Joshi Spotlight: The Dawn of Las Cachorras

Las Cachorras Reunited.jpg

I had to start with Las Cachorras Orientales reuniting in late 2019. I just had to. It’s too adorbz.


-This is another AJW event at Korakuen Hall, about a month after the previous “Funto” show. It’s ALSO named “Super Charge”, like a prior show in 1992. The main focus here is actually on some returning wrestlers- Akira Hokuto, Etsuko Mita, Mima Shimoda and some others ended up on a trip to Mexico, where many puro stars go for extra training and character revamps (they’re still doing this; Naito gained his modern persona there, for instance). This was in part to gain some lucha experience and shake things up in AJW (newcomer Cintia Moreno is actually trained in the style, and worked a tour here as well), though few of the wrestlers really copied much of it.

This is mainly important because Hokuto & Mita came back with entirely new visual “looks” and personalities. Yes, this is the origin of Las Cachorras Orientales, which literally means “The Oriental Bitches” in Spanish. Shimoda would later join the group, but for now they merely have dyed hair, Atrocious Alliance facepaint, and other heel trappings.

“TL;DR: Why Should I Watch This?”: At least one match over ****, the debut of LCO in their “first form” against AJW’s current top heels, and a great Bull/Yamada match

* This match is more or less about “Bringing Lucha Libre to AJW”, as Las Cachorras Orientales, of which Shimoda eventually became the junior member, went to Mexico for a while. Debbie, with her usual partner Sakie Hasegawa, was kind of expected to use some of it as well. Debbie’s in a pink & black Steiner-style singlet, while Shimoda’s in a black & pink leotard with long armbands… sort of like something Suzuka Minami would wear. Cintia is the real pro in Lucha, having been born & raised in Mexico (she’s the sister of Esther and comes from a BIG Lucha family, and held the AJW Tag Titles for a while in 1991). She’s wearing the most awful uniform ever- a bodysuit so monochromatic it looks like she’s supposed to be in front of a blue-screen. Takako is pretty well the “senior” at this point, but nobody’s with their regular partner. She’s wearing a VERY ugly singlet, all dark blue with a red/gold chest part, one red leg, and one long armband with holes in it.

The “Training” nature of the match seems obvious right away, as Shimoda’s mostly in there with Cintia, who impresses the crowd with her flippy moves and weird submissions while the others are all doing generic basics- a Rana out of the corner, Tiger Mask Armdrag, and flipping dive off the apron all pop the fans. Takako eats Falling Clothesline Spam, however, and Debbie lands a neckbreaker (… when do you see THAT in Joshi? I don’t think I ever have!), then works a couple dragon sleepers until Takako armdrags the shit out of her- as that’s her best move at this point, it’s good they emphasize it a lot. Cintia double-armdrags Team Pink twice, impressing the crowd again, though it’s that awkward “let’s stand totally still while she does a ton of flips because we’re not using the same style and don’t wanna botch this” kind of overly-choreographed lucha stuff. Shimoda gets double-teamed & Rana’d, but escapes and does some flying, which doesn’t look terribly great (her timing is somewhat “off” on it and she never was really graceful- she’s more “scrappy” like Hokuto), but a lawn-dart dive is good and Debbie… horribly misses a Flying Elbow, which is sold, for two. Debbie’s HUGE Super Overhead Belly-To-Belly (with both standing on the top rope) gets only two, as Shimoda interferes. Then they badly botch a leapfrog and Takako’s Aurora Special (Shoulder-Seated Backdrop Suplex), with Debbie just slumping over after mis-timing it, so Takako jsut screams and hits a proper Aurora Special for the pin (13:39), Shimoda arriving too late to stop it.

This was going pretty okay for the most part, with the point obviously to make Shimoda into AJW’s own personal Luchadora, which never really took (she was far better off as their scrappy, screaming demon heel). Cintia’s stuff looked good but overly-choreographed, while Shimoda’s flying was clumsy, and then Debbie turned into a botch-machine near the end of the match- there’s no way that fucked-up Aurora Special should have left her vulnerable to just being picked up again for a proper one- all she did was slump onto her side!

Rating: **3/4 (looked like it was going pretty good, and had some impressive moves, and then it kinda fell apart after a point)

* This one’s got new tag teams forming, but is largely based around Toyota & Inoue each grabbing a rookie partner, thus continuing on their feud- they’d very recently been awarded “*****++++” by Meltzer (yes, he broke five stars before the modern era!) for an amazing Wrestlemarinepiad match. Sakie would of course later be a regular Toyota partner. Yoshida is wearing a pastel rainbow singlet of all things, while Kyoko’s in her usual pink & yellow gear. Manami’s in black, and Sakie’s in the white & black singlet.

