Joshi Spotlight: AJW Queen’s Holy Night

(Aug. 30th 1995)
* Welcome back to another Joshi Spotlight, as we take a look at one of the biggest shows of the year! This one has a pretty great concept- it’s just all the top belts being defended, including the fourth match between Aja Kong & Dynamite Kansai! Plus Double Inoue defend their Tag Titles against Manami Toyota & Sakie Hasegawa for the third time!

Some matches aren’t available on YouTube as far as I can tell. Mike Lorefice’s ratings are in brackets:
Rie Tamada, Yoshiko Tamura & Yumi Fukawa defeat Chaparrita ASARI, Misae Watanabe & Yuka Shiina (8:56): Basic rookie trios match. (*1/2)
Kaoru Ito & Mariko Yoshida defeat Tomoko Watanabe & Kumiko Maekawa (8:55): The rating seems high, here- not even ten minutes and it gets four stars (****)?.
Yumiko Hotta & Toshiyo Yamada & Etsuko Mita defeat Jaguar Yokota & Bison Kimura & Reggie Bennett (12:55): Interesting use of the Raijin Army, pairing them up with Reggie against… well a Random Grab-Bag team. (***1/4)
Bull Nakano beats Lioness Asuka (1:29): Huh. (*)

* Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh shit- here comes Hokuto bringing the hate against her stablemate and adoring fangirl, Mima Shimoda! Hokuto’s in pink & white, while Shimoda’s in red, black & gold.

Akira holds out her hand to her LCO partner, but Shimoda just slaps it- Akira shrugs and walks away, so Shimoda just charges her and drags her out for a beating in the stands! Then springs to the ring and does circles while cheering herself on to the fans- haha. She then does a one-woman Bitch Pose and her hook-clothesline… but Hokuto just gets up to her feet and stares her down- uh-oh. Akira strikes her down and gives a good face-washing for that impertinence, then tortures her in a sharpshooter while talking shit. Shimoda gets stretched, choked, bitten and hair-pulled, Akira dragging her to the ropes to show it off to the fans, but Shimoda manages to dump her when Akira gets cocky… then follows with the boss’s own Tope Con Hilo! And then she tries the ultimate Akira-Killer- the legendary Tombstone on the table from the Akira/Kandori Dream Slam match! Akira manages to reverse that, powerbombing her on it. And there’s Akira’s own Tope Con Hilo. Yeah, see, that’s why you don’t get cute. Shimoda sells her ass off on the floor, desperately dragging herself back into the ring for more torture.

And of course Akira immediately pounces, sharpshootering her while Mima wails in agony. Akira’s casual sitting pose is hilarious, especially when she just kinda rubs the spot where Mima’s desperately been elbowing her. Shimoda manages her whip-reversal to a Tiger Suplex, but Akira just reverses to an Ace Crusher of all things. Shimoda tries her cross-body reversal, but Akira ducks out of the way, avoids another suplex, and kills her with that horrifying Flipover Head-Drop Backdrop Suplex thing. Akira gets too cocky and misses a missile kick, and Mima IMMEDIATELY goes for the finish with a Tiger Suplex for a great near-fall. Like, she had to shoot for the fences, you know? And to put a point on that, she goes right to her big finish- DEATH LAKE DRIVER!! The Tiger Superplex! With her head under Akira’s arm for more stability and precision, no less- and Akira slumps over at 2.7. Shimoda throws a tantrum as Akira looks stunned, and Shimoda flying cannonballs her ass straight into Akira’s chest- god, that looked like it HURT. That gets two, and she’s out of shit- she tries a splash but lands on Akira’s feet, then takes her roundhouse kick and a terrifying vertical-drop Fisherman’s Buster. Akira pulls Mima’s head up at two and stands around, emphasizing how it’s over… and then locks in STRANGLEHOLD GAMMA- her husband Kensuke’s finisher- for the victory at (11:26)!

