Joshi Spotlight: JWP in 1994 (August)

AUGUST 5, 1994:
* And we’re back with more JWP focus, as Rico Kasai’s channel hits a VERY busy stretch in August 1994. One set of bouts is from is a VERY puny arena (Ibaraki-ken), with a big curtain on one side, and a lot of people fanning themselves. Another takes place during a “Body Heat” tournament. The matches here alternate between “acceptable filler”, “way-too-long and boring” and then some REALLY excellent stuff with some great spots- the Ozaki/Devil match in particular is a real banger and shows the hidden gems on this guy’s YouTube account.

CUTIE SUZUKI & CANDY OKUTSU vs. DEVIL MASAMI & MAYUMI OZAKI:
* Two of the top stars take on the idol and the rookie. Cutie’s in white, Candy’s in white & black, Ozaki’s in red and Devil’s in black.

The vets play “kill the rookie” for a while, working the arm over with basic stuff. Devil keeps throwing Candy into the corner JUST short of the tag, which is funny. After like four minutes of this, Ozaki whips her to the ropes and Candy does a friggin’ RUNNING NO-HANDS SPRINGBOARD CROSS-BODY, which is Toyota-territory for impossible jumps, and that’s just crazy. Cutie’s in with a TON of hair-pulling, pretty much doing the “House Show Special” at this point (send the fans home happy without killing yourselves with MOVEZ). Devil adds to this by just jumping Candy and whipping her around outside, including a MONSTER toss into the guardrail. Cutie gets the best of Ozaki out there, but Devil tortures Candy with a front piledriver, surfboard and Lion Tamer that even WCW Jericho would be like “the FUCK, lady?” at. And Oz makes it a double, cuz why not?

Candy monkey flips out after a chinlock, but Cutie takes a backdrop hold & cannonball from Ozaki for two. Powerbomb gets two. Devil hits an overthrow powerbomb, but Candy’s in for a deft reversal and missile kick. She takes a lariat, but Germans Ozaki for two. Cutie misses a Flying Stomp but reverses stuff on Ozaki for two-counts, then hits a Dragon Suplex- Devil saves. Devil lariats down both opponents- Ozaki powerbomb gets two. Devil misses a flying somersault move and Cutie hits her with a flying knee, but the heels hit Stereo Powerbombs… for two! Devil overthrow powerbombs Ozaki onto Candy and that sets up the finish- Devil’s Ligerbomb at (17:36) ends Candy.

Pretty good match, though it had a lot of resting, and was mostly told through “fun character bits” for the length instead of big stuff. The kids never had much of a chance, but got to give a little bit. Candy really comes off like a future star in terms of wrestling ability- I don’t think she ever developed much charisma, but hitting Toyota-level moves as a rookie is pretty crazy.

Rating: *** (good, not great- one of the best ways to do a “House Show Match”, though- that rating isn’t common for this kind of thing)

DYNAMITE KANSAI, CUTIE SUZUKI, CANDY OKUTSU & HIROMI SUGO vs. DEVIL MASAMI, MAYUMI OZAKI, COMMAND BOLSHOI & HIROMI YAGI:
* Pretty evenly-matched teams this time around, with an Ace, Secondary Star, Up & Comer and Rookie on each side. Kansai’s in yellow, Cutie white, Candy white & black, Sugo black, Devil black, Ozaki red, Bolshoi green & blue, and Yagi white.

