Joshi Spotlight: Big Egg Wrestling Universe & Wrestlemarinepiad ’94 Recap

AJW RECAPS (Nov. 1994):
* So we’ve hit the stage in my Recaps where there are a couple shows I’ve already done, but they’re of vast importance to Joshi as a whole, so I’ll recap them here, in their own post. Plus there’s a Mariko Yoshida tape I can’t find (though I’ve already reviewed some of the matches) and an AJW TV show in there, recapping the V*Top Tournament.


* AJW thought enough of returning Mariko Yoshida to give her a commercial tape release of her attempts to get back in the game. Unfortunately, none of this can be found on YouTube or DailyMotion save what I’ve already reviewed. But here’s a list of what’s on it:

5 MINUTE EXHIBITION- MARIKO vs. RIE TAMADA: Yoshida apparently gave it her all in this quick bout.
MARIKO & SAKIE HASEGAWA vs. CHIGUSA NAGAYO & TOSHIYO YAMADA: Mariko & her old nemesis pair up against Chigusa and the woman who idolized her. The vets dominate much of it, but ROOKIE FIRE carries the day for parts. I went ***1/2– steadily very good the whole way through, but rarely outstanding.
MARIKO vs. KAORU: An unexpectedly fantastic match, as Yoshida proves she has no ring-rust in a 30:00 **** technical effort that feels MUCH shorter. They do another two minutes at the end where KAORU hits a bunch of highspots to finish Mariko off for getting too cute.
MARIKO vs. TAKAKO INOUE: Takako heeled it up and apparently won.
MARIKO vs. TOSHIYO YAMADA: Rematch of sorts from the tag bout.
MARIKO vs. MANAMI TOYOTA: Apparently lots of counters, but one-sided in the sense that Manami wasn’t vulnerable.
MARIKO vs. SAKIE HASEGAWA: Mike Lorefice of Quebrada notes that Sakie gave it her all and wanted to make it look competitive, like always- “That mentality under the ridiculous AJW 28 match a month schedule with no time to heal unless you are seriously hurt burnt her out way too soon, but made matches like this exceed matches that are better on paper like Yoshida vs. Toyota or Kyoko”.
MARIKO vs. KYOKO INOUE: Very quick bout with Kyoko easily demolishing her. I went **3/4.
MARIKO vs. YUMIKO HOTTA: Oh yeah, if Manami & Kyoko aren’t willing to give much, Hotta would be unlikely to give more. But it’s a way longer match (see below). One-sided and Yoshida ends up bloodied. I guess she earned her stripes. ***1/2.

And then October sees us get the very good Wrestlemarinepiad ’94! My review:

* This one ends up looking a bit different than past shows- Wrestling Queendom (in the early part of the year) is now the main show over this one, and Big Egg Wrestling Universe is coming up in only a month, so this one feels verrrrrrrrry much like an “In Your House”- way more minor matches (mostly veterans and big stars killing lesser ones- not a great look for the company’s future), and a fantastic main event. The Interpromotional Era is still going, but there’s less of that this time around (four matches in total; one that matters), as AJW holds the Main Event for itself.

