Numacchi: The legend of AJW.
JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- NUMACCHI:
Real Name: Saemi Numata (aka “Numacchi”, or “Numatchi”)
Billed Height & Weight: 5’3″, 141 lbs.
Career Length: 1990-1994
-Well, who better to write a Spotlight on this April 1st than All Japan Women’s joke wrestler, Saemi “Numacchi” Numata? Where else are you gonna see a grown woman running around in pajama bottoms, a plastic helmet, and a shovel?
Numata is actually a sign of a big disappointment for AJW, in that after several all-star classes in the 1980s (Manami/Yamada/LCO in 1987, Kyoko/Takako/Yoshida in 1988, and Sakie/Ito/Tomoko in 1989), the worst of which by far was Tomoko Watanabe, who was at least “good” at her peak. But 1990? That class was a total washout, and they never really improved upon that. Ill tidings for the future.
Numata is best-known to most wrestling fans for the sudden turn into a comedy wrestler a couple years into her career- suddenly what was a Generic Singlet Jobber was now shaving patches of her head (leaving stringy bits behind), wearing baggy pajama bottoms over her singlet, and dressing up as a fake construction worker. Her in-ring persona was now “cackling crazy person”, doing that gravelly screech as she tore around the ring throwing kicks and doing the standard “AJW Rookie Offense”. I haven’t seen comedy wrestlers in AJW before that (unless you count that time GLOW wrestlers showed up), and she was the only one of the early ’90s, so she was a bit of a stand-out.
How was she in the ring? Well, uh… yeah- pretty shitty. Never even developing regular offense, she just did the standard jobber stuff, and never got any good. By comparison, by their fourth year, most other AJW women were already pretty good- Manami Toyota was a superstar in 1992, Mita & Shimoda were solid midcarders in ’92, Aja Kong was good in ’91, and Sakie Hasegawa was very good in 1993. So Numata being so bad was kind of poor, especially for the time. Mostly she just ran around, screamed, and hit people with the shovel, usually to laughs. In one of her more prominent appearances, she teams with four other AJW women against five women from rival promotion LLPW- she’s easily beaten up, her shovel strike hits her own partner Yumiko Hotta and gets her knocked out, and she’s demolished for the final fall. Not gonna lie- I do find some of her act hilarious, especially all that cackling stuff and the goofy weapons. But any match with more than five minutes of her wrestling is gonna be absolutely dreadful. It’s Luke & Butch, but in AJW, let’s say.
I’m not even sure if that’s her selling. Not a lot of Google pictures of Numata, lol.
-Saemi Numata debuted as part of the Class of 1990, the rest of whom washed out (Akemi Torisu showed up in some ’92 stuff, and had a legit martial arts background, but was done within a year or two)- I don’t see her in any matches until 1992 (which was kind of normal for the time). She did the typical Jobber Rookie stuff at first, doing multi-person opening bouts. She pops up in a few opening tags during the Grand Prix ’92 and a few larger shows, usually losing to the Joshi Rookie Bodyslam Of Death. In 1993, she appears in an honest to God JOBBER SQUASH during a Grand Prix ’93 show, losing to Kyoko Inoue after 6:23. I’d never seen a jobber match in joshi until that point, so it was an eye-opener.
Then suddenly, at some point in 1993, Numata becomes “Numacchi” (or “Numatchi”), a fake construction worker in a comedy gimmick. Why was this done? I don’t really have any factual reasoning, though I can make some guesses- the only other comedy gimmick in AJW I can think of was Tanny Mouse, who wore a mouse costume in the ring (complete with little tail), and also did comedy spots. And the only thing the two have in common is that both had a similar kind of “look” to them- both were a bit odd-looking, especially when making exaggerated faces. You could get away with looking extra-feminine, tomboyish, or like a Monster Heel, but SILLY? Probably not.
At Wrestlemarinepiad ’93, Numacchi teams up with Tomoko Watanabe & Etsuko Mita against an LLPW team in the opening match, and they come out victorious, primarily due to her partners, as she was getting her ass kicked for most of the match. She wins the AJW Junior Title (their bottom-tier belt, meant for rookies) from future Ace Kumiko Maekawa in mid-93, holding it for 110 days and beating wrestlers like Chaparita ASARI & Chikako Shiratori (often multiple times a month!) before being one of the victims of the Interpromotional Era- she loses a match to Mizuki Endo during an AJW/LLPW rivalry show, losing her title in the process! The match itself I found pretty weak- less than ** in 10 minutes, and I actually think Endo’s pretty good. This would be Numata’s only gold in wrestling. During that year, she was in more solo matches than almost anybody else, typically jobbing to the lower or mid-tier wrestlers like Kaoru Ito or Etsuko Mita in matches under ten minutes.
