Joshi Spotlight: AJW/JWP “I Know You”

01.12.1992, Tokyo Ota-ku Taiikukan
– This YouTube video is taken from a JWP video with mostly clipped matches, two huge bouts, and some surrounding nonsense afterwards. This actually matches Dream Rush from a week ago slightly, in that it’s got the triumphant coronation of an Ace champion… but is the sub-main event to an interpromotional tag match. These interpromotional matches are SO BIG that they completely subvert the notion that the World Title matches go on last, and that’s reflected in the heat these bouts get.

Dream Rush itself was a really great card, featuring the retirement of Bison Kimura, Aja Kong finally becoming Ace of AJW by defeating Bull Nakano to end their years-long rivalry, and Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada being triumphant over JWP’s Dynamite Kansai & Mayumi Ozaki in the first of their ***** trio of matches. My review here:

Since a lot of this is clipped, I threw on a couple of long JWP tag bouts I found as well.

“TL;DR: Why Should I Care?”: The two main matches are actually really fantastic bouts, with great heat. One of the tags at the end is really good, too! And anything where JWP & AJW wrestlers fight each other always draws a tremendous reaction.

* JWP rookie mayhem! Just the highlights of this one. Bolshoi is getting a push, while the future Candy Okutsu is “Rookie who will one day be good”. I’ve never heard of the other two- neither appear on Cagematch or Wrestlingdata, but Manji gave me the info on one. Sumio is sporty and in a singlet, while Yumi’s in more of a leotard that’s black with pink.

The elder team makes short work of the two jobbers, beating on Sumio, who mounts a brief comeback on Bolshoi by slamming her out of the corner. Then Yumi eats a double-suplex and takes Bolshoi’s Moonsault & Okutsu’s Splash for the pin (2:02 of… *20:34*!?!?! They went TWENTY MINUTES?).

Rating: DUD (just some clips. I can’t imagine how a full match going that long would rate, though)

* And I’ve no idea who these two are, either. Masked YAWARA (written just like that) has a ridiculously embarrassing look- a black t-shirt and white pants, with a mask. She’s like every Fat White Indie Wrestler between 1995 & 2005), hiding their physiques in baggy clothing. Hioki is in a black leotard with two red stripes, and looks to be a “Sporty Rookie” type.

Hioki lands a bunch of Rookie-Fu, YAWARA seeming really awkward and clumsy, though she hits a good judo flip at one point. Lotta no-selling from her, then she flips Hioki again and hits a Cross-Armbreaker… for the win (1:06)! Actual time, there!

Rating: DUD (a minute of basically nothing)

* Yay, it’s Saito again! She looked really good at the August JWP show I saw. Again wearing her blue & white singlet. Plum (sad face) is wearing dark purple, and definitely outranks Saito at this point.

Saito attacks early but gets caught in Plum’s back-arching Fallaway Slam reversal, then a Springboard Cross-Body in the opening seconds! Oh, Joshi. They settle into the basics for a while, doing a good job of the submissions. Saito gets a good missile dropkick, but a second is reversed to a crab and we’re clipped to her getting her knees up from a flying splash. Bridging German gets two, then Plum gets a hurricanrana for the same, and the pin is reversed for two. The Joshi Whip of Transitioning leads to Plum’s knee strike, then a Superduperplex (the “both on the top rope” version) and a Bridging Straightjacket German for the three (6:29 of 25:01 shown).

Rating: ** (what we saw was very good work, but an odd amount of early-match stretching and stuff for a 25-minute bout)

* The #1 and #2 wrestlers of JWP fight well before the other stuff I’ve reviewed of their series. This time it’s Joined in Progress.

They stretch each other out to start, Devil sporting some great facial reactions as she locks up Kansai. Kansai comes back, but misses a flying elbow and takes a Thesz Press from Devil on the top. “POWAHBOMBU!” gets two and we’re clipped to Kansai copying the move for the same, but eating a German. Devil gets another Powerbomb for two, but Kansai rolls her over and successfully holds her down for the three (5:49 of 17:04)- interesting ending, something more out of a Bret Hart match than joshi at this time.

Rating: ** (barely enough to really rate, as we just got some stretching and the finishing run)

* This is the finals of the “JWP Nintei Musabetsukyu Senshuken Tournament”, which…. “JWP Nine Indescriminate Studying”- oh, it’s the JWP Openweight Title Tournament, and immediately follows the prior match, putting Kansai in a tough spot. So yes, this is the match for the inaugural title of the newly rechristened promotion!

