Joshi Spotlight: AJW St. Battle Day 1992

 

ST. BATTLE DAY:
(20.03.1992)
* This is actually a bit of a throwback (since I just finished going through all of 1993), as I initially couldn’t find the full show on YouTube. Maffew uploaded it as “Indie Uploader”, but he was banned for copywrite violations, but someone else was good enough to upload it when I bemoaned that fact. So here we are! Finally!

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: One of the better tag matches of the year and a truly important title-change… and one of the worst AJW tag matches ever- a smorgasbord for Botchamania! Watch what happens when technical wrestlers try lucha!

ETSUKO MITA & SHIHO NAKAMIGAWA vs. MIORI KAMIYA & KAORU ITO:
* Talk about different places two years later- Kamiya retired, Ito is getting the “upstart nasty rookie” push, Mita’s a respected member of Las Cachorras Orientales, and Shiho apparently quit super early and has never reappeared. Kamiya’s in a bizarre silver singlet, Ito’s in that white & yellow rookie gear, Mita’s in a blue singlet, and Shiho’s in a white Jobber Swimsuit.

Shiho unleashes jobber mayhem on Ito, but Ito comes back and Kamiya beats on her. Mita comes in and fireman’s tosses Ito and hits the electric chair drop for two, then a BIG delayed suplex- wow, why’d she drop that? Shiho tries that jobber shit with Kamiya and earns her Karate Punches for it and a senton gets two. Ito hits the Flying Stomp (wow, all the way back in early ’92?), but Mita saves. Ito spams Ass Attacks, but Shiho “Fuck YOU!” bridges out- some double-teams go Kamiya’s way and she hits a flying knee smash on Mita for two. Another senton misses and Mita hits a rolling fireman’s carry for two. Shiho gets beaten up, and Ito’s tossed onto her for two, and then Kamiya just throws her right into Ito’s ass for the three (7:54).

Rating: *1/2 (All basic stuff, with the rookies showing some fire, but mostly an Ito showcase. Mita was barely even in the ring!)

AJW JUNIOR TITLE:
YUKI LEE vs. AKEMI TORISU:
* Neither of these two ended up going anywhere- they were both gone by ’93 as far as I can tell. Lee is the champion and has prominent freaky eyeshadow and a U.S. flag on her black Jobber Singlet. She quit after this and went to JD’ a couple of years later, ending her career in JWP in 1999. Torisu’s in the black & yellow, like normal. She was gone by the summer.

The crowd no-sells their bullshit pro wrestling attempts, but I actually dig their amateur-style stuff (called “Amaresu” by puro snobs, I guess) a little more. It’s hard to screw THAT up, I guess. Akemi runs into her slowly a few times to knock Yuki around, does the Rookie Standing Backdrop, and turns around as the bell rings (3:23 of 20:00!!!) shown. Nothing to this one, really.

Rating: DUD (a Time Over and almost nothing shown)

SUZUKA MINAMI & YUMIKO HOTTA vs. BAT YOSHINAGA & TOMOKO WATANABE:
* Minami & Hotta were a thing for most of the year, until Hotta switched to Takako Inoue as a partner, and the Bat/Tomoko team made up the “Undercard JTTS Duo” as well. Hotta’s in an ugly blue singlet, and Minami’s in black & yellow. Tomoko & Bat are in their matching black shirts & white pants.

The match is SUPER basic to start, with Bat hurting Minami, then Hotta taking it to Tomoko. Minami holds her for Hotta’s chest kicks, not yet the “wow” spot it’d become in Joshi. Hotta does the Overthrow Powerbombs & piledriver for two-counts, but Tomoko hits her Slingshot Cross-Body on Minami, actually hitting a good one for once! HUGE spinkick from Bat draws a great reaction, and she fires off more. Minami finally hits the tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and Bat has the sand to try and power through one of Hotta’s kicks, so Hotta teaches her a lesson in pain. Weirdly slow Tiger Driver and Tomoko saves. Tomoko hits her judo flips on Minami, and La Majistral gets two- Bat’s kicks, a double-kick and backdrop get two-counts, but Minami cross-bodies Tomoko and Hotta just tosses her around a bunch. Tomoko misses a flying cross-body, but Hotta elbows Minami coming off the second rope, then Minami & Tomoko reverse stuff for two-counts (including Tomoko’s rana), until Hotta & Minami just sandwich her with lariats and hit an Assisted Powerbomb for the three (10:38).