Hilariously, the first four minutes are all “Kill The Rookie”, everyone beating on Yagi, then Sugo. Candy escapes Devil and the Aces briefly fight, but Kansai kills the clown. Cutie hits a dramatic sleeper, and every single partner of Bolshoi’s comes in to save her in a funny bit- Kansai has to even the odds. She hits a Giant Swing on Ozaki, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen her use before, then CUTIE hits one. OH SHIT NOW SUGO’S DOING IT. She damn near screws it up, but Candy’s is better. Devil gets PO’d and swings CANDY, but soon everyone trades off again. Cutie crushes Sugo with knees and a tombstone, and Kansai crushes Ozaki with lariats until Oz bulldogs out and the Aces clothesline each other. Kansai’s up first and hits a backdrop for two. The others save Devil from Splash Mountain, then break up Kansai’s Northern Lights Suplex at two. But then EVERYONE on Kansai’s team hits Flying Stomps on Devil- Kansai’s looks absolutely devastating. Kansai blocks the enemy team, but they break through and stop the pin. Devil overthrow powerbombs Cutie and Yagi adds some judo flips. Sugo gets killed & Candy misses her run-up cross-body. Devil Powerbomb- Cutie saves. Bolshoi misses a Moonsault and Candy hits Rolling Germans, and Kansai’s backdrop & Cutie’s Dragon Suplex end it at (14:16).

Oh man, this was a total “house show special”, adding in fun spots (multiple Giant Swings!) and extended rookie-murder. Plenty of good bits like the Flying Stomps and “blocking” to prevent the pins from being broken up, but otherwise a pretty leisurely pace.

Rating: **1/4 (good enough stuff)

HIKARI FUKUOKA vs. HIROMI SUGO:
* Hikari takes on one of the company’s rookies. Hikari’s in the Tarzan gear (with a red protector over one elbow), while Sugo’s in a black Rookie Swimsuit.

Sugo actually dominates to start, working the injured arm. They actually fight pretty well in that, moving around and fighting for stuff- definitely not mere restholds. Hikari finally fights out after a few minutes and we hit LONG clutch & crab spots, but Sugo finally comes back with a chinlock & another Fujiwara armbar. Sugo gets backdropped but hits a bunch of running stuff, but misses a flying move and Hikari hits a running bulldog, missile dropkick & Moonsault to finish (12:23). Psychologically consistent, but hoo boy- the crowd sat on their hands for good reason- once they were done chain-wrestling, it was “all holds” and lying around.

Rating: * (Like an IRS match against the laziest version of the “Randy Savage Template”)

MAYUMI OZAKI vs. CUTIE SUZUKI:
* These matches are always fun- haven’t seen this one before (no idea which of their multitude of matches it is, though- it’s possibly way after ’94). Ozaki’s in red & black this time, while Cutie’s in white. This is a pretty distinctive-looking arena.

Ozaki pounces right away, smashing Cutie into a wall of posters featuring JWP’s stars. The fans in the stands loved that one, just peering down taking pictures. Ozaki goes “Bully Queen” in the ring, reveling in the torture- pulling hair, biting, standing on hands, etc. I dunno why, but the announcer is constantly talking on the house mic. Cutie finally reverses and pays her back all that shit, looking REALLY happy to be yanking hair and being snotty in holds. Ozaki finally comes back with some running stuff, and cranks on a dragon sleeper & regular one. Backdrop hold gets two, but Cutie comes back and hits the Flying Stomp for two. Ozaki bulldogs her out of the corner and Cannonballs her for two, then hits a Powerbomb & Cannonball Senton for two! Tequila Sunrise (half-nelson/Tiger suplex) looks to finish, but Cutie reverses to a Dragon Suplex- two! Cutie heads up, and hits a pair of Flying Enzuiknees for the three (13:47)- that’s definitely an upset!

Wow, pretty slow pace for most of it, clearly milking crowd reactions for fighting dirty and stuff like that- very “House Show”-y but otherwise fine. Cutie pulling out a win right at the end was kind of unexpected, too.

Rating: **3/4 (fine enough bout- not swinging for the fences, but their usual good character work)

HIKARI FUKUOKA vs. COMMAND BOLSHOI:
(9/93, 2/94, or 8/94)
* I’m unsure of the date on this one as it’s yet another match between these two. Hikari’s in black and has a bandaged shoulder, and Bolshoi’s in red & blue.

