Joshi Spotlight: Joshi in 1994

From Nikki Bella to Chyna, these are the Top Women in Wrestling – Page 24 – Herald Weekly

Akira Hokuto retired this year! Until she didn’t!

JOSHI IN 1994:

And now we’ve reached the end of what I can find for Joshi in 1994, so here’s my summation for the year! And it was a big one, with the future looking bright! Until it wasn’t! Read on!

Joshi had its biggest year ever in 1993, thanks to the massive Dream Slam, Thunder Queen Battle, and more, all culminating in St. Battle Final by the end of the year- 1994 had a lot to live up to, but went from strength to strength as they cap things off with the biggest joshi card in history at the Tokyo Dome- Big Egg Wrestling Universe is, to this day, the largest gate for any women’s pro wrestling event. Though they didn’t come close to filling the Dome and that’s hard to call a major success, it’s definitely made an impact. During most of the year, Akira Hokuto proclaims the “Dangerous Queen Final Countdown” as she prepares to leave AJW and move to Mexico, so she has all kinds of amazing Dream Matches in cards until Summer… and then she’s just back in AJW and that’s that for a while.

The year starts with a brutal, bloody Aja/Hotta match that sees Aja tear Hotta’s hand apart and dominate her. Kyoko beats Yamada for the All Pacific Title and that’s mostly it for Yamada’s push. The Tag Champs reign supreme for ages until October, and Manami Toyota’s push builds and builds throughout the year. She & Hokuto are the obvious work-horses of the year, putting out crazy batting-averages for great stuff. The year gets off to a great start with March’s Wrestling Queendom ’94, having a ridiculous string of awesome matches (Kansai/Sakie- ****1/4, Manami/Plum Mariko- ****1/2, LCO vs. Ozaki/Cutie- ****3/4, Aja/Bull vs. Kandori/Hokuto- *****), capping off the amazing Hokuto/Kandori feud with a story of them gaining respect for each other in a tag match against the former and current Aces of AJW- Kandori helps Hokuto pin Aja Kong to win the match, then slaps her hand out of respect and marches off leading her LLPW ring girls to the back. Just an amazing moment capping off a huge card.

There are actually fairly few AJW/JWP matches for the most part compared to 1993, as AJW tries to go it alone before cycling back to give us more “Dream Matches” (this would be emblematic of what was going on with joshi at the time- more on that later). Las Cachorras Orientales finally rise up, doing very well against Toyota/Yamada and taking JWP’s tag titles, being royal shits all year. Hikari Fukuoka, rising star, defends her promotions honor with a string of new partners, always failing until she finally convinces Ozaki to join her next January. The year seems to try and alter one of the issues of the Interpromotional Era- wrestlers staying in place and not being elevated while all the big Dream Matches are going on. The year slows down here and there, largely skipping the Japan Grand Prix as a major deal, but caps off at the Tokyo Dome in a major way, setting the stage for the next year. So here’s my year-in-review!

THE INTERPROMOTIONAL ERA CONTINUES:
* It’s still here, but nowhere near as prominent as it once was. Wrestling Queendom had a lot of AJW/JWP & AJW/LLPW matches, and LCO won JWP’s Tag Titles and defended them on various shows, but it wasn’t up & down the card like it was in 1993. Dynamite Kansai gets a win back over Aja Kong in the summer (the final Dangerous Queen Final Countdown match) and then Big Egg happens, which is AGAIN almost all interpromotional matches, reflecting Dream Slam but with a big tournament involved.

THE WWWA TAG TITLES AND THE TAG TEAM RANKS:
* The WWWA Tag Titles, once Main Eventing nearly every show, kinda/sorta take a back seat, as the champs beat ALL competition in the past few years, and time will need to be taken to build up more. AJW kinda dropped the ball on that, honestly, probably because of the interpromotional stuff putting a freeze on many pushes, so people couldn’t get elevated. Most of the challengers (LCO, Aja/Sakie, Kyoko/Hotta, Sakie/Ito) stood no chance at all, and the Champs were largely done defending by mid-year. The Hotta/Takako team featured through 1993 is abruptly ended early on, and Aja’s duo with Sakie Hasegawa also stops being a thing- both duos seem to be ended by solo matches between teammates. Yumiko Hotta & Kaoru Ito become a team until the half-year point and that’s dropped. Toyota & Kyoko are a team quite often in the early going too for some reason- possibly to maximize the flashy stuff in each match.