Amazingly, Cutie charges and attacks Kansai while she’s still recovering against the ropes, hitting a German and diving off the apron onto her- a pissed-off Kansai comes back and beats her around. Cutie keeps using speed and kicks to the head, but Kansai swipes her leg out and drills her with a backdrop and superplex, slapping her before hitting the move (and doing the same in a Sharpshooter). She slams Cutie on a table and snap suplexes her on the floor, but the kid manages some running moves for a comeback and lands the Octopus Stretch and assorted other wear-down holds, but she gets caught in mid-air coming off the top and Kansai turns it right into her Northern Lights Suplex- love that spot. Cutie actually lands on Kansai from a backdrop superplex and hits a Flying Double-Foot Stomp, but misses a dive off the top. Kansai aims for Splash Mountain, but Cutie rolls through for two.

Kansai’s like “fuck this” and hits a backdrop & lariat, but misses another and a backslide gets two. Kansai flat-out PASTES her with those kicks- God, they’re gonna have to call her Presentable Suzuki after this one. A nasty backdrop driver, then picking her up and hitting ANOTHER one, should be it, but Cutie defiantly kicks out- and one! Kansai goes for the Northern Lights, but a flash DDT knocks her down! She charges in with another lariat, but eats a Dragon Suplex! That only gets one, though, but Cutie snaps off another one for the same. Completely wiped, Cutie goes for a headlock, but gets caught in another backdrop… but Kansai flips her right into Razor’s Edge position- SPLASH MOUNTAIN!!! And THAT finally puts her down for good at (11:58).

This was a really good match, actually, with them really playing up the “desperate kid fighting against a tired Ace”, with Cutie repeatedly hitting every move in her arsenal and doing lucky reversals. Even the resthold segment “worked”, because you could buy Cutie wanting to wear down the champ. Cutie kept throwing stuff out there, and Kansai was dazed and tired, but never beaten, maintain credibility by kicking out at “1” repeatedly, but STILL Cutie would fight out. A whole match based off of miracle comebacks and desperate effort makes for a fun show, and that finish was great- Cutie’s too beaten, so Kansai turns a basic move into another more lethal one- Cutie’s wails of horror when she realized she was caught in the crucifix was awesome.

Rating: ***3/4 (One of Cutie’s better solo matches, honestly)

A better video of the match from the above event.

* So five days after the Dream Rush show, we get our third big Interpromotional Tag Team Match, this one featuring Ozaki (again, less than a week after she went ***** in a 40-minute tag match) teaming with up & comer Fukuoka, now defending JWP’s honor against the invading Hotta & Inoue, on JWP home turf! The drama here is that Hotta & Inoue are far more low-level than Toyota & Yamada were last week, and not a regular team, and so they’re a lot more vulnerable… but so’s Fukuoka, who’s still very green. Takako’s in all blue, and Hotta’s in her Killer Bees gear. Ozaki’s in red like always, and there’s Fukuoka in that hideous “Futurama Robot Floozy” pink gear.

Hikari walks right up to Takako and slaps her straight away. Oh, Hikari… don’t taunt the Queen Bee. There’ll be a receipt. And of course Takako does a UFC-style takedown and just pastes the shit out of her with slaps in return. Glee. Hotta levels her with kicks and a piledriver, then chokes her while talking shit to Ozaki on the apron. Takako floors her with an epic Tombstone and then does the choke/smacktalk thing, too, putting some STINK on that chinlock. After more bullying from Hotta, Hikari FINALLY escapes and Ozaki throws her entire body into a pair of falling clotheslines on Takako. Now THAT’s effort. Flying somersault senton (looks like a frickin’ ax kick to the head) gets two while sitting on Takako’s chest. Perfect Plex and dragon sleeper wear Takako down, and now Hikari’s flying all over the ring to buffet her with shots, but she gets caught with a Tombstone. Hotta destroys Hikari with two rolling kicks in the corner, then tosses her with an inverted F-U.

Hikari is just DYING out here, with Ozaki being the best “corner act” ever, repeatedly lashing out from the apron. Eventually she just goes “fuck it” and runs in, setting the crowd alight by slapping the bejeezus out of Takako and the ref just lets it count as a tag. Ozaki stretches Takako out, then Hikari hits the worst Powerbomb ever (just a deadlift & drop onto her side) before doing Toyota-Lite offense (dropkicks & underarm suplex) before getting drilled AGAIN. God, she is not doing well in this one. Hotta Overthrow Powerbombs her twice and hits a Superplex for two, then drills her with a chest kick out of Takako’s chinlock. Super Armdrag gets two and Hotta kicks what is essentially a corpse, but Ozaki interferes and tags herself in… but Takako beats on her and forces Hikari in, who misses a Moonsault but lands on her feet and hits the Rolling Cradle into the ropes, then hits it properly after Hotta accidentally lariats Takako.

