Joshi Spotlight: AJW/LLPW Outbreak of the Storm

The main event- LCO vs. LLPW’s #2-4 stars!

AJW vs. LLPW- ARASHI NO KAISEN! (The Outbreak of the Storm):

(24.01.1993, Korakuen Hall)

* And we’re back with the first big Interpromotional show of 1993- another “Rivals” show with an AJW card but an LLPW/AJW match in the Main Event! In this, it reflects the AJW/JWP “I Know You” show from December 1992 in that it’s mostly AJW at work, but with a main that’s all-new and would thus have a lot of drama attached to it. During the announcements of the wrestlers (who enter the ring and take their bows), they announce parts of the Dream Slam card! Debbie & Sakie are set up to take on the JWP team of Plum Mariko & Hikari Fukuoka, as all are around the same level… but Debbie would be swapped out for Kaoru Ito, for reasons we’ll soon see. Double Inoue (vs) Ozaki/Cutie only draws the same applause as that bout does, but the crowd is REALLY impressed to hear Dynamite Kansai (vs) Yumiko Hotta getting announced!

“TL;DR: Why Should I Care?”: The final two matches are really incredible Dream Matches, featuring 4 of AJW’s 7 best in a classic tag war, and then a 6-Woman tag that gets ugly in the best possible way.

* Rookie mayhem! With the future Chikako Shiratori (weak “Idol” wrestler) and Chaparita ASARI vs. Rie Tamada (career journeywoman) and someone I don’t remember- Cagematch lists her as Kumiko Maekawa, and that might be it- the ears stand out… but it lists Masami as Tomoko Watanabe, so who knows? Everyone’s in Jobber Singlets, with Masami’s being black with a Canadian flag for some reasons, Chikako in green, Tamada in red, and Nakamura in black & green. Both teams look like Giant/Dwarf because Rie & ASARI are so itty-bitty.

Standard rookie “Run & Grab” match with lots of half-crabs, with Masami getting her butt kicked before doing a dropkick and her “Standing Backdrop” spot. Nine million dropkicks are thrown, and Chikako again comes off ungainly, but Rie & Masami are solid. It occurs to me that tall girls are usually terrible rookies, though- too gangly at first. Nakamura throws out some Erik Watts-level dropkicks to make my case. Oh god now they’re spamming running cross-bodies. Chikako lands two of them, and two headlock takeovers, before landing a standing backdrop and grinds it out for the pin (10:30).

Rating: 1/2* (I know, I know- they gotta train and long matches on big shows help them do that, but I don’t ever need to see a dropkick again)

* Oh goody, we’re into the era where these matches are on big shows again! Today… huh, they’re both in normal clothes. They look like those ’90s Indie guys who hid their guts in baggy shirts & sweat pants.

They play the match kinda straight to start, with Buddhaman doing a “Tiger Feint” after bodyslam trading, but Tomezo does five decent-looking running attacks (Vader Attack, Lariat, Kick, and two Avalanches) in a row and I’m actually impressed- I’m a sucker for a good “Big Fat Guy” worker (I remain a Mabel/Typhoon Apologist). Running Elbowdrop… gets three (3:00)! Dominating victory for Tomezo, who challenges the Midget Champion, Little Frankie, after the match.

Rating: * (too short to really be anything, but these bouts are usually straight comedy that never hit this level)

* Hey look, meaningless early card filler! Bat spent most of ’92 doing horrible undercard matches but with some good spinkicks, while Numata (the future Numacchi) was just a Class of 1990 rookie who never got good. She’s in a purple Jobber Singlet, but has a pretty snazzy early ’90s jacket on. Bat’s in a black shirt with yellow lines going down the front.

The crowd gets into this right away, likely for the hilariously vicious beatdown Bat puts on people- she gets up from some Rookie Offense and just KILLS Numata with kicks to the back that has the crowd “ooh”-ing and “ahh”-ing. Like, the crowd was murmuring with anticipation the second Bat dodged an elbow. Bat beats on Numata for a bit, but keeps missing moves and eating jobber comebacks, but eats a Rolling Kick RIGHT to the fuckin’ head, which can’t have been fun to take. Bat wisely just sits back for the easy pin at (4:10).