However, in October, it finally happens once Double Inoue gets built up enough- Kyoko & Takako form a recurring partnership and actually beat Toyota & Yamada for the Tag Titles! And they themselves go on to become a pretty legendary duo, as we’ll see in 1995. This ends up being a huge boon to AJW’s stars, as Kyoko was jobbing to too many Main Eventers, and Takako lacked credibility- this helps both of them.

THE RISE OF MANAMI (and fall of Yamada):
* Toyota/Yamada regain the WWWA Tag Titles late in 1993, and go on an absolute tear in early 1994, completely dominating the division- they beat Kyoko & Takako, LCO (in a ****1/2 classic), Kyoko & Hotta, and Aja & Sakie in the opening months, usually in ****+ matches. But at this point, it’s clear they cannot lose (Aja & Bull could probably do it, but they don’t team regularly anymore), so the Title matches take a side to Manami’s singles push while Yamada is de-emphasized. They’re set up to lose to Double Inoue by October and that’s it for the duo.

Manami, however, finally restarts her solo push in August, beating Kyoko Inoue to become double-champion, unifying her IWA belt with the All-Pacific Title. She actually grows increasingly botchy in mid-year matches, I’ve noticed (the Kyoko match has 2-3 very prominent ones in the endgame, just ruining the match)… but then she goes ****1/2 with Yamada and then Plum Mariko, hits ****1/4 with Takako in October, and then has one of wrestling’s best matches with Aja Kong at Big Egg (it’s still talked about today), and has a ****3/4 tag match when she drops those belts, and she’s suddenly the best ever again. She’s very obviously next in line- double champion and now “free” of her tag team once they lose in October- her duo pretty much ceases to exist at that point.

The sky is the limit, especially once she & Takako Inoue win the Tag League, with one performance featuring her PINNING AJA KONG (brilliantly, with the Victory Star Drop that failed at the Tokyo Dome). That, more than anything, sets up the next year, with Manami bringing Aja to the limit once, then pinning her in a tag match with a Super-MDK, winning the Tag League two years in a row.

But Yamada? She only has a short All Pacific Title run, jobbing to Kyoko (who’s getting another solo push). There’s a weird mini-feud where Shinobu Kandori more or less ignores and disrespects her in tag matches, as they do this strange new rivalry I guess based around that very fact? She also loses in an unaired big match to Aja Kong in October. She maintains credibility with the occasional shocker win (beating Toyota in a tag match), but loses a Grand Prix match to Manami and can’t beat Sakie in 30 minutes in a submissions match- these both show incredible talent (hitting **** with Sakie isn’t that easy just yet), but her star is fading fast and it’s not getting better. It looks like AJW just completely glossed her over.

SAKIE HASEGAWA’S PUSH BEGINS:
* Arguably the most obvious story of the year is “Sakie is the New Future Star”. While she was always treated this way, this was the year where it was like… “Okay, now she can hang with every top star in the world”. Early 1994 sees her in countless tag matches, often as the “odd woman out” in All-Main-Eventer tag matches (where everyone but her is a top star). She usually takes the finish, but is given tons of hope spots and dramatic “kicks out of a potential finisher” bits, wrestling from beneath and looking like she can hang, at least temporarily. Which is Puro 101 for building new stars. She gets two title shots at the WWWA Titles, with Aja Kong & Kaoru Ito, and in each one she scores the win in a single fall- she pins Toyota in the first, and Yamada in the second! Another great indicator of what they saw in her.

