Howdy Ho Stinkerinos!
Back with another Reader Request this month, as we look at the LPWA’s failed foray into pay per view courtesy of Dave Newman.
For those not acquainted with these reviews, I look back at a show that has a bad reputation and decide whether it deserves it or not. This one is probably going to be more the case of production woes dragging things down, as looking at the list of wrestlers included then the in-ring aspect should likely be decent once the bell rings.
The Ladies Pro Wrestling Association was a women’s only federation from 1989-1992 that tried to present the women as actual wrestlers as opposed to companies like GLOW, that focused more on gimmicks and titillation.
The company was run by a guy called John Berg and they produced some television and VHS releases before throwing their hat into the pay per view realm. I’ve decided to do minimal research into the women I don’t know for this one to see how good a job the LPWA does of introducing its roster to a new viewer. I might even factor that into the eventual decision at the end actually. I’m going into it as someone who has never watched the product before and we’ll see how good a job the LPWA does of getting me up to speed.
The event is emanating from Rochester, Minnesota on the 23rd of February 1992
Calling the action are Mick Karch, Joe Pedicino and Jim Cornette
The cut of show I’m watching has the full pay per view countdown, so that will be helpful. Cornette of course does an excellent job hyping up the show.
They run through some of the women in the Japanese Title Tournament coming up. Oh great, this is one of those shows that those reprehensible Joshi Boyz™ might enjoy. Whoopee…
Susan Green – a brawler from Texas who would appear to be a babyface
Denise Storm – a vicious fighter from Minnesota who would appear to be a Heel
Reggie Bennett – another hefty powerhouse from Venice Beach, who would appear to be a babyface. She ended up making some appearances for ECW I believe, notably at Barely Legal 97
Yukari Osawa – a taekwondo specialist from Tokyo. Not sure of her alignment, but the video clips of her make her look legit
Harely Saito – a high-flyer from Tokyo. The blurb for her suggests that she’ll be a babyface because it talks about how she has enjoyed wrestling in front of American fans before, which doesn’t sound like something an evil Japanesian would say
Mizuki Endoh – a youngster from Tokyo who is known for her worth ethic
Eagle Sawai – another high-flyer from Tokyo, whose blurb talks about how she would like to wrestle in America more if given the chance
Midori Saito – Someone who wrestles Japan style only but would like to learn American style. What about Belgian style though madam? You might want to stay clear of visiting Bruges for the time being with that sort of attitude!
There’s also apparently going to be a big grudge match between Black Venus and Rockin’ Robin, who was once the WWF Women’s Champion. Judy Martin and Leilani Kai are booked on this one as well. Hey, I know who they are! They’re even tagging up as The Glamour Girls again. Lady X is apparently the LPWA Champ, doing an evil masked wrestler gimmick, and she’s got Terri Power later, who I believe went on to the WWF as Mysterious Ninja Lady Tori. She was pretty rubbish in the WWF but hopefully she’s better in a company where the women are actually encouraged to wrestle.
An extra mention must be given to Cornette’s showmanship here, as he tried basically every tactic you could to try to make people order this show outside of going round their gaff and dialling the phone on their behalf.
The pay per view intro isn’t that bad to be honest. Feels very 80’s for a show being held in 1992, but wrestling is sometimes a bit slow on the draw when it comes to popular culture.
Mick Karch will be trying to get comments from all of the women on the show today.
Bonnie Blackstone, Pedicino’s wife, will be doing interviews as well.
Nick Bockwinkel and Sue Henning will also be giving special analysis of the event.
Commissioner Wally Karbo also reads something off cue cards in hilariously bad fashion. That was like he was trying to audition for The Room or something.
Al Derousha is the ring announcer and Cornette of course has some jibes prepared to make fun of him on top of everyone else thus far. We then get a parade of the women, as they come out to circle the ring in what I think was supposed to mirror something like the Olympics where everyone comes out during the opening ceremony, but sections of the crowd choose to use it as an opportunity to ogle the ladies like it’s some kind of cattle market.
I have to say that, some production snafus and unfortunate choices aside, they’re kind of nailing the real sport feel of this thus far. Some of the execution is off, but I can appreciate what they’re going for.
