Joshi Spotlight: AJW Midsummer Typhoon

(the playlist starts here)

* Time for a big Summer Event from AJW!! The booking for quite a few months has culminated right there, which is super exciting!! Though I already reviewed the Main Event, so I kinda just have to do the undercard and then do an abridged review of the Main (which is *****, by the way, and ends in the BEST POST-MATCH ANGLE EVER). Dave Meltzer apparently describes the Main Event to this day as the greatest match he’s ever seen live. A bout where merely his description of what happened had people on the Blog welling up with tears.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: The main event is one of the most famous Joshi matches in history, and the one Dave Meltzer says was the finest match he’d ever seen live (unsure if he changed that recently in the era of 7-star matches). The final three matches are all killer, but yeah- that main event, and the angle & ending surrounding it, is the reason everyone should see it- it’s Savage/Liz Reunion good.

* Yep, more ROOKIE MAYHEM to start the show, though this one looks super-short. I dunno when Torisu was done, but I have no memory of her from big 1993 shows aside from one Martial Arts Title match. Neither her nor Numata made it, and Chikako never got any good, either, but her looks earned her a push sometimes. So Rie, a third-tier ARSION star, is like the only person here who “made it”. This is actually the Class of 1991 vs. the Class of 1990, so Numata’s team will probably take it. Torisu’s the big girl in black & yellow, Numata’s in some horrendous neon checkerboard get-up, Rie’s in red, and Chikako’s in black & pink.

Torisu bullies the tiny Tamada for a while, but the rookies stick & move on her. Numata does a bunch of awkward running X-Factors to Chikako, as this is looking really uncoordinated. Rie spams the Rookie Dropkicks of Filler Offense and then hits the Rookie Bodyslam of Finishing… for the finish, grinding it out at (6:11). Well alright, then! Weird to see the Class of ’91 beat their elders, but only Tamada looks to be actually athletic out of this crew.

Rating: 1/2* (clumsy and short, but Rie has obvious potential)

* …. Kumiko Maekawa!? Damn, she was active all the way back here? She has legit fighting skills, and moved up in credibility by 1997 and stuck around post-bankruptcy, ending up the actual Ace of the company in the 2000-04 dying era, but this is her as a totally green rookie! Here she’s with the Class of ’89’s Tomoko, up against Aja’s “Jungle Jack” stable- the elder Kamiya and the monster Terri Power. Kamiya has a green face and Owen Hart’s “Black Hart” outfit, while Terri’s in the black singlet & white top. Tomoko’s got an orange & black “Lacoste” shirt and baggy white pants, while Kumiko’s in a blue Jobber Singlet. Funnily enough, the rookie team would go on to reform in the late ’90s and become a true superstar tag team.

I’ll say this, Terri immediately wows the crowd by dragging Tomoko up from a wheelbarrow position into a holding full nelson, and that looks awesome. They engage in 1980s WWF offense against Tomoko, and then Terri MURDERS Kumiko with a trio of lariats- Jesus Christ. The crowd even pops for the kickout. Tomoko manages the slingshot cross-body and her judo flips on Kamiya, but takes the two of Kamiya’s Karate Tummy Punches before getting a Rana. And then, in one of the most embarrassing things I’ve EVER seen from this company, Terri comes in, hits a bad lariat, and then follows with the worst pescado of all time, actually landing on the rope and going ass-first onto the apron to the delight of the crowd! Jungle Jack launches Tomoko off the top, onto her shoulder, then Kamiya adds a running senton and they do a Rocket Launcher and Terri drops the elbow for the pin (8:22). Positively SPECTACULARLY dreadful match, with Terri looking awesome one minute, then exposing the business the next.

Rating: 1/2* (This match was so bad I forwarded it to Maffew- how’s THAT for a review?)

* Rookie Kaoru gets a solo showcase, this time against the Martial Arts Champion. Bat’s in her black shirt & baggy white pants, while Ito’s in a variation of the “Jobber Singlet” look, with a yellow, blue & white thing.