FUSAYO NOUCHI (JWP) vs. KUMIKO MAEKAWA (AJW): Jobbery match with wimpy missile dropkicks from Nouchi. Kumiko wins with an Argentine Backbreaker at (8:44). **.
MIDGET MATCH- LITTLE FRANKIE vs. TOMEZO TSUNOKAKE: Tomezo loses his pants, but comes back with a cross-armed choke for the knock-out win (5:17). DUD.
SUZUKA MINAMI & CHAPARITA ASARI (AJW) vs. MISAE WATANABE & TOMOKO WATANABE: Very basic, unimpressive match. Tomoko is improving but Minami had to go at half-speed for everyone else’s benefit, now just being used to help others out. Minami reverses Tomoko’s Irish whip to a Powerbomb for the win (12:37). **1/2.
HIROMI YAGI (JWP) vs. RIE TAMADA (AJW): Surprisingly great rookie bout, as Yagi always brought the fire- this is about when I noticed her, actually. Extremely manic, ferociously-fought match ending in a (15:00) Time Over, Yagi’s bootlaces coming open really selling the effort. ***1/2.
MARIKO YOSHIDA (AJW) vs. YUMIKO HOTTA (AJW): Yoshida is expectedly murdered by Hotta with kicks. She gets a few near-falls off of flash pins, but that’s all Hotta gives her. Yoshida is bloodied and Hotta actually pulls her up from a Tiger Driver pin. Another one ends it at (16:33). One of the worst examples of Hotta laughing off a big star and it hurting a match. ***1/2.
LAS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES (AJW) vs. HIKARI FUKUOKA & COMMAND BOLSHOI (JWP): Hikari’s desperate attempts to bring the JWP Tag Titles back to her beloved promotion continue here, as she finds another partner- in this case the low-tier Bolshoi. They have no chance. This match ends up good… but more through effort than chemistry. It’s awkward, disjointed and weird, but everyone shows fire and “Push ME!” desire. Bolshoi in particular was bad, though- having that rookie “I’m gonna do THIS move- no wait, I should do something else” and stumbling around because of it. Stereo Moonsaults by JWP puts LCO in trouble, and Shimoda takes a huge bump off of a German. Mita holds of Hikari, and Shimoda hits first a German, then a Tiger Suplex on Bolshoi, holding her down for the three (17:59). ***1/2.
REGGIE BENNETT (AJW) vs. SAKIE HASEGAWA (AJW): Sakie’s fire showed itself yet again, as AJW clearly wanted to push her as a big deal, but didn’t want her elevated over certain people, so she often “looked good in defeat” for ages. Sakie finally scores a good Uranage after a few tries. Reggie hits a good Tilt-A-Whirl Powerslam and the Torture Rack is an academic submission at (9:56)- a very quick match by Sakie’s standards. **1/2.
AJA KONG (AJW) vs. KAORU ITO (AJW): Ito is getting a dark horse push for much of the year, often hitting a ton of moves before barely losing in the end- her overpush would, um, continue. Here, she’s flattened by Aja repeatedly- even her Flying Stomp barely scores a two-count. After a match that’s 50% slow stretching, Aja hits an Uraken & Dangerous Backdrop at (13:44). **1/2.

WWWA TAG TEAM TITLES- 2/3 FALLS- MANAMI TOYOTA & TOSHIYO YAMADA (AJW) vs. DOUBLE INOUE (AJW): The big Main Event here is a maximum effort from all four women. Fall One is insane, as Manami does three No-Hands Running Springboard moves in 12 minutes, and a fresh Kyoko falls to the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex in (13:26). Fall Two sees Kyoko now brutalized after being hurt, but eventually gets a huge comeback and both teams spam mega-moves until a MONSTER Super Powerslam stuns Yamada. Niagara Driver finishes her at (11:24). I LOVED that- the way she just plastered Yamada all over the mat, then went “Fuckin’ RIGHT I’m gonna finish this!” and whipped her up for the N.D.- that was amazing. Fall Three reveals why you don’t spend all your time trying to kill one partner- Takako is fresh, and completely annihilates the exhausted champs with stuff. Kyoko still pulls off some big moves (Yamada saves Toyota from the pin after another Niagara Driver). The crowd starts freaking out with every pin attempt now, as Takako drills Manami onto the back of her head with a Super Chokeslam, a loose Powerbomb/Super Chokeslam & Backdrop/Flying Back Elbow (both moves have only one move particularly connect), and finally a Doomsday Chokeslam/Powerbomb finishes Manami at (8:50).

Thus ends the second amazing Tag Title reign of Manami & Yamada- their team is done for good after this, and we enter the “Double Inoue” era, which ALSO has a ton of amazing matches in it! The bout is an incredible tour de force from Kyoko in particular, dominating the first two falls almost entirely, selling her back like death the entire way- the story of the match is largely “Kyoko is unbreakable”, and possibly also “leaving her partner untouched most of the way leaves you vulnerable to all her death-moves later on”. The match itself was awesome, but the ending borderline self-indulgent with the mega-finishers, like people criticize with the NXT/AEW styles of today. But still a great 32 minutes of action. ****3/4.

And now Big Egg Wrestling Universe! My reviews:

Joshi Spotlight- Big Egg Wrestling Universe (Part One)

Joshi Spotlight: Big Egg Wrestling Universe (Part Two)

(Tokyo Dome- 20.11.1994)

* And now we hit the famous mega-card- the biggest Joshi show in history at the Tokyo Dome. EIGHT HOURS of matches, some stupendous, and some awful- the enormous card forces everyone into ten-minute bouts and that really messes with their cadence at times. But it’s a major show for Joshi, features all four companies in action, and is arguably the peak of this “Golden Age”- sadly, it’s all downhill from here, even though greatness still awaits.