Allison Royal and Lisa Starr Vs Mami Kitamura and Miki Handa
I don’t know who any of these women are, so let’s see if Pedicino and Cornette earn their cheddar by filling me in. The building isn’t very full, but the people who have attended seem to be into the action at least. Handa is a Japanese women’s wrestler, so of course one of her opening attacks is a front dropkick. Interestingly the fans reacted to the Japanese team like they were going to be traditional Japanese sneaky Heels, but they’ve instead come out here working at a quick clip and haven’t really cheated, so it throws them off a bit.
The western women aren’t as quick paced as the Japanese tandem, but they hold their own well enough here and don’t look out of place being in there with them. The finish is pretty impressive stuff for 1992 American wrestling, as Handa actually power slams Royal off the second rope for the clean pin, drawing boos in the process.
WINNERS: KITAMURA & HANDA
Short match but it had good energy
Mick Karch is with Denise Storm, who is wrestling Susan Green in the tournament. Storm says that Green might be big but she’s going down. Bockwinkel says he thinks Storm will win it here.
LPWA Japanese Title Tournament – Quarter Final
Denise Storm Vs Susan Green
Storm jumpstarts this one and it quickly becomes a brawl, with Green fighting back and flinging her to the outside. It’s a decent brawl actually, as both women aren’t afraid to go at it and take some good looking bumps both into the apron and ring post. It gets a bit Moolah back inside the ring, with snap mares, hair pulling and choking going on, and a quick check reveals that Green was indeed a Moolah trainee, so that makes sense.
Storm keeps fiddling with her boots, seemingly loading them up with something or trying to pull out a concealed weapon of some form. Green keeps pulling Storm’s hair, which leads to the referee dragging her away at one stage. This allows Storm to pull a chain out of her boots to pay that off and she bonks Green with it whilst the ref isn’t looking for the three count.
WINNER: DENISE STORM
It started out as an interesting brawl, but then it became the standard 70’s/80’s women’s Fabulous Moolah bout where the two women were scrapping and pulling hair, with athletic wrestling being to a minimum
Boni Blackstone does an interview with Reggie Bennett. Bennett cuts a humble babyface promo ahead of the next match.
Henning and Bockwinkel predict Bennett will win due to her size.
LPWA Japanese Title Tournament – Quarter Final
Reggie Bennett Vs Yukari Osawa
Interestingly they’re using some of the same generic production music that WCW and the WWF would go on to use for the ladies entrances here, with Osawa coming out to the theme that Super Calo would eventually use from 96-98 whilst he was in WCW and Bennett uses some generic music that the WWF once gave to Latin Lover when he worked there.
Bennett uses her size to bully Osawa around, whilst Cornette makes a good point about the crowd booing the Japanese ladies just because they aren’t from MURICA when they haven’t even done anything nefarious in the matches. Osawa fights back with, what else, some dropkicks and shouting, and then follows that up with a nice looking dive to the floor, which Bennett then annoyingly completely no sells.
That was a big spot and Bennett just totally blew it off like it didn’t hurt. You can sell a big dive to the floor Reggie, just fight back once you’re back inside. Bennett looks like she’s bordering on just being plain uncooperative at points, with Osawa rarely getting a period of sustained offence, which doesn’t really make sense when Bennett is supposed to be the babyface here.
If you want her to wrestle as an unstoppable behemoth who is blowing through the field then it would have made far more sense to book her as a Heel, with her smaller opponents making sporadic comebacks in order to pop the crowd. Instead the crowd is pretty flat because the match is just the babyface doing a slew of big moves and slams one after the other so the fans never really have a chance to get behind her or develop any sympathy. Bennett gets a big power slam styled move at one stage and that’s enough for three
WINNER: REGGIE BENNETT
Barely above a squash that did nothing for Osawa and didn’t really do much for Bennett either as she’s horrifically miscast here
Mick Karch has a backstage interview with Desiree Petersen, who hypes up the next match with a generic promo.
Henning and Bockwinkel agree both women are evenly matched here.
Shinobu Kandori Vs Desiree Petersen
Kandori had legit shooter credentials, whilst Petersen used to work in the WWF where she tagged with Velvet McIntyre. Everyone refers to Kandori as “Shinobi” in an embarrassing snafu. Kandori decides to play into the fact all the Japanese women are getting booed here, working the match as Heel and drawing decent heat from the crowd as a result.
Kandori’s stuff looks really good and Petersen does a good job selling it all. Petersen’s offence in reply is pretty generic stuff, but the crowd responds to it and they’re having a decent match here. Kandori takes most of it though and finishes it with a Tiger Driver. They talked about this like it was a tournament match, but Cagematch.net doesn’t seem to agree and neither did the pre-show.