This match is interesting having watched the rest of ’92, because you can see Tomoko as the junior punching bag, Bat as the one they’re building up, and Minami as the one who’s expected to sell for everyone else and get their shit over. Not that the match was particularly good- they were obviously going in slow-motion for the benefit of the youngsters, and the plot progression was so obvious (Minami would start selling IMMEDIATELY when Bat got in, and Hotta of course had to sell nothing on her own).

Rating: **1/4 (Very basic, nothing match at half-speed, but had some okay moves)

Wedding of Kensuke Sasaki and Akira Hokuto ft. Mutoh, Hashimoto, Bull  Nakano, and Aja Kong. : njpw

Posting Hokuto’s wedding pic just cuz.

AKIRA HOKUTO vs. TAKAKO INOUE:
* Hokuto in her early ’92 form, with no makeup, tomboy hair and a white bodysuit with a blue phoenix on it, up against Takako, who is slooooowwwwwllly building some cred in the midcard. She’s wearing this weird red & white outfit I don’t remember ever seeing before.

Takako gets cute with slaps and armdrags at the bell, so Akira wipes her out with roundhouse kicks, then a missile kick AND a Tope Con Hilo, because she’s insane. Piledriver gets two, then she backdrops the idol RIGHT on her freaking neck, yanking her up at two and hitting some stretching just to do some more punishment. Takako sells really well, desperately clawing her way to the ropes after a variety of stuff, then hits a leglock. Akira slugs her, but Takako leapfrogs and hits an oddly-impactful backslide for two, but Akira boots her out of the corner and hits a German for two. She climbs, but Takako brings her down with a Butterfly Superplex for two! Akira bulldogs Takako out of a backdrop, but misses a missile kick and Takako hits the shoulder-mounted backdrop for two. Flying knee misses and Akira spikes her with a German, but the most slack cover ever results in a two-count. Northern Lights Bomb is academic at (6:17). Akira cuts a promo after, saying goodbye as she & Mita head to Mexico (where, of course, everything changes for them).

Actually a fun little borderline-squash, with Takako showing a bit of fire, but Akira building her legend by absolutely flattening her and making it look like she could end it any time. I actually liked Akira stretching her out just to be a dick about it, and Takako’s little mini-comebacks.

Rating: **1/2 (perfectly fine quick match)

Now, someone named Kazue Saito retires! I have no idea who that is. Looks like she only wrestled for a couple of years, between 1991-92, and retired as a baby rookie. I can only find six matches.

AJW TAG TITLES:
SAKIE HASEGAWA & DEBBIE MALENKO vs. MARIKO YOSHIDA & MIMA SHIMODA:
* I was looking forward to this one, owing to Mike “Quebrada” Lorefice calling this “unimaginably bad” and a “comedy of errors”- Debbie mentioning trying “Lucha Libre” in her opening bit (actually saying “Chotto”- Japanese for “not really”, sorta), which might be the reason why. Nobody here means anything quite yet, with Debbie as an American with good technical stuff, Sakie has her buddy with a bit of a heelish asshole glint, and Shimoda is just a floundering undercard wrestler despite debuting with Manami Toyota. Yoshida is the biggest star here, with a lot of high-flying stuff. She’s in blue, Shimoda’s in lavender, Debbie’s in white Steiner gear with black paint-splatter and Sakie’s in her white singlet, which I think is her best look.