They chain-wrestle a bit to silence, Bolshoi doing the best, but Hikari slams into her and stretches her out for a few minutes- Bolshoi comes back with a slingshot cross-body to draw the first reaction of the match six minutes in. Bolshoi gets a German, but Hikari lands a rolling cradle and Moonsault (this early?) for two. Bolshoi reverses a tombstone for two and hits a slingshot dropkick after a sleeper, then a Rock Bottom and her own moonsault for two. And another! Her arc isn’t as great as Hikari’s cuz she twists a bit in mid-air, though. She lands flying kicks from three corners and a German gets two, and she goes to work on the arm for a LONG time. Hikari finally reverses a whip and goes to work with stuff, hitting a moonsault to the back for two.

Crowd reacts big for the kickout, but it’s RESTHOLD TIME again! I don’t get the psychology there- they kick out of a finisher you should try other stuff, not go “oh well” and sit on their butt for a while to figure out your next move. But Hikari’s next move is a Super Powerslam, getting two. They reverse stuff for a long sequence (sounds better than it looks- it’s too hesitant, making it look like botches and miscommunication), but Bolshoi gets a German for two. A bitching bridging hammerlock works the arm, and she hits her Super Rock Bottom, Hikari wisely bailing to the outside to sell her shoulder. Bolshoi does the Tiger Feint Kick but gets her foot snagged and Hikari tries a beatdown, but ends up taking chairshots to the shoulder. Flying kick gets a pretty dramatic two-count, and Bolshoi hits another Rock Bottom, but misses another moonsault and Hikari tries for a Cross-Armed Suplex, settling for a German for three (21:26). Well that was anticlimactic.

Man, every Bolshoi match from this era of JWP is the same- endless holds from her and extended resting, and she gets crushed in 20 minutes. Just insane match-lengths and the padding to “justify” them. Bolshoi’s actually pretty good at technical wrestling, latching onto her opponents like a lamprey, but it’s endless and it never matters to the rest of the match. The construction in the end was pretty solid, with Bolshoi using the chair and hitting some big stuff to set up the finish, but Hikari’s “comeback” was only a single move, and a mid-tier finisher at that. And what’s with hitting a bunch of Moonsaults (a move where typically the opponent has to be stunned a bit) so early? Just strange.

Rating: ** (I feel like Bolshoi is a *** worker in consistent sub-*** matches because of JWP match construction and the fact that she’s so low-tier that she can’t really be competitive)

DEVIL MASAMI vs. MAYUMI OZAKI:
* Two of JWP’s top stars fight it out, with Devil in black & purple and Ozaki in red.

Devil attacks before the bell, but Ozaki lands on her- no count until the bell rings, and Oz actually hits an early dragon suplex, but she’s soon tossed and takes a Zbyszko-tier powder. Devil just LAUNCHES her around the ring in response, stretching away as well, but Oz bites the foot and pulls hair to come back. Rollup, DDT & falling clothesline get two-counts and she goes to the leg, threading that to an STF, Fujiwara armbar & Rings of Saturn, really working everything. Flying clothesline gets two and now it’s a dragon sleeper. Devil reverses to her own then hits an overthrow powerbomb, but Ozaki walks up the ropes out of another dragon sleeper and hits a Tiger Suplex for two! But Devil powers out of a follow-up and just press slams her onto the guardrail outside, then climbs onto the rail, hoists Ozaki’s arm up dramatically, then snaps it over the thing! Another shot and Devil revels over her dominance in the ring and works up the crowd- this whole segment kills two minutes and is AWESOME instead of just resting like a lot of workers do. Like, you can buy Ozaki selling outside since the moves were good, and it also puts over the stuff instead of just hopping back into the ring.

Devil keeps on the arm, just YANKING on it over the ropes, to the point where the crowd starts booing her. A cool reversal sequence using Ozaki’s speed ends with both being knocked off the top. Devil’s knocked off again and takes a cannonball dive suicida, but lariats Ozaki and tries a press slam on a table… but Ozaki lands on her feet, leaps off for a rana… and gets powerbombed on the floor. Ouch. HUGE Powerbomb in the ring gets two. Devil does a TRIPLE-Powerbomb (deftly scooping Oz up after each one), but Ozaki reverses the third to a rana for two! Devil reverses for two, then casually goes for another powerbomb, Oz landing on her feet and hitting a dragon suplex for two. Tequila Sunrise (half-nelson/tiger suplex) gets two. Another gets the same, and she hits a cannonball off the top… bridge-out!