WINNER: SHINOBU KANDORI
Another match that was kind of on the short side but featured some good stuff from Kandori
Boni Blackstone is doing an interview with Denise Storm. Storm cuts a cocky promo about how she isn’t worried about Bennett, and she even drops the word “babyface” in when saying she doesn’t care about the fans. Kizfabe lid, kizfabe!
Henning and Bockwinkel disagree about the winner of the next match.
LPWA Japanese Title Tournament – Quarter Final
Mizuki Endo Vs Harley Saito
Saito has another song that I think WCW reused for some of the Japanese guys. It might possibly have been one Great Muta had before he moved on to his more recognisable one during the 90’s. Saito acts like a babyface here and manages to get some cheers as a result. Endo is bigger and the defacto Heel here, so she uses power to dominate Saito at points, with Saito using speed to fight back now and then. It’s a good dynamic and works well.
Saito eventually manages to get a prolonged period of offence with some kicks and it looks good, with the crowd responding to the action. I’m not your typical Joshi fan and I don’t really enjoy it as a style of wrestling, but I’m getting on okay with this one and I think both women have given a good account of themselves. Saito is almost 1-2-3 Kid like in her style actually, although she manages to muscle Endo up into a Tombstone for the three count after some more kicks.
WINNER: HARLEY SAITO
Good match with the bigger wrestler focusing more on holds and power stuff in order to give the smaller wrestler a chance to make comebacks with quicker moves and strikes. I enjoyed it and thought both women did well in their respective roles
Mick Karch does a backstage interview with Eagle Sawai, who doesn’t really have much to say.
Henning and Bockwinkel break the next match down, Bockwinkel picks Sawai.
LPWA Japanese Title Tournament – Quarter Final
Midori Saito Vs Eagle Sawai
Saito is another wrestler who has a theme that WCW eventually recycled, for Jushin Liger I think. Sawai decides to Heel it up here, bullying the smaller Saito and flinging her around by her hair. It works as Saito gets cheered when she tries fighting back, including a submission tease with a single leg crab.
Sawai gets out of that and then applies a crab of her own, with an added hair pull for good measure. In a neat spot, Saito tries to grab the ropes but Sawai hooks her arm for good measure whilst still keeping on the crab. Saito does manage to escape the hold, but she then runs right into a gut wrench style face buster and that’s enough for three.
WINNER: EAGLE SAWAI
Bordering on a squash at points but Sawai played her role well and Saito did an admirable job of being a crash test dummy for her
Sawai continues playing up to her Heel role, giving the fans some crap on the way to the back.
Mick Karch is with Black Venus and Boogaloo Brown. Venus is all angry about Rockin’ Robin.
Henning and Bockwinkel talk about that match next, with Bockwinkel saying Robin needs to keep her eye on Boogaloo
Black Venus w/ Boogaloo Brown Vs Rockin’ Robin
They’re going for the hate filled brawl here, and nail it for the most part, with both women throwing bombs and the crowd being into the idea of them going at it. Venus even delivers some Wild Samoan styled head butts at one stage, both standing and whilst Robin is on the mat. Robin actually does a blade job at one side, which wasn’t something you were going to see a woman do in the big two and adds to the idea of this being the proper women’s wrestling league.
Robin gets fired up by seeing her blood and throws some big right hands, which the fans respond to. Venus keeps coming though and ends up winning it with an Electric Chair Drop, which I wasn’t expecting actually.
WINNER: BLACK VENUS
Robin attacks Boogaloo post-match to get her heat back.
Mick Karch is backstage with Reggie Bennett. Bennett hypes up the match with Denise Storm, saying they’ve had a lot of battles but she’s prepared for her today.
Henning is sticking with Bennett, whilst Bockwinkel is leaning towards Storm.
LPWA Japanese Title Tournament – Semi-Final
Denise Storm Vs Reggie Bennett
Bennett continues to refuse to sell things, shrugging off most of Storm’s attacks and then no selling getting thrown into the guardrail for good measure. Earth to Reggie, YOU’RE THE BABYFACE, let the Heel beat you up for a bit and then make the comeback. Storm is big enough that she could believably cut you off and work some heat on you, so actually sell her offence. Gobbling up your opponents like this is doing far less for you than you probably think it is.
