Joshi Spotlight: AJW TV (Aug. 5th, 1993)

AJW TV SHOW (Aug. 5th, 1993):
* So in the midst of the never-ending AJW Grand Prix, here’s an August TV show I found! It was taped at the Kasumigaura Cultural Gymnasium in Kasumigaura, Ibaraki on August 5th, airing Aug. 13th, and features a Grand Prix match between Akira Hokuto & LLPW’s Harley Saito! There’s also a pair of Big Monster Veteran (vs) Up & Coming Undercard Wrestler matches.

So highlights here are a one-time-only bout (Hokuto/Saito I do not believe ever met in singles competition again), and the goddamn Dragon Ball Z theme song being used as an entrance theme. Plus the truest test yet for Bat Yoshinaga after a fairly impressive year for the up & comer.

BULL NAKANO vs. KAORU ITO:
* Ito’s been climbing the ranks a bit, gaining prominence in many matches for her durability. And now she’s up against the former Ace, who will likely wipe her out. Ito’s Peter Pan gear is now green over blue shorts, while Bull’s in the recent Grateful Dead t-shirt look again.

Ito uses her speed to an early advantage, even taking over on Bull outside the ring, burying her under a mountain of chairs! Haha, you SHOW that former Monster Heel, you soon-to-be-deceased rookie, you! Bull’s comeback in the ring is rather subdued, just reversing a suplex after taking a bunch of cross-bodies. There’s some methodical beating, and then Ito USES THE ASS out of the corner and fires off Dropkick Spam, a DDT, and Running Stomps! That gets two, and she hits the Flying Stomp for another two-count. Bull rips her head off with a lariat, but Ito cuts the comeback off with a second Ass Attack and a joshi roll for two. Bull dodges another Ass Attack and grabs the nunchucks for a few shots, then hits a bad Kneeling Powerbomb for two. Guillotine Legdrop finishes at (6:20, 5:59 shown). Now THAT’s an unusually quick finish for joshi!

This was pretty much all Ito, with Bull borderline pulling a “Randy Savage Template” out of taking all that offense and hitting a short comeback for the win. She looked like she was struggling a bit, though, so I suspect injury was at play here.

Rating: **1/2 (fast-paced and hard to hate, but way too short to be much of anything)

AJA KONG vs. BAT YOSHINAGA:
* So the WWWA Champion and Ace faces one of Bull’s subordinates in another Monster vs. Rookie match. Bat scored a huge upset over Kyoko Inoue weeks earlier, and has gained some real momentum this past year, being put in a lot of prominent bouts and made to look legitimate and very strong. And now we see her die.

Really fun brawl to start, as Bat counters a running lariat with a leg-sweep and they trade strikes, and Aja has to rely on headbutts and a Vader Attack to take control and not get face-kicked anymore. She’s really good at that “win the scrap, but in a way that puts over the other person” stuff. Aja uses chops and choking, but Bat finally unleashes some more kicks, and holds her down with THE CLAW, treated here more like a resthold. A nasty-looking facelock adds to the punishment, and Bat stuffs all of Aja’s comebacks with strikes! Aja has to rely on her metal box and an outside brawl to finally get the advantage back. That goes on for a crazy two straight minutes, and Aja finally goes through the usual- piledrivers & the corner avalanche. Man, one fan’s high-pitched whoop is getting really annoying here. Bat ducks an Uraken, Aja ducks the Spinning Heel Kick, and Bat reverses a charge to a powerslam all in succession, but Bat misses a Flying Thesz Press and now SHE gets snap-powerslammed! Cute. Aja hits a second-rope splash, but Bat’s Spinning Heel Kick gets two! That was sold as really frenetic and close, like Aja teased a huge upset. Another Spinning Heel Kick misses, and Aja misses an Uraken, but finally lands one when Bat charges in for another kick- the Backdrop Driver finishes at (13:02).

Interesting little match, as much as it was methodical and obvious “filler” for parts of it. Aja put over Bat’s strikes as game-changers that could reverse the momentum instantly, but only once looked sorta-vulnerable (the crowd seemed to buy that near-fall with the kick), and she eventually just catches her with the Uraken and finishes with a head-drop.

