Joshi Spotlight: Miori “Cooga” Kamiya

Cooga – Joshiresu

… What? Sometimes, you just want to write the bio for a completely mediocre star! They can be just as informative as those for the GOOD wrestlers!

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- MIORI “COOGA” KAMIYA:
Real Name: Miori Kamiya (aka Lady Cooga, Cooga, “Cougar”- see below)
Billed Height & Weight: 5’5″ 143 lbs.
Career: 1986-1992, 1996-2000

-It’s a testament to the training skill of Jaguar Yokota, and the preposterous level of talent All Japan Women’s Puroresu had in the Class of 1986, when the WORST person in their class of six was Miori Kamiya. I mean, the next shittiest worker in that group is either Combat Toyoda or Kaoru Maeda!

Kamiya was a total unknown to me until I reviewed AJW Dream Rush– the dawn of the Interpromotional Era and ironically the last of the “Trio” of big shows I watched- and saw this person wrestling a much more dated, slower style than the others. She was still good, but just looked like a wrestler out of time (like Greg Valentine in 1992 WWF). And sure enough, she retired within the month and was gone, never having gotten the push that went to most of her Class of ’86 contemporaries. The most notable thing about her was this goofy karate-style punch that had this giant 1980s flourish to it, as she swung herself into position and held a hand outstretched in front of her, then plastered the running opponent in the belly with her other hand. It was like something the “martial artist” wrestlers of ’80s WWF would do. In a company where some people were legit strikers throwing devastating stiff kicks.

Cooga – Joshiresu

Miori’s green facepaint, worn in much of 1992. I assume this is some Japanese cultural thing? Is she supposed to be a Kappa?

In most of the AJW shows I’ve seen from 1992, she’s in the “El Matador” role jobbing to people or being “filler” in a multi-person tag team match. In those, she’s rarely on offense for a significant period of time, and is often taking a beating during one of the heat segments. And what offense she shows is VERY dated- she wrestles like someone from 1986, not the “future of wrestling” proto-AEW/NJPW stuff you see the women doing in 1992 Joshi. She’s in there doing headlocks, butterfly suplexes and running sentons when other people are running up to the ropes and flying backwards, doing Moonsault Suicidas, springboarding everywhere, and inventing new kinds of suplexes. The most interesting thing she does in most of ’92 is wear green facepaint (like… her entire face is just green). I mean, there’s a good performance here and there featuring her (she can “center” a more exciteable, younger wrestler, for example), but I’ve never see her go over what I’d call ***. She’s just… “Card Filler”.

Kamiya actually returned for Jaguar Yokota’s Jd’ promotion, along with other veterans, changing her name to “Cooga”. I theorized this was a Japanese spelling/pronunciation of “Cougar” (owing to contemporaries like Jaguar & Lioness in the same company), and a translation of a YouTube comment into English revealed someone just calling her “Cougar” in that language, so I’m calling it a fact now- Google Translate & YouTube comments are famously unassailable! Once again, she didn’t really stand out from her contemporaries, but all in all, she had a 13-year career.

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The AJW Class of 1986- Miori Kamiya (in a mask as Cooga), Combat Toyoda, Aja Kong, Kaoru Maeda, Megumi Kudo & Bison Kimura.

CAREER TRAJECTORY:
-Cooga debuted in AJW’s brilliant “Class of 1986”, meaning her classmates were Aja Kong, Bison Kimura, Megumi Kudo, Combat Toyoda & Kaoru Maeda- an instant conglomeration of talent and future big stars. Kudo & Toyoda would quit and find success elsewhere much later, becoming big stars in FMW. Aja became the Ace in the early ’90s. Bison was a big upper-midcarder for years. And even Maeda made a name for herself a couple of times. Aaaaaaand there was Miori.

In her third year, she won her only AJW gold, the Japanese Tag Team Titles, teaming with Reibun Amada to beat Kaoru Maeda & Mika Takahashi. Their reign lasted from March to June 1989- 102 days in total- they were beaten by Dream Orca (future stars Toshiyo Yamada & Etsuko Mita). Kamiya continued with AJW for 3-4 years after that, never winning any major gold. I watched through all of the 1992 stuff I could find on YouTube, and it seems to indicate she was in that “Established Midcarder” role- similar to Tito Santana as he was winding down his WWF career, losing to guys like The Barbarian on PPV. You know- that “just enough credibility to pin lower-ranked wrestlers; not enough to beat anyone good; the first speedbump to put over your up & comers” zone. Not the greatest position to be in, but honestly a VERY important role in wrestling. Her years of experience probably lent her some value as a credible JTTS.

