Joshi Spotlight: Wrestlemarinepiad ’94 EX

The Main Event- Aja vs. Hotta for the WWWA World Title.

AJW WRESTLEMARINEPIAD ’94 EX:
(12/4/94)
* Here’s an odd little show near the end of the year- a mere TWO WEEKS after Big Egg Wrestling Universe in the Tokyo Dome, we get a reasonably-big show that features a WWWA World Title defense, “new act” Blizzard Yuki against a Main Eventer, and more. Though… only the top three matches are particularly big- everything else looks like “card filler”. Thankfully I found the card on Ringstarfield’s channel, and… oh thank god, we have FULL VIDEOS of each match! Like, not all cut up into separate parts! These videos are only NINE years old, meaning that YouTube then allowed people to upload things over 10 minutes long, so we get 26-30 minute videos in some instances. That makes watching this a whole lot more pleasant.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: Well, two weeks after the biggest show in AJW’s history, they’re back AGAIN pitting superstars against each other. Most are beat to hell and shooting more for *** than ****, but check out Manami being a crazy person in another extremely long eye-opening match to put over a big new act.

MISAE WATANABE vs. KAORU KANAYAMA:
* Rookie mayhem, as the slightly-experienced stringbean Misae takes on the tiny rookie Kanayama, who is such a non-presence in Joshi that the video actually describes her as “rare”. She wrestled so little that she has neither a Cagematch nor a Wrestlingdata profile, but I can see matches going back as far as September and ending around January 1995, meaning she lasted about four months before retiring for good. Both have Tomboy Rookie Haircuts here, and both in the exact same kind of Rookie Swimsuit- black with tiny colored accents. Misae’s have purple and Kaoru’s green. Thankfully they have really different body types.

Kaoru takes over early, doing that weird kind of hesitant “I dunno what to do next” thing that makes her moves look weird- think David Flair & Erik Watts. Snapmares, dropkicks, etc., until Misae finally reverses to a camel clutch, dropkicks, and the Rookie MDK, the “Bodyslam and then hold them down”, gets the pin, Kaoru sliding out and Misae trying the pin again for the win at (4:31). Rookies being able to get pinned just by physically holding them down will never not be funny.

Rating: DUD (nothing to it)

KUMIKO MAEKAWA & YOKO TAKAHASHI vs. CHAPARRITA ASARI & NOBUE ENDO:
* More rookie stuff, as ASARI is the only semi-accomplished one here- Kumiko is barely above the bottom-tier. ASARI’s in this amazing White Tiger Ranger gear, Endo’s in a black & blue rookie swimsuit, Yoko’s in a black & pink rookie swimsuit, and Kumiko’s in blue.

Snapmare & headlock city from the rookies to start, then Yoko gets stretched. Watching ASARI toss someone around is hilarious. Yoko finally escapes after 3 minutes and Kumiko takes over on Endo. Wow, Endo is getting the rocket push- she kicks out of a BODYSLAM! ASARI controls, then Endo comes in for some shine, but Kumiko tags out and now YOKO gets some shine. Endo kicks out of ANOTHER bodyslam (what is this, AEW? Don’t kill your finishers!), then finally escapes Kumiko… but ASARI just tags right back again. Kumiko does a spinkick that misses by a mile, but the crowd liked it. Kick to the head gets two- ASARI saves. Endo FINALLY escapes after a ton of dropkicks, and ASARI runs right into an Argentine Backbreaker from Kumiko. She tosses ASARI down once she’s tired, then does another, ending the same way, getting a two-count out of it. ASARI finally rolls her up for two. Two Cartwheel Handspring Mule Kicks & a standing backdrop get two, she goes for the Sky Twister Press and gets tossed, then she reverses a charge to a Rana out of the corner for three (11:13).

This was one of those matches where you have green rookies and so you send them out there to do dropkicks, standing backdrops and bodyslams for ten minutes, I dunno. Not fun to watch, but some of these girls stuck around, so I guess it works? Kumiko is sloooowwwwwlly getting built up as these go on.

