Joshi Spotlight: Lioness Asuka & LCO vs. Manami, Ito & Nanae in the Rain

So here’s one recommended by Evito-X- a semi-famous “Trios Match in the Rain” featuring an outdoor rooftop show in a torrential downpour, giving us one of the better, more memorable “settings” for a wild brawl you’ll ever see. While wrestling in the rain is hardly ideal, this is exactly how things become legendary and remembered- every single camera becomes dotted with water and everyone has to try not to kill themselves while still selling the slipperiness of the mat and ramp, and it turns into great fun immediately, and one of AJW’s best matches. Nothing sells “chaos” like seeing people slide around every time they hit a move while ring girls desperately squeegee the ring.

* Welcome to a famous match in Joshi circles- the Fuji TV rooftop rainy-day match! As AJW at this point was often on the rooftop of the Fuji TV building on Odaiba Island in Tokyo (Yay! A place I’ve been!), they had to deal with inclement weather at times, and never more inclement than THIS- this becomes one of very few matches by a prominent company that features a massive downpour hitting the ring during a match. One featuring many of the top stars of the day, too- Lioness Asuka, huge star of the ’80s, teams up with top tag team freelancers (and current WWWA Tag Team Champions) LCO against AJW’s top two solo acts and rising star Nanae. Grumpy-ass Asuka carries a table to the ring with her, while LCO are in their best outlandish regalia. The freelancers are all in black & silver variants of their regular gear (Asuka’s shirt & pants, Shimoda’s two-piece tasseled bit, etc.). Nanae, who I’ve not really seen before, is a stocky girl in a white & purple thing with triangular fabric across the front. Manami’s in red (she’d dropped the “always in black” thing a ways back I think) & Ito’s in a black & blue MVP-style singlet.

The chaos begins before the bell, as Team AJW attacks and everyone’s already sliding around (it seems like they’re doing it deliberately to sell the “slipperiness” of the mat, though) and it turns into a big brawl outside. Mita gets clobbered by something Manami’s holding and takes a powder while Ito hits her jumping stomp on Shimoda on the ramp, “slipping” as soon as she hits the wet ramp in a good bit of controlled chaos. Some random guy pulls a chair away from Shimoda when she wants to use it, so she boots him in the shin. It’s hilarious watching everyone gingerly “run” around the studio when they’re trying not to slip on the mats. Asuka kills the rookie in front of everyone on the ramp in a pro move while everyone else just fights, soaking wet already. Manami trips her up and Ito climbs the stage lighting rig and does her Flying Stomp off of there onto Shimoda! MONSTER ovation for Manami hitting the Octopus Stretch on Asuka on the ramp, but Mita comes in and hits the Death Valley Driver right there!

Things devolve into a scrappy brawl on the ramp, with Manami nearly trying a GIANT SWING on it until everyone realizes how bad an idea that would be (she more just slides Asuka around in a circle). Mita beats on Ito in the ring while Asuka sharpshooters Manami on the ramp, and Shimoda adds a flying chairshot but gets caught in Ito’s snap-armbar. Nanae tries to get all “defiant rookie” but gets eaten alive by the heels. Everyone keeps running in, sliding around as they do so- Manami flies in with her missile kicks, and Mita actually slip ‘n’ slides across the mat from it! Mita gets caught in the figure-four and takes a flying splash from Nanae & Ito’s Flying Stomp. Mita’s bawling face as she sells is tremendous, as is Ito hitting stomps to her injured leg, slipping on the landings. Mita gets her leg worked, but finally escapes- Ito no-sells Shimoda and Germans her, but Nanae gets caught in a Tiger Suplex- the bridge is wrecked because of her sliding, lol. And then Asuka brilliantly goes for her signature Giant Swing, “slipping” and looking annoyed- now THAT’S how you sell wrestling in the rain!