GREAT, fun story, which makes the abridged match length not so bad. Shimoda was in way over her head, but had just enough arrogance and desperation to keep the Dangerous Queen at bay, but once Hokuto got the advantage she was just murderous, casually tearing her subordinate apart. The whole story was “you are not on my level, brat” with Akira sitting on her, talking smack in the ring, pulling hair, and just sitting in holds because Shimoda couldn’t answer them. That made the eventual comeback great, as Shimoda swings for the fences and aims for all her best shit the second she has the advantage, even failing with her MDK, the Death Lake Driver. And so she flies off the top, trying ANYTHING at this point, until Akira can finally get the advantage back and then it’s just a series of deadly-looking moves for the win. Akira can now throw out Fisherman’s Busters and Strangleholds, so that’s terrifying.

Rating: ***3/4 (miraculous given it’s under 12 minutes and fairly one-sided, but it’s an amazing story with some fun character bits)

(AJW WWWA Champions Night, 30.08.1995)
* So the Aces of AJW & JWP, respectively, had been feuding for ages by this point- Aja had actually won ALL THREE of their previous bouts, as well as KOing Kansai in less than 5 minutes at the Thunder Queen Battle, earning her team a point. Kansai had only beaten Aja once- scoring a knockout of her own with a kick in an elimination tag. Aja had most recently won after the “best match under 13 minutes ever” in the V*Top Tournament at Big Egg Wrestling Universe. Now it’s one year later, two years after their last WWWA Title bout, with Aja just recently having won the WWWA Title back- this is her first defense. Both have their hair dyed blonde now, and Aja’s in a pimp coat and a red version of her gear, while Kansai’s now covered in a look you have to see to believe- a mirrored yellow jacket with weird tubes sticking out all over the place. She looks like a Power Rangers villain. Her in-ring gear is now that neon green/yellow with white look.

They have an epic staredown before the bell, Aja attacking first and slamming Kansai in the corner immediately! But when she charges in for an avalanche, Kansai pops up and rears back with a fist, halting Aja to a crowd pop. But Aja headbutts her and scores a SUPER MOUNTAIN BOMB- the finish from their first match! haha, that’s great- of course it’s only a two count at this point, so Aja kicks the shit out of her. They get into a dramatic slapfight, Aja trying to no-sell and Kansai responding like “Oh YEAH? Take THIS!”, then they start headbutting like crazy, Kansai stopping that with some kicks and the Sharpshooter, then an STF. Aja makes the ropes but does a “TKO” spot when Kansai brutally head-kicks her from there, then takes a backdrop and a sleeper. Aja carefully protects her head once she makes the ropes (good psychology there), then fires back with a storm of headbutts are her OWN head-kick to buy herself some recovery time. A pair of HUGE enzuigiris nearly kill Kansai (complete with wide-eyed “I’m dead” stare on the mat), but she dramatically leaps up at an eight-count and does a martial arts pose to be awesome. Aja’s clear “aw, shit” disappointment is great.

Kansai attempts to fight back, but gets her leg caught on the top rope from a missed kick, so Aja just BOOTS it and then stands on the leg, as they work an injury angle out of it. 2nd-Rope Splash misses, but a Mountain Bomb off the ropes hits for two. Kansai dodges an Uraken, but gets brained again- when she’s finally up, she takes a backdrop suplex and Flying Back Elbow for big two-counts. She slaps Kansai around for the full-bore Uraken, but in a great counter, Kansai legsweeps her to dodge, then it’s AJA’s turn to get kicked in the brain. Aja fights up at eight, looking much better off than Kansai’s struggling ass was, and Kansai runs in for a lariat… URAKEN!! Aja uses the count to recover herself as well, then puts a dazed Kansai up top for another Super Mountain Bomb- now, Kansai’s wise to the “Uraken them on the top rope” bit, so dodges it, then leaps to apron to avoid Aja’s climb and kicks her square in the face from there! The crowd is ROARING with all of this. Kansai signals Splash Mountain, gets run into the ropes, then catches Aja up top… Splash Mountain from the corner! HUGE two-count! Kansai puts Aja up for a SUPER Splash Mountain, but Aja fights her off easily- she gears up an Uraken, but Kansai pushes her away then decides to break the arm into a million pieces with a score of kicks. Well THAT’s one way to block that move.

