious leg lariats in the corner, sold like death-blows by Eagle, but Reggie gets the better of her with power stuff. Seeing Hotta take the worst of strike exchanges is very odd. Takako keeps reversing Reggie’s lariats to cross-armbreakers that she can’t quite get, and the big girls run into each other from a sandwich attempt. Stereo Backdrops hit them, but Takako reverses Reggie’s Flying Thing to finally hit that cross-armbreaker, and then the powerhouses hit their sandwich spot on Takako, paying off both spots! Takako reverses to a DDT to escape, and Hotta reverses Eagle’s underhook to a Tiger Driver of her own for a close two! Reggie saves Eagle, who hits a Flying Body Attack, but Hotta catches her next and hits a Super Dangerous Backdrop! Eagle & Takako do some uncoordinated stuff until the Idol actually lands her bridging backdrop! TAKAKO*PANIC (Flying Knee to the back of the head)! Eagle makes the ropes and powerbombs the shit out of her in return. Hotta helps Takako hit a release Aurora Special (waistlock backdrop), and Eagle has to save- Reggie lariats the AJW team down. STEREO VADER BOMBS! Takako barely kicks out, and Reggie has to save her from Reggie’s Torture Rack finisher. Eagle gets rid of Hotta, and Reggie uses it again for the win (13:05).

Interesting match- the powerhouses should theoretically have dominated, but the heelish team used their wits and speed to their advantage, seemingly building up both as more “legit”. They made it so the bigger girls couldn’t get any kind of momentum AT ALL, and so they had to use simple reversals (lotta lariats & body attacks) to throw their weight around and come ahead. Another strange thing is that they didn’t use a “stretching period” at all- they went straight to strikes and power moves. That’s very non-AJW at this point. The match was thus fast-paced, though kind of fell apart in the latter half, with not much hitting as well, and lacking the true “this is the killer death move” of other top-level Joshi matches.

Rating: *** (some good, fun stuff, but uncoordinated at points)

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Mandatory LCO pic.

JWP TAG TEAM TITLES:
MAYUMI OZAKI & CUTIE SUZUKI vs. LAS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES (Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda):
* Cutie & Mayumi were both given “Pretty Girl” pushes (photoshoots and what-not), but were also treated like serious wrestlers- Ozaki is like an itty-bitty Manami Toyota, still using generic joshi offense at 5’0″. Cutie is about third-tier in the company, with credibility but few huge wins. Cutie’s wearing a black leotard with white lining and no back, while Ozaki is wearing a bright pink leotard with green ruffles. Quite the color combination, Ozaki. LCO are being cruel, nasty womenfolk to everyone in Joshi around this time, and slowly climbing up the card- they’re wearing gold variants of their standard costumes this time- Etsuko Mita is wearing a two piece made of shiny gold, while Mima Shimoda is wearing her standard black two-piece with the gold tassles all over it.

Haha, both teams immediately cheat by grabbing the opponent as they try to run the ropes, then refusing to let go- this is going to be good. Mita, using one hand, launches Cutie around the ring by her hair. Then LCO does repeated poses using Cutie, and Mita starts choking her with that joyful smile on her face. Shimoda does the same hair-launch move, then taunts “Ozaki!” before crab-holding Cutie. Ozaki in with a Powerbomb on Mita, and people fight outside- one of those weird differences between Japan and the West pops up with Mayumi takes a Piledriver on the FLOOR… and just pops up and lightly rubs her head with a “How dare you!” offended look. Piledrivers are their backdrops, and their backdrops are our piledrivers. Haha, and now the JWP team mimics LCO’s Bitch Pose, and take turns torturing Shimoda, who does her great “growly animal” sell. But Mita takes Ozaki apart, tossing her around, hitting the Blazing Chops, and then LCO take turns strangling her in various ways (like that hangman thing off the second rope) and Shimoda uses Piledriver Spam of all things while her smack-talk pops the crowd and commentators. Cutie gets blasted by various clotheslines, but she manages an Octopus Hold on the giant Mita that looks like a child trying to climb a tree.