Oh god they really are trying lucha- Yoshida does a flip, then Debbie tries honest-to-god lucha-style armdrags and “backflip using the ropes” takedowns, and it’s awkward as fuck. With her long limbs and torso, Debbie has the WORST physique for that flippy shit. Yoshida does okay, then Shimoda hits the worst “rope-assisted rana” ever, just falling off of Sakie, who then stumbles over. Now YOSHIDA tries a rope-assisted armdrag, but instead slips and falls over. Sakie at least recovers with dropkicks- double-elbow & Double Ace Crusher gets two. Debbie controls with some good stuff, then Shimoda & Yoshida take over on Sakie. Slugfest turns into Debbie slickly putting an armhold on Yoshida, but she tumbles into the ropes with desperation- Shimoda eats a double-facecrusher for two, but Yoshida hits a flying cross-body on both opponents, then lures them into Shimoda’s double-missile dropkick. Both do ugly Tiger Feint Kicks to some polite applause. Yoshida wraps Sakie in a cool lucha submission (crab/armbar using the leg), then it’s a double-spinebuster and double-facerub in a hold. This sounds better than it looks, because everyone’s kinda awkwardly timing it and intersperses every move with a generic “lift and drop them” move or a stomp.

Sakie’s leg gets worked, then Shimoda just kinda beats on her for a while. Assisted flying elbow gets two on Yoshida when Sakie comes back. Savate Kick gets two. Debbie neckbreaker & Northern Lights Suplex gets two. Shimoda & Debbie do an ugly-ass criss-cross sequence, then a piledriver & backdrop get two for Deb. Shimoda gets her trio of hooking clotheslines, and Yoshida works a HEADLOCK of all things (20 minutes in??), all to work in a headlock/headscissors takeover on the champs. Yoshida double-flips them, Shimoda hits another flying clothesline, and an abdominal stretch into a submission/pin with the leg held is worked for a bit. Double suplex on Shimoda, then a butterfly suplex into a double-arm, but Yoshida comes in for a dive on Debbie. Shimoda gets lariated trying one of her own, but an ugly leapfrog sees her dive off the top. Debbie hits a double-clothesline to send the challengers out, then tries a chickenwing on Yoshida until Shimoda breaks. Do-si-do nets twin moves from the champs (cross-body/savate kick), but Yoshida flips over a double-elbow and hits her hop-up sunset flip… but Sakie rolls her over for the pin at (23:15)! The champs retain!

Oh man, the early parts of this were a DISASTER, full of the kind of botches you get when people who see lucha on TV try it on people who don’t know what moves they’re doing or how to sell them. Dreadful stuff. At least they “recovered”… but in the sense that they kinda plodded around for 23 minutes (!!), filling time with generic stomps or submissions and didn’t really create any kind of a match story (no real heat segments). Case in point: starting off with lucha, then doing brawling, then suddenly they’re hitting SUBMISSIONS nearly 20 minutes in. They seemed to be on completely different planets here, with so much stumbling around (especially from Shimoda, who was never very graceful, and was much better served with the manic style she later developed) and moves that were just “we’re doing stuff”, and the dead-silent crowd pretty well got earned.

Rating: 3/4* (when you combine “8 minutes too long” with “botchtastic”, you end up in a horrible area. A disjointed, sloppy, boring, awkward mess)

BULL NAKANO vs. KYOKO INOUE:
* Bull is the WWWA Champion here, but this is non-title. Kyoko’s still in her long feud with Manami Toyota, and is more slender than she was in ’93, in red & yellow. Bull’s in a paint-splattered shirt.

Kyoko tries to slap away to start, and that just leads to her on the outside, selling a lariat like it was a killshot. Back in, back out, as Bull hits her with three short-arm versions to toss her over the ropes. Bull beats on her some more and stuffs her with chinlocks, dragon sleepers and camel clutches, hitting a slower pace and then some. Kyoko briefly gets a big reaction for her “Rock the Cradle” submission, but can’t hold Bull for more than a couple seconds- she’s just too thicc. Restholds work the knee, and after four minutes of stuff, Bull lariats her a couple times, but Kyoko reverses to another leghold and teases a plancha. Bull waits it out for like a minute, then counters a suplex and Kyoko goes tumbling out, then SHE waits a minute- oh jesus. Bull does a painful-looking grounded abdominal stretch in the ring. Kneeling Powerbomb gets two as we FINALLY get a good move about 18 minutes in. Oh, but there’s a crab. Bull is wrestling so slack that she actually WALKS over to go get her nunchucks and slowly beats on Kyoko with them.