She suddenly becomes a LOT more prominent after mostly treading water in low-tier Interpromotional matches. She gets a great match against Dynamite Kansai, getting killed but looking very spirited for it, then starts getting put against top stars frequently, elevating her through those “she can almost hang” moments. Countless tag matches feature her kicking out of at least ONE finisher-tier move before falling- great bits like her eating Aja’s Backdrop Driver or some Double Inoue finishers before they finally get her. THAT is how you establish a new star.

She does well with Bull Nakano against Manami & Kyoko, and earns a 30:00 draw in a submissions match to Yamada. She has a FANTASTIC match against Dynamite Kansai that has her fighting uphill for ages and looking like she could have pulled off an upset, too- getting a solo bout against another company’s Ace is a huge sign of her potential. Aja Kong crushes her mid-year in a match that really showcases how far she’s come, too- Sakie doesn’t have a chance, but lasts ages.

AJW finally pulls the trigger this November, giving her the masked identity of “Blizzard Yuki”, a manga character in the vein of Tiger Mask & Jushin Liger- the implications here are obvious; they expect the world of her. She gets a MONSTER debut at Big Egg Wrestling Universe, but unfortunately the match is kind of an infamous disappointment (it’s actually FINE, but the crowd writes off Mariko Yoshida’s chances immediately, and Sakie wrestles so stunned that people think she either had jitters or a stuntman got hurt and distracted her). But she goes to thirty minutes in a draw with Manami two weeks later, which is another shot in the arm. The future seems incredibly bright.

LAS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES- THE PUSH CONTINUES:
* LCO immediately gets a mega-push, crushing Mayumi Ozaki & Cutie Suzuki for the JWP Tag Titles in a ****3/4 match at Wrestling Queendom in March, going on a tear through that company all year (they’d hold the belts until 1995). They gain the UWA Tag Titles as trophies and beat a ton of AJW teams, too. They lose to Manami/Yamada early on, but establish themselves with a ****1/2, ultra-competitive match against them. They have arrived from this point and are heavily rewarded all year long- Mita’s Death Valley Driver is one of the most immensely-protected moves in the promotion. They still lose in singles, though- they’re more of a duo than anyone else in the company. Shimoda even gives up her AJW Title to focus on the tag scene. The team does some big jobs in the summer, mostly to big acts like Aja/Bull, which is kinda weird- it SEEMS like they should be getting a big push, but AJW still flattens them sometimes (Mita jobs HARD to Eagle Sawai at one point), and then they only get #4 in the Tag League. Almost like they’re telling JWP their titles are weaksauce by having a midcard act hold them.

REGGIE BENNETT- THE NEW MONSTER:
* Reggie Bennett is a curious force in AJW- a pretty gaijin with an immense physique, she is a legit powerhouse and has a ton of credibility, and slots in just well enough in this style that she’s believable right away as an upper-midcarder, which is a role they desperately need. And they spend most of a year putting her over- she slaughters Numacchi in her debut (in late 1993), does very well in tag matches, and her singles losses are kept pretty minimal- mostly jobs to Bull and Kyoko. She takes a horrendous amount of finisher-tier moves in one 6-woman tag match before getting put down, too, which makes her seem very resilient. It’s a very curious case of pushing someone as a super-durable monster with killer moves, but not overdoing it so the fans reject her or she squashes important people. It’s just clear that this is a very strong, very tough woman who is still learning.

THE OTHER STARS:
* Bull Nakano is in a lot of really good matches, mostly tags, at the beginning of the year. Kind of a resurgence, actually, but then she goes to the WWF in the middle of the year and feuds with Alundra Blayze, and she’s largely gone from TV after a point, winning the WWF Women’s Title at the Tokyo Dome in a quickie match. But there’s still ****-ish matches, as she takes on JWP’s Hikari Fukuoka and LLPW’s Shinobu Kandori, having two very different kinds of matches- a Big vs. Little match and a vicious, bloody Chain Match.