And then, after about a year in the gimmick, Numata suddenly retires Feb. 1994, after she & Bull Nakano win a match against Manami Toyota & Suzuka Minami. I can’t find any sources indicating why she quit, so anything could be the reason why- injury, getting “Future Endeavor’d”, or maybe she saw the writing on the wall and figured being a Comedy Wrestler while the rest of the promotion was locked in stasis during all the interpromotional “Dream Match” goings-on was not gonna lead to anything. And with that, the entire 1990 Rookie Class of AJW was gone, which would eventually come to bite them- the later generations of rookies debuted after this, and would themselves struggle to get out of the shadow of their elders, but going from the storm of fantastic wrestlers in 1987-89 to NOTHING… it hurts you in the future.
And that’s the story of Numacchi, aka “What happens when you debut among the best workers on Earth, but you never move past the level of Sucky Rookie.”
Look! Somebody put the work into making a “Numacchi” Fire Pro character! Please tell me they included the shovel.
Running & Screaming, Roll-Up, Hitting People With A Shovel, Rookie Bodyslam of Finishing (Grinding out a pin on a bodyslam- Finisher)
* One doesn’t search out Numacchi matches- one finds them by accident while looking for other stuff, or by being a weirdo completist who watches EVERY match on a card, no matter what. I mean, she only hits over ** if she’s in a multi-person tag, for god’s sake. So here’s a bunch of stuff I’ve reviewed in the past!
Somewhere in here!
KYOKO INOUE vs. SAEMI NUMATA:
(AJW Grand Prix Semi-Finals show, 1993):
* Numata’s a green rookie at this point, wearing a purple Jobber Singlet with yellow lines. Kyoko’s of course a big-time star, Tag Champion, and big name. She’s in her “Mega Maniacs” look here, with Warrior Facepaint and a red & yellow tassled outfit.
Kyoko’s near the Main Event tier and Numata’s a rookie, so this will probably be a blowout. Numata actually attacks before the bell, making a bit of drama, but Kyoko fights her off each time she gets anything going, often just quitting the whole “selling” thing. She works a half-crab for a good while (Numata even getting applause for finally reaching the ropes), somewhat avoiding coming off as a bully for killing the rookie. AGAIN with the crab hold. There’s a great bit as Numata reverses an Irish Whip (the source of all joshi transitions) into a snap Russian Legsweep, and you see her go to that well again (“hey, it worked the first time…”) and immediately getting slammed out of it, as Kyoko’s too smart for that shit to work TWICE. Then it’s the Springboard Backsplash and Pop-Up Flying Elbow, but Kyoko’s feeling annoyed still, so she sinks in a deep Boston Crab for the quick tap out (6:23), paying off that previous work.
Rating: *1/2 (an easy blowout win for Kyoko, but smartly-wrestled, if 70% crab holds)
Somewhere in this 6-hour show! But watch the other matches instead!
TOMOKO WATANABE, KAORU ITO & SAEMI NUMATA (AJW) vs. LEO KITAMURA, MIKIKO FUTAGAMI & UTAKO HOZUMI (LLPW):
(Dream Slam II, 1993)
* This is the “Jobber Match”, with the companies throwing out their lowest-tier wrestlers for a bout.. Ito, at this point doing a “Peter Pan” thing riffing on her boyish appearance, is wearing a blue variant. Her horrible gear will never not be funny. I can’t find ANYTHING on Kitamura, except that she seems to have stuff listed between 1993-95, ending there (retired due to injury)- she’s got the mandatory mushroom cut, but a really cool set of tights, with a red/pink main color, black trim, and white lines running through it. Not bad. Our only non-obscure one on this side, Futagami, also GAMI and Gami Metal, had a 23-year career, lasting until 2013! She was a tag specialist, winning belts only on that front, going to LLPW, ARSION, Jd’ and others- she seems to have peaked around 1999-2001. She’s plain-looking, has a mandatory mushroom-cut, and wears blue tights with black trim & white diamonds on them- pretty sharp, and the detailing makes her & Leo look like a tag team. Hozumi lasted only five years- she wears full makeup, and has long hair with a white & gold super-tassley outfit. So she’s LLPW’s “Cutie Suzuki”, but apparently wasn’t very good, and retired not too long after.
It’s VERY Generic Joshi to start, with lots of running & screaming attacks. Hozumi looks SUPER-nervous out there, like a total rookie, all wide-eyed and with her eyebrows up- Kaoru seems to be clearly leading her through some spots, like headscissors. Numata seems new, too, running in kind of a funny way and generally being the “lowest-tier” person. Both teams take turns torturing each other’s rookies (beatings on Hozumi look like child abuse- she’s itty-bitty); Hozumi even starts making in-universe mistakes and needing help to do moves (a partner physically comes in and helps her with a backdrop suplex)- quite weird. Then Tomoko starts botching literally everything she tries- slips on a Springboard thing (the commentators laugh), misses a leg with a Rana, and then falls WAY short on a Moonsault. Christ, she became a star later, but she looks TERRIBLE out here. She’s built like Kyoko Inoue, so she needs to stop trying to fly around the ring- all her regular stuff looks just fine.