Rating: * (nothing match except for ASARI’s stuff)

REGGIE BENNETT & RIE TAMADA vs. SUZUKA MINAMI & TOMOKO WATANABE:
* Powerful Reggie teams up with a low-tier rookie against a Vet/Up & Comer duo- if they can single out Rie, they’ll win handily, but Reggie is higher-level than either. Reggie’s now got a light blue tie-dye version of her shirt, while Rie’s in white & blue. Their opponents both have brand-new gear! Minami’s in a blue singlet with orange bits, and Tomoko’s got new gear- a shiny golden shirt & shorts combo that’s… pretty garish and dumpy.

Tomoko powers around Rie, and the tall girls come in- Minami gets cheeky with slaps, but Reggie press-slams her and the stretch each other. Tomoko takes over and gets overpowered- big legdrop gets two and Rie has a go, but they quickly wreck her. They work her leg- not the most recappable stuff but cromulent and Rie’s selling is REALLY good, making this out to be torture. She finally hits a spinning cross-body and SPRINTS to the corner to tag Reggie, who immediately stretches Minami. Minami’s slingshotted into Reggie’s knees and Rie flies off the top in that position in a cool double-team, then Tomoko comes in and hits her Judo Flips on Reggie! But she tries too much and gets slammed, then hit with the Big Splash for two. Rie comes in and gets bulldogged and lariated despite her speedy dodging, and Tomoko gets cute and tries to sucker Reggie with a slingshot move but botches it. Tomoko… I thought we were past you trying those slingshot moves. She manages a slingshot cross-body on Reggie & Rie, at least. Minami cross-body gets two, but she takes a lariat and escapes. Tomoko takes a tilt-a-whirl slam but gets her Rana reversal for one- Reggie gets a foot in the ropes. They try a double-team, but Reggie just flattens them with a double-lariat and finishes Tomoko with the 2nd-Rope Splash at (12:43), Rie desperately holding Minami back on the apron.

Very slow, but technically fine, match that shows they were working light. Everyone was good enough at what they did that it was still okay, but they weren’t swinging for the fences. It didn’t pick up until the last three minutes, but Rie’s selling was good throughout- you can tell she’s gunning for some focus because she was WAILING in those basic holds. Tomoko unfortunately broke down a bit, over-trying her moves and looking clumsy, like it was her 1993 self all over again.

Rating: **1/2 (good enough, but not memorable or especially hard-worked)

LAS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES (Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda) vs. MARIKO YOSHIDA & KAORU ITO:
* The JWP/AJW Tag Champs take on a lower-tier duo this time- this one’s got that “LCO’s obviously gonna win, but they’ll have to fight like hell for it” look to it, as Ito’s constantly being kept strong and Yoshida’s building her cred back. The interviewer says something to crack up LCO, and they spend the whole interview yukking it up, making you forget temporarily that they’re insane killers. They’re even giggling all the way to the ring. LCO are in AWESOME matching purple & white (Mita would wear this gear for AGES), while a taped-up Yoshida’s in that hideous neon/pastel orange, yellow & blue thing with a stylized “MY” on it, and Ito’s in a kaleidoscope green singlet. Wait… is Kaoru Ito NOT IN THE UGLIEST GEAR IN THE MATCH? Holy shit, what a milestone!