Powerslam catches Takako off the ropes, then Ozaki lands a flying splash and pescados onto Hotta while Takako uses a double-leg pin. Takako lands the Aurora Special (shoulder-seated backdrop suplex), but Hikari gets a Super Powerslam after Ozaki stalls them up top. Ozaki lands a Kneeling Powerbomb for two, but takes a German & Hotta’s Tiger Driver for two each. Team AJW does dives and miss, so Ozaki milks the crowd and bashes Hotta’s head into a table. A squabble on the top rope leads to Ozaki taking a front suplex, Hotta missing a legdrop, and Ozaki nailing a Tiger Suplex for a CLOSE two-count, and Hikari lands a Moonsault for two as Takako saves. Straightjacket German gets two, but Hotta reverses a whip to the Pyramid Driver (Straightjacket Ligerbomb)- Ozaki barely saves! Hikari’s done, though, so Takako handles Ozaki and Hotta hits the brutal Caribbean Splash (Straightjacket German off the top) for the three count (22:05)- AJW wins on JWP’s own show!

This was straight-up annihilation of Hikari Fukuoka, who took a great ass-kicking and looked desperate, while Ozaki kept up a great corner act, constantly interfering or giving great looks from the apron. But then every time Ozaki’s get into the ring, Hikari would either tag right back in, or Ozaki would take a beating- the AJW girls took up almost all the offense. This meant the match was like 80% AJW, but as the smaller team sold like crazy, it was a really awesome ass-kicking, and Ozaki’s comebacks were awesome. The match was constantly moving, had IMMENSE heat, and even the restholds had a ton of character and motion in them- and the final Finishing Surge led to a whole ton of counters and see-sawing around- nobody maintain momentum for more than 20 seconds. I’m a little shocked AJW’s team won, though- you’d figure AJW would give their rivals a win back after Dream Rush’s AJW victory. Especially as Hotta & Takako are nowhere near the top of AJW.

Rating: ****1/2 (phenomenal, high-speed tag match with monster heat and good old fashioned rivalry and hate)

The tape ends with about a half-hour of stuff showcasing JWP’s girls travelling around, eating in restaurants (Bolshoi still wears the mask, as is tradition), putting the ring together (at one point, a board breaks underneath during training), setting up merchandise tables, training the rookies, etc. I just skipped ahead since I didn’t understand any of it, but these are kind of fun additions to tapes you wouldn’t see in Western stuff.

Match Ratings:
Okutsu/Bolshoi vs. Toyama/Nagano: DUD (clipped)
Masked YAWARA vs. Machiko Hioki: DUD (clipped)
Plum Mariko vs. Sumiko Saito: ** (clipped)
Dynamite Kansai vs. Devil Masami: ** (clipped)
Dynamite Kansai vs. Cutie Suzuki: ***3/4
Hotta/Takako vs. Ozaki/Fukuoka: ****1/2

-This feels like they had limited budget for tape space and so had to really reduce the match times, as the first four matches are clipped to almost nothing. The live show must have gone INSANELY long, with even rookies going 20+ minutes- something that I think costs matches some ratings, but maybe impresses the fans, who will admire the stamina of the wrestlers. I dunno quite why JWP seems to insist all matches go that long, but that’s my theory. The final two matches were tremendous, with some great venom in the Main Event- a great showcase to the fans that even the secondary wrestlers are going to have heated bouts with insanely hard work in them.

Since this runs a bit short, I took the only two JWP matches from 1992 I could find on video sites and added them to this:

* So it’s JWP’s Ace teaming up with an up & coming rookie against two of their secondary “Idol” wrestlers in Cutie & Hikari. Hikari’s in one of those eye-bleeding floral-print outfits, while Cutie’s in a different kind of white & black outfit with no skirt this time. Kansai’s in a strange orange & black bodysuit, while Saito’s in the usua blue & white thing.

Kansai’s team attacks early, but a Rocket Launcher Missile Dropkick misses Cutie and the idols kick Saito’s ass for a bit. But then Kansai’s in and she kicks Fukuoka’s head off her goddamn shoulders with a BRUTAL kick to the jaw, then everyone settles into light restholds for a while. The idols generally crush Saito in their bits (Cutie dominating with a Dragon Sleeper w/ Bodyscissors is weird to see), and Kansai turns it around every time she gets into the ring, tearing into the screaming idols. Hikari backflips out of the corner and hits the Rolling Cradle on Saito for two but she messes up something in the corner and they settle for some dramatic pin reversals. Saito gets a cool back-bending bodyslam bridge-pin for two, then tags in Kansai for more murder, then hits an STF on Cutie. And then Kansai just walks in and hits a Razor’s Edge to kill her, but Hikari breaks up the pin right away.