* Mariko Yoshida, out since late 1992 with a bad neck injury, returns in the summer. She immediately hits one out of the park with an AMAZING ****1/4 match against KAORU that goes a full 30 minutes, then overtime- she’s beaten, like a good “returning from injury” wrestler always should be. She’s a JTTS to Sakie’s new character at Big Egg Wrestling Universe, though, and is crushed by Hotta later on, given NOTHING. So Yoshida has to start from the “JTTS” stage and build her way back up, despite still being one of the better wrestlers in the company.

* Yumiko Hotta gets treated as a big star- she challenges for the WWWA Title and is nearly invincible in tag matches- her opponents always do the selling and her partner takes the falls. She is still credible in nearly every later match, but is a JTTS in the V*Top Tournament & against Hokuto in the Final Countdown tag… then immediately wins the Japan Grand Prix (a mini-tournament version instead of a round robin, but still). But by the end of the year Aja easily defeats her in another WWWA Title Match. Like, it’s important that she ALWAYS be relevant, but it’s as if cooler heads are prevailing and she’s never, EVER made the top star. Her no-selling against Yoshida is terribly annoying and gives credence to the “Hotta is Selfish” rep, but you always need highly-credible top names just under the Mains to have a healthy company- it sets up a perennial challenger. It’s suggested that her poor showings later in the year are due to her being in the doghouse for various things.

* The odd woman out is Kyoko Inoue, who should be a mega-star by this point (she’s always one of the most over people on the card), but is largely just used as a top-level JTTS to put others over. She still gets big reactions, and she beats Yamada for the All Pacific Title, but it’s hard not to see her losing said title to Toyota, then losing to JWP’s Kansai at the Tokyo Dome (in a ****1/2 match, but still), and not think she’s being purposely kept out of the main event. Thankfully she gets a new major role in the company when Double Inoue become our new dominant Tag Team Champions, beating the Toyota/Yamada team and carrying the belts into the new year. This team also serves to elevate Takako insanely far, as her act rarely wins big solo matches, but her ring-smarts make her a terror when Kyoko’s there to do all the heavy lifting.

THE UNDERCARD:
* Kaoru Ito gets random pushes here and there, often controlling a match then losing- she wins the vacant third-tier AJW Title in May and holds it for the rest of the year. She’s good enough, but her push always annoys me, in part because I know it never stops and she gets the role that should have gone to better stars who had to leave. Like, she’s in a couple of **** matches, but it’s always tag stuff with better wrestlers around her.

* Chaparrita ASARI seemed to be on the edge of a huge push in 1993, but that’s largely stalled out- a series of big botches for her Sky Twister Press happen (where she aims for it and misses completely), and suddenly she’s in opening matches and fighting jobbers again so fast I wonder if that’s not related.

* Tomoko Watanabe just kinda farts around. Sadly, Suzuka Minami does too- she has a couple of great matches, but has largely been shunted heavily down the card. She’ll pin Mita or somebody once in a while, but she’s more or less a token JTTS at times, and she won’t make it through all of 1995.

* Of the rookies, only Kumiko Maekawa looks any good right now, slowly gaining credibility by beating on the others, but jobbing to ASARI. She’ll be good someday. The others are interchangeable and generic so far, even Chikako Shiratori, who is way too shitty for someone with that much experience.

WRESTLERS LEAVING:
* Numacchi retires in March of a neck injury, ending the long national nightmare that is the many terrible matches on AJW’s undercard, as a Bushwhacker-tier comedy wrestler disappears and they don’t get one again until Tanny Mouse shows up in a couple years. Curiously, Bat Yoshinaga doesn’t appear AT ALL on any show I can find (apparently it was a bad neck injury), and retires at Wrestlemarinepiad ’94. This makes all the effort in pushing her in 1993 kind of wasted (especially that great match against Aja Kong), beyond their “WWWA Martial Arts Title”. And now KAORU announces she’s leaving to join Chigusa Nagayo’s new company, GAEA Japan. The newer generation of rookies is slowly being brought up to replace them.