Case in Point: 1992’s big show, AJW Dream Rush, was headlined by an Interpromotional Tag Team match between JWP’s top stars and AJW’s tag champs, and the culmination of the years-long Bull Nakano/Aja Kong mega-feud, in which Aja finally ended a three-year reign to become the unrivaled champion of AJW. And the very first match on that card? Kamiya teaming up with a jobber rookie (Chikako Shiratori) against Las Cachorras Orientales, who were still finding their footing as a midcard tag team. And KAMIYA took the fall from Mita’s Death Valley Driver, not the rookie. And around the same time, Kamiya did the job in a 13-ish minute bout against Mima Shimoda, who was in need of looking strong for her upcoming push as part of LCO.

That said, she didn’t lose EVERY time- in a few big shows (Grand Prixs and the like), she’s part of multi-person tags, and usually doesn’t do the fall (AJW wasn’t so predictable that “the lowest-ranked person loses the fall” every time- often, a bigger star would). 1992 closes out with her teaming with up & coming “newly showcased rookie” Kaoru Ito (who was finally getting more TV time), usually doing the bulk of the match’s “meat” while Ito was tagged in for her flashy, high-speed stuff- Ito was also generally the person scoring the winning fall. Finally, at AJW Zenjo is Dream- Last Night’s Explosion, she retired.

When Jaguar Yokota returned from retirement, she eventually formed the company Jd’ 1995. The following year, Kamiya came out of retirement, taking the name “Cooga” and becoming what appears to be a solid “filler” wrestler- effectively her old AJW slot. She often wrestled the top stars like Jaguar or Lioness Asuka in long-ish matches. If it’s a jobber (ie. someone I’ve never heard of), Cooga is typically the winner. But Bison, Jaguar or anyone else with an animal name? She’s toast.

Her only other title win comes from here, as she & Sumie Sakai win the vacant TWF Tag Team Titles in Oct. 1998, holding them for 253 days before losing to Fang Suzuki & The Bloody. Finally, in 1999, she wrestles her last match and retires again the following year, never making another comeback aside from filler “temporary return” stuff like most joshi do.

MOVESET:
Overdramatic 1980s Karate Punch to the Gut, Running Senton, German Suplex, Butterfly Suplex, Flying Knee Smash, Swinging DDT, Tiger Driver (finisher)

MATCHES:

MIORI KAMIYA vs. MIMA SHIMODA:
* Shimoda was in LCO as the subordinate member trying to prove herself, and on the last show she lost a tag bout against Kamiya’s team. Kamiya is definitely on the way out by this point, so this’ll be interesting. Shimoda’s in the red & white LCO gear, and Kamiya’s in her green & black singlet.

They start off with ’80s wrestling, as per Kamiya’s norm, but Shimoda uses her speed and scrappiness, including using the Bushwhacker Head Ram into the corner. Yeah, Shimoda using Luke & Butch offense- there’s I never expected to see. So Kamiya just kicks the snot out of her, tosses her, and throws chairs just like in the last match, showing a lot more fire than normal. Shimoda gets stretched out and has her back worked, but finally manages to fire back with her falling clotheslines and some flying around to take over. She works the leg, but gets caught in a nifty “leap-over” armdrag that I once saw Jerry Lynn do, then takes the ’80s Karate Punch. And another! Kamiya knocks Shimoda off the top and whips her around outside again, even using a fan’s BACKPACK as a ranged weapon, then dodges a flying cross-body and gets a Joshi Rollup for the first close two-count of the match! Kamiya launches her for two, then dodges another clothesline, but Shimoda reverses a whip to a snap backslide (something I’ve never seen before) and catches her for the three (14:02)! Huh- interesting fall there!

This bout actually ended up being really solid, largely thanks to Kamiya, who never stood out to me until now. She just centered the bout with good, solid offense, and seems more skilled at solo bouts than the tags she’s normally stuck in. The stretching generally was limb-focused so was fine, though there was too much dumping people to waste time outside, but I liked the “Bret Hart Ending” of someone jobbing to a flash pin. This probably sets up Shimoda’s emphasis and has Kamiya “Doing the honors” on the way out.