BOMBER HIKARI (JWP) & CHAPARITA ASARI (AJW) vs. HIROMU SUGO & HIROMI YAGI (JWP): ASARI notably does eleven flips in a row on her way to the ring. She hits her crowd-pleasing Sky Twister Press to the outside, and a turning kick off the top pins Sugo at (7:03). **1/4.
HANDICAP MATCH- BUTA GENJIN & LITTLE GREAT MUTA vs. TOMEZO TSUNOKAKE: Genjin uses Telekinesis, but Frankie comes back after they’re too short (hee) on a Rocket Launcher and uses an STF to make Tomezo tap at (4:47). DUD.
AJW JUNIOR TITLE- CANDY OKUTSU (JWP) vs. RIE TAMADA (AJW): Both girls wisely go all-out, knowing it’s a short match. Candy hits a Northern Lights Superduperplex, ending with Rolling Germans (8:53). ***.
SUZUKA MINAMI (AJW) vs. KAORU (GAEA Japan): KAORU shows some great effort here, and the two hit some beautiful counters. Amazing Asai Moonsault from KAORU, but Minami reverses a Thesz press to a top-tier Powerbomb, and then the greatest Sit-Out Powerbomb I’ve ever seen in my life- it literally has me going “WOOAAAHHH GEEZ!”, flattening KAORU at (9:33). ***1/2.
REAL FIGHTS- Kumiko Maekawa d. Sugar Miyuki by judge’s decision in kickboxing. Doris Blind d. Kyoko Hamaguchi in amateur wrestling- judge’s decision, even though she was on the defensive most of the match. Miyuu Yamamoto d. Anna Gomis in amateur wrestling- I think on points. Fumiko Ishimoto d. Kaoru Ito in kickboxing- judge’s decision. This all took up more than an HOUR of time.
CHIGUSA NAGAYO (GAEA Japan) vs. REGGIE BENNETT (AJW): Disappointing match, with Chigusa openly disrespecting Reggie backstage and during the opening (Reggie said in a shoot ( that Chigusa was arrogant and put down all the gaijin wrestlers as inferior to herself) but Chigusa does her trademark great “I’m dying” selling. Reggie tries a sleeper, but Chigusa elbows out and gets a quick rollup… for three (8:41)? Fans boo that. **3/4.

MIKIKO FUTAGAMI & SHINOBU KANDORI (LLPW) vs. TOMOKO WATANABE & TOSHIYO YAMADA (AJW): The weird Kandori/Yamada rivalry continues, with Kandori just having no respect. She keeps throwing dangerous Cross-Armbreakers on Yamada, ultimately ending when a flying move is countered to ANOTHER one with nowhere to go, and that’s enough to finish Yamada at (11:30). ***1/2.
UWA WOMEN’S TAG TITLES- LAS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES (Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda) (AJW) vs. MICHIKO NAGASHIMA & YASHA KURENAI (LLPW): LCO gets one of the greatest entrances of all time, carried on the backs of shirtless men while triumphantly holding their gold. LCO throw on their “Template Match” to have a great one, full of hate, despite the sloppiness of their opponents. LLPW move-steals and does some good stuff, but the crowd doesn’t know them and knows they’re losing. Mita’s finally able to set up the Death Valley Driver, executing Michiko at (15:36) for the win. LCO wins, and Michiko sells the DVD like it was a mortal wound. ***3/4.
BISON KIMURA & JAGUAR YOKOTA (AJW) vs. LIONESS ASUKA & YUMI OGURA (AJW): A strange “All Veterans” match, as the future JD’ is seen out here with four women coming out of retirement. They tell ring rust to eat a dick immediately, throwing out a huge amount of great stuff in a very short time, everyone doing well. Asuka hits some good stuff on Jaguar, including that Leglock German that lost her that ***** WON match in the ’80s just as time expires (10:46). This leads to three of them returning to AJW in the new year. ***.
ALL INDIA WOMEN’S PRO WRESTLING: Some weird thing with two girls in technicolor leotards over black bodysuits, doing this exhibition-style stuff of judo flips and amateur wrestling. The stadium lights are WAY up, illuminating everything, which looks weird, as is the “everyone in the crowd is just chatting each other and you can hear the wrestlers talk in the ring” silence.
Someone named Lucia Rijker comes out to apologize to the fans for being injured, saying they deserve a good fight, so she had to cancel it as a result. Then they show the V*Top ceremony, which is a bunch of laser lights coming out while the original PlayStation start-up sound plays on loop.
BLIZZARD YUKI (AJW) vs. MARIKO YOSHIDA (AJW): A very infamous match, as Sakie Hasegawa is repackaged into the manga character Blizzard Yuki, with a HUGE entrance full of stuntmen in her gear and all this argle-bargle, but the match… just dies. It’s decent enough, but the crowd just can’t give a s--- (it’s SUPER obvious Yuki is winning), and Yuki shows so little fire that there’s no saving it. Rumors have sprouted up that an injury to a stuntman in the opening shook her and so she was just a zombie out there. Yoshida’s great stuff draws nothing from the fans, and a Run-Up Sunset Flip nearly pins Yuki, and then Yoshida hits a Super DDT (!!), but Yuki comes right back with an Ax Kick and a Turning Somersault Senton for the pin (12:01). WEIRD delayed “3” there. ***.