Good do-si-do segment sees the teams all smartly avoid attacks, but Mita goes kaiju on Ito, launching her all over the ring. Ito outwrestles Shimoda, but Mita just powers down Yoshida and they hit a particularly showy Bitch Pose on her. She comes back with a good run-up cross-body, monkey-flips and butterfly suplex on Mita, and the kids pull an LCO by double-teaming her and yanking the hair- hah! oh, but there’s Ito with those half-crabs. Ah well, at least they’re not lazy and Mita’s selling them well. Ito hits four great running dropkicks to Mita while she’s down, then hits her Stomp off the apron. Mita finally escapes Yoshida and Shimoda tears in with her clotheslines, getting two off a flying one. Mita adds a hanging choke in the corner and they just beat the kids up outside the ring, Shimoda adding another choke off the APRON. Yoshida’s in trouble, but she cartwheel dodges away from Shimoda and Ito gets the hot tag! Ass attacks & corner senton! That gets two, but Shimoda gets her headscissors out of the corner and they reverse on each other for a while until Shimoda brings down both opponents with a double-clothesline.

Mita tries her electric chair drop, but Ito jumps back and hits a stomp- Shimoda grabs her to put a quick stop to her comeback, then drags Yoshida out, but Ito recovers and hits Stomp Spam- Shimoda stops a flying move, but Yoshida knocks them both off the top and hits a Run-Up Plancha to the outside! They set up Ito’s Flying Stomp… Shimoda saves! Okay, barely- the ref had to delay the count, I think. Yoshida’s sunset flip gets two, then Shimoda cheats and comes in, dodging a second run-up cross-body- Ito stops a Tiger Suplex, but LCO stop a double-team and now finally hit their Assisted Plancha/Dive spot. Electric Chair/Splash to Yoshida! Ito saves, then saves again when Shimoda hits a Tiger Suplex. Two DVD attempts by Mita are stopped, with a CLOSE two on a rollup by Yoshida, and she Germans out of another for two. Their luck runs out, however, as Mita Germans her out of a double-clothesline while Shimoda deals with Ito via a missile kick, and she signals for the Death Valley Driver- it finishes at (16:33). Mita’s swagger there is EXCELLENT, making her look like a huge star. A pissed-off Ito grabs Shimoda and buries her under chairs after the bell rings! Shimoda’s “Hey, what the fuck? You lost- suck it up” look is great, as Ito just stares daggers.

Quite a good little match- again they weren’t aiming for ****, but they did well, kept up a good pace, and made even the weardown holds look like they required effort. LCO dominated the early going, but the kids came back and we had a good bunch of reversals- nobody maintained the offense for very long in the second half, and it kept you guessing. Ito got by far the most shine, with Yoshida probably being hurt because she was barely in there until the very end. I liked how they kept making repeated attempts at stuff- Shimoda trying to hit the Tiger Suplex a couple times, then Mita repeatedly going for her DVD (still an MDK at this point). Yoshida got hope spot after hope spot and nearly got Mita a couple times on her reversals, but LCO is just too tricky- as soon as Yoshida is isolated, she’s done.

Rating: ***1/4 (LCO are just masterful- even against a lower-tier team with no huge surge of finishers at the end they can hit *** as a floor)

MANAMI TOYOTA vs. BLIZZARD YUKI:
* This one’s pretty weird- Blizzard Yuki JUST DEBUTED, beating Yoshida at the Tokyo Dome, but now she’s already taking on Manami Toyota? Well, I guess the best way to build credibility is to beat the shit out of AJW’s top seller for 25 minutes until she dumps on you with her best offense. Yuki is of course Sakie Hasegawa in a weird wig and mask, portraying a manga character, while Toyota’s in black.

Yuki dodges Manami’s stuff and controls to start, working the arm for several minutes. Toyota finally hits her dropkick reversal, but SAILS across the ring missing a dropkick when Yuki grabs the ropes to dodge, but immediately recovers with the Running No-Hands Springboard Cross-Body when Yuki whips her to the other side. Toyota controls with submissions, but loses a DEFIANT SLAPFIGHT as one Toyota fan is really annoying with his yelling. Toyota gets bent like gumby, and can’t even manage her usual comebacks, as Yuki scouts them all. Manami finally hits the Rolling Cradle ten minutes in for two, but awwwww- then she takes the Mulkey Bump and eats a FANTASTIC Tope Con Hilo from Yuki. She splats on the mat trying a Corkscrew Senton off the top, but reverses a German to an Uranage attempt, but Manami resists and eats a wicked axe kick instead. Manami yanks Yuki off the top and hits a German for two, aaaaaaand misses a Moonsault. Yeah, that was dumb after so little offense.