Only Kaoru and the tag team looks like they know what they’re doing out there- they hit a Doomsday Bulldog, and generally come off like an American-style Tag Team. Kaoru spams out Stomps like they’re V-Triggers, landing a NASTY Flying Stomp on Futagami. Finally, after Tomoko’s done screwing things up (is “Watanabe” Japanese for “Jackie Gayda” or something?), Futagami (who’s barely done anything all match) hits an Assisted Pumphandle Slam on Numata the rookie, then hits a solitary Pumphandle Sit-Out Powerbomb on her while her team runs interference, and that gets the fall (15:53).
Wow, just… not great as a performance. Ito and the tag girls looked fine enough, but this was as much a “Give the rookies some time” match as anything, and Tomoko was looking terrible out there for a bit. They had enough time to string SOME good stuff together, but this would’ve had Jim Ross talking about bowling shoes for parts of it.
Rating: **1/4 (just for what we saw that looked good)
First match on this playlist.
ETSUKO MITA, TOMOKO WATANABE & NUMACCHI (AJW) vs. CAROL MIDORI, MIKIKO FUTAGAMI & MIZUKE ENDO (LLPW):
* Our opening match is a grab-bag six-woman tag of random people. Mita is of course hailing from Las Cachorras Orientales, and slowly moving up the company, having defeated Suzuka Minami this year. And YES! She’s wearing the awesome WHITE VARIANT of her ’93 gear! The two-piece with the badass Rising Sun on the side! Watanabe is on the way up, but slowly. She’s wearing a shiny green top and purple pants with orange tassles on them. Numacchi started the year as a rookie jobber Saemi Numata, but has now morphed into her Comedy Jobber character. Midori is wearing a simply hideous pink/purple tie-die singlet underneath her “ring gear”, which is… a 1950s housewife dress. So weird. Mizuki Endo actually still wrestles, going by “Aiger”, and has won largely tag gold over the years, and is wearing the jobberiest blue singlet ever. Futagami’s in her Dream Slam gear.
Some REALLY uncoordinated brawling opens things up, with people screwing around, “no-selling” because they don’t realize a kick went their way, etc. Then they start slowly working over each team’s jobber. Almost nothing of note happens until ten minutes in, when Futagami & Watanabe get into a slugfest with elbows, and Tomoko’s Lariat wipes out the LLPW girl! Then it’s more casual “trading the basics” against the jobbers until Mita accidentally does a Blazing Chop to Numacchi, and she’s nearly ended by a Vader Bomb from Futagami & a German Suplex from Midori. Tomoko runs in with a Perfect Plex & bridging vertical suplex, but gets a flying thing reversed by LLPW run-ins and is hit with an Enzo Samoan Drop into a Midori Spinning Splash. Mita gets her Electric Chair Drop reversed to a rollup (first thing she’s sold all match!) by Futagami, then kicks out of a Pumphandle Sit-Out Powerbomb. Top rope thing gets turned into a VICIOUS Superplex for two (she actually slipped trying to stand on the top rope and fucked it up, but had the experience to do a really fast spin so that it hit with a ton of force instead of looking stupid). Tomoko’s Kyoko Lite stuff does okay, but she eats a Powerbomb before hitting a Hurricanrana on Endo. Endo goes for another Vader Bomb, but that’s perfect timing for Mita to run in with the Electric Chair, which allows Tomoko to hit a weird Pumphandle Cross-Armed German Suplex Hold for the win (18:53).
This was… very much just “trying casual stuff” for a House Show Match and not very good. It was FINE, but there was little flow and concept beyond “let’s work over the rookies”, though I can’t imagine AJW saw much of a future in Numacchi by this point. SUPER long for what we got, too, even though Midori was in the ring maybe like 45 seconds. Decent enough for an opener, I guess.
Rating: **1/2 (just trading some average stuff for a while, but the final few minutes was pretty good)
Match #4 on this playlist!
AJW JUNIOR TITLE:
NUMACCHI (AJW) vs. MIZUKI ENDO:
(AJW/LLPW Nagoya SuperStorm, 29.09.1993)
* More Rookiemania! Numacchi’s apparently AJW Junior Champ at this point, still acting a comedy wrestler with her shovel. Endo is LLPW’s blue-singlet-wearing rookie I’ve seen on many other shows from this time period.
These two are such a weird contrast- Serious, Sporty Rookie versus Insane Comedy Rookie. They have a long, slow-paced match with a lot of stretching and the occasional outburst from Numacchi (who uses the shovel a bit), with the occasional awkward spot. Endo hits some nice stuff, like a Super Vader Bomb. Endo takes a running kick to the face, but reverses another one and rolls Numacchi up at (10:30), for the Junior Title! Endo would hold the title for only a couple months, dropping it to ASARI, who would herself drop it to Candy Okutsu eight days later.
Rating: *3/4 (completely forgettable, nothing match, but Endo did a couple of decent-looking moves)