This guy here has a BEAUTIFUL series of DVD rips going up on his channel. I’m so used to Joshi vids flaring up the screen when the bright-ass costumes show up that stuff like this is is astonishing to see.
AJW/JWP- FIERCE FIGHTING IN THE NORTH!:
* Time for another Joshi Spotlight, this one set between AJW Grand Prix episodes- we’ve reached the first two, and this show features a pair of Grand Prix matches, a Dream Tag Match, plus a mega Main Event featuring JWP defending AJW’s own WWWA Tag Titles against an AJW team!
“TL;DR- What’s the Big Deal?”: Only four matches, one of which is a true rarity in terms of match length for Joshi. Interesting interpromotional stuff and a good look at what people do when they’re not necessarily out to blow minds, but just put on a fun, solid show.
JAPAN GRAND PRIX 1993:
TOSHIYO YAMADA vs. SUZUKA MINAMI:
* Oddly, the “Fierce Fighting” DVD version cuts out this bout. Thankfully, I found it here. Both wrestlers were in uncertain territory at this point, with Yamada not really being pushed to the top, but being a relevant star against all competitors, while Minami is “always competitive but never beats big names”. Minami’s still in that horrible “green with floral print” leotard, while Yamada’s in the orange shirt & pants combo.
Yamada tries some kicks, but Minami catches her in a backdrop right away and works the leg, Yamada coming back with a dropkick and her snap suplex, then working the leg herself. Simple stuff, but they’re over so the crowd is INTO it, especialy when Yamada uses her Swinging Stump Puller. Minami finally pulls off a Tilt-A-Whirl Backbreaker to come back, then works REALLY light tossing Yamada around on the outside. Another backbreaker and some Toyota-style dropkicks keep up the work inside, but now it’s restholds. Minami tries a superplex and eats a flying elbow smash, but manages to hit the move afterwards for two.
Yamada gets her leg caught on the ropes trying a kick and gets dumped and tope’d. Manami Kneeling Powerbomb gets two and she takes a HUGE bump missing her Flying Senton, setting up a series of fun reversals as neither can hold the other down. Spin-kick blasts Minami and she takes Enzuigiri Spam for two (almost selling too well for the cadence of the move- she’s still flailing while Yamada’s running in for another shot)- Minami gets a bloody lip off an exchange and gets sat on from a powerbomb attempt for two, then Yamada wipes her out with a kick and a bridging German for two. Enzuigiri & German get two, and Yamada finishes with the Gory Special Bomb at (17:58). HER FINISHER HIT!! A true rarity!
This was “House Show Mode” for 90% of it, which is understandable in an opener, but kind of a shame- I always feel like these two could hit **** any old time they wanted. But they geared up a bunch by the end, and had a fun set of near-falls and reversals, as both have arguably the best precision in AJW at the time, and you bought that Minami was just getting worn down and splattered by all those kicks until Yamada finally locked on a few things she couldn’t reverse.
Rating: ***1/4 (actually got very good by the end; Minami is a top-tier seller and both have the best-looking offense at times)
AJA KONG & BULL NAKANO vs. AKIRA HOKUTO & KYOKO INOUE:
* Okay, now they’re just spoiling us with all the “God Team” stuff, as Aja & Bull go through all the top acts in AJW- this is 4/5 of the top stars in the company. Aja’s in “Dudley Boy Red Camo”, Bull’s in a Grateful Dead t-shirt, Kyoko’s in red & yellow, and Akira’s in black.
Joshi Pace Alert: Akira gets clubbererd, Bull takes Aja’s metal can, and Aja cross-bodies both opponents in the first 30 seconds. Kyoko gets hit by a fan’s umbrella of all things and Akira takes headbutts, then Bull lariats Kyoko around and hits an inverted DDT. The Gods methodically work over Kyoko with stuff. Aja misses a butt drop and the Dangerous Queen hits her roundhouse kick, but takes a Vader Attack- Bull’s in, but is immediately caught in a Fujiwara armbar and hit with a bridging German for two. Kyoko adds an impressive helicopter slam and an even more impressive SURFBOARD (those usually don’t last long in joshi), but Bull lariats both rivals down and wipes out Akira with nunchucks. Aja adds a lariat and avalanches in the corner, a backdrop and two piledrivers, then dumps her for a rest.
