Joshi Spotlight: AJW TV & AJW/JWP Rival Match

AJW TV (Jan. 26th, 1993):
(Taped 04.01.1992)
* Yay, I found another AJW TV show! This show features the up & coming junior team of Sakie Hasegawa & Debbie Malenko up against established veterans and title-holders in Manami Toyota & Akira Hokuto! We start off with some year-end awards show, with the injured Mariko Yoshida tearfully accepting some trophy, plus Yumiko Hotta, Akira Hokuto, and more. Bull Nakano’s gold & black sparkly tux and headband is the mega-showstealer, here. Though Aja Kong’s “Peter Griffin” shirt & tie look is a close one. Manami’s inability to go through any interview without corpsing continues to be hilarious.

“TL;DR- What’s Good Here?”: A very solid TV show with some rare matches! Also, I add a ridiculously-good tag match between JWP & AJW blood-rivals!

ALL PACIFIC TITLE:
AKIRA HOKUTO vs. DEBBIE MALENKO:
* Well here’s a weird “Dream Match” for me- mostly because these are two I don’t recall ever interacting before (and we’d, uh, run out of time for them to do so later). Interesting that Debbie earned a title shot, given their tiers are so different. Debbie’s in the usual blue & pink Steiner Brothers singlet, while Akira’s in a one-shouldered two-piece I’ve never seen before.

Debbie actually snags a crossface chickenwing before the bell when Akira’s back is turned, because she has a death wish I guess. Akira runs at her but takes a SWEET German Suplex Hold for two, but Akira reverses a dragon sleeper by walking up the ropes and backflipping into an inverted DDT (!!) before hitting her own sleeperr. Debbie knocks her to the floor and hits a dive and then her Northern Lights Superplex, as Akira is giving her a TON out here. Debbie tries a standard NL Suplex but gets DDTed. Akira misses a dropkick to a floored Debbie, but hits her roundhouse kick out there, then flies out onto her. Debbie reverses the Northern Lights Bomb to a DRAMATIC Fujiwara armbar that Akira fights for a while- she tries a lariat after that, but takes a vicious Dragon Suplex for two. Akira misses a missile kick and FLIES into the ropes when Debbie tries another arm thing, which is a great way to sell Debbie’s offense. Debbie hits her partner’s Uranage for two, but goes for Akira’s back and gets reversed to a weird Leg-Trap Backdrop Suplex, and is stunned for the three (5:58 of 13:38 shown). Hokuto actually gives Debbie props after the match, still selling that arm.

Well that was interesting- Akira gave up a TON to her junior, taking about 90% of the offense shown before hitting a one-move comeback for the win. It was almost like the “Randy Savage Template” but with her usual thrashing-about brand of selling. Debbie came off looking awesome in catching the veteran with all that stuff, but just didn’t have the durability to take Hokuto’s moves. Literally all action and a dramatic submission sell in what we got (less than half of the full match)

Rating: **3/4 (one of the better matches of that type I’ve seen)

IWA WORLD WOMEN’S TITLE:
MANAMI TOYOTA vs. SAKIE HASEGAWA:
* Manami’s trophy title is up for grabs, with Sakie seemingly being elevated up the card as well. Yoshida’s injury leaves her spot ripe for the picking, and the young, athletic Sakie is perfect for it. She’s in the blue & yellow Steiner gear, while Manami’s black leotard now has cut-outs on the back and her name written on her arms, which is weird.

Sakie goes for the Savate Kick during the pre-match handshake, then tags Manami with the Uranage after she ducks- great stuff. Both miss dropkicks and Manami gets knocked off the top, eating a dive from Sakie. Sakie beats on the elder and hits Rolling Butterfly Suplexes for the first time I can find, but stops at two and Manami tosses her with the springboard armdrag and two butterflies of her own. She misses a missile kick and ends up in a half-crab where her foot nearly touches her own head, then both fall into a tangle of limbs (both are just too lanky for that spot, weirdly). Sakie does methodical running side kicks, a Perfect Plex, and just starts walking around like a heel in charge, taking casual shots. Manami does a Misawa-style flip over the ropes to avoid more and hits a flying sunset flip for two, but gets slammed around and hit with three Rock Bottom-style Uranages for two.

Toyota hits the Rolling Cradle to come back, but misses a Moonsault (well that was just dumb- she’d done nothing to set that up!), so Sakie does flying splashes from each corner of the ring one after the other, missing the fourth. This is such a weird match. Manami dropkicks her out, dives, then does her insane quebrada off the top, but misses Sakie AND the ring girl (meant to “catch” diving wrestlers), but Sakie sells it like it hit, then Manami does some weird Lionsault-ish thing but fucks it up so it’s a backwards slingshot headbutt. The match length is probably getting to them. Sakie reverses a double-hammerlock suplex to a pin attempt, then climbs, but Manami just WHIPS her down with a friggin’ Razor’s Edge of all things out of the corner! Sakie can only slump over after a two-count, so Manami finishes her off with the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex (bridging cross-armed electric chair drop hold) at (10:55 of 23:54 shown).