Rating: **3/4 (perfectly fine undercard match-up)

MANAMI TOYOTA, TOSHIYO YAMADA & KYOKO INOUE vs. YUMIKO HOTTA, SUZUKA MINAMI & TAKAKO INOUE:
* Well God Damn! This is three of the biggest solo stars in the company on one side, with super-credible Hotta teaming up with both of her most recent partners on the other! Hotta actually defeated Manami with a Pyramid Driver (cross-armed Ligerbomb) on a recent show (only a short clip aired on a Grand Prix show), so there’s a bit of added backstory here. When the worst worker in a 6-person tag is Takako or Hotta, you know you’re in for a great match. Takako’s in a dark blue variant of her “white & light blue” gear, Hotta has her “swirl” design (her best gear) with black in place of blue, and Minami in a lighter blue leotard. Manami’s in black (with a LOT of strings across the collarbone & arms), Kyoko’s in the usual pink/yellow tassled thing, and Yamada’s in blue/purple (the tape transfer blows; it’s hard to tell).

Takako almost immediately takes a triple-dropkick, so her team cheats and lifts her into an assisted dropkick and she Tombstones Yamada. Everyone tees off on Yamada, but Toyota flies in with some “JB Angels” armdrag offense on Takako, and now the idol’s in peril. Takako & Yamada wearing the same shade of blue is throwing me off, here, since they’re on opposite sides. Takako armdrags out, but Kyoko slingshot dropkicks Suzuka, then fireman’s tosses her and the team works her knee, Yamada using the spinning stump puller and Kyoko adding a 28-second giant swing. Now Toyota adds a 30-second Rolling Cradle for two! Missile Kick misses and Hotta drills her repeatedly and fires off the rolling kick in the corner, Toyota walking right into them to make them look better. Takako now adds THREE Tombstones, but Toyota “Fuck YOU!” bridges out! Hotta adds the overthrow powerbombs, but gets the same result. Toyota does an ugly backslide out and Yamada eats Suzuka’s signature backbreakers, but kicks Takako’s ass and Kyoko adds the double-chops and the “Rock the Cradle” submission.

Toyota flies off the top, knocking her to the corner, and Suzuka’s in, but takes the Running No Hands Springboard Cross-Body! Dropkick Spam! Bridging suplex gets two and Kyoko’s in and hits her Slingshot Backsplash on Suzuka & Takako. Run-Up Flying Back Elbow on Takako gets two, but she ducks another move and Suzuka cross-bodies Kyoko, then dodges Toyota’s own dive and hits a Kneeling Powerbomb for two. Yamada & Takako go next, and Yamada AGAIN destroys her, including hitting a huge kick while Takako’s grounded. She climbs, but Hotta grabs her & Takako armdrags her off the top. Hotta hits the Owenzuigiri, but Toyota knocks her out of a powerbomb attempt. Hotta hits a double-facecrusher, but Suzuka misses her Flying Senton and Takako hits both her partners with a dive! Toyota takes out all three with her own plancha, and the former Tag Champs hit the Double Backdrop & Stereo Flying Headbutts… for two on Suzuka! That was a close one! Toyota misses her Moonsault, Hotta gets kicked out of a Tiger Driver, then avoids a triple-dropkick- she goes for another Driver… but Toyota slides off to the side and gets her in sunset flip position… for the three (20:22)! Flash pin!

Damn, that was a face-paced match. Where else but here does 20 minutes feel like ten and you go “Damn, if that had ten more minutes, that’d be a classic match”- instead, it was six women all getting their shit in (though Kyoko & Hotta didn’t do much), rapid tags, constant momentum shifts, and more, then Manami Toyota gets her win back against Hotta in a flash-pin. That’s kind of a bit fluke-y given how much damage these women usually take before falling, but the trading of finishers and reversals were good, and the bit where everyone dives out and Toyota/Yamada fire off their Signature Finisher on Suzuka and STILL fail was pretty cool, especially as everyone still proves hard to keep down later on.

Rating: ***3/4 (The match didn’t exactly develop much of a story thanks to the constant momentum shifting, and the ending came out of nowhere, but these matches are easy to love)

Harley Saito’s literal theme song here.