Rating: *1/2 (funny beatdown match and kept pretty short)

* Their team ends here, I think- Hotta switches to Takako Inoue as her partner after this. Hotta was higher on the card than Minami tended to be around this time (she’d be a JTTS challenger to top wrestlers, banking on her real-life credibility), but their team was in the second tier. Minami’s in a yellow & orange leotard, while Hotta’s in purple & white.

Hotta dominates to start, but Minami soon works the leg for about five solid minutes, Hotta doing a ton of selling… and then immediately ignores the damage after she takes a breather. Overthrow Powerbombs sends Minami scampering, and Hotta does restholds on the arm between stuff like chair-tossing & Rolling Kicks, making the result clear. Minami knocks her off the top and hits a dive & a Double-Arm Backbreaker, but eats a kick coming off the top. Tiger Driver gets two- Minami grabs the ropes, then reverses another one for a backslide for two. Minami lands on her feet from a backdrop, but eats a Superkick to the face. Superplex is countered to a front superplex, but she dodges a Flying Elbowdrop, then reverses a German to a rollup for a close one and hits a Falling Powerbomb for two. Okay NOW they’re putting effort into it! Minami works a backslide and a Piledriver for two-counts, but then time expires at (20:00).

Yeah, they really spent 25% of the match working a leg injury that was subsequently ignored- short of Aja or Hokuto matches, I don’t see a lot of consistent limb-selling in AJW. This match started kinda fun, but turned into the definition of “killing time”, working meaningless holds at a slow pace, and the crowd was reduced to “random hollering” as a result. The final stretch was really good “we reverse all the moves” stuff, though. The result is a bit odd since Hotta was getting a bigger push going in, but I guess they wanted both to be kept strong.

Rating: *** (too slack a pace for 75% of it, but got good in the end)

* It’s a battle between similar-ish tiers, with Sakie & Kaoru from the same rookie class, and Debbie/Terri both being gaijin getting mini-pushes. Oh god, Debbie has the Bo Derek/Davey-Boy Smith “white people dreads” in the pre-match, but her standard mullet in the ring. She & Sakie are matching more than usual, with light blue/purple Steiner-ish gear, with higher necklines matching the gear Sakie’d be wearing from then on. Terri’s in her all-black one-piece, while Kaoru wears a pretty ugly blue & yellow leotard- not quite in her “Worst Gear in Wrestling History” era yet, but we’re close. And to add to this, Kaoru recently beat Sakie for the AJW Junior Title!

Terri lariats the Steiner Sisters out right away, then launches Ito onto them. Then, having learned from the last time she tried this, she simply moves up to the ropes and does a pescado instead of trying to dive over them. Debbie/Sakie do simple stuff to Terri’s arm, while she does simple power stuff back, and Debbie does some good stuff against Ito, like her Northern Lights Suplex & STF. Sakie does her own, then they do a *DOUBLE* STF, which is crazy, but Terri ends that shit in a hurry. Sakie gets a bloody nose from that and Ito does her running stomps and rolling senton out of the corner- Terri adds a Vader Bomb at her prompting. Powerslam gets two. Sakie reverses an armbar and Debbie adds her own, but Terri hoists her up out of it in a terrific show of strength, dropping her for two. She misses an apron lariat but gets it on the second try.

Debbie hits an Ace Crusher on Ito and Sakie adds a Savate Kick. A few more and things kinda break down a bit with little flow, but Teri lands her FRANKENSTEINER for two, which always gets a great reaction. Ito’s Flying Double Stomp gets two- Sakie saves. Debbie dives onto her opponents, but Stereo Superplexes are reversed to a Doomsday Device on Debbie! And the “lifter” and “flier” were opposite of what you’d expect! Flying Stomp off Terri’s shoulders- Sakie saves again! Debbie lands on Terri from a Superplex attempt, then Chokeslams Ito. Sakie in, and it’s the Steiner DOOMSDAY BULLDOG… for two! Wow, expected a finish there. But Ito’s done- Sakie Uranages Terri and Debbie hits her Northern Lights Superplex on Ito to finish her off (16:08). See, I dig finishes like that- a killer move doesn’t get the pin, but they’re too beaten to last against the next thing (though that’s a regular Ito thing, I suspect). Great use of Terri, too- she’s hopeless at high speeds, but keep it simple and she’s fine.

