Oh shit how can I NOT use this picture for this article. This is like a friggin’ Renaissance painting of action shots.
LLPW IN 1994:
* LLPW is the joshi league from this time period with the worst online presence, especially these days, so you won’t find much. But they ran a pretty wild card in July 1994 with a lot of Interpromotional matches, being one of the companies to boost sales by running those kinds of things, and one of the only ones to try and run the cards by themselves, against companies other than AJW (most such shows just feature “AJW vs. xxxx” matches, not mixing up the other companies).
So tonight, we’ll see Shinobu Kandori & Rumi Kazama vs. Eagle Sawai & Harley Saito, a rare LLPW/FMW match where Megumi Kudo takes on Yasha Kurenai, and a FANTASTIC Chain Match between Bull Nakano & Shinobu Kandori!
SHINOBU KANDORI & RUMI KAZAMA vs. EAGLE SAWAI & HARLEY SAITO:
(LLPW, June 30, 1994)
* It’s four of LLPW’s top stars in one tag match! Jesus, what’d they fill the REST of the card with? Kandori’s the unstoppable champ at this point, but Eagle always looks strong in matches. Rumi & Harley are nearly always doing the job in Interpromotional Shows, however. This looks like a fancam, so the quality is ass. Harley’s in a blue & green jumpsuit, Eagle’s in red & black, Rumi’s in a black & pink outfit with domino mask (and comes to the ring waving a whip or flail around- so yup, her thing is now that she’s an S&M domme), and Kandori’s in black with yellow stripes.
Kandori’s team attacks before the bell, and even do a pose on Eagle, Kandori’s shit-eating grin being visible even in this poor-quality tape. But Eagle gives ’em some learnin’ with a double-lariat and wipes the floor with them. Then do a pose on Rumi (Harley swiveling her hips), but she catches Harley’s kick and throws a few of her own. Kandori wins grappling with headbutts cuz she’s an ass, but Rumi gets beat on. She escapes, but Kandori runs in and takes the leg lariat from Harley and backbreakers from Eagle. She catches Harley’s foot and there’s a mad scramble to the ropes, then her team goes to work on her knee, Kandori even dropping it on a ringside table. More punishment outside and in the ring sees Harley finally enzuigiri out… and the ref won’t count what is clearly a tag (joshi is typically SUPER-lax with tag rules, and she’s actually clasping hands with Eagle)- finally Harley can escape, but Eagle swiftly gets caught in Rumi’s Fujiwara armbar. Eagle is JUST TOO THICC for a piledriver from Kandori, but is brought down in another armbar. She finally Vader Attacks out and Harley hits leg lariats on both opponents, getting two with a backdrop on Rumi.
Rumi counters Eagle’s charge to a Tornado DDT, but Harley flies in with a Macho Man Elbow to crush her! Eagle tries a powerbomb, fails, then tries another and Rumi ranas her for two. Harley stops a Tiger Suplex and the Powerbomb finally hits- Kandori saves. Eagle lariats Rumi, but Harley takes a swing and ends up in… Rolling Germans! Eagle lariats Rumi out of a third one, then Rumi escapes- Harley reverses Kandori to a Tiger Suplex for two. Eagle avalanche & Harley Superduperplex gets two. Another Tiger is reversed to a Fujiwara armbar & the Rings of Saturn, and the tap is teased, but Eagle saves. Her missile kick nails Harley by mistake, and Kandori looks to finish, but her powerbomb is reversed to a rana for two! Assisted Flying Roundhouse Kick from Rumi to Harley, and they hit an Assisted Powerbomb and Rumi attacks Eagle so she can’t interfere, and we’re done at (16:40).
Well this is an interesting look at a company that has very little online presence. Clearly a “House Show match” and they’re not swinging for the fences, but it was good enough. Eagle did almost nothing in there for the longest time- just a couple of running attacks and then getting caught in submissions. But they ended up in a decent swing of good moves by the end, with Harley being a good spunky underdog, and you could buy for a second that she’d get a fluke flash-pin on the Ace. But ultimately some good double-teaming and tag psychology (ya gotta deal with the partner in joshi) won the day.
Rating: ***1/4 (the old “Hey- good TV match!” look)
MEGUMI KUDO (FMW) vs. YASHA KURENAI (LLPW):
* Megumi is the top star of FMW’s women’s division, so the outcome here isn’t exactly in doubt, especially considering Yasha’s usual treatment in these sorts of matches. Kudo’s in black & pink, and Yasha’s in a red shirt & white pants. This is very clipped.
Yasha attacks before the bell, so Kudo just hits a hangman’s choke off the apron and beats the shit out of her outside the ring. Yasha responds in kind, and uses an ass attack in the ring. Arm submissions & biting follow, plus choking- Kudo gets a cross-body out of the corner for one. Big sleeper puts Yasha down, but a flying splash hits knees- Yasha grabs the cane and smashes her repeatedly, then hits a hangman’s choke with it in the corner! But while she celebrates, Kudo gets to her feet and SCREAMS to get her attention- running clothesline! Kudo with cane shots to the stomach! She jams the point of it into Yasha’s throat and lures her into hitting an LLPW ring girl, but takes a backdrop suplex. Yasha climbs, but Kudo follows and slowly sets her up for a Butterfly Superduperplex. Northern Lights-esque suplex and an arrogant cover get two, and she hits two butt-butts- Yasha avoids a third, but runs right into a release Butterfly Bomb for the three (7:11 of 17:25 shown).