Akira threatens to use her wooden sword, but Kyoko’s in, drapes Bull over the ropes… and Boom! SWORD SHOT OFF THE TOP! Haha, yes! Kyoko tries her Slingshot Backsplash, but is dumped over the ropes, then Bull dives! Kneeling Powerbomb gets two, but the Guillotine Legdrop misses- Aja stops the Run-Up Flying Back Elbow, but takes it herself moments later. Akira gets caught coming off the top, and a BIG ovation for kicking out after a 2nd-rope splash from Aja. Aja aims for the Super Mountain Bomb, but Akira does the Toyota reversal- Sunset Flip Powerbomb gets two! Kyoko adds the Slingshot Backsplash, ducks an Uranage, but takes a chokeslam- Bull prevents a double-lariat comeback and Aja hits the Uraken- Akira BARELY saves. She rolls out of the way as Bull hits the Guillotine Legdrop & Aja’s Flying Back Elbow finishes at (16:20).
Fun, crowd-pleasing tag match- nobody went into “Main Event Gear” or anything, but they provided the fun spots, did some good reversals, and hit some big moves. No real “Escalating Finishers” portion and if anything, the losers went down MUCH too easily without being given a shot (what- one hope spot all match?), but this was fun.
Rating: ***1/2 (scarily good considering they were at half-speed/effort and even did a one-minute “hang around outside” spot in the middle)
JAPAN GRAND PRIX 1993:
MANAMI TOYOTA (AJW) vs. HIKARI FUKUOKA (JWP):
* Hell yes! Manami versus her non-union JWP equivalent, Hikari Fukuoka! Hikari shows up frequently in these reviews, and is notable for utterly swiping most of Manami’s moveset and attributes, right down to the long black hair and similar gear. She very much comes off like JWP attempting to create their own Toyota- they seem like such natural rivals it’s inevitable they’d fight. Their tiers are vastly different at this point- Hikari is still in that “try-hard rookie” phase, while Manami is an elite upper-midcarder who main events in tags. Both are wearing extremely similar black leotards, to make the Mirror Match even more clear.
Hikari gets cute with her Wind-Up Popeye Punch immediately, but Manami dropkicks her down and wallops her with the same move- ALPHA MANAMI! She controls on the mat, but Hikari takes over with leg stuff and bends Manami in half for a while until she finally fights out and hits Dropkick Spam. Hikari dodges a dropkick, gets Flair Tossed off the top, but manages a Super Powerslam off the 2nd-rope in a good little bit. They both scrap over single-legs while kicking each other, so Hikari BITES THE KNEE, and Manami does the same. Manami hits her Leg-Trap Butterflylock thing, but loses a kickfight and Hikari starts using “Manami spots” to control- butterfly suplex & dropkicks away! Manami fires back with her dropkick reversal and the Running No-Hands Springboard Cross-Body, then hits a bridging butterfly suplex and takes a sunset flip out of the corner for two. Hikari climbs, but gets dropkicked in the ass and to the floor, but flees before Manami can do anything. Manami’s annoyance at that is great, so she goes for dropkick while Hikari’s on the apron, but takes the “Mulkey Bump” to the floor!
Now HIKARI hits a plancha, nearly killing herself by rolling forward head-first! It’s such a nasty bump that everyone has an obvious chat while selling, but it appears Hikari’s okay- she goes for the Rolling Cradle, Toyota startles out and reverses to her own, then Hikari, then Manami until Hikari finally hits it for two! Hikari goes for another sunset flip, but is caught and Rolling Cradled herself- Manami making sure that it’s an EXTRA-long one, too. Manami goes up, but a Moonsault misses- Hikari Germans her and gets her OWN Moonsault for two. Manami “Fuck YOU!” bridges out of that, and we’re done with Hikari leading- Manami dodges a cross-body and hits the plancha finally, then adds the crazy top-rope Quebrada to add to it! Bridging German gets two, and Hikari is FUCKED- she catches Manami with her own German for two, but climbs super-slowly, misses a splash, and Manami hits a Moonsault Press, three bridging suplexes in a row, and a Moonsault all for two-counts, and the Japanese Ocean (double-hammerlock) Suplex gets the three at (18:17). Great resilience by Hikari, but NOPE- just nowhere near enough XP to win- she’d do better a year or so later.
