Joshi Spotlight: Jaguar Yokota

Mother Joshi ○ Jaguar Yokota #WWMII | Wrestling Amino

Jaguar’s theme song is EPIC.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- JAGUAR YOKOTA:
Real Name: Rimi Yokota (aka Jaguar Y)
Billed Height & Weight: 5’3″ 128 lbs.
Career Length: 1977-1986, 1995-1998, 2004-today (rarely-wrestling freelancer)
Trainees: Manami Toyota, Aja Kong, Megumi Kudo, Etsuko Mita, Mima Shimoda, Kyoko Inoue, Toshiyo Yamada, Takako Inoue, Bison Kimura, Miori Kamiya, Combat Toyoda, Kaoru Maeda

-Jaguar Yokota has a very, very decent shot at being the greatest wrestling trainer in history- just look at that list of names up there. There has to be something like 20-30 ***** matches between all those people! And yet she was so good that her wrestling career is probably even more notable than that! No less than Dave Meltzer says that in her heyday, she was in the same tier as Ric Flair & Ricky Steamboat. And I can see it- the SPEED of it is just intense. As I describe it in one match, it’s like Flair/Steamboat if you sped it up by two or three times- at 128 lbs., she just blitzed people like a mongoose on a cobra.

What I’ve seen showcases an extraordinary technical wrestler- pint-sized and very thin, she had dexterity the behemoths in wrestling couldn’t match, doing perfect bridge-outs from pins (seen later by the Jumping Bomb Angels), slick reversals, and more. Her counter-hold stuff is just as good as the best I’ve seen from the 1980s, and seems very “NWA”. It’s in that classic vein of “you fight for every hold”, making every move matter and look like it’s part of the game of chess (ugh I’m quoting Larry Z here, but it fits), working stuff until you can get it applied. Also, her finishers consist of a JACKHAMMER (yes, Goldberg’s finisher) and a Pedigree where you drop the person vertically on their head, on purpose (not like that infamous Helmsley botch on the jobber).

Her finish is this, but on purpose.

But she has great ring charisma, too- like Devil Masami, she has very striking features (though not unattractive at all), and uses them to maximum effect, just SNARLING, or grimacing in agony, adding a ton to even the most basic offense in the match. Even restholds bring out this look of anger and fury in her, like she can’t believe this bullshit. It’s great heel selling, because too much and they can look sympathetic; but doing these inhuman faces makes it so she’s not this lovable, crying babyface at all- she’s getting what she deserves.

The only really unfortunate thing about Jaguar is that despite being a great worker even in the mid-90s, she wasn’t really given a lot of big singles shots in AJW around that time (possibly because she was forming her own company at the time). Devil Masami, a close contemporary, was regularly hitting ****+ on Joshi’s biggest shows with some of the same women, having classics with Kyoko Inoue or Bull Nakano. Some of the great “Dream Matches” of Joshi subsequently never took place- I think of the possibilities of Jaguar against Aja Kong (Mentor vs. Student AND former Champs!), Manami Toyota, or even the Kick Demons, and I weep at the missed opportunities. I see they sometimes met in tag matches, but often in the midcard and not an “All-Out Effort” big match.

CAREER TRAJECTORY:
-Rumi Yokota entered All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling and debuted in 1977, heavily inspired by the popularity of the Beauty Pair, a team of teen idol-style wrestlers. Debuting at the age of 15 (!!), she was apparently highly thought-of, as she became the inaugural AJW Junior Champion & AJW Champion in 1980, vacating both, and briefly held the WWWA Tag Titles for an 18-day reign with Ayumi Hori, beating Nancy Kumi & Lucy Kayama, but vacating quickly. She actually got pushed all the way to the WWWA World Title four years later, defeating her idol, Beauty Pair’s Jackie Sato! According to some sources I’ve found, she ironically was the reason why Sato was retired- AJW wanted to focus on the younger “Jaguar” as their top star. I don’t know how acrimonious this was, but considering Sato never returned to AJW, and even founded its main competitor, I’m gonna guess she wasn’t enthused.

Yokota lost the Title after a huge 801-day run to La Galactica in 1983, in a Mask vs. Hair Match, but won it back only 25 days later, this time feuding with Devil Masami & Lioness Asuka, having a ***** WON match with the latter, but finally vacated it in 1985 due to a shoulder injury. She retired the next year and became a trainer, leading the 1986 (Aja Kong, Megumi Kudo, Combat Toyoda, Miori Kamiya, Kaoru Maeda, Bison Kimura), 1987 (Manami Toyota, Toshiyo Yamada, Etsuko Mita, Mima Shimoda) and 1988 (Kyoko & Takako Inoue) classes- a perfect storm of having the cream of the crop to choose from, and being apparently a REALLY FUCKING GOOD TRAINER, as everyone in here turned out to be at least good, and the best became all-time Top 20 workers and huge stars. Like, just having trained Aja & Manami would have made her a huge deal- all the rest make her a legend.