Two ECW-like chairshots straight to the head keep the punishment on Devil, and Oz’s own powerbomb gets two. She goes for the Turning Splash, but she barely grazes her so cleverly sells the miss. Devil ax kicks her and adds a sleeper that nearly puts her out. Hangman’s choke in the corner! And a friggin’ Guillotine Legdrop to the BACK OF THE HEAD. This is brutal. Double-leghook pin, but Ozaki STILL kicks out, sending the crowd into a big “O-ZA-KI!” chant. Devil, kinda infuriated at the chant, hits a brutal powerbomb & overthrow version and aims another Guillotine… and misses! Ozaki charges and gets tossed into the air, and climbs the corner but gets caught- Devil hoists her into a Super Electric Chair Drop, but Ozaki rolls out and hits a sunset flip! For the three (21:21)!! Ozaki wins in a huge upset! Hikari Fukuoka, watching at ringside, is definitely worried about something.

Well this got pretty wild. I never know what to expect on this channel, but this felt like a “Main Event Effort” all the way- long match length, smart use of the time (you don’t need restholds when you take a murderbomb to the outside and are justified in selling it for a minute- it puts over the move AND gives you time to rest!), some great spots (loved that floor powerbomb reversal), and more. I had some issues with the selling (Ozaki takes FOUR Powerbombs in a row and suddenly she’s on her feet and hitting bridging suplexes? For some reason this becomes a recurring element in Devil matches), but that was a crazy assortment of moves, and the match was constructed well, with Devil being awesome, but just getting too fucked up and cruel to even cheer any more, sending the crowd fully behind Ozaki. The finish was interesting, in that it was kind of a botch (a Super Sunset Flip Powerbomb, but Ozaki released and hit WAY before Devil), but Devil’s hard landing and Ozaki’s desperation pin still sold it as a legitimate way to win.

Rating: ****1/4 (great superstar performance from both)

BODY HEAT TOURNAMENT:
COMMAND BOLSHOI vs. HIKARI FUKUOKA:
* This is part of a tournament where everyone was working Hikari’s bad arm. Hikari’s in black (with cutouts AND garters so you KNOW she’s an idol this time around) & Bolshoi’s in green & blue.

Hikari does her cartwheel dodge, but Bolshoi keeps snapmaring her into arm submissions. Ropewalk armdrag… all the way across the ring- twice! The arm stuff is actually pretty nice, moving around alot, and Hikari finally scores a run-up missile kick to come back. She throws out restholds and a methodical beatdown, but misses a flying move and Bolshoi takes back over, not quite sure what to do (“go to the top? nope too far away”- can’t tell if she’s playing the “rookie” or just screwed up). More arm stuff, she gets powerslammed, but dodges another flying move and they take turns knocking each other off the top rope until Bolshoi hits a plancha. She uses a chair outside, but Hikari dropkicks her off the apron when she tries to bring it into the ring and gives some payback with it. SUPERMAN PUNCH~~!

Bolshoi reverses a whip to a Rock Bottom, rollup & German for two-counts. Two missile kicks and a Flying Rana get two! Moonsault- another two. The crowd’s into Bolshoi’s stuff, but I think everyone knows if THIS can’t bring Hikari down, she’s toast. Another Moonsault misses, but a super armdrag gets… no, she throws on a friggin’ KIMURA after that and it’s sold with desperation! Hikari kicks and kicks, but won’t give in, and finally Bolshoi gets frustrated and lets go. German gets two, and she tries a Super version but Hikari lands on her. She’s REALLY selling that arm, now- Bolshoi uses it to get out of a German but takes a Rolling Cradle for two. Hikari misses a Moonsault but lands on her feet, and when Bolshoi tries another German, she just WRECKS her with a Double-Underhook Powerbomb, jackknifing her over for the pin (15:02). Oh, that was nice.