ARE CRACKS FORMING?:
* This is an interesting era for AJW, as the “Golden Age” bottoms out in a year or two and business nosedives, but… should that have been obvious? Or are we just looking back in retrospect and judging? It seems like the future is bright: Aja Kong is a dominant champion, Akira seems like the heir apparent (after temporarily leaving), Manami is the heir after THAT, and Kyoko’s gonna be there in a year or so. Plus there’s a bunch of potential Interpromotional Dream Matches that could theoretically happen (Lioness Asuka & Jaguar Yokota are coming back; Devil Masami hasn’t fought Manami, Akira or Aja yet, etc.). Double Inoue are top-tier tag champs, Yamada’s kicking in the midcard, and Sakie’s on her way up, too!

But things just don’t quite work out as planned, in a way. Akira never ends up with the Title for various reasons (injuries and her temporarily leaving are factors), and the booking gets a bit odd in 1995. Plus, I mean, the company is now without Numacchi- how bright can the future BE?

A big thing getting the blame is that the Interpromotional stuff is winding down. I can’t imagine these bouts were ever that easy to pull off (keep in mind how hard that’d be to do today with ANY companies- even now AEW is barely doing it with Impact), and I’ve heard that AJW was a bit annoyed that such tiny 20-person companies like JWP and LLPW were insisting on keeping wins a bit even, when those guys didn’t have TV or big gates at all. Obviously AJW needed to play ball or lose out on all those sweet “Dream Matches”, but after a couple of years you could see them edge off on it. Big Egg Wrestling Universe was in many ways the culmination of that era, with AJW wrestling other company’s stars up and down the card, but that event also saw two AJW wrestlers in the tournament final, and most of the year’s cards didn’t feature “guest stars” at all.

Others have pointed out that a HUGE chunk of AJW’s big gates are because of Akira Hokuto- she was the top draw and seen as the biggest star. Manami was good and had her fans, but Akira was so top-tier that cards without her suffered, and this is reflected in 1995 for sure.

And subsequent cards in 1995 typically show an AJW that’s trying to retrain the fans to just accept their own big stars on their lonesome, with no JWP or LLPW wrestlers hanging around. And we’ll see some hotshot title reigns and some odd decisions before JWP gets involved again in a BIG way, so I’m willing to bet some Panic-Booking was involved. Oh, and Chigusa Nagayo, AJW’s biggest star ever, is working on some tiny little company called GAEA Japan- like THAT’S ever gonna be a thing. But we’ll have to get there when we get there- as of Dec. 1994, I’d imagine people were thinking the sky was the limit.

JWP IN 1994:
-JWP mostly trucked along in 1994, with St. Battle Final blowing off a lot of their feuding with AJW at the end of ’93. However, we still saw a few big matches- they notably lost their Tag Titles to LCO earlier in the year, doing a dramatic angle where Hikari Fukuoka desperately tried to win them back with escalating partners. Dynamite Kansai appearing in the V*Top Tournament in November is the biggest example. For big-time angles they had, we even saw Kansai losing the JWP Openweight Title to the “Super Heel” Devil Masami shortly before Big Egg!

* Kansai having two ****1/2 matches in one night in the Tokyo Dome is a huge stand-out, and made her look incredibly tough, though she once again fell short to Aja Kong, who also beat her earlier in the year at a JWP show! She also had a very good Vet/Rookie match with Sakie at another event. Most importantly she flattens Aja Kong AND Akira Hokuto in Akira’s “Retirement Match” in the summer- she & Hotta team up to fight AJW’s top two stars, and Kansai pays back Aja’s previous knockout win over her at Thunder Queen via a kick that stuns Aja and prevents her from answering the ten-count. Akira is then pummeled by the two Kick Demons, but pulls out a last-second win over Hotta. She nearly scores a few pins on Kansai thanks to luck and demonic will, but Kansai ultimately crushes her.