Bat stomps away to start, but Ito uses her Ass Attacks to take over, but all she gets is a long chinlock before Bat uses kicks,  & the Ken/Ryu Rolling Throw, but Ito pops right back up and dropkick spams her, but capitalizes with a BODY SLAM of all things, and Bat simply murders her with more strikes. Regular & Flying Thesz Presses get two. Big ovation for the kickout, then Kaoru slingshots out of the corner with an Ass Attack, but Bat easily comes back and hits an AWESOME rolling kick off the ropes. Some awkward waits as Ito has to get up for two more, but she hauls Bat off the top- Flying Double-Stomp misses, then they each miss, and so Ito does two Footstomps, and THEN hits the Flying Double-Stomp… for the three (9:18)!! WOAAHHHHH- totally did not see that win coming! This must have been the sign of an oncoming elevation for Ito. Match was… meh. Great kicks from Bat, but she can never put a match together, though the finish at least had some psychology and set-up to it.

Rating: ** (not really well-put together aside from the ending, but Bat has sweet-looking kicks)

Image result for double inoue

Double Inoue slowly begin teaming up more and more as 1992 rolls on.

* Now here’s an interesting bout! The future Double Inoue are getting more and more comfortable teaming, and THAT’LL help define the next few years, and their partner is Takako’s classmate and up & coming star Mariko, and their opponents are the freshly-formed LCO, with Mita & Shimoda teaming together for the first time under that gimmick! Kyoko’s in the usual neon garb, Takako’s in her red & blue bodysuit, and Yoshida’s in the pastel blue. Mita’s in a weird-looking red variant of her “lots of eye shapes on it” gear, Shimoda’s in an odd white outfit with a black part on top and a “Power Girl Window” on the front, and Moreno’s in neon splatterpaint. Weird bunch of outfits from the second team. Meltzer apparently gave this ****1/2!

ah yes, Shimoda & Mita biting limbs, choking, and leaning on people in the ropes- now THIS is the AJW I know and love! Takako misses with her armdrag and Moreno sells it anyways, showing that the move is entirely on the person taking it, lol. Kyoko gets a huge reaction, launching Moreno and then getting a standing ovation for hitting a Giant Swing that lasts a ridiculous *35 seconds* against Shimoda. LCO manages to tear into Takako, screaming and growling like nuts- they finally figured out how to get over. Yoshida Handspring Back Elbows Mita and Takako misses her flying kneedrop (trying to pay back Shimoda’s constant interference). Moreno Ranas & Slingshot Back Elbows Kyoko, but she kicks out at one and Double Inoue lariats Moreno down. Mita Electric Chair Drops Yoshida, and Moreno & Shimoda add flying splashes- another LCO move, sorta! Yoshida comes right back with the Run-Up Cross-Body after a whip, then adds her own flying splash for two.

The heels prevent a triple-team by dragging two faces out, and Mita tosses Yoshida onto them, adds a tope suicida, then her partners fly out off the top! Great bit! Mita Perfect Plexes Yoshida for two- Takako saves, but herself gets Flair Tossed off the top thanks to LCO cheating. Shimoda goes up, but now TAKAKO launches her off, using the armdrag. Mita lariats Kyoko out of the Niagara Driver, allowing a Shimoda German to get two. Mita in, and she hits the first ever BLAZING CHOP, mimicking Bison Kimura’s finisher with a double-overhand chest slap. Kyoko manages the headscissors & Run-Up Flying Back Elbow, but Mita nearly catches her by backsliding out of the Niagara Driver (the 4th attempt this match!). Kyoko FINALLY lands it once her teammates run interference, getting the three (15:40).

Well, hell- Las Cachorras more or less come out fully-formed here, and it works REALLY well, especially with Mita amping up the volume, too. Both acting like giant, disrespectful, loud heels really made them “next level”. It’s so funny watching them ALMOST do trademark LCO spots- they both assault someone in the ropes without adding their “pose for the crowd” bit, and the Electric Chair/Splash combo doesn’t hit from two corners, nor is it preceded by their Assisted Dives. The match was VERY fast-paced, which is probably why Meltz loved it so much- they were almost constantly moving, often to the point of ignoring selling (Yoshida takes two flying splashes but is up doing top-rope stuff immediately). But yes, it was awesome and impressive considering only Kyoko was a ****+ worker at this point.

Rating: ***3/4 (a very good spotfest, working in a ton of crowd-pleasing stuff from start to finish, and getting a ton of time without overdoing it)

Image result for toshiyo yamada

Underrated star Toshiyo Yamada wrestles TWO ****+ matches, one after the other- something accomplished by very few.