Saito’s Splash gets two, but Cutie Germans her out of a backdrop to escape. Saito sells that like a folded up corpse, then takes Hikari’s DDT for two. She herself escapes and Kansai… actually finally starts selling, being kept off-balance by Hikari’s quick moves. Cutie actually lands a Flying Double Foot-Stomp! Oooooohhh, but then some Kansai Lariats happen and that’s that. Northern Lights Suplex gets two (Cutie gets her foot in the ropes) and she tags in Saito to finish, but Cutie falls on her from a Backdrop Superplex- Hikari lands a flying cross-body & bridging suplex for two each, but Kansai’s back in, kills her with a backdrop, and then catches her on the top rope and carries her to the corner, where Saito lands a Doomsday Device Missile Dropkick for the three while Kansai holds off Cutie (24:37 of 25:53 shown).

This was almost more of a “story” than a big match, with the story being that Kansai easily beat both of her opponents, but Saito was too new and would get swiftly in over her head. Repeatedly she’d have to make the tag to let her elder take back control, at which point she’d get tagged back in but still couldn’t get it done. Ultimately, Kansai had to do most of the work and even set up the finish for her junior, but Saito looked resilient and like she was trying hard. A solid TV main event, really.

Rating: *** (This took FOREVER and was 90% sitting around on the mat, but rarely looked bad- just a trifle dull. But again, the psychology was sharp)

* Another look at 1992 JWP shaking up six of its nine stars into another configuration! Now it’s the Ace with their up & comer against the perennial Ozaki/Suzuki team. The outfits here are completely off-kilter from the norm, though- Kansai’s in a pink, silver & black bodysuit, while Hikari’s in a floral-print Jobber Swimsuit like it’s 1985 all over again. And then Cutie’s in a studded black leather thing that looks more like Manami Toyota’s gear, while Ozaki has simply chosen to wear All The Colors, with some hideous olive green leopard-print thing over top of a neon pink shirt and some black.

The smaller team attacks to start with Stereo Germans, but Hikari leapfrogs over Kansai with a dropkick to come back, and then Ozaki dropkicks her off the top and follows her out with a slingshot dive. Nice touch as she nastily kicks Hikari into place for the jump, too. The outside brawl manages to knock all the barricades apart and Kansai MURDERS Ozaki with lethal kicks to the face and they work her over for a while, but she brawls her way into a comeback. Funny spot as Ozaki takes out Kansai’s leg and both partners hold leglocks, while Kansai & Cutie start slapping away at each other. Hikari springboard armdrags Ozaki, then Hikari & Cutie throw hands, at which point Hikari does her hilarious wind-up Popeye Punch, then Kansai yanks Ozaki OVER the ropes and hauls her into tombstone position. Flying Headbutt misses and Cutie comes off the top with a Double-Foot Stomp to Kansai! Hikari dropkicks Ozaki off the top for the follow-up and Kansai Rocket Launches Hikari onto both opponents outside the ring!

Flying Cross-Body from Hikari gets two, but Cutie comes back and Ozaki’s cannonball and Tiger Suplex get two- Kansai saves. Cutie & Ozaki hit Flying Clotheslines, and in a hilarious spot, Cutie tags out and lies down for a rest and Ozaki IMMEDIATELY tags her back in- the entire audience cracks up. Powerbomb/Flying Splash combo gets two to big applause. Cutie’s BAGGED, and Kansai lariats her so Hikari can get two. Slowest Rolling Cradle ever gets two, and the crowd is chuckling over how obviously dead they are.

Ozaki helps Cutie get a two-count on Kansai, then tags herself in like a little twerp and Kansai DECAPITATES her with a lariat to the back of the head- Jesus Christ, Kansai just PLOWED her down, right there. Hikari nearly ends her career on the spot with a terrifying botch that sees her go vertically to the floor despite Kansai holding the ropes. She takes a kick from Kansai by accident, and the Ace gets double-backdropped and hit by Stereo Flying Headbutts for two. Cutie backdrops Ozaki onto Kansai for two, but she makes her own comeback and Hikari Missile Dropkicks Cutie out of a Kansai suplex for two- cool spot, there! A pair of ugly flash pins nearly get Ozaki, but she reverses to a Straightjacket Suplex for two in a GREAT near-fall! Kansai & Hikari fight outside, so Ozaki takes one last shot- Turning Splash gets the three count (23:09).

Absolutely awesome match, with a minimum of early restholds and a ton of really inventive spots and cool moments- Kansai bludgeoning both opponents (and her partner), repeatedly saving Hikari, who kept pulling out reversals, etc. Hikari came off as a spunky underdog yet again, never able to get it done and quite vulnerable. Even the girls blowing up ended up being a funny spot that made people laugh.

Rating: ****1/4 (it still felt like there was an extra gear in there, but it was a lot of fun and never felt too long, which is impressive for a 23-minute match)