* Devil Masami was the new JWP Openweight Champion in September, doing an Undertaker-like gimmick with Demolition Crush’s facepaint as “Super Heel”, though she went back to her regular persona for most other matches. Typically, Devil & Kansai were the top wrestlers, barely ever losing, though Devil dropped one to Ozaki in August, possibly in anticipation of having a future challenger once Devil won the title.

* Mayumi Ozaki continued on in her usual “Just under the top stars” role, but often gave the best match on the card no matter what. She didn’t get to shine in interpromotional matches as much (she had a banner year in 1993 because of those), though, losing to KAORU once. Given how an Ozaki Dream Match is nearly always ****+, that’s disappointing.

* Hikari Fukuoka gets showcased a bit more in “Looks good against veterans” stuff. Bull Nakano beats her in a great **** bout in late ’93, and Devil Masami crushes her in October in a predecessor to today’s “Hit 9 MDK finishers before the end” matches.

* Plum Mariko suffers the first of a very, VERY unfortunate string of in-ring injuries as she is badly hurt in June 1994. Just after having a ****1/2 match with Manami and getting wins over Hikari & Ozaki, and looking good against Chigusa Nagayo, she breaks her nose in April and then her collarbone in June! This is a devastating injury to any athlete, and puts her out of wrestling for more than a year- we don’t see her again until late 1995, and she has to start her push all over again… and knowing what we do now, everyone wishes she’d have just called it quits here.

LLPW IN 1994:
-LLPW is in a pretty peculiar place in ’94, as they’ve wound down the Kandori/Hokuto feud, with Kandori coming out on top and looking like the most powerful, dominant star ever! But then they kind of leave it there, for the most part- however, she joins Hokuto in defeating Aja Kong & Bull Nakano in another ***** classic and one of the year’s best matches, at least! This caps off the perfect story there, as the two legends learn to respect each other, and beat the impossible monsters.

* Kandori, now with more credibility than ever, kind of just… ambles around after the early tag match. Her Interpromotional stuff later in this year seems to revolve around AJW’s Yamada or Takako messing with her, and neither is treated like an even contest. More of just an excuse to have Kandori beat on someone and act shitty than it is an attempt to elevate AJW’s upper-midcard. Shockingly, however, the unbeatable Kandori is BEATEN, as in September she loses the LLPW Title to Noriyo Tateno! The former Bomb Angel manages to unseat the champ after 15 minutes with a Rolling Cradle of all things.

* Tateno’s Title win is apparently treated like a miraculous fluke, and she even loses to Eagle right after (to determine who goes to the V*Top Tournament), but she holds the belt for about five months before losing it to Eagle. I can’t find much of a match history on Cagematch, though.

* Utako Hozumi, an idol wrestler known for waving a big fan around, retired in May. This was seen by Mike Lorefice as an inexcusable waste of an idol (“one of the hottest ever”, I think he says), but really, she was never any good.

FMW’s WOMEN’S DIVISION IN 1994:
-Ummm… it exists. YouTube sucks for FMW stuff, so I can’t find much. Megumi Kudo, the division’s superstar, wins the Title in February, losing to Combat Toyoda in June. Yukie Nabeno of all people wins it two months later, though. You rarely see these folks on AJW cards, but they showed up at Big Egg- Kudo in an “All Idol” throwaway tag match and Combat beating Yumiko Hotta in the V*Top Tournament (in an ending that saved Hotta face as she was pulled off by the referee and rolled up by Combat), and losing in a quickie match to Hokuto that gave Combat an “out” (crashing and burning trying a table spot).

HERE COMES A NEW CHALLENGER!!:
-So somewhere in the middle of 1994 Chigusa Nagayo, the biggest star in joshi history, drops the bombshell that she’s former her own company- something called GAEA Japan. Taking AJW’s mid-tier star KAORU with her, she gets a group of trainees and prepares to do her own thing. The class might be pretty good- I dunno, some “Meiko” something or other is there. We’ll see.