* So that weird Fuji TV Tag Tournament that I can’t properly cover because the TV shows aren’t all on YouTube ends here, with the Wacky Random Tag Partners concept apparently having teamed up BULL NAKANO AND AJA KONG, in the midst of their blood war over the WWWA Title. Yet they’re distant, but not hateful, in their pre-match interview, and it’s the OTHER team who end up getting into it, brawling during the goddamn interview room! Hokuto is a sub-Main Eventer and Yamada’s damn close… and wrestling immediately after this match, too. Aja’s in the black & white gear, Bull’s in her usual Megadeth shirt, Yamada’s in blue, and Hokuto’s in black.

Aja & Bull maul their opponents like grizzly bears to start, and the crowd ROARS as they pinball Yamada like crazy, then add more death. Oh my god, Yamada is getting absolutely creamed out here and I love it. A couple minutes of restholds and Yamada finally escapes, and Hoktuo lands two spinkicks and a missile dropkick on Aja, but Bull throws her into stuff outside. Akira grabs her big stick, but Yamada is pissed at the notion of cheating and SCOLDS HER (arms on her hips and everything!), causing a huge argument, and Hokuto has to get into the ring empty-handed and settle for using some nice, clean leg biting to come back. Yamada PASTES Bull’s leg with stiff kicks and the Stretch Muffler, but Bull escapes and Aja kills Yamada again, avalanching her and working the leg. Yamada takes a backdrop & stuff piledriver, then Akira takes a body attack and Bull throws her up in a HUGE Gorilla Press Slam. Then the monsters double-team so Akira takes THREE huge lariats while tied in the ropes (Aja flipping her back up after each one). This is nuts.

Aja misses a splash and NOW Akira grabs her stick and blasts away with it, but Yamada tears it out of her hands! Bull throws Aja into the pair of them while they’re struggling over the stick, then Aja DIVES ONTO THEM, Bull adds a tope, and Aja piledrives Akira through a ringside table! Akira’s piledriven again while Bull uses her nunchucks on Yamada outside. Mountain Bomb & Flying Back Elbow get two as Yamada finally reverses on Bull and gets in there to help. Yamada now INTERCEPTS a thrown stick from Shimoda and her team gets wiped out by Aja’s metal can because of it. Akira manages a comeback, but now a pissed-off Yamada refuses the tag, so Akira has to hit a Northern Lights Bomb… and Aja cans her in the head on the pin! Yamada’s finally like “okay, fine” and comes in with Enzugiri Spam and a flying elbow shot, Akira adding a missile dropkick… but Yamada hits Akira when she goes for an assisted flying kick! Crowd EXPLODES for that one, but Yamada breaks up the pin on the Guillotine Legdrop! But that’s that- Bull runs interference and sets up AJA hitting her own Guillotine Legdrop, and that’s the ballgame at (19:23). The monsters FREAKING HUG while the fans go crazy, and go into a promo war where presumably they set the challenge at Dream Rush for their World Title bout. Meanwhile, Akira & Yamada brawl to the back.

This was AWESOME- almost a “fun exhibition bout” with a ton of hilarious, inventive spots (the team-up lariats while Akira was being held in the ropes, the fighting over the stick), but punctuated by all these brutal, stiff strikes and Yamada bumping for ten. The finish was a foregone conclusion- if Aja & Bull were willing to work together, nothing short of a tank legion would have let Hokuto’s team win, but with her and Yamada actually FIGHTING each other during the match? Forget about it. Yamada’s constant refusal to cheat was honestly adorable and totally made the match fun, despite her team never really having a chance. I loved all the little bits of interference from her, then the monsters actually teaming up during their own feud, and Aja using Bull’s finisher to win the match.

Rating: ****1/4 (I liked it more than both Meltzer & the Quebrada guy- this was crazy, awesome fun)

* I gave this one a solo review months ago (, so this will be a mere cribbed version. Having watched all of 1992 till this point, I have more of a rounded idea of what this is about: Toyota’s competitive streak. See, these two are rivals going all the way back to their 1987 debuts, set up as “The Pretty Girl vs. The Sporty Girl”. Match after match was fought over the years, each one hitting the time limit, because they were too evenly matched. This eventually led to mutual respect, and they formed a tag team that won the WWWA Tag Titles this very year. Yet at the same time, they wrestled a big-time match that hit the time limit… and Toyota attacked Yamada after the bell, demanding more time! STILL it was a draw- 40 minutes long. So a rematch was declared… and Yamada ended up the victor. Toyota, above all hating losing, immediately demanded a rematch, and kept adding stipulation after stipulation until Yamada accepted- offering up both her IWA Title and her FREAKING HAIR (and just look at all of it). So much the bad luck that Yamada literally JUST FINISHED A MATCH.