1994 saw her come back with some other retired wrestlers at Big Egg Wrestling Universe in the Tokyo Dome. In only a 10-minute exhibition match, they told “ring rust” to go eat a dick and performed like none of them had missed more than a week. This inspired her to come back full time. However, AJW was pretty full at the time, so after only a short comeback in the company (mostly doing tag team stuff), she formed the promotion Jd’. Along the way, she formed what’s usually called the “Rideen Array”- a stable including Lioness Asuka and others. However, the commentators and wrestlers clearly say “Rai-jeen” in promos, which indicates to me this is supposed to be “Raijin Army”- Raijin being the Shinto God of Thunder.

In Jd’, she actually didn’t push herself as the sole top name- Asuka pretty much was. Her only run as the TWF World Champion (their top title) was an 81-day reign beating and losing it back to Asuka in 1995. She & Yuko Kosugi were the inaugural TWF Tag Team Champions in 1997, but vacated them later the next year.

Veteran Jaguar- older, but will still kill you.

Jaguar retired again in 1998, and Jd’ kind of went into disaster without her (as “Athtresses” were hired and trained by guys hoping for sexy idol wrestlers; it didn’t work out). She got married and started a family, but returned in 2004 as a freelancer. In 2010, she won the AWF Women’s Title (from IWA Japan) for a while, and has done well in the “retirement home” of World Wrestling Diana. There, she won the Tag Titles with Sareee (beating Mima Shimoda & KAORU, her students) in 2015, vacating them shortly afterwards, and won them in 2018 as the heel team CHRYSIS (with Ayako Sato as a partner), beating Takako Inoue & Yumiko Hotta, and holding the belts for 258 days until losing to Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe. From 2016-2019, she was the “Queen Elizabeth” Champion (WTF?), being the inaugural champ and losing it to Kyoko Inoue after 1,048 days. And… well hell, she’s actually the CURRENT champion as of this writing, having beaten Sakura Hirota in Aug. 2020. Well good for Jaguar- 53 years old and still kicking ass!

MOVESET:
Bridge-Out From Pin to Standing Position (in one motion), Jumping Forearm (spins around on impact), Bridging Vertical Suplex, Forward Somersault Dodge, Jackhammer (vertical suplex to powerslam; mid-match flashy thing), German Suplex, Tombstone Piledriver, Backdrop Suplex, Backdrop Suplex Hold, Hurricanrana (in 1986!), Figure-Four Leglock (can finish matches), Superplex, Straightjacket Suplex (done from locking hands in a test of strength position; mid-tier finisher), Jackhammer (Vertical Suplex to Powerslam), Double-Arm Kneeling Front Piledriver (opponent lands on their head; Finisher), Leg-Trap Backdrop Suplex (Finisher)

THE MATCHES:

WWWA WORLD TITLE:
HAIR vs. MASK MATCH:
JAGUAR YOKOTA vs. LA GALACTICA:
(07.05.1983)
* Yokota, in a rainbow-colored swimsuit, is the Champion, while La Galactica has the physique of a Moolah trainee, a dumpy orange singlet, and a silver full face mask. She had a LONG-ASS career, lasting from 1969-2009 (40 years!), and is typically called Pantera Sureña elsewhere. She has a second… the gigantic heel Monster Ripper. So it’s Jaguar’s long hair up against Galactica’s mask.

Very basic stuff, fighting for holds and doing a test of strength, with Galactica playing a whiny heel (slugging Jaguar, then complaining to the ref when hit back). Jaguar works a bodyscissors and slides to a leglock, Galactica using the hair to control. Galactica bails to regroup, and comes back with hair-pulling and punches, and beats on her outside- Jaguar nearly gets counted out, and Ripper joins in the assault. Galactica won’t let her get back in the ring, then finally works a chinlock and arm stuff. Jaguar does her slick “bridge-out” from a pin and dropkicks Galactica outside, goes nuts on the leg, and tries a figure-four, but Ripper is in the RING this time, laying in the boots! But since this isn’t the Atrocious Alliance, the ref has some balls, and hauls her out of the ring. The ref even yanks Galactica’s arms off the ropes so Jaguar can complete the move!