But yeah, this throws a spanner into the works in 1995 when they get their first show- they spend most of 1994 with the two big stars doing matches for JWP still, but GAEA pretty quickly changes the industry and within a few years will easily be the biggest joshi promotion.

BEST MATCHES OF 1995:
(kinda/sorta in the order of how I liked them… the ***** matches are anyone’s ballgame, though)

*****:
Aja Kong vs. Manami Toyota (Big Egg Wrestling Universe)
Akira Hokuto & Shinobu Kandori vs. Aja Kong & Bull Nakano (Wrestling Queendom ’94)

****3/4:
Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada vs. Kyoko & Takako Inoue (Wrestlemarinepiad ’94)
Aja Kong vs. Yumiko Hotta (Champion Legend ’94)
Las Cachorras Orientales vs. Mayumi Ozaki & Cutie Suzuki (Wrestling Queendom ’94)
Aja Kong & Akira Hokuto vs. Dynamite Kansai & Yumiko Hotta (Budokan Retsuden MAX)

****1/2:
Dynamite Kansai vs. Kyoko Inoue (Big Egg Wrestling Universe)
Aja Kong vs. Dynamite Kansai (Big Egg Wrestling Universe)
Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada vs. Las Cachorras Orientales (Champion Legend ’94)
Manami Toyota vs. Toshiyo Yamada (AJW Grand Prix 1994)
Manami Toyota vs. Plum Mariko (Wrestling Queendom ’94)
Aja Kong & Manami Toyota vs. Bull Nakano & Kyoko Inoue (Korakuen Holy War ’94)
Las Cachorras Orientales vs. Manami Toyota & Takako Inoue (Tag League THE BEST ’94)

****1/4:
Manami Toyota & Kyoko Inoue vs. Bull Nakano & Sakie Hasegawa (AJW Super Hurricane)
Manami Toyota vs. Takako Inoue (Oct. 31st)
Dynamite Kansai vs. Sakie Hasegawa (Wrestling Queendom ’94)
Bull Nakano vs. Kyoko Inoue (Champion Legend ’94)
Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada vs. Yumiko Hotta & Kyoko Inoue (Feb. 18)
Mariko Yoshida vs. KAORU (AJW Grand Prix 1994)
Devil Masami vs. Mayumi Ozaki (Aug. JWP show)
Aja Kong vs. Akira Hokuto (Big Egg Wrestling Universe)
Combat Toyoda vs. Yumiko Hotta (Big Egg Wrestling Universe)
Las Cachorras Orientales vs. Yumiko Hotta & Kaoru Ito (Zenjo Mania- May Storm ’94)
Devil Masami & Bull Nakano vs. Sakie Hasegawa & Hikari Fukuoka (JWP Super Major Queens Flash)

****:
Chigusa Nagayo vs. Mayumi Ozaki (JWP Super Major Queens Flash)
Bull Nakano vs. Shinobu Kandori (Chain Match, LLPW- July)
Dynamite Kansai & Candy Okutsu vs. Devil Masami & Cutie Suzuki (Jan.)
Toshiyo Yamada vs. Sakie Hasegawa (Korakuen Holy War ’94)
Manami Toyota & Kyoko Inoue vs. Toshiyo Yamada & Takako Inoue (Zenjo Mania- May Storm ’94)
Dynamite Kansai & Candy Okutsu vs. Devil Masami & Cutie Suzuki (JWP The Stars- Jan.)
Manami Toyota, Kyoko Inoue & Chaparrita ASARI vs. Suzuka Minami & Las Cachorras Orientales (Zenjo Mania- March)
Manami Toyota vs. Kyoko Inoue (Budokan Retsuden MAX)
Manami Toyota vs. Blizzard Yuki (Wrestlemarinepiad ’94 EX)