Kyoko is FURIOUS when Sakie starts, demanding Toyota instead, and of course they run at a million miles an hour and reverse each other’s running moves (the Blacksplash & Dropkick) to establish foreknowledge. Toyota does the great running “jump off the top” armdrag, but gets dropped trying her “Walk-Up Armscissors” and Yoshida tosses her around to a great reaction. Then the rookies scrap, showing great fire- God these two were money. Manami Dropkick Spams Yoshida to death, then stretches her out for two seconds before Sakie’s in and gets caught by the Cartwheel Dodge & smashed by Kyoko. Oh god, then they FINALLY slow down to stretch Sakie out for a while. Toyota finally gets in, but gets knocked right off the top, and when Sakie runs in to throw around Yoshida, she uses a whip to run up the ropes and hit her Plancha on Toyota to the outside! Goddamn.

They take over on Toyota for a bit, stifling a comeback, but she does her dropkick reversal to Yoshida and they hit Stereo Flying Headbutts on her! Sakie gets fired the fuck up when that only gets two, hitting SAVATE KICK SPAM while the crowd chants for Yoshida. Yoshida ends up in the ropes after five, takes a Butterfly Suplex, but dodges a dropkick and Kyoko hits a crazy extended Giant Swing- damn, the crowd is loving this. Yoshida hits a Perfect Plex & Flying Splash for two counts, but Sakie escapes and Manami lands a Straightjacket German for two. Both vets get dumped off the apron, but Yoshida hits her partner on the dive and it’s STEREO PLANCHAS from Manami & Sakie! Rolling Cradle! Moonsault! Yoshida saves, Kyoko dodges a Savate Kick, but then Yoshida tags in an eats one, then gets clobbered by a 2nd rope version. They trade rookie-style rollups until Manami hits knees off the top and gets dropped across Yoshida’s knee. Run-Up Flying Back Elbow from Kyoko! The Niagara Driver is reversed to a pin! Kyoko Slingshot Backsplashes both of them in return! That finally leads to the finish, as Manami gets dumped and Yoshida monkey flips Sakie off the top, leaving her vulnerable to a Ligerbomb for three (15:57).

Amazing, almost “too short” a match, featuring four of my favorites to watch in the ring, all working at ridiculous speeds the whole way through- the stretching was fun and inventive for the most part, and a TINY part of the match, and the rest of it was them blitzing each other until someone got caught out. I’m struck by how generous Manami was at selling and taking moves, as Yoshida looked like a goddamn next-level-ready champ hitting all that stuff on her, while Kyoko kind of acts invincible. But ultimately, the rookies created the openings, as Yoshida caught Sakie and she was left vulnerable to Kyoko, who’d barely been worked on most of the match.

Rating: ****1/4 (GREAT near-falls throughout, with an incredibly hot crowd recognizing that they were watching the stars of the future)

* Oh, my. Nakano is still the reigning WWWA World Champion, but Yamada has received a big upgrade over the past year, meaning this is likely to be much more competitive… to a point. Yamada’s in her blue gear, while Nakano’s in a metal t-shirt over her leotard- the old-school look. Kyoko & Manami are the seconds, here.

Oh shit, it’s “Unstoppable Kaiju” Bull to start, as she roars in defiance of Yamada’s flurries, but Yamada keeps coming back with her speedy strikes after being knocked down, then hits a HUGE Spinkick and Bull goes down like a tree. That is such great selling- no-sell and roar through the rapid-fire stuff, but put over the big move. Bull continues to sell her ass off for those strikes, managing one for every five she takes, but Yamada sells THOSE like nuclear weapons, so Bull eventually does the methodical beatdown, completely in control. Yamada actually face-kicks her and GOES FOR THE GORY SPECIAL, popping the crowd, but no- the laws of physics won’t allow that. Yamada’s disappointment is fun, but she gets kneeling powerbombed and tortured again, Bull using the nunchucks outside and tossing her into chairs. Yamada, pissed at the disrespect, actually tears into the ring and wipes Bull out with leg & head kicks, side-suplexing her for two! Bull, hair completely flattened now, takes a shellacking, then gets caught in the Stump Puller & a Texas Cloverleaf! After a few minutes of that, Bull finally does the “Atomic Drop onto the Mat” thing to come back, then nunchucks the shit out of her outside to buy herself some time. She attempts to whip Yamada… but it’s ENZUIGIRI SPAM!! Bull takes four of those, then a Flying Enzuigiri for two! But that’s all she can muster- a pair of lariats kills Yamada, and Bull gets the Guillotine Legdrop… for two!?! Her hurt, shocked “… whhaaaaat?” look of disbelief is amazing. She goes up again, but gets booted off, spin-kicked from the apron, and then takes TWO Flying Enzuigiris, looking dead. Flying Elbow Smash, but that’s that- it gets two, and Bull reverses a whip to a lariat to the back of the head, dives onto Yamada outside, and a final Guillotine Legdrop kills her at (15:30).

