Joshi Spotlight: JWP Stars on Tour

JWP IN 1994 (Sept.-Dec.):
* 1994 is by far JWP’s best-represented year on YouTube, owing to Rico Kasai’s channel. 1995 and on are barely there at all, so this might be the last big update. We start off with a pair of interpromotional matches with GAEA Japan, as Chigusa Nagayo was on good terms with JWP, and a stop at an interesting-looking small arena that features one of Devil Masami’s first title defenses as JWP Openweight Champion, as she recently beat Dynamite Kansai (as reviewed here: -the YouTube clip has since been taken down, however) while in her “Super Heel Devil Masami” persona (wrestles like Taker, looks like Demolition Crush).

(Sept. 1994)
* And so Chigusa Nagayo, biggest star of ’80s Joshi, is returning to full-time, but is having disagreements with AJW management (who, to be fair, don’t need an extra person clogging up shows), and is so working for JWP as she prepares to start up GAEA in early 1995. Already my mind is blown because Chigusa is wearing black and GREEN. I have literally never in my life seen her wear anything that didn’t have red in it. She wore that in the goddamn WWF! KAORU’s in black, Cutie’s in white & gold, and Hikari’s in the Tarzan gear. The expressions in the staredown here are great, as KAORU has this “fuckin’ right us vets are gonna kill you kids” death glare, Chigusa’s very calm and serious (with a taped arm), and the idols are doing this big “I’m nervous and I respect you, but I’m trying really hard to look confident and defiant”.

Cutie swats at Chigusa to start, but they mess up a powerbomb-to-rana spot and tumble around. Hikari runs in and they actually reverse a double clothesline to a double-Fujiwara armbar, which I’ve never seen before (Cutie just leaps in and yanks on the arm while Hikari does the proper move). KAORU beats some ass for that, so Cutie tries again and they torture her- Chigusa wailing and making something of it. KAORU takes some offense, but takes over on Cutie, who later scurries in terror away from Chigusa, who brains her with kicks and a piledriver for two- Cutie sells an arm-over-the-shoulder snap as HUGE, bailing from the ring. She screams bloody murder from another shot to the arm, but desperately throws an armbar on Chigusa’s injured limb, and now CHIGUSA’S in trouble. She finally powers out on Hikari, then KAORU flip-dodges on her, but Hikari cartwheel dodges right back! Cutie with the flying stomp, then one off the apron- the idols try a double-team, but Chigusa kicks Hikari off the top so Cutie has to settle for a German. Hikari with another for two, then Cutie BRAINS Kaoru with a missile kick to the back of the head. That & a Dragon Suplex both get two (SHOCKED KICKOUT FACE! In 1994! Joshi really DID invent everything!), but KAORU escapes Hikari and Chigusa gets a sleeper.

Cutie keeps breaking up the sleeper, and now they do restholds to Hikari’s leg. Jackhammer by KAORU gets two, and Chigusa fucks her arm up landing from a leg lariat, then forces a tag to Cutie, who dodges another leg lariat, then hits her flying knee TO THE ARM, drawing boos. Oh come on, guys, that’s strategy. Chigusa dodges the POPEYE PUNCH~~! and holds Hikari for KAORU’s Moonsault Press- that gets two. KAORU lands on her feet when Hikari avoids another Moonsault, then dodges the Cartwheel Elbow in the corner as the pace really picks up. KAORU takes an elbow trying her own, and HIKARI’s Moonsault gets two. Another hits knees, so KAORU tries one… and gets the same thing. Cutie rips into Chigusa’s arm, but takes the Tombstone-Lift-To-Powerbomb- Hikari saves. Rolling Cradle- KAORU saves. An infuriated Hikari does one to KAORU, but she does one right back, so Hikari hits a release Tiger Driver before the ref finally makes her focus on the legal wrestler… and Chigusa catches her with a giant kick to the head when she charges in, and a Running Powerbomb gets the three (15:55). Cutie’s so pissed off she repeatedly tries to attack after the bell, and is finally held back when the veterans bow to them out of respect.

Good little match! They had a long bout but not TOO long, good character stuff, and the arm stuff on Chigusa MEANT something because they kept going back to it. The kids kept up some good stuff to harry the veterans, but they were a little too inexperienced, and Hikari’s passion got the better of her and she was caught- Chigusa has way too much power and experience for Hikari to just focus on KAORU running in and then charge right into the vet.

Rating: ***1/2 (some good, fun stuff with a good effort from the participants)

(Oct. 20th, 1994)
* This is all from the same show, set inside a really small arena (Sapporo Taisen Hall)- more of a gym with an odd raised seating section in the back.

(Oct. 1994)
* So it’s the biggest star in joshi history against one of the lowest-tier wrestlers in JWP’s tiny roster- seems like the most obvious conclusion ever! Chigusa’s again in that green, while Bolshoi’s in red, green & yellow.