Aja sells it so much she goes outside the ring to scream as one of the seconds physically wrenches the shoulder back into place while they use the Puro Spraycan Of Recovery on the limb. Finally back in, Kansai crushes the arm repeatedly, and Aja’s desperation Urakens are blocked three times in a row with big kicks. She signals SPLASH MOUNTAIN again, but can’t lift Aja twice- once turning it into a slam once she drops her. In a great way to use botches to enhance the story, Kansai tries to pin her off the slam, then sets Aja up on the top rope- yes, it’s the rope-assisted version of Splash Mountain for the win (18:08). NEW WWWA WORLD CHAMPION!!!

Absolutely great match, reflecting the last ones they had, but pulling the “War of Strikes” stuff out even more. Milking their big shots for ten-counts puts over those moves as devastating, as well as putting over the beatings, as both used the time to recover in the ropes rather than taunt. And MAN was the crowd into it- both were so over and credible that the people BOUGHT those kicks to the skull as major death-moves. And then they boosted the psychology aspect, as Kansai finally countered all the Urakens that’d killed her in past bouts by shattering that punching arm, using that (and further counters) to wear Aja down enough for Splash Mountain again. The botches don’t hold it back for me, as like the match where Toyota won (where Aja’s size also “wrecked” the planned finish), the resulting moves still hurt, and left Aja weakened for the top-rope version of the move that finished her. Hell, my only real issue here is the long counts and Aja’s injury causing so many repeated pauses in the match.

Rating: ****1/4 (I liked the previous matches better, but this was still a great cap-off, with Kansai finally getting her big win after all those losses)

sakie hasegawa | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir

“Let’s Push Sakie” became a bit raison d’être for in 1995, pushed mainly via a trio of big-time 3WA Tag Title Matches.

* So these two teams had quite the rivalry going, being the only two squads with any real credibilty at this point. The Inoues had beaten them in January, then again in the “3WA Tag Title Tournament” where the Inoues became the 100th champions in a one-night tournament. As one of the big stories of 1995 was “Elevate Sakie”, this could aim for more of that. The floor with these two teams is ****1/4+, so expectations are high. Kyoko’s in red & white, Takako’s in the black variant of her Idol gear, Toyota’s in black & Sakie’s now in a giant rainbow sherbert version of her distinctive singlet.

FALL ONE: Manami & Sakie decide to fight using DISHONESTY to start, divebombing Kyoko with a ton of running/screaming shit at the bell, but miss the Stereo Flying Headbutts finisher. Well it was a good try. The Inoues hit DDTs and Kyoko bowls Sakie over with her lariat- Takako’s “knees to the face” Tombstone gets two. Another gets the same, Takako pissing off Manami in the process. Kyoko hits her corner DDT, but Sakie fights up with chops all defiant-like, so a lariat kills her again. Crowd is way into this already. Sakie escapes Takako and Manami immediately hits an insanely long Rolling Cradle for two. She then holds Takako in piledriver position, and MIMICS HER KNEE-STRIKES before dropping her with it. Takako’s flattened with the best running dropkick ever, but avoids a third and hits her Tombstone again for two. They’re letting it all out in here. Quick Kyoko sequence ends in her Giant Swing, Dancing deathlock and a vicious chinlock, Takako helping with kicks before Sakie pays them back on Kyoko.

Takako stretches Manami’s back out with some great stuff, then Kyoko hits a big inverted-fireman’s backbreaker and liontamer. The Inoues whip Manami to the ropes, but she springs off with the No-Hands Springboard Cross-Body… but Sakie runs in and Kyoko ALSO springs off, taking out both with her Slingshot Backsplash! Sakie/Kyoko go with their strike attempts until Sakie falls to a FOURTH Lariat, but gets whipped to the ropes and comes back with her Savate Kick for two. Uranage’s reversed to a Lariat to an Uranage! Two more- that gets two! Takako breaks up a fourth, flipping off the judge-y audience, but the challengers do the “grab the ropes off the whip so your partner dropkicks the shit out of them” spot, then follow with Manami’s Running No-Hands Springboard Tope Con Hilo to the Inoues! Moonsault in the ring misses, and Kyoko climbs- Manami catches her up top, but it was a trick- SUPER POWERSLAM! But Manami “Fuck YOU!” bridges out! Niagara Driver’s reversed, and they hit Kyoko with the Stereo Flying Headbutts- two! Everyone runs in and reverses stuff until Kyoko tries her Run-Up Belly-To-Belly Superplex… and gets caught- Sunset Flip Powerbomb from Manami- for three (14:13)! First fall FINALLY ends!