Savate Kick gets two for Yuki and she hits a sleeper for a minute. Rolling Butterfly Suplexes get two. One-minute chinlock & a backdrop get two, but Toyota lands on her feet from a second and hits some vicious dropkicks, tying Yuki in the ropes for some. She pulls up the floor mats and hits a butterfly suplex out there, but Yuki just gets fired up and tosses her around outside! Hooking clothesline in the ring, but a Manami Roll gets two. Yuki catches her with a Superduperplex for two- “Fuck YOU!” bridge! Splash misses and Manami Germans her for two. Yuki hits her own for the same, but climbs the corner and gets dropkicked in the ass, flying to the floor! Yikes those bumps always look freaky. Running No-Hands Suicide… no! Yuki kicks her on the way down! Toyota tries a second Manami Roll back in the ring, but you know what THAT means- Powerbomb reversal gets two! Yuki tries a superplex, but Manami shoves her off and hits a big missile dropkick to the back of the head for a CLOSE two.

Toyota charges right into a Dragon Suplex for two, but Toyota hits a third German for the same. Moonsault… hits feet! Yuki senses her moment and hits three Uranages in a row for two, but gets whipped back off the top rope- missile dropkick suicida! Quebrada off the top rope! Finally… FINALLY… that Moonsault hits! Another close call on the pin, and Manami signals the end- Japanese Ocean… no- victory roll reversal for two! Another try, but Yuki drops back and Savate Kicks her with PERFECT timing- two! A whip into another gets two. Japanese Ocean Suplex is reversed with a kick, but she gets a piledriver and Moonsault Press for two-counts. Missile dropkick gets another, and she reverses an Uranage reversal for two. Toyota’s so beat Yuki just rolls over for two, and a release German hits as one minute is remaining. Another gets two and both are DEAD. Yuki slowwwwwly gets a Savate Kick for two, unable to hold Manami all the way down, and hits one last spin-kick as Time Expires at (30:00). Yup, saw that one coming the second I saw the video length.

Okay, this is a very well-put-together match, acting as more of a “Stand-Out Debut” for Yuki that the Big Egg match was, as this one was Manami going all-out in putting the new act over. She let all her moves get reversed, took 10-15 straight minutes of offense, and let Yuki do a bunch of flashy stuff to her. THAT is how you put someone over. The match itself was rather slow by Manami standards, with a ton of stretching to start and a couple flat-out restholds in the middle, but hey- you gotta hit 30 somehow. The near-falls were a great story, here, as they got SUPER close repeatedly, and the crowd bit on every one- the sign they’re doing a good job with the “hey, maybe” teases. And yes, almost exactly as I predicted, Manami gave and gave and gave and then she hit all her insane stuff at the end. But even THEN Manami sold her ass off and was very generous, getting killed trying her finisher over and over again and only barely kicking out.

Rating: **** (was looking ***+, then just slowly built and built over the last ten minutes into a heck of a contest)

TOSHIYO YAMADA & TAKAKO INOUE vs. LIONESS ASUKA & KYOKO INOUE:
* A bizarre one, as the WWWA Tag Champs, Double Inoue, are split up and on different teams, with dethroned tag champ Yamada with the Idol and elder veteran Asuka (fresh from a return at Big Egg) with Kyoko. Oddly subdued fan reaction to Asuka, a legend in the business- Jaguar Yokota, who creates a new company next year with Asuka as a featured player, watches intently at ringside. Asuka’s in dark blue gear, while Kyoko’s is pink paintsplatter and yellow. Takako’s in white and blue (covered in tons of transparent white bits) & Yamada’s in purple and white.