AJW GRAND PRIX 1993:
AKIRA HOKUTO vs. HARLEY SAITO:
* It’s Hokuto vs. LLPW yet again! Her feud with LLPW has been going on all year, with her Las Cachorras Orientales team beating LLPW’s squad in the beginning of the year, then she toppled their Ace, Shinobu Kandori, at Dream Slam 1. Saito here, a #2-3 wrestler for LLPW, now has a chance for revenge.

HAHAHAHAHA Saito is using “Cha-La Head Cha-La” from Dragonball Z as her entrance music. Tremendous. So Akira shows disrespect before the match and takes an immediate shit-kicking for it, but gets her feet up when Harley tries a Flying Nothing and dramatically works the ribs that Harley keeps injuring during the tourney. She commences to STANDING on Harley and finally starts shoving chairs into her ribs and works a series of nasty-looking submissions, taking advantage of Harley’s bendiness. Harley snaps off an enzuigiri and does a snap suplex and some kicks, but keeps selling the ribs so Akira can just pounce again. She milks standing at the top as long as she can, so of course eats a kick to the ribs on the way down. Now BOTH are hurt, and can’t maintain momentum- they just keep reversing each other’s stuff. Akira reverses a whip to a Northern Lights Suplex. Harley scores a huge roundhouse kick off a whip, but Akira casually kicks her legs out while floored- she’s so good for that kind of nasty “whatever works” offense.

Harley gets a kick reversal and a Flying Headbutt gets two, and Akira’s booted out of the ring to sell a bad leg injury (possibly from using the taped-up leg to sweep Harley). So of course Harley drags her right up to the very top rope and hits a huge superplex for two. Harley climbs to finish, so Akira whips her off the second rope with a desperation German for two. Akira then climbs for a missile kick and does a Tope Con Hilo to ensure BOTH women die. Now AKIRA does a superplex for two, but a follow-up sees Harley bridging suplex her for two- but now HER next move has Akira hit that weird “grapples both arms with a behind-the-back move” Backdrop Suplex for two (Harley rolled over so the bridge broke and Akira had to slump over her). Missile Kick… misses! Tiger Suplex from Harley- 1, 2, no! With nothing else left in her moveset, she has to rely on another Flying Headbutt, but that’s one too many- Akira moves and hits the Dangerous Queen Bomb for the pin (17:51; 15:02 shown).

Tremendous selling all match, making a more abridged match feel like a longer one, especially since the injures started good and early (especially Harley’s old rib issue turning up again)- both have great psychology, with Akira doing whatever it takes to score damage (and can do so very rapidly- she put all her XP into “Finisher Speed & Damage” in a business where everyone else is doing complicated set-ups for their moves, meaning she’s lethal at almost any point), while Harley has this stick-to-it-iveness that makes her matches really fun. Akira usually gets more credit for her selling, but Harley sells everything like absolute death, too. And Harley looked like she was getting close in the end, despite a difference in “tiers”- all it took was for Akira to kick out of that Tiger Suplex and she was out of ideas, so had to go to the same well.

Rating: ***3/4 (another fun match that made good use of time- it didn’t hit the higher echelons of work, but for this late in the tournament, it’s great)

The clips at the end feature Tomoko Watanabe beating Chikako Shiratori (I think) with an Arm-Trap Backdrop Suplex at (12:11), and Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda beating Infernal KAORU & Numacchi at (13:44) with Mita’s Northern Lights Suplex on Numacchi (so I guess this means that Numata’s finally been shoved into her goofy Comedy Gimmick between big shows). Plus the full match times for the rest of the show.

Match Ratings:
Bull Nakano vs. Kaoru Ito: **1/2
Aja Kong vs. Bat Yoshinaga: **3/4
Manami/Yamada/Kyoko vs. Hotta/Minami/Takako: ***3/4
Akira Hokuto vs. Harley Saito: ***3/4

-So two “filler” matches with top veterans crushing lesser wrestlers, thus establishing dominance, a great 6-woman tag with some people at the top of their game, and a rarity in a Main Event between two rival promotions- a fun hour and a half. Nothing COMPLETELY mind-blowing, but how can you not like two near-**** matches on one show?