Bolshoi does her goofy “put ’em up” dance, goading Chigusa in to trying it. Chigusa instead blows it off to the ref, who cracks the legend up by doing it, and FINALLY Chigusa is convinced to try it for a second. At which point she turns around and Bolshoi boots her in the ass and hits two Rock Bottoms, hoping for a quick win. Chigusa snags her and hits a brutal belly-to-belly to teach her a lesson. She aims for her Running Ligerbomb right away, but Bolshoi slips out for a sunset flip… and holds a struggling Chigusa down for the three (0:28)!!

Major upset, stunning the crowd into silence, until the ref actually holds up the victor’s hand so they KNOW they weren’t just seeing things! Somewhat famous “fluke” win for the rookie, and done for comedy’s sake, but hey- a win is a win. Mike Lorefice of Quebrada: “Seeing the clown take the legend out like that might well be the funniest thing she ever did, even if it wasn’t meant to be a joke. Unfortunately, Chigusa ultimately got the last laugh, as she spent the next several years destroying JWP by taking all their stars.”

Rating: DUD (barely even a match)

(Oct. 1994)
* From the same show, it’s Kansai in yellow & blue versus Cutie, in white! Kansai is now the recently-dethroned champion and has something to prove.

Cutie tries a slugfest with Kansai like a dope, and gets killed (I mean, come on- *I* wouldn’t try a slugfest with KANSAI!)- she comes off the top and gets kicked in the chest as a result. Kansai then proceeds to slowly and methodically tear her apart, making a statement. Finally, after FOUR MINUTES, Cutie finally scores a lucky comeback and just stuffs Kansai so she can’t fight back, clawing at her face in a hold (as scene in the thumbnail above). But Kansai’s soon done with that, kicks her down, and now tortures CUTIE’S face, showing it off for the crowd. She uses the ropes and then the guardrail to help- hell of a way to make front row tickets worth it. Superplex gets two and Sharpshooter & sleeper slow things down. Kansai hits corner lariats but Cutie dropkicks out of the corner- Kansai stops a Dragon Suplex by breaking the full nelson, and Cutie switches to a German for two.

Cutie dropkicks her out and hits her knee attack off the apron, impressing the crowd. German on the bare arena floor! Cutie waits out the count… but then hits a FLYING Knee to the outside! Kansai sells this as a literal deathblow, eyes wide open on the floor, and only when it looks like she’s getting up does Cutie pounce again- Dragon Suplex in the ring gets two. She hits a couple running kicks, but gets cocky and eats a HUGE Backdrop Driver for two. Kansai signals for Splash Mountain, but Cutie does the “Hokuto” trick and hits another Dragon for two! Flying Knee- two! Another one to the FACE- foot in the ropes. Cutie looks to finish, but Kansai has the ring smarts to sweep-kick her, then throws more kicks to keep Cutie waylaid- another backdrop and she hits Splash Mountain for the pin (15:34).

Really fun match psychologically, as you knew Cutie had no chance, and Kansai was taking her sweet time and just torturing her, but Cutie’s comebacks were all about sticking and moving, harrying Kansai rather than trading blows, then throwing out huge stuff as soon as she got a chance. Like, this was a very good use of making what do with your few moves, as she threw MDKs all over the place, because nothing else could hurt the Ace, and the match worked for that- she barely had a single move that wasn’t finisher-tier, but it made for a very good match when the slow pace at the beginning had it looking way lower.

Rating: ***1/2 (mostly slow & deliberate, but Cutie’s comeback was AMAZING and the match construction totally built to a great ending sequence)

(Oct. 1994)
* Ozaki takes on GAEA’s KAORU now. KAORU slaps the diminutive Ozaki during intros, which seems like a mistake. I mean, KAORU can be mean, but Ozaki’s the kind of evil that can’t step foot in a church. KAORU’s in black, and Oz in red.

Ozaki pays back that slap before the bell, but takes a shot and bails for a good minute. KAORU gets a tilt-a-whirl torture rack and inverted Samoan drop, then a surfboard, looking like an absolute giant in there, but we pretty soon go into slow stretching and bodywork. Ozaki comes back with a clothesline & DDT a few minutes later, then throws her around the gym, banging her into walls and such- I like how she still sells her back while doing things like holds (pounding on it to numb the pain, etc.). KAORU wins that mess with a slam on the floor, then some weak tilt-a-whirl backbreakers in the ring. More restholds, but Oz reverses a backdrop and hits a kneeling powerbomb for two. Big Cannonball gets two, then she ties up four limbs with one hold, and we’re back to Ozaki Is Awesome. But then KAORU bails for a full minute before slamming Ozaki into the post. Ozaki comes back with holds- KAORU actually sells leg stuff so big she gets an ovation for making the ropes.