Asuka’s team attacks immediately and she hits the Giant Swing on Takako, then Kyoko comes in and does her own! She adds a surfboard and Asuka puts in a bunch of old-school offense to keep the idol down. Kyoko comes in, but a whip is reversed and Takako hits the Aurora Special (shoulder-mounted backdrop) to escape. Yamada comes in with her snap suplex, stiff kicks, and stump puller, and they work the leg but Kyoko flies back with a Slingshot Backsplash to both. Asuka hits a flying clothesline to Kyoko, but Yamada gets the Kick of Fear and another snap suplex before adding more kicks- Asuka reverses to an armbar for a while, but Kyoko tries a Mongolian Chop & Yamada ducks under and hits a great belly-to-belly, then tags out. Takako runs straight into a slingshot dropkick, but hits a DDT- and Kyoko defiantly no-sells! But now Takako does the same thing! Kyoko eats a big one, causing her to sell, then “fire up” All Japan-style to hit a Run-Up DDT out of the corner! Okay I know the DDT means nothing in joshi for some reason, but this always bothers me, haha.

Kyoko hits the Dancing Deathlock to keep up the pressure on Takako, but Asuka forces a tag to Yamada, whom she lariats & beats on before her team hits the Crush Gals double-punch to a big reaction. Yamada finally stops the onslaught with Enzuigiri Spam on Asuka for two. Asuka catches her with a superplex for two, but Takako runs in and Germans her- they try a double-team, but Kyoko charges in and they hit stereo lariats! Kyoko calls for the Run-Up Flying Back Elbow… but there’s Takako with a Super Chokeslam! Yamada’s Flying Enzuigiri gets two, but the crowd doesn’t even buy it- bad sign. Kyoko gets a headscissors for two, but Yamada ends her flurry with a spinkick for the same. Takako misses her Flying Knee & Kyoko hits her Chinlock Finisher thing, but Yamada stops it. Kyoko hits the Back Elbow this time, getting two, then Takako slips out of a Niagara Driver but eats a lariat. Asuka & Yamada both stop moves in the ring, then Takako & Yamada hit a Doomsday Chokeslam off the ring apron to Kyoko! Takako gets the Flying Knee, but Asuka saves. She tries for another, but Kyoko charges with the Run-Up Super Belly-To-Belly- Yamada saves! Asuka scores a powerbomb for the weirdest two-count ever (Takako just kinda lifts her shoulder up with no force at all). Another in the ring gets three (15:43)- Asuka wins her first “official” match back! Meanwhile, Jaguar looks annoyed and Takako seems dead, and her regular tag team partner (Kyoko) doesn’t appear to even notice or care. Super-weird.

Perfectly fine, everyday match- classic “good enough” stuff from some very good workers who just kinda kept it simple. Odd match set-up, as it’s largely Kyoko & Asuka completely dominating the other team- Yamada got some good flurries here and there, but they were treated as on a completely lower tier. The finish was also kinda strange- AJW has stopped treating Powerbombs as acceptable finishers for a WHILE now (Devil Masami can’t even score pins with triple versions), but Asuka just casually hits two and Takako’s done? After that weak kickout? I dunno.

Rating: *** (good enough, nobody screwed up, and they didn’t do any resting)

WWWA WORLD TITLE:
AJA KONG vs. YUMIKO HOTTA:
* Curiously, this is a rematch from the earliest Title defense of the year, where Aja beat seven shades of shit out of Hotta and tore her hand apart in an iconic bloody match that put over Hotta’s resiliency and put a cap on just how dangerous Aja really was. However, this is a mere two weeks after Aja had three ****-***** matches in one night, losing in the end to Akira Hokuto after Aja injured her leg, while Hotta lost a 20-minute war to Combat Toyoda via shenanigans (the ref pulled her off a hurt Combat, and a lucky German suplex got the win). So both have something to prove, and Aja is always MEAN in Title defenses. Like, even moreso than normal. Aja’s in black & gold, Hotta’s in white & silver, which is a great superstar look.