This is an interesting look at Manami having a long singles match against someone who doesn’t really have a chance- they built most of it off of one getting an advantage, but momentum shifting to the other after a couple of moves. There was a lot of hesitation and “wait…” moments, possibly due to lack of familiarity, but Manami still gave a ton to the junior and sold her ass off (until it was time for her own offense, at which point she magically healed). There were a lot of great “attitude” spots, like biting, move-copying and “take THAT!” receipts, too. But that ending… THAT is how one establishes dominance. Hikari looked tough as hell for kicking out repeatedly, but you very rarely see someone hit six big moves in a row to end a match- two Moonsaults, a Northern Lights, a Bridging-Double-Overhook and a Straightjacket Suplex, then her second-tier finisher? That’s saying “I’m stronger than you”, right there.
Rating: ***1/2 (not nearly as good as the match they’d have later- a bit hesitant and one-sided in the end)
Yumiko Hotta & Takako Inoue- couldn’t possibly be more different as wrestlers, but made a pretty good team because of it. Generally it’s “Takako is a little shit, but Hotta saves her with toughness.”
WWWA WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES:
TWO OF THREE FALLS MATCH:
DYNAMITE KANSAI & MAYUMI OZAKI (JWP) vs. YUMIKO HOTTA & TAKAKO INOUE (AJW):
* Another step in the Interpromotional Wars sees a rematch from earlier in the year- Hotta & Takako lost in their match against JWP’s top stars, and also lost to the WWWA Tag Champs, but in this match, JWP’s team ARE the champions! Kind of odd that they’d challenge again after those losses, but I think the uniqueness of these bouts was still driving a lot of fan interest. Kansai’s in the usual yellow & green gear, while Ozaki’s in the all-red with cut-outs. Hotta’s in white & purple (one of her best looks), while Takako’s in white & blue.
Fall One: Takako unwisely slaps Kansai right away, so is promptly murdered with lariats, kicks and an X-Factor, but she armdrags Ozaki to escape. Ozaki gets kicked around and Takako flips off Kansai, which is un-good strategy. She slaps Ozaki to be a shit, but of course you don’t have to ask HER to retaliate, and now Kansai’s in, flattening Takako with a backdrop and kicking her knee in the tree of woe to pay back Team AJW doing that to Ozaki. Takako keeps throwing boots while in a leghold, so Kansai gets PO’d and just kicks her head off and Ozaki hits a cannonball attack and dragon sleepers her. Takako hairpulls out of it and AJW tortures Ozaki for five minutes of stretching until Kansai just gets sick of their taunts, runs in and lays waste- Double Flying Headbutts from Team JWP! Kansai backdrops Ozaki onto Hotta, then Oz hits a Tiger Suplex for two. Hotta tags out but nails a release Pyramid Driver (cross-armed powerbomb) and Takako’s German gets two on Kansai. Kansai kicks her and puts her up top, but YOU CAN’T SUPERPLEX TAKAKO- Super Chokeslam gets two! But Kansai makes her own comeback and crushes both girls with strikes, then hits Splash Mountain (sit-out Razor’s Edge Powerbomb) for the first fall (16:55)!
Fall Two: Hotta gets worked over, wasted in the corner with kicks, then choked out for a few minutes, until she finally Enzuigiris out and Takako dropkicks Kansai’s knee and works the leg. Her & Ozaki repeatedly swiping at each other while Oz is on the apron is great- really helps make this not come off as “filler”. Hotta, rested, now unleashes some kicks of her own to the prone JWP Ace, but Kansai fights back and it’s now an elbowing contest! Kansai wins that, and Ozaki uses hooking clotheslines and restholds against Hotta. Assisted Chest-Kick & backdrop hold get two and a flying cross-body misses, but Kansai hits Takako with a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Sharpshooter, but Hotta runs in and kicks her RIGHT in the head- she somehow hangs onto Takako and improvises a hold out of her prone position while they discuss spots.
Backdrop gets two, and Ozaki hits a kneeling powerbomb, Bridging German & Turning Splash all for two-counts! They settle right back into stretching, though- at least Oz stomps on Takako’s hand just to be nasty about it. Flying Double-Stomp gets two, but Takako reverses a Tequila Sunrise (half-nelson half-tiger suplex) and goes for a backdrop, but finally takes that Sunrise- Hotta saves. Takako tries a comeback, but Kansai does the “Mid-Air Catch & Northern Lights Suplex” spot for two. Takako FINALLY catches a leg and suplexes out, then tags Hotta, who lands kicks, takes a lariat, but then uses the Rolling Kick and a Tiger Driver for two. Kansai fights back, but takes a Backdrop/Super Chokeslam and another Tiger Driver… for two! Pyramid Driver (cross-armed Ligerbomb) finally scores the three (15:10), tying it up against the Ace.