Ozaki gets beaten on by Mita again (she has her number in this match for sure), but she flips to the apron, takes out Shimoda, and both girls do Stereo Planchas to LCO, then Stereo Flying Headbutts to Shimoda for two! Run-ins break things down, and Shimoda gets a great little “MEH!” kick of defiance to the air behind Ozaki- such a funny touch. Then Mita swats Cutie’s dropkick out of the air, all King Kong again. I notice that every time one team gains momentum, the other switches it back a bit later- Ozaki hits knees on a Moonsault, and gets Tiger Suplexed, for example. She comes back with her own Tiger Suplex, a Powerbomb, and a Cannonball, but then LCO reverses things and hits their trademark Assisted Plancha & Dive combo. Then it’s the Electric Chair Drop/Flying Splash, but now SHIMODA hits knees! And Mita takes a Straightjacket Suplex, a Flying Stomp, and a Double Flying Stomp! Mita’s in trouble, but Shimoda’s at the ready for a tag and a Flying Chokeslam Takedown to both, and a German for Cutie! Superplex gets a VERY close 2! Cutie reverses a lariat to a Dragon Suplex, but the Flying Knee misses! Mita’s in, and they start rolling each other up repeatedly, and Mita takes a friggin’ Doomsday Device! For two! Dragon Suplex only barely gets tipped over by Shimoda, and so a frustrated Cutie climbs up to finish… but jumps right onto Mita’s shoulders! Oh shit- DEATH VALLEY DRIVER!! And Shimoda grabs Ozaki, allowing Mita to hit another DVD, holding onto Cutie for the pin (20:35)!! LCO wins!! They’re awarded the JWP Tag Titles and given trophies, but Shimoda talks shit to the JWP President and rips on him so bad he literally tosses the trophies at them and stomps off in a huff over their disrespect! Hah!

Holy cow, what a final stretch! The last ten minutes is essentially all action, and even the slower parts of the match had a lot of character (Shimoda kicking and screaming at people). In the end, momentum shifted so many times that you couldn’t really keep track of who was “winning”- it wasn’t a matter of “JWP dominates, then LCO does”, it was “someone hits a Tiger and a Splash, but then misses and gets hit with two other moves”, and then things shift again and again. Everyone’s stuff looked great, with Mima hitting her scrappy suplexes while Etsuko threw out those big strikes and her great DVD.

Rating: ****3/4 (never slowed down after a point, with constant big moves and desperate stretches)

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Kansai, the murderous Ace of JWP, and Hasegawa, the babyfaced up & comer of AJW. Not an event contest.

SAKIE HASEGAWA (AJW) vs. DYNAMITE KANSAI (JWP):
* Oh, now THIS looks interesting! As nearly everyone notes when watching ’90s AJW, Sakie seems to have “It” and will inevitably get a huge push- she has the look, style, and skill. So of course they throw her up against JWP’s top Ace, the stiff kicker Kansai. So Sakie will inevitably be murdered tonight, but the set-up means that she’ll no doubt impress in defeat. Meanwhile, JWP gets an easy win to make up for the prior loss on the card. Sakie’s in a bright rainbow singlet like something Alundra Blayze would wear. Kansai’s in bizarre tights that I’ve never seen before- gold & yellow, with black, green & pink Aztec-y bits and blue highlights all over. She’s dressed like the backdrop of a ’90s Canadian sitcom. She’d look ridiculous if she didn’t seem like she could fight anyone in the world and win.

Sakie charges to the ring to start, jacking up the crowd- she gets an even bigger reaction than Kansai! Her Pissed-Off Rookie opening impress, especially as they dodge each other’s kicks and she lands a Slap of Disrespect, so of course Kansai thrust-kicks her in the belly and kicks the fuck out of her. Tremendous. Sakie keeps trying to fight back, so Kansai grumpily stretches her out. Sakie channels Chigusa Nagayo while selling a Boston Crab, but Kansai straight-up Kawadas her brains out with violent kicks to the head. This is a massacre. Sakie actually slides out of a chinlock and hits her Rolling Butterfly Suplexes, and in a neat bit, Kansai fights the last one really well… and then there’s her Leg Lariat and that’s that. The beatdown turns more methodical (1-minute chinlock, kicks in the ropes, simply throwing her down, etc.), but Sakie fights back and knocks her out of the ring! Poor Sakie looks like she has PTSD in the ring as Kansai gathers her wits (“oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck please don’t get up”). Then they meet up with a TEST OF STRENGTH for a solid minute, with Sakie doing a slick roll-out and getting one over on her! She hits a few Missile Dropkicks and they stretch each other for a while before Kansai starts putting over the rookie’s flurry of kicks and stomps, doing her great “dazed sell”.

