Joshi Spotlight: AJW TV (Jan. 16th 1994)

AJW TV (Jan. 1994):
* And welcome to AJW in 1994! After several months of working on 1993’s shows, it’s fun to see a whole new “era”, as all the major story-arcs have ended and the feuds run their course- Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada have finally unseated JWP’s Ozaki & Kansai for the WWWA Tag Titles, and Akira Hokuto has given her win back to LLPW’s Shinobu Kandori. As a result, they’re gonna have to find all-new angles and feuds- 1994 has a handful less tapes available than 1993 did (especially if you count the Legendary Goddess ones), but builds to the biggest joshi show of all time by the end of the year- Big Egg Wrestling Universe.

This show is about an hour and a half, and covers the 1993 AJW Awards Party, as well as having four unique matches on it.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: It’s a pretty interesting show in terms of bouts you rarely see- a rare Aja solo bout to build her up for Hotta’s Title shot in a week, LCO against a thrown-together team, and the Tag Champs facing the future Double Inoue!

* Everyone in suits or fancy dress, which is grand- Bull Nakano’s fancy dress suit looks like a combination of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and The Rose of Versailles, for you anime nerds out there. LLPW & JWP representation abounds as all their wrestlers show up, too. Shinobu Kandori’s dressed like she’s on her way to rumble with the Socs. The Dream Slam tag match between JWP & AJW seems to win “Tag Match of the Year” (solid choice), and Aja/Kansai wins “Best Match of the Year”, I think (I only rated it a paltry ****1/2- Akira/Kandori should be a clear winner to me).

Now Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada sing POWER ON THE DREAM. Yamada’s bejeweled denim jacket & jeans have to be seen to be believed. Manami has a shocking lack of stage presence considering both her job and her looks, too, lol.

* And now we set up another rookie for the slaughter. Though given how much of a bully Ito is towards underlings, this is pretty fitting. Bull’s in that awesome neon purple/yellow shirt again, while Ito’s a green Peter Pan again today.

Ito attacks early like a brave, suicidal idiot, and is promptly lariated and hauled down in submissions. A lot of them. Bull slowly takes apart the rookie, and no-sells an Ass Attack as if it were an insult, but Ito drops her with a huge dropkick right to the cheekbone, then more puts Bull on the ropes. She does her Double-Foot Stomp of the apron, appearing to land directly on Bull’s ass, then tosses chairs and defiantly buries her under a PILE of them! Dangerous, suicidal Ito. Bull appears to actually appreciate such earnest cheating, and Ito slugs her with an Ass Attack out of the corner, then hits Running Stomp Spam! Actually running laps on her back is pushing it, though. Ito stops another comeback and hits TWO of her Running Corner Turning Sentons for two, and hits the Flying Stomp- Bull casually kicks out of this finisher. Ito tries a German, and that’s that- Bull elbows free, hits a lariat, a Powerbomb and a Guillotine Legdrop, finisher her at (10:38).

Bull was game for Ito, taking a ton of offense in the second half, but largely did the “Randy Savage Template” at it, selling a ton and then hitting a couple moves for the end. Pretty basic stuff.

Rating: **1/4 (Ito’s offensive flurry was pretty fun, and Bull sold well, but it was barely competitive in the end)

* Weird pairing in Hotta/Sakie here. LCO went up around the Tag Champs a week later, so I’d imagine the bout would favor them, but you never know with Hotta (who is challenging Aja for the WWWA Title on the same show). Mita’s in all black, Shimoda’s in red & silver, Hotta’s in black & white, and Sakie’s in the light blue again.

Shimoda tries her headscissors from the corner, but Sakie just faceplants her. She gets a bit “defiant rookie”, so Mita just slaughters her with piledrivers and slams and Shimoda yanks her hair off for a while. Double-teams continue the punishment, as they hit the Bitch Pose and test her flexibility for their own amusement. Sakie FINALLY tags out, and Hotta promptly gives Shimoda a revenge beating, no-selling all her slaps and kicking her head around. Rolling Kick in the corner draws a big ovation, and Hotta/Sakie do a fun Overthrow Powerbomb into Butterfly Suplex into Overthrow Powerbomb into Butterfly Suplex set, getting two. Sakie stomps on Shimoda’s hands in revenge for Shimoda doing that to her before.

Chest Kick and Rolling Butterfly Suplexes keep on Shimoda, but the Savate Kick is ducked and countered with an Armor-Piercing Slap so hard it actually stuns her. Sakie ducks Mita’s lariat but walks right into the Blazing Chop, the Mita knocks both girls off the apron- Assisted Plancha/Dive! Electric Chair/Flying Splash! Mita adds her own Splash for two. Hotta manages to kick Mita out of the DVD- Shimoda hits a Flying Clothesline, but Hotta kicks her leg out. Sakie gets a German Suplex, but Mita pushes them over, Shimoda knocks Hotta off the top from a double-team, and Mita scores the Death Valley Driver on Sakie! Mita dives out onto Hotta to deal with her, allowing Shimoda to hit the Death Lake Driver (Tiger Superplex) on Sakie at (10:19 of 22:01 shown) for the win!

Actually a good, solid use of the “LCO Match Template”, though largely based around completely dominating Sakie and keeping Hotta out of it. Good psychology in the end as LCO use constant double-teaming and elite tactics to fuck up Hotta’s game, then hit a couple of big moves to stun her while Sakie is vulnerable and easily-pinned. Though hardly as dominating a performance as you’d expect from a team challenging for the top belts in a week, it fit their “tiers” at the time, and made them look threatening by virtue of how well they geled as a duo. Obviously reduced a lot for TV (wow, but more than half), but solid.

