AJW TV (April 13, 1994):
* And it’s time for another 1:20:00 AJW TV show (taped March 30th, only three days after Wrestling Queendom ’94), this one featuring two big tag matches! LCO, newly crowned JWP Tag Team Champions in a WAR with Cutie Suzuki & Mayumi Ozaki, take on the UWA Tag Champs, Yumiko Hotta & Takako Inoue! There’s some Okinawa Resort Convention highlights, as they visit the islands far to the south of Japan, home to the former Ryukyu Kingdom and the origins of karate. Our hosts are the usual AJW guys, plus Jaguar Yokota and Akira Hokuto in a Hawaiian shirt, looking much more like a human being instead of the mythical creature she turned to in 1993. It’s honestly weird seeing her just shoot the shit. She does commentary for this show.
Sweet! More ads! Problem Child with Macauley Culkin! Chips! Max Factor! Guys tapdancing for KDD! Some cartoon face I find immensely disturbing! And an ad for World Heroes 2 Jet, with Mudman performing in Swan Lake, lol. Some boy-band duo called “class” is releasing a new single called Holiday! Some smutty CD-Rom video game! Final Fantasy VI!
TOSHIYO YAMADA vs. KAORU ITO:
* Yamada, fresh off of losing the All Pacific Title, takes on rising undercarder Ito. Ito’s in the yellow Peter Pan tunic over green- one of her iconic ugliest looks. Yamada’s in black & silver.
Ito’s all “look at me, attacking first!” but Yamada schools her right-quick with the snap suplex & kicks, but Ito uses her ass attack and the run-up corner senton (very early for that set-up move) to come back. Ito works the leg and then kicks some ass outside the ring, tossing chairs like a shit. Yamada takes a superplex and Stomp Spam, really putting the kid over. Flying Stomp misses, but Ito scores some flash-pins anyways until Yamada just crushes her with a neckbreaking backdrop driver. Enzuigiri Spam gets two, and they take turns shoving each other off the top until Ito reverses a cross-body for two. Perfect Plex & Flying Stomp get two each, and she grows increasingly frustrated with an inability to pin the veteran. She whips Yamada to the ropes, but a big turning front kick wipes her out at (9:36 of 12:04 shown).
Could not possibly be a more generic match, honestly- the typical “Veteran vs. Ito” affair where Ito gets a ton of offense and shine to build her up to the next level, but the vet handily wins with a simple counter. Yamada using a bunch of killer moves for two leading to Ito no-selling (a habit she’d, um, carry on when she became the Ace years later) and just hitting more finishers wasn’t great, and a simple spinkick finishing was weird, but at least it was energetic.
Rating: **1/2 (fine Rookie vs. Veteran match, though it’s weird seeing Ito always dominate until she’s beaten)
This is around the time when LCO shift from “Wacky Midcard Fun Tag Team” to “Holy shit these chicks are INSANE!”- their shift in credibility is rapid and apparent.
UWA TAG TEAM TITLES:
YUMIKO HOTTA & TAKAKO INOUE vs. LOS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES (Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda):
* So three days before this was taped, LCO, the subordinates of Akira Hokuto, beat Ozaki & Cutie to become the JWP Tag Team Champions. Meanwhile, Hotta & Takako spent most of last year alternatively building credibility as new UWA Tag Champs, and losing to top-tier teams. One of those important roles in a promotion, to be sure, but can the rising LCO take them out? LCO are in their “Championship Gold” (Mita having swapped the tight one-strap two-piece thing for a looser set, and Shimoda’s in a two-piece with tassles), while Hotta’s in some new red & black singlet, and Takako’s in some white & black gear with cut-outs that I don’t recall seeing before.
LCO attacks before the bell, but Takako nukes Shimoda with a DDT and a lariat out of the corner, like she’s a 300-lb. powerhouse, but gets caught with a leap out of the corner, and Mita hits Moolah Whips and THREE piledrivers, of course sold like nothing offense, because Joshi. Shimoda gets her ass kicked again, Takako making sure to do it right in front of Hokuto on commentary. Shimoda actually manages to haul down Hotta & escape, but now MITA gets killed, booted around and hung upside-down in the corner. Backdrop and an assisted chest-kick just KILL her, but Shimoda saves until Takako gives her the biggest running slap ever. The champs bring ’em outside for a beating and this is REALLY one-sided so far- Shimoda finally comes back with her clotheslines, and Mita’s Blazing Chops get two! Northern Lights Suplex only gets one, but they double-team and do stretching. LCO hit the Bitch Pose, but another Blazing Chop earns Mita a kick to the face instead. Takako tries but gets beaten up, Shimoda turning her chokeslam into a clothesline and more. Takako armdrags her off the top to come back, but Shimoda charges into Hotta and shoves Takako out into her, and it’s the Assisted Plancha/Dive, swapping in a missile kick for the Electric Chair/Splash they normally add to that.
