Joshi Spotlight: The Interpromotional Era Begins!

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- AJW TV (Sept. 21, 1992)

-Hailing from the Morioka-shi Ice Arena, it’s another episode of the AJW TV show! And also, the first-ever Interpromotional Match, which exists online only in clipped form, I guess! So read on if you want to see how the most legendary era in Joshi began!

* This is an odd set-up, with the nascent “Double Inoue” teamed up with Yoshida again, this time against permanent-upper-midcarder Minami and a job squad of foreign girls. This looks very one-sided on paper. Suzuka’s in black, Debbie’s in pink Steiner gear, and Moreno’s in white. Yoshida’s in blue, Takako’s in white, and Kyoko’s in pink & yellow- and they come down to Van Halen’s “Panama”, which later got altered into a “Jimmy Hart Version” by AJW.

Fun, well-choreographed team reversal sequence starts us off, and Minami’s team works over Yoshida- Minami appears especially growl-y today as she practically executes the kid with her double-arm backbreaker. Then they do that “Flying Senton to opponent draped between two other wrestlers” move from that LCO match I marked out for! Yoshida can’t get over the ropes from clotheslines, so Minami just plops her on the top rope and dropkicks her over- way to thread a small botch into the offense, Minami! Then everyone starts diving around (Debbie overshoots and takes a MONSTER bump to the floor and practically ricochets off the ground- that looked like it hurt like hell), but Kyoko throws Moreno onto her partners and sends Takako & Yoshida out with dives! Then Kyoko hits her Slingshot Backsplash Suicida into the melee! This is crazy bumping for 1992. Yoshida is really slow to shake her move off- she hit the ropes BADLY and went straight down to the floor (the slick camera crew followed Takako’s dive and swerved away). Checking my calendar of AJW bouts, and this is one of her last matches before she’s on the shelf for a year- I wonder if this is what did it?

Yoshida takes a Minami piledriver & front suplex before everyone tags out and Takako starts taking a beating. Kyoko hits her Helicopter Slam on Debbie, however, but Yoshida herself gets caught with a BRUTAL Rock Bottom, being spiked right onto the back of her neck. Moreno misses a flying cross-body, but manages an Asai Moonsault Press for two. Yoshida botches a run-up reversal in the corner and takes a Rana for two, but Minami kicks Moreno in the face by accident- she hammers Takako with a backbreaker, though. Great Powerbomb, pin broken up by Kyoko. Interference breaks up the next Powerbomb, and Kyoko hits the Run-Up Flying Back Elbow for two. Niagara Driver is reversed to a pin attempt, and Debbie hits her Northern Lights Superplex for two. Slingshot Backsplash wipes out Debbie & Moreno, though, and the Niagara Driver finishes Debbie at (17:29, 10:12 aired).

This came off like a showcase for Yoshida, but she was just having NO luck here, doing nice stuff but prominently botching two high-risk moves. That’s fine in this context, however, as it’s kinda part of the story if your jump-y moves fail (that’s, well, why it’s called “high-risk offense”). Most stuff timed very well, and they escalated nicely, and all the dives at the beginning were really well-choreographed. Very solid multi-person match, though obviously pretty quick and cut out stuff.

Rating: *** (perfectly fine bout)

* Bull defends only her Mexican title here, once more (WWWA title shots were VERY rare), this time against Hotta, who still has some credibility, but hasn’t been seen in prominent spots on the card since failing to win the Tag Titles with Minami. Hotta’s in her “Owen Hart” yellow & black gear, while Bull’s in the usual Megadeth shirt.

Hotta pastes Bull with kicks left and right, then stretches her mostly to silence- I think the crowd isn’t buying her as a contender. Bull’s one lariat notably gets a MUCH bigger reaction. Hotta’s Rolling Kick in the corner makes a cool sound and looks great, though. Two more and now a flying one, and Bull is giving a LOT to Hotta. Hotta tries a Guillotine Legdrop of her own, which is just too cute for its own good, because Bull gets out of the way, backdrops her, and uses the nunchucks to set up the proper Guillotine… for two! Damn, that thing NEVER scores pins. Bull hits a Powerbomb and goes up again, but Hotta brings her down with a sloppy-ass Straightjacket Superplex (just kinda slapping the arms together and rolling backwards) for two. Then suddenly Hotta debuts the Pyramid Driver (Straightjacket Ligerbomb) for the very first time I’ve seen in 1992, and that gets two (though the ref does the annoying “loud fall so it sounds like he counts to three” thing). She tries to finish with another Rolling Kick, but misses and Bull locks on a horrifying submission (a half-crab but with Bull facing the other direction and yanking the leg over her damn shoulder), getting a VERY quick submission at (12:39, 5:55 aired).