Ripper comes in TWICE to interfere, and Galactica finally gets in the ropes after a couple minutes, and Jaguar uses some ass attacks and a bridging butterfly suplex for two. The ref’s busy fighting out Ripper, so Jaguar’s next pin goes uncounted, and a Tombstone doesn’t work, as Galactica lands with her legs in the ropes. Jaguar does a straightjacket hold and a Gory Stretch of all things, but a backdrop hold is broken up by Ripper, and she continues the attack outside the ring, as they double-team Jaguar, even using a pair of scissors! Jaguar manages to fight them off and tries to cut up Galactica’s mask with the scissors, and a bridging suplex gets two. Then she dodges a chair so Ripper blasts her boss by mistake! Jaguar grabs the chair and takes out Ripper, the ref, the SECOND ref, and now does her Flip Dodge and flying forearm, but misses a tope suicida! So Ripper slams her in the ring and Galatica hits the Flying Senton (her finisher), then Ripper hits a sitting splash and a flying splash, and the ref counts the three (17:33)! Jaguar has been dethroned after 801 days!

So they beat on her a bit more, Jaguar talks shit, and the sweaty-ass ref cuts this promo about how Galactica is the champion. Jaguar is furious, but finally just hits a death-glare on everyone and Galactica triumphantly gives her a trim… but doesn’t really leave it he embarrassing shear-job that’s typical in joshi- it’s more just a light trim that leaves her with an attractive bob! You can see a longer version here that shows they gave her a buzzcut later, though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lq1tUul0K7U&ab_channel=TimTamchannel

This kind of looked like Jaguar wrestling someone who couldn’t work that well, as she was mostly doing all the wrestling, and Galactica’s offense was mostly “let Monster Ripper cheat”. That part got increasingly tiresome, like the endless run-ins and cheating do in NJPW for some people today. I mean, it was half the match- most of the offense was from HER! Jaguar got too angry in the end, dropping to just hitting EVERYONE with the chairshots, so the ref probably counted her down out of spite.

Rating: ** (hardly a technical masterpiece and too long- a match based entirely out of interference. Solid angle, though- sometimes wrestling is more about angles that star ratings)

WWWA WORLD TITLE
JAGUAR YOKOTA vs. LIONESS ASUKA:
(21.09.1986)
* Oh snap, I managed to find this one. So it’s a pretty big deal, being one of the biggest stars in Japan fighting the Ace of AJW for the 3WA Title. Asuka’s in a blue singlet with white details, and Jaguar’s got a pink one on. At 5’3″, Jaguar is itty-bitty, but she looks tough as fuck, with that classic “Heel Sneer”, Evil Mom Hair and gold teeth visible when she grimaces. This match drew ***** from Meltzer when he saw it in the 1980s, so is somewhat nerd-famous.

Both girls immediately show crazy athleticism by smoothly sliding out of covers from snapmares. Then fight for holds in something that looks like Flair/Steamboat if you sped it up by two or three times- no WONDER Dave was so impressed by this. Jaguar works the leg for a good while, shaking up the moves often enough that it doesn’t get dull, tying Asuka in knots, hitting both a Hurricanrana (in 1986!) and a Jackhammer (in 1986!), completely dominating her while the crowd wildly chants for their heroine. Jaguar hits the Figure Four and they reverse that for a few minutes, Jaguar goes out to sell the leg, and Asuka pays her back with a ton more leg stuff.

And then, 17 minutes in, they shift into high-gear. Asuka hits a Powerbomb with a jacknife pin, but Jaguar comes back with a sick Vertical Pedigree, planting Asuka on her HEAD. Jaguar tries a Tombstone, but Asuka reverses it (!!) absolutely PLANTING her with a sickening OwenDriver that somehow doesn’t kill Yokota. Hell, she even bridges (weakly). Asuka tries to finish her with kicks, then an Airplane Spin and Giant Swing! It’s Flair/Steamboat AND Moolah-style! She LAUNCHES Yokota out of the ring with a suplex, but misses a suicide dive. Both recover after a few, then Asuka brings her in the hard way- with a Slingshot Suplex, then hits a German as the counts get closer. She accidentally locks hands, allowing Jaguar to hit her Straightjacket Suplex for a near fall. Then, in a GREAT ending, Asuka reverses a Superplex to a vicious Front Superplex, misses a Flying Kneedrop, and Jaguar nails a Leg-Trap (PSYCHOLOGY!) Backdrop Suplex Hold for the three (23:46).

Holy crap, that got awesome by the end. I can 100% see this earning ***** in 1986- it’s fast-paced, has great counter-wrestling, and the crowd is way into it. It matches the Flair/Steamboat stuff, but with more inventive offense, albeit in a shorter match. Their facial reactions are just perfect, and showcase so much character- Yokota is grimacing and snarling, while Asuka is agonized and looking tearful but strong- then Yokota gets it reversed and she’s all twisting her face into contortions, making sure you don’t find her too sympathetic in defeat. 17 minutes of technical stuff never got boring because they were usually moving around or switching it up, and then they revved up for 6+ minutes of attempting finishers, all of which looked amazing. Their move application was top-notch, and looked so good you could do this NOW and people would be impressed. Fucking awesome- Jaguar Yokota really IS one of the best workers of the ’80s- totally an unsung icon.

