Joshi Spotlight: VIOLENCE WAR- Las Cachorras vs. The U*Tops (Steel Cage Deathmatch)

This one comes to us via Blog poster Evito-X-Puro, who, upon realizing that the full match was not uploaded anywhere online, posted the full version to their YouTube channel! So bask in the glory as LCO go completely insane in the match that made them semi-legendary to tape traders.

STEEL CAGE MATCH (Escape Rules):
(Wrestlemarinepiad 1997- 21.09.1997):
* This and the Aja/Kyoko brawl from the same year are probably the most famous matches LCO ever had- legendary brawls in the annals of Joshi. 1997 is a much different time for all four of these women- LCO (Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda) have been upgraded to Main Eventers, but only as a duo, thanks to their own greatness, and Shimoda’s multiple WWWA Tag Title reigns with other wrestlers. It’s really fun seeing Main Event LCO versus the “midcarders rising up” LCO of 93-95. Much more deliberate, and more confident- Mita always seemed like she had something to prove in 1993, but by ’97, she acted like she’d already proven it. And being so devoted to cheating that they have their own specially-made steel chairs is a master-stroke. They’re wearing reverse-colored versions of each other’s gear- two-piece outfits in purple & white.

The U*Tops, formed specifically to destroy the dominant heels LCO, included Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe, who have notably become much bigger stars as well- ’97 saw AJW lose so much of its talent (30 wrestlers in all! Seriously!) that they were finally forced to upgrade these two- JTTS cannon fodder in literally every show I watch between 1991 & 1995- into big stars. Both would eventually hit the big time, but in a gutted promotion- as someone said about Ito, they’re perfectly fine wrestlers to be your #5 or #6 workers… but when they’re your #2 or #3… you’ve got problems. Both are now much larger than the last time I saw them- Ito in particular got very bulky as time went on, losing her “High Flyer” concept. Ito’s wearing a black singlet with white flames on it, and Tomoko’s wearing football pads over her gear, due to a bad shoulder injury. This gives the match an immediately memorable visual right out of the gate- always great booking.

LCO completely savage the U*Tops to start, bloodying them with blue & pink chairs, biting them, and using chains. Like, these poor kids get NOTHING. Finally, LCO are rammed into each other and the U*Tops get some payback with chairs and some grinding into the cage. Ito’s running dropkick to Shimoda has her doing that classic “awwwwww!” whine- such a great heel. Tomoko keeps ramming Mita but misses another charge and suddenly LCO are right back in control. Shimoda even tries to tear Tomoko’s football pads off! Then there’s stereo strangulation attempts with the chains, with a great close-up of Tomoko’s bloodied face- Ito tries to save her, but gets beaten down again and now Shimoda’s yanking on both chains while Mita strangles Ito.

Ito finally FINALLY a Death Valley Driver to a German and Ito dragon screws Shimoda, setting up a U*Tops comeback. They actually start doing leg submissions- in a CAGE match! Tomoko throws some wicked body checks (still with the football pads) to Shimoda, but momentum shifts a couple of times. Nice psychology as Shimoda takes over on Tomoko, but hears Mita’s shrieks of pain while in a hold, and immediately walks over, chairshots Ito, then throws on the same hold that hurt Mita. Tomoko screams out in agony (TERRIFIC) while Mita plants Ito with a DVD. They torture Tomoko’s arm (close-ups of her face reveal just how great she is at this- just this look of “NO! PLEASE DON’T!”) until Ito gets up, so Shimoda Tiger Suplexes her. Then rifles a chair right into Tomoko’s outstretched arm. Jesus. LCO has finally tired of this carnage and decide to bail, but Ito’s recovered by then and brings Shimoda down with a German off the frickin’ top rope, then they crotch Mita on the top rope out of desperation.

Ito goes to town with a pink chair and starts choking Mita with the chain, and it’s a double clothesline for Mita! Tomoko tries to choke out Shimoda, but Mita hits her with a mother of a chairshot using the blue one. Ito desperately saves Tomoko from an armhold buts gets German’d, then TIGER SUPERPLEXED. Not much elevation (it was more of a drop from a seated position on the top rope), but nice. Mita hits another DVD while Shimoda hauls a length of STEEL GUARDRAIL into the ring using the chain, then Mita drapes chairs over the U*Tops, Shimoda stands the railing up in the corner, and jumps right off the top, throwing the railing onto them! Okay, that technically should hurt less because of the chairs (and she could have gone down WITH the rail), but that looked cool. U*Tops recover right away, dragging LCO down from the cage, but Shimoda ties Ito to the post with the chain thanks to their subordinate outside the ring.

LCO almost look to have it won, but Mita takes a flying chair and BOOM- instant comeback, as the U*Tops wrap chains around their fists and beat the unholy hell out of them, Tomoko hitting chain-lariats on Mita and Shimoda being left a bloody wreck from punches. Ito tears Shimoda’s arm apart in a hold while Mita takes Tomoko’s BRUTAL Screwdriver (one-armed backdrop into a powerbomb) on the back of her head. Tomoko hits another two (one straight on the neck), then in a great bit, Ito dramatically helps a one-armed Tomoko climb the cage and escape, but takes the hugest Super Electric Chair Drop ever, while Mita’s standing right on the top rope, leaving her alone against LCO!

This seems one-sided, but Shimoda’s so fucked up from the arm stuff (great selling, just howling and growling, but never builds sympathy because it’s inhuman-sounding) and chainshots that she can’t recover, and Ito reverses Mita’s DVD, then hits Flying Stomps on her, then Shimoda! LCO stops her from escaping, but Tomoko sprays a fire extinguisher into the ring from the outside, stopping their assault- Mita escapes in the confusion, but that leaves Shimoda & Ito! Shimoda’s arm is shredded again, but Mita climbs back in… and takes the fuckingest bump I’ve ever seen, hitting the ropes with her legs and ending up going neck-first onto the mat! And then Ito, inspired by all the Cage Matches before her, climbs to the top of the cage, prays like Bull Nakano did against Aja Kong, and hits a FLYING DOUBLE-FOOT STOMP FROM THE TOP OF THE CAGE, crushing Mita, then escaping (26:03)!! A bawling, bloody-faced Shimoda has to be helped out of the ring by Mita while the winners are cared for outside- everyone’s just dead, selling the brutality of the match.

Image result for kaoru ito foot stomp cage

How LCO leave the ring- bloody and in tears. But not even remotely sympathetic. Now THAT’S heeling.

God damn, I LOVED this match! LCO dominates to start and beats on their injured opponents, but the U*Tops finally make their comeback after a few false starts, wreck Shimoda’s arm to prevent further damage, and hit some big moves to allow Tomoko to escape. Ito being left alone seems to doom her, but the smoke keeps her safe, and she’s able to crush Shimoda, then damage a vulnerable Mita with that ridiculous, how-is-that-not-literally-fatal Flying Stomp from the top. Shimoda & Tomoko both had terrific selling of their arms, being extremely vocal but one coming off like a heel, and the other a babyface. I liked this a lot more than the “let’s just trade punches for 30 minutes” Cage Matches in AJW, or even the NWA’s War Games stuff- they were brutalizing and bloodying each other, but there were big-time wrestling moves and even PSYCHOLOGY- doing enough damage to Shimoda’s arm repeatedly to prevent her from helping, repaying the damage to Tomoko… it was great.

Rating: ***** (Arguably the best Cage Match of all time- PSYCHOLOGY? In one of THESE? Great bumping and 2-3 of the most awesome spots I’ve ever seen in wrestling. A spectacle of brutality)