Oz crushes the knee with a chair, and wins a reversal sequence in the ring with a Kneeling Powerbomb for two. KAORU tries to land on her feet from another and slips, so Oz improvises some backhands and a big Ligerbomb also gets two. KAORU reverses a whip with a good Rana for two, but gets caught in a backdrop superplex for two- she escapes two Tequila Sunrise (Tiger/Dragon Suplex) attempts and hits a big Fujiwara armbar- she does her flip dodge and hits ANOTHER armbar, wowing the crowd. Ginger set-up for a Super Frankensteiner- two! Moonsault mostly overshoots and gets two. Another misses but she lands on her feet, then catches a charging Ozaki with a standing Rock Bottom! She climbs, reverses on Ozaki for another two, then Moonsaults her face into Ozaki’s knees. Ozaki’s flying stomp hits, but a Turning Splash misses, and KAORU wraps her right up in La Majistral… for three (20:25)! KAORU beats JWP’s #3!

Very, VERY “House Show Match” quality, with like ten minutes spent wasting time, walking around, or in restholds, and then they do two MORE “standing outside” spots, as well as work most of the match on the mat. At least KAORU was game to sell all that, screaming in agony from legholds. But then she’s back doing flips and high-flying after, so it was just more filler. There were some very good reversals in the last minutes, with KAORU pulling out snap armbars and stuff, but they were still going at such a slow pace you saw them putting the puzzle-pieces together on most of their complex moves (Oz jumping to the corner super-slowly and then gingerly turning around to set up the Super Rana, for example). The ending is disappointing, though- Ozaki consistently is one of the best people on every card she wrestles, and has hit ****+ with the biggest stars, taking Manami Toyota & Akira Hokuto to the limit… and she jobs to KAORU? This must be playing nice with GAEA, because I see them on totally different levels.

Rating: *** (good enough after an incredibly-slow start)

(Oct. 1994):
* The Monster takes on the up & comer in her first Title defense! Hikari’s in the Tarzan gear, while Masami’s in purple & black with the one-legged look, looking like a real star. 

Lightning quick start, as Hikari aims for a sneak attack with the Cartwheel Elbow (… not exactly the stealthiest move), but misses, lands on her feet from a powerbomb attempt, then hits a mega Rolling Cradle for two! DDT & sleeper stay on her, but Devil muscles her way free and hits a murderous powerbomb. DDT of her own gets two, then she sinks in three straight minutes of restholds, at least cranking on them a bit in a show of dominance. Surfboard/Dragon sleeper looks AWESOME, as Hikari’s hung straight upside-down in it. Then Devil straight-up gorilla presses her off the APRON, chucking her past the guardrail and nearly into a table in a horrifying bump. Devil then shatters the arm with a chair, smashes it between a chair and the guardrail, then threads it between the bars and boots the railing. Holy shit what got into HER? Devil works the arm back in the ring, just looking so, so happy to be causing pain, finally missing a Guillotine Legdrop targetted on the arm. Hikari blasts away to mount a comeback, but is soon stuffed again. Tiger Driver gets two. Devil keeps breaking up comebacks, hitting a DDT using the ropes, but finally misses a cannonball off the top and Hikari reverses whips to a corner dropkick and a German.

Bridging German & Moonsault get two each, and Devil tries to catch her up top with a super electric chair drop, but Hikari hits a twisting sunset flip powerbomb for two. Devil catches her and overthrow powerbombs her into the ropes, which is a spot I haven’t seen before, but Hikari bails to lure her outside and hits her with a cartwheel elbow into the railing! Devil misses a chop and eats the SUPERMAN PUNCH ~~!, but Hikari celebrates too soon and earns a lariat for it. Triple Powerbomb in the ring… gets two! HUGE ovation for that kickout. VICIOUS Guillotine Legdrop to the back of the head… and she “Fuck YOU!” bridges out! Okay, that’s nuts. A shocked Devil climbs again, but Hikari brings her down with an ugly Super Powerslam for two. She goes up- Moonsault Stomp! Devil bridges out this time, so Hikari goes up again, eating knees on another Moonsault. She charges right into a lift into a Sit-Out Tombstone. Ligerbomb… gets two! Devil’s slow to her feet, so Hikari gets her with a Straightjacket German for two. Devil lifts her into a powerbomb, and Hikari struggles onto the top rope to escape, where Devil ax kick her and finally hits like a Super Chokeslam using the leg instead of the arm for the three (18:45).

Devil fought like a… well, like her namesake, just shredding that arm for several minutes. Poor Hikari just paid again and again for challenging Devil in the early going, and it made what was mostly a pretty simple hold-based match in the early going mean a bit more. And then we get all the power moves later, with Hikari mounting desperation comebacks. Devil hitting all this unique offense (an overthrow powerbomb into the ROPES?) at her age is remarkable, and shows just how top-tier she was. And then Hikari starts kicking out of even more insane power stuff. That Triple Powerbomb into a Guillotine Enzui-Legdrop was vicious as hell, to the point where I’m a little perturbed Hikari wrestled an extra four minutes after. I mean, they were throwing complete insanity out there by the end, and it was just “Hit Finisher- Kick Out” spam. Awesome spectacle, but I think it hurt the overall story when murderous offense can’t get the pin. But of course the story here is to put Hikari over huge in defeat.

Rating: ***3/4 (awesome “Big vs. Little” one-sided match that put over Hikari’s resilience)