Damn, they edited this a LOT, but still told the story- Hotta threw out a storm of attacks and hit Bull with everything she had, but the champ made a couple of comebacks and won. This felt very much like Bull was doing that “Randy Savage Match Template” by selling the whole time, and I think the crowd wasn’t into Hotta’s chances at all, as they sat on their hands.

Rating: **1/2 (good enough, but clearly verrrrrry abridged)

* Okay, now THIS is interesting- the first team are the reigning WWWA Tag Team Champions (not defending here) and have tons of credibility, but Aja just won the Grand Prix (defeating… Yamada, then Toyota). But here she’s teaming with up & coming rookie SAKIE of all people? Aja’s in the black & red camo gear, Sakie’s in white, Toyota’s in black, and Yamada’s got her purple shirt & pants look.

Aja starts throwing chairs on her way to the ring, setting off a mini-stampede as she gets into it with someone I can’t properly see. Yamada starts the match kicking Sakie a lil’ too close to Aja and gets machine-gun slapped and knocked around for it. Toyota does Dropkick Spam to Sakie, but Aja breaks up the pin with her metal can and destroys both opponents on the outside of the ring. Manami even gets hit by a table as the super-generous count his 17 (after like three minutes), but accidentally hits Sakie with the metal can once they’re all back in the ring. Manami tries another dropkick, but Sakie rolls through and gives her a receipt for all those kicks with her own- Savate Kick Spam! She even does the same number, followed by one off the 2nd rope, just to be smug about it. Aja in, but now SHE eats spam kicks, as Yamada fires off Enzuigiris and then a flying elbow smash. They all switch off a bunch, with Yamada doing well against both opponents, while Sakie seems to have Manami’s number with counters. A lot of her moves are more “effort” than “skill” at this point, though.

Aja misses the Flying Back Elbow on Yamada, but does the “hiptoss Manami out of her Rolling Cradle” spot, but a Manami Roll gets two. Bridging German from a double-clothesline attempt gets two for Manami. Sakie eats the Rolling Cradle and a flying attack from Yamada, but Manami misses a Moonsault, landing on her ass from a full revolution. Aja uses the can and a Mountain Bomb for two. Big reversal sequence sees Aja go up for her Back Elbow, Toyota/Yamada aiming for their Double Super Backdrop finisher, Sakie dragging them off, and Aja MISSING her Elbow on Manami. Sakie dumps them both over when Manami goes for a German, and then deals with Yamada while Aja hits that Chokeslam finisher again… for the three (21:11, 10:04 aired). Well goddamn- Aja and the rookie beat the champions!

Interesting match, and kind of a surprise, as the super-credible champs lose, and Aja uses that Chokeslam finisher (which, oddly, she’d stop using by 1993, I think) once more, proving she has Manami’s number, and is building her own run towards the WWWA Title. The bout was again a bit abridged, had a long outside-fight sequence (almost 1/4 of the bout), and some solid reversal psychology. Sakie felt somewhat sloppy and had poor technique a lot, and it overall had a “House Show Main Event” quality at times, as stuff was left in the tank (or just not shown- but would they really edit out big-time highlight moves?), but it was solid enough.

Rating: *** (perfectly acceptable TV show main event)

We get clips of the matches from tonight, including non-televised bouts. One rookie pins another at (6:36), probably with a body slam, Shimoda & Mita beat Kaoru Ito’s team with a Doomsday Device Cross-Body (hey, LCO is earning some wins over minor opponents!) at (14:50), and Akira Hokuto/Bat Yoshinaga ends with a ref stoppage when Bat hurts her leg at (10:04) after Akira’s Tope Con Hilo.

And now for something else I found… the real debut of the “Interpromotional Era”!

Alas, the only version of this match I can find is this one that’s clipped to less than half.