Aja responds to the pre-match handshake with a German suplex, so that’s how THIS match is going to be. Hotta manages the rolling corner kicks, but Aja commences to murder, even ignoring counterattacks entirely, and attacks the leg with incredible ferocity. When she uses the GUARDRAIL as a weapon, you know it’s serious. Hotta’s even hung upside-down on one railing while a piece of rail is grinded into her knee from above. For like EIGHT GODDAMN MINUTES Aja tears into the knee using all kinds of brutality, but Hotta finally comes back with a terrific enzuigiri. Hotta goes “Full Kawada” for a sec with vicious shots, but Aja just grabs her oil can and smashes the knee with it repeatedly. And now it’s chairs and a table, and Hotta’s checked on by the ref, who has to yank on the leg in some old-school “just tape it back on” medicine.

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Pictured: Hotta’s leg.

Back in, Aja hits another half-crab, then a 2nd-rope splash on the leg for two. She misses the Flying Back Elbow, and Hotta goes for the Tiger Driver, blocks an Uraken, and lands the Driver… for one! And she does another, dropping Aja nearly on her head, for two. She tries a lariat, but Aja hits a snap German and backdrop for two. Hotta tries to fight up top, but eats an Uraken, but the Super Mountain Bomb is messed up (like Aja was selling a sunset flip reversal but Hotta just dropped dead) and Hotta follows her up next with the Caribbean Splash (straightjacket super german). She naturally looks to finish, but Aja resists the Pyramid Driver so Hotta settles for head kicks and they tease a knock-out- Aja BARELY getting up at nine, falling down first, then tumbling into the ropes. Hotta immediately pounces, but Aja snaps off an Uraken and in a great bit of psychology, doesn’t follow up and instead uses the time to recover. Hotta gets up at eight, and piefaces Aja so she can hit a Flying Rolling Kick for two. Another gets two. Aja counters a whip- Uraken!! … for two! So Aja just yanks her up and cranks out another one for the three (19:22).

Well THIS was one-sided. I have to wonder about the booking here, but like I said, there was something to prove- Aja was the WWWA Champion and had just lost to Akira Hokuto. There were shenanigans (an injured knee to give her an “out”, plus she’d had much harder matches beforehand), but still, you can see the need for some very quick image rehab. And the absolute destruction of “AJW’s Toughest Wrestler” was a good way to do that (plus maybe Hotta was on the outs with the bookers this month). I mean, this was fifteen minutes straight of Aja on offense while Hotta just sold. Both did pretty well at that, but it’s entirely non-competitive. And then of course it’s the mandatory “hey, they can win!” comeback as Hotta hits a million finisher-tier moves but can’t pin Aja down- Aja did very well selling potential knockouts or “hey, maybe?” falls, and had good desperation with her comebacks.

Rating: ***1/4 (a disappointment considering their past matches- just too one-sided. But understandable given the three matches Aja had two weeks before)

Match Ratings:
Misae Watanabe vs. Kaoru Kanayama: DUD
Kumiko/Yoko vs. ASARI/Endo: *
Bennett/Rie vs. Minami/Tomoko: **1/2
LCO vs. Yoshida/Ito: ***1/4
Manami Toyota vs. Blizzard Yuki: ****
Yamada/Takako vs. Asuka/Kyoko: ***
Aja Kong vs. Yumiko Hotta: ***1/4

-Hey… it was PRETTY good. I mean, hitting *** three times and having a **** 30-minute match makes any card a positive, right? Given the circumstances and closeness to Big Egg, I don’t think there’s any way we were getting all-out efforts except from crazy people (translation: Manami & Yuki)- everyone here was beat to hell and still mostly putting on good performances. A minor card but still some important stuff- Aja is still the top-tier Champion and we know Sakie/Yuki is supposed to be a BIG, BIG star.