This is not a good match, with a few notable botches and the crowd switching off. I think I even heard a few scattered “boring” shouts at certain stages too. Bennett sells ever so slightly for a bit, and because she’s barely sold in the match the almost immediate comeback doesn’t really draw much of a reaction. The ref ends up getting bumped and that leads to Storm going for a chair shot. Bennett won’t even sell THAT though, blocking the chair shot and then swinging it at Storm, getting herself DQ’ed from the freshly awakened referee.
WINNER BY DQ: DENISE STORM
This really sucked and the cheap finish didn’t help
Mick Karch is backstage with Harley Saito, who doesn’t really cut much of a promo.
Henning and Bockwinkel breakdown the next match, with Bockwinkel thinking that Sawai is too much of a hot heat.
LPWA Japanese Title Tournament – Semi-Final
Eagle Sawai Vs Harley Saito
Sawai grounds Saito and works her leg over for most of this, with Saito selling it well. The crowd doesn’t really know what to make of it all, being kind of quiet. Sawai is working the kind of holds you’d see more in MMA and it might just be that the fans don’t recognise those holds, whereas in Japan the crowd could perhaps buy them as legitimate submission teases.
Saito does a good job fighting from underneath, getting some desperation roll-ups on occasion before getting cut off and worked over some more. Sawai does a good job playing to the crowd as well, drawing some boos at certain points. Saito continues to remind me of 1-2-3 Kid, doing lots of spin kicks to get herself back into the match.
Sawai keeps going after the leg whenever she can, keeping the psychology and story of the match consistent, and she even starts biting Saito at one stage to draw more Heel heat from the crowd. They tease doing a time limit draw, which leads to a turbo bullshit finish where Wally Karbo decides that Saito won, even though Sawai took most of the match.
WINNER BY BULLSHIT: HARLEY SAITO
They were having a decent match there but that stupid finish left a really sour taste in the mouth. If Karbo would be the deciding factor if it went to a draw then that needed to be clear BEFORE the tournament started. Why couldn’t Sawai do a job by the way? Just do a flash roll up finish, that isn’t going to hurt her. Oh, and if you ARE going to do that finish then make sure you don’t pick the wrestler who got killed all match as the person who advances. Some of the booking on this show has been absolute mince
Boni Blackstone is with Brad Rheingans, who talks about the differences between Japanese and American women, mentioning that the Japanese are more proficient at submissions. He also says that he thinks Terri Power might win the Title tonight. That wasn’t the most exciting promo ever, but he got across what he needed to get across.
The Glamour Girls are with Mick Kirch and cut a promo on their opponents tonight. It’s standard cocky Heel stuff.
Bockwinkel of course predicts the veterans will win the next match.
LPWA Tag Team Titles
Champs: The Glamour Girls (Judy Martin and Leilani Kai) Vs Bambi and Malia Hosaka
The Glamour Girls come out to Pomp and Circumstance here, which suits the gimmick but kind of feels out of place considering the song is so strongly associated with another wrestler. Hosaka has an injured knee and that will probably play into things as the show goes on. They start this one hot, with the babyfaces doing the big shine on the Heels, and it’s fun action.
The Heels do a good job bumping all over the place to make the challengers look like genuine contenders, but they eventually cut Bambi off for a bit and work her over, with Bambi selling that well. The Glamour Girls do some good tag stuff and the heat segment works well. The crowd gets behind Bambi as well, so the match has good reactions whilst she tries to fight back and tag out.
Hosaka eventually gets the hot tag and runs wild for a bit, even though the referee didn’t actually see the tag. Maybe that was supposed to be a false hot tag and the ref just didn’t do it right? The wrestlers keep going anyway and go into the finishing stretch, with some near falls leading into an illegal partner powerbomb on Hosaka for three.
WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: THE GLAMOUR GIRLS
That was good fun and The Glamour Girls usually deliver whenever I’ve seen them
Mick Karch is backstage with Denise Storm, who says a win is a win and that she’s going to show Harley Saito what a good old fashioned American butt-kicking is tonight.
Bockwinkel thinks Storm is the favourite here, but wouldn’t be surprised if Saito was able to win it.
Final of LPWA Japanese Title Tournament
Denise Storm Vs Harley Saito
Storm has actually been doing the Randy Savage gimmick from Mania IV where she has changed her gear for every match. This has odd psychology, as Saito had her leg worked over in the previous round but Storm instead targets her arm instead of going after the already damaged appendage. The crowd doesn’t really see to care that much about this one, but the actual wrestling isn’t bad or anything.
