Joshi Spotlight: Debbie Malenko & Ozaki/Kansai

Warning: Actually features a gross leg injury.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- Kansai/Ozaki & Debbie Malenko’s Last AJW Match:
* Anyways, I had to get to this one at some point. But I didn’t see much other things surrounding it, so I grabbed assorted stuff from 1993 (and one thing I missed from ’92), thus getting a full Spotlight out of it.

“TL; DR- What’s The Deal?”: Welllllllll… ya know how I sing Debbie Malenko’s praises a bit on here? And then mention how you shouldn’t get used to her presence? Well this is why. Also there’s a good JWP match on here!

* This is a rematch from Tag League THE BEST from late 1992, which saw the rookie duo actually take the Tag Champions to a 30:00 draw in a very good match! The challengers are in their matching Steiner Brothers singlets, Debbie’s with pink and Sakie’s with yellow, while it’s Manami in the same black one she’s worn lately, and Yamada’s now in a purple shirt & shorts. Debbie has just looked more and more impressive all year, and Sakie has leveled up as well- great things are expected of this team, and the draw has earned them a shot at the Titles! Let’s hope nothing disastrous happens!

The challengers double-team Yamada, but she kicks Sakie around and Manami tosses her by the arm with her usual array of stuff. Debbie & Yamada do a cool stand-off and end up in a tangle over leg stuff, as everyone’s kinda scrambling tonight. Debbie avoids a dropkick, but gets knocked off the top to the floor, then Manami’s booted off there by Sakie. Sakie planchas Manami, then Debbie hits a dive of all things, but hits her partner! Manami climbs onto the center of the top rope and planchas out to Debbie… whose ankle turns sideways when she catches her. Yeeeeeeeeeeeeesh- that’s like 0.7 on the Sid scale of leg breaks. So just like that, Debbie’s AJW run is finished for good. You can see she had her foot behind her on the catch, which I guess put the wrong kinda weight on it.

Toyota, confused (Debbie’s ankle has moved back into position at this point), kinda throws some kicks while Debbie tries to tap out (the language barrier must be a real bitch, here) and Debbie probably signals to get Terri Power out there, and that clues in everyone to what’s going on- the doctor comes out and they carry her away. We return to the ring with Sakie now going it solo against the champions, which is only gonna go one way- she gets some fire with Savate Kick Spam, but Toyota reverses an Uranage but they mess up a Manami Roll and a corner dive. Yikes- I can’t imagine her style was “called in the ring”, but that’s pretty ugly. Sakie lands a pair of Uranages from that, but Yamada runs in and Enzuigiri Spams her. Double Backdrop Suplex, but Sakie dodges the Moonsault and hits two more Uranages, but the champs just overwhelm her again and hit the Stereo Flying Headbutts for two. The crowd boos the shit out of Manami tearing in with a dropkick when Sakie dodges something, and Yamada finishes with a Flying Enzuigiri (12:39 of 15:26 shown).

Well, you can’t judge them for having a weak match after that- they had to improvise an entire gameplan, and you saw multiple screw-ups as the young Sakie would dodge things improperly (she ducks on a Manami Roll, causing Manami to tumble into her, and also collapses on a Yamada move), Manami would slip, and everyone kinda went “off”. This was the end of Debbie Malenko’s career- she was gone for more than a decade, and only popped up for the occasional thing after that, looking unreasonably good as she did so: Such a disappointment, though- she looked really good during her run (one of the legit best American women wrestlers in the world for 1992-3), and her submission style could have brought a new element to a lot of matches.

Rating: **1/4 (I mean, what were they gonna do? Some good action before and after, but a big mess in the middle and the execution went off for the stunned athletes)

* So I found this while searching for 1993 stuff, despite scouring YouTube for ’92 JWP matches a month ago, lol. This one is said to be the bout meant to legitimize Ozaki as Kansai’s rival, since half the company had bailed for LLPW at this point.

Ozaki tries BRAWLING of all things with the much larger Kansai, and gets drilled with kicks for her trouble, but trips up the champ and punches her. Kansai gives a receipt for that and throws her around a while, but Ozaki actually uses her speed to come back, sticking & moving with a lot of strikes. See, she fights smart- she’s too small to realistically fight, but has to be a heel, so she acts sneaky about her offense. Kansai kicks and stomps the ever-loving shit out of her when she comes back- Ozaki hits falling clotheslines to take the lead again, then it’s Resthold-A-Mania for a while but she runs flush into a kick, bails, and eats a dive from Kansai! Ozaki takes a methodical ass-kicking, at points with Kansai just kicking Ozaki while she’s curled up on the mat. Ozaki reverses a suplex to a Fujiwara armbar and works the arm for FOUR GODDAMN MINUTES, using a variety of long submissions, then throws chairs outside the ring.