* So this one-night, eight-woman tournament takes up the majority of the second half of the show, and features a spectacular list of major stars of Joshi. Though LLPW & FMW don’t drop in their Aces, instead throwing out Eagle Sawai & Combat Toyoda, in what looks like a pretty clear case of “no way are we jobbing out Kandori & Kudo to this thing”. Those two, plus Kyoko Inoue & Yumiko Hotta, are our obvious JTTS in it, as they’re all credible, but CLEARLY have no chance at winning. I’d imagine they’ll all look good in defeat, though. For added drama, Hokuto suggested that should she lose in the Dome, she’ll retire.

COMBAT TOYODA (FMW) vs. YUMIKO HOTTA (AJW): A shockingly amazing match between the two, just trading huge blows back and forth while selling like it all hurts like hell. They throw all their finishers, desperately trying to kill the other, and are shocked when they don’t work. Combat sells a KO from some more head kicks, but Hotta keeps up the punishment with Combat in the ropes, throwing away the ref repeatedly until he finally drags her off- Combat hits a miracle German out of that, scoring the three (16:95), letting Hotta save some face. She has to be restrained from killing the ref after the match, as the crowd boos the FMW girl winning (or the kinda shitty finish). Completely awesome “Gods at War” thing, here. Trading bombs left and right. ****1/4.
AKIRA HOKUTO (AJW) vs. EAGLE SAWAI (LLPW): Good, smartly-wrestled match- Eagle’s “less good” than the other top-level Joshi I’ve seen, but Akira’s super good at this wrestling thing, it turns out, and makes her look strong and devastating, taking a bunch of offense and making sure all her surges come from comebacks and reversals. Eagle’s put over when the Northern Lights Bomb can’t pin her- a second is reversed, but she manages another for three (11:07). ***3/4.
AJA KONG (AJW) vs. MANAMI TOYOTA (AJW): A pretty famous one- an easy ***** match by all respects, and possibly my favorite match ever. Aja just DESTROYS Manami with stuff to start, until Manami flies in with all sorts of insane stuff to put Aja on the ropes. But she can’t manage her Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex, and so she’s left trying to do all the moves that worked earlier in the match… and Aja now counters them, one by one. Manami Roll reversed to a powerbomb, a sunset flip powerbomb reversed to a huge Banzai Drop, etc. Manami hits the “Victory Star Drop” suicide move and nearly kills them both, but Aja manages a Falcon Arrow thing to win (17:17). *****.
DYNAMITE KANSAI (JWP) vs. KYOKO INOUE (AJW): And that all-timer is followed by ANOTHER classic, as they pull out all the stops. Splash Mountain & Niagara Driver get last-second kickouts from both. They actually get into a slugfest on their hands and knees because they’re just DONE- Kyoko hits a lariat and goes up… and in a FANTASTIC finish, Kansai kicks out the leg to spin Kyoko around, then hits a SUPER SPLASH MOUNTAIN for the three count (17:39)!!! F------ amazing ending! ****1/2.