Rating: ***1/4 (Okay, the flow wasn’t great, but a lot of hot moves at the beginning & end made it work)

* Inoue vs. Inoue! These two debuted at the same time, but are unrelated and have totally different styles. Kyoko is well above Takako on the pecking order, making this look like a filler JTTS bout. Kyoko’s in the usual red & yellow tassled gear, while Takako’s white & pink get-up makes her look more like Megumi Kudo.

Kyoko quickly gets the better of a standard Frenetic Joshi Opening, and fireman’s tosses Takako. She COMPLETELY dominates her for like ten minutes straight, eating about nine comebacks, but Takako trips her up and works the leg a while. Kyoko finally trucks her and reverses a whip with a slingshot dropkick that impresses the crowd, leading to Takako defiantly slapping her (THRICE!) and reversing the Slingshot Backsplash with a backdrop suplex. Kyoko reverses the Aurora Special (shoulder-seated backdrop) and fires off an impressive Run-Up Missile Dropkick for two. She tries the Run-Up Flying Back Elbow… but Takako grabs her foot while she’s running and slaps on a leglock! Hah- that was great. She hits a dive and kicks some ass on the outside with a butterfly suplex, which Kyoko sells like death before struggling to her feet… Aurora Special on the floor! Kyoko barrrrrrrrrrrrrely makes it in at “19”, and Takako tastes blood- Backdrop Hold gets two. The crowd totally buys an upset here, frantically chanting for Kyoko to get it together.

SUPER ARMDRAG! Another close one, and Takako’s getting desperate to end it- Superduperplex, with a great bump, also gets two! The ref’s “Hebner Count” was the only thing saving Kyoko, there. Takako taunts her into standing up for a running attack, but eats a Powerslam reversal for two. Two Niagara Driver (over-the-shoulder Ligerbomb) attempts are stuffed, but a backslide gets two. Takako gets cocky and tries a slap, but a lariat to the back of the head wipes her out, and Kyoko lands her Helicopter Slam and the Niagara Driver… but whips Takako over and waits for the 10-count! The ref admonishes Kyoko, but counts… the crowd chants for Takako as she finally struggles to her feet at “9”… and Kyoko just slugs her down and gets the pin (21:09).

This felt like equal parts “Okay, you need a new star? I’ll MAKE you your new star!” and Kyoko asserting her dominance over a lucky midcarder. Kyoko dominated the first half with okay-ish submissions (they were urgent and sold well, so not quite “filler”), but ended up being super-generous, selling the idol’s offense like nuts and making everything look like death, and like she just got a lucky reversal to take back control. Everything after the powerslam was treated like Takako had finally bitten off more than she could chew- once a Main Eventer like Kyoko starts up the “Finisher Surge”, anyone on a lower tier is donezo. Takako gained a ton of credibility here, though, and this is probably the thing that turned her career into “Upper-Midcarder”.

Rating: ***1/2 (the first half is nothing, but as soon as Takako takes offense, this gets awesome and doesn’t fall below it for the rest of the match- some great “count teases” throughout)

* 0_0!! The top team in AJW versus a God-Tier team of Aja & Bull?!? You can tell the interpromotional stuff is the big draw when 4 of the top 6 wrestlers in AJW don’t even earn a Main Event! Yamada’s in an amazing “Hart Foundation Pink” version of her shirt & pants, with Manami in black. Aja’s in the white & black shirt with red pants this time, and Bull’s in black, with her awesome “Soviet Union/U.S.A.” leather jacket and a different shirt than normal. This is a non-title match, which in the West would give it away, and only MAYBE gives it away in Japan, I think.