Very odd match, with the two most frenetic workers around having this slow, methodical match with lots of careful aiming and bullying-style boots to the face from Sakie, who always looks weird in that kind of role. I mean, her “young sporty girl” thing just doesn’t fit that image, and she lacks the viciousness. And then they moved on to flying around, which just looks kind of ungainly from Sakie (she’s got the worst possible build for flying- tall and lanky), and Manami kind of not hitting her stuff well. That Lionsault in particular looked like she just casually stepped up to the ropes and didn’t get any momentum going, then leaped right backwards. By the end, it looked like Manami just wanted OUT of there, and she absolutely plastered Sakie with that Razor’s Edge, spiking her down neck first, then hit a fairly sloppy finisher. I was fairly confused at the botches until I looked at that match length- going for that length probably exhausted both of them, so I think I get it. It comes off as a case of “over-reach”- Sakie is too new to have a 23+ minute match at the “Toyota Pace”, and shouldn’t really be moving at that pace anyways.

Rating: **1/2 (one of Manami’s weakest solo matches ever from what was shown- her & Sakie just didn’t have any chemistry, oddly paced it out, and both looked very gangly and loose. The match length probably didn’t help)

AJA KONG & BULL NAKANO vs. KYOKO INOUE & TOSHIYO YAMADA:
* This is a weird “four Main Eventers with no issue” grab-bag, as the “God Team” of Aja & Bull go up against Bull’s former #2 Kyoko, and one half of the tag champs in Yamada. Aja & Bull are kinda matching, with Aja’s purple & white gear and Bull’s purple tie-dyed shirt over the black leotard. Yamada’s in the “Hart Foundation Pink” shirt & pants again, and Kyoko’s in the usual pink & yellow.

They all trade signature strikes to start, with Kyoko adding the Giant Swing to Bull, getting a few impressive revolutions, then Aja dumps Yamada for a beating outside the ring, and both skoosh Yamada in the corner. Aja actually hits the Super Mountain Bomb- one of her finishers- in the first five minutes, but Kyoko breaks up the pin! A punch-drunk Yamada hits a spin kick to reverse, then a backdrop, as Aja is selling way more than she did the last time they met. Kyoko’s Slingshot Backsplash is reversed, but she headscissors Bull for two. Yamada’s Bridging German gets two and wow, the Gods are showing a LOT of ass out here. Bull takes three Enzuigiris and a flying elbow smash for two, then a double suplex before getting her feet up on Kyoko’s Flying Back Elbow, hitting her right in the back of the head. Guillotine Legdrop gets two- Yamada breaks it up. Aja lands a backdrop driver and goes for the Super Mountain Bomb again, but Kyoko does the Toyota reversal, hitting a Sunset Flip Ligerbomb for two! Aja recovers to hit a regular Mountain Bomb, but Yamada interferes- Bull lariats her down, and then the monsters hit STEREO GUILLOTINE LEGDROPS to finish them (8:51 of 23:06 shown)!

This came off as very cool, but more “abridged” than the others, with obvious cuts and not as much damage seeming to be done before they started hitting finishers- taking 2/3 of a match out will do that. But that was one hell of a finishing stretch, though. Aja sold a lot more vulnerability here than she did against the match against Yamada/Toyota, usually taking Kyoko’s stuff, but this still came off like the monsters just had way too much durability and power to overcome. Kinda makes me wonder why they didn’t make more of a go of it as a team, but Bull was probably stepping back a tad, and Aja was busy as Champion.

Rating: ***1/4 (abridged, but very cool finishing stretch- I can see the full match hitting **** or so)

The summation at the end sees Kaoru Ito beat Saemi Numata at (11:12) with her Flying Foot Stomp, Terri Power & Suzuka Minami beat Los Cachorras Orientales at (11:24) with Minami’s Flying Senton on Shimoda, Takako Inoue & Yumiko Hotta beat Bat Yoshinaga & Tomoko Watanabe at (11:44) with Takako’s Superplex on Bat, and the real times of the other matches.

This ended up being another fun, breezy watch, with some interesting “Dream Matches” of a sort. Sakie wasn’t as good as she’d later get, so the Toyota match was one of Manami’s worst, but seeing Akira Hokuto sell her ass off for a lower-card person was great, and the Main Event had some good stuff and a great finish.

And now for another random match I found!

JWP vs. AJW COMMERCIAL TAPE:
(15.01.1993)

DYNAMITE KANSAI & MAYUMI OZAKI vs. YUMIKO HOTTA & TAKAKO INOUE:
* Yet another first-time-ever Dream Match! Hotta & Takako defeated Ozaki & junior Hikari Fukuoka late in ’92, so here’s Ozaki’s revenge, with JWP’s Ace backing her up this time! JWP’s lost two of these matches now, so there’s a lot of pride riding on this one. This also means that Kansai & Hotta actually met before their classic at Dream Slam 1. Hotta & Takako were being built up as a team around this time, while the JWP team were their top wrestlers. Hotta’s in purple & white, and Takako’s in her Kudo-ish white & pink again. Kansai’s yellow bodysuit has a blue bit on the front now, and Ozaki’s in red & gold. And I note that this is almost a Mirror Match, as it’s Pretty Sadist/Kick Demon on each side.

The heat for this is just TREMENDOUS, with the fans marking out hard when the two UWF-style wrestlers, Kansai & Hotta, start us off and trade simple things, then Takako & Ozaki each get worked over with kicks. There’s some great scrappy bits with teammates interfering and Hotta takes a big kick but starts beating on Kansai after dodging another. Takako cranks on Kansai’s leg, but Hotta eats a DDT and promptly makes her own comeback, gobbling up Ozaki, who makes those holds look absolutely TORTUROUS while Hotta talks shit to Kansai on the apron. Two Overthrow Powerbombs add to the punishment as Ozaki sells her ass off, but she finally escapes and Kansai brains Takako with a kick and works on her. The hometown heroes actually draw heat for overdoing the dirty tactics, and “Ta-Ka-Ko!” chants start up after a beating outside the ring. Takako takes what looks like a safer version of the Ganso Bomb of all things from Ozaki for two, and Team JWP continues working her over until she FINALLY makes the tag out (simply by bridging out of a pin and tagging Hotta- Joshi doesn’t really DO “fighting for the tag” at this point).

Hotta immediately devours Ozaki again, kicking her into paste while she flails around, then it’s another outside brawl and Team AJW cheats to become the heels once more. They blow Takako’s armdrag spot, but Ozaki takes Hotta’s corner rolling kick, dodges the second, then Hotta dodges Kansai’s lariat and does one to HER in a good bit. Hotta lariats Ozaki and Kansai runs in and lariats HOTTA, then Takako dropkicks Kansai in the ass to be a shit- this allows Ozaki’s backdrop hold to get two. Ozaki’s somersault senton attack hits Kansai by mistake, and now Takako’s backdrop hold gets two. Aurora Special is reversed to a pin, then Kansai does her “Catch them in mid-air and do a Northern Lights Suplex immediately” spot. Two backdrops get two, but Takako backslides out of Splash Mountain and hits her Super Armdrag when Kansai climbs. Hotta runs straight into a lariat for two, but hits the Tiger Driver for the same! She crosses the arms- PYRAMID DRIVER! Ozaki breaks up the pin, and AJW’s Backdrop/Flying Elbow combo gets a CLOSE two!

Kansai kicks her way out and Hotta gets garrotted across the top, then Ozaki’s Rocket Launched onto her on the floor! AJW gets the better of them outside, and Hotta hits the Tiger Driver and Caribbean Splash (Straightjacket Super German) on Ozaki for two counts! Takako’s German gets two and Ozaki’s just dying, but she slide-tags out and Kansai hits a Superplex for two! Powerbomb gets two and Hotta saves. A friggin’ Tombstone/Turning Splash only gets two. Takako goes for an Aurora Special on Ozaki, but both duck Kansai’s lariat of interference and she runs into Hotta, then Ozaki flips out of the Special and lands her finisher- the Tequila Sunrise (half-nelson/underhook suplex) for the win (29:12 of 29:44 shown)!! JWP finally wins one!! JWP celebrates in unison, then Kansai calls out Hotta after the match, and the two shake hands to the crowd’s applause. I think this whole “Interpromotional Matches” thing has a future, y’all.

Damn, this got REALLY good by the end. The match layout was interesting, as AJW dominated to start like last time, Ozaki doing a supreme job of selling even restholds like death, then JWP took over on Takako. And despite all the technical stuff, it still came off like a vicious rivalry, with everyone being ultra-nasty and just cranking stuff on. They go thirty minutes, which means two “outside brawls” and tons of restholds, but that meant the final ten were mostly all action, and the Finisher Escalation was on point, with everyone hitting great stuff. A few botches couldn’t hold it back (pretty sure Kansai was supposed to powerbomb Takako but couldn’t get her up, so Hotta “broke it up” as cover), as it was late enough in the game to justify fucking up your moves. Overall a very good match.

Rating: ****1/4 (another great showing by everyone- a ton of restholds, but they were at least given some emotional emphasis)