Rating: ****1/2 (got SO GOOD at the end! The finish even paid off all that leg stuff, and Lioness’s own youthful desire for a big ending!)

About two hours in, here.

UWA WORLD TAG TITLES:
LAS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES (Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda) vs. THE RAIJIN CORPS (Jaguar Yokota & Lioness Asuka):
(AJW Destiny, 02.09.1995)
* Here’s a mid-90s AJW match I’ve yet to see, featuring LCO defending their titles against the un-retired vets! Jaguar’s in what looks like leather swimsuit, Asuka’s in a black pants & shirt combo (with “RIDEEN Array” on the top), and LCO are in matching white & red two-piece suits, looking more like a pro tag team. Or swimsuit models, depending.

LCO of course jump the Raijins before the bell, hitting Stereo Germans. They try to run ’em into each other, but Jaguar gets leapfrogged and dropkicks one while Asuka spinkicks the other, then Shimoda’s tricked into hitting Mita and launched out onto her. Then Jaguar SAILS out with a dive, practically overshooting both girls! Jaguar does the bridge-out from Shimoda’s pin and hits a GREAT Hurricanrana for two. Asuka karates Mita a bit, but she bites her way out of an STF and hits a Blazing Chop for two. Bitch Pose, getting a great reaction! Shimoda pulls hair, so Jaguar yanks hers into a bow & arrow, then hits it “properly”- I’m digging how LCO’s reaction to superior technical wrestling is to cheat. The Raijins then mock LCO’s pose, which even Shimoda seems to defiantly cheer on while getting her hair pulled. Lioness beats the shit out of her and does dangerous chokes, but Shimoda takes advantage over Jaguar, and Mita roars in with the hugest “Moolah Toss” EVER, just 360-ing poor Jaguar across the ring by her hair. Even the crowd marked out for that one! Jaguar sells it perfectly, like it just ripped her scalp off.

Mita finds various ways to strangle her trainer (including a hanging spot in the corner), making sure to do it right in front of Asuka, and Shimoda adds a flying hair-slam, but Jaguar escapes and tags out. Asuka tortures Shimoda with a sharpshooter, but a slap brings her to life and they engage in a war of them, bringing Mita in, who dodges a chop and hits a huge Blazing Chop with great timing, basking in the crowd reaction. She then adds like 4-5 more, but Lioness reverses the electric chair with a kick. Jaguar tries a leap off the ropes, but Mita catches her, but Jaguar rolls back to avoid the DVD for two. Mita hits a Northern Lights Suplex for two, but Jaguar dodges a Doomsday Device and a Leg-Trap Backdrop Hold gets two on Shimoda. She tries her Straightjacket Suplex, but Mita Blazing Chops her in the back.

Asuka prevents a Tiger Suplex with a kick, but Shimoda catches a Rana and hits a Powerbomb for two. Shimoda climbs, but Asuka stops her and Jaguar hits a big Butterfly Superplex for two! Mita stops that, and her Blazing Chop is kick-parried by Asuka, who tries a giant swing but gets slapped right in the face for it. Mita tries a DVD and gets kicked, but dumps Asuka onto Jaguar and you know what’s coming next- Assisted Plancha/Dive! Electric Chair/Flying Splash on Asuka- two! A bleeding Asuka reverses a DVD to a huge Powerbomb, and Jaguar tries another but gets clotheslined by Shimoda, who reverses pins with Jaguar for two-counts. Jaguar catches a falling clothesline… and hits a frickin’ Tiger Driver ’91, Shimoda landing on her shoulder! Looks like she was trying her front piledriver and slipped, but yikes. Mita BARELY tips them over to applause, and Shimoda hits a Tiger Suplex, Asuka doing the same to THAT. Shimoda tries the Death Lake Driver (Tiger Superplex), but Asuka backdrops her from the top. Jaguar missile kicks Asuka by mistake… and Shimoda hits a Flying Headscissors Takeover… for the three (15:49)!! Shocker sudden win for LCO there!

Great reactions and character work throughtout, as LCO were their Evil Demon Waifu best, while the veterans acted grumpy and annoyed that these two little brats were fighting up to their level and being arrogant about it. Interesting dynamics, as Asuka & Mita almost always dominated, with Shimoda & Jaguar taking all the punishment, but mostly everyone just did move after move with only a little selling, as frequently people would just make instant comebacks and hit big stuff. The crowd was really hot for LCO to do well, though, seemingly viewing the Raijins as invaders despite LCO fighting like heels. The only drawback was Asuka’s stuff always came off as weird- either like she was hitting weird stuff or LCO just didn’t know how to sell it, as she’d do all these stumbling kicks or oddly-positioned attacks (like a front kick to the shin) and kind of just “stun” them in place.

Rating: ***1/2 (fun character stuff, held back only by lack of selling and a finish that was kinda out of nowhere)