Rating: *** (good, classic “LCO Match”)

* A non-Title match featuring the World Champion up against the upper-mid gatekeeper. Minami’s in some odd sparkly dark blue singlet I’ve never seen before. Aja’s in the purple & white.

Minami harries Aja with speed, but runs right into a Vader Attack. She gets a rollup out of the corner, but a flying cross-body is caught and she’s slammed. Aja tosses her around the by the hair and throws kicks & headbutts, then a “MINAMIIIIIIII!!” avalanche into the corner. Backdrop suplex gets two, and she dumps Minami and hucks a TABLE at her, just being merciless as hell, yet also casual about it, like this is just a walk in the park for her. She throws a chair, ANOTHER table, then one of those “random metal squares”, then piledrives Minami on the square.

Aja hits three piledrivers in a row, then a second rope splash & a backdrop driver, and Minami FINALLY scores a real comeback move with a German Suplex. Aja promptly hits a mountain bomb out of a charge, but attempts a Super one and gets knocked off- Minami’s Flying Senton misses, but she gets a rollup before walking into an Uraken. She manages the standard “Sunset Flip Powerbomb” reversal of the Super Mountain Bomb- two! She tries a German, running out of shit, but Aja does a standing switch into her own… for three (8:24 of 13:30 shown)! The interviewer says something she doesn’t like and gets swatted in the post-match, too.

Holy god- what an absolute SLAUGHTER. I’ve never seen anyone who was a serious name take such a one-sided beating as Minami did here, as Aja just destroyed her with move after move after move, doing various unfair things just to prove a point and show her dominance. Minami didn’t start hitting stuff until very late in the game, doing some crafty stuff to stay in the match, but it just wasn’t to be. And pinning someone with a GERMAN SUPLEX, a basic (if elite) move, is another big case of “This is the Ace”.

Rating: **1/2 (staggeringly one-sided, but some good stuff- among the better, more well-wrestled squashes you’ll see)

* Well here’s an interesting one, and a fountain of ***** matches in the future, but it’s a non-title match and at this point “Double Inoue” isn’t even a regular team. Manami’s in black, while Yamada’s now switched to one-piece singlets after years of shirts & pants- this is a white & silver one with her name on it. Kyoko’s in sparkly pink & yellow gear, and Takako’s in a blue/light blue outfit this time.

Takako promptly runs in to cheat, but when Yamada does, she boots her partner by mistake. Manami gets tossed to the ropes, but fires off with a Running No-Hands Springboard… hitting the mat. She manages a dropkick out of the corner and her Inverted Nelson Suplex, but Kyoko hits the snap fallaway slam, dropkick & Giant Swing, as we’re hitting the signature spots early. Takako in with some mean shit, and she hits the “walk around and knee them in the face” Tombstone for two. Another gets two and we’re clearly clipped a bit already. Manami reverses a double-lariat to the Rolling Cradle on Kyoko, and aims for her finisher already, but Kyoko slips out and powerbombs her out of the Manami Roll for two. Kyoko’s dropkicked out of the Slingshot Backsplash, but Manami botches her second Running Springboard and instead settles for a flying splash suicida to both women- good improvisation there.

Moonsault misses Kyoko but a Manami Roll gets two on Takako. Yamada & Takako reverse stuff on each other until Takako catches her with a super armdrag and Aurora Special (shoulder-mounted backdrop) for two-counts. Yamada lands Kick Beamspam on Kyoko to come back, but she hits the Slingshot Backsplash on the champs and a Run-Up Flying Back Elbow on Yamada for two! Niagara Driver fails, so the champs hit her with a Missile Kick/German/Double Flying Headbutt combo for two! Takako stops the Reverse Gory Bomb, but Manami stops the Niagara Driver- Flying Enzuigiri gets two for Yamada, but Takako saves. Manami deals with her and Yamada hits the Reverse Gory Bomb for the pin at (10:24 of 17:13 shown) for a shockingly-easy, standard win- the champs never seemed to be in trouble!

Interesting little match, as they cut it a bunch for TV, and they hit a bunch of signature stuff and all their big moves, but with much less authority than usual. An odd kind of “TV Match” you get with AJW, where they cut out restholds and do their big spots, but you can tell the effort’s not QUITE there to hit ****+, because they have a bigger show coming up. So you get stuff like people taking a ton of moves, but then just firing back with their own, super-agile movements like they weren’t hurting at all (just in case you thought AEW invented that). But like… most of their big stuff is there! And they do a lot of move teases and hitting it the second time- stuff like that. It lets you see how good they are, and makes you appreciate more when they really open up for the big matches.

Rating: ***1/4 (good, abridged TV match with a lot of their good stuff, but no real peril for the champs)

We end things watching the other match from this show, and get the real times for the televised bouts. Tomoko Watanabe beats Numacchi with the Screwdriver at (10:40), I guess.

Overall, a good hour+ of TV- they shorten the matches by a bit, so you see only the “heated” portions, and the effort’s not quite the same as on the big shows, but it kind of makes you appreciate the WHOLE promotion a bit more- seeing LCO score wins on thrown-together teams, or the champs pick up a pretty easy win for once. Aja completely demolishing Minami is pretty shocking, too.