Sakie elbows out of a Kansai comeback and pulls off an AMAZING Bridging German (right on the toes! Respect!) after she avoids the Uranage. Kansai takes FOUR Solebutts to bring down, defiantly no-selling a couple but finally being toppled. Solebutt & Uranage get two, but Kansai nopes out of a second and gets DDT’d. Then Sakie throws on a DRAMATIC illegal chokehold with a waistlock, and it actually pops the crowd and has the ref desperately checking to make sure Kansai doesn’t die- that’s amazing. SUCH a desperation move, as if she was trying literally anything to win. This lasts a good while with everyone all excited, but Sakie finally has to break and goes up, aaaaaaaaaaand she gets killed with a kick on the way down. Jesus, right in the womb. That had to hurt like hell. Kansai signals for the finish (while selling the choke’s damage, because she rules), but Sakie backslides out of Splash Mountain (Sit-Out Razor’s Edge) for two. Kansai brutalizes her again, but Sakie lands on her from a backdrop and goes for the choke once more! And gets her head absolutely kicked off. She’s out like a light, but tries to use FIGHTING SPIRIT to fight through another bunch of kicks, then reverses Splash Mountain TO THAT CHOKE AGAIN, but is just donezo- Kansai easily breaks her grip and Sakie’s out of power. Kansai signals the end with a Backdrop Driver… then pulls Sakie up at two and hits an EMPHATIC Splash Mountain for the win (16:34). She gives a damaged Sakie props after the bout, rubbing her injured neck and congratulating her in the back- Sakie totally dorks out over this, which is hilarious.

This was a TREMENDOUS Ace vs. Rookie bout- very one-sided, but with enough fun comebacks to make it seem great, especially as it looked like they could pull off a miraculous upset at any time. Sakie starting out with all this Rookie Fire, then spending the rest of the match clearly terrified of Kansai’s might, was great- those kicks were VICIOUS, and made Sakie look like a champ for continuing to breath, much less fight back. There’s fun stuff in how Sakie would knock down the champ, then hesitate, not knowing what to do next and being scared, so she had to wait for Kansai to get back up and hit another strike. And then that illegal choke sleeper nearly sealed Kansai’s fate, while Sakie didn’t look so much like a heel but a desperately out-of-her-league kid who needed to try anything to win (“NO PLEASE GO DOWN I WANT TO WINNNNNN!”). And every time it looked like Sakie was done, she would reverse something or bravely fight back, until she just had nothing left (her losing the grip on that sleeper was great psychology)- Kansai finally getting her beaten enough to be vulnerable was a perfect finale, because she just KILLED HER with stuff and put her in the ground with a Splash Mountain.

Rating: ****1/4 (one of those great “well obviously the Rookie is gonna lose” bouts that was so dramatic and full of comebacks- it was like the Joshi version of Jeff Hardy/Undertaker)

ALL PACIFIC TITLE:
TOSHIYO YAMADA vs. KYOKO INOUE:
* Yamada is still holding the White Belt, and now dealing with the rising star that is Kyoko. Both girls are on a VERY similar tier right now, with them each having a top-level tag team (Double Inoue is actually rivals with Yamada/Toyota, in fact), each being “up & comers” with a ceiling that’s yet to be found, and both kind of “iffy” on beating top-level wrestlers (Kyoko beat Devil Masami & Yamada beat Toyota, but both lost to Kansai). So this is a very interesting match-up in terms of “tiers”.

Yamada uses her speed to kick away and hits the Swinging Stump Puller immediately, but Kyoko just launches her outside. Kyoko then jacks up the crowd and runs the entire friggin’ length of the aisle to hit a lariat- god she’s funny. In the ring, she hits a Slingshot Backsplash and a high-angle Indian Deathlock (holding Yamada on top of her head), Fireman’s Toss & Surfboard, completely dominating. Yamada finally counters with a straight kick to the face and some more strikes, then hits the chinlock for a while before German-ing Kyoko off the ropes when she tries another Slingshot. Kyoko comes back with a Powerbomb and a Flying Back Elbow, and they’re cycling through big stuff pretty early! She signals the Niagara Driver (Over-The-Shoulder Ligerbomb), but Enzuigiri Spam puts her down.

Kyoko blocks a flying kick, takes another couple kicks, then hits a HUGE Belly-To-Belly off the top for another reversal, but Yamada kicks her off the top and hits a backdrop suplex on the floor that kills her dead- everyone has to check on her and Yamada breaks the count and drag her into the ring for another backdrop. Seriously, Kyoko was out there for a solid minute. She sells another KO in the ring, but comes ROARING back… only to get caught up in more backdrops. Flying Enzuigiri! Kyoko gets a foot on the ropes and storms in with a lariat, but takes a Dragon Suplex on her second attempt, for two. They roll out of each other’s finishers thrice each before Kyoko hits another lariat and the Niagara Driver, but is too beaten to capitalize quickly, so Yamada kicks out. Kyoko really cranks on an STF/Chinlock thing… and Yamada TAPS? Match is over at (16:17)! When the hell did Kyoko ever use THAT before?