Kyoko takes some chairshots outside, but comes back with her headscissors for two. Slingshot Backsplash and Run-Up Flying Back Elbow (with Bull facing the opposite direction from the leap, which is weird) for two! MOVES! Sweet, precious MOVES! She puts Bull up top and brings her off with a handstand-headscissors for two, but the crowd is understandably GONE. She collapses on a piledriver and Bull takes a nasty drop on it (that had to hurt like a bitch). Bull reverses another to a release spinebuster and starts lariating the back of Kyoko’s head, hitting two-counts as she sells it like a TKO. Bull climbs- Guillotine Legdrop misses! Kyoko Niagara Driver- TWO! Okay, that got them excited. She tries again like a good underdog, but Bull hits a mountain bomb to reverse, goes up, and when Kyoko tries the handstand thing again, she just catches the legs, slams her down onto the mat in a crab, then hits a scary-ass Brock Lock (bending the leg over her own shoulder and yanking backwards on it) for the tap-out at (24:16).

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESH. Wow, this was a major disappointment given who was involved- Bull was just on such a higher tier I guess it couldn’t be “close”, and the match time forced them to draw things out, as they do stuff like tease a surfboard for 30 seconds before finally getting Bull into a weak version, then holding it like a chinlock for a minute. Or Bull takes a light bump outside and stands there for a minute before she gets back onto the apron. Like, obvious time-killing that make the crowd sit on their hands. They FINALLY started trying about 20 minutes in (like, my whole first paragraph is 20 minutes; the second one four), with that last four minutes adding a full star or so to the rating, but holy shit am I never watching THAT again.

Rating: *3/4 (“eh, we’re not in the main event- fuck it” if it were a match. Horrible disappointment given who’s involved)

2/3 FALLS MATCH:
WWWA WORLD TAG TITLES & UWA TAG TITLES:
JUNGLE JACK (Aja Kong & Bison Kimura) vs. MANAMI TOYOTA & TOSHIYO YAMADA:
* Jungle Jack are the reigning 3WA Tag Champs, while Toyota & Yamada hold the UWA Tag. I think at this point AJW had like four tag team titles running simultaneously, because Japan LOVES tag teams. Jungle Jack has been holding the belts, minus two vacancies, for about a year at this point. Bison’s in yellow & black, while Aja’s in the “Bubba Dudley” red camo gear. The challengers are both in black- Manami’s leotard and Yamada’s shirt & pants gear.

Fall One: Manami slaps Aja and scores a Bridging German immediately, and promptly gets the shit kicked out of her for it. Yamada gets slowly worked over for a LONG while, too, until Manami finally pops the crowd with Dropkick Spam and her weird Double-Arm Suplex thing on Bison. Then it’s her ’92 Double-Arm/Leglock thing and Yamada adds the Gory Special, and Bison’s in trouble- Aja draws boos by using her metal trash can, but accidentally wipes out Bison, who takes a Manami Roll for two. Double Backdrop, but the champs fire back with a double lariat on Manami, but Bison’s Flying Headbutt misses, and BOOM- just like that, it’s the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex (Straightjacket Electric Chair Drop Suplex) for three (11:13)! Dominating performance by the UWA Titlists!

Fall Two: Jungle Jack responds to losing the fall by dragging the juniors into the stands and beating the shit out of them with tables & chairs while the ref just gives up on trying to restore order. Bison FINALLY brings Manami into the ring, lighting her up with a couple of big slams and a Bison Chop for two, but Manami keeps “Fuck YOU!” bridging out. Aja hits a piledriver on a CHAIR, but the referee refuses to count, so Aja drives the side of it into Manami’s head and kills her for a while until tossing it aside. Stuff Piledriver gets two, and they methodically kill and stretch her out for a while.