Kansai looks to be in trouble… but just walks back to the ring, takes a few kicks, and Powerbombs the ever-loving shit out of Ozaki. At least she still sells the arm, using the move to buy herself some time. She climbs, but Ozaki knocks her off and hits a couple of dives, but Kansai catches the second one and piledrives her on the floor! Ozaki armdrags out of a powerbomb, but a lariat gets two. Kansai elbows and kicks away, but gets planted with a DDT from her Northern Lights. Double KO- but Kansai’s up, misses a lariat, then bounces off the ropes backwards into a German for two. Huh- never seen that spot before. Ozaki hits a crap-ton of forearms and a missile kick for two, then does the DDT reversal again. Running knee & facecrusher get two, but she’s backdropped for the same. Kansai reverses a thing to a superkick and deflects off the ropes for a HUGE lariat, getting two. She signals Splash Mountain (Razor’s Edge, at this point), but Ozaki SLIDES OUT- flash pin!!! Ozaki wins (25:12)!!

Smart psychology from Ozaki here, and the selling was top-notch, but holy hell that was a lot of time-killing in 8-9 restholds, each of which lasted around a minute. JWP is REALLY BAD for match-padding (I forget who said it, but they were like “they have nine wrestlers and have to fill a whole show”), never mind Kansai’s arm injury not sticking around for long. But we get the usual good, solid match in the final ten minutes (sticking the landing is better than sticking the beginning), and “Ozaki is a sneaky asshole” is a great story to thread through the entire match, as she kept reversing stuff and using her speed to stick & move, then plant Kansai with things, and that damn rollup got the fall. Thus Ozaki is now set up as Kansai’s big rival, which is interesting because they of course represent JWP in the trio of ***** matches coming up later in this year and the next.

Rating: ***1/2 (a bit too slow and blah for most of the match, but strong tactics and focus on psychology by Ozaki)

(FMW Summer Spectacular, 22.08.1993)
* This is a rare ’93 video of an FMW Stadium Show, featuring the obligatory Kudo match! This one sets up the Aja/Kudo classic WWWA Title match at St. Battle Final later in the year, as the two grads from AJW’s Class of 1986 face each other alongside subordinates. Sato was actually FMW’s Women’s Champ BEFORE Kudo, but only held it once, in 1992. She was the secondary babyface to Kudo, turned heel and got a bigger push when Kudo quit, but retired in 1997 as FMW closed its women’s division for the most part- I’ve never heard of her before this. The FMW team are wearing matching pink & white, though Kudo’s gear is more pink, and Sato’s got ’80s Mom Hair and is even smaller. Aja’s in the “Dudley Boy” red camo, while Ito’s in her fabulously ugly ’93 “Peter Pan” gear.

Ito does the “Standard Joshi Running Moves” on Sato, but the crowd naturally wants Aja/Kudo, popping madly for them entering the match. Aja dominates with power, countering Megumi’s arm stuff, then Sato throws the most pathetic-looking offense in history at Aja, who gives a look of total disgust and doesn’t even bother to sell it- hee. Ito takes a couple ass-attacks from Kudo, which is funny because they both use those. In fact, Ito uses one on Sato, setting up a slingshot into Aja’s clothesline. Then it’s the ass attack and Aja’s avalanche into the corner (“SATO-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O!”)! They continue the assault with kicks, Ito using her corner senton, but Aja puts her head down and gets DDT’d, setting up Kudo! But Aja stuffs most of her offense, only going down to reversals of her own stuff. Aja misses an Uraken, but PLANTS Kudo with a chokeslam, getting an 8-count from the ref. Aja goes for another, but Kudo reverses to a sick head & arm submission- hey! She did that at St. Battle, too! That move had precedent!