Because Joshi, ten seconds elapse before the champs fire off a missile dropkick into a backdrop suplex, but Aja cross-bodies both of them at once, then holds them for Bull to do the same. Aja kicks Yamada’s ass, then Toyota does 1.5 Jannetty off of Bull’s lariat, astounding the crowd. Kneeling Powerbomb, Inverted DDT & running legdrop continue the slaughter, and then they stretch her out- she gets a Manami Roll from Bull’s next powerbomb attempt, but Bull reverses the pin and Manami “Fuck YOU!” bridges out… but Bull catches her hands and sits on her! Manami won’t budge, so Bull STANDS ON HER HANDS, at which point Aja runs in and leaps onto her stomach to the horror of the crowd! Toyota finally hits her dropkick reversal to escape, then Yamada fires off her strike-storm and the snap suplex on Bull. They work the leg with some crazy stuff as the former Ace sells her ass off, before finally kicking her way free and Aja wastes Yamada, doing the corner avalanche & backdrop driver, working the back, then doing a slingshot/flying lariat right back into Aja’s waiting knees!

Bull dominates Yamada until she finally tags out, aaaaaaaaaaaand Bull grabs some nunchucks. Manami takes the worst of that, but manages her Rolling Cradle and her team uses their Double Backdrop to plant Bull square on the back of her neck in a monster bump. Aja breaks up the pin and Urakens Yamada to death for good measure, readies another, but BULL takes it! Then Manami fires off Dropkick Spam and Yamada does the same damn thing with ENZUIGIRIS and Bull is in serious trouble. Aja interferes and Manami ends up using her Top-Rope Quebrada on Yamada by mistake, and Aja comes off the top (!!) but hits BULL.

The champs smell blood and hit their finisher- the Flipover Backdrop Superplex! The pin’s broken up at the last possible second by Aja- only that ref’s slow “three” saved them. Japanese Ocean (double-hammerlock) Suplex- two! Manami keeps aiming for the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex, but Bull’s too heavy and “with it”- Aja tags in and absolutely killshots Manami with a Powerbomb from a Manami Roll. Flying Back Elbow gets two- Yamada saves. Bull lands the Guillotine Legdrop and AGAIN there’s Yamada- Aja finally deals with her while Bull finishes Manami with her maxed-out finisher- the MOONSAULT, at (21:28). Crowd goes nuts chanting “NA-KA-NO!”, congratulating the former Ace for her victory, like they just adore seeing the ex-champ get a big win again. Aja cuts a promo on Manami’s corpse.

That was SUCH a Toyota-style match- hot start, long stretch of murderous submissions (the champs taking the worst of it but hurting Bull’s leg), then they keep changing momentum until someone dies. Bull did a great job selling for her smaller foes, looking absolutely bedraggled and wiped-out as they flattened her with everything they could bring out. Aja, as Ace, was nearly invincible, selling almost nothing and most of the comebacks were because she accidentally hit Bull- but it kind of worked, as the champs worked over Bull instead while trying to deal with Aja. A couple big moves nearly took Bull out, but then Aja murdered Manami and it was only a matter of time- Yamada kept saving, so that “AJW Tag Psychology” came into play, as dealing with the partner became important- Aja finally had to do that as the “fresh” one while Bull executed Manami with her two big moves.

Rating: ****1/4 (and it STILL feels like it could have escalated further!)

* And another Interpromotional Main Event! These have proven to be the most heated bouts on every card so far… and that’s WITHOUT Hokuto, the biggest shit-talker in Joshi history. She leads her subordinates against a second-tier LLPW squad of Harley & Eagle, plus “card filler” Miki Handa (never a hindrance, but never quite feels like a help). Harley’s in medical scrubs decked out in eye-bleeding neon orange leopard print, Eagle’s in a black, silver & red one-legged leotard, and Handa’s in black & white. Since it’s been a while, here’s a reminder- Saito is like the 1-2-3 Kid but a bit earlier, and Sawai fights like a Monster Heel, but is a flashy-dressing babyface. Akira & Mita are in black, and Shimoda in red. The drama here is that Akira is by far the biggest star here, but Mita & Shimoda are both below Eagle & Harley, so the winner is in doubt. Crowd gives the LLPW team MONSTER heat here, so this is obviously AJW territory.