Takako resists the DVD but eats a Blazing Chop, and Hotta saves her from another DVD attempt. Takako hits the Aurora Special (shoulder-mounted backdrop) for two, and Hotta hits the Rolling Kick in the corner- she tries for the Tiger Driver twice, but gets backslid for two. Hotta avoids a double-team and facecrushers both LCO members, THEN hits the Tiger Driver, but Shimoda pushes them over at 2. Hotta hits another and slaps Shimoda, but goes for the Pyramid Driver and gets tripped. Takako hits a backdrop hold on Shimoda for two. Hotta stops a Tiger Suplex and they hit a backdrop/flying elbow for two. Takako misses a Flying Knee but Germans Shimoda onto her neck, but Shimoda reverses a double-team to a Tiger Suplex for a CLOSE two. NOW we get the Electric Chair/Flying Splash combo- Hotta saves. Shimoda aims for the Death Lake Driver (Tiger Superplex), but Takako knocks her off and hits the most telegraphed Flying Knee ever (Shimoda openly watches for it and obviously turns around to take it on the side of her head)- Mita saves. Then Takako telegraphs a charge and eats Mita’s Death Valley Driver, letting Shimoda hit a weak Tiger Suplex- Hotta saves. Mita finally takes care of Hotta outside the ring, allowing Shimoda to hit the Death Lake Driver for the pin (17:52 of 20:03 shown)- new UWA Tag Champs! LCO are double-champions!!
This was a much slower pace and more one-sided than I was expecting, but I should have guessed given LCO went through a 20-minute war that hit ****3/4 days earlier, and the UWA Champs had to look good in defeat. “The loser controls much of the match” is a pretty typical AJW trick, too. But because of that kinda stuff, I think, they just never got into a groove or a set pace- it was just people doing moves and kind of stuffing each other’s offense, then LCO finally started pushing Hotta out of the ring to take out Takako (given Hotta never sold ANYTHING, this was a smart move). This match effectively spelled the end of the Hotta/Takako team. They had a series of decent matches last year, with the JWP/AJW ones being excellent ****+ affairs in particular, but the rest of this year sees fewer and fewer team-ups between them, and they’d have different partners by 1995 as Takako got elevated BIG-TIME. The team honestly comes off like it was just “something for them to do”, boosting Takako’s credibility and leaving Hotta in that zone she’s always in- perennial challenger but always looking tough.
Rating: **3/4 (good enough TV match, but there was no flow or real desperation from either team to win- it’s possible losing 3 minutes to clipping hurt the flow)
Now we take a look at everyone at an Okinawa Resort retreat. Hokuto’s neon-colored overalls is definitely a unique look. They play repeated games of tug-of-war (the team with Toyota & Aja seems to win most of them, at the cost of rope burns on Manami’s hands), while Kyoko beats Reggie Bennett in sumo, while someone I don’t recognize beats Hokuto and is awarded the trophy… oh wait, that’s Bull Nakano in “normal people” clothes. Pretty fun stuff we wouldn’t normally see.
JAS CUP SPECIAL TAG MATCH:
AJA KONG & SAKIE HASEGAWA vs. KYOKO INOUE & REGGIE BENNETT:
* An interesting tag bout, as Aja/Sakie challenged for the top Tag Belts earlier in the month, and they’re up against near-Main Eventer Kyoko and Reggie, who is a newcomer with Aja-level power. Kyoko’s in the usual, while Reggie’s in the orange shirt & blue jorts. Aja’s in blue & white, Sakie’s in the neon onesie singlet. I don’t know what this Special Cup is, but the winners get paper checks at the end of the bout.