Huh, interesting- Yamada drops the White Belt after only 4-5 months, which is short by Joshi standards. The match was good, but suffers from poor planning, I think- the initial stuff was great, but then it’s stretching and a bunch of their biggest moves in the first half of the match? And then after that it’s “I hit a move, then you hit a move” with people simply popping up after taking a MONSTER Superplex and trying another big move. The story of “Kyoko almost died, but FIGHTING SPIRT, yo” took up the second half of the match, which leads to the “Kyoko kicks out of everything” issue that sometimes pops up- one of her weirder tendencies is to do that thing people criticize about modern wrestling, where NOTHING can end her. And the finish coming from out of nowhere (when did Yamada have her neck worked to set up the STF? Why does a submission all of a sudden work when almost nobody else uses one to end matches? She gave up the White Belt over THAT?) hurt the match, too. But, y’know, nice moves and stuff.

Rating: ***1/4 (a little too much “Kyoko never gets pinned” and a finish out of nowhere. Okay match otherwise)

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Shinobu Kandori- the only person in this match who isn’t from AJW. So all three other people in the match treat her like absolute garbage. 

AJA KONG & BULL NAKANO (AJW) vs. AKIRA HOKUTO (AJW) & SHINOBU KANDORI (LLPW):
* Yes, this is our Main Event. As one review put it (paraphrasing): Tag Team Partners Who Hate Each Other fighting Tag Team Partners Who Used To Hate Each Other, But Beat Respect Into Each Other. Aja is of course the current Ace, having beaten Bull Nakano a year and a half ago, ending their years-long blood feud and engaged in a tearful show of respect- they’ve been friends ever since. Hokuto is the #2 star in AJW, and defeated Kandori in possibly the most famous match in Joshi history the year prior at Dream Slam– this is a match known even to those who don’t follow or care for Joshi as a ***** brawl- a bloodbath that saw Hokuto goad her into a brawl and come out with one final punch for the victory. Kandori, an ungrateful, arrogant ass, couldn’t take it, and executed Hokuto later in the year in a much less famous match that saw Hokuto consider retirement. And now… they’re tag team partners. God, Joshi is so cool you guys.

Hokuto & Kandori do the pre-match interview with the interviewer BETWEEN them, and are staring daggers at each other the whole time. I find great humor in the referee checking all four for weapons on their person, considering three of the four brought nunchucks, a metal bin, and a FUCKING SWORD to the ring with them.

Aja beats seven shades of shit out of Hokuto right at the bell, and Hokuto loses a big slugfest to Bull, too. She manages a Bridging German to come back, and tags in Kandori… with a slap right to the fucking face. The commentators (Suzuka Minami among them) and the crowd all mark out, and Kandori gives Akira a death-glare as she goes into the ring with her Disrespectful Kicks… which Bull takes offense to and they slug it out. Bull hits that Draping DDT of Orton’s, but with Kandori’s feet on the TOP rope, and Aja kicks her square on the chin and dumps her dazed body outside. Bull tries a Powerbomb back in the ring, but it’s reversed to an armbar and Kandori tags out… also with a slap. And then they slap each other some more and start pulling hair. While on the apron. So Aja & Bull just divebomb them to take advantage, Aja throwing ringside furniture on Hokuto and suplexing her on one of those invincible Japanese tables. Aja piledrives Akira a ridiculous number of times because this is Reverse Memphis, and Bull slowly works her over for a few minutes. But Akira rolls out of a Powerbomb and hits the Dangerous Queen Bomb and that’s that- she’s so incredibly deadly with these insta-comebacks. Another one and Kandori’s in for some armbars, oddly sold as basic stretching by Bull. This turns into a HOSS BATTLE, which Kandori takes the worst of, and Aja lands some STIFF shots while talking shit and taunting the whole way, to the crowd’s delight. Crab & STF, and Hokuto tags herself back in (with a slap, obvs), but gets the bejeezus headbutted out of her from a test of strength before coming back with kicks and then FLATTENS her with a Babe Ruth-swing slap to the face. This naturally gets an ovation, and then Aja takes a Piledriver on the ringside tables while Kandori runs Bull the full length of the aisle and slams her into the entrance doors! Jesus!