Rating: **3/4 (solid effort and good showing from Kamiya)

COOGA & CHIKAKO SHIRATORI (Jd’) vs. JAGUAR YOKOTA (Jd’) & MIMA SHIMODA (AJW):
(Jd’, 24.11.1996)
* Well I found a Jd’ match- it’s not commonly found on YouTube! Cooga is teaming up with Chikako, who quit AJW to join Jd’s greener pastures, probably in hopes of getting the push she wasn’t gonna get in the top-heavy AJW. Jaguar trained both Cooga AND Shimoda, as is the founder of Jd’ and it’s second-biggest wrestler (after Lioness Asuka). Shimoda is one half of various tag teams around this time, winning the WWWA Tag Titles with Akira Hokuto, Manami Toyota & Etsuko Mita. Cooga’s in a blue & silver ’80s singlet with armbands and a mask, Chikako’s in a black & pink “singlet with skirt”, Jaguar’s in a white/silver two-piece, and Shimoda’s in red & gold.

Jaguar leads Chikako through some chain-wrestling to start, taking a neckbreaker & La Majistral after reversals. Shimoda controls her handily, but takes her own falling clothesline and Cooga comes in with kicks and a senton. Chikako missile kicks Shimoda into her own corner, but Jaguar wipes her out with strikes and that devastating-looking Vertical Drop Pedigree, sold like “hey, ow…” from Chikako, because Piledrivers Don’t Mean Shit In Joshi. The vets torture her for a while, and her selling is pretty great at least (though the sound is light in the ring so you can’t really hear much). Jaguar turns a Torture Rack into a Samoan drop, and a tombstone gets two after some stretching. Chikako whips Shimoda out of the corner to come back, but Cooga just eats the falling clotheslines. More restholds as they slowly wear her down, but they brawl outside, with Cooga taking out Jaguar & Chikako actually throwing chairs at Shimoda! Chikako actually brings the chair into the ring, and Cooga TOMBSTONES Jaguar on it, which would be a match-ending spot if piledrivers meant shit in Joshi. Instead, people barely react and Shimoda breaks up the count with her own chair. Then Cooga just tosses Jaguar to her own corner, but multiple tags leave Jaguar in like she’s fine, and she does her flip-dodge on Chikako, who stuffs the Straightjacket Suplex.

The idol hits a Big DDT & side suplex, and Cooga’s interference lets Chikako hit her OWN Straightjacket Suplex for two. Cooga hits a Tornado DDT & Flying Enzuiknee for two. Jaguar tries her Front Piledriver to come back, but Chikako flies in with the falling clothesline- Shimoda does the same trick to Cooga right after. Cooga hits a double-DDT out of a double-suplex attempt, then a Flying Somersault Attack to both, and a plancha! She monkey flips Jaguar, who hits Chikako instead, then takes a German from Shimoda for two. Tiger Suplex is reversed for two, but she counters a whip for one, getting two, but Jaguar missile kicks Shimoda by mistake… and Cooga hits a TIGER DRIVER ’91! For TWO! Like, Jaguar didn’t even have to save. Chikako does rolling butterfly suplexes for two, but Shimoda hits a double falling clothesline and a Doomsday Device Cross-Body gets two- Cooga saves. Straightjacket Suplex gets two. Stuff gets reversed and Shimoda’s superplex gets two. Jaguar deals with Cooga finally, so Shimoda kills Chikako dead with the Death Lake Driver (Tiger Superplex) at (22:40). Cooga challenges Shimoda to a single match after the bout.

Not bad, though wrestled at a pretty light pace for the most part, extending the length without adding so much excitement. It seems like the first part was “teach Chikako how to wrestle”, and she sold well enough, but she has an awkwardness to her that I don’t think she ever dropped. You saw Cooga hit a surprising amount of big-time moves, but without the “Running Pace” of Joshi, it came off much more mundane than you’d think a Double-DDT/Somersault Dive/Plancha Suicida routine would be, you know? The finishing stretch was typically Joshi, though, albeit with Chikako not adding ANYTHING except taking offense, as the veterans had to wrestle themselves and do all the spots. The weird case of some joshi moves just not being seen as devastating, like front piledrivers and Misawa’s MDK, adds to the weirdness.

Rating: *** (perfectly fine match- a bit too long but with some good moves)