(FMW 3rd Anniversary Show, Yokohama Stadium, 19.09.1992)
* Yes, it all started here, with the backstory being that FMW’s top two women decided to issue a challenge to All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling for a big match at the 3rd Anniversary show for FMW (a blood & guts company that also had a tolerable women’s division). The backstory here is detailed on the show’s Wikipedia page- Combat & Kudo had been feuding for ages, as the Evil Heel versus the Idol Babyface, but after Kudo’s partners turned on her following a 6-Woman Tag, Combat got enraged and defended Kudo. The two would form a team, and here have decided to declare themselves the best team in the world- hoping to justify it with a win here. So yes, the legendary Dream Slams, the Dream Rush show, St. Battle Final and even the monstrous Big Egg Wrestling Universe show at the Tokyo Dome- it all stems from this one match. Turns out you can get four wrestling promotions to work together if you dangle enough money and exposure in front of them- the excitement for big “Dream Matches” fueled tremendous box office.

The AJW team shows up in their usual wrestling gear (Bull’s USA shirt & Hokuto’s Noh theatrical mask & sword), while the FMW team dresses up to the nines- Combat in a cartoon supervillain glitter-cape and Kudo like a princess, complete with tiara and little wand. The announcer is a ridiculously-animated dude who did the Dream Slam II announcing- ending everyone’s name with “AIIIIIIIII!” regardless of the vowel used.

FMW jumps AJW to start, so Akira sandblasts Kudo and Bull lariats the shit out of her and stares down Combat to a big reaction- yeah, they know the crowd’s with them already. The two kaiju enter the ring and smash into each other, then brawl to the outside, Kudo doing a dive into the melee. Double-Suplex, but Bull reverses and suplexes both women at once. AJW tests Kudo’s ragdoll physics engine for a while, but she comes back and Toyoda launches Hokuto a bit, and they do a freakin’ Doomsday Device Powerbomb, blowing minds. Clipped to Bull hitting a Northern Lights Suplex on Kudo, then a bunch of clips to big strikes, as Hokuto does her tope onto the FMW team, Germans Kudo in the ring, and Bull finishes her with the Guillotine Legdrop while Hokuto blasts Combat with the Northern Lights Bomb (5:41 aired of 13:54)

The match seemed fun, though again VERY abridged here, to the point where the final surge had no flow and it was just match highlights. They knew the crowd was way into the idea just for the novelty, so just ran with it and did a lot of crowd-pleasing stuff, like the two giants smashing into each other, flashy submissions, fast brawling and death moves. The match was short by AJW Main Event standards, but this was just a middle of the card bout on a bigger FMW show (the Main Event was Atsushi Onita vs. Tiger Jeet Singh in an Exploding Barbed-Wire Match, which I can only assume was a catch-as-catch-can classic).

Rating: N/A (I mean, probably **1/2 for the cool stuff we saw, and a final match looking ***1/2-3/4 or so)

Unfortunately, there’s a show that I can’t find anywhere, which is too bad- some of this looks pretty great:

AJW Junior TItle: Rie Tamada d. Kumiko Maekawa (6:27)
Midget Match: Tomezo Tsunokake vs. Little Frankie (3:47)
Las Cachorras Orientales (Etsuko Mita/Mima Shimoda) d. Miori Kamiya/Saemi Numata (9:00)
Takako Inoue/Debbie Malenko vs. Yumiko Hotta/Cynthia Moreno (10:05)
Tomoko Watanabe/Bat Yoshinaga vs. Sakie Hasegawa/Kaoru Ito (time over; 20:00 shown of 30:00)
Akira Hokuto d. Suzuka Minami (15:37)
Best 2/3 Falls: Bull Nakano/Aja Kong/Kyoko Inoue d. Yumiko Hotta/Toshiyo Yamada/Mariko Yoshida (12:03, 2:00, 10:10)

-The last two matches look like they’d be real bangers. Though the final one is the last taped match I can find of Mariko Yoshida’s until the middle of 1994- her final bout of the year is on Sept. 26th, teaming with Saemi Numata in a losing effort against Sakie Hasegawa & Debbie Malenko. Yoshida, who’d been getting a HUGE “Up & Comer” push all year long and scored a huge upset over Kyoko Inoue… unfortunately suffered a bad neck injury, and missed out on the entirety of 1993, thus missing most of the Interpromotional Era and tons of dream matches. Despite all the hot happenings in joshi, AJW would suffer a trifecta, as Bison Kimura, Mariko Yoshida & Debbie Malenko would all be out within six months or so.