FALL TWO: Manami immediately pounces on a weakened Kyoko, going for the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex, but Kyoko snap-Germans out. Sakie barrels in and tries to finish with an Uranage, but this LIGHTS KYOKO UP, and she elbows free of an Uranage, flattens Sakie with another lariat, and hits the Niagara Driver! Three (0:28)! THERE’s our quick fall!

FALL THREE: Kyoko, sufficiently rested up, hits Lariats #6, 7, 8 & 9 on poor Sakie against the ropes, sending her faceplanting to the mat. That gets two, and Takako hits backdrop suplex spam for three as the crowd chants for Sakie. Takako throws a bunch of ax kicks for two- another bridge-out. Lariat #10 gets two. #11 is turned to an Uranage on the noggin- Kyoko’s dazed, but prevents the tag. Takako’s Aurora Special is turned into the Savate Kick, and NOW Manami’s in- two missile kicks get two, German gets two and another gets two. Takako reverses a whip, but takes a Manami Roll for two. Manami kicks at Takako in Sakie’s abdominal stretch, so Takako hilariously just walks up and elbows her in revenge right after, then ducks a Savate Kick and hits a chokeslam. Manami dumps Takako from her Flying Knee, but when Sakie climbs, KYOKO runs in, German-ing her straight off! Takako messes up Manami outside and hits a Backdrop Hold on Sakie for two. Aurora Special, and Takako bridges… for two! Their MDK- the Niagara Driver/Super Chokeslam!!… and Manami saves at two! Kyoko dumps Manami, so Takako kills Sakie with the Flying Knee… 2.8! That’s almost all Takako’s shit and the fans know it. She tries another, but eats the Savate Kick on the landing.

Sakie FINALLY makes the tag, but Manami just flies off onto Takako’s knees- she still boots Takako off the top and then hits a missile dropkick suicida to both Inoues on the floor. Straightjacket Suplex on Takako gets 2.7. A Moonsault is stopped by the Inoues and Takako does a release Super Chokeslam- that was weird, and the fans don’t bite on the pin. Takako tries another couple in the ring before giving up and tagging out- Kyoko hits a big lariat for a 1.2 Jannetty Sell- two. She goes for the Run-Up Flying Back Elbow, but now SAKIE stops her, so the challengers hit a Doomsday Device Missile Kick for two. Moonsault gets two. Japanese Ocean Cyclo… no- Kyoko gets out, but gets Savate Kicked right back into the Cyclone Suplex for two! They keep reversing top rope stuff until Manami missile kicks Kyoko in the back, but Takako chokeslams her off again. Sakie nails her and Kyoko hits Lariat #11 and EVERYONE’s down- that’s just perfect timing. The ref desperately checks everyone one at a time until Kyoko gets a big reaction just for getting to her feet… and she hits the Niagara Driver on Manami for 2.8! They try their MDK again, but Sakie stops Takako and Manami rolls through the powerbomb for two! Manami climbs, but gets tossed with the Run-Up Belly-To-Belly, then a bizarre Double Super Floatover DDT for two. Simultaneous Super Chokeslam & Niagara Driver from the champs to the challengers… NO! Still no three! And FINALLY the champs are able to hit another Niagara Driver/Super Chokeslam for the three at (14:11).

Just an incredible “All Workrate/MOVEZ” match, as they start fast, go fast in the middle, and end fast. “Kyoko Lariats Sakie” was a funny running gag (eleven or twelve?), the ton of payback spots (trying the Stereo Headbutts again; multiple “knees to the face” piledrivers), the stretching out Manami to try and kill her before her reversals just get to be too much, etc. And then Kyoko has just enough “go” to kill Sakie in a quick fall to buy them some time. That made it odd when in the third fall Sakie kicked out of an absolute ton of Takako’s finishers, elevating her through guts. Manami nearly got the Inoues quite a few times, but their never-ending series of deathbombs just overwhelmed them, hitting Manami with EVERYTHING until the former champ can’t answer that super-finisher.

Rating: ****3/4 (ALMOST five. Almost. That makes three matches around this tier these two squads have had this year)