Reggie loses rock-paper-scissors and has to start off against Aja, and they do the AJW version of WWF “FAT MAN STAND-OFF”-style matches, just slamming into each other over and over again, Aja clearly frustrated at someone who can match her power. Kyoko dropkicks her and a double-shoulderblock puts her down. They pose to great applause while Aja looks almost amused, but their next double-team sees Sakie drag Reggie out and Aja hit her Vader Attack on Kyoko, and now Aja’s team do their “Steiner Brothers Pose”! Sakie looks like she’s having SO much fun flexing and doing the Rick Steiner tongue-wag, too. Kyoko DDTs her out of the corner and Reggie adds a slam and her big splash for two. Sakie comes back with chops, but Reggie’s just “COME ON!” and LEVELS her with one of her own. Kyoko adds the fireman’s toss, surfboard, and dancing deathlock, but Sakie escapes and Aja hits the Vader Attack, Avalanche (“INOUAAAAAYYYYY!”) and stretching. Aja mocks her deathlock by doing the Rude hip-swivel in her own, and adds a chinlock to that.
Sakie hits two Savate Kicks for two, but Kyoko nails a slingshot dropkick. Sakie pounces on Reggie once she’s in, and REALLY fights to lock on the butterfly-hold on her arms in a smart bit, and Aja kicks Reggie in the ass to allow for a butterfly suplex for two. Aja adds a splash for two- it’s adorbz how she keeps trying to help her subordinate. Reggie tags her with a tilt-a-whirl slam, though, but Sakie hauls her down- Aja brings in the oil can off the top, but plasters Sakie with it by mistake. Sakie wakes up with a Savate Kick to Reggie’s face, but Reggie clotheslines down both opponents. Kyoko gets the Run-Up Flying Back Elbow for two and goes for the Niagara Driver, but Aja hammers her with the can and tags in. Kyoko catches her with the Slingshot Backsplash, but tries the Elbow again like a doofus- second attempts NEVER work in Joshi! Aja brings down both opponents, then hits a 2nd-rope splash for two. Kyoko tries to reverse a whip, but eats the Uraken backfist and she’s done- Flying Back Elbow finishes at (12:18) while Sakie holds Reggie back.
Fun little TV match, treated more like fun and posing than a real intense scrap, but it was fine for that- they don’t all have to be super-dramatic. Reggie looked great taking all that offense from Sakie, they didn’t spoil us with too much Reggie/Aja (that was a BIG tease), and Kyoko got to do most of her big, fun moves. Finish was rather abrupt, but that’s fairly common for Aja matches- her dominance is such that she only needs a moment and you’re done. And it puts over her elbow as a big finisher.
Rating: *** (good chemistry, lots of fun spots, revenge stuff and cute bits- hard to dislike this kind of match, even without a “Big Main Event Feel”)
We end things with the matches we didn’t see, and full match-times: Kumiko Maekawa beating Rie Tamada with the Standing Back-Bodydrop Of Death at (7:16), Chikako Shiratori pinning Chaparrita ASARI at (13:05) with a bridging cradle, and Manami Toyota & Suzuka Minami beating Tomoko Watanabe & Bull Nakano with a Moonsault on Tomoko at (15:45).
Not a bad night of wrestling, though it was hardly outstanding. We had a fun, quick main event, and LCO finally earned big AJW tag gold with the trophy UWA Belts to go along with their JWP ones- this really marks them as a “Big Deal” in the company, and is a great reward for busting their asses in 1993 to have good matches.
WRESTLING QUEENDOM ’94 RECAP:
March 27th sees Wrestling Queendom ’94 take place, and man it’s a killer show. FOUR MATCHES over ****, to the point where LCO winning the tag belts and hitting ****3/4 isn’t even the best match on the card- the Main Event is truly special and is the true cap-off to the Hokuto/Kandori feud.
AJW JUNIOR TITLE:
CANDY OKUTSU (JWP) vs. RIE TAMADA (AJW): Not bad, but not great. Constant move repetition, Candy hitting two Germans for the pin, possibly hurting herself mid-match (9:01). **1/2.
LITTLE ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER vs. LITTLE GREAT MUTA: Frankie, as “Muta”, clearly takes a Mist Packet from a Ring Girl, almost spits it out, then finally sprays Abdullah, lays him out on a stretcher, then just falls backwards off the top (his “Moonsault”) for the win (7:18). DUD.
JAPANESE TAG TEAM TITLES:
MIKI HANDA & YASHA KURENAI (LLPW) vs. KAORU ITO & TOMOKO WATANABE (AJW): Very, VERY long match, ending when Ito stops several MDKs from getting the pin- Tomoko gets hit with a Wrist-Clutch Overhead Suplex from Yasha at (19:29). Largely just a collection of moves all thrown together, mostly filler, but ends with good finishers. ***.