CUTIE SUZUKI (JWP) & TAKAKO INOUE (AJW) vs. HIKARI FUKUOKA (JWP) & MEGUMI KUDO (FMW): An “All Idol” match just to be cute. Super-disjointed and a bit of a mess, with only Hikari pulling “Main Event Effort” as the others are kinda slumming it being lower on the card than they’re used to. With only two FMW girls on the show, you had to know Kudo was picking up the win, hitting three Tiger Drivers in a row on Takako (14:05). ***1/2.
GRAN NANIWA, JINSEI SHINZAKI & SUPER DELFIN vs. SATO, SHIRYU & THE GREAT SASUKE: I really didn’t get this one, but most people sing its praises. Tons of comedy spots from the M-Pro guys (10+ minutes of it, really), with lots of pausing after high spots. Sasuke’s team hits triple stereo Ranas, then everyone starts hitting dives with three minutes left- Sasuke & Shinzaki’s of course being the prettiest. Sasuke just grabs Naniwa and hits a ThunderFire Powerbomb for the three (21:45). **3/4.
WWF WOMAN’S TITLE- ALUNDRA BLAYZE (WWF) vs. BULL NAKANO (WWF/AJW): A short, disappointing match for the WWF Women’s Title. Got misinterpreted as a classic by many through word of mouth/”I heard that…”, but it’s mostly just Bull running through all her s--- on Alundra and finishing with the Guillotine Legdrop in (9:40). **1/2.

COMBAT TOYODA (FMW) vs. AKIRA HOKUTO (AJW): Super quick, interesting match, with Combat brutalizing Akira like crazy, gorilla pressing her outside the ring and more, but misses a Flying Thing and hits a table (it doesn’t break, but she improvises a bad “injury”) and takes the Northern Lights Bomb at (5:48). ***.
AJA KONG (AJW) vs. DYNAMITE KANSAI (JWP): And now it’s ACE VERSUS ACE! They were beaten to s--- last match, but of course they still go all-out with effort and every move is murder. Kansai’s Urakened in the opening moments, but hits lethal kicks to harry Aja. And then Kansai somehow gets her up for Splash Mountain as the Tokyo Dome ROARS. Holy S--- that was a great move! But she rushes in to finish and eats an Uraken, teasing a KO. She’s up, but Aja hits her two big finishers (Super Mountain Bomb & Back Elbow). Kansai reverses the Falcon Arrow from the Toyota match and DRILLS Aja with kicks, but eats a series of Urakens to finally put her down at (12:49). Called possibly the best match under 15 minutes ever, and rightly so. ****1/2.
AJA KONG (AJW) vs. AKIRA HOKUTO (AJW): A match that’s been called disappointing by some, but hey- they fought some WARS earlier tonight. Aja does a big “injury spot” right away, eating up three minutes by screaming and needing help. Akira massacres the knee and hits two Northern Lights Bombs. Aja rallies numerous times, doing some amazing selling, but Akira keeps hitting killer moves. Akira’s in the ropes on an Uraken, and comes back with THREE Northern Lights Bombs in a row, finally winning the match (20:53)! And then, in one of those endings you can only find in Joshi, a tearful Aja actually GIVES AKIRA THE WWWA TITLE, but Hokuto refuses, strapping the title back around a bawling Aja’s waist, and the two titans embrace and cry together. We end with the Tokyo Dome chanting a triumphant Hokuto’s name. ****1/4.

All in all, this was an amazing show by any metric. On ****+ matches alone (FIVE), it’s an all-timer. While you can rev up the fast-forward button repeatedly and it’s MUCH too long, you have Aja Kong hitting three matches over **** in one night, which has never been equaled. Watching this, you’d think the sky was the limit for Joshi… but the combination of the economy, AJW’s managerial incompetence, injuries and lack of proper elevation (note that most of the matches here elevated nobody) would lead to disaster in 1996. But hey- all next year is pretty great, too!

AJW TV (Nov. 30th, 1994):
* Aw man- I had this one on the docket for MONTHS and it’s just a clipped re-airing of the V*Top Tournament from Big Egg Wrestling Universe, haha. They actually show the final stretches of most matches, but cut out huge swaths of the middle stuff. But at least we get ads! Clever ones where people are heard clopping around with dancing, followed by “YOU NEED MUSIC!” for a 200-yen sale at Tower Records. And also ads for Penthouse Magazine! Yep, naked ladies, advertised on your Joshi TV show- wonder if this was part of the demographic shift?

But wow- they actually air the final match in its ENTIRETY- Aja Kong vs. Akira Hokuto in the Main Event! That’s gotta be pretty rare- the event had only aired TEN DAYS PRIOR, and you’re giving this one up? I mean, it was a stacked card and they probably wanted to advertise how awesome it was, but wow.