Fall Three: Takako now has her ribs taped, so Kansai handily backdrops her to escape more punishment, and Mayumi “SCUM!” Ozaki just shreds the idol, tearing the back-brace off and WHIPPING her with it, then running in place on her spine and yanking her hair back. Jesus Christ- if I ever hold a Christening, I’m making goddamn sure she gets an invitation, that’s all I’m saying. Takako finally escapes, leading Hotta to wipe out both JWP girls with kicks, and now SHE gets the assisted chest-kick! Takako hits three Tombstones in a row for two (oh, joshi), and a Super Armdrag gets two! Team AJW hits an ASSISTED SUPER LIGERBOMB, but Kansai pushes them over at two! Oz sells this as absolute DEATH, as Kansai and the ref try to slap her awake, but Hotta keeps picking her up and getting sent away, thus protecting the move. Takako of course wants to punt the corpse, too, but Ozaki’s left to her own devices, and FINALLY struggles to her feet at “8”, only to get wiped out by Hotta again.
Takako keeps up the punishment, but Kansai beats some ass outside the ring to buy Ozaki more time, hurting both until it’s just a straight-up Attitude Era Brawl all over the Sapporo arena! Takako lands a backdrop hold & German inside the ring, but Ozaki dives out of a dropkick’s path to tag Kansai! Kansai kills Takako until Ozaki recovers- slapfight! Ozaki Ligerbomb gets two- the crowd boos the SHIT out of Hotta for breaking the count. Kansai Powerbomb gets two, then Ozaki does a Cannonball Suicida off the 2nd rope and Kansai dives, but hits her own partner! The Kick Demons fight outside while Takako’s backdrop hold gets two in the ring.
Hotta uses a rolling kick, but gets facecrushed, then avoids Kansai’s Flying Headbutt. Tiger Driver- two! Takako PUTS UP THE DUKES, then uses a Straightjacket German for two. Stereo slams from AJW gets two, but Hotta Flying Rolling Kicks Takako by mistake. Kansai Lariat & Ozaki DDT sets up a kneeling powerbomb for two. Tequila Sunrise- two! Kansai’s Razor’s Edge- Hotta saves! Doomsday Device Dropkick gets two, and that sets up the move that won them the WWWA Tag Titles- DOOMSDAY DEVICE SPLASH MOUNTAIN/LARIAT! Hotta manages a CLOSE save, so they do another one, and again they fail to stop her- time thus expires at (24:16), ending sixty minutes of wrestling.
Fascinating look at one of the very rare 60:00 draws in Joshi- they had to do a hell of a lot of restholds to get to that point, so it was a real showcase of their character stuff to make it “work”- Takako & Ozaki’s snotty evil, combined with Hotta & Kansai’s warrior pride- it always made for a fun combination, even if it was just “sit in leghold for 1:00, then do an STF for 1:00, then…” stuff, or the times they do some finisher-level moves and go back to holds. The story of the match is mostly that JWP is superior (they handily won the first fall, and dominated the entire second), but their opponents fought just a bit too hard… then they pull the twist with an MDK hitting Ozaki with 20 minutes to go, and the rest of the bout being an issue of survival- she sold the HELL out of that move, which is a delight- too often in wrestling (even in ’90s Joshi, but it’s even worse with men these days), you see a huge move hit and the victim’s hitting moves just fine a few minutes later, but Ozaki was selling that for like fifteen minutes, and had to be carried away by a ring girl in the end. It really put over that Super Ligerbomb as death, protecting the move heavily.
Rating: **** (As a match, objectively, this was way too long- like a ****1/2 match spread out too much so the rating drops. But of course the point in reality wasn’t just to have a good match- it was to put over the resilience and stamina of the wrestlers. So on that level, it greatly succeeds)
Toshiyo Yamada vs. Suzuka Minami: ***1/4
Aja/Bull vs. Kyoko/Akira: ***1/2
Manami Toyota vs. Hikari Fukuoka: ***1/2
Kansai/Ozaki vs. Hotta/Takako: ****
-Overall, a fine night of wrestling- hard to complain about a show where the worst match is ***1/4. Though it was treated very much like a house show effort by most everyone (the second bout could have easily crossed **** with real effort put into it), the main event was a real showcase of physical conditioning and good character stuff.