HIKARI FUKUOKA (JWP) vs. CHAPARITA ASARI (AJW): One of those matches that is interesting phychology-wise, with Hikari acting as a grumpy powerhouse against the tiny ASARI, but the fans utterly sat on their hands for it- technical stuff just doesn’t interest joshi crowds at this point. ASARI misses the Sky Twister Press, taking a huge bump, and Hikari Moonsaults her at (14:31). ***1/2.
MEGUMI KUDO & NURSE NAKAMURA (FMW) vs. CHIKAKO SHIRATORI & SUZUKA MINAMI: Minami did some good stuff, but Kudo’s team was obviously going to win. Chikako gets caught in a Stretch Plum and the ref calls it at (16:32) in an odd ending. Kind of flat, but a huge Super Brainbuster kills Nurse’s shoulder at one point. **3/4.
IWA WORLD TITLE:
MANAMI TOYOTA (AJW) vs. PLUM MARIKO (JWP): Plum’s best-ever singles match, as Toyota sells her ass off and does the “Toyota Template”, but with Plum hitting her snap submissions to reverse stuff. She seems to hold Manami off, but the second she tries high-risk stuff… Toyota stops the Super Frankensteiner with the mother of all Super Ligerbombs, then dogpiles a shitload of MDKs one after another just to establish dominance. Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex is academic at (20:34). ****1/2.
EAGLE SAWAI (LLPW) & REGGIE BENNETT (AJW) vs. TAKAKO INOUE & YUMIKO HOTTA (AJW): Good, uncoordinated match oddly putting three AJW women and one LLPW one in the same match. The smaller women actually use trickery and asshole stuff to keep ahead. Reggie hits her Torture Rack on Takako for the win (13:05). ***.
JWP TAG TEAM TITLES:
MAYUMI OZAKI & CUTIE SUZUKI (JWP) vs. LAS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES (Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda) (AJW): Finally, the match that MADE Las Cachorras. JWP’s team had some great comebacks, but LCO completely stops their momentum with cheating, bitchiness, and more. Mita finally maxes out her “Powerhouse Game”, launching idols around by the hair. JWP pulls off mega-double-teams, but Cutie eventually lands on Mita and eats two Death Valley Drivers in a row, netting LCO the top Tag Belts of their competition (20:35). And they react with the humility and kindness you’d expect, flipping off JWP’s President and being shits about it. Non-stop big moves. ****3/4.
SAKIE HASEGAWA (AJW) vs. DYNAMITE KANSAI (JWP): One of my favorite one-sided matches, as Kansai kicks the shit out of Sakie, who pulls off every desperate tactic imaginable to stay in the game. At one point she hits an illegal choke that actually gets a huge pop, but every time she gets ahead, Kansai can just face-kick her to death. Kansai’s selling was off the charts good, and Sakie’s effort was clear. She reverses Splash Mountain to that same choke, but loses energy fast and Kansai just hits it for real at (16:34). ****1/4.
ALL PACIFIC TITLE:
TOSHIYO YAMADA vs. KYOKO INOUE: Not my favorite match- a lot of time-killing and Kyoko wins with a submission out of nowhere at (16:17), winning the All-Pacific Title after a nondescript reign from Yamada. A little too much of “Kyoko sells death, but kicks out of everything”. ***1/4.
AJA KONG & BULL NAKANO (AJW) vs. AKIRA HOKUTO (AJW) & SHINOBU KANDORI (LLPW): The mega-Main Event, which is shockingly non-famous. Hokuto, in her “Final Countdown”, gives her LLPW rival from ’93 a shot as her tag partner, and the two completely disrespect each other all match long… until they start fighting harder and finally get into how good each other is. They go from being unhelpful and even abusive partners to back each other up in a TREMENDOUS match. Akira finally hits three Northern Lights Bombs as Kandori deals with Bull, giving Akira the win over the WWWA Champion. *****.
So yeah- we get the All-Pacific & JWP Tag Titles changing hands as both Kyoko Inoue & LCO get elevated BIG-TIME, Plum Mariko’s best-ever match, and a main event with more “big character moments” than you can imagine. ****1/2, ****1/4, ****3/4 and ***** all in one show make it an easy thumbs-up and a good shot for “Best Card Ever”.