***3/4:
Las Cachorras Orientales vs. Yasha Kurenai & Michiko Nagashima (Big Egg Wrestling Universe)
Devil Masami & Mayumi Ozaki vs. Suzuka Minami & Hikari Fukuoka (JWP- July)
Aja Kong vs. Sakie Hasegawa (Zenjo Mania- May Storm ’94)
Aja Kong vs. Dynamite Kansai (JWP Super Major Queens Flash)
Akira Hokuto vs. Eagle Sawai (Big Egg Wrestling Universe)
Cutie Suzuki vs. Takako Inoue (JWP Super Major Queens Flash)
Takako Inoue & Cutie Suzuki vs. Devil Masami & Candy Okutsu (Budokan Retsuden MAX)
Devil Masami vs. Hikari Fukuoka (JWP, Oct.)
Aja Kong & Takako Inoue vs. Kyoko Inoue & Reggie Bennett (AJW Grand Prix 1994)
Manami Toyota & Takako Inoue vs. Aja Kong & Reggie Bennett (Tag League THE BEST ’94)

-Particular stand-outs this year are Manami Toyota (I mean, duh) & Aja Kong, having some of their best matches at this point. Aja’s in two ***** matches, and Toyota goes right back to her “has the best match on the card” thing- without Hokuto for much of the year, she becomes the obvious stand-out in having nearly everyone’s best match.

Though 1994 seems very… DIMINISHED, at least compared to 1993. Thinking about it, that’s arguably due to a lack of bigger shows, and generally less shows overall from the looks of things- there are about 8 fewer VHS releases this year, and not as much interpromotional stuff, which tends to invite more all-out efforts as the wrestlers compete to each have the best match and one-up each other. I mean, 1993 had two Dream Slams, St. Battle Final, Thunder Queen Battle, etc.- you never again get a murderer’s row of top shows like THAT. Plus Hokuto going missing hurts things a lot (note how every time she DOES show up, snowflakes rise in her wake). So really, 1994 was a kick-ass year, it just didn’t match 1993, which is quite probably the all-time best ever for joshi.

AJW’S TITLES:
WWWA WORLD TITLE: Aja Kong (since Nov. ’92)
ALL PACIFIC TITLE: Toshiyo Yamada (Nov. ’93), Kyoko Inoue (March ’94), Manami Toyota (Aug.)
IWA WOMEN’S TITLE: Manami Toyota (since April ’92)
AJW TITLE: Mima Shimoda (Sept. ’93), vacant (April ’94 to focus on tag wrestling), Kaoru Ito (May)
AJW JUNIOR TITLE: Candy Okutsu (Nov. ’93)
AJW MARTIAL ARTS TITLE: Bat Yoshinaga (since ’91), Retires with the title- vacant (Oct. ’94)
AJW MIDGET TITLE: Little Frankie (since ’91)
WWWA WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES: Toyota & Yamada (Dec. ’93), Double Inoue (Oct. ’94)
UWA TAG TEAM TITLES: Yumiko Hotta & Takako Inoue (Sept. ’93), Las Cachorras Orientales (March ’94)
JAPANESE TAG TEAM TITLES: Miki Handa & Yasha Kurenai (LLPW- Dec. ’93), Carol Midori & Michiko Omukai (Sept. ’94)

JWP’S TITLES:
JWP OPENWEIGHT TITLE: Dynamite Kansai (since Dec. ’92), Devil Masami (Sept. ’94), Vacant (Oct. ’94)
JWP TAG TEAM TITLES: Ozaki & Cutie (Dec. ’93), Las Cachorras Orientales (March ’94)

LLPW’S TITLES:
LLPW TITLE: Shinobu Kandori (inaugural champion- Aug. ’93), Noriyo Tateno (Sept. ’94)

FMW’S TITLES:
FMW & WWA WOMEN’S TITLE: Crusher Maedomari (Oct. ’93), Vacant- creation of new FMW Independent Title (Feb. ’94), Megumi Kudo (Feb.), Combat Toyoda (June), Yukie Nabeno (Aug.), Vacant- ?? (Dec.)

So that’s Joshi in 1994! ’95 will prove to be an interesting, strangely-booked year, as the WWWA Title bounces around and pushes materialize like crazy!