The match is a legend for a reason- they start off in a frenzy immediately, Manami trying for her finisher in the opening seconds, simultaneous kicks, and then tons of screaming while kicking. A story develops, though- Manami is SO desperate to win that she’s trying all sorts of stuff, but Yamada is more practical and keeps reversing things with simpler things like kicks or “just drop her”, slowly wearing down her partner’s body parts with stuff. Manami’s so worn down that after her Dropkick Beamspam, she hits very abrupt, crazy bridging suplexes. Yamada finally gets caught when she tries a second tilt-a-whirl, getting killed with a Tiger Suplex. Five reversals in the corner lead to a Super Asai Moonsault and even MORE suplexes, but Yamada hits a head kick and they do the “All Japan Sell” while the crowd goes nuts.

Yamada’s exhaustion sets in and she can’t hold Toyota down for pins, and starts getting caught with more things, but kills Toyota with a Flying Enzuigiri and milks the count to recover. Manami struggles up, so Yamada drags her to the top and hits a Belly-To-Belly Superplex for… a BRIDGING KICK-OUT! Yamada’s like “Are you SHITTING ME?” and slaps Manami’s belly in frustration- so great. Yamada signals the Reverse Gory Bomb that finished Toyota when she debuted it last time they fought! She hooks the arms, but Manami slides over her back… JAPANASE OCEAN CYCLONE SUPLE– no, Yamada goes back to the Reverse Gory– and then Toyota Victory Rolls her out of that! Jesus Christ. And that’s FINALLY enough, as it’s taken the last of the fight out of Yamada, and Toyota hits the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex for the three (19:47).

Holy SHIT- they wasted no time here. Desperate to win from the very beginning, they did only a bit of backwork, Manami actually sold the accumulated damage (okay, she hit 900 bridging moves because TOYOTA GETS HER SHIT IN NO MATTER WHAT, but you knew it cost her), and they wouldn’t stop trading big moves until one finally fell. You got the impression that Yamada was smarter and going for practical stuff, as Manami’s constant threats of death moves keeps all her opponents off-guard. And their knowledge of each other paid off in spades- three separate incidences of 4-5 step reversals of signature spots (I’m a HUGE sucker for “chain reversals”). Yamada was selling exhaustion perfectly, and getting desperate, as Toyota finally wore her down- I think it’s clear now that the prior match took too much out of her, so she couldn’t even capitalize on Toyota’s manic desperation costing her time.

Rating: ***** (didn’t overstay its welcome, and it was almost 100% action save some short submission stuff early on, which actually mattered to the match. Brilliant psychology, phenomenal selling, great reversals, and an ending that sprung from their knowledge of each other)

And then we get to the POST-MATCH stuff, which, even more than the match, is why this is famous. Manami almost immediately gets this look of “Oh my God, what have I done?”, and suddenly she finds herself unwilling to go through with the stipulation. It’s like she realizes that the cost of her over-competitiveness might be Yamada’s friendship, and it’s too much for her to bear to see her best friend humiliated and humbled like this. Toyota not only refuses to cut Yamada’s hair, she offers to call off the stipulation, and even CUTS HER OWN HAIR instead, and eventually physically assaults the goddamn barber and has to be held down, literally kicking and screaming, by other women as Yamada takes the stipulation like a BOSS. Perfect storytelling right there, as Manami learns an important lesson, both wrestlers make further names for themselves, and their team actually ends up STRONGER after this huge rivalry finally ends.

Match Ratings:
Tamada/Chikako vs. Torisu/Numata: 1/2*
Kamiya/Power vs. Tomoko/Maekawa: 1/2*
Kaoru Ito vs. Bat Yoshinaga: **
Kyoko/Mariko/Takako vs. Las Cachorras/Moreno: ***3/4
Bull/Aja vs. Akira/Yamada: ****1/4)
Manami Toyota vs. Toshiyo Yamada: *****
-So the event started out kinda shitty, but then BOOM- three great matches all in a row to end it, with a great, fun tag team match, and then one of wrestling’s finest matches and post-match angles (the only one to match Savage/Liz for me). This August show leads to Aja/Bull in the cap-off to their legendary feud a few months later, and ensures that the tag champs are even bigger stars by then, too- setting up the Interpromotional Era quite nicely with their “Toyota & Yamada can Main Event” nature.