Fun Monster/Underdog match, with Bull looking dominant with those trademark slow beatdowns, but making sure to sell her ass off for all the comebacks, so Yamada’s kicks looked awesome. She even screamed in the submission holds! Having to resort to the nunchucks repeatedly to slow down the offensive flurries really put over Yamada’s talents as well. Failing to score the pin with the Guillotine Legdrop was a great moment, as was Yamada’s final comeback, looking like she had the champion on the ropes. Bull’s trademark “gets her ass kicked, but reverses with big lariats” style is very good for feeding comebacks and crushing surges from the juniors, too.

Rating: ***3/4 (I’m a sucker for a good Big/Little Match, and Yamada was one of the best underdogs ever, trying SO HARD and dominating with spin-kicks & enzuigiris instead of flippy-flop stuff, so it looked a lot different than the usual)

* AKIRA and MITA are of course Akira Hokuto & Etsuko Mita, having returned from their excursion to Mexico. In this case, Akira was just below the main event and wearing a more “boyish sporty wrestler” look, while Mita was struggling on the undercard while her classmates Toyota & Yamada shone as big future stars. So now all of a sudden here they are with crazy hair and “Atrocious Alliance” make-up- signalling these Good Girls are now vicious, conniving heels! And they’re sporting their names in all caps just so you know they’re bad. AKIRA’s now wearing her trademark Noh facemask and katana, and MITA’s in the ninja-esque stuff she’d keep wearing for a good while. Their in-ring stuff is a bit weird- AKIRA in a black martial arts top & shorts, and MITA in a blue singlet. Meanwhile, Aja’s in a purple top & white pants, and Bison’s in the best look of hers that I’ve seen- blue, orange & black.

LCO does their first-ever “drag ’em outside and beat ’em with chairs” spot, but Aja immediately takes over on MITA. MITA & Bison get into a choking slapfight, letting you know immediately that the soft-spoken MITA is now a different animal in the ring. Jungle Jack eventually takes over on her, but she manages to tag in AKIRA… and now it’s on. To the delight of the crowd, she spin-kicks Bison around and then claws & bites at Aja’s face. JJ comes back by raking her in the ropes and working the lower back, however, and MITA takes a beating before hitting some weird Tilt-A-Whirl Shoulderbreakers on Bison (unsurprisingly, she’d drop that move)- Aja body attacks her down, but hits Bison by mistake and LCO wishbones her. MITA gets dropped by a pair of Bison Chops, then Bison hits a Flying Headbutt- both times, AKIRA runs in to break up the pin. More interference, and LCO hits stereo dives- including AKIRA’s trademark Tope Con Hilo! MITA lands a Northern Lights Suplex, piledriver & rolling fireman’s drop in succession on Bison, then an Electric Chair Drop leads to AKIRA’s flying splash. A Bison Chop is then reversed into the weirdest suplex I’ve ever seen- a half-Tiger half-Backdrop Leg Clutch German- for two!

MITA piledrives Aja on the floor to stop her from breaking up pins, and so when Bison Chops her from the top rope, there’s no one to tag! MITA lands a Straightjacket (??) Perfect Plex for two while Aja struggles to the corner, selling the injury. AKIRA signals the Northern Lights Bomb, but takes a German instead- Aja FINALLY tags in and kills her. Piledriver, Mountain Bomb & 2nd-Rope Splash, but MITA keeps interfering with pins, so Aja beats the shit outta her. Jungle Jack goes for a Superbomb to finish, but AKIRA reverses to a Super Rana. AKIRA takes a Bison Chop/Mountain Bomb combo, and MITA tags herself in but gets killed- Aja Urakens her in the corner. Double-Lariat, but they cross wires and MITA awkwardly stumbles under then while AKIRA gets Bison Chopped coming off the ropes from their double-team. Aja goes for a SUPER Mountain Bomb (her MDK), but Mita slumps over to “block”, so Aja merely re-tries- Super Mountain Bomb finishes at (19:30). And so LCO debuts… but jobs to the dominant heel team in their big return. Which is weird booking.

This started off like your typical Jungle Jack match- dominating and brawl-happy, but once LCO got going, it got really fun, with some very weird, unique suplexes that seem to have been dropped over time- I guess the innovation inherent to joshi kind of ran out when it came to overdoing all the “straightjacket/clutch/leg-grab” additions. Things seemed to kinda fall apart in the end, though, with MITA mis-timing a “dive under the lariat” spot so everyone stood around looking dumb while she crawled underneath Jungle Jack, then Aja’s finish was reversed… then done properly, which didn’t LOOK like a botch (Mita seemed like she was “supposed” to be fighting but just kinda leaned to the side), but seemed very weird match planning to just do it properly right away.

Rating: ***1/4 (good for much of it, but got kinda weird)

Overall, the show is fine. Hard to complain about a four-match show where two of them are ***3/4 or above. LCO’s debut was actually kinda disappointing to me, though Mita was still just forming her true persona by this point.