Rating: **1/4 (Way too abridged to get as much out of it- the short version comes off like a pretty quick match that switched sides only a couple of times- Yasha didn’t show much)
CHAIN DEATH MATCH (Falls Count Anywhere):
BULL NAKANO (AJW) vs. SHINOBU KANDORI (LLPW):
* Now THIS is a Dream Match! AJW’s former Ace going up against LLPW’s current Ace- this also pays off a story that started in a late-1993 LLPW/AJW joint show, where Bull & Kandori were on opposite sides of a tag match, but had very few interactions, and then a ***** tag match with Bull & Aja Kong fighting Kandori and AJW’s Akira Hokuto. For this bout, they’re tied together with a chain around each woman’s wrist, and like the West, it’s primarily for bludgeoning and/or choking purposes- also it’s Falls Count Anywhere. They get into a pullapart brawl BEFORE the bell rings, letting you know what kind of match it’s going to be right away. Kandori’s in a standard “Ugly LLPW Suit” while Bull’s got a gold shirt over a black leotard.
They brawl immediately, Kandori headbutting Bull down, then hitting an abdominal stretch, wrapping the chain around Bull’s throat as she does it! She even makes sure to hook the opposite leg with her own, making this the rare abdominal stretch that would earn praise from both Ventura AND Monsoon. Bull takes her down in an armbar, so Kandori does our first “fist wrapped in a chain” punch of the night. Bull escapes a weak choke and clobbers HER with the same thing- the psychology is pretty clear: those are no mere punches, and will actually bring you down. Like, when the Olympic judoka is doing the “blinking sell” or flat-backing from a single punch, you know it’s big. Bull grinds away on the foreheard for a couple minutes, and we finally have color. Bull, the old pro, makes sure to show off the blood on her hand to the crowd. Toss to the railing, and she makes like Scorpion with the chain, dragging Kandori back for a lariat- “COME ‘ERE!”. And then we get a Proto-ECW “Walk’n’Brawl” into the crowd, who loves it even though nobody can see shit.
We return 3.5 minutes later with a flat-haired Bull strangling Kandori around the ringpost- the cameraman of course getting the perfect “thumbnail/magazine cover” shot of a bloodied Kandori straining. Bull hangs her in the corner while some drama unfolds as an LLPW girl tries to throw in the towel, but is manhandled by the others and taken away. Bull stops to taunt them, match well in hand, but just then Kandori gets fired up, wraps the chain around the arm, and CLOBBERS her with a lariat to the back of the head! Bull goes into the post and railing, and we have double-blood as a maddened Kandori just drives the chain into her head! Kandori finally starts fading, kinda punching herself out and selling the damage, and Bull’s ready to take advantage, bouncing her off the mat and hitting a huge Draping DDT (Kandori’s feet on the TOP rope!) for two. And Bull SWINGS THE CHAIN LIKE NUNCHUCKS, clocking her and hitting a Kneeling Powerbomb for two. Guillotine Legdrop! Two-count! She climbs again, but her leg sickly gets caught in the ropes when Kandori pounces, and she’s strangled while upside-down, and Kandori uses the guardrail as a melee weapon- Kneeling Powerbomb on the floor- two!
Both just lie there and sell the beating, until Kandori just tries a pin again- that’s pretty awesome. Kandori actually has to drag Bull up using the chain, and hits an armhold on the apron- Bull has no escape, so she just grabs some chain and whacks her to break. Kandori tries another powerbomb, but Bull backdro– no- BULL’S POSEIDON! A vertical drop from a standing backdrop position! Bull wants the finish bad, so she wraps the chain AROUND HER ANKLE, climbs to milk it, and hits a Guillotine Legdrop. Kandori flails around the mat in agony, and they do an “8” count, teasing a double-KO, but Bull wraps the chain around her arm for another lariat, clocks Kandori, and then climbs for ANOTHER Guillotine, this one hitting the back of her head… for the three (22:11)! Bull defeats the Ace!
Pretty fun, kick-ass brawl to start, though it had that ECW/Attitude-Era problem where it’s a lot of “walk and brawl” stuff and not many inventive spots because the chain itself is still a novelty. So it’s just “use the chain to choke/punch” and that’s it for a very padded-out match… but that final gear was REALLY AWESOME, I thought, as they hit a ton of potential finishers (powerbomb on the floor, Bull’s Poseidon), and the chain ultimately gets used in a Guillotine Legdrop, which should be a true killer. But Kandori can look strong because it doesn’t get a pin, as Bull has to add two MORE killer moves just to bring her down. And seeing Kandori, possibly the toughest woman in joshi, flail around in clear agony, is pretty impactful in a way it wouldn’t be for say, Cutie Suzuki or Sakie Hasegawa.
Rating: **** (I dunno, I see this get middling reviews, and I think a livewatch on the Blog wasn’t too high on it either, but it went from a ***-ish brawl to a near-**** match in the end with the escalating cool shit)