Despite all that, Aja & Bull actually take back the advantage out there, Aja piledriving Akira on the floor. They squash her into the corner once back in the ring, and a Package Piledriver gets two, then Bull hits the Standing Sharpshooter. Only NOW are they doing their big moves! Two solid minutes of leg stuff from Bull leads to Akira fighting back, hanging her upside-down after a facecrusher attempt, and now Kandori beats the hell out of Bull with strikes- Aja’s in, but an Enzuigiri misses her, the Uraken is ducked, and Kandori’s armbar attempt gets stuffed, so she switches to a Jujigatame. And then Bull tries a GUILLOTINE LEGDROP on her to break, but Kandori sits up to dodge, and Akira slaps on an Octopus Stretch on Bull for stereo submissions! Akira tries her own arm thing, but this time the Guillotine interference HITS! Huge Powerbomb from Bull gets two. BULL’S POSEIDON (hangs them behind her and then drops down so their head hits the mat)! Guillotine Legdrop! Aja adds a splash & a powerslam, but the Super Mountain Bomb is reversed to a sloppy Sunset Powerbomb, and Akira tags out!

Kandori’s in, but takes a double lariat, the AJW girls spam dropping limbs on her, and a sandwich lariat gets two! Hokuto actually dives in to help, and Kandori latches on a death sleeper until Bull interferes. Hokuto charges, but gets turned inside-out with an Uraken. Aja hits two more, then one knocks Kandori off the apron! Bull dives and misses while Aja puts Hokuto up top- SUPER MOUNTAIN BOMB, but Kandori saves! She locks on another sleeper so Aja can’t capitalize, and Bull misses a Moonsault Press! Kandori & Hokuto slap on an Armbar/STF combo, but Aja runs in and hits a pair of Dangerous Backdrops for two, then a revenge sleeper on Kandori! Hokuto saves, gets hit by Bull, then does a Cannonball to the outside for the hell of it while Kandori chokes Aja out in the ring! Aja’s deceased, so Akira hits the Northern Lights Bomb (head-drop Powerslam)- Bull saves! Another one- Aja kicks out! Aja reverses to a German, and tries to deal with Kandori, but Urakens Bull by mistake- this lets Akira hit that horrifying Inverted Scoop Brainbuster thing she does, then hits a THIRD Northern Lights Bomb for the three FINALLY (35:16)!! They sell death for several minutes, until Akira holds her hand out to her partner… always harsh, Kandori teases leaving, and then, in a great character bit, slaps Hokuto’s hand out of respect and takes her leave, walking the aisle with her LLPW girls- that’s some Red Foreman shit, right there.

Jesus, I thought LCO/JWP was one of my favorite matches, and yet it was only the second-best match of the card! This damn thing was insane- instead of just throwing down BIG MOVEZ, it was all about character and hate, and that made it awesome- despite minutes 8:00-18:00 being all stretching and the occasional strike, they kept it so full of hate that even the enormous match-length couldn’t hold it back. The audience treated the early part of the match more like a “Fun Exhibition of Humorous Character Bits” instead of a “War of the Gods” that you’d expect from these four, and that kind of fit… especially because they revved it up and started murdering each other for the last fifteen minutes, hitting increasingly-devastating moves. I loved how Akira & Shinobu started actually getting more competitive and tagging out for real, even HELPING each other! Hokuto’s top-tier selling carried much of the match, as she’d treat things like death-blows. Kandori’s “I can end this whenever” submissions (especially the chokes) added a ton of psychology, especially once she started helping Akira and leaving the monster team vulnerable. Akira spamming her finisher at the end appeared to not work, but one final opening left the Ace getting beaten, and Hokuto was triumphant.

Rating: ***** (the final 10-15 minutes was EPIC, full of the craziest shit that makes Joshi amazing)

Match Ratings:
Candy Okutsu vs. Rie Tamada: **1/2
Little Addullah the Butcher vs. Little Great Muta: DUD
Handa/Kurenai vs. Ito/Watanabe: ***
Hikari Fukuoka vs. Chaparita ASARI: ***1/2
Kudo/Nakamura vs. Shiratori/Minami: **3/4
Plum Mariko vs. Manami Toyota: ****1/2
Sawai/Bennett vs. Takako/Hotta: ***
Ozaki/Suzuki vs. Las Cachorras Orientales: ****3/4
Sakie Hasegawa vs. Dynamite Kansai: ****1/4
Toshiyo Yamada vs. Kyoko Inoue: ***1/4
Aja/Bull vs. Hokuto/Kandori: *****

When a match hits 4.5 stars and is only the THIRD BEST SHOW OF THE NIGHT, you pretty much gotta go with a thumb’s up overall. Jesus, this is one of the best shows of wrestling I’ve ever seen- most of the card hovered around ***-ish, but the biggest three bouts delivered in spades, with an AMAZING Main Event full of the dramatic false-finishes that make puro awesome. Manami & Plum have the latter’s best match ever, LCO has one of their best matches along with a huge victory (the JWP Tag Titles), and Dynamite Kansai shows a ton of ass to put AJW’s youngest star over in defeat, and more.