Manami finally Germans out of a Bison Chop and Yamada’s in for some brutal kick-spam, sold beautifully by Bison flailing around and collapsing. Aja tags herself in, but gets knocked down, too, then her Body Attack is reversed with a HUGE running Roundhouse Kick with great timing. And in another great bit, Aja scores a big right hand, misses a charge, hits the Uraken (Spinning Backfist), jumps up at two to powerslam an intercepting Manami, then hits a German for two. Jungle Jack then hangs the juniors on top of each other, upside-down in the corner, then hit some Avalanches to be awesome. And that’s academic- Bison hauls Yamada’s dead body onto Aja in the corner, and it’s a SUPER LIGERBOMB to finish (10:00). This was a massacre.

Fall Three: Yamada’s still dead, so Jungle Jack slowly beats on her, but she rolls out and Manami reverses a Superplex on Bison. DROPKICK SPAM! Stretch Muffler & Bridging Deathlock work her over, but Bison traps Manami in an STF, then chops her down repeatedly and Aja adds running stuff and a Mountain Bomb. Spinebuster and a two-minute chinlock kill time, then Manami takes a Chokeslam before escaping, and Yamada kicks the shit out of Bison again… but a trio of Bison Chops and a Flying Headbutt do damage. Double-team misses, and Yamada drives the Flying Enzuigiri into Aja’s head! Another one gets two!

Manami Moonsault misses, but she lands on her feet (falling on her ass in the process), then hits the Rolling Cradle for two! Aja blocks a Double Backdrop and a cross-body off the top, but an enzuigiri rolls her over for a close call. Yamada planchas out onto Bison while Manami hits two Bridging Germans for two! Double Backdrop fails to finish and the challengers clothesline each other- Aja tosses them both into the same corner, but they counter her Avalanche by flipping her up top… but drop her. So they repeat it (with a more deliberate “suplex her into position” spot), and they MURDER her with an All Japan Bump off of their Double Super Flipover Backdrop- Aja lands right on her head in a horrifying landing and stays down for three (15:58)- NEW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS!!! An enraged Aja cuts a promo and defaces the Tag Titles, ripping them apart to a chorus of boos.

The first fall was full of a lot of very basic stuff and submissions, with Manami scoring her big new finisher for the ending (so she DIDN’T debut it against Kyoko at Wrestlemarinepiad ’92– that was a month off!), but the second match was a completely one-sided beat-down, with Jungle Jack destroying the smaller wrestlers in the stands, brutalizing Manami in the ring, then squashing them with repeated big moves and slams until Yamada couldn’t answer. Bison’s selling here was just tremendous- the best I’ve seen from her, as she’s throwing her head back with every strike, swinging her hair around, making them look like death. They sped things up in the final fall before slowing them down again, then started hitting an incredible amount of Escalating Finishers. The botched finish (having to re-do the spot and leave Bison outside the ring FOREVER off that Plancha… but really, who books AJA KONG to do a running flip-bump up onto the top turnbuckle?) at least ended up looking like an absolute MDK. All in all, that was 36 minutes of a great “Fast Underdogs vs. Burly Power Wrestlers” story, all four playing their roles to great effect- even Bison, the worst of the four.

Jungle Jack were done as the top team after this, with Toyota/Yamada going on to have an insane number of classics over the next year, feuding with JWP’s Kansai & Ozaki at the big Interpromotional Shows, and more.

Rating: ****1/4 (a great tag match where every fall was different, none were throwaway, and even the long restholds couldn’t hold it back)

Match Ratings:
Mita/Shiho vs. Ito/Kamiya: *1/2
Yuki Lee vs. Akemi Torusu: DUD
Minami/Hotta vs. Bat/Tomoko: **1/2
Akira Hokuto vs. Takako Inoue: **1/2
Debbie/Sakie vs. Shimoda/Yoshida: 3/4*
Bull Nakano vs. Kyoko Inoue: *3/4
Jungle Jack vs. Toyota/Yamada: ****1/4

Basically it’s a P.O.S. card until the finale, with some of the best wrestlers having the worst matches. A really strong look at how much better AJW got later on, as many of these bouts with the same people hit ****+ later on in time. But the botch-filled “Lucha” match really needs to be seen by everyone.