So Asuka settles for a backdrop & piledriver on the rookie, but Nanae avoids Mita’s electric chair drop, only to slip hitting the ropes and eating a Blazing Chop for two. Some careful running sees the heels on the floor, so Nanae hits a dive to set up Manami’s insane missile dropkick suicida! Meanwhile, Ito hits her Flying Stomp to Asuka off of something to the floor in the background- everyone brawls in the crowd for a while, and back in Nanae hits a Vader Bomb for two on Mita. Shimoda tosses a chair, but Manami uses Mita as a human shield… but charges straight into the Death Valley Driver! Ito saves, and Manami dodges a chair and hits the Rolling Cradle, barely gaining traction on it for two. Manami goes for the Moonsault, but Mita tries for the Super Electric Chair- Manami leaps back in an insanely dangerous bit (she catches her leg on Mita’s and falls), hitting the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex from the elevated position! Asuka breaks it up at two, and they reverse stuff until Manami hits a German for two. Moonsault misses! Okay trying a moonsault in the rain is pretty crazy. Asuka & Manami slip & struggle until Asuka hits a Blue Thunder Bomb for two.

Shimoda brings in a table and badly misses her ax kick, but Manami avoids going into the table… and Ito just LAUNCHES it into Asuka’s back to prevent a powerbomb- ha! Missile kick gets caught, but Manami slaps her way out of a Giant Swing & hits a straightjacket backdrop hold for two. Ito misses the Flying Stomp but dodges Shimoda’s missile kick so Asuka takes it, and they reverse stuff until Ito hits a release uranage. Flying Stomp to the floor! Toyota takes an absolutely insane leap off of another lighting rig, but only hits her teammates after a 12-foot jump. Everyone brawls as Asuka pays back that Flying Stomp to the floor to Ito, draping a table across her first! Another one in the ring and Asuka wipes out HARD on the landing, literally sliding down the full length of the table over Ito’s body! Ligerbomb gets two- Nanae saves. Asuka taunts the fans and takes an All Japan bump off a German, but recovers with a wheel kick. Shimoda misses a cannonball but avoids a powerbomb, catches Mita’s chair and blasts Ito, and hits a release Tiger Driver for two. She puts Ito on the top, but takes a Doomsday Device Missile Kick from Nanae & Manami, into Ito’s Flying Stomp for two! TRIPLE FLYING HEADBUTTS! Again Shimoda kicks out!

Ito hits two MORE Flying Stomps, but Mita saves with a kick. Powerbomb sets up Nanae’s Coffin Drop (yes, really) for two. Nanae’s Falcon Arrow and Shimoda’s Tiger Suplex get reversed (Shimoda falling on her ass off a whip) until Shimoda lands an ax kick into Mita’s Blazing Chop into Asuka’s running lariat. AJW dogpiles to prevent a pin, but LCO hits a Double Superbomb (sounds better than it looked- it’s SLIPPERY up there) for two- big reaction for the kickout, there. Manami flies in to break up a DVD, Ito hits another Flying Stomp, and Nanae’s Falcon Arrow hits Shimoda… Asuka saves! Shimoda hits a German to reverse, and Asuka adds a rolling kick to prevent Nanae stopping the next one while Mita brains Manami with a chair- FLYING SOMERSAULT AX KICK from Shimoda to Nanae! Team AJW saves the pin again! So Asuka & Mita finally hold them back as Shimoda hauls Nanae up and finishes her off with the Death Lake Driver (Tiger superplex) at (23:19), flipping everyone off in the process.

Holy shit, what a wild, crazy match- the rain was just PERFECT here, adding to the chaos. I can’t even imagine what they’d have been planning WITHOUT the rain, because so many things got added because of it- it made the match not only look even more of a mess, but it played a major factor in moves, because people would hit something and then slide around. And several times I noticed deliberate “slips”- Asuka trying her Giant Swing and then suddenly her leg bends and she does a controlled fall- putting over how the rain is affecting their moves. Other moves seemed done just to ensure someone can slide across the ring on them. I’m sure a few slips were legit (wrestlers are so good at falling that they can probably just made do and it only looked controlled), particularly when Manami tries her “going too fast for her own good” stuff, but you’d never know sometimes, and even the accidents just added to how much of a clusterfuck it was.

Parts of the match were a tad plodding as they brawl into the crowd to kill time or delay things heavily to get into position safely, but then the MOVEZ start ramping up and things get completely nuts- Doomsday Device Dropkick into Flying Stomp into Triple Flying Headbutts? For TWO? Shimoda kicked out of an insane number of MDKs there, to the point I was thinking the others should at least save her sometimes, lol. Thankfully all the other MDKs were broken up that way- AJW’s typical tag psychology benefits in cases like spotfests where insane moves don’t need to lead to pins, but also aren’t hurt by kickouts.

Rating: ****1/2 (completely wild mess of a match, in the best way- with the rain you’ll always remember it)