Handa slaps Shimoda before the bell, drawing a murderous stare for the duration of the announcements, but Hokuto silently pushes Mita towards Eagle to start as the crowd comes UNGLUED for this. They scrap to start, but then the subordinates lock up Eagle and bend her over so Hokuto can leap onto her back and flip off the LLPW corner! So THAT’s where that move started! Handa gets completely mauled in the LCO corner, then Harley demands Akira- they are milking the shit out of these first-time standoffs. Harley takes the jumping piledriver, but  boots Akira off the top and hits a pescado, then the two scrap & slap like crazy. Mita eats Harley’s spinning heel kick and Eagle’s body attack, but takes over on Handa. It’s so funny how weak piledrivers are in joshi- LCO hit a Spike variant on Handa and the fans treat it like some regular thing. Electric Chair/Flying Splash gets two, and Handa & Mita alternate beatings as the pace settles.

Akira in with her roundhouse kicks and missile kick on Eagle (who bumps all over the place), then drags her around by the hair for like 2 minutes and it’s a huge fight outside. Eagle lariats Mita around in the ring, and Handa adds suplexes and a flying elbow to Shimoda, but the falling clothesline takes her down. Harley lands backdrop spam on Shimoda, then a Bridging German gets two- Akira kicks out her leg. Eagle/Handa do a Spike TOMBSTONE, but they don’t even go for a pin- just leg stuff to Shimoda. But even THAT gets awesome, as not only does Akira run in every time for free hits, but the LLPW team keeps running in to add boots to Shimoda, Eagle even yanking Harley back to made a crab hurt more. Blazing Chops & Northern Lights Suplexes from Mita to Harley, but it’s a brawl outside AGAIN, with Shimoda piledriving Handa on a friggin’ table!

Akira tries the Northern Lights Bomb on Harley, but gets roundhoused, but Dragon Suplexes her for two! Another scrap of reversals leads to Eagle taking a Finlay Roll from Mita and a flying elbow from Shimoda for two, but Mita gets nailed by Shimoda, then an LLPW triple-team! Powerbomb/Flying Clothesline combo! LCO flies in to stop the pin, and a Handa German gets two. Mita’s saved by Akira, but Shimoda gets a cross-body reversed to a bridging pin for two! Akira has to save Shimoda from a double-team, wiping out Harley on the top and flying out with a Tope Con Hilo while a Shimoda German on Handa gets two! LCO double-lifts Handa into a Missile Dropkick for two! Akira finally just runs in, plants Handa with a Northern Lights Bomb, then runs interference so Shimoda can get the pin at (24:26).

Now this one was a pure, venomous FIGHT- everyone going at each other with sheer hatred and disgust. The JWP stuff in past shows was hateful, but this feels like another level, in part because Hokuto has contempt for her closest allies, much less enemies. So this was great fun- Harley and Akira had the best technique, but even the less-smooth stuff came off as scrappy and vicious, just the way you want a blood feud to look. Like, some of that could have been mistakes (like Harley going for a DDT and just flopping down while Mita tried to grapple her), but it looked more like everyone was just fighting for everything, so it didn’t look as botch-y. The psychology made sense, too- Akira was so strong she had to be a one-woman wrecking ball for her team, saving Mita & Shimoda repeatedly and taking out LLPW double-teams by herself. Finally she undoes one of their moves, hits a triple-team of her own, then has to use her own finisher so Shimoda can get a pin while Akira takes care of Harley trying to break it up.

Rating: ****1/4 (an all-out, scrappy, ugly war- in the best possible way)

The post-match frenzy becomes notable as well, as Akira talks shit to her Dream Slam opponent, Shinobu Kandori, causing ANOTHER fight, while Suzuka Minami gets so into the rivalry that she lays out a challenge of her own. Finally, a furious Akira slaps the shit out of Mita & Shimoda backstage for being so weak during the match, beating them while they just look down in shame.

Match Ratings:
Chikako/Watanabe vs. Rie/Nakamura: 1/2*
Tomezo Tsunokake vs. Mr. Buddhaman: *
Saemi Numata vs. Bat Yoshinaga: *1/2
Suzuka Minami vs. Yumiko Hotta: ***
Debbie/Sakie vs. Ito/Power: ***1/4
Kyoko Inoue vs. Takako Inoue: ***1/2
Toyota/Yamada vs. Aja/Bull: ****1/4
LCO vs. Saito/Sawai/Handa: ****1/4

Well that was another awesome night of wrestling- two matches over ****, and they’re “Dream Matches”, too! We also saw Takako kind of “level up” a bit, and three matches at *** or above.