Not a bad little match- a bit of “sitting on each other’s butts”, but the limbwork was at least consistent, and the “story” seemed clear- Bolshoi had a lot of go and a lot of moves, but Hikari was experienced enough to just absorb them and time her comebacks. Bolshoi’s growing frustration was nice to see, as was Hikari’s very consistent selling, which even prevented her from doing some moves (not normally something you see in ’90s joshi). Bolshoi can still evade her, but that big Powerbomb at the end was brutal, and Hikari desperately held her down to end it.

Rating: ***1/4 (one of the best Bolshoi solo matches I’ve seen from this era- only thing holding it back was some resting and the obviousness of the result)

BODY HEAT TOURNAMENT- FINAL MATCH:
TWO-COUNTS SCORE THE PIN:
MAYUMI OZAKI vs. HIKARI FUKUOKA:
* One last bout from August, with these two again- the Finals of the “Body Heat” Tournament. Ozaki’s in red as always, while Hikari’s now in some purple thing with red frills. I actually thought they were kicking out at one just to fuck with each other until the end, lol.

They work hesitantly to start, but Ozaki turns Hikari’s legwork into arm stuff, twisting that injured limb to pieces with this amazing “Yay a limb that’s ALREADY hurt!” look on her face. Between the hair-pulling and trying to actually tear the protective tape off, I’m thinking Ozaki is not a nice lady. She emphasizes that point by bludgeoning the arm with chairs and a fan’s umbrella, then hooks the umbrella around the elbow and yanks on it. Christ, woman. She waits Hikari out in the ring, then pounces with a powerbomb, almost amused by getting only one off it. Hikari comes back with a sunset flip and chinlock for like two minutes. Flying cross-body gets two, but Oz hits a falling clothesline & backdrop hold for another one-count. Cannonball- one! She messes up a flip to the outside, but chases Hikari with a cannonball off the apron. Another walkabout leaves Hikari way in the stands, and the next “powerbomb upon entry” ALSO gets one. Ozaki goes to the corner, but Hikari stuns her with a German for one. Ozaki shoves her off the top twice, but misses another cannonball and the Rolling Cradle gets one. Ozaki SNAPS on a Fujiwara armbar and Hikari desperately scrambles to the ropes.

Stomp from the apron to the floor crushes the arm and now it’s MORE chairshots from Ozaki. Now the REF takes one! And then Hikari’s powerbombed, the chair’s put over her arm, and Ozaki STOMPS on it from the second rope! A pair of cross-armbreakers have Hikari screaming as her comebacks are stuffed, but she dodges another flying stomp to the arm and JAVELINS into Ozaki’s knee to put her down, missile kicks her in the back of the head, and hits a PERFECT Moonsault- and another! For ONE! Butterfly Powerbomb- another one! Ozaki yanks her into the Tequila Sunrise for the same result. She settles for an armhold, but Hikari reverses a whip- her handspring body attack results in her arm being kicked, but she cartwheels out of a hair-toss and hits a leg-roll clutch for… two (19:28)? Okay that was DEFINITELY a one-count, and everyone’s confused, but the ref awards it to Hikari because that’s the end I guess? Maybe the ref is pissed about that chairshot, I dunno. Ozaki contests it but Hikari gets the big trophy.

Very odd match, as it was look awesome with tons of arm stuff and Oz being savage, but then segues into two time-killing outside brawls and a massive chinlock- at least the first brawl was AWESOME, Ozaki using everything she could get her hands on as a weapon. Hikari’s defiance was the key story of the match, as she kicks out of EVERYTHING at one, trying to tell Ozaki that her moves were bullshit. The rules here made the psychology so important, because you had to just SNAP out of every pin instead of conserving your strength. And the crowd LOVED that- something that might ordinarily hurt finishers actually had the crowd popping for each new immediate kickout. Too bad the ending fell flat, and they engaged in so much time-wasting.

Rating: ***1/2 (very heated match in parts with interesting psychology, but the ending fell flat and HOLY SHIT do you not normally get two-minute chinlocks in a joshi match)