It doesn’t really feel like they’re telling much in the way of a story really, which is weird as it has been essentially handed to them on a plate. Storm works over seemingly every part of Saito’s body besides the leg, and Saito shrugs most of it off anyway before going to her kicks again like she has done in the previous rounds. Again, there’s nothing especially wrong with the work and some of the strikes and holds are executed well, but it never feels anything more than two people just having a match. It certainly doesn’t have the dramatic epic feel you’d expect a big tournament final to have. Eventually Saito catches Storm with a Zack Sabre J styled pin counter for the three count.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: HARLEY SAITO
Nothing particularly wrong with it but the crowd didn’t really seem to care and it never really felt more than just two people working a basic back and forth match. Saito having her leg destroyed all match and being on the verge of defeat only to get the roll-up victory would have made for a much better match in my opinion
Boni Blackstone is with Terri Power, who has been using the power of positive thinking to wrestle her way to victory tonight. Not a great promo to be honest, as she got a bit lost there.
Bockwinkel seems to think Power can win this.
Champ: Lady X Vs Terri Power
Power’s music sounds like something you’d get on the menu screen of an International Superstar Soccer game, whilst Lady X is using the same tune that WCW used as the theme music for Halloween Havoc 89. I think Kevin Sullivan might have used it as entrance music in the mid-90’s as well. I have no idea who Lady X is but she apparently also went under the name of Peggy Lee Leather and even worked from SMW shows. Power would eventually go on to be Tori in the WWF.
I don’t remember Power really being that up to much in her WWF run, but she does okay here, focusing on things she can do and working in power spots that suit her physique. Some of her strikes look a bit iffy, but aside from that she works just fine. Lady X is a Moolah trainee so mostly focuses on things like choking and hair pulling, with very little in the way of actual wrestling going on. She does a good enough job of using her experience to hold things together for the most part though.
Power mostly does dropkicks and the occasional power move, including a powerslam that she gets two from when Lady X gets a foot on the ropes. We’re going to literally go right off the air the minute this match ends as the time management here has been pretty awful. Lady X loads her mask and comes off the top with a head butt, getting some of it but not all of it, so Power basically no sells it and wins with a cross body off the top.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: TERRI POWER
It wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t really a pay per view Main Event calibre match either. It was pretty rushed as well and left the ending of the show feeling flat
Terri Power barely has the belt in her hands and we’re out of time.
Is It Really A Stinker?
No I wouldn’t say it was a Stinker. There are definite problems with it, mostly being the fact they booked too many matches so nothing really had any time to breathe and some of the finishes were absolutely atrocious. They mostly managed to nail the real sports presentation though, which made the whole thing markedly different from places like GLOW where it was all about wacky gimmicks.
The standard of wrestling wasn’t bad overall, although there was the odd match that was genuinely pretty bad. Honestly if they’d just focused on the tournament and given it more time along with a couple of additional extra bouts then this show would have flowed much better. In the end 12 matches on a 150 minute show is about 4 too many and some of the non-tournament matches really could have been cut.
There’s a chance that if you really like Joshi you might like this one more just for the Japanese ladies, but if you’re just a regular fan then you are likely to find this to be a pretty rushed show with mostly solid wrestling. If anything I found it kind of dull at points, especially as so many of the matches were just people doing back and forth control segments. It’s no surprise to me that the match I liked the most was the tag one, because they had a clearly defined Face/Heel divide and actually worked the formula with proper shine, heat and comeback segments. Sometimes the formula is your friend.
I’d have to say it was a middling show when all was said a done. There were good points and the odd disaster, but mostly it was just a show and I can’t really see a first timer viewer being that desperate to check it out again. The crowd was pretty small in number but they could make some good noise when they were really into the action, but a lot of the matches didn’t really give them a chance to do so because they weren’t structured in a way that led to the matches building as they traditionally would. This felt like a typical run of the mill wrestling crowd that wanted to cheer babyfaces and boo Heels, so they needed the seven point structure match, and too often they didn’t get it.
Still, not a bad show, just a run of the mill one with the odd production issue and the occasional honker of a finish. As a new viewer I felt they did a reasonable job of getting across the personalities of the wrestlers, although with some of the Japanese wrestlers it did seem to mostly come down to “She’s Japanese and she wrestles, and she probably knows some kind of martial art to go alongside it”
Overall Rating: Odourless