Ito breaks up that hold, so Kudo just starts slapping Aja, then defiantly throws out machine-gun headbutts when Aja tries one! Aja no-sells and puts her down, but Ito’s running move is reversed to a Hurricanrana! Sato tries more weak bullshit, so Ito spams out these INSANELY brutal-looking kicks and stomps, really going “LOOK AT ME!” to this stadium crowd. Sato tries a Manami Roll reversal out of a powerbomb attempt from Aja, but just THUMPS to the mat in a sick botch. The crowd cheers for Aja’s surfboard and cross-bodying both FMW girls. Ito misses her Flying Double-Stomp and runs straight into a Kudo lariat, but gets a corner body attack and spams running stomps to her anyways. Flying Stomp misses again, but Aja clocks Kudo with her METAL CAN, and Ito gets it off the top rope- Kudo’s German gets two. She sets up a finisher (Straightjacket Powerbomb), but Ito slips out, they trade rollups, then Aja Urakens her partner by mistake, setting up Kudo hitting the Straightjacket Powerbomb for the finish (18:25). They botched it the first time, and had to re-do the spot, so Sato held onto Aja for an age.

The match itself was interesting “filler”, in that I got the impression they weren’t giving “Main Event Effort”, but it was still a fun novelty and kept up a pretty good pace. Sato’s offense was awful and she was so hesitant I’m amazed she had some years in the business at all, but Ito showed me some good fire, looking like she wanted people to notice her. She was a total shit-ass, helping Aja cheat and stiffing Sato like crazy. In the end, the match was kind of the “Randy Savage Template”, where the FMW team just takes a beating until pulling out an unearned win in the end, AND they did a bunch of sloppy stuff also, thus taking the bout from what looked like ***1/2 at first to much lower.

Rating: **3/4 (interesting and had some good stuff, but a botched finisher and a couple other moves, plus a one-sided fight ending in a reversal, held it down)

AJW GRAND PRIX 1993 (I think):

* Hey, look! It’s a (clipped to less than half) rematch from Dream Slam! JWP’s team won in the first of the two events, but at the second, Sakie pulled out a victory against Hikari by spamming her “JWP Equivalent” (both were seen as future mega-stars, being good-looking, super-athletic young women) with Savate Kicks & Uranages until she got a pin. A tearful Hikari begged the JWP President for forgiveness, taking the loss hard. This is on a JWP show about a month or so later, and they’re even decked out in the same gear- the Steiner Bros. outfit for Sakie and the black leotard for Hikari.

Immediately they fight over Sakie’s Butterfly Suplex in a cool spot, doing pinning stuff, a corner reversal and then ending up teasing Hikari’s Rolling Cradle only to end up in a submission. Hikari just SLAPS her from there, and Sakie pastes her with the hugest “this is fun” smile on her face in turn. We’re clipped to an honest-to-god SLUGFEST, which causes Hikari to wind up her hilarious Popeye Punch, but Sakie dodges, grazes her with a Rolling Savate Kick, then winds up her OWN punch and runs off the ropes to complete it, just to be an ass. Then Hikari lands a headscissors and completes her Punch! Missile Dropkick gets two, and they fight for assorted stuff, and a weak Rolling Cradle gets two. Sakie dodges a lariat, misses a Savate Kick, but catches a punch and CRANKS Hikari with an Uranage- slick stuff!

Savate Kick Spam gets two, and then Sakie spams Uranages, too! Hikari manages to land an All Japan-esque Release German in a sick bump from Sakie. Hikari misses a Moonsault but lands on her feet, hitting two DDTs for two. Dramatic Moonsault… hits knees! Sakie gets a weird flying facecrusher, and they awkwardly fumble for pins until Sakie hits an Uranage, then a Savate Kick, then finishes with an odd Overhook/Underhook Bridging Suplex for the struggling pin (7:39 of 17:57 shown).

This was a fun little match with some cute spots, skipping out god knows what as everything we saw was hotly-contested. A lot of “struggling rookies fighting for stuff”, but in the good way, though you saw a fair bit of “they stand around awkwardly waiting for the other person to run at them and hit a move” stuff. The Sakie/Hikari mini-feud would be paid off at Thunder Queen Battle in the summer, where Hikari would pin Sakie in their five-minute segment, giving JWP an early lead.

Rating: ***1/4 (actually cut down to a hotly-contested festival of finishers, though there’s a lot of Rookie Awkwardness to yet train out of them)

Well this was an interesting bit of one-offs for me- I don’t normally